Shrouded in the woods of Cherokee County stands an old stone obelisk, hidden from civilization. It is the Killough Monument, erected in memorial of the victims of the worst massacre by Native Americans in East Texas history. According to local legend, the grounds of the mass murder is also one of the most haunted places in East Texas.
Driving down the desolate roads through Larissa, Texas, which has become a ghost town since it was founded in the 1800s, a feeling of isolation hangs in the air.
The monument is tucked in the trees and guarded by a rusted chain-link gate. The towering cobblestone obelisk is surrounded by the graves of the family members of those killed in the massacre.
Built in the 1930s as a project of the Works Progress Administration, it is accompanied by a historical marker, commissioned in 1965, which tells the story of the fateful event.
In 1837, the Killough family of Talladega County, Ala. immigrated to East Texas and settled in the Cherokee County area. Fearing Native American attacks, the family moved to Nacogdoches, but returned to Larissa to harvest their crops on a promise from the Indians that they would be safe.
That promise was not kept, and on Oct. 5, 1838, the family was ambushed by a hostile band of Indians. Isaac Killough Sr. and 18 other extended relatives were either murdered or carried off into the forest never to be seen again.
Killough’s wife Urcey, accompanied by a few others including a baby, managed to escape and were guided 40 miles south to Fort Lacy by a friendly Native American woman who spoke no English. It is through their tale that the details of the massacre are known.
Today the monument is open to the public for visitation between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., but possibly due to its isolated location it is not typically a crowded destination.
There are many rumors about the infamous site. Some of the more interesting local legends include the claim that there is buried gold in the woods around the cemetery.
But one of the more popular stories about the place is that it is haunted, and on a full moon, the ghost of a Native American chief on horseback will appear. Such stories have sparked the interest of paranormal investigation teams, including Tyler RIP, East Texas’ own ghost hunting squad.
Tyler RIP conducted an investigation at the site, and while no hard evidence of paranormal activity was captured, the team’s leader, Michelle Damron still believes in the possibility of a haunting at the monument.
“We didn’t capture any conclusive evidence, but that place was definitely spooky. I got a really creepy feeling and that does not happen to me often,” Damron said.
But perhaps the most frightening rumor about the location is that satanic cults gather in the woods at night to worship and make sacrifices to the devil.
TJC sophomore Taylar Skolaut has experienced strange events late at night when visiting the monument after hours.
“We drove out there one time at around midnight. When we got up to the monument there were candles around the monument that were lit. No cars were there but there had to be people there who lit the candles,” Skolaut said. “We thought they were watching us from the woods so we stayed in the car and left. When we drove out the gate, a truck came out of nowhere and tailed us all the way back to the highway.”
TJC sophomore Libby Harmon hasn’t experienced anything similar first-hand, but has been warned about the strange happenings at the spot.
“Some people I know went out there one time and when they drove in the gate, they didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, but on their way out, someone had strung up an alligator in the tree and it had been gutted. They took a picture of it and showed me. Whoever hung the alligator up did it while they were inside the gate,” Harmon said.
While rumors run rampant about the site, it will be up to each visitor to decide for themselves what to believe about the renowned monument.