Stull Cemetery in Lecompton Kansas has one of the most colorful back stories of this series, so far. Rumored to contain the actual Highway to Hell and has been host to centuries of paganism, witchcraft, satanism and other dastardly deeds, Stull Cemetery is a ghost hunter’s paradise!
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
The small town of Stull, originally known as Deer Creek, is located about 20 miles outside of Lawrence and 13 miles east of Topeka. The creation of the cemetery came about when a church was built in the late 1860’s by a group of Pennsylvania Dutch Settlers who migrated to the area to escape religious persecution. The creation of cemetery followed the next year. The group and their descendants used the church until the 20th century when the church fell into ruin. Much of the cemetery has been vandalized and less than one hundred tombstones remain, along with fragments of the burned-out stone church that stood there for almost two centuries.
A young child by the name of Oliver tragically dies when he wanders into a burning field being cleared by his father.
Then, a man is found hanging from a tree after being reported missing.
Both events happened in the early 90’s, in an area known as Devil’s Road, which is no longer in use, but can be seen on old maps. This road is very near the cemetery itself.
Local lore tells of a single gravesite on the original grounds with the word “Wittich” chiseled into it, near a tall pine that is rumored to have been the local hanging tree for those accused of witchcraft. As if a witch grave wasn’t enough, the bones in the grave were said to belong to Satan’s own child, born of ill-gotten relations with a witch, who was also laid to rest nearby. This legend brings us to the birth of the Highway to Hell rumor.
As the local lore goes, Satan appears twice a year, during the Spring Equinox and Halloween to visit the graves of his child and its mother. On these nights, a stone staircase appears in the graveyard that descends directly into the pits of Hell. Its’ from this portal that Satan emerges to visit his dead. Apparently, he also raises the dead for a night of sinful cavorting.
The next tale tells of the illicit use of the old church for Satanic and pagan rituals, witchcraft and more, by various cults and covens over the decades of ruin and rot. There have been hundreds of accounts that while visiting the church ruins on a rainy day, not a drop of rain falls within the parameter of the four walls, even though there is not a roof and has not been a roof on it for decades. Even as the walls crumbled to ruin and the remains were later bulldozed, reports still insist that rain does not fall within the space that it once occupied.
For me, this is the most bizarre bit of lore, next to the Highway to Hell, but while the staircase has never been seen, the hundreds of people all reporting the same thing, long before social media and internet news certainly is intriguing.
The final rumor for this unholy ground is that in 1993, Pope John Paul reportedly had his flight routed around the airspace for the cemetery during a visit to America. This rumor has never been fully proven but does make for an interesting piece to the puzzle.
All these things made for busy Halloween nights, and flocks of ghost hunters made the trek to explore the grounds and its legends. This activity certainly keeps the local authorities busy for days before and after Halloween and many days in between as more and more paranormal ghost hunters began to seek out the location.
As of 1999, all requests to explore or investigate the area have been denied, although the show “Supernatural” was given permission to film there for their season five finale.
The cemetery remains in its current state, maintained by the small-town personnel that are left in Stull; much of the town stands vacant due to poor economic growth.
The county police still patrol the area frequently and will arrest people for trespassing, especially after dark.
Are the rumors true? Any hint of truth? While we may never know, we can logically assume certain things to be true.
Satanic rituals, and witchcraft in the church ruins-probably a safe bet. There are all kinds of dark people in the world, who are drawn to dark and isolated places to carry those things out, for privacy, atmosphere or maybe just to freak their friends out.
Incidentally, The Chapel of Satan Lodge, is in Topeka, KS, in the “666” postal code at a “nexus of Satanic energy”. Satanic cults have been around forever, as have witch covens, and other such groups. It’s not a stretch to assume that some found their way to seek out the church ruins to practice their crafts.
The Hanging Tree, almost assuredly a fact, considering the period and proximity to the South. While witches may be a stretch for that time frame, the lynching of newly freed slaves and those that sympathized with them, may have been possible. Criminals were also commonly hanged, for many common crimes including stealing horses, murder, and rape. Per the historical records, Kanas had 206 lynching’s between 1850 and 1930. Who can say that this tree was not the tree used for some of those?
Again, all just logical assumptions, but with every lie, there can often be found a grain of truth.