At Mysterious Heartland, we spend a lot of time crawling around the ruins of some of the most notorious and spooky places in the Heartland. Cemeteries in particular seem to attract a bevy of ghostly tales, but what are the most frightening? After much debate, we are happy to bring you the Top 10 Creepiest Cemeteries in the Midwest! Note: Many of these cemeteries have been vandalised in the past. Please be respectful when visiting and always adhere to local cemetery laws. If you attempt to go to any of these places at night, we cannot be held responsible for what happens to you.
10. Lake View Cemetery
This secluded, rural cemetery sits along Morse Road just south of Route 169, outside the small town of Buhl. It is surrounded on all sides by forest. It is a popular destination for people looking to see ghosts, so much so that a local psychic told the newspaper that all the attention has upset the spirits there. That seems just fine for these amateur ghost hunters, many of whom have recorded otherworldly voices at Lake View Cemetery. One voice mentioned a flag, and sometimes only one flag appears to be moving, while the others are still. At least one visitor has seen an old man wearing old fashioned clothing hanging around the cemetery. He appeared to close the gate, then he turned, walked away, and disappeared. On closer inspection, the visitor found that the gate was broken and could not be closed.
9. Woodlawn Cemetery
Woodlawn Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio is nothing if not picturesque. The cemetery doubles as an arboretum—its beautiful variety of trees shades its meandering paths and surrounds the peaceful waters of Goose Lake. Over the years, however, visitors say something mysterious lurks under the shade of those trees. The forlorn figure of a lone woman has been seen several times, always dressed the same. Unlike most “women in white” who haunt cemeteries, this ghost is said to be wearing a red shirt, jeans, and sneakers, with a blue sweater tied around her waist. Another oft-reported ghost is that of a young boy and his dog. The boy drowned in a canal and his dog perished trying to rescue him. Today, hundreds of visitors leave trinkets at their memorial. Mournful sobs have also been known to follow people around the cemetery.
8. Dartford Cemetery
Green Lake, Wisconsin
A variety of ghosts are said to inhabit this garden-like cemetery, which sits on either side of North Street in the town of Green Lake, Wisconsin. One of the most prominent ghosts is that of Chief Highknocker (Hanageh), who drowned in 1911. He was attempting to swim across a river on his way to the shores of Green Lake, which was considered sacred by American Indians. According to another legend, visitors who sit atop a mausoleum on the south side of Dartford Cemetery will be shoved off by the ghostly hands of one of the children interred there. Additionally, soldiers from the Civil War era, dark figures, orbs of light, and even strange sounds have all been encountered at Dartford.
7. The One-Hundred Steps Cemetery
The One-Hundred Steps Cemetery is located between Terre Haute and Brazil, Indiana off N. County Road 675 W, just south of Route 40. Difficult to find because it is unmarked on many maps, this rural cemetery is home to an unusual legend. The cemetery itself holds graves dating back to the 1860s, but most visitors come to see a long set of concrete stairs. They are broken and sunken into the grass in many places, but it is said that secrets will be revealed if you make it to the top. According to legend, anyone who counts every step and reaches the top at midnight will be approached by the ghost of an undertaker. This grim figure will show you a vision of your death. If you fail to count the same number of steps on your way down, the vision will come true. If you walk up the side of the hill rather than the steps, a phantom hand will push you to the ground.
6. Bone Hill Cemetery
Also known as Ebenezer Church Cemetery and Levasy Cemetery, “Bone Hill” got its name from an old American Indian practice used for hunting buffalo. The tribe would find a sheer cliff or drop off and frighten a buffalo herd into stampeding toward it. Many of the buffalo would fall to their deaths, where they could be easily harvested. One such “buffalo jump” was located near this cemetery, where pioneers discovered a large pile of buffalo bones. According to legend, a pioneer family buried a fair amount of gold somewhere near a stone fence on the cemetery grounds. They planned to return after seven years, but never did. Since that time, visitors have reported seeing a blue light hovering over the stone wall. It is supposedly the spirits of the family protecting their gold.
5. Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery
Fort Leavenworth is the oldest continually operating military post west of the Mississippi River, and its cemetery has been in use since at least 1844. Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery was officially established in 1862 and contains the remains of over 20,000 United States soldiers. Oddly, the ghosts said to haunt this hallowed ground are not service men. One of the oldest legends concerns Catherine Sutter, an early pioneer whose children became lost in a winter storm while looking for firewood. Catherine searched in vain all winter long, before succumbing to pneumonia. Her ghost has been seen wandering the cemetery grounds, wearing a calico dress and black shawl. Sometimes she is holding a lantern, and other times only her voice can be heard calling out for her children. The other ghost is that of an American Indian named Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce. He was incarcerated at the fort in 1877, and his apparition has been seen in the cemetery.
