BRADLEY, IL – The village holds a chilling distinction that comes eerily alive as the nation approaches Halloween: a park with a playground stands atop a historic cemetery. It’s not the stuff of local legend or urban myth, but a bone-chilling fact.
For years, community members and children played in gleeful ignorance atop Van Meter Cemetery, an internment site for Kankakee County’s earliest settlers, war heroes, and young souls. Among those resting beneath the playground’s cheerful facade is Samuel Davis, instrumental in the formation of Kankakee County, and Civil War veterans like Corporal John Gordon.
Although the tales of ghostly apparitions and spectral cries remain unverified, the disconcerting fact that games and laughter have echoed above those long gone for over half a century is undeniable. The whispered possibility of Native Americans also sharing this burial ground further deepens the disquiet.
It took the tireless efforts of genealogist Dave King to unearth this haunting truth, turning what was once a local oversight into a national discourse about reverence, history, and the blissfully unaware boundaries between the living and the dead.
As families gather for Halloween tales and spooks, Bradley’s very real history offers a sobering reflection: sometimes, the most unsettling tales aren’t legends at all, but truths buried just beneath our feet.