The devil’s trailer Part 1

A gruesome discovery

The Little Cedar Grove Baptist Church congregation was formed in 1806, not long after the Treaty of Greenville opened an area in the southeast of what would become the State of Indiana for settlement by European pioneers.  Lacking a permanent place of worship, the early residents of Franklin County would often meet in each other’s log cabins for services.  For five years the church community carried on like this, delaying the building of a permanent home for their church.  That is until 1811 when a not-so-subtle message was received by Little Cedar Grove’s dawdling congregants in the form of an earthquake that rocked the midwest.  According to a witness, the Rev. Allen Wiley, “The people ran to and fro, called for prayer meeting, exhorted each other to good deeds and repented of their sins as if Judgement Day was at hand.  Then they met in solemn conclave with the Almighty that if He would send no more earthquakes, they would build Him a church.”  So in short order they purchased land in Brookville Township, hired a carpenter and a mason, and set about building a sturdy little church made of brick, which has warded off comparable earthquakes ever since.  

The Little Cedar Grove Baptist Church held its inaugural meeting August 1, 1812.  The interior of the building contained a balcony accessible by two staircases.  A raised pulpit stood near the rear wall with a pastor’s bench behind it.  Wood pews faced the pulpit, and a charcoal pit in front of the pulpit was added in 1818 to heat the building.  It is not known if the congregants denied themselves heat for the first six years of the church’s existence as punishment for their procrastination, or if the church’s treasury simply lacked the funds for costly capital improvements like charcoal pits.  Additionally, at the northwest end of the property, a cemetery contained the graves of the original members of the congregation.  There a tombstone marked the final resting place of Elizabeth Tyner, who as the wife of the church’s first pastor, William Tyner, departed this life in 1810.  

On February 14, 1987, the Little Cedar Grove Baptist Church was the site of a wedding.  Acquired by the Brookville Historical Society in 1910, and having undergone a number of repairs and renovations over the years, by 1987 the church had not been home to a permanent congregation for nearly a century, but instead had been used for special events.  On this Valentine’s Day Saturday, while the wedding party gathered inside the church, the children, presumably bored with the formality, wandered off to explore the grounds of the church and wooded area nearby.  Around 1:00 pm, while playing in the woods behind the church, the children made a gruesome discovery.  Among the snowy leaves and debris lay a pair of severed human legs.  Panicked, frightened and running to and fro, the frantic children hurried to alert the adults who followed them to the scene.  

In 1987, a destructive earthquake, while potentially devastating, would be an event wholly comprehensible to Cedar Grove residents.  Few would attribute such an event to their God expressing His anger over their lack of devotion.  Most would be able to maintain their composure and ride out the event.  However, very little offered by the modern era could prepare them for the evil that had been dropped into their midst.  No amount of reason or scientific clarity derived in the intervening 150 years since pioneers first settled the area could explain the savagery that lay in the woods behind the Little Cedar Grove Baptist Church.  The shocking sight of the severed legs overwhelmed the mind with dread and sorrow, as if Judgement Day was at hand.


The Cincinnati Enquirer

Dayton Daily News

The Indianapolis Star

The Indianapolis News

The Star Press (Muncie, Indiana)

The Brookville Democrat

Franklin County Historical Society

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