Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Haunted Indiana 2: Stepp Cemetery & 100 Step Cemetery

On a tour of Haunted Indiana about 20 years ago, Chuck Jones and I concluded our trip with my first visit to Stepp Cemetery. This quaint graveyard is situated in the middle of the Morgan Monroe State Forest.

The legend of Stepp Cemetery has many variations but the constant seems to be centered around a woman in black who comes and sits at a tree stump watching over the grave of her dead daughter. In the version we knew, a couple was parked on a road in the forest. The girl had a 12 Midnight curfew and time was running out. They hastily drove through the winding rodes of the park in order to get the girl home on time. After taking a hair pin turn at high speed, the car wrecked and the girl was decapitated in the accident and her head was never found. The mother of the girl insisted the details of her daughter's death be kept secret. The details wouldn't be revealed until 4 years later when the mother died. Shortly after that another couple was parked off the road near the path leading back to the cemetery and alerted by noises in the road ahead they looked up and screamed seeing a gnarled old woman wearing only black. Hung around her neck was the beaten and bruised head of a young girl. After this, other couples would report seeing the same woman.

The other story we heard was about a wife guarding her husband's grave. The man had died while working in the forestry and was buried in the graveyard and she would come out every night and sit at the grave site before and after she too died.

There have been people testify they have seen the woman in black come out of the woods seat herself on a tree stump near her loved one's grave and guard the grave patiently.

Some other local lore centers around a religious cult called the "Crabbites" being connected to the graveyard. This now defunct cult was said to hold sex orgies and snake handling rituals in the cemetery.

Chuck and I were quite impressed by the cemetery. After a short walk down a path in the woods the woods opens up into the cemetery hollowed out of the forest. It was eerie being surrounded by trees and then to look up and see an open expanse of sky with clouds rolling over. We looked at many of the ancient crumbling tomb stones as well as those more modern day. We started feeling uneasy when we found "satanic " appearing emblems etched into trees. Our imaginations conjured up black mass rituals being conducted at night. We opted to leave early and not stay in the cemetery til midnight in hopes of getting a glimpse of the woman in black as we had intended.

About six years ago, I took my sons, Jason and Kyle to Stepp Cemetery and told them the lore of the graveyard. Kyle was about 15 or 16 and Jason a year and half his junior. We arrived in the late evening and duplicated the trip I took with Chuck. We found the old stump and grave where the old woman was rumored to sit and an area of the ground nearby had been charred by fire. We were determined to wait until night fall. Kyle wanted to hike in the woods so, we followed a trail that circled the graveyard through the woods and then veered off deeper into the forest. I tried to frighten the boys with made up sightings of the "Crabbites" and how it would be so easy for them to exist like some inbred monstosities from a horror movie. I had intentionally shown them The Blair Witch Project the night before to set the stage for this haunted evening. Little did I know it would turn out so frightening.

We had ventured too deep into the woods when we noticed we running out of daylight. We had brought flashlights along intending to use them in the graveyard after dark. I warned the boys to use the light sparingly as we were sure to run out of daylight deep in the woods and we wood need the light from our flashlights to get out. While we were trying to decide whether to continue on our path with the hopes of reaching the road or turning around and going back in the direction we had travelled, we came upon a large cross erected in the woods at the edge of the trail. After tales of the "Crabbites" and seeing the objects hanging in the trees in the movie the night before, it wasn't a leap for the boys imaginations to go from "tales of ghosts and goblins" to a since of very real danger.

Kyle was the first to break down and cry. He was scared- nearly panic stricken. Jason began to chime in, "I want to go home." Darkness descended. I made the decision to turn around and go back the way we had come. Better to face a path we were familiar with than the unknown, even though it might take longer to reach our destination. I went from trying to frighten the boys to hoping to calm and reassure them. We stopped and prayed asking God for His protection and help finding our way back. Kyle, who was very overweight at the time, was exhausted and having a difficult time keeping up with the pace. We slowed so he wouldn't feel abandoned.

(The Face of Fear)

The darkness turned pitch, deep in the woods. The flashlights would have to remain on. Surely the batteries would hold out til we reached safety. It didn't seem to take as long as we thought it would before we reached a familiar hill and judging the time it took and the directions we had travelled, I felt if we climbed up this hill we should emerge in Stepp Cemetery. After ascending the hill and weaving our way through some trees, we found ourselves in the graveyard. We all felt relief. I wanted to take some night time pictures while in the grave yard but the boys pleaded to go home. They had enough thrills for one night. So, we made our way back to the car and left for home.
A couple of years later Jason wanted to go on a Haunted Indiana expedition and we took our friend Matt Brubaker along. Our first stop was the Haunted Bridge of Danville and then we drove out to Brazil, Indiana to visit 100 Step Cemetery and Hell's Gate.

