Monday, October 27, 2014

Gateway to Hell

I'm not a believer in ghosts, but as Halloween approached I thought it would be of interest to readers of this blog to see some of the areas ghost stories and haunted attractions. One of the best known stories even has received international attention. Reportedly, in the early 1990's Pope John Paul II ordered his private plane to fly around eastern Kansas because he didn't want to fly over "unholy ground." I seen this statement from different sources some saying 1993, while others say 1995, however, we know from history that John Paul II did fly to Colorado where spoke to Denver's World Youth Day in July 1993. Each of sources attribute the statement to an article in Time magazine, however I have not been able to verify that the statement ever was in said magazine. So what kind of haunting legend would get the notice of even the Pope? How about the Devil himself? Reportedly there is seven gateways (or stairways) to the pits of hell. According to the legend, the cemetery in the little town of Stull, KS is one of them.
Located about 20 miles from Topeka and about 12 miles from Lawrence, the little town of Stull is just a short drive.
According to Legend the Devil's (Lucifer's) only half human son is buried in this old cemetery in an unmarked grave. In an article from Ghost2Ghost,
The legends also say that the Devil has been appearing here since the 1850s and insist that the original name of the town was Skull and that the later corruption of that into Stull was simply to cover the fact that the area was steeped in black magic. It was said that the witchcraft-practicing early settlers were so repentant about their past deeds that they changed the name of the town. In truth, the town was called "Deer Creek Community" until 1899, when the last name of the first postmaster, Sylvester Stull, was adopted as the name of the village. The post office closed down in 1903, but the name stuck.

In 1980, an article appeared in the Kansas City Times, rumors about Stull Cemetery and the abandoned church. The article states that the Devil chose two places to appear on Earth every Halloween. One of them was the tumbleweed hamlet of Stull, Kansas, which occurs simultaneously at midnight, is someplace on the "desolate plains of India". From these sites, according to the article, the Devil gathers all the people who died violent deaths over the past year for a prance around the Earth at the witching hour.
An underground band, Urge Overkill wrote a song just for Stull Cemetery, below is a snippet from the lyrics:
"Forty miles west of Kansas City, down a county road like a lonely soul, I see Sharon and I see Jack. It's me and Roman dressed all in black. Tell my bride to bury me in Stull....don't be afraid....don't be's great."

In another article posted on the Prairie Ghosts website,
But why in Stull? The article adds that he appears in Stull because of an event that took place in the 1850’s, when “a stable hand allegedly stabbed the mayor to death in the cemetery’s old stone barn. Years later, the barn was converted into a church, which in turn was gutted by fire. A decaying wooden crucifix that still hands from one wall is thought to sometimes turn upside-down when passersby step into the building at midnight...” The story neglects to mention that, historically speaking, neither the Deer Creek Community nor Stull have ever had an official mayor.

Author Lisa Hefner Heitz has collected numerous legends that have added to the mythology of Stull Cemetery. Some of them include the “fact” that the Devil also appears at Stull on the last night of winter or the first night of spring. He comes to visit a witch that is buried there. Coincidentally, an old tombstone bearing the name “Wittich” is located fairly close to the old church. It should also be mentioned that there are rumors that an old tree in the graveyard, which was cut down a year or so ago, was once used as a gallows for condemned witches. There is also said to be a grave in the cemetery that holds the bones of a “child of Satan”, who was born of the Devil and a witch. The child was so deformed that he only lived for a few days and the body was buried in Stull. Some say that his ghost may walk here, as there supposedly was a photo taken a few years ago that shows a “werewolf-like boy” peering out from behind a tree.

Below is a video from the Hometown Tales Podcasts.

-- Hometown Tales, "The Gateway to Hell" © Oct 2006

Do you have anything to add to this story? Do you have any other stories from Topeka? Add your comments below.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Albino Woman of Topeka

I'm not a believer in ghosts, but as Halloween approached I thought it would be of interest to readers to see some of the areas ghost stories and haunted attractions. There are several for Topeka. In fact the organizers of the Ghost tours here in Topeka, split their tours into Downtown, West Topeka and North Topeka.  That means to see all three areas, one would have to take and pay for three separate tours.  None of the tours are handicapped accessible, without special request being made ahead of time.  With that said, lets take a look at some of the stories from around town.

Rochester Cemetery

Perhaps one of the widest spread stories or legends around Topeka is that of the Albino lady and the Rochester Cemetery.

According to the Legend, The Albino woman, is said to haunt various locations all around Topeka, but originated in Rochester Cemetery.

Some say she is a living person, just that she cannot be out in the daylight and so wanders at night. Some on the internet claim to know who she is and where she lives. Others say that she used to be alive, and was indeed an albino woman who visited a grave each night in Rochester Cemetery but has since died, and having passed away her spirit now visits there nightly as she did in life.

The “Albino Lady“, who was in fact a real woman, lived in the area near the cemetery. She was often seen at night prior to her death, walking her dog. She was called the “Albino Lady” because she had characteristics that mimic those of a health condition called “Albinism” which effects the amount of melanin the body produces. Those that have Albinism are likely to have skin, eyes, and hair that are ghostly white in color.

Being labeled as an outcast because she was different from others, she rarely spoke to anyone and most that saw her were afraid of her or teased her. Having such sensitive skin due to a possible health condition, she may have had to limit her exposure to the sun, which may explain her walking her dog at night.
The Kansas State Historical Society recants the story this way:
A more recent haunting and one of Topeka's best-known ghost stories has its roots in the life of an albino woman who wandered her north Topeka neighborhood at night and glared at children on their way to school during the day. After the woman died in 1963, residents began reporting a glowing white female figure walking in the area after dark.

Often the sightings were near Rochester Cemetery where the woman was buried. Several employees of the nearby Goodyear tire factory claimed to see her regularly, and some neighbors saw the apparition as often as once a week.

The ghost's route was so regular that one resident began watching for it as it strolled across his lawn on clear nights. Eventually, he claimed, the figure began to pause and gaze at his house as though it wished to speak to him. It began to pass closer and closer to the house until one night it stood at his children's bedroom window and watched them as they slept. The man was badly scared, but the apparition never harmed his children.
- Kansas State Historical Society

Do you have anything to add to this story? Do you have any other stories from Topeka? Add your comments below.