According to legend, a July 4th full moon illuminates a phantom, funeral procession complete with wagons and apparitions in 18th-century clothing, and strolls from a French fort to a local cemetery. That’s one of the ghost stories from Fort de Chartres in Illinois.
Fort de Chartres history
In 1718, the French built a fort on the east bank of the Mississippi River in modern-day Illinois. The fort in Southern Illinois was the seat of government and oversaw the local Fox Indians.
Wooden palisades surrounded the first iteration of the fort. After destructive floods, the French built a permanent fort with 18-foot stone walls.
But the Mississippi continued to flood, and by the late 18th century, the fort was abandoned.
In 1930, the State of Illinois acquired the site. The Illinois government reconstructed a few of the former buildings including the gatehouse.
The ghost procession legend
According to legend, a disgruntled resident of the fort murdered a prominent man in an ambush. The fort’s residents were unsure what to do with the body. So, they buried the body under a full-moon night in a cemetery.
Over a century later, two women sighted the figures of the Fort de Chartres ghost procession on a July night in 1889.
“Suddenly, the neighbor noticed in the distance a shadowy procession of people and wagons coming down the road. Wagons rolled into view, silhouetted against the full moon, their drivers unseen in the darkness. No driver or wagon carried a light or any other visible indication of their origin or intended destination. The only clue to their purpose was a casket that was being transported in a low wagon.”
“As the entourage drew closer, Mrs. Chris and her friend became certain that it was indeed a funeral procession.”
“The women were astonished–although they counted nearly forty wagons, followed by thirteen pairs of horsemen, the enormous cavalcade did not make a single sound! The horses’ hooves were battering against the earth, clouds of dust rolled out from under the wagon wheels and the riders seemed to be talking to each other. Yet, not a sound reached the ears of the witnesses, save the soft rustling of nearby trees, a few night frogs and the barking of the family dog.”
“‘Oh, my God!’ Mrs. Chris cried to her friend, ‘If I wasn’t sitting here with you seeing this, I’d swear I was dreaming.'”
“But the women were not dreaming. The neighbor woman’s father had been awakened by the agitated dog and looked out the window to see the same unearthly formation rolling by. He verified the women’s account of the scene early the next morning.”
Maybe it was a fabrication, a hallucination, or a time warp. Who knows? But if a full moon on a Fourth of July night reveals a phantom, funeral procession, don’t be surprised.
You can still visit Fort de Chartres today.