The Real Story of the Mongoloid House

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.

"Shooting the loop” consisted of driving in a loop along Marion’s uptown streets. In the late ’60s, the loop generally (though not always) followed the route highlighted above. Over the years, the popularity of shooting the loop in Marion has waxed and waned.
“Shooting the loop” entailed driving in a loop along Marion’s uptown streets. In the late ’60s, the loop generally (though not always) followed the route highlighted above. Over the years, the popularity of shooting the loop in Marion has waxed and waned.

This was how I introduced the chapter about the local legend known as the Mongoloid House when I wrote Haunted Marion, Ohio back in the fall of 2010. I still think it’s a good introduction to the story. However, in the rest of the chapter, a lot of the details surrounding the Mongoloid House (including its location) are murky to say the least, and I was never really happy with the story as it appears in the book – there are just too many loose ends.

That’s no longer the case, though.

In the fall of 2013, a man named Harry Titus sent me a long e-mail about his experiences at the Mongoloid House back in the late ‘60s. We eventually met in person at Ralphie’s where he laid out a clear, compelling and, most importantly, first-hand account of not only the Mongoloid House but of Marion’s youth culture at the time. I think it’s as complete of a story as we’re likely to hear on the subject.

Oh, and one more point I should make clear: the Mongoloid House is not (and was never) located on Salem Road. That’s a different Spooky Marion story!

That said, I will turn this story over to Harry:

Shooting the Loop

I was born and raised in Marion. Graduated in ’68 from Harding. At that time in Marion, the social life of young people centered around the “loop”. The city had just introduced the one way street system uptown, and this made “shooting the loop” possible. We would go uptown to mingle with the opposite sex, listen to rock n’ roll, street race, drink beer. We’d pull up in front of the Isaly building and hang out until we got chased off, and then we’d pull up in front of A-1 cleaners and hang out there until we got chased out of there, too. The most popular place to hang out was Frisch’s. It’s where CVS is now, across from the Stengel True museum. People would line up for blocks just to drive through Frisch’s parking lot. And if you found a place to park, you were all set. We didn’t really have drugs in Marion at the time. We were really late in getting into marijuana, even. We were still very innocent in the late 60s as far as that goes. To think that one day there would be a heroin problem in Marion… Anyway, this new social scene is what eventually led to excursions out to the Mongoloid House.

The Pugh Place

I remember first hearing about the Mongoloid House around ’67 or so, although at that time no one called it that. Instead, people just called it the Pugh place after the family living out there. I had a rock n’ roll band at the time, TC and the Turks, and while we were rehearsing on day, my brother-in-law, who was a deputy sheriff, stopped by and asked me if I’d ever heard any of the carryings–on out at the Pugh place on Marseilles-Galion Road. At that time, I’d never heard of anything going on out there. But that tells me now that the sheriff was already aware of the situation out that way.

Right out of high school, I got a job as a design trainee over at Fairfield Engineering. I thought I had it made. I was making $9.10 an hour, which was more than my dad made after working 30 years at the Shovel. Anyway, one day at work, I happened to overhear some of the other guys talking about going out to the Pugh place. Finally, I said, “What are you guys talking about?” One guy said, “It’s this farm house out on Marseilles-Galion Road. We go out there and drive up and down in front of it. Sometimes some guy’ll come out and chase you in his car. Sometimes he’ll even shoot at you. You’ve never been out there?” Now, what in the world we found intriguing about going somewhere where I could get shot, I don’t know. In any case, we all agreed that we would meet at Frisch’s that night and ride out there. At the time, I had a ’65 Barracuda. It wasn’t very fast compared to some of those muscle cars guys were driving at the time, but it’s what I could afford.

Today Pole Lane Road just ends in a ‘T’ with Marseilles-Galion Road, but at that time, this was the location of the north entrance to the Scioto Ordinance Plant. The paved entrance was still there, so it was a convenient place for kids to gather. The night we went out there, six or seven cars showed up.

