Southern Indiana has a distinct geography from the rest of the Hoosier State, thanks to its proximity to the Ohio River. Here, the terrain becomes hilly and wooded. Tales of hearty pioneers and river barons date back to the early 1800s. At Mysterious Heartland, we have found many interesting ghost stories in this region, from the “Blue Lady” of Story Inn to the “Grey Lady” of Willard Library. Which place will prove to be the most haunted of them all?
10. Springdale Cemetery
Scenic Madison is located along the Ohio River in southeastern Indiana. Established in 1839, Springdale Cemetery is the city’s earliest still-active cemetery. It is located at the end of West 5th Street and runs along Crooked Creek. It features terraced plots and historic, stone lined drainage ditches. When the cemetery opened, bodies were disinterred from Old Third Street Cemetery located on the corner of Third and Vine Streets, which is now John Paul Park, and moved to Springdale. One of the most famous monuments in the cemetery is a white, Italian marble statue of a woman dressed in a semi-translucent shawl lifting her arms to the sky. Sculpted by George Grey Bernard for his parents, he named the statue “Let There be Light.” According to legend, the statue’s eyes bleed on Eastern morning. More incredibly, some local residents believe that the statue will step down off its pedestal and chase anyone who kisses its feet.
9. Witch’s Castle
Also known as Mistletoe Falls, legend and real-life horror cross paths at the ruins of this abandoned stone house in the woods off Upper River Road. According to legend, a coven of witches lived here in the founding years of Utica. It is unknown how many witches resided within, but numbers range from three to as many as nine. Terrified, the townspeople trapped the witches inside and burned them to death. Today, all that remains are the stone walls, cellars, and staircases overgrown with underbrush. Visitors have reportedly heard and seen the ghost of a raven-haired adolescent girl wearing a white dress. “Witch’s Castle” has become a hangout for local teens and it is rumored that black rituals still take place there. In January 1992, these ruins were one of the places where four teenage girls tortured 12-year-old Shanda Sharer before ultimately stabbing and burning her to death.
8. Scott County Almshouse
Currently occupied by the Scott County Genealogical Society, the former Scott County Almshouse is located along South Main Street, north of Lake Road, at the periphery of the small town of Scottsburg, Indiana. This three story brick building served as the almshouse on the county poor farm from 1890 to 1960. Like other almshouses throughout the Midwest, it was home to the indigent and elderly with no family to care for them. “Mary” was typical of these county farm inmates. She lived out her life there, disturbing her roommates with constant babbling. To this day, visitors, tenants, and employees who have occupied the building report hearing phantom footsteps, doors opening and closing, and an elderly woman’s voice babbling inarticulately. One several occasions, a bell rang as though someone came in the door, but no one would be there.
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. Schenck Mansion Bed & Breakfast
The beautiful Schenck Mansion sits at 206 West Turnpike Street in Vevay, a quaint town of 1,683 along the Ohio River in southeastern Indiana. A riverboat captain named Benjamin Franklin Schenck built this Second Empire-style mansion in 1874. It has four porches, seven balconies, and eight chimneys. In the middle of the 20th Century, the mansion was a clubhouse for the Switzerland County Saddle Club. Jerry & Lisa Fisher purchased it in 1998 and opened the bed and breakfast two years later after extensive renovations. According to Lisa Fisher, guests often complain about a rude “Amish housekeeper” who passes them on the stairs without acknowledgement. The Fishers, however, do not employ a maid. Others report hearing voices, footsteps, and seeing a lady dressed in white Victorian attire on the second floor. The Fishers acknowledge these spirits, but say they are harmless.
