I love a good story, and some of the ones I find the most fascinating are folktales and urban legends.
Because it delights and terrifies me to hear macabre stories about the actual tangible world around us.
We interact with so many places and things throughout our day to day lives. Most of which have been witness to some terrible event at some point in history. (Vague, but menacing, and generally true)
Death is, after all, an unfortunate and necessary part of life.
But certain places seem to attract these negative events, or at least inspire a sense of foreboding in the people who visit them.
Which is why every month I will be doing one in-depth post about a Disturbing Destination. This month we’re traveling to a lonely wind-swept hill in Kansas, USA where a small cemetery is rumored to be a gateway to Hell.
My goal with this series of posts is not to try and debunk anything, although if I find evidence that shoots a story in the foot I will certainly bring it to your attention, but instead my goal is to bring you stories of places whose dark tales will delight and inspire you. So we can revel in the richness of the tales each location has to offer.
Now, before I get into the meat of this story let me preface with saying, no matter what legends surround it, it’s still a cemetery and should always be treated with respect. It seriously pains me to read that drunken jerks have destroyed, stolen, and vandalized the gravestones of this cemetery to the point that the town has gated and locked the whole location up.
History and legends are fascinating, but they’ll disappear if we don’t care for them.
Ok, on to the fun stuff now.
Stull Kansas, USA
In the tiny town of Stull, Kansas, legends of black magic, demons, and the Devil himself cling to the edges of this apparently unassuming location. But this quiet resting place may hold a menacing secret.
1 of the 7 gateways to Hell.
Where the other 6 reside beats the heck out of me…
There are so many legends and stories surrounding this cemetery that researching them was a little overwhelming. But I’ll break them down into chunks.
Stairway to Hell
Hidden somewhere in the cemetery, are steps leading straight into the fiery inferno of the underworld. It is said that the entrance is sealed to moral eyes except on All Hallows Eve, and the Spring Equinox.
There are two suspected locations for the entrance inside of the cemetery. One is under or next to where the abandoned Church used to be.
And the second at the center of a hill where 5 Trees once stood, marking out a pentagram.
If one does manage to find these steps, they should never venture down them, for it is impossible to ever return. [weirdus.com]
Additional stories surrounding this legend seem to pop up every time I visit a new site. Like this one:
In urban legends tied to the place, it is claimed that when the pope flew over the U.S. he had his plane diverted around Kansas to avoid flying over unhallowed ground. Allegedly on Halloween night Satan himself appears in the cemetery (although it was nowhere near Halloween when the pope flew over). [csicop.org]
Omens from the 8th Window
Another story that circulates is that, when the church still stood, on some nights the church would light up with a glow from an unholy mass where an 8th window would appear. Its appearance was an omen of bad luck for the town of Stull and disaster would follow shortly after it’s appearance.
While researching for this post, I found a personal experience shared by Runeding’s Viking Reviews on YouTube and if you skip ahead to 3:56 you’ll hear his story of the 8th Window:
What does Stull Look like?
Well, I thought this video actually did a good job of exploring the grounds without being all “Blair Witch Project” and disrespectful of the cemetery – (of which there are too many).
1857 ish – Stull was a small chunk of land populated with about 6 German-speaking families by the year
1859 – Together these settlers founded the Evangelical Emmanuel Church
1867 – The infamous stone church was built
1899 – A post office was built and the town was named after their 1st (and final) postmaster Sylvester Stull.
1903 – The post office was closed
1910 – Stull’s Population reached 31 people
1913 – The Stull Church of Christ was built
Like other small farming communities, Stull declined over the years and today is called home to just a few residents, some of whom are descendants of the original founders, and an old cemetery. Still located on maps of today, Stull is located about seven miles west of Lawrence on Highway 40. [legendsofkansas.com]
2002 – The Church met a very mysterious end when it was demolished without the permission of (at least one of) the land owners. You can read about when it happened in the article Building’s Demolition a Mystery. (Which is where the below photo is from).
I found a few references to the legend of Stull stemming from one article in a campus newspaper, here’s the clearest information I found about it:
The legends say that these stories have been linked to Stull for more than 100 years, but none of them made it into print until the 1970’s. In November 1974, an article appeared in the University of Kansas student newspaper that spoke of a number of strange occurrences in the Stull churchyard. According to the article, Stull was “haunted by legends of diabolical, supernatural happenings” and the legends asserted that the cemetery was one of the two places on earth where the devil appears in person two times each year. It said that the cemetery had been the source of many legends in the area, stories that had been told and re-told for over a century.
The piece also went on to say that most students learned of Stull’s diabolical reputation from their grand-parents and older individuals, but that many of them claimed first-hand encounters with things that could not explain. One student claimed to have been grabbed by the arm by something unseen, while others spoke of unexplained memory loss when visiting the place. Like many other locations of this type, the tales of devil worship and witchcraft also figured strongly into the article.
But were the stories actually true?
Not according to the residents of Stull, who claimed to have never even heard the stories before. They were bemused, annoyed and downright angered that such things were being said about their town. The pastor of the new church in Stull, located right across the road from the old one, indicated that he believed the stories to be the invention of students at the university. [pairieghosts.com]
In TV and Film
Stull’s legends have inspired quite a bit of creative work such as the films Nothing to Fear, Sin-Jin Smyth, Turbulence 3, Stull and episode 22 of Supernatural’s 5th season – “Swan Song.” (I admit that the Supernatural episode is what initially drew my attention to the subject.)
If I were passing by Stull, I would take a moment to peek through the fence at the cemetery, and if it was open, take a quick wander through just to see the place with my own eyes. But I probably wouldn’t make a trip out there to see it specifically.
I will however be doing some more research as to where folks think these 6 other Hell gates might be. Because now I’m curious. 🙂
“Nothing Left to Fear film poster” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia
“Sinjinsmythposter” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia
“Turbulence 3- Heavy Metal FilmPoster” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia
“Supernatural Season 5” cover
“Stull” cover art