Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Haunted Tales-San Antonio, TX

San Antonio, TX is one of those towns that never forgets it's past. The new buildings and skyscrapers exist, but in the midst of those are the historical sites that have made the city what it is. Second in population only to Houston in the state of Texas, San Antonio has emerged as a popular place to vacation as well as to live. The people who live and visit here have a great respect for the history of this city. Long gone days include when native Indians were educated in the missions, when Texas was fighting for its Independence and especially when they were defeated at the Alamo. It would be impossible to think that a city with such history, a city that does not tear down its architecture of days gone by, a city with such respect for its past would not have a few of its residents that want to stay around even after they have physically past. In fact, it would really be impossible to think that when so many of its current residents see the paranormal on a regular basis.

The Alamo is probably the most well known of the San Antonio historical sites. The Alamo sits in what is now the downtown area. Steps away from the famous landmark is another huge tourist draw, the Riverwalk. Lined with shops, hotels and any type of food establishment you could want, the Riverwalk winds through the downtown area and is the route you can take to most of the places we will discuss here. San Antonio has many areas said to be haunted, but we will be focusing on the downtown/Riverwalk area for the majority of these tales.

The Alamo
It is no wonder that the Riverwalk area is known to have an extreme amount of paranormal activity considering it runs in such close proximity to the Alamo. The Alamo is a place rich in Texas history and it is also considered one of the most haunted areas in the nation.

Built in the late 1700's the Alamo was a mission that the Christians used to educate the Indians about religion. That sounds like a great start to a building that would have nothing but good vibes. Well, you would think so, but apparently not! You see the area in front of the Alamo, now called Alamo Plaza, was a cemetery before the buildings were built and over 1000 people were buried there. Some believe that the Alamo area was haunted long before the famous showdown between Santa Anna and Davey Crocket for Texas' Independence.

The Battle of the Alamo in 1836 ended in tragedy for the many volunteers who came to help fight off Santa Anna and the Mexican army. Eventually defeated in another battle days later, Santa Anna and his men took the lives of many when they stormed into the Alamo on March 6. The Mexican army was so large that the likes of Davey Crocket, Jim Bowie and William Travis really stood no chance at a victory.

Today the Alamo stands as a shrine and a symbol of the volunteers who gave their lives to help the people of Texas be its own republic. It also is quite possible that those volunteers are not as long gone as we may think. There have been many reports of ghosts believed to be Crocket, Bowie, Travis and many of the other hero's roaming the Alamo. People have also reported seeing things such as the ghostly figure of a soldier pacing back and forth, strange unexplainable noises and countless other tales.

The Menger Hotel

Just a few steps to the right of the Alamo and you will see the Menger Hotel. Originally opened in 1859, this hotel has played host to many interesting folks-Mae West, Robert E. Lee, Theodore Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, just to name a few. Not only was it known to be a hangout for the rich and famous, it is also known by many as the most haunted hotel in the country.

One of the permanent visitors is Sallie White, a former chambermaid at the hotel. Mrs. White was killed by her husband, but it is believed that she still tries to hold up her duties at the hotel. She is still seen taking towels or doing other work in her usual work attire around the hotel. Nowadays it is hard to find people who will work hard while they are alive, much less someone who will keep coming back when they rightfully should be resting! I commend you Mrs. White for being a hard worker!

Another person believed to haunt the upper level of the hotel is Mr. King of Kings Ranch fame. It is believed that he haunts the "King Ranch room" where he passed away. Current guests of the hotel have seen him walking down the hall and disappearing into the wall to his old room.

Some say that President Theodore Roosevelt still stops by from time to time. During his lifetime he would stop by the hotel and sit at the bar and some of the hotel workers say that he still does the same now.

I have visited the Menger Hotel many times and I will say that I truly believe it has paranormal activity. It was strange, because I always had heard of the " King Ranch Room", but had no idea which part of the hotel it was in. There was one area of the building, though, that always gave me chills. After asking around I realized that I was just down the hall from the room and it is supposedly the most haunted area of the hotel. There is also an open walkway area on the right of the hotel building. The windows of the Menger overlook the walkway and the adjoining Rivercenter Mall. I literally can not look at that hotel when walking in that area as I always feel an unfriendly presence there.

Rivercenter Mall
This leads us to our next area of discussion, the Rivercenter Mall. I have never met a mall that I don't like, but I will say this one makes me more uneasy than any other. For many years I have visited this mall and like I mentioned above, the outside walkway always gave me the sense that something was around me, something that really spooks me out. Not only the walkway, but anytime I am in the mall I do not want to be in a secluded area. Some of you may understand what I am talking about, where you are somewhere that you just know something isn't right.

After so many years of being spooked by this location and thinking it was all in my head imagine my surprise when I found out I might not be quite as crazy as I thought I was. Come to find out the Rivercenter Mall sits on top of the land believed to be where the bodies of the soldiers lost at the Alamo were burned in pyres. I have also read reports of workers seeing things moving without assistance, shadows roaming and even a reported ghost walking alongside the shoppers.

La Mansion del Rio
Once a former college, this hotel sits in a prime spot right on the Riverwalk. This gorgeous hotel with its Spanish architecture is in my opinion one of the best in the city. Only about a five minute walk from the Alamo this hotel is in a location close to it all, apparently a little too close. The story of the spookies at this location comes not from workers or people who have reported incidences, it comes from yours truly.

