Everybody in Marion County knows about the Mongoloid House, right? As a kid growing up in the 80s, I remember my dad scaring us with stories about a house out in the country where strange people lived. There’s a good chance you’ve heard a Mongoloid House story or two growing up, too.
When we started this web site back in the fall of 2008, the Mongoloid House was at the top of our list of stories we wanted to research. We had originally hoped the roots of the story might at least be grounded in some historical facts, and we had really hoped that there might be a written record of these facts. However, after spending a dizzying number of hours in the Ohio Reading Room of the Marion Public Library, we’re convinced the Mongoloid House exists as a purely oral story, passed around from person to person and from generation to generation. With that in mind, we decided that the only way to find out about the Mongoloid House was to talk to people in Marion. In an effort to get to collect information, we decided to set up a survey on this web site where people could contact us with what they know. Readers can also contribute information by adding a comment below the story.
So far we’ve used the information we’ve collected to develop some (admittedly flimsy) ideas about the:
- Origin of the name
- Location in Marion County
- Origin and evolution of the Mongoloid House legend in and around Marion
Because it’s a local legend, the information we have collected is often vague and full of contradictions and sometimes just plain nonsense. Please keep in mind, then, that this article is just an attempt to organize that information rather than validate it.
The House with the Strange Name
One obvious question about the Mongoloid House concerns the origin of such a strange (and these days, politically incorrect) name. Although a few people have said that they know the place as either the Mongoid House or the Salem House, the overwhelming majority of the people contacting us said that they know the place as the Mongoloid House.
And why, exactly, was it called that? Here’s a theory: Maybe there really used to be a house out in the county where people who were mentally ill or developmentally disabled or just plain weird lived. Unsure of what exactly made them different, people simply started referring to them as “mongoloids”.
Survey comments left by people answering the question “What stories do you know about the Mongoloid House?” appear to support this.
For example, one contributor wrote:
I’ve heard various stories, [ranging] from an inbred family to a family with children with mental handicaps. I’ve heard of people harassing the family with spotlights on the house or other acts of misdeed. I’ve heard the mongoloid family would throw rocks at cars and hang from the trees or jump out of ditches at passersby or that they would fire shotguns into the air from the house as a warning.
Another person responded on our Marion Star blog with what appears to be first-hand knowledge on the Mongoloid House:
Back in the late 60′s and very early 70′s, many of us made the trip to the house. Some came out of curiosity and some came to antagonize. The term “mongoloid” was used due to the peculiar-looking people living on the property. Were they inbred? Mentally challenged? Who knows. They had high foreheads, big heads, stocky builds and close-set eyes. Some kids would sit in front of the house or in the drive and honk their horns. [The people in the house] would come out and
shoot at the cars or beat on them with ball bats. They definitely existed. Can I blame them for shooting and beating on the cars? Not now. When I was young, I thought they were crazy. Now I understand they were responding to the kids who came to antagonize [them]. They eventually moved out of the county. Can’t say I blame them.
Of course there is also the possibility that there was a family with the name “Mongoloid” or, more realistically, “Mongoid.” However, we haven’t been able to find any documentation of such a name in Marion County.
When asked about the location of the Mongoloid House, most people told us Salem Road just north of Route 529. Indeed, there are a few secluded buildings situated on that piece of (private) property. Strangely, there is not much left of the actual house; a fire all but destroyed it a few years ago.
Heather Ingle had this to say about that particular location:
I went the house in around 1994. The house was standing and walls were all intact. There was graffiti on the walls like “Leave while you can.” and “This is hell.” I looked around [and was] scared out of my mind. I remember there being a basement but no stairs [leading down to the basement] and none [lying collapsed below] in the basement.
Then in 2009 I went back to the house. At the time I didn’t know it was the [same] house. We were just out with friends and told us they knew where a haunted house was. So we pull into the driveway, and I told everyone I had been there before. We didn’t get out but just took pics. When looking at the pics [later], we could see orbs.
