Indiana Cemeteries: Tippecanoe Battlefield

Indiana’s inconsistent weather means you must leave the house on a sunny day. Last week, winter paused and we welcomed the sun and 60-degree weather. I decided to visit a familiar space, but to defamiliarize my experience of it.

Each year, I attend the Fiddler’s Gathering in Battle Ground, IN. It’s usually dark, I’m usually eating festival food, and I’m usually drinking People’s beer. Everyone is dancing. Hula hoops are spinning. Kids are running around. You can hear music from the main stage and from nearby campsites. It’s a time Tippecanoe County comes together as a community with the shared interest of music, history, and friendship.

It’s wild to think this was the site of a bloody battle on November 7, 1811 between William Henry Harrison’s troops and Tecumseh’s men. This battle, named the Battle of Tippecanoe, is considered one of the opening battles of the War of 1812.

The park is home to a battle memorial (85 feet tall), pioneer chapel and cemetery. Below I have included photographs from my visit.

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Indiana Cemeteries: Spring Vale

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Touching the edge of Indiana 25, I never realized the expansiveness of this cemetery from the road. The tall trees drown out the noise of the passing cars, leaving an eerily peaceful silence. At the front gate, a poetic plaque reads:

A spot where nature stopped and smiled as she wrought and each returning season comes and smiles again. Beautiful, whether covered by the fallen leaves of autumn, the white mantle of winter, or the green verdure of spring. 

I was excited to visit the cemetery, because it is the final resting place of many key figures in the history of Greater Lafayette. I saw the names of local streets, historic buildings, and other city spaces on the gravestones. I even found the grave of the woman that supposedly haunts my last house.

A 2014 Journal and Courier article explored the history of Greater Lafayette cemeteries, including Spring Vale.

John Purdue [primary benefactor of Purdue University] helped establish that cemetery, and early Lafayette movers and shakers are buried there, including several U.S. Congressmen.

Arett Campbell Arnett, medical pioneer and founder of the Arnett Clinic, the largest (in 1968) multi-specialty physician practice organization in Indiana, is buried there as is Ray C. “Deac” Ewry, a Lafayette native and Purdue University graduate who had polio as a kid but went on to win eight Olympic Gold Medals in high jump, broad jump and triple jump competition in the 1900, 1904 and 1908 Olympics […]

After the Washington Monument was completed in 1884, miniature copies of it started popping up as monuments in graveyards such as Spring Vale […]

Spring Vale, which opened in 1869, still has plots available. Following a current trend, it also boasts a special site for green burials. Among the movers and shakers buried there is Moses Fowler, who came to Lafayette with John Purdue and became a leading businessman, banker and a land baron in Benton County. Special tracks had to be laid in Spring Vale to deliver his monument […] because it was so huge.

When I took the path to the back of the cemetery, I stood in awe of this massive memorial. As you can see below, it towers over the treeline.

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I have included some of my favorite photos and memorials from the visit. There are many statues of women, and some with a hand pointing to heaven. There are several plots that have one giant memorial for a family, and smaller memorials surrounding it with the names of individual family members (see an example directly below).

I hope you enjoy the photographs; it is by far my favorite cemetery in Lafayette.

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“My Jewel”
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Random cross stump craving. A plot? Just cemetery art?

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Indiana Cemeteries: Greater Lafayette

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Since starting my blog, my cemetery visits have increased. Thus, while the memories are still fresh, I want to gather my past visits and document them. Though, I’ll be returning to each site. I can never visit a cemetery just once, there are too many stories.

Harrison Cemetery (West Lafayette)

Located behind William Henry Harrison High School in West Lafayette, this cemetery is supposedly haunted. The Purdue student newspaper, The Exponent, describes these incidents:

Harrison Cemetery, also known as St. Joseph Cemetery or Lafayette Catholic Cemetery, is the second of Lafayette’s haunted locations. This site has been notorious for ghostly experiences. Some visitors say they feel like they’re being followed or watched whenever they go to pay their respects. Gravestones have also been said to move around the cemetery, appearing in different spots from time to time. Shadows can be seen stalking through the site and distant voices are occasionally heard. Most disturbing at Harrison Cemetery is the personal and strangely violent nature of the residing ghosts. Visitors have had things thrown at them while in the cemetery, and some have even felt the touch of hands.

My visit to the cemetery was quiet and I did not experience thrown objects or ghostly touches. My next experience may be a different story.

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Greenbush Cemetery (Lafayette)

A fence separates this cemetery from the bustle of Lafayette. I am always surprised how city sounds disappear when you walk through cemetery gates.

The cemetery has beautiful Victorian design, but you can see the damage of years of neglect. Luckily, it has been the focus of restoration with the hopes of returning it to it’s once park-like state. In the future, I look forward to sitting for hours on a Greenbush Cemetery bench, writing in my notebook.

Notably, Greenbush Cemetery is home to 38 confederate prisoners of war and 22 Union soldiers killed in a train wreck.