4. Greenwood Cemetery
Greenwood Cemetery is rumoured to be one of the most haunted locations in central Illinois. According to Troy Taylor, the land that would become Greenwood was originally an American Indian burial ground, and then was later used by the first white settlers to bury their dead until the late 1830s. These graves have since disappeared. The oldest visible marker on the grounds dates back to 1840, and Greenwood Cemetery was officially established in 1857. One of the most interesting stories at Greenwood concerns the ghosts of dead and dying Confederate prisoners who were dumped at the cemetery on their way to a prison camp and buried in the hillside under what is now a memorial to Union soldiers. Another popular legend concerns the so-called “Greenwood Bride,” who wanders the grounds in her wedding dress searching for her fiancé, who was murdered by bootleggers. Greenwood Cemetery is also haunted by phantom funerals, ghost lights that flicker in the southeastern hills, and other, more sinister apparitions.
3. Oakland Cemetery
Iowa City, Iowa
A blackened, bronze statue of an angel, its arms outstretched and head bowed, is the focus of much curiosity among visitors to Oakland Cemetery. The cemetery was established in 1843 and sits along Brown Street and Highway 1 in Iowa City. The angel statue was designed by a Bohemian artist and erected in 1912 to commemorate Nicholas and Eddie Feldevert. Hundreds of people come every year to see the “Black Angel,” and there are many explanations for why it has changed colour. Many believe that Teresa Feldevert was interested in the dark arts, and her interest corrupted the statue. Anyone who is brave enough to kiss the angel, it is said, will die instantly. Others believe (incorrectly) that a man erected the statue in honour of his wife. His wife’s infidelity, however, left a permanent stain on the statue as a reminder of her sin. According to legend, anyone who touches the “Black Angel” will suffer a horrible fate. One young man tried to remove its hand with a hacksaw and went insane. Later, his body turned up in the Chicago River. The statue is said to turn a shade darker every Halloween.
2. Butler/William Ganong Cemetery
For most of the last two centuries, this remote, rural cemetery next to a schoolhouse on Henry Ruft Road was quiet and serine. That all changed one day in 1980. Marion Kuclo a local psychic who also called herself Gundella, paid a visit to the cemetery and made a grisly discovery. What she thought was a blonde wig turned out to be a woman’s scalp. As she got closer, she saw bone, pieces of a white dress, and bits of coffin lying around. The authorities thought a heavy rain must have washed the casket up, or it was dug up by animals. Kuclo suspected something more sinister. Whatever the reason, it touched off a series of unfortunate events. Shortly after discovery of the corpse, a man died in a car wreck on a curve in the road near the cemetery. People began to whisper that the ghost of a young blonde was causing accidents, and the curve began to be known as “Bad Curve.” Other visitors have heard screams coming from the cemetery at night.
1. Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery
Bachelor’s Grove is hands down one of the most famous haunted cemeteries in America. Every manner of ghost, spook light, and supernatural occurrence has been reported here. One of the most enduring legends concerns a phantom house. In the 1970s, Richard T. Crowe collected stories from dozens of eyewitnesses who claimed to have seen a white farmhouse at various places in the woods alongside the trail, complete with a glowing light in the window. There are several foundations and old brick wells tucked away in the woods—evidence that there were homes nearby sometime in the past. Another popular ghost is the White Lady, or Madonna, of Bachelor’s Grove, who is said to be searching for her lost infant. This ghost, or one very much like it, was supposedly captured on a now famous photograph taken using infrared film. The pond adjacent to the cemetery has its own share of legends. Stories say it was one of the hundreds of places scattered around Illinois where mobsters dumped their victims during the roaring ‘20s. A policeman reportedly saw the apparition of a horse, followed by a man and a plow, walk out of the pond and cross 143rd Street.
If you like this article, you will love Michael Kleen’s book Legends and Lore of Illinois
The Definitive Collection! The Legends and Lore of Illinois is an exciting and informative look at Illinois ghostlore. Join the Fallen as they visit some of the most haunted places in the Prairie State – Will they unlock the secrets of the unknown, or will they unwittingly unleash shadows from the darkest recesses of our imagination? Get ready to explore infamous places such as Bachelor’s Grove, Airtight Bridge, Resurrection Cemetery, Winston Tunnel, the Seven Gates to Hell, Manteno State Hospital, Axman’s Bridge, and many more! What adventures await you inside?