We arrived at 100 Step Cemetery after a long drive out in the "boonies". The cemetery sits on top of a hill and broken stone stairs lead up the hill.The legend of 100 Step Cemetery centers around counting the steps as you ascend and then when you reach the top you are to look toward the open field. At this point the ghost of the cemetery's first undertaker is supposed to appear and show you a vision of your death. When you go back down the steps you are to count the steps again and if the number is different you will indeed die the death you saw. If you don't use the steps on your descent then you will be struck down by a phantom hand and your back will be imprinted by the slap branding you with the mark of the devil. We stayed a short while, went up and down the steps; none of us counted the steps identically and none of us arrived at the same number up and down. We estimated the real number of steps was between 45 and 50. We weren't greeted by an undertaker either. We decided to leave and come back after dark.

We stopped and ate and after darkness fell we first went to Hell's Gate. Legend has it that a train derailment brought a host of spirits to this place. You are to drive your car into a single lane tunnel, stop the car and flash the lights 3 times then go on through, turn around and go back through and stop midway in the tunnel. At this point you are to turn the lights out and wait 10 minutes. When you turn the lights back on, the graffite on the walls is supposed to glow and blood is to run down the walls. It was a very cool location. The seldom travelled road emptys into a single lane tunnel and it was nearly impossible and was extremely dangerous carrying out the task. NO Glow. NO Blood.

We did run into another group while we were there and they decided to join us on our return to 100 Step Cemetery. The cemetery itself was quite old and creepy particularly at night. The most unusual thing we saw in the cemetery was somebody's shoes tied up in a tree, but no ghosts. In fact, it turned out to be a fun exploration at night.

Before leaving, we found what appeared to be a sunken grave site. I thought I might take a little rest and reclined in the spot as the others looked on.
Could this be the vision of my death because I didn't count the same number of steps on the way down?


  1. I am not sure who I need to speak with but I was there yesterday and got the picture of that women plain as day....it is bugging me and still is....can you help me

  2. I am a psychic, Indiana welch on facebook would like to talk with ya on this for sure. Or get my email mail from my web site www.indianadutchess.com

  3. There are several members of my family buried at "100 Steps". I guess you don't get cursed of you skip the steps and drive in for your Aunt Lucille Eckard's funeral. My uncles Cecil & Morris Eckard are there too.Morris was in WW2 & spent some time in Stalag 17, but he made it home safe... (check "find-a-grave" & the P.O.W. sites, it's all there)

  4. I've been to stepp cemetary twice and the first time I went was on halloween in 09 I was 19 and some friends wanted to go drink some beer and walk around 10 of us go and as we get there we all start chugging beers in the area u park in before u walk back...so we were all pretty buzzed so we walk back to the cemetary it's 11 by this time pretty dark and we only had 2 flashlights (I grew up in the country in Ohio I hunted a lot and roughed it in the woods a lot use to weird sounds and shit so walking in the dark wasn't shit) we start looking around at grave stones and markers from centuries ago one name stood out to me Adkins a lot of stones had that last name we were there for an hour or so then me and my friend decide to walk some of the trails we found in the time we were there I didn't know any of the myths about the place really jus went to party so me and my friend walk this trail when I hear my sister who was with us yell for us we get back to the cemetary and everyone's standing there saying there's people coming out of the woods in long cloaks naturally I thought they were messing with us but my sister was pretty freaked so I knew something was up and that was no bullshit I swear these people mostly men were jus standing there silent we tried and tried to get them to say something and nothing so naturally being the young assholes we were and me thinkin these are some pranksters fucking with people in a supposed haunted cemetary...so we had no luck getting them to talk so being the young as swipes we were one of my buddies saw one was holding a very old looking book and so he asked the person what they were reading and finally they said something "the devil" that was cool what freaked me out was when someone shined a light on this book it a leather bindings and a pentagram on it and the guys face didn't look very good lots of skin tags and old beard rough looking fellow but couple years later I moved to the area and I heard some local legend about some religious cult that may or may not be in the area so idk if these people in the woods were real or fake would like to know if anyone else has seen them????

  5. I had a run in with them back in 2010. Taking my family on a hike through the trail past the cemetery and 2 guys dressed in white cloaks were creeping through the woods following us. I got my family back to the car and ran back with a bowie knife and chased them through the woods for about a half mile.