Ursula Bielski founded Ghost Ship Fragrance Co. after a 33-year career in parapsychology and history. She is the founder of Chicago Hauntings, Inc. and the host of PBS’ “The Hauntings of Chicago” (WYCC).
An historian, author, and parapsychologist, Ursula has been writing and lecturing about Chicago’s supernatural folklore and the paranormal for three decades and is recognized as the leading authority on the Chicago region’s ghostlore and cemetery history. She is the author of twelve popular and critically acclaimed books on the same subjects including the "Chicago Haunts" series and "Graveyards of Chicago."
Ursula began making perfumes for herself and her family and friends after years of bringing home leaves, flowers and rocks from the many haunted places she visited around the world during her work as a paranormal researcher. Longing to capture and share the "haunting" experience of these unique sites, she began experimenting with the idea of recreating them in olfactory form to share with other legend trippers.
Ursula’s interests in Chicago ghost hunting began at a young age. She grew up in a haunted house on Chicago’s north side and received an early education in Chicago history from her father, a Chicago police officer, who introduced Ursula to the ghosts at Graceland Cemetery, Montrose Point and the old lockup at the storied Maxwell Street Police Station.
Since that time Ursula has been involved in countless investigations of haunted sites in and around Chicago, including such notorious locales as Wrigley Field, the Congress Hotel, the Indiana Dunes, the Red Lion Pub, Hull House, Bachelors Grove Cemetery, Rosehill Cemetery, Archer Avenue, Chinatown, the Eastland disaster site, Death Alley, The House of 200 Demons, Dillinger’s Alley and the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre site. Her paranormal travels have also led her to investigate sites as diverse and infamous as the Bell Witch Cave in Tennessee; the Oshkosh, Wisconsin Opera House; New Orleans’ House of the Rising Sun; the City Cemetery in Key West, Florida; Linda Vista Hospital in Los Angeles, the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, and the Civil War Battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Aside from her writing, Ursula has been featured on numerous television documentaries, including productions by the A&E Network, The History Channel, The Learning Channel, SyFy, The Travel Channel, and PBS. She’s been a judge on “Paranormal Challenge” and a regular guest on “Ghost Adventures” and the “Maury Show”s paranormal specials. She also appears regularly on local Chicago television and radio and lectures throughout the year at various libraries, historical and professional societies and designs and hosts tours for Lincoln Park Zoo and the Chicago History Museum. In addition to her books, Ursula is the author of numerous scholarly articles exploring the links between history and the paranormal, including articles published in the "International Journal of Parapsychology." Ursula is a past editor of "PA News, " the quarterly newsletter of the Parapsychological Association, a past president and board member of the Pi Gamma Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society, and holds membership in the Society of Midland Authors. She also edits children’s books on the paranormal for Bearport Publishing in New York and teaches courses in Paranormal Studies for Harper College.
A graduate of St. Benedict High School in Chicago, Ursula holds a B.A. degree in history from Benedictine University and an M.A. in American cultural and intellectual history from Northeastern Illinois University. Her academic explorations include the Spiritualist movement of the 19th century and its transformation into psychical research and parapsychology, and the relationships among belief, experience, science, and religion.
In 2003 Ursula founded Chicago Hauntings tours with her husband, firefighter and journalist David Cowan, author of To Sleep with the Angels, about the Our Lady of the Angels school fire in Chicago. The company has won many awards and continues to flourish. The company has designed tours for the Chicago History Museum, the City of Chicago, Lincoln Park Zoo and other organizations and Ursula received the prestigious award from the Chicago Public Library Foundation in 2018 for significant contributions to Chicago's literary culture.
Ursula is available as a speaker for libraries, schools, colleges and universities, and professional societies. To set up a visit please contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.