It is not any surprise that cemeteries have spawned dozens of eerie urban legends throughout history. Every time another loved one passes, we push the “pause” button on our daily lives to ponder the unknown. When life comes to a screeching halt, what comes next? When will I die? How will I die? If you travel to the One Hundred Steps Cemetery in Brazil, Indiana, that kind of curiosity just might kill you.
The official address of the cemetery ranges from 7114 to 7140 North County Road off of 675 West if you are on Highway 40 in Indiana. If you are coming from the east side of the state heading west and you reach the Marathon Gas station, turn around. Because a) too many horror movies start at a backwoods gas station and b) you have gone too far. Populated by headstones dating all the way back to the 1860s, the cemetery itself sits atop a large hill but the one hundred steps begin at the end of the road.
According to legend, if you go to the cemetery at midnight, you must count each step as you climb to the top of the hill. Once you arrive at the top, you should stand facing the open field where the grave plots lie. In doing so, you will be greeted by the spirit of the cemetery’s first undertaker who will—without uttering a single word— reveal to you how you are going to die in a chilling vision. Once the undertaker vanishes, you are expected to do an about face and scurry back down the steps, counting each step along the way as you had done before. Upon reaching the bottom of the hill, it is believed that if you come up with the same number of steps going down as you did going up, you are sure to die as you did in the undertaker’s vision. But if you are lucky enough to have a different number going down than you did going up, the vision is believed to be a false prophecy.
Of course, not everyone who has set foot on the cemetery terrain has dared to make their way up the one hundred steps. Indiana locals will tell you that those who thought they were wise by going around the steps to arrive at the top of the hill have been severely punished. It is said that anyone who does not use the steps is shoved to the ground by an unseen force that many describe as feeling like a hand, leaving a large red handprint on their back that remains for days. Those who have claimed to see such an imprint have called it “the mark of the Devil.”
If you go to the One Hundred Steps Cemetery today, you may notice that the new decor of knocked over headstones and hateful graffiti on the trees add to the already unsettling vibe of the historical site. Causing even more alarm should you choose the path of bravery up the hill, the steps are now tarnished and broken, so approach the area with caution. But what remains a true mystery in this urban legend is how anyone could count one hundred steps going up or down the hill when the cemetery never had more than sixty steps.