Avilla, Missouri

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Shadow Folk are known to haunt the old abandoned part of this historic village along Route 66. The shadowy people can be seen walking along the street and going about daily business, usually from the corner of your eye. The Avilla Death Tree is haunted by Civil War-era bushwhacker Rotten Johnny Reb. It is unknown exactly which tree it is, but a legend in town says it is said to be haunted by the headless ghost who not only seeks his head, but also vengeance upon the townsfolk.

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Geographic Information

Avilla, MO
United States

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37.1953342, -94.12966219999998
Jasper County, Missouri
Nearest Towns:
Avilla, MO (0.0 mi.)
La Russell, MO (5.3 mi.)
Reeds, MO (5.8 mi.)
Sarcoxie, MO (8.7 mi.)
Carthage, MO (10.0 mi.)
Carytown, MO (11.0 mi.)
Stotts City, MO (11.8 mi.)
Fidelity, MO (13.4 mi.)
Jasper, MO (13.6 mi.)
Golden City, MO (13.8 mi.)


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Comments (20)

  1. Hi I am with an paranormal team called haunted house investigation team ( hhit ) you can look for us you tube twitter or Facebook we just got back from doing a investigation here and after going and talking to the locals which were not the friendliest. Lol but some have lived here their whole lives and have heard nothing about the shadow people or the death tree myths ever or some have just heard in the past year and they believe that the story’s are made up crap. But we did get to talk to one of the locals and got a lock down on a building rite neXT to the ” bar ” smack dab in the middle of town he gave us the keys and let us stay until we wanted. We started off good had some noises and a few evps. At like ten thirty we started having a lot of people driving by reving their engines and flipping us off! Some were standing out of the bar yelling things. The people were making us feel very uncomfortable so we decided to end or investigation early because we did not want things to escalate. People here are very standoff and rude they did not want us here and from the guy that owns the building we were at the people were harassing him also for the past few years! I could say that this is the worst and unfriendliest town that I have ever been too we drove along way to do this and we’re let down and very disappointed. If I were you I would mark this off your bucket list and move on from here but if you decide to go be careful of the people and good luck we will be posting a video up of what we did get in the little time and show how unfriendly the people were thanks for reading

    • I think Cody must have gone to the wrong Avilla, MO. I don’t live in Avilla, don’t know anyone there so I can be considered an outsider. The bar you speak of is Bernie’s Bar & Grill. I’ve been there several times, and not once have I encountered any rowdy folks or anyone who made me feel uncomfortable. The last time I went was shortly before Halloween, and the topic of ghosts and haunted places came up and people talked about haunted places around Avilla. Nobody was every standoffish or rude, we absolutely had a great time despite the fact I didn’t know any of the locals and they didn’t know me, but they didn’t seem to care one bit.

      As for your claim about people reving their engines and flipping you off, I highly doubt that considering that road is a main highway that is heavily traveled, it’s not like some main street in po`dunk where you have stoplights and people drag racing, it’s a major highway.

    • I am.interested in seeing the video..I have lived in a villa almost entire life..I believe the shadow people and the paranormal activities exist.

  2. These old Civil War legends are not common knowledge to the idiots living in Avilla today. The oldest citizen of Avilla right now has only lived there since around 1962 (and cannot remember what he tells you from day to day), and the crazy locals know very little about there own history. Avilla in 2015 is a refuge for meth-heads and senility.

    I lived in Avilla during the 1960’s, and I knew many of the old timers then. At that time, Burt Stemmons (a direct descendent of Thomas Stemmons from the old Civil War Era store) would sit on his front porch and retell the stories he learned from his ancestors. Burt would whittle the most amazing items with his pocket knife, and he gave me a long wooden chain that he made from a single stick of wood. While whittling, he told me many stories about the ghosts that were about, and that is when I learned about the dead man’s skull that was hung from an apple tree as a warning to Confederate bush-whackers. That was ultimately the cause of the downfall of the town. There is a single dark spirit there, and I know from personal experience that he exists. If you have ever smelled a dead human body, you will never forget it, and such is an experience with Rotten Johnny Reb.

    A warning to ghost hunters going to Avilla: The area is dangerous at night. Most of the people with any sense has moved far away from there, long ago, and only the crazies remain. They might be tweaking on meth, or possessed by Rotten Johnny, but whatever you want to believe – the danger in Avilla is real. Better to stay away from this cursed town.

    • Anonymous, how well did you know Burt Stemmons? I met him when I was very young, but I don’t remember him. He was my grandmother’s first cousin. I seem to have taken up the family historian mantle from him, at least for my branch of the Stemmons family. I’ve been to Avilla several times, since one of the Stemmons had a general store there (and because of all the Civil War history). I’ve relied on his research as I attempt to put together a family narrative.

      • Don my name is kandee schrader-tracy and my dad was rIsed in avilla he knew him well if u would like to contact me woth a phone number ill see if he is willing to speak with u

  3. My team and I shot a Halloween special with KY3 NBC there last year. We did a big portion about the history of the town and even discovered some really amazing things. We were also granted permission to certain locations. Had an interesting investigation. The bad part is when KY3 went back to get extra shots of the town, some members of a church called the station and had it pulled from viewing. Its a shame that a few people could be so ignorant to not let people enjoy or learn the history of the area.

