A life-sized, meticulously crafted statue of a little girl named Inez Clarke is one of the most well-known and mysterious grave markers in Graceland Cemetery. It is situated close to the cemetery’s center and is also the subject of one of Chicago’s most well-known ghost stories.
This grave with the statue of a young girl is marked ‘Inez” and “Daughter of J.N. & M.C. Clarke. Inez Clarke Born in Sept. 20, 1873, Died Aug. 1, 1880.”
A plaque also states that Mary C. and John N. Clarke’s graves are nearby to the north. The identity of the girl and the person buried there has been a subject of controversy for many years.
The girl is almost certainly Inez Briggs, the daughter of Mary C. Clarke from a previous marriage, according to considerable investigation.
Inez Clarke’s Faint Smile
The statue of a young girl sitting on a wooden bench, holding a parasol in her right hand and a little flower in her left, is enclosed in a plastic box to keep it safe from the elements. Her wavy hair is pulled back, and her big face has a faint smile. Her hat is slung over her shoulder and secured by a long ribbon around her neck. On her chest is a locket on a chain.
The Artist of Statue
Andrew Gagel, who was born in Germany in 1846 and came to the US in 1872, was the artist of the statue. There are various alternative accounts for the death of 6-year-old Inez, but the most popular one is that she was enjoying a summer picnic with her parents when she was killed by a lightning strike. However, there is another explanation for her demise: either she was unintentionally or purposefully locked out of the family home as punishment when she was struck by lightning. Her demise from diphtheria is the third theory.
Subject of Many Ghost Stories
The grave location is the subject of many ghost stories. Weeping has been heard throughout the neighborhood. Others assert that the statue vanishes during thunderstorms only to reappear later, back inside its glass casing. When he saw the statue’s glass case was empty, one cemetery attendant reportedly fled the grounds in terror. The stories also mention recent sightings of a little child running and playing in the cemetery while dressed in attire from the late 1800s.
Parents who accompany their children to cemeteries claim that the children meet and play with a young girl, but they never see or hear the playmate. Additionally, there are countless accounts of guards and night watchmen at the cemetery saying that the statue of Inez’s box is always empty whenever there is a summer thunderstorm. Little Inez apparently hides when storms are coming because she is frightened of getting struck by lightning once more. The story of Inez Clarke, however, has certain gaps that have been found by investigators.
First of all, “Inez Clarke” does not exist, neither in the cemetery records nor in the data from the city’s census. According to some of these tales, the statue was merely a prototype created by Gagel to showcase his artistic ability and was erected at the cemetery as a form of self-promotion. However, that idea does not account for the worn writing on the marker next to the monument.
Others have claimed that Inez was the daughter of Mary Clarke from her first marriage, that her real name was Inez Briggs, and that she passed away from diphtheria rather than a lightning strike. The 1880 Chicago census report, which indicates a girl called Inez Briggs residing with her grandparents, David and Jane Rothrock, supports that argument. Additionally, the fact that David and Jane are buried near to Inez may lend credence to that theory.
That argument holds that Inez’s parents’ divorce resulted in her being sent to live with her grandparents.
Her grandparents commissioned the statue when Inez Clarke passed away. After Mary Briggs and John N. Clarke got married, Graceland became home to all three generations. The evidence in this case doesn’t seem to support the myths and tales of young Inez Clarke, but it also doesn’t seem to refute them either.
Final words about Inez Clarke
There is nothing to prevent little Inez from leaving her glass box during thunderstorms and playing with young cemetery visitors, regardless of whether she was Inez Clarke or Inez Briggs and regardless of whether she passed away from diphtheria or a lightning strike while on a picnic with her parents or at her grandparents’ house. Whether you agree with it or not, it is undeniably a lovely statue to serve as a grave marker and it has given rise to some intriguing tales.