Avilla Missouri: A Ghost Town

Categories
Horror Mystery and Lore

With a mere population of one hundred residents, Avilla Missouri sits right off the road of Route 66. Avilla is known as one of the longest living ghost towns on the historic Route 66. Founded in 1856, it is the fourth oldest village or town in Jasper County. This once vibrant farming community is filled with a long enchanting history and a dark past. People who still live there say the darkness looms over the town to this date. So what happened in Avilla to make it the ghost town it is today?

Abandoned House of Avilla
Abandoned House of Avilla

To know that we have to go back to the A Civil-War. Missouri was a highly contested border state with both Union and Confederate soldiers. This is where the first legend begins. It involves the spirit of The Avilla Phantom Bushwhacker or, as some call it, Rotten Johnny Reb. Civil war bushwhackers were some of the original guerrilla warfare fighters. They had one purpose and that was to destroy the enemies’ spirit in any way possible.

Rotten Johnny Reb’s spirit is said to haunt not only the town but also the infamous “Death Tree.” As the legend goes, during the war the body of a dead Confederate Bushwacker was found. To ward off future fighters the skull was taken hung from a tree. This eerie symbol of warning did not go as planned though. As a result of removing the skull from the rest of the body, the ghost of Rotten Johnny Reb was created. His ghost torso searches the town and surrounding woods for his head and for Yankees to kill. Many deaths have been blamed on him over the years. This legend began driving off many of the remaining townspeople after the war ended.

Scary tree that might look like the Avilla Missouri death tree
I imagine the Avilla Death Tree looks about like this.

There are conflicting stories as to how this story might come to an end. One way to end the curse and put Rotten Johnny Reb’s spirit to rest is to find his skull, cut it down from the tree and bury it. Another says to set the skull ablaze on holy ground. Or much like the story of the headless horseman the skull simply needs to be returned to the torso. However, it is now basically impossible to do this task because the location of the Death Tree died off along with the last survivors of the war. There was a belief that black crows would flock to it during the day as a perch, and that it was an apple tree that no longer would bear fruit. However, time and the changing landscapes have made finding the tree impossible, if it would even be standing at all today.

What also lurks the ghost town of Avilla, are reports of Shadow Folk. These ghostly figures have been seen through the windows of the abandoned buildings, wandering through the halls of abandoned homes, walking down the empty roads in town, most notably on the side of Route 66, strolling through the park in the center of town and even passing through the locked doors of the post office. One of the shadow folk appears to be that of the town drunk, as the shadow staggers out of the abandoned building that was once the life of the town’s tavern and collapses as if passing out. Although the Shadow Folk may be creepy, they are harmless. In fact, they don’t seem to take notice of the living at all. Paranormal researchers believe that they are the psychic impressions left by people who inhabited the town in the past. They are most likely to be seen at the old abandoned part of the village along Route 66 and can be seen mostly at night.

If you are ever traveling through Route 66 be sure to stop by the ghost town of Avilla. Who knows if you might be one of the lucky few who gaze upon the shadow folk of this eerie little town. This site has been visited by several ghost hunters over the years and certainly has a creepy old civil war graveyard if you are into those sorts of things.. we are! Want to see more, check out this quick video from “The Ghost Watch” channel on Youtube.

Zombie Road: A Trail of Terror

Categories
Horror Mystery and Lore

The “Zombie Road” trail, located in Glencoe, Missouri, has over a century’s history of death and paranormal activity. Though it’s only two miles in length, traveling it at night it can seem like an endless road of terror. With tales of shadowy figures, blood-curdling screams, and non-human entities, Zombie Road is chock-full of unexplained phenomenon. Even in its heyday, the winding road and dense woods held an eerie vibe of constantly being watched by something.

blank
Eerie bridge along the Zombie Road

Stories of Zombie Road continued to grow through the years, one being the “Zombie Killer”, a deranged man living in a shack just off the road who hunted and killed young lovers. Other chilling stories continued to surface and spread, including ghosts, vanishings, and strange noises. One of the most spine-tingling stories is about the ghost of a man hit by a train who is said to now haunt Zombie Road. This legend becomes all the more terrifying with the real story of Della Hamilton McCullough. It is said that in 1876, Della was hit and killed by a passing train car on the tracks in Glencoe, Missouri. There are no other records of anyone else hit by a train and dying near Glencoe. Is this then Della Hamilton McCulloughs’ spirit that haunts the Zombie Road tracks? If you go, perhaps you can call out to Della.

Many visitors also claim strange experiences near the old homes towards the end of the trail. One legend mentions the ghost of an elderly woman who screams at people from the doorway of one of the old houses. But the closer you get, the old woman disappears. The houses here date back to circa 1900 when the area around Glencoe served as a resort community. Could these be the screams of a past resident? Many believe so.

blank
Photo taken on Zombie Road of supposed Shadow Figures

Legends abound of American Indian and Confederate rebel spirits, packs of child ghosts, and the tortured souls of working men killed in industrial accidents on the nearby railroad. While the sensation of being watched may be dismissed by the spooky surroundings alone, the weird sounds, and inexplicable footsteps heard here, cannot completely be ignored. Though Zombie Road is now paved and has been remade into a bike trail and jogging path, the eerie lore and legends still loom heavily on the land. If you visit, be vigilant. Spirits cannot be paved over.