Tillie Gburek


In the early nineteen hundreds there was a large concentration of Polish Americans on the north side of Chicago, Illinois. One of those residents was Ottilie (Tillie) Gburek. In addition to being a master in the kitchen,Tillie had gained a reputation in the community as a psychic. She had an uncanny ability to foresee the future with amazing accuracy, or so her neighbors thought. She claimed her visions came to her through her dreams. Her first predictions involved stray dogs in the neighborhood. She correctly predicted the day that they would die and her neighbors were astounded when right on cue the mongrels managed to cock up their toes.

Her next prediction involved her husband of twenty-nine years, John Mitkiewicz. She revealed to a friend that she dreamed she would be finding his corpse in three weeks. Her prophecy proved accurate and Tillie found herself widowed but one-thousand dollars richer when John's life insurance policy paid off.

However, Tillie did not remain alone for long. Within a few months Tillie exchanged vows with John Ruskowski. Sadly within three months of the wedding Tillie reported that she was having dreams that her husband would be dead in two weeks. When John obliged Tillie by succumbing at the aforementioned time, Tillie gained some small measure of comfort from the insurance money she received.

Husband number three was Frank Kupszcyk and barely six months later he joined his predecessors in their eternal slumber after Tillie foretold of his impending death.

Husband number four was Joseph Guszkowski. Somehow he managed to last several years longer before Tillie told anyone who would listen, including Joseph, about her "visions". In the meantime one of her neighbors, Rose Chudzinsky, was very vocal in her suspicions about Tillie's gift and her seemingly bad luck with husbands. When Tillie claimed that Rose's days were numbered no one was surprised when she turned up dead. So convinced were they that she was a true psychic, people in the community began to avoid Tillie for fear that she would predict their own demise.

When visiting a fabric store to purchase black material to make a dress for Joseph's funeral, the clerk offered her condolences and asked Tillie when her husband died. Tillie blithely replied, "ten days from now!" A fact to which Joseph complied.

Three young children on Tillie's block died agonizing deaths weeks after she foretold that a plague would strike the family. What she failed to disclose was that she had had words with the family before her "dreams" started.

Despite the warnings of his family and friends, Anton Klimek decided to chuck caution to the wind and exchanged vows with Tillie. Once his life insurance policy was in place and the couple had signed a last will and testament making each other sole beneficiaries, Anton's health seemed to decline overnight.

His family became even more concerned when Tillie did not insist that he seek medical advice and decided to step in and take Anton to the hospital themselves. When doctors examined him they began to suspect that he had been poisoned. They pumped his stomach and his gastric contents were sent to the lab for analysis and their suspicions were confirmed. Anton had managed to thwart Tillie's prediction.

The hospital immediately notified police and Tillie was arrested. Rather than risk the exhumation of her other husbands, she confessed to poisoning Anton.

Tillie Gburek went on trial at the Cook County Courthouse. She was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. On a side note, there was one major stipulation to her sentence. She was never to be allowed to cook for the other inmates!


Nina Jankowski said...

Unbelievable story ! Just found out that she was a part of our family. Shocking for what she did. Good to know... Thanks!

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