Ed Gein’s farmhouse was burned down long ago. Doubtless it was arson, though no one was ever charged with such a crime. Probably the police had no desire to charge anyone with such a crime. There were rumors that the house was going to be purchased and turned into a haunted attraction, a Halloween-style “spook house,” and the people of the tiny town of Plainfield just wanted to forget, or try to, the things this human monster, Ed Gein, had done in their midst. So the house was torched. You can’t blame them.
It wasn’t possible for me to determine exactly where at the intersection of Archer Avenue and 2nd Avenue, a short distance outside the little town of Plainfield, the Gein farmhouse had stood, but I know that it was there at the crossroads.
Today there is nothing that remains to hint at the site’s notorious history. It’s just woods, fields overgrown with briars and bushes, and farmland. There are no markers of any kind, save for the occasional NO TRESPASSING sign.
The house wherein Gein fashioned furniture out of human bones and sewed together masks of human faces and a suit made from human skin is consigned to history and to nightmares. (And the movies, naturally.)
Finding Ed Gein’s gravesite was no easier. Finding the cemetery in which Gein was buried was easy enough, but once there you have to hunt to find the grave. There is no headstone. After it was stolen the last time, somewhere around 2001, the local police decided to just store it in their evidence locker rather than replace it. To find Ed’s grave you have to find the graves of his mother and his brother. His is between the two.
There is a small hole where ghoulish souvenir hunters have scooped up dirt to take with them. Somebody had tried to fill it by putting some rocks in it.
I left the rocks and the dirt undisturbed. I felt a sense of melancholy at the site. I don’t know if it would have been bad luck to take anything from the grave, but I know it would have been tacky. All I took were photographs. All I left were footprints and a prayer for the souls of all the people whose lives had been touched by Gein’s madness.
I also visited nearby Spiritland Cemetery and Hancock Cemetery, where Gein robbed graves.
I was unable to locate, or my GPS was unable to locate, the site of the tavern where Gein committed his first known murder. (He is known to have only killed two people but is suspected in the deaths of others.) I did however find the hardware store where Ed Gein committed his second documented murder. Today it’s a True Value.
I went inside and even made a couple of purchases. I paused when I saw the antifreeze section—Gein went into the store the day of the murder to purchase antifreeze—but I didn’t buy any.