The Chain on the Tombstone


Today I wanted to share another piece of Indiana folklore: the chain on the tombstone.

In Bonds Chapel Cemetery (Orange County, Indiana) sits a gravestone that reads “Floyd E. Pruett, 1894-1920.” On the side of the stone is the ghostly appearance of a chain. Many argue the chain developed over time and the number of links continue to grow in number. The chain has been the topic of speculation for quite some time.

Folklore scholar William M. Clements interviewed Terry, an expert on this tombstone, in 1968. Terry explained the tombstone’s unusual appearance.

Well, the tombstone itself isn’t unusual. I mean, it’s a small tombstone; but when you get up close, you can see what appears to be a chain. And small links of a chain look maybe engraved in the tombstone to form a cross […] sometimes there’ll be seven or eight; sometimes there’ll be up to fifteen or sixteen. And, well nobody knows why it changes. Some people think maybe it’s the weather and something in the stone itself; and other people just think it’s psy…(whistle) supernatural. (from Indiana Folklore: A Reader, 1980)

A chain, huh? According to S.E. Schlosser (Spooky Indiana2012), legend says a man (they didn’t name names, but reference a grave with a chain in Bonds Chapel Cemetery) died by a cursed chain. He had killed his wife with a logger chain (he was a logger) and, before her dying breath, she put a curse on her husband. A few days later, a chain broke loose from a timber wagon, whipped in the air, and snapped the man’s neck. Some legends say it was the same chain he used to kills his wife. If you touch the chain today, you will be killed by a chain. This is only one of the many fabricated stories, though.

For example, a more romantic version has been posted on A user writes:

He was killed in battle, and his girlfriend stood across the road, watching his burial from afar. Some say her ghost to this day still awaits his return. The chain is said to grow [edited from groe] one link longer every year, symbolizing her growing love for him, and it is said to glow at night. An apparition in a black dress can be seen standing on the other side of the road.

Image Source: Angelfire

But, Clements interviewed a grocer who remembered Pruett died from tuberculosis, and that the mysterious chain was probably the result of a rusty chain that had come in contact with the stone in the quarry. Another informant gave a similar explanation for the chain mark and Pruett’s death.

Clements concluded that “a legend has been created among the youth of several southern Indiana counties in order to explain a physical phenomenon as well as to provide a supernatural ‘thrill’ as an escape from boredom” (264).

Pruett most definitely died of usual circumstances and was unfortunately given an unusual gravestone. How did the story start? I don’t know. It is interesting to see the various explanations for the chain, from the believable to the wild. But, let us remember to see past the legend and acknowledge he is a person (see update below). 

Want to hear more locals (of the past) tell their version of the story? There are so many versions. Read more here.

Update. There’s a similar story about a Carl Pruitt in Kentucky. Same last name but different spelling. Weird right?

Update: The gravestone has been vandalized as we often see with legends attached to burial sites. Please respect the fact that (1) these stories are a fabrication and (2) he is a person with a family. Find your thrills elsewhere.

Update: Some versions of the legend even say the chain is on the wife’s tombstone.


Clements, William M.. “The Chain on the Tombstone.” Indiana Folklore: A Reader, edited by Linda Degh, Indiana University Press, 1980, 258-264.

10 thoughts on “The Chain on the Tombstone”

  1. My mother was from Orleans and took us to see the tombstone back in the late 70’s. Apparently Floyd was a relative of ours on her mother’s side.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing! I live in Indiana and want to make a visit there. Did you grow up hearing the legend?


  2. I also went to this Grave in the late 70’s as a teenager with a few friends. I brought a camera to take a picture of the tombstone. We had already heard the story that it grows a chain link every year, that is why we were going to see it. We got there it was late at night. I took a couple of pictures and the flash wouldn’t work so i didn’t think i got any pictures. When i got the film developed, I had a few pictures of the Tombstone, very clear as well. On that roll after the Tombstone pictures was a very bright Steeple from a Church that we didn’t know where that picture came from. I still have those pictures. Very freaky!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Apologies for the delay. I wasn’t getting notifications for a bit. That’s such a spooky story. Chills! Thanks so much for sharing.


  3. In the early 1990’s, me and some friends of mine heard the tale and had to go check it out for ourselves. After looking awhile we found the gravestone and seen the chain. It might have been the moonlight or our minds playing tricks on us, but the chain ran along the ground. It was like a mist but you could clearly see the links of the chain. Since that day, I believe in the supernatural…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I grew up hearing the truth, since I’m Floyd Pruett’s great nephew. He died of tuberculosis. Period. All this hype has done over the years is cause problems for the family and encourage idiots to tromp through the cemetery and vandalize things. The stone has been chipped. It’s even been shot at, at least once. It’s nonsense.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for verifying my assumption. I’m sorry to hear the grave has been vandalized; this happens so often with lore and legends. I make an effort to educate people on the harm these types of stories can sometimes do to families and memorials.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s