5. Laughery Creek Road
Dearborn County, Indiana
A quiet farmhouse used to sit along this road dividing Delaware and Ohio counties. Its physical remains are long gone, but the psychic scars from a gruesome crime cannot be disbursed as easily. In May 1941, a man who had twice married into the Agrue family confronted his in-laws with a shotgun. He brutally gunned down Johnson Agrue, his wife, and their two sons. Then he hid the shotgun in a hollow tree, but later confessed to the crime. Nearly 30 years later, in 1970, the farmhouse mysteriously burned to the ground. Since then, locals have whispered that Laughery Creek Road is haunted by the Agrue family, or perhaps, their killer. Even the bravest souls avoid driving down this road at night, just in case.
4. The Story Inn
Brown County, Indiana
“One inconvenient location since 1851” is not only this country inn’s tagline, it is also an apt description. To get to the inn, visitors must make a 20 mile trek into the wilderness down State Road 135 from Nashville, Indiana. The Story Inn and its cottages is all that remains of a tiny mining town named Story, which went defunct in the early 1900s. The Inn was restored in the 1960s and now sits at the edge of Brown County State Park. For decades, owners of the Inn kept logs in each room so that guests could document their ghostly encounters. One of the most well-known ghosts haunting the Story Inn is known as the “Blue Lady.” She is believed to have been a wife of Dr. George Story and can be summoned by turning on a blue light in one of the rooms above the restaurant. Literally hundreds of encounters have been recorded, from simply sensing her presence to witnessing and interacting with the apparition. The owner is a skeptic, but continues the tradition of inviting guests to share their stories.
3. Baldwin Cemetery
Tiny Baldwin Cemetery sits in the woods at the end of a drive off South County Road 25 W (Tunnel Mill Road), south of Vernon, Indiana. It is flanked on two sides by an exaggerated meander in the Muscatatuck River. For generations, local residents have searched for the grave of a woman named Mary Smith or Mary Crist, located somewhere in Baldwin Cemetery. The legend is so popular that every year the Jennings County Historical Society and Jennings County High School Drama Club include a vignette about Mary during their annual ghost walk. There are many stories about Mary, including one account claiming she was a witch who was hanged from the branches of a large tree in the cemetery and then buried beneath it. In 2003, a woman claimed to use a dowsing rod to locate Mary’s grave beneath a large tree. According to the Jennings County Historical Society, Mary and her sister Gladys lived alone on a farm in the 1830s. One night, an unidentified assailant raped and murdered Mary and escaped into the darkness. Months after her burial, a drunken man was staggering through the cemetery when he tripped and fell over her grave. The ghost of Mary appeared wearing a bloody nightgown, and the man fled in terror. Many also believe that if you step on Mary’s grave, blood will gush from the ground.
2. Willard Library
Willard Library’s “Grey Lady” is the most famous ghost in Indiana. One of the oldest libraries in the Hoosier State, its imposing Victorian Gothic architecture certainly lends itself to ghost stories. This story, however, appears quite real. The Grey Lady was first spotted in 1937 by a janitor in the basement. Since then, hundreds of visitors claim to have seen her. She most often manifests as a misty, gray figure. Some have smelled her perfume or felt a phantom touch. She is believed to be the ghost of Louise Carpenter, daughter of the library’s founder, Willard Carpenter. The Willard Library’s staff have put up live feed cameras in three rooms so the public could monitor them for anomalous activity. Since then, the cameras have captured dozens of photos of a mysterious, amorphous figure.
1. Culberton Mansion
New Albany, Indiana
Culberton Mansion State Historic Site is located at 914 East Main Street in New Albany, Indiana, across the Ohio River from Louisville. William S. Culbertson built this three-story French Second Empire-style mansion in 1869. It was built on the site of a former Civil War hospital, which many believe contributed to its reputation as a haunted house. The State of Indiana purchased the Culberton Mansion in 1976, and since then staff have reportedly encountered unusual activity throughout the mansion. It mostly manifests after hours in the form of phantom footsteps, doors slamming, strange whispering, flickering lights, and moving furniture. One curator was shoved by unseen hands. Though most phenomenon has been non-visual, a few apparitions have been seen.