It is uncertain where the legend originates from, but one possibility is a witch named Mary Worth who, according to local tradition, lived on the Old Wagon Road in Chicago during the Civil War. It is said that she used to kidnap runaway slaves and keep them chained in her barn, doing who knows what to them in her dark rituals.
The locals eventually became furious enough to take the law into their own hands and burn Worth at the stake. The legend says her body was buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery. Doubtful, since an infamous witch would have never been laid to rest in a Christian cemetery. Instead, she may have been buried on her farm, as one couple learned the hard way.
Many decades after Mary Worth’s execution, a farmer and his wife bought her former property and, fully aware of the place’s history, built their home on the very foundations of the barn in which Worth practiced her black arts. Apparently not one to be scared by old legends, the farmer set out to clear the land for an oat field.
During his work, he came across a square stone and moved it to the door of the house, figuring it to be a good stepping stone. This proved to be a mistake. Violent and often dangerous events immediately began to plague the couple, with the wife finding herself locked in the barn or the house on multiple occasions and plates crashing on the floor by themselves.
As the activity worsened, the farmer began to wonder if he had inadvertently disturbed Mary Worth’s real gravesite. He tried to return the stone to its original place in an attempt to end the disturbing phenomena, but he never could find the exact spot. After several years of torment, the house burned to the ground in 1986, supposedly due to arson.
There were later several failed attempts to build on the property. A developer managed to eventually raise a group of houses, but the one nearest to Mary Worth’s barn has since burned down once or even twice.
Image by Skyberry-13