My buddy Joe jumped in the car with me, and down we went, along with all of the other cars. We drove back and forth in front of the house and nothing happened. I was starting to think the whole thing was just a joke on me. Finally, we gave up and decided just to go back  uptown, all of us hauling ass down Marseilles-Galion Road just as fast as we could go. I fell behind everybody else because my Barracuda just couldn’t keep up. As everyone else’s taillights were disappearing in the distance, my friend Joe said all of the sudden, “Holy Jesus, get your ass moving – he’s right behind us!” I looked in the rearview mirror and saw the moon glinting off of the grill of a car. He didn’t have his headlights on, but I could see he was right on our bumper. And worse than that, there was another guy in the passenger seat leaning out the window with a shotgun. There were some empty beer bottles rolling around in the car, and my buddy Joe started throwing them at the car behind us. And then, just like that, the car was gone. Just before he disappeared, he flashed his headlights on and that’s where the term “Flash” came from. Even now, when people talk about the Mongoloid House, they often talk about “Flash.” What the guy was really doing was turning on his lights so that he could see one of the lanes that cut into the fields. Those lanes are what the Pughs used to get in and out of their fields from Marseilles-Galion Road with their tractors. But they used these same lanes to appear and disappear out of nowhere on nights when kids were out there raising hell. That was the first of many experiences I had out at the Mongoloid House.

The Stories They Told Each Other

The farm house at the time looked pretty dilapidated – in fact, it look haunted. It was painted grey, had a steep-gabled roof and a big wrap-around porch. There was a big, creepy-looking barn in back of the house.

According to one of the guys I worked with over at Fairfield, people had started going out to the Pugh place because of another story – kind of a ghost story. The story going around at the time was that a kid had died in a car crash out at the intersection of Marseilles-Galion Road and Route 98, and on the spot on the road where the kid had died, there was supposedly a bloodstain that never went away. That was the story at least. Well, people started driving out there to see that. I think it was just iron oxide – rust – seeping out of the ground water. I went out there during the day once and could see that’s what it really was. But it was a good story to tell a girl and maybe get her to go for a drive with you out in the country. [laughs] So that story about the blood is what got kids driving out there, and the Pughs started to get tired of all of these kids hot rodding up and down the road. Well, the Pughs started chasing them off, and that only made the situation worse. Every time they would run some kids off, these kids would drive back to town, tell all of their friends about it and even more kids would drive out there. This was going on every night, all summer in ’68. It was something to do: “Hey, let’s go out to the Mongoloid House.”

Although I never actually saw them myself, the Pugh family supposedly had a couple of ‘mongoloid’ children. That is to say, other people claimed to have seen kids with physical features typical of people with Down’s syndrome. That’s the origin, as far as I know, of the unfortunate name, and it stuck.

There were other rumors, too. I heard that the family had a baby that had died and the mother couldn’t accept the baby’s death, and so she had a coffin on the table in the living room. That story was very prevalent. And some of the kids decided they were going to sneak up to the house and look in that window. Dave Musolf was one of those people. He was a friend of my brother’s and crazy as hell. He claimed – and I don’t know if it’s true – but he claimed he got all the way up to the window and looked in it, but there wasn’t a coffin.

This barn is the only structure still standing on what was once the Mongoloid House property on Marseilles Galion Road.
This barn is the only structure still standing on what was once the Mongoloid House property on Marseilles-Galion Road.

Other Incidents

And then there was the night Jack Hancock got his car shot. He had his dad’s Buick Century. For a long time, I had a photo of Jack pointing to the bullet hole in the fender [laughs]. And of course that story got around town, too.

Another time Dave Musolf was sitting with his girlfriend and me one night at Frisch’s, and he said, “I’m gonna go out there and let ‘em have it.” And he was packing a .38! And so off we went to the Mongoloid House. Next thing I knew, Dave stopped at one of the lanes and fired off a few shots. I remember thinking, “Oh my God!” But nothing ever resulted from it.