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Jewish Cemetery of Greater Lafayette (Lafayette)

What attracted me to this cemetery was the amount of foliage and shade. Also, it’s rich history:

Established in 1840, the Jewish Cemetery is 4 acres containing burials from the two Jewish Synagogues in Lafayette. The north part of the cemetery contains burials from the Temple Israel congregation and the south part holds graves from the Sons of Abraham congregation.

Although my time there was short, I am inspired to learn more about this space and the people buried here. Sometimes cemeteries can give feelings of fear or discomfort, but this cemetery’s wooded landscape creates a pleasant and welcoming atmosphere.

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McCormick Cemetery (West Lafayette)

My most recent cemetery excursion was McCormick Cemetery, located near the president’s house at Purdue University. I walked my dog miles to reach it, not knowing where it was (thank goodness for the Find A Grave app). I drove past it for years, but missed it because it is tucked back near the forest.

Among the old graves was a newer memorial for a past president of Purdue University: Arthur Hansen (1971-82). Notably, he was a Purdue alumnus when hired and he supported the establishment of the Black Cultural Center.

Many of the other grave markers were hard to read, but the designs were very interesting.

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Follow me on Instagram (@notebookofghosts) for more cemetery pictures, along with blog updates and paranormal history.

Indiana Cemeteries: Eller and Spannuth

I grew up in Fishers, IN and would always drive past Spannuth cemetery (near Conner Prairie). I was jealous that people got to share their backyard with a cemetery, a constant reminder of the shadowy boundaries between life and death.

Since it was near the road and without parking, I awkwardly parked my car and then awkwardly walked into the cemetery. The site was surrounded by trees and a wood fence. Although next to a busy road, it was very peaceful. I knew nothing of this cemetery prior to my visit, but later research revealed (through historical documents) that six civil war soldiers are buried here. Here are a few grave markers that caught my attention. As my last Indiana Cemeteries post shows,  I am fascinated by hand symbols on gravestones.

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A hand pointing up represents heaven.
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Hard to read, but the bottom two lines are: “A shadow over our life is cast. We miss thee every where.”

Using my Find a Grave App, I located a cemetery nearby, named Eller Cemetery. The App is great at locating cemeteries, providing gravestone images and information, but you have to use better judgement when deciding if it’s on private property or not. This one I wasn’t so sure about, so I’ll conceal the address.

This cemetery involved a hike through the woods, which added an ominous vibe. The woods were quiet and I could hear distant leaves and branches cracking (probably animals, right?).

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When I first entered the site, I was drawn to a fenced-off area with three graves, one of which seemed to be sinking into the ground.

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Closer inspection told the story of a family. Amanda’s grave in the center has a hand pointing up to represent heaven with a short poem at the bottom, but I was unable to read it. Her son is buried next to her with the symbol of a broken bud or branch, representing a premature or untimely death. It looks as though the mother, Amanda, died shortly after giving birth, and her son soon followed. I am assuming the husband, James T. Gentry, is the sinking grave.

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Both sites had many graves of young children, sometimes only marked with the name “Infant.” You realize in these moments the importance of memorial, burial, and family.

Next week’s Indiana Cemeteries will be an old visit to a few in Lafayette, IN. The week after, I’ll be going international with pictures from my visit to Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh, Scotland. 

Indiana Cemeteries: Heady Cemetery

 

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When I was a young girl living in Fishers, IN, my friend and I found a cemetery in the middle of our subdivision. Its location seemed random, but modern development building around (and unfortunately on top of) old grave sites isn’t new (I mean there’s a grave in the middle of the road in Amity, IN). My friend and I, for some very odd reason, thought we were the first to stumble across this graveyard and took ownership of it. We began to clean up, pick up fallen branches and pile them at the edge of the cemetery. We made a list of each gravestone, marking the name, date of birth and death. We then called up everyone in the phone book with corresponding last names to let them know we found their ancestors’ graves. I was an odd child.

I was attached to the cemetery, as are a lot of spirits. The cemetery, dating back to the 19th century, has many members of the Heady family. Many legends surround the graveyard, including a grave-robber that accidentally dug up his son’s own body (yeah, I don’t know) and completely lost it. He now haunts the area.

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Near the cemetery is a hollow (126th Street/Allisonville Road) where a schoolhouse ran by the Heady family burned down. Several children were killed and their spirits will appear on foggy nights on that road. Historical records of such a school have not been found. I’m not sure if it is true, but I’ll let you know when I return to my hometown on a foggy night.

These photos are from a recent visit back in November, 2015.

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Lambs, which represent innocence, are often found on children’s graves. Allison passed away at the age of 2 months, 1 day.
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The symbol represents a hand pointing to heaven.
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Here we see another lamb and pointing hand. The dove represents God, a messenger of God.
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This gravestone marks three graves. Three Weeping Willow trees, which represent sorrow and mourning, appear at the top.