Then in 2010 we went back in the daylight. When we got out, my husband wanted to go to what was left of the house. We looked around and it was super creepy. Each barn was weirder than the next. We took pics to look at later. The creepiest place of all was a tall barn in the back. It has several windows, three of which are down on the bottom left. My kids took a pic and, after looking at it on the computer, there is a hole in the ground where those windows are.
However, not everyone agrees about the location of the Mongoloid House. Some of the more credible stories come from people who name roads like Kenton-Marseilles Road East, Marseilles Galion Road East and Morral Kirkpatrick Road as the site of the Mongoloid House. For anyone familiar with Marion County roads, these are not even close to Salem Road. What does this information mean? Was there more than one Mongoloid House? Did its location in the local stories somehow change over the years? When did the house on Salem Road burn down and what was the cause? Many of the people naming roads other than Salem were relating information that is well over thirty years old. Could it be that these people were simply not remembering correctly?
The Origins and Evolution of the Mongoloid House Legend
Mongoloid House stories have been circulating around Marion for at least 45 years. One survey taker claims to have first heard of the Mongoloid House in 1964. In addition to the 60s, every decade that has followed is also represented in the survey answers. Quite a few people even said they had first heard about the Mongoloid House this year, 2010. With so many different years represented, it’s instructive to examine the evolution of both the stories people have heard and the experiences they have had over the years.
Consider this story related by Debbie Howard about her experience at the Mongoloid House in 1968:
There were two families who lived on same side of the road. [An old man lived in one house while some of his relatives lived in another.] The home the old man lived in looked like a weathered shack in the weeds. It sure didn’t look like anyone could have lived in it. At the time I remember there weren’t many other homes on this road. There were 2 or maybe 3 other [houses on the road], so it was not heavily traveled. If anyone went by the house slowly, stopped or honked the car horn, the old man would come out and chase your car with his car. He had paths through the fields and would use them to cut through and come out in front of your car blocking you. It would scare everyone so much they’d turn around in the road and leave. [Supposedly] he had his wife’s corpse lying in a casket in his house, but no one really knows. They called the old man “Flash” because of his swiftness. He would come out of nowhere and suddenly be looking right into your car, again scaring those who bothered him and his family.
A few of us went out to the Kenton-Marseilles Road location. We drove by real slowly, and before we knew it, headlights were right behind our car and gaining on us. Then they were gone. We were laughing when this old car suddenly came out of the field. We were scared and knew what people had said about Flash was true, and we didn’t stay for more “excitement.”
Contrast the previous story with this brief entry from Heather Ayers, who first heard of the Mongoloid House in 2004:
[I've heard] that [there are] hunched-back people with big heads that are over-sized for their bodies and that they will chase you then kill you.
Dave Cornelius contributed this story, which he says took place between some time between 1968 and 1970:
[While we were] shooting the loop with the car full [of people], one of the girls said, “Let’s go out to the crazy people’s house.” While sitting in front of his house blowing the horn and all [of us] turned to the house yelling, an old vehicle suddenly appeared right on the rear bumper flashing one headlight. Our driver was so busy looking at the house he waved for the old vehicle to pass. Somebody was getting out of that old vehicle when I shouted, “He might have a gun!” By then the girls were crying and screaming as [our] “slow poke” [driver] pulled away with the man in pursuit. From then on we called the guy who had chased us “Flash.” And I have never forgotten that night.
Again, contrast Dave’s first-hand account with this anonymous contribution from someone who first heard about the Mongoloid House in 2010
I heard that there was a man who lived there with his sister, and they had children who were mongoloids, and as soon a he found out, he hung everyone in the house, set the house on fire and then killed himself.
