Matt Hucke is the creator of the website Graveyards of Chicago, which has thousands of photographs from Chicagoland cemeteries and is the inspiration for the book of the same name. Ursula Bielski is Chicago’s resident paranormal expert, a historian, an author, and an entrepreneur. She owns the tour company Chicago Hauntings, Inc., produces the annual Chicago Ghost Conference, and hosts the WYCC TV show The Hauntings of Chicago. She is the author of Chicago Haunts, Creepy Chicago, More Chicago Haunts, and There’s Something Under the Bed.
Ursula Bielski, Local Historian and Author
Ursula Bielski grew up in a haunted house on Chicagos north side. At an early age she became a believer in paranormal experiences, from the curse of the Chicago Cubs at nearby Wrigley Field to the hauntings at local Graceland Cemetery by a 19th century ghost girl. Underscoring these neighborhood folk tales were accounts by her police officer father of personal encounters with Big Foot and no less than the Devil himself.
As an undergraduate at Benedictine University, Bielski was able to explore the interplay of belief and experience, focusing her coursework on the relationship between science and religion. Outside the classroom she tagged along with psychology students investigating reported cases of haunting phenomena which took her to such notorious sites as the Country House Restaurant in suburban Clarendon Hills; Chicagos Red Lion Pub; and the Oshkosh Opera House (Wisconsin). Her fascination with the methodology and philosophy of psi research led her to more structured work in the field of parapsychology.
As a graduate student at Northeastern Illinois University, Bielski explored related aspects of American intellectual and cultural history, particularly the spiritualist movement of the 19th century and its transformation into psychical research and parapsychology. As a student affiliate of the Parapsychological Association, an international body dedicated to psi research, Bielski was a frequent contributor to the group's bulletin.
Intrigued by the apparent relationship between folklore and paranormal experience, Bielski eventually turned her interests toward her hometown, penning her acclaimed and widely successful book, Chicago Haunts. After several printings of the book and the release of a second edition, Bielski now lectures regularly on the subject, having emerged as an expert on Chicagos spiritual netherworld.
Bielski is editor of PA News, the quarterly bulletin of the Parapsychology Association. She is currently at work on a childrens cookbook inspired by the gothic novels of John Bellairs as well as a second volume about Chicago ghostlore: More Chicago Haunts. She lives in Chicago with her husband, author David Cowan, and their daughter.
Matt Hucke, Cemetery Connoisseur and Photographer
Matt Hucke, a native of southern Illinois, has resided in Chicago since 1993 and has been exploring its fascinating graveyards since 1995. His first expedition to Graceland Cemetery on the citys north side was prompted by a city guidebook describing some of the incredible mausoleums to be found there. This was followed by an expedition to the abandoned and allegedly haunted Bachelors Grove Cemetery in the southwest suburbs, and a lengthly exploration of Rosehill Cemetery on the far north side. Such trips soon became a weekly event, and Matt has now visited over 120 Chicagoland cemeteries, the vast majority of them in Cook County.
In August 1996, Hucke created the Web site that inspired this book, Graveyards of Chicago. The site has received several awards, including the "4 Stone" award for superior cemetery-related Web sites. It has grown to include over 600 photographs of an expanding list of area cemeteries.
Matts graveyard images have appeared in the Washington Post, the American Girls News, and both editions of Ursula Bielski's Chicago Haunts, and have been used online by the Chicago Historical Society and the San Diego Union-Tribune. His photographs will also appear in upcoming books by Davis Cecil and Dr. Elmar Buck.
Hucke now lives in Rogers Park, north of his favorite Chicago graveyard, Rosehill. He works as an independent Unix programmer and consultant, specializing in electronic commerce.