The old house on top of the hill with its dusty windows and creaky doors, every neighborhood seems to have one when you’re growing up. The house that at night, when the moon is full, seems to come alive with hundreds of shadows that move about, fueled by your imagination.
It is the stereotypical haunted house that we all grew up with. The rumors and legends of its evil inhabitants are spread in hushed whispers through childish dares during Halloween and propagated by big brother’s taunts at younger siblings. It was a house like this that was my first introduction to the supernatural, a house that was known simply as Midget Mansion.
The old house stood on top of a small hilltop near the intersection of Interstate Highway 10 and Callaghan Road in San Antonio. As long as I can remember it stood deserted and rumors about it spread through my school.
The legend was that the mansion was built for a family of little people, the house and it’s interior furnishings were sized for persons of a slightly smaller stature.
It was said that the father went insane one dark night and murdered his family and then committed suicide by burning the house down around him. His ghost is said to haunt the area looking for his family and anyone else who crosses his path.
I was 19 when I went there with a group of friends. I was naïve in the ways of trespassing and lurking around in the dark. That night was a night of learning for me. A night which I know look upon as the beginning of it all, including what you are currently reading. It was not anything extremely special, but it was enough to arouse my curiosity.
We parked in a residential area behind the area where the Mansion once stood. Making our way down the street to an empty lot at the corner of Donore Circle and Donore Square, it was about ten o’clock at night and nothing moved in the small subdivision. A car pulled around the corner and everyone hit the ground lying flat to avoid detection, something that was rather silly but seemed necessary at the time. The car passed and we went along our way.
We stepped over the barbed wire fence that had been trampled by several feet and onto a short trail leading to a road that led up to where the mansion stood. The road bent a short way down and lead up a hill past a workman’s shed. I was in the back of the group trudging it’s way up the hill when everyone sprang instantly from the middle of the road to the bushes on my left.
I was completely surprised and found myself standing alone in the middle of the road. About 20 yards up the road a figure stepped out of the workman’s shed and stood looking down at me. Images of everything from death to arrest ran through my mind as I started to slowly back down the road. The figure didn’t move. I went about ten yards back and then decided to go into the bushes on the left down a small trail.
The trail led down into a small circular clearing that had a circle of train timbers around what appeared to be the remains of a campfire. This intrigued me, but before I had a chance to actually look around I heard the sound of running feet on the road I had just left. I considered the possibility that if my friends were running from someone and he was chasing them I might be running up the road behind him.
I ran up the road anyway, figuring that if I was going to die, I was going to die. I ran along the trail and over the barbed wire and into a smiling group of friends who had actually been worrying about me. There was just one problem, I wasn’t the only one missing.
The friend who was missing showed up a few minutes later the same way that I had come. He had stayed behind when everyone else left and had tried to get a closer look. He had heard a few noises and several voices talking, but said they stopped after a few minutes.
After about twenty minutes of convincing ourselves that it was safe to go back we headed back down the trail. We went back over the barbed wire and down the road and up to the workman's shed. It was empty. Just a couple of vagrants, we told ourselves. We continued up the road to the main house.
None of the main buildings we standing anymore. Only burned foundations and an earth filled swimming pool. At the front of the area that encompassed the house is a double stairway, which was the only real semblance of what a beautiful house had once stood there. The stairway was in a serious state of disrepair and covered with graffiti that someone had tried to cover up. The two small alcoves at the bottom of the stairs were ashen stained and bear the remains of many small fires.
Up on the main foundation of the building a hole led downwards into darkness, that we assumed was an entrance to a basement. The skinniest, and apparently the bravest, of us tried his luck at going down the hole. He got about seven feet down but could go no farther. He found a discernable hole that he said looked like it led to more but there was no way he was making it any farther.
That was about it for our little trip with the group, as I mentioned before it was not all that exciting. The following week that brave friend, the skinny one, and I went back to the mansion during the day. The destruction of the stairway had increased and so had the graffiti. The best way to describe the graffiti that covers the wall is to describe the intelligence that it took to write it. Most were racist remarks, but being so intelligent in the first place they didn't spell the slurs correctly. One even made a pentagram, or what was supposed to be one, and wound up making a Star of David.
All that is unimportant, what is important is that for ghostly presence and supernatural phenomena it didn't offer much. Rumor had it at that time when they tore down the mansion they had only left the pool house, which was they kids play area, and filled with kid sized furniture, and led to the stories by the teenagers that partied there that it was a house of midgets, and the story grew from there. I have yet to see any real evidence, or proof that a family of little people lived there and a horrilbe murder occurred.