Mysterious America

Peck Cemetery’s Restless Residents

Peck Cemetery in rural Macon County, Illinois is yet another of those cemeteries that developed a bad reputation in the 1970s and has since been rehabilitated. The cemetery itself is of the typical rural stock, formerly hidden in a wood at the end of a gravel road in the middle of nowhere. Things have changed a little in recent years.

People I have talked to who remember when the cemetery was at the height of its reputation tell me that the area has been dramatically transformed. Houses dot the pothole-filled road. The gravel path to the cemetery is now a driveway. “Beware of dogs” and “no trespassing” signs are prominently displayed. Passersby would never guess that Peck Cemetery is only about fifty yards away.

Troy Taylor has done much to publicize this place, but stories have circulated the Internet for years. One photo purportedly shows a dark figure standing among the headstones.

Unlike cemeteries with similar claims, Peck Cemetery seems to have actually been a location of Satanic worship in the past. Hidden from view prior to the 1990s, it would have been the perfect place to hold nighttime excursions far from any prying eyes. The evidence of these practices included burnt candles, graffiti, headless statues covered in red paint, and even statements from alleged Satanists themselves.

It was rumored the leader of this Satanic group installed a “devil’s chair” in the cemetery, on which he would sit during the rituals. If anyone else sat on the chair, they would die within a year.

There were many of these so-called Devil’s chairs around central Illinois, and almost every untimely death of a teenager was accompanied by the rumor that he or she had dared to sit in the accursed chair.

The chair is no longer at the cemetery. The county sheriff, angered by what went on there, is rumored to have destroyed it with a sledgehammer. Like other monuments, however, it was likely to have been the victim of nihilistic vandals.

Troy Taylor lists “inexplicable cries,” “whispers and voices,” “hooded figures,” “eerie lights,” and “the sound of a woman’s scream” as other phenomenon experienced at Peck Cemetery. Cold spots can be added to the list, and car problems have also been reported.

One woman who grew up in the area told me that there used to be some kind of cabin or shed at the end of a long trail that ran through the woods back behind the cemetery. It appeared as though someone made campfires at the location.

Peck Cemetery is located north of the towns of Cerro Gordo and Oakley along Donavan Road. Today the cemetery is a quiet, peaceful place hidden behind a private residence. Restoration is ongoing.

Further Reading

  • Taylor, Troy. Beyond the Grave: The History of America’s Most Haunted Graveyards. Alton: Whitechapel Productions Press, 2001.
  • Taylor, Troy. Haunted Decatur Revisited: Ghostly Tales from the Haunted Heartland of Illinois. Alton: Whitechapel Productions Press, 2000.

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