Ghosts of the Prairie

HAUNTED INDIANA


DIANA OF THE DUNES
Dunes State Park near Gary, Indiana

Around 1915, the area that is now the Dunes State Park in northern Indiana was mostly uninhabited wilderness. The stories spread around the vicinity of Chesterton, Indiana that fisherman who were along the beach at certain times of the day had been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a naked woman swimming in the lake. The story spread that a beautiful woman was living as a hermit along the beach and her notoriety grew to a point that many compared her to the ancient Greek goddess Diana...hence the name of this legendary creature.

In truth, her name was Alice Marble Gray and she was the daughter of an influential couple from Chicago. Alice had traveled extensively and was cultured and educated. She had worked in the city as an editorial secretary for a popular magazine, so what had made her take up the lonely life of a recluse.

Some have claimed that Alice came to the dunes because of a broken love affair but actually she left the city life because her deteriorating eyesight had made her work impossible. She had sought refuge in the rough land that she had enjoyed as a child. Alice moved into an abandoned fisherman's cottage on the beach and lived a life of peace, borrowing books from the library, walking in the woods and of course, swimming naked in the chilly waters of Lake Michigan.

In 1920, Alice met a drifter named Paul Wilson and he moved into the cabin with her. He was an unemployed boat builder with a shaky past but he seemed to make Alice happy and the two of them stayed together until 'i 922....when tragedy struck. The badly burned and beaten body of a man was found on the beach and police suspected that Wilson had a hand in the murder. He was questioned but eventually let go. He and Alice moved to nearby Michigan City, Indiana, where they made a small living selling handmade furniture. Alice bore her husband two daughters but he treated her terribly, often beating her severely.

In 1925, Alice died in her home, shortly after the birth of her second daughter. The official cause of death was said to be uremic poisoning...complicated by repeated blows to her back and stomach. Wilson disappeared and later tuned up in a California prison, serving time for auto theft. The fate of Alice's daughters is unknown.

So ended the life of Alice Gray.... or did it? Legends of the dunes say that Alice still returns to the beach and the wilderness that she loved so much. Over the years, many have claimed that they have seen the ghostly figure of a nude woman running along the sand or disappearing into the water.

Perhaps she does still walk here, the trials and pain of her lonely and sad life forgotten, at least for a time, as she vanishes along her beloved beach or disappears into the waters of the lake.

The Dunes State Park is located east of Gary, Indiana, between Miller and Michigan City. Alice is buried in Oak Lawn Cemetery in Gary. Her burial site is lost as she was buried in a common potter's field.
 



Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.

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