    • Having worked in news broadcasting for a few years, I find this to be very unlikely. During my years in news, there were several stories we did that people didn’t like and called to complain. There is no news station anywhere that is going to pull a story because of a few people who called to complain, especially in a market such as Springfield. I have a friend who is a producer at KY3, so I can easily see if there is any truth to this. I’ll report back once I talk to him.

    • Just an update regarding my last reply from November 10th, over the weekend I went and visited my friend who is a producer at KY3. I asked him about this and he said there is no truth to this and that it doesn’t make any sense as to why a story about a town’s history would cause such an uproar. He said even if people called the station to complain, they wouldn’t pull a story.

  4. I doubt it was a matter of ignorance. If anything, they didn’t want people to disturb their town or possibly destroy it. That, and church folk aren’t exactly known for being open-minded.

    • There’s not much to disturb.. lol. But seriously, if I remember correctly (was about a year ago) there was talk about a ghost tour being established to include Avilla. It never happened though. But if you are into history, the town has some great stories. We learned from a local old timer who told us that Clyde (of Bonnie and Clyde) stopped in the town to rob the bank (which is now the post office). Because of a robbery years earlier, the teller carried a .44 for protection. Clyde walked in and had spotted the gun. He then tipped his hat and left.

  5. I visited Avilla a few times I’m from Cassville MO, my husband and I are into going to places known to be haunted. When we visited the building by the bar ….I guess it’s a general store..? We have a few pictures that got us a little freaked out! We realized after I had the pictures printed we have two different pictures with shadow people…we thought maybe it was our headlights so we decided to go back at the same time the next weekend, we tried every angle the picture could have been taken and any angle the car was taken and as we thought it was not one of our shadows it is in FACT a shadow person. I also have a picture with a baby in a window…does anyone have any idea on the history of this store as to why there might be a baby doll??

  6. Kenzie Chrisman  |  

    I go to the school, and me and my friend were in the bathroom together and we saw the stall door shut on its own in the mirror. I’m Kenzie Chrisman and my friend was Emma Baker.Thanks.

  7. I grew up in this town but I move away last year, my old house is abound now but I use to see the doors open and close by themselves and once I saw an old woman sitting in a rocking chair. The rocking chair wasn’t there I’ve never had one, I thought I was dreaming but when I woke up there was a crease in the carpet where the chair was. I have never been in the attic or even seen inside of it but every time I would stand under the attic door the room would get cold and you could feel eyes prying right through you. Ive always pushed it off as my family playing a prank on me or animals in the attic but I’ll never forget what I’ve see, heard, and felt. Also when your in my brothers old room you could never stay in there very long you run out after a few minutes of being in there alone, I couldn’t control it my sisters couldn’t it just happened, it was like our bodies were forcing us to run out. Nothing ever happened to my brother or it it did he never said, he was the only one who could stay in that room.

  8. I enjoy reading accounts of things like this so thank you all who have commented here. The only comment I’d like to make concerns the first commenter, Cody. It would seem that anyone worth their beans about investigating the paranormal would at minimum have a fairly good basic education. A more advanced education would be even better. But to me, it is difficult to put any faith into a report by anyone who has such poor grammar and spelling skills. It’s hard to take him seriously as a “so called” paranormal investigator. I just cannot put any real stock into what he has written. Maybe he is doing the work of a paranormal investigator but if so, he’s got a lot of learning to do if he intends to make a career of it or hopes to convince anyone about his investigative findings and reporting. For now at least his amateurish attempts at it have a long way to go before he can be convincing. I do wish you luck though, Cody – if you are serious about the paranormal.

  9. Bravo Tom. I’m interested in going to Avilla to learn about my ancestors. Cody clearly doesn’t know how to make interact with people with a different background than his own. it’s no surprise that his pompous attitude was received that way. Any advice for my future trip Tom? My family line ends in Avilla, and the family split and all settled early in locationsduscovered by Lewis and Clark, but assumed another name, and covered their records extensively. The critical year was around 1861, maybe earlier. They were German speaking, well-educated, bonatanist and horticulturalists, teachers and a doctor, union allies (or at least part of the family was). They have ties to KS, Illinois, then Missouri. My portion of the family after the “split”, went to Idaho, where others settled in New Mexico, Oregon, California, and Colorado.

  10. We will be going this weekend to do some paranormal research!!! Pretty excited. Even if we don’t find any ghosts the history will be rich.

  11. I have grew up in the Villa all my life I almost 30 years old I have walked by that post office many many times and still to this day I have not seen anything I have been walking around this time the whole life my uncle was currently still living there we have never heard or seen anything about the shadows people yes there was a lot of civil war activity going on I’m not saying I’m a non-believers I do believe in paranormal activity but I had yet to see anything in this small town and yes the bar is right in front of this old post office that is still active and running to this day

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