It's fun to be scared.

Jan 28 2013

The Shadow People of Avilla, MO and the Legend of the Death Tree

image- Abandoned streets of Avilla, MO

The town of Avilla, Mo is known as a “living ghost town” with a population of 125, according to a 2010 census. Avilla was founded in 1858, but it wouldn’t be long before the town would find itself splitting with tensions over the Civil War. As many know, Missouri was a border state (slaves states that had not yet joined the Confederacy) and found itself smack dab in the middle of it all. Families were torn apart as many wanted to break away from the United States while others wanted to stay. As tensions worsened, people evacuated Avilla in fear of their families’ safety. No doubt blood was shed in the shadows of it all. Hey, speaking of shadows…

As time marched forward, Avilla seemed to be forgotten. Today, as one drives through the town, you might see plenty of abandoned homes and businesses, sitting there for decades, wasting away with time. For the urban explorer or avid photographer, it’s a tempting opportunity to be taken advantage of. However, locals might ask you to think twice before venturing into the lost homes of Avilla. “Shadow Folk” have often been spotted wandering through the halls of abandoned places, through windows and even occasionally, strolling down the empty roads of the town. The name is self explanatory, but for anyone curious, shadow folk are dark figures resembling people, shadows moving on their own without anyone there to cast them. To anyone who might find yourself facing down a shadow person in the near future, don’t worry. The locals say these specters aren’t dangerous and probably won’t even take notice. Shadow folk are believed to be mere impressions of those who lived there years ago.

However, there is another presence haunting the town of Avilla, and this ain’t no shadow. The “Avilla Phantom Bushwacker” aka, “Rotten Johnny Reb” has been spotted multiple times around Avilla, and is said to haunt the “Death Tree” itself. The legend of the Avilla Death Tree originates from the Civil War. The skull of a Confederate Bushwacker was found and rather than buried, was hung from a tree, as a “warning to all other bushwackers.” And now, much like the legend of the Headless Horsemen, his ghost searches the town and surrounding woods looking for his head… and for any “yankee scum” to bushwack. In fact, many deaths have been blamed on him over the years, and he’s said to have driven off any remaining townsfolk after the war ended, further contributing to its “ghost town” status. The legend says that the only way to end the curse and put Rotten Johnny’s spirit to rest forever is to find his skull, cut it down from the tree and bury it in holy ground or set it ablaze on top of holy ground. That is, before Rotten Johnny finds you. Unfortunately, the location of the “Death Tree” died off when the last survivors of the war did. However, according to legend, during the day black crows flock to it as a perch and as it is supposed to bare rotten/shriveled fruit, or none at all as it once was part of an apple orchard. With the changing of time and landscape, it’s nearly impossible to find the tree now in the endless maze of forests and fields.

Do you believe the legend? Would you face Rotten Johnny? Personally, I think I’ll pass. Rotten Johnny Reb doesn’t sound like the kind of spirit I would mess with.

1 note

  1. the-fearcollective posted this
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