Williston, FL

Do you believe there's a "Garden of Evil" in Williston, Florida?

Evie M.

Welcome to Williston, Florida signLittleT889 on Wikimedia Commons

Florida is a state filled with many incredible secrets. I've only lived here a little under a year. Still, it's gotten to the point where I've concluded that, no matter how many stories I try to learn about Florida (and it's a continuous effort), I will never understand everything buried by time in the Sunshine State.

I knew about Williston, Florida, and a few haunted stories coming from it. I've even written about them a few times once I discovered them. But this is an entirely new terror, something you might not expect from the quiet town of Williston.

Dr. Jesse M. Willis founded Williston, Florida, in 1853, building a plantation in the area and naming the town after himself. Over time, Mr. Willis because one of the leading producers of cucumbers in the entire world (wow)

A short-ish, 22-mile drive from Gainesville (about an hour and a half coming from Florida, says Mapquest), Williston is a small town with only 2,800 people.

However, despite their size, people flood to visit Williston, especially for October's famed Central Florida Harvest and Peanut Festival. Williston is also known for raising horses and earned quite a bit of street cred when the winning horse of the 1975 Kentucky Derby, Foolish Pleasure, came from a Williston, Florida farm.

Several beautiful natural springs created from limestone are also top-rated in Williston, namely Blue Grotto Springs and Devil's Den Springs. So divers, keep that in mind!

There's even a lovely restaurant called the Ivy House with a gift shop on the second floor (the restaurant is open from 11 am to 2 pm Sunday-Tuesday, and from 11 am-8 pm every day but Monday, which is closing day.

Yes, Williston is a genuinely charming place to visit, but beware of leaving town and wandering into the woods.

Sinister warnings and Skinwalkers

While many of the stories are innocent, even more seem to be serious, sinister warnings about what lurks in the shadows of the woods at night. Known as Williston's "Garden of Evil," locals often talk about visitors who've gone into the woods at night, saying they were visited by dark spirits, both animal and human.

A story collected from one hiker by popular spooky publication Backpackverse.com states he says he won't go into the woods because "you can hear them screaming in terror".

Who is "them"? That's what I want to know. Spooky.

Some locals believe that the creatures they're encountering warn them about something much worse. Which could be the terrifying skin walkers others have reported seeing darting through the trees. Or darker.

All I know is, as much as I love haunted places, sometimes you need to say, "this one looks too much."

I'll listen to the locals on this one: Go ahead and visit Williston, but don't go out into the Garden of Evil at night. Got it. I'm not sure why other Williston haunts seem safer, but I'm not going to question it.

Have you heard of Williston's Garden of Evil? Do you think the spirits are warning visitors about an evil entity in the trees? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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"Reader beware, you're in for a scare!--R.L. Stine"

Orlando, FL

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