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Archive for Monday, November 1, 1999

LEGENDS LINGER AROUND STULL CEMETERY

November 1, 1999

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— All quiet in Stull as residents and police keep eye out for trouble.

Halloween and all was quiet in the cemetery here.

A Douglas County Sheriff's officer, his car parked across the driveway to the cemetery, watched cars drive up and down County Road 442.

The traffic provided the only noise in the small town 10 miles west of Lawrence.

As of Sunday evening, no arrests had been made for trespassing in the cemetery, said Sgt. David Brown, the night shift supervisor.

The sheriff's officer at Stull is being paid overtime so no officers are taken off regular duty to prevent the curious or vandals from entering the cemetery that has been the subject of legend for 25 years, Brown said.

At least one Stull resident was quick to show up to face anyone who was even curious about the cemetery.

On Saturday night, an unidentified man, who was described by a sheriff's department officer as "responsible" for the cemetery, ordered Journal-World and Channel 6 News reporters and photographers away from the entrance to the cemetery driveway, where they were interviewing Sgt. Blake McCall of the sheriff's office.

After the journalists gathered down the street and stood on a sidewalk, the man drove up in a pick-up.

"We don't want you guys out here," the man said.

He said all the property owners in the town were willing to press trespassing charges against anyone curious about the cemetery.

"The best thing you can do is vacate the town," the man said. "This is all private property."

Residents have been angered over the years by vandalism in the cemetery that was first laid out in 1869.

The district attorney's office, which promises to prosecute trespassers to full extent of the law, estimates damage to individual headstones in the cemetery can cost as much as $25,000.

Legends about the cemetery have circulated since the 1970s.

The legends are that Satan appears there on Halloween. He's drawn to the location, so the story goes, because a love of his, a witch, is buried there. Another story is that a gateway to hell exists there or opens up there.

Steven Jansen, director of the Watkins Community Museum of History thinks the legends started as a "fraternity prank."

Jansen said during his tenure at the museum, the only people who have asked him about the Stull Cemetery legends are 18- and 19-year-old men.

Jansen finds it heartening that the legends persist.

"Even in this day of information overload, it shows that word of mouth and folklore are still very important."

About the Stull legends, he said, "they would be harmless if they didn't cause pain to the community, to the people who have loved ones buried there."

-- Erwin Seba's phone message number is 832-7145. His e-mail address is eseba@ljworld.com.

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