Texas is full of strange stories and unusual places. Some might say it's the very size of the state that gives rise to so many tales of the unexplained.
But those that have a real interest in the odd and unusual will tell you there's something more to the story. Texas, the might say, is the site of many ancient civilizations, most old and forgotten. Then came the Spanish and the French, and with them boat loads of European fables, legends and lore.
Before long, Texas was the home to legends and strange stories both ancient and new. With the influx of new cultures, the diversity of the region grew and eventually prospered, giving rise to modern man with his advanced knowledge and education and science.
But not all is forgotten. The stories are still told around campfires. Siblings and families often share tales of ghosts and ghouls and things that go bump in the night. And on occasion, even in our modern world, we are given little reminders that not all things can be explained with science and education, for a few who are lucky -- or terribly unlucky -- find themselves encountering one of those rare moments when the unexplained happens before their very eyes.
Visitors to the historic Menger Hotel in downtown San Antonio often see the evidence that not all things can be easily explained.
The Menger is located adjacent to the Alamo and first opened in 1859, just 23 years after the battle at the Alamo, by owner William Menger and architect John Fries. The hotel was built in the same location that the Menger Brewery had operated. The brewery was said to be the first in Texas.
Menger was a German brewer who had immigrated to the United States in the early 1840's. It wasn't long before the Menger Hotel gained a reputation as one of the finest in the West, attracting the famous and the infamous who could be counted among her guests. The Colonial Dining Room at the Menger Hotel was known far and wide for its cuisine.
Down through the years such personalities such as Theodore Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Sidney Lanier, Mae West, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and Sarah Bernhardt stayed there, some more than once. And even today, with its updated and remodeled look and feel, the Menger remains a popular stop for first class business and family travelers.
Ask any employee or regular visitor to the Menger and chances are good you'll hear about more than one sighting of apparitions and ghosts in the hotel. For instance, Sallie White was a chambermaid at The Menger Hotel. One night, as the story goes, she stayed overnight at the hotel after an argument with her husband. She may well have stayed at the hotel with another man. The next day, her husband threatened to kill her. She was later attacked by that same husband in March of 1876 and died two days later. According to the hotel ledger, the hotel paid the funeral cost of $32.
According to legend, Sallie White roams the halls of the hotel's Victorian wing. She is described as wearing an old long gray skirt and a bandanna around her forehead. She is usually carrying towels, which she never delivers.
One man had an encounter with a rude maid. He described the maid who ignored him to the from desk. The uniform he described the maid wearing was from the late 1800's, which was when Sallie worked at the hotel.
Another popular story is about another famous Texan, Captain Richard King, founder of famous King's Ranch. King was a man of great wealth who had a suite at the Menger. It is said that when King received news of his impending death following an illness, he spent the last months of his life in the suite. It was at the hotel that he wrote his last will and said his farewells to friends. King's funeral was held in the parlor of the Menger. Now it said that Captain King appears occasionally and is seen entering his room, The King Suite. Many guests and employees claim to have seen him. As the story goes, when he enters the suite, he does not use the door. Instead he walks right through the wall in a location where the door was once located.
Another popular story is about an American President. President Teddy Roosevelt recruited cowboys for the Rough Riders at the Menger Bar on more than one occasion. Over the years people have reported seeing him sipping on a drink at the bar.
There are plenty of other stories of apparitions at The Menger. Guests of the hotel find that the staff is often eager to share ghost stories with them.
The historic hotel has been updated to include modern amenities including an outdoor swimming pool and fitness center. The Menger Hotel is Registered as a National Historic Hotel, and perhaps one of the best for a supernatural encounter.