Previously: La Llorona.
Type: UL (Unexplained Location).
Period/location of origin: Mid-19th century, Kansas, United States. Originally founded as Deer Creek by German and Pennsylvania Dutch colonists, subject’s precise date of origin is unknown; however, by 1857 — year in which it first appeared on territorial maps — six families were living in the area. Subject gained the name by which it is currently known in 1899, when the town’s post office opened. This post office is no longer operating.
Appearance: Subject appears to be a small, unincorporated community located in Douglas County, Kansas. Not much remains of it now; what few buildings there are have largely been boarded up or abandoned, with one of the few still open being the Methodist church located on E 250 Road (officially in Lecompton).
[Like what you read? Consider supporting The Ghost In My Machine on Patreon!]
Several locations within subject are of note: Stull Cemetery, a small, derelict cemetery situated opposite the Stull United Methodist Church; a grave within the cemetery marked with a tombstone reading “WITTICH”; a church once positioned within the cemetery, now no longer standing; a tall pine tree near the church, also no longer standing; and a road formerly known as Devil’s Road, renamed in the 1990s.
Modus operandi: Subject’s modus operandi varies depending on which area of subject on which one chooses to focus. Generally, though, it is agreed that the activity in each of these areas is due to subject’s primary function: As a gateway to Hell.
The most general legend associated with subject states that the Devil makes an appearance at Stull Cemetery twice a year — once on All Hallow’s Eve and once on the spring equinox. He is said to appear at midnight each time.
His choice of locale is due to the fact that Stull Cemetery is where the alleged gateway to Hell is said to be situated. According to some reports, a set of stone stairs leading underground lay hidden somewhere on the property which, if one were to descend, would take one directly to the entrance of Hell. The precise location of the stairs remains hotly debated, with possibilities including directly behind the church, directly in the church, and in a copse of five trees which once stood marking out the shape of a pentagram.
Beyond the complications regarding their location, the stairs are also reportedly difficult to find due to any number of possible explanations: They are overgrown; they were deliberately concealed; they appear only at specific times of the year; they may only be used by the Devil during his biannual pilgrimage to subject; etc. Regardless, it is not recommended that one seek out these steps, let alone attempt to travel down them.
Stull Cemetery also houses — or housed, as the case may be — several other artifacts of note. A gravestone marked only with the name WITTICH is said to hold one of two things: The bones of a child born to the Devil himself, or the mother of the Devil’s child. An old, gnarled pine tree said to have grown straight up through a tombstone reportedly served as gallows for witch hangings, although the tree was torn down in 1998. And, of course, there is — or was — the church.
Until the early 2000s, rumor had it that the long-abandoned Evangelical Emmanuel Church, positioned right near the cemetery, had seen so many black masses held inside its walls that the very structure itself had become possessed. This alleged possession is said to have manifested in several different ways. First, although the roof was long since gone, it was said that no rain would fall inside the church — no matter how badly a storm might be raging outside. Second, it was said that bottles thrown against the sides of the church would not break, regardless as to the force used to hurl them.
But it is also said that the black masses aren’t the only reason for the church’s malevolence; it’s been alleged that the building itself was born bad. A murder is said to have occurred in a barn that reportedly once stood on the parcel of land later occupied by the church: A stable hand allegedly fatally stabbed the mayor early in subject’s history. The barn was reportedly converted into a church to hide its sordid past — a church which was in turn gutted by a fire.
The church was torn down in 2002. However, stories still persist of presences felt nearby, of instances of lost time, and of other… unpleasant experiences.
Old maps of subject also contain a road that newer maps do not — a road labeled with the ominous title of “Devil’s Road.” Here, two tragedies are said to have occurred early in subject’s history: In the early 20th century, a boy was killed after venturing into a field his father was burning; and a few years later, a man went missing and was later found hanging from a tree. The mystery of the man’s death was never solved. Even left unsolved, however, the incident offers a compelling reason never to find or walk down Devil’s Road — alone, or with a companion; at night, or during the day.
Containment: Unknown. The only ways one might contain an entire town would be… disagreeable to the people who still live there, no matter how few they may be.
