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.
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?
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.