San Antonio is only about three hours from my home and is a perfect location to visit when we want to just get away for a few days. Such was the case when we went a couple of years ago to celebrate my father's birthday. Like many times before we decided to stay at La Mansion. This time, however, when we got our room location it was in a different area than we had stayed in past visits.

Walking down the hall to this new area I felt a strange feeling come over me, but just wrote it off again as nothing. I had never heard of this hotel being haunted, heck if so I would not have dared stay there. I shook off the cold feeling and just kept on my way along to our room. After placing our luggage, much more than I would like to admit for a one night stay, into the room we went out for dinner. Upon returning I again got the same cold chills. Geez, I thought to myself, they need to turn the air off!

Nighttime fell and we went to sleep, my hubby, fuzzy boy Bark,(you didn't think I abandoned my boy did you), and I had one side of the room and my mom and dad had the other. All night I was restless. Every time I would wake up I had a strange feeling that if I peered my head from beneath the comforter I would be met with something, what I didn't know. Well I certainly didn't want to find out so I pulled the covers tighter and tried to sleep it off.

The next morning it all made more sense. I woke in the morning with the sunlight coming in through the balcony and my mother standing over me with something to say. Well if you knew my mom and I you would know we always have something to say, but this time it was something that I didn't want to hear. I didn't want to hear it until I was at least packed and ready to get out of that room. Somehow, deep down I knew exactly what her conversation pertained to. I even told her," I know exactly what you are going to say, but if you tell me now I will be too scared to be by myself in the shower so you are going to have to wait!" Hey a girl has her priorities! I didn't want to be spooked, but I really didn't want greasy hair! ;)

When mom was given the go ahead her story was even more scary than I had expected it would be. After we all fell asleep, like myself, mom was very restless. She woke up and had a feeling that someone was there next to her, someone she could not see. All of a sudden the foot of the bed began to feel as if were being violently hit with something repeatedly. She sat there terrified, speechless and unable to wake my father up. Over and over whatever this was was trying to make a point to my mom that it was there with her. Since the bed was not touching walls on either side it was very hard to easily explain what this could be.

My mom was once told of a verse in the Bible to read if you ever have paranormal things happening in your home. She remembered that there was a Bible in the nightstand next to her so she got it and started reciting the verse over and over aloud. The attack began easing up and as she read finally disappeared. I do not know how my poor mom kept from having a heart attack that day.

A little after my mom's experience, Gabe awoke to the sound of someone at the door and paper swishing under. Thinking it was a hotel worker, Gabe's curiosity got the best of him. He walked over to the door to see what was disrupting his sleep. There was no paper under the door, he opened it and peered down the hall. The hall was empty.

After correlating everyone's stories we came to the realization that we were ready to get the heck out of that hotel. On the drive home I convinced my mom to call back to the hotel and try to make sense of the previous night's events. The conversation went just like this:

Mom-"Good morning! I have a quick question and please don't think I am crazy, but has anyone ever complained of paranormal activity in your hotel before?"

Hotel operator-"Why yes ma'am, all the time! This is a very old hotel and we have had many people see things. There is a little ghost boy who wanders around and likes to play."

She went on to ask mom what room we were in. Apparently when someone complains of activity the workers go to the room, burn candles and sprinkle holy water in the area. I don't know about all of you, but if a hotel has a policy and procedure on how to handle hauntings I don't really want to check in there again! Despite its beauty I will never spend the night at La Mansion del Rio after that stay.

Like I mentioned before, San Antonio is a very haunted city. This doesn't even break the surface of all that goes on there, so if you are planning on visiting and would like more info on other places feel free to email me.


TMCPhoto said...

Your post really brought back some good memories.

We visited San Antonio 4 years ago for a wedding, we stayed at the Menger and thought it was simply beautiful, We knew it was haunted when we checked in but didn't see or feel any thing otherworldly.

I wish I would have spent more time wandering the hotel but I was in the early stages of pregnancy and all I wanted to do was sleep :)

I also didn't feel comfortable down that alley by the mall, usually I can linger in places like that but I always found myself rushing.

Joy De Vivre Design said...

TMCPhoto-That is so strange that you have the same reaction to that area! There is something there for sure!

I am glad that this post brought back good memories. San Antonio really is a cool town to visit.

thatdesigngal said...

I have never been to San Antonio, thank you for the little tour! I wish you could have taught my history classes!

I have been luck to have never had a paranormal experience. Fingers crossed and knocking on wood. And surprisingly I was able to sleep after see Paranormal Activity! YAY!

Have a great Halloween!

Kay said...

Oooo, ghost stories for Halloween! You hit just the right note on the spooky scale.

mecummins said...

Really enjoyed this post. I love ghost stories that deal with the history of places. I went on a ghost tour in my city recently and your story about your family's stay in that hotel room was scarier than anything the guide told us!

Joy De Vivre Design said...

thatdesigngal-Thank you! If you ever get a chance San Antonio is a fun place to visit. It is a good mixture of Mexico and Texas and gives you a great sense of the state.

I have not seen Paranormal Activity. My friends think I am funny, because I will go to places that I have heard are haunted and tour them, but I will not watch scary movies. Hope you have a great Halloween as well! :)

Kay-I am glad you enjoyed them! I was getting scared just writing some of them! LOL!

mecummins-Thank you! I am glad you enjoyed it. That night at La Mansion was so scary! I should have known it was haunted just from the location itself, but I never expected that to happen. I don't think I will ever spend the night in San Antonio again. The last three times we have been we have drove home to Houston at night we were so spooked!