Additional notes: Rumors that subject’s name was originally “Skull” and changed so as to camouflage the town’s supernatural nature remain unsubstantiated; according to official record, subject’s name was derived from resident Sylvester Stull, who served as the town’s first postmaster following the establishment of its post office in 1899. The post office operated for only a handful of years, being decommissioned in 1903, but subject’s name has remained “Stull” ever since.”
The veracity of the legends surrounding subject are similarly disputed.
The Devil has never been seen at Stull Cemetery, either on All Hallow’s Eve or the spring equinox. Indeed, twice, several hundred people gathered at the cemetery on those particular observances — once on March 20, 1978 for the spring equinox and once on Oct. 30, 1988 for All Hallow’s Eve — to see if the stories were true; however, the Devil failed to appear both times. The October 1988 incident prompted local law enforcement to begin heavily policing the property, ticketing any and all trespassers found on the cemetery grounds.
No staircase descending into the earth has ever been located in or near Stull Cemetery.
There is no evidence that the great pine tree was used to hang witches. Pines are not typically the preferred species for hanging trees in the United States; oak, elm, and sycamore trees are more common choices.
There is one grave bearing the surname Wittich currently located in Stull Cemetery: That of Anna Wittich, née Andrews, who died in 1910 at the age of 78. Anna seems to have several children who may not have lived to adulthood; the grave also bears the names of John and Sarah, noted as Anna’s son and daughter and with dates — presumably of death — listed as 1869 and 1870. However, there is also record of a grave marked only as belonging to “Baby Wittich” — presumably a child born of Anna who did not survive past infancy. No dates are given for Baby Wittich.
It is unknown whether either of these Wittich graves is the WITTICH grave; however, of the two, Baby Wittich’s grave is the more likely candidate. Note, though, that it has not been confirmed that Baby Wittich’s grave is the WITTICH grave, nor that the accompanying legend is accurate.
The church’s history is frequently embellished. Although the Evangelical Emmanuel Church was organized in 1859, the church itself wasn’t constructed until 1867. Built of limestone, it stood for nearly 140 years; however, it was disused for most of that time, with worshippers having abandoned the site for a new, wooden church built nearby circa 1922. The site of the original church was never a barn; nor was there ever a mayor of either Deer Creek or Stull, as the community has always been too small to require one.
By the 1990s, the church had fallen into great disrepair; a microburst during a storm destroyed its roof, and the eastern wall had collapsed simply due to time and neglect. Another storm took down the western wall in early 2002, resulting in the structure’s demolition. Although it was briefly unknown who had authorized the demolition, it later came out that the Lecompton resident who owned the land on which the church stood, John Haase, had given the go-ahead. It had become a safety risk, according to the Douglas County sheriff’s department, so Haase determined it was better for the decaying structure to come down than remain standing.
The church does not appear to have a demonstrable history of hosting black masses.
The tragedies that allegedly occurred near Devil’s Road — the burning of the boy and the hanging of the man — are supported by the historical record; however, it has not been determined conclusively whether they did, in fact, occur near Devil’s Road.
According to some reports, the stories and legends associated with subject did not come into being until the 1970s. In a November 1974 issue of the University of Kansas’ student publication, the University Daily Kansan, an article written by Jain Penner titled “Legend of Devil Haunts Tiny Town” made the initial claim that the Devil took a trip to Stull twice yearly, as well as detailed accounts from students who had visited and claimed they experienced paranormal activity, lost time, etc. This article led to the development of other tales, including the claim that the cemetery held a gateway to Hell and that the Evangelical Emmanuel Church was possessed.
Although the article claimed that the legends had been passed down from generation to generation in Stull, residents of both the town itself and nearby areas said they had never heard any of them before — ever.
It is possible subject’s power isn’t simply in the activity allegedly occurring within it.
It is possible that subject’s power is in manifesting that activity once it is spoken about enough — regardless as to whether it historically occurred.
Recommendation: Stay out of Stull.
The locals don’t like it when outsiders invade.
And maybe they’ve got good reason for it.
[Photo via Ryanmetcalf/Wikimedia Commons, available under a CC BY-SA 3.0 Creative Commons license.]