Located in Lecompton, Kansas is the legendary Stull Cemetery. Prior to being named Stull, this area of land was referred to as Deer Creek and was founded by Pennsylvanian Dutch and German immigrants who headed west to avoid religious persecution and escape military duty, among other reasons. Being religious people, they raised $2,000 to construct a new stone church which was completed in 1867 that went on to be known as the Evangelical Emmanuel Church or Deer Creek Mission.
In 1899, Deer Creek received their first official post office and named their new town after the first post master, Sylvester Stull.
The church was used regularly by locals and was a German speaking church up until 1922 when the churchgoers left for a new, larger, and more up-to-date church that was built nearby. This little stone church stood abandoned for decades, until 2002 when the owner of the land, John Haase, had it torn down in for the safety of the cemeteries visitors after two of the walls collapsed.
There are many famous legends surrounding Stull Cemetery, the first being that people claim it used to be named “Skull”, which we know is not true because it was named after the towns first post master; shown in the newspaper clipping and other documents for the towns history.
Another key part of legends behind Stull Cemetery was a large tree on the property that was supposedly used to hang accused witches and at the base of this tree was a tombstone that had been split in half.
Perhaps the most famous aspect of Stull Cemetery, was an old church that was located at the center. According to the legend, in the 1850’s a barn stood there prior to the church being built and it was in this barn that a stable hand murdered the towns mayor, tainting this spot of land with evil. When the church was built and then later abandoned, witches and occultists began using it to summon Satan himself causing this church went on to be known as one of the seven gates of hell. This gate would open up twice a year at the stroke of midnight: once on the Spring Equinox and again on Halloween night. A hidden staircase would appear from the ground outside of the church, and Satan himself would use it to ascend into our world, rousing the spirits of Stull Cemetery to raise them from their graves for a night of unholy pleasure. It is said that anyone who is successful in finding this hidden staircase will be dragged down to hell by unseen forces. They will either not return or if they fight hard enough they might manage to pull their way back up the stairs… but this can take days, sometimes even weeks. Visitors of the cemetery before the church was torn down would report that when it rained, the inside of the church (which was missing the roof) would somehow remain dry, and if a glass bottle was thrown against the wall in the church, it wouldn’t shatter…
Also located at Stull Cemetery is the supposed grave of a witch, inscribed with the name “Wittich”. It is rumored that this witch had given birth to the spawn of Satan and that this hairy spawn was also buried on the grounds. Since then, many people have claimed to see the devils child materialize as a hairy werewolf like creature who wonders the surrounding wooded area.
In the early 1900’s, a boy was accidentally burned to death after venturing into a field nearby that his father was burning. (Burning fields is a common practice in the midwest to clear the overgrowth and fertilize the ground to grow crops.) Just a few years after that a man who went missing was found hanging from a tree; not to be confused with the witch hanging tree, this was a different tree. What was odd about these deaths was that they occurred near the cemetery on a stretch of road which used to be named Devil’s Road. Although these deaths did seem to actually happen, I have not found any documentation to show that there was a road actually named Devil’s Road.
In more recent history, Pope John Paul II supposedly refused to fly over Stull while on his way to Colorado in 1993 because of how evil the land was.
Stull Cemetery has gone to inspire countless books, movies, and TV shows. One famous example is the hit TV series “Supernatural” where Stull Cemetery and the legend of the portal played a key role in the shows plot. (They didn’t actually film at Stull Cemetery though…sorry!)
My Findings and Final Thoughts
The supposed witch hanging tree, which was just an old evergreen tree, was actually torn down on October 30th, 1998. Not only was the tree dead and dry, posing as a fire hazard, but this was also done in an attempt to take away one of the cemeteries main attractions. Not only is the tree no longer there, but I don’t believe it was ever used to hang witches in the first place. Stull, which is located in Douglas County, wasn’t founded until the mid-19th century (so the mid 1800’s) which was pretty late in American history to hang witches, with most American witch-hangings having occurred in the 17th century. Stull also didn’t have the right kind of climate to spark witch hunts, which we know were usually caused by mass-hysteria that is sparked by economic issues, such as political and religious rivalries, plagues, or famine. As for the tombstone that was split in half by the tree, this isn’t scary or mystical like some visitors believe. The tombstone in question was one of the oldest tombstones in the entire graveyard, and had read “Bettie and Frankie Thomas who both died in 1879”. Unfortunately, vandals bought in to the scary stories about this tree and tombstone, and the stone pieces were stolen and are still missing to this day.
On October 31st 1988, approximately 500 people waited outside of Stull cemetery to see Satan rise from the stairwell by the church, and to no surprise, nothing happened, nor has anything ever been witnessed with Satan or rising spirits. This seems to be just another fictional part of this locations history. There never was a barn built on that spot of land either, and the town of Stull was so small in the 1850’s that there was no mayor, debunking the legend that the towns mayor had been killed in a barn where the church stood.
The “Wittich” grave is Still standing in the cemetery, but there is no evidence to support that this gave belonged to a witch who birthed the spawn of Satan. The rest of the gravestone reads “Anna A Andrews 1832 – 1910 | John Son 1869 | Sarah Dau 1870”.
Pope John Paul II did fly to Colorado in 1993, but his refusal to fly over Stull was also fabricated. This claim was said to have been made by a Time magazine article, but such an article never really existed. His flight path also showed that he never flew over Kansas anyway, so this has been entirely debunked.
These are a startling number of false claims to be made at this one small location, so how did it all start? Where did these legends come from?
After doing a little bit of digging, I learned that in 1974 a student at the University of Kansas, Jain Penner, published an article titled “Legend of Devil Haunts Tiny Town”. In this article, which was published in the University Daily Kansas, Jain detailed accounts from students who visited Stull Cemetery and the paranormal experiences they had there. The locals around Stull had never heard of these fantastical legends themselves, and it seems as though they formed after this 1974 article. Prior to this being written, Stull Cemetery was just a quiet small town cemetery, and it wasn’t until after this publication that the wild stories and rumors of witch hangings and a portal to hell began to spread.
It is hard for me to conclude whether this location is actually haunted or not because no official investigation has ever been allowed. So although the legends are made up, it is still possible that there are remaining spirits at this location, as there is with many cemeteries.
My Tips for Visiting
Can it be investigated? Unfortunately, no.
Too many people coming here for spooks is part of the reason why it is closed so often now. Even if you do show up on a day that it is open, be wary of any ghost hunting attempts. It is at least free to visit, so you won’t lose out on much if nothing exciting occurs.
The local law enforcement seem to make frequent stops to the cemetery, especially during the month of Halloween.
Locals who are tired of the graves of their loved ones being disrespected are known to chase people in their trucks that they see acting suspicious in the cemetery.
Although this little spooky gem is often closed and cannot be investigated, the legends and fame of this cemetery make visiting here and snapping some photos worth it!