Make your own free website on Tripod.com

The
Stepp Cemetery

Home Page


HOME
ORBS
PHANTOM FOG

Ghosts Fly and Local Ghouls Lurk
at Stepp Cemetery

(The following article was originally posted on the website of the Indiana University School of Journalism. Reprinted by permission of the author.)

- by
Kristy McClain

The Meeting Place

A sticker with an alien emblem on it rests against the rear bumper of an old van. The van sits in the grass between a rusted shed and pieces of scrap metal. The sun fades beyond the hills that embrace the Taylor home. Two twin girls in their early 20s greet guests as they enter the driveway. One walks with a cane and the other wears a long, green cloak. Pale skin illuminates their dark hair. They move slowly toward the house while stray kittens frolic in the yard behind them. It is Oct. 6, 2001 and Lynn Taylor, cofounder of the Association for Aerial Anomaly Research and Cataloging, is meeting with his colleagues to discuss paranormal activity at Stepp Cemetery.

The headstone of Stepp Cemetery. The cemetery is steeped in legend and continues to interest locals more than 200 years since its construction. Photo By: Kristy McClain

The Inspiration

Taylor began this organization after he became unsatisfied with a group of men he was meeting with. “They wanted to sit around and tell ghost stories. I wanted to do the actual research,” said Taylor. His mannerisms were gentle and he spoke softly, often pausing between words to add precision to the topic. Taylor is interested in perusing a journey that links the spiritual world to the scientific study of UFOs. He believes there are energies that exist in Stepp and has made this site the milestone for much of his research. He has associated his findings in Stepp with data collected on extraterrestrial sightings. He is an avid believer that there is life outside planet Earth.

The Cemetery

It is a 20-minute drive from the Taylor home to Stepp, which is located in the Morgan-Monroe State Forest. Nighttime at Stepp is quiet and still on October 6. Hundreds of stars hover above the secluded meadow. The Oak trees and a rusted, iron rod were the only things

 separating the world of the dead from the living. Crossing this barrier and entering sacred territory stirs emotions you can only experience once you have entered. Walking into complete blackness brings about an eerie feeling. The feeling of fear is hidden by the excitement for the unknown. Sticks crack underneath anxious feet as you travel to this familiar place.

John Tosti, Lynn Taylor and Linda Taylor take time out of observation to work with their cameras. The Taylor's and Tosti document strange, paranormal energies for the Association for Aerial Anomaly Research and Cataloging. Photo By: Kristy McClain

Taylor’s breathing becomes rapid, but words are softly spoken. It is almost 7:30 p.m. before the AAARC team is ready to begin its study. “We try and enter this place as if we were invited guests to someone’s home,” said Taylor. By the dim flicker of two flashlights, cameras snap and electromagnetic devices capture the movement of energies. Ivy, 5 year-old daughter of John Tosti, was playing on a large tree stump when a sudden breeze almost knocked her off. Linda Taylor, Lynn’s wife, took Ivy’s picture. “I think we’ve got a live one here. Ivy, someone’s trying to play with you,” said Linda.

Scientific Theories

She caught the blurry, white cloud on her digital camera and raised the image for everyone to see. “Oh, they love little kids,” said Linda. She has seen these white clouds before. AAARC refers to them as “orbs.” “Physicists have referred to these energies as ‘subtle energy’. It is produced naturally by the earth,” said Taylor. AAARC also has detected “phantom fog” which resembles an oddly shaped, iridescent form. They do not believe that these energies have distinct personalities. They see them as a mass of energy, invisible to the naked eye. It is not clear to Taylor’s organization why they exist, but they think that these energies are somehow linked to the extraterrestrial world.

“I do this for my own enlightenment. It would be great to educate others about what I have learned, but mainly it’s for my own enjoyment,” said Taylor. Those who may think of Taylor as a modern day “ghost buster” might not take his findings seriously, but he doesn’t mind. “We don’t care what other people think. We do this because we want to,” said Taylor. His daughter, Julie Harp, said they are not the only ones fascinated by this historical site. She commented that this cemetery is very popular among university students as well as local residents. “This site is notorious for many legends that have evolved out of Monroe County,” said Harp.

