Cemeteries and Their Stories,
Madison County, Indiana
Location: north side of West 8th Street, in NE quarter of section 9--destroyed
The Abbott Cemetery represents a mystery! In the pioneer days of the early 19th century, the most heavily traveled road was South Bank Road, that ancient Native American trail which skirted White River. Hundreds of pioneers and later settlers traversed this path to enter the central and western regions of the New Purchase. South Bank Road later became Strawtown Pike, 8th Street, West 8th Street, Anderson-Hamilton Road, etc.
Around 1830 a man named Abbott brought his wife and two adult sons from Kentucky and settled on the north side of what is now 8th Street west of the jog past Moss Island. He and his family occupied a log cabin there, the illustration of which, from Forkner's history, is shown below. The Abbotts would occasionally house a traveler overnight. Giving a night's lodging to someone who found himself between settlements as darkness approached was quite customary in those times. However, Forkner's history explains that to their neighbors the Abbott family seemed unsociable and reluctant to make friends. The father and sons were considered suspicious because they would often disappear for several weeks at a time and would not discuss their actions. As Forkner stated, "...in a new country, where everyone knew all that was going on in the neighborhood, this caused the Abbotts to be looked upon as untrustworthy."
In the summer of 1832, a man from Ohio was traveling along South Bank Road, looking for land to purchase so that he could move his family into newly opened central Indiana. He had sought shelter at the Abbott cabin for the night. He had told his people in Ohio that he intended to be gone about six weeks. Two weeks beyond this time allotment, his relatives sent out a search party for him, and those men easily traced his route which included his last lodging at the Abbott cabin. The Abbotts admitted to the man's having spent the night but insisted that he continued on his way west the next morning. The searchers found no trace of him beyond the point of the Abbotts' cabin and so returned to Ohio.
This photograph of the Abbott's cabin was take in the early 20th century before the structure was demolished in order to make room for the construction of new houses.
Shortly after they left, the body of a man was found floating in White River just a little down stream from the Abbotts' place. No one could identify him; he was a stranger. Some in the community questioned if this might not be the man from Ohio and wondered if he had accidentally fallen in the river and drowned. Some asserted that the body might be a completely different stranger who had suffered the same fate. Others suggested that perhaps the Abbotts were guilty of homicide: they had had an easy opportunity for quick money and had taken advantage of the Ohioan who slept under their roof. Unfortunately, the Abbotts contributed to this suspicion by packing up and leaving one night in a secretive way during the height of the controversy. They were never seen or heard from again, and the mystery was never solved.
The body of the unknown man was buried near the Abbott cabin, and ironically the burial site was referred to as the Abbott Cemetery in spite of the possibility that the Abbotts may have been involved in the stranger's demise. There was never a grave marker for this victim of accidental occurrence or premeditation. The deserted cabin gained the reputation of being haunted, and people avoided its location especially, of course, at night. In the mid twentieth century, the mystery had been forgotten by the locals, and a housing developer subdivided the land and built over the grave. According to MCCC archives, the burial site of the mystery man is now "under a cement house." One has to ask, "What unsuspecting Andersonian now owns a home which is situated over a dead body?"