While ghost-trackers in Evansville keep on the lookout for the Lady in Grey, an apparition in different attire haunts the imagination of paranormal investigators in central Indiana. A spectral Lady in Black is said to lurk in the Stepp Cemetery, located deep within the Morgan Monroe State Forest, south of Martinsville.
The grave markers that remain indicate that the site is the final resting place for at least 32 people—mostly young women and children—the oldest of whom passed away in the early nineteenth century. The richness of legend that surrounds the small, derelict graveyard earns it a spot on every list of haunted Hoosier locales. Starting in the 1950s, visitors to the burial ground began reporting sightings of a lady shrouded in black, hovering on a chair-like tree stump above a stone simply marked “Baby Lester.” Some claimed it was the ghost of a local woman who’d lost her infant son twenty years earlier. Other stories circulated about a spirit in a black gown, sometimes called Anna, who would weave among the headstones mourning the accidental deaths of her husband and teenage daughter. A different branch of the Stepp Cemetery mythology leads to a tale of two brothers who dueled to the death in the graveyard for their inheritance.
Perhaps because of the Stepp’s notoriety, it has become a destination of sorts for those seeking dark thrills. Over the years, claims have surfaced of ritualistic gatherings in the cemetery, especially those linked with an obscure religious cult. The graveyard has been strewn with debris; its headstones vandalized and removed. One of 300 burial grounds in Monroe County alone, the Stepp Cemetery has come under the purview of the Indiana Pioneer Cemeteries Restoration Project. The grassroots effort was started in 1997 to identify and preserve just such neglected historic sites.