Like many interested in the paranormal, some of the first scary stories I encountered in my youth took place in graveyards. Growing up, graveyards often seemed like mystical, sacred places that at once repelled and compelled me to examine them more closely. Tonight, I’ll be exploring one of the most haunted cemeteries in America: Stepp Cemetery located in Indiana.
The graveyard is over one hundred years old and the oldest gravestone dates back to around 1851. It belongs to Isaac Heartstock, who was a veteran of the war of 1812. Unlike the grand and sweeping cemetery you may be picturing, Stepp Cemetery is quite small and is home to just 25 graves. It is located in Martinsville, a small town located near Bloomingdale.
Today, it is largely only accessible by foot and is deep within a forest. It was already a rural cemetery when it was still regularly active but in 1929 the land the cemetery sits on became part of the Morgan Monroe State Forest.
Many of the stories regarding Stepp Cemetery didn’t occur when the cemetery was regularly used but rather in the 1950s through the 1970s. By the 1950s the Stepp Cemetery had been largely forgotten as a cemetery at all and became a local clearing in the forest where teenagers would hang out. As Stepp received more and more living visitors, the stories surrounding this strange piece of land ballooned.
One of the most popular ghosts that are said to haunt Stepp Cemetery is that of a woman in black. A young woman dressed all in black can sometimes be glimpsed sitting on a nearby tree stump and humming to a baby bundled in her arms. The baby died just a few days after its birth and is buried on the east side of the cemetery under a tombstone that has the name ‘Baby Lester’ etched into it.
Many of the tombstones in this small cemetery actually belong to children, sadly. The Hacker family, consisting of Sir Malcolm Dunbar Hacker and his wife Ann had eight children during their marriage. However, half of their children died before reaching the age of 12. The entire ten members of he family were laid to rest in Stepp Cemetery.
In addition to the lady in black, disembodied noises, and other unexplainable experiences Stepp Cemetery was also once host to the Crabbites. The Crabbites were a fringe Christian sect that allegedly used Stepp Cemetery as a locus for their ritualistic practices.
Rhonda Ann Dunn, an archivist with the Brown County Historical Society, notes “There’s one part in revelations, where it says something about four corners of the earth where the angels will come, so the Crabbites believed the earth was square, because it mentioned four corners, and they had strange beliefs like that.”
After the Crabbites’ departure and use of Stepp Cemetery, the cemetery’s reputation continue to grow stranger.
In the 1950s a young girl was murdered near Stepp Cemetery and her body was dumped in the vicinity of the cemetery. It is said that her spirit continues to wander and search for justice. Her killer was never found, despite her mother’s work to figure out who had murdered her daughter.
Whether or not this strange, remote cemetery is truly haunted is up for debate...but the stories that pour from it remain interesting and consistent.
The above image is from scaryforkids