Famous — and infamous — ghosts still guests of Menger Hotel

October 31, 2013

For our last “Spooky Place in Texas,” we’re checking in to the Menger Hotel in San Antonio. The Menger is adjacent to the Alamo and opened in 1859 — just 23 years after the famous battle next door. It was constructed by owner William Menger and architect John Fries.

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 as her guests. The Colonial Dining Room at the Menger Hotel was known far and wide for its cuisine.

Through the years, dignitaries and celebrities such as Theodore Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, 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, the Menger remains a popular stop for first-class business and family travelers.

The hotel has more than just famous visitors; it also has some permanent inhabitants that have become rather infamous: the ghosts that haunt the Menger.

One of the ghosts seen most often is that of Sallie White, a young maid who worked and allegedly died at the hotel. Sallie is now seen wandering the third-floor hallways, apparently still working where she was most comfortable. She is usually seen carrying towels and headed for places unknown.

The second-floor King Ranch Suite is home to its namesake: the ghost of Capt. Richard King, the founder of the giant South Texas ranch. King loved the Menger Hotel and, when he learned he was ill, booked his favorite room at the hotel and passed away there. The bed frame is said to be the same one from his death.

King’s funeral was held in the hotel’s parlor. The room has been remodeled and the door moved from where it once was, but King doesn’t seem to care and still moves through the wall where there once was an entrance.

Another ghost that has been seen is that of a man wearing buckskin. A hotel guest once emerged from the bathroom after showering to discover the ghost asking someone unseen, “Are you gonna stay, or are you gonna go?,” which he repeated three times and then disappeared. The identity of this ghostly visage is unknown, but it could be Louis Moses Rose, otherwise known as the “coward of the Alamo.” He was the only man who did not cross William Travis’ line drawn in the earth to fight on; the only man who ran away under the cover of darkness.

The number of other ghosts seen in the Menger is as high as 43. From an older woman knitting in the lobby and a young, blond boy who plays in the rooms while the guests are sleeping to the sounds of marching and the sighting of military boots such as those worn by the Mexican soldiers who attacked the Alamo.

The Menger and the area around it has seen both life and death. It’s on the national register of historical hotels and one of the most interesting haunted areas in San Antonio. The hotel staff, unlike some in San Antonio, are willing to share its haunted past.

If you go there, feel free to ask questions. Just don’t be surprised if the person you ask suddenly disappears.

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