COUCH TOMB

2045 North Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL

Lincoln Park (Former Chicago City Cemetery)

Status: Legendary Haunted Tomb; Urban Legend

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History

This location is not only a Chicago legend but also the only visible reminder that Lincoln Park used to be the Chicago City Cemetery.

Ira Couch was quite wealthy and a real estate and hotel mogul who died in 1857 in Cuba. His remains were returned to Chicago and his brother, James, had the tomb built for $7,000 ($255,000 in 2023 dollars) in 1858 for him.

He is the only person which historical record says is buried in the vault. However, no is really sure how many people are in the tomb – Ira’s grandson suggested there are exactly 7 people interned here by the early 20th century – but some people have suggested as many as 80 including family members and friends as well as a man who died in Couch’s hotel.

What’s truly mysterious is that there are tombstones for most of the people the grandson mentioned in Rosehill Cemetery including one for Ira himself. However, Rosehill’s records show no mention of Ira ever being buried there.

Burials in the cemetery stopped in 1866 and it was converted into the park that it is today. Families were responsible for moving their loved one’s remains but many of the people buried there had no living family. Hence it is unknown how many bodies are still buried in Lincoln Park even today.

In the Great Chicago Fire in October of 1871 when the flames swept through the park/cemetery it is said they avoided the tomb completely while utterly destroying the rest of the area.

It is the only physical reminder that the park was once a cemetery although it is unclear why it was left behind. Probably the Couch family deemed it too expensive to move the 500 lb tomb and the city’s park administration department did say later – in 1899 – that it was far too hard and expensive for them to move it.

The real mystery is that there were other mausoleums in the cemetery and they were all moved.

No one even knows exactly what is inside the mausoleum as it has been sealed shut by a large piece of metal since the early 20th century. One paranormal investigation did slip an iPhone under the metal sheet only to find there is a sealed metal door behind the sealed piece of metal.

Mysterious or not this mausoleum has become part of Chicago’s legends and is certainly not going anywhere anytime soon or ever.

Many stories have been told by people who claim to accessed the tomb over the decades but not one has ever been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

Paranormal Activity

An Urban Legend from the 1880’s – one that was even printed in newspapers of the day – was that if you faced the tomb precisely at midnight and stared at the Couch name above the door saying “The graves belong to the dead; not the living” three times the tomb would open and a glowing white human shaped ghost would emerge.

Many people claimed to have seen this ghost in late 19th century.

To this day a large white glowing ghost is seen in the vicinity of the tomb although no one claims to follow the directions of the urban legend today; not openly anyway.

Other Activity both near the tomb and in the park: misty apparitions moving far more quickly than humanly possible more commonly seen after dark; vortexes forming mid-air; disembodied voices; phantom footsteps; light anomalies; electrical disturbances and feelings of being watched.