The Legends

Harp walks slowly toward a tree at the north end of the cemetery. She kneels beside a flat stone and brushes away dirt and leaves that had fallen around it. It reads, “Baby Lester.” There were no dates to confirm the birth or the death of this child. Harp recalls the legend of Baby Lester, “It was said that the mother of Baby Lester would travel to the cemetery every night and sit on a tree stump while she mourned the loss of her child. Some have even said that she would dig up the lifeless body and rock it back and forth while sitting on the stump. Then she would place it back into the ground until her next visit.”

The tiny grave of Baby Lester. Stepp Cemetery is the resting place of 32 people, most of which are young children and teenaged mothers. Photo by: Kristy McClain


There is another legend recorded by Mark Marimen in the book, Haunted Indiana. This story also involved a grieving mother, one who lost both her husband and daughter to tragic accidents. She, like Mrs. Lester, traveled to the cemetery nightly. Some people claim to have seen her walking among the graves wearing a black dress. No one knows her real name, but they call her “Anna.” The legend says there is no record of Anna’s death and she still haunts the cemetery.

Beliefs

Ron Baldwin, a Monroe County historian, said there are good reasons why people think this cemetery is haunted. “The majority of the people buried in Stepp are children under the age of 7 and their 19-year-old mothers.” Baldwin believes this fact alone has a negative impact on the reputation of Stepp. Baldwin finds the legends to be entertaining. “I wish there were ghosts, then they could answer all my questions,” said Baldwin.

AAARC claims that the legends are not of significant interest to their research. Just like Baldwin, they find these stories to be humorous. Their organization is more interested in the natural energies produced by the cemetery. Taylor described two different types of energy that surround cemeteries and haunted houses. He said there are positive and negative energies, but that the majority of the energies that exist are positive. They will not cause harm, unless they are provoked in a negative manner. People who perform ritualistic ceremonies often disturb these energies when they use cemeteries as a worshiping ground.

A Negative Encounter

Taylor recalled a time when he visited Stepp with his wife and two daughters, “The first thing I saw when I entered the cemetery was a green, stadium cup. It had holes cut into it and a candle was lit in the center. We continued to walk towards the east end of the cemetery and noticed more cups lined up on top of a couple of tombstones.”
His wife and daughters became frightened and wanted to leave. They knew that unwelcome guests had been to the cemetery and had disturbed the energies.

Taylor believes some type of ceremony was held in the cemetery that evening, before his visit. He did not refer to the ceremony as satanic. However, he did believe that it was a ritual of some kind. He wanted to stay and research the negative energies, but his main concern then was to keep his family safe.

Restoration

Baldwin is also familiar with rituals at cemeteries. At one cemetery in Monroe County, which he called a “Satanic Cemetery,” Baldwin has seen emblems spray painted onto tombstones.

The destruction outrages Baldwin and he does whatever he can to protect these old cemeteries. He is involved with the Indiana Pioneer Restoration Project, which works to protect abandoned cemeteries built before 1832. Stepp alone is among 300 burial grounds in Monroe County. It was built in the 1800s and is classified as a pioneer cemetery. There are few people buried in these cemeteries. Only 32 people are in Stepp, according to a Monroe County Coroner’s report.

“There have been quite a few stones removed from Stepp because of its association with many local legends,” said Baldwin. The stones have been found outside of the cemetery and on various hiking trails. Baldwin said that one time someone was caught digging up one of the gravesites. He said that the deterioration of cemeteries is on the rise and there are not enough people to care for them. There is also a lack of funding. Baldwin and his group of volunteers, mainly genealogy students, pay for the restoration projects out of their own pockets. Taylor and Baldwin both said that these sacred grounds need to be respected and that people should be careful not to damage them.

Many anxious feet have crossed the grounds that Stepp Cemetery rests upon. Most are interested in the legends. However, some have unlocked the door to Monroe County’s past, while others have linked the spiritual world to the scientific. No matter what the interest is, Stepp has been used as a tool to educate people. This historical site is a part of Bloomington’s heritage and deserves to be respected. It has served as a sanctuary for the deceased and a classroom for the living. But for everyone, it is a place to cherish those whose lives have shaped the present.
 

 
Updated: February 05, 2006
AAARC and The Sentinel Files Copyright 1999

E-mail: