The Phantom Funeral of Southern Illinois

Readers recall that in the summer of 2007, GeneaBlogie’s research trip took us to the St Louis area and southern Illinois.  We visited the Micheau family ancestral homeland of Prairie du Rocher, Illinois, a village founded by the French in 1722.  I didn’t know then what I know now: that in 1889, a phantom funeral was first seen near Prairie du Rocher, and that the spooky procession re-appears every year that the Fourth of July falls on a Friday.

On Friday, July 4, 1889, in Prairie du Rocher, two women were holding a vigil for one of the women’s dead baby.  Late in the night, a dog began barking loudly.  Looking up the road, the women observed a procession of forty wagons and twenty-six horsemen approaching the cemetery in Prairie du Rocher.  One of the wagons held a casket.  The procession moved slowly, and despite the number of horses and wagons, it made no sound at all.  The dog’s owner was also awakened by the barking, and he, too saw thsi phantom funeral.

The procession entered the Prairie du Rocher, but never came back out.  The three eyewitnesses (as well as the dog, presumably) were stunned and at a loss to explain what they had seen.  A few days later, one of the women related the story to a visitor from another Illinois village.  The visitor explained that it was indeed a funeral that they had seen, but the actual funeral had taken place in 1756!

Apparently, there had been a killing at the French compound at Fort De Chartres a few miles from Prairie du Rocher.  The deceased was a man of some prominence and the French soldiers were uncertain as to how to handle the matter.  They sent a delegation to their regional headquarters at Kaskaskia.  The commanders there directed that the matter be kept secret and that the body should be buried at night under a full moon, in a cemetery it was likely not to be found.  Prairie du Rocher was selected as the burial place.

Thereafter, whenever the Fourth of July falls on a Friday and there is a full moon, the Fort de Chartres Phantom Funeral Procession can be seen just before midnight, making its way toward the Prairie du Rocher cemetery.

Note: Fort de Chartres is a National Historic Landmark and an Illinois state park.  Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich announced earlier this month that he would close Fort de Chartres and Fort Kaskaskia to help resolve the state’s $2 billion budget deficit.  So next time, the Phantom Funeral will becoming from a Phantom Fort!


8 Responses to “The Phantom Funeral of Southern Illinois”

  • RAVEN says:

    As a historical reenactor I can say Fort De Chartres is pretty spooky at night whether it be July 4th or not. We too have hear coyotes call and have also heard drumming, hoops, and hollers very late at night. One of our living history events falls on Halloween quite frequently and when the smoke hangs close to the ground it can become eerie. All I can say is take the time out to come to an event and make your own decisions.

  • Laura Adams says:

    He did not make this up! Last weekend we were in Prairie du Rocher at the Creole House and a woman told us that last 4th of July (which fell on a Friday) there were lots of people lining the road between the old French fort and the cemetery. There were patches of mist and fog, as there often are at night in the bottoms near the Mississippi, and in the fog you could make out the heads of the white horses. Different people commented that it was a warm night, but when the mists were passing it was goosebump chilly, then warm again after they passed.

  • Sheri Bush says:

    I believe it’s true!

  • Msteri says:

    I say it is true, and if it isn’t true…..Craig should be writing fiction for a living!


  • Janet Iles says:

    I am going to say that it is fiction but it is a tale well told.

  • T.K. says:

    Wow, this would make a good movie! I think thriller, not documentary!

  • Jasia says:

    Good one Craig! Very creepy. I’m thinking you made this up. It’s very well written and you are an excellent story teller. I’m not sure though…

  • Apple says:

    Hmmm. This one might just be far out there enough to be true!

October 2008
« Sep   Nov »