7

The curious case of Stepp Cemetery (Morgan-Monroe State Forest)

The curious case of Stepp Cemetery (Morgan-Monroe State Forest)
The curious case of Stepp Cemetery (Morgan-Monroe State Forest)The curious case of Stepp Cemetery (Morgan-Monroe State Forest)

You don’t even need to blink to miss it: deep within the woods of the Morgan-Monroe State Forest lies a strange historic cemetery rumored to be wildly haunted: Stepp Cemetery.

From ghosts to satanic cult meetings, this beautiful little slice of Morgan County has it all.

In real life, Stepp Cemetery is what’s known as a “pioneer cemetery”; essentially, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Stepp Cemetery was founded sometime in the 1800s while settlers still struggled to set up life in the relatively unexplored area which would become the state of Indiana.

In truth, when I first stepped into the clearing, I was less afraid of ghosts than the distant echoing of gunshots. (Yes, hunting is allowed in the forest, so be careful!) Sure, there are plenty of terrifying tales of hauntings here, but I was more interested in the history behind the approximate 114 graves (not all marked) in the spacious clearing.

Stepp Cemetery Morgan Monroe State Forest

Just follow this disused path… what could go wrong?

Like Isaac Hartsock, a veteran of the War of 1812, or the Civil War veterans also interred in the area.

Or the Atkins family. My guess? From a brief bit of research, they seem to possibly be related to a pair of brothers on the wrong side of history during the Civil War. (ie. they worked as slave catchers to capture escaped slaves heading north to Canada.)

Or Baby Lester, a stillborn baby delivered and buried in 1937, and whose grave is forever covered in small toys and trinkets to keep the child at peace.

But all the feelings of tranquil, academic curiosity changed when I came to one of the final burial spots on my tour, a pair of matching headstones which looked fairly innocuous. Surely nothing strange, right?

Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Stepp Cemetery Morgan-Monroe Park

Never at rest?!

I may not believe in ghosts, but even my pace quickened as I headed back down the disused path to my car. You just never know – especially when you’re all by yourself in a 24,000 acre forest.

How to find Stepp Cemetery: it’s actually listed on Google Maps which makes it easy if you have a WIFI connection way out there (I didn’t). It’s still a bit tricky to find: watch for a large rusted gate barring a muddy/gravel road with a sign saying “property closed after 11:00 PM”. If you reach the playground, you’ve gone to far.

  • I find places like this really interesting. I’d love to learn more about the people buried here.

    • I did a little bit of light digging and didn’t find too much about the older inhabitants. There’s got to be something interesting there, though!

      Does Bloomington have an archival library somewhere?

  • This looks so cool!
    “Never at rest”. Woah! I wonder what he did to get that put on his gravestone?!

    • Right?! And his wife was right next to him, died years later. Must have been a bad boy?

  • Jasilyn Albert

    I love how creepy the weather looks. I need to go back to America and explore.

    • Yes! Come back – I need a Midwestern exploring buddy!

  • Oooohhh… that’s creepy!

    We found a creepy park here recently, inspired by your “get out and explore” mantra. 🙂 Not creepy because of ghosts, though- creepy because of dark and giant trees with used needles stuck in their bark. Ah, city life.