Stories abound of the supernatural—apparitions that appear in gossamer gowns that fade into the murky night air, screams emanating from the “haunted” cemetery, sculptures that have eyes that glow red after dark. How do these stories get started? Are the stories true? Are there things that just can’t be explained?
The Stepp Cemetery
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. 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?
The Voodoo Queen
Marie Laveau was known as the Voodoo Queen and one of the most notorious practitioners of black magic in all of New Orleans. Born in 1794 in Santo Domingo, Marie was well known throughout her adopted city of New Orleans for the potions she concocted and the spells she cast.
Marie lived a long life, giving birth to 15 children, including her daughter and namesake, Marie II, who took over for her mother when she died in 1881, casting spells for the denizens of the dark and believers in the cult. For years after Marie died people claimed to see apparitions of Marie. To this day, candles, coins, beads, and other gifts are still left at the crypt that is said to hold the remains of Marie and her daughter, Marie II.
The Black Angel
The black angel is in the Oakland Cemetery at Iowa City, Iowa, has dark stories surrounding it which probably began to swirl when the bright bronze statue turned black. Teresa Dolezal hired Bohemian artist, Mario Korbel, of Chicago, to create an angel for her husband’s grave. She also gave instructions that the angel was to hover over the body of her son’s grave, too. Korbel created the angel with one wing spread open over Eddie’s grave. No one remembers for sure when the angel turned color but that is when the rumors started. One story goes that on the dark and stormy night of Teresa’s burial a lightning bolt struck the angel and turned it black instantly. Another rumor suggests that the angel itself portends of the evil—most graveyard angels, they say, look upward with their wings lifted toward Heaven, but this one looks downward. Ominous.
Leave it to a college town to turn the stories of evil into a reason to challenge the mysterious circumstances behind the color change of the sculpture and even build upon them making it a place for college co-eds to kiss! The Iowa City college students created even more fanciful myths. They say that if a college girl is kissed in the moonlight near the black angel, she will die within six months. They also say that if you kiss the black angel you will die instantly. Or touching the black angel at the stroke of midnight will bring death within seven years. They also say if a virgin is kissed in front of the black angel the curse will be lifted and the angel will turn back to its original bright bronze color. Hawkeye co-eds have performed many experiments of the kissing nature in front of the black angel and the sculpture is still black. No deaths have been reported either as a result of the efforts of the college students—yet the rumors are retold with vigor and enthusiasm.
The sculpture created by Karl Bitter for John E. Hubbard in the Green Mount Cemetery at Montpelier, Vermont, also has lore that has been promulgated. Supposedly, if you sit on the lap of the sculpture, something bad will happen to you—some say in seven hours, some say seven days, some say seven months; the amount of time varies depending on who retells the story of the curse. Locals also tell of screams coming from the cemetery at night in the vicinity of the monument. Others report seeing the eyes of the sculpture turn to glowing red, though, no photographic evidence of that has surfaced.