On another night, we were out there running up and down the road in my Barracuda. Just to show I was as brave as everybody else, I decided to drive into one of the lanes. As we were on our way out of there, this log came flying down in front of me. I ran over it and the engine died. It was a hot summer night, and my windows were rolled down. The next thing I knew, I was looking at some guy in bib overalls who was carrying a shotgun. There wasn’t anything strange about him, though. I mean, he was just a normal-looking farmer type. I was expecting to get screamed at and shot, but he was calm and reserved and told me that they would like to be left alone. He said he had my license plate number, and if I ever came back, there would be problems. I did finally get the car to start, and we got out of there.

At that time, they were turning license plate numbers over to the sheriff’s department, and the sherriff was calling those people in and reading them the riot act. It got to the point where just about everybody going there got called in and told something along the lines of, “If we catch you going out there again, you’re going to jail.”

I replaced the Barracuda with a brand-new bright red ’69 Mustang sex machine. [laughs] I was uptown with it one night, and a guy I knew – I can’t remember who – wanted to ride out to the Mongoloid House and get a look in the window. So I drove past the house, dropped him off at the last lane and drove down to the Kirkpatrick Methodist Church. I had told my friend I’d wait for ten minutes before heading back to pick him up. On my way back, I saw something that I hadn’t seen before: There wasn’t one set of tail lights behind me – it was more like six! Suddenly this – it looked like a tree stump with its roots still attached – this thing came flying over the fence and landed on the road right in front of my brand new car. I swerved around it, but as I was coming back up onto the road, there was this guy standing in the middle of the road with this huge spotlight, and he was shining it right in my eyes trying to blind me. I headed straight for it. The guy who had been holding the spotlight went flying down into a ditch, and I ran over his light – just smashed the hell out of it. Messed the front of my car up, too. But I kept driving and suddenly there was a cable stretched across the road! They had it pulled too high, though, and so I slid right under it. It did take the spoiler off the back of my car. But I just kept right on going. From that time on, I didn’t worry about my friend. That was the last night I went out there for awhile.

Everything Changes

I believe the Pugh family eventually moved across Route 98 to a new house. I’m pretty sure this is what happened because they drove AMC Rebels, and I would see their Rebels parked at the new place on the other side of Route 98. The mailbox at the new place also had ‘Pugh’ written on the side of it. So the farm house we knew as the Mongoloid House sat there abandoned. (Years later, I happened to drive out there one day, and I noticed that the old house was practically falling over. It was leaning and just ready to collapse. A few years later, it did just that. For a long time, all you saw was the roof sitting flat on the field with all the rest of the house crushed below it.) However, some kind of caretaker lived in a modular home on the property.

In August of ’69, I got drafted. My dad had the Mustang fixed, and we sold it because I couldn’t make the payments on army pay. I got to come home on leave that Christmas. Just for old time’s sake, I took my dad’s Ford and decided to go for a drive around town.

Now the first thing I noticed was that nobody was really shooting the loop anymore. The police had started cracking down. I got ahold of some of the old guys, and they said, “Well, there are cops everywhere uptown now. And there’s no place to hang out – you can’t even park at Isaly’s anymore. If you do, the cops are right on you and write you a ticket.” Marion had started cracking down on that whole scene.

So then I pulled up to go into Frisch’s, and I realized the city had changed the direction of Washington Avenue! See, we used to head down Prospect Street and turn left onto Washington and take this “back way” to Frisch’s. But the neighbors had started complaining about all of the traffic, so the city made it one way going west. Inside, Frisch’s had hired rent-a-cops to run off people who weren’t there to eat. Needless to say, nobody was hanging out there any more.

Finally, I thought I’d go out to the Mongoloid House, but there was nothing going on out there, either. Nobody’s running up and down the road. It was wintertime, and I could see the snow was undisturbed going into the lanes. Nothing. The whole scene had changed. Everything was different.

My theory is that the police crackdown uptown and the fact that the sheriff was threatening to prosecute the kids who were raising hell out on Marseilles-Galion Road had an effect on kids driving out to the Mongoloid House.