See the difference? The older stories tend to be much more detailed and personal while the newer stories tend to be vague and with the knowledge often second-hand. It appears that the early Mongoloid House stories had their origins in a very specific and real experience (i.e. antagonizing one particular family out in the county) while the newer stories tend to be vague because the family central to the Mongoloid House is, for whatever reasons, gone. In the absence of the “mongoloids,” the stories from the last two decades have tended to focus, for whatever reasons, on the house and property on Salem Road. As a result, a story like this from someone who first heard of the house in 1992 is more typical:
There were claims that if you drove out on Salem road, turned off the car and sat there that these people/spirits would come and rock the car and try to get in and the car wouldn’t start back up until they left or decided to leave you alone.
Other Peculiarities and Loose Ends: Flash
One character who cropped up in a few of the stories, all of them dating from the 60s and 70s, was a guy named Flash. Since different people mentioned him independently, we can only assume he was a real person.
On our Marion Star blog, someone anonymously contributed this experience with Flash:
One of my friends drove us out there, [and] we stopped in the middle of the road and waited. In about two minutes, a moderately sized man came from behind one of the buildings, screaming like a madman and with a rake. We waited until he could almost reach us and pulled away.
The real identity of Flash remains unclear. Was he a member of the family that inhabited the Mongoloid House? And what happened to him?
Other Peculiarities and Loose Ends: Forgotten Ohio
Long before this web site, Andy Henderson posted a little piece on his web site, Forgotten Ohio, about the Mongoloid House. Here’s the story, as it appears on his web site:
The story goes that a Civil War veteran who lived there killed his wife and children and then hung himself in the barn. Today if you visit the barn you might hear the strange noises which many report. The house is also said to be haunted, although it was merely built on the site of the murder house and is not original.
Andy, who isn’t from Marion, told me he received his information anonymously and has no idea about its origins. In any case, it is very likely that this one paragraph has helped to recast the Mongoloid House as a haunted house story for a whole new generation of (mostly young) people who have typed “Mongoloid House” into an internet search engine. As a result, the influence of this story is clear in the Mongoloid House stories of younger people.
Kari Hall, who first heard of it in 2010, had this to say:
The man was a Civil War veteran and he and his wife couldn’t have kids. Suddenly she got pregnant and they ended up having 2 kids. During a fight they were having, she told him the kids weren’t his, and so he killed them in the barn with a shot gun and then killed his wife in the basement before killing himself.
Likewise, Adam Caldwell, who heard about the Mongoloid House around 2008, offered this variation:
There was a soldier who lived there with his wife and two kids. He tortured his wife and killed his two kids, followed by hanging himself. The house was burned down, and then built again, but then burned once again. What I have heard and felt myself is dogs whining loudly and the smell of sulfur in the second story of the barn. If you go into the basement of the house for more than two to five minutes, you start to feel things touch you.
The Mongoloid House legend has been around for years, and we suspect that some version of it will be floating around Marion for years to come. Why? For one, people simply love being scared, and the Mongoloid House offers that opportunity to anyone willing to drive a few miles out into the country. More importantly, young people have always been central to the Mongoloid House story, and as long as there are teenagers driving around with nothing to do on a Saturday night, there will always be the Mongoloid House. Wherever and whatever it is.
If you have any stories or information about the Mongoloid House that you’d like to pass along to us, please feel free to fill out our survey, submit a comment below or contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any photos are also welcome. We will continue to update this story as we learn new information.
Have you ever heard of Headless Haddie? If you were a Marion Boy Scout who attended Camp Owens, chances are you probably have. Haddie terrorized Boy Scouts for seventy-odd years, and a story like the following, collected by OSU student Mike Sankey in the 70s, is typical:
I learned about [Headless Haddie] out at Camp Owens, which is south of Marion. The story goes [that] there’s a farm…which is a little bit north of the camp, and a couple lived there, and the wife’s name was Haddie. And one day the neighbors stopped by because they hadn’t heard from either Haddie or her husband for a few days, so they stopped by and they found her body but no head. The head had been chopped off. And the husband was never found. And so she haunts the camp and the area around there.
However, the origin of the Headless Haddie legend is nearly as interesting as the legend itself.
To read more about Headless Haddie, pick up a copy of Haunted Marion, Ohio.