For many of Greensburg’s youth, Shiloh Cemetery has a powerful pull.

Whether the young are drawn to a secret spiritual past or for their own trouble-making purposes, the place remains the subject of many local, and scary, stories.

Some say a Satanic cult frequented the cemetery around the turn of the 20th century. As the group left, rumor would say, its members placed a curse on the grounds. Lore might also tell of a devil dog set in place to guard the cast iron gates. Just down the road, some might direct a person to stop on the bridge and listen for the cries of a baby which was supposedly tossed to a watery death by its mother. However, none of these stories can be proven.

“It’s just a regular cemetery,” said Russell Wilhoit, member of the Decatur County Historical Society and the Decatur County cemetery Commission.

History says the place began its use as a cemetery in the mid-1800’s. In its earliest years, it was one of the main burial grounds for residents of the area now known as Adams Township. It was located on the grounds of a church that disbanded around the turn of the 20th century. The church building still stands about a half mile away and is still in use as a barn. Due to its age, there are many family lines represented in the tombstones on the grounds.

Wilhoit said there is not much to set Shiloh apart from other area cemeteries. It is of a similar age to other area burial grounds. Although there are unmarked graves there, the phenomenon still does not make the location unusual for its time.

For Greensburg, Shiloh is simply close at hand.

“The area is dark and it’s out in the country,” said Wilhoit.

Its location, its age and the appearance of its cast iron gates could be inspiration for friends to gather and tell ghost stories to try and scare one another. This would not be unexpected, but the actions of the living on this ground of the dead have proven to be the true dark stories of Shiloh.

Dating back into the youth of many members of the community, the cemetery has been a place to go and make trouble. Many local citizens talk about going there to party. Looking at the old tombstones, it is clear there has also been vandalism. Because it is out of the way, it is a tempting place to partake in things one doesn’t want to be seen doing. The worst example of this, and the only documented instance of anything terrible happening in the area of the cemetery, took place in 1971.

At 6:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23, a body was found in the westbound lane of I-74 about 40 feet from the Moscow Road overpass. Two bullet wounds proved the individual was deceased before landing on the pavement of the interstate. A police investigation found blood on a county road near Shiloh cemetery to be of the same type as the victim, who remained unidentified for approximately a week. Fingerprint analysis found the young man to be 21-year-old Lionel J. Thibeault Jr., a hitchhiker originating in Brookfield, Mass. After finding Thibeault’s missing pants in Melvin Earl “Buddy” Madden Jr.’s attic, the Greensburg man was charged with shooting Thibeault twice and throwing his partially-clad body from an overpass. Madden was later released from custody because the evidence was obtained without a search warrant.

Although Madden served little time for the killing near Shiloh Cemetery, he was sentenced to 80 years in prison after being convicted of killing a convenience store clerk in 1989.

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