Cauli Le Chat

Cauli Le Chat
Cauli Le Chat, MPL Roving Reporter

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Taking a Stepp Into the Unknown

Halloween is still a month away, but it was such a nice day to visit a haunted cemetery.  So this afternoon, my minions and I, along with "Flat" Cauli (probably Flat VII, although they all look alike, even to moi), visited famous Stepp Cemetery in the Morgan-Monroe State Forest, just a few miles south of Martinsville, Indiana.

Click Images to Bigify

According to the History of Lawrence and Monroe Counties, Indiana: Their People, Industries and Institutions (Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen & Co., 1914), Reuben Stepp purchased land patents in sections 21 and 6 (1835 and 1836, respectively) of Benton Township (later split off as Marion Township) of Monroe County, Indiana.  Savoy Stepp purchased land in section 9 in 1837.  The cemetery is located on one of Reuben Stepp's tracts.  The State of Indiana acquired the land in 1929.

Monroe County, Indiana Map (1876)
(Showing Marion Township Above Benton Township)

Since at least the 1950s, people have claimed to have experienced paranormal events in the cemetery near the grave of "Baby Lester," who died in 1937.  According to folklore, night visitors have seen a spectral "woman in black" sitting on a tree stump near the grave.  This was supposedly the ghost of Baby Lester's mother, who purportedly haunts the cemetery.  It has become common practice for visitors to leave tributes or relics at the grave site.  We saw many such items on display.

Baby Lester's Grave

Since Baby Lester's grave is situated among many Adkins graves, we presumed that Lester was a member of the Adkins family.  There seems to be some discrepancy between the older and newer headstones for Joseph and Florence, however.  Just saying.

The tree stump has long since rotted away, but folks continue to claim to experience haunting phenomena after dark in the cemetery.  Some claim to have photographed orbs floating in the air and to have recorded electronic voice phenomena (EVP).  (My Library has books about orbs and EVP--you know where to click.)  We didn't see or hear any such activities, but it was daytime.

We found a YouTube video that summarizes the haunted history of Stepp Cemetery.

"Stepp Cemetery" Video (2008)
by Robert Greg Lyon

Unfortunately, many of the oldest tombstones were vandalized over the years, damaging the cemetery both genealogically and aesthetically. Cemetery vandalism is a disgrace.  People should show more respect for the departed.  Happily, thanks to the efforts of cemetery revitalization groups, we saw many new or restored grave markers.  There were also several recent burials (within the last 20 years--a few as recently as two years ago).  My minions snapped a few photos.

Also living in the cemetery were two partially rotted trees that have been hollowed out--one struck by lightning--and would make great hiding places for small critters.  The Lady With the Red Hair, "Flat" Cauli, and I investigated.

It's amazing that the lightning tree is still alive, given the severity of the burns.  Ironically, the tree's in a cemetery.  Go figure.

Maybe Stepp Cemetery is really haunted, but I don't think we'll be going back after dark. Those trees would look plenty spooky at night.  Not that I'm a scaredy-cat or anything.  I am a black kitty, after all.

Your Roving Reporter On The Go,

Cauli Le Chat

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