STULL, KS (KCTV) -- A seemingly harmless ghost story is getting out of hand.
There's a legend you might have heard about a rural community with a haunted cemetery, but we want you to forget everything you think you know about Stull, Kansas.
Halloween in a small town means some of the best trick-or-treating you can find. Rita Lesser's church hosts a Halloween event every year in the unincorporated town of Stull.
"I actually grew up in this church," she said.
There's a pride that comes with that history.
"It's just a tight-knit community that helps each other out," she said.
Lesser's ancestor's names are set in stone across the highway next to the remains of a church built in the 1860s.
Brenna Wulfkuhle is the congregation's historian.
"There's a lot of names that originated in this town," she said. "Eventually there was a switchboard here and a blacksmith."
But another tradition has formed -- one the town never asked for.
"They come at night. Always at night," Wulfkuhle said.
Unwanted visitors come to Stull because of a rumor.
"Just that this is a haunted place, and there were witches in this church," Wulfkuhle said.
According to the book Haunted Kansas, the myth developed in the 70s when a University of Kansas student newspaper published an article titled "Legend of Devil Haunts Tiny Town," launching a rumor that Stull has a portal to hell.
"It spread like wildfire," Lesser said.
The legend went so crazy it could have a been a movie plot launching more fiction, like the Pope supposedly refusing to fly over the town.
The band Urge Overkill released an album called Stull in the 90s, and the CW series Supernatural once set an episode in the storied cemetery.
"It's not necessarily in a positive fashion," Lesser said.
There's no factual basis for any of the legends but what do paranormal experts think?
Beth Kornegay works with Ghost Tours of Kansas. She took KCTV5 News to the Pioneer Cemetery in Lawrence where she used divining rods to speak with spirits.
But, Kornegay says most local guides won't set foot in Stull.
"Stull is just not a place I'm interested in going because there's nothing there but old graves, Kornegay said.
And not the haunted kind.
"Imaginations tend to get the best of people," she said.
Fiction has done more harm than good in Stull.
"It just breaks my heart that people say it's the gateway to whatever they say," Lesser said.
For those who live in Stull, this isn't a ghost story. The villains are the living who won't let the departed rest in peace.
"It's just not a good situation," Lesser said.
Over the years, tourists have left behind a mess, started fires during Halloween and knocked over headstones.
"Those who vandalize our cemetery, I wonder what they'd think if that was their loved ones," Lesser said.
There are warning signs, and sometimes even sheriff's deputies keep watch for trespassers.
"I think it's really sad that you have to do that in a cemetery," Wulfkuhle said.
On the day same day KCTV5 visited, Michael Hamilton and his friend came from Wichita looking for spirits.
"We just wanted to come take a look and get a vibe," Hamilton said.
But they knew rule number one.
"It's not an attraction. It's a gravesite ... be aware of what's around you," Lesser said.
Lesser and others are proud of their hometown, but they also want to put the fiction to rest.
"Don't tell someone you saw a ghost up here. It's just another cemetery in Kansas," Wulfkuhle said.
"We just want people to be kind to each other and compassionate," Lesser said.
If you're thinking of visiting Stull at night, you should reconsider. The Douglas County Sheriff says they know to keep trespassers out of the cemetery - especially around Halloween - and often post a deputy out there on watch.