Apparitions in gossamer gowns that fade into the murky night air

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One of my favorite episodes of the Andy Griffith Show, Three Wishes for Opie, came in the 5th season when Barney and Goober went to an auction. Barney came back from the auction holding a gypsy’s box that contained a magic lamp, tarot cards of a sort, a book, and the ability to conjure the spirit of a fortune-telling Count from the 18th Century.

In the back and forth with Sheriff Andy Taylor about whether or not the Count was real, Barney heatedly said, “I’m not saying there is such a thing as the supernatural but things have happened that have never been explained.”

Stories abound of the supernatural—apparitions that appear in gossamer gowns that fade into the murky night air. One such tale has been repeatedly told about the Stepp Cemetery in the Morgan Monroe State Forest near Bloomington, Indiana, reportedly the most haunted place in the state. The stories that swirl around the cemetery first started around a fallen tree that resembled a chair that became known as the Witch’s Throne. That throne, however, was not a royal seat but a place of mourning and sorrow from a distraught and inconsolable mother.

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The legend told and re-told is of a young family. The husband works long days at the quarry—the mother busy in the cabin with a newborn girl. Tragically the husband is cut down in his prime in a quarry blast leaving the young mother to raise their little girl alone. She pours herself into the little girl, thinking of her every waking moment—protecting her, over-protecting her. The little girl becomes a young woman and catches the eye of a young man. Reluctantly and fearfully the mother agrees to let the boy escort the girl to a dance.

In a race to get back to the girl’s home before the curfew, the couple drove too fast on the country road slick with a gentle rain sliding off the road. The young girl didn’t survive the accident—the Mother’s heart broken, her dreams shattered, her spirit sent adrift with anguish and heartbreak.

Many campers and hikers have reported that they have felt warmed air as if a hot breath was on their necks. They have reportedly seen a dark fluttering presence hovering over what must be the long-forgotten grave near the Witch’s Throne and heard a faint sobbing.

While pictures of the apparition don’t exist or what we would call empirical evidence there are those who swear it to be true—their senses alive by the touch of the warm air and the sight of figure in the dark night. Is it real or imagined? Or is it as Barney explained, “Things have happened that have never been explained.”

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