That night I drove out there to the Mongoloid House, I had a run-in with the caretaker who lived in that modular on the Pugh property. I pulled into one of their lanes and got stuck in the mud. The guy came out and asked me what the hell I was doing, and I told him I was just turning around. Of course, he knew better than that, but he went and got the tractor and pulled me out anyway. He just told me not to come back anymore – said it was private property. I was wearing my uniform, and I think that’s why he wasn’t so hard on me. I shipped off to Vietnam in January of 1970.

Looking Back

Looking back, I’m appalled at the way we behaved out there. We would drive by their house, speeding. We would drive by their house and honk our horns. We’d do whatever we could to get them to come out. In fact, our goal when we went out there was to get them to chase us up the road. That was the brass ring. Sometimes, as we were on our way out there, we’d see other people speeding in the other direction with one of those Rebels chasing them. I do know that in the end the Pugh family was getting a lot of sympathy from the local community around there. I think that people are wiling to talk about it now because it’s been such a long time. In any case, that’s the story of the Mongoloid House as I remember it.

Do you have any photos or stories to share about either the loop or the Mongoloid House? Leave a comment below or drop us a line at spooks@spookymarion.com

22 thoughts on “The Real Story of the Mongoloid House

  1. As teenagers in the 80s, my boyfriend at the time and his friends drove out to the Mongoloid House for entertainment. They were not frightened at all. They went up to the house and looked in the windows. They claimed they saw mail on the table and other evidence that people still live there. They then proceeded to go out back to look in the barn. But then they were chased off buy a couple of people shooting at them with shotguns. In one of their many times going out there. They eventually had trespassing charges filed against them. In court the caretaker appeared as a witness.

    Later in life I was talking to my mother about the whole situation, and so one day while taking a drive in the country, we decided to go by there. I pulled in the driveway to turn around (the house looked very vacant and empty), but by the time I got to the end of the road, I noticed there was a car following me very closely. When I turned to get onto 309, I noticed the car had newspapers on all of the windows except the front. As I sped up to get away (promising my mother I would never go back) the car pulled over and stopped. Needless to say, I never went back!! I never knew the true story – I just assumed they were people with some kind of illness that lead to having a bad reputation and were tired of being harassed and tormented…

  2. Connie, You had to have encountered the caretaker and not the Pughs. They had abandoned the house by that time and were living on the other side of Rt 98. The caretaker lived (lives) in a modular home across from where the old farmhouse used to stand. The house was not safe to live in and collapsed. I don’t think it was standing in the 90′s, but exactly when it fell down, I don’t know.

  3. It was still standing in the 90s. Used to live out that way with my parents. Remember my dad driving by the house pointing it out and telling us a story about the family who lived there. Always thought it was just a story he only told us to scare us.

  4. Harry Titus was a teacher of mine at Taft Middle School. He was the best teacher I ever had. Cool story. I live in Arizona now, and I remember all the civil war stuff he used to tell and show us. Harry was also my brother’s Boy Scout leader.

  5. Thanks Dawn. I lost track of the years, having moved to Galion. The house seemed to be steadily falling down though. Seems like every time I drove by there it sat a little more crooked.

    Hi Tom!

  6. The house was still standing between ’85-90, but it was not safe to live in. When we were in high school, a large group of us went out to go through it at night. Because there were so many of us and I was at the back of the line, I didn’t get to see much of the inside before someone got spooked at the front of the group, screamed, and we all ran for our cars to get the hell out of there! I believe squatters or kids hanging out were using it by this time because there was trash from food and drink left behind, and they were using a ladder to get to the upstairs.

  7. To all of you who terrorized my family back then, have any of you had a special needs person in your family? Is this you would treat them? My grandfather ran many assholes off because you constantly frightened his children with your idiotic behavior. Do any of you have an autistic relative? If you do, I hope you never suffer the injustice and prejudice of being treated as you treated my grandfather’s brother who also lived there because my grandparents took care of him.

    This story does not belong on a so-called “spooky website”. This story DOES deserve to be proof of how horribly the public has treated people with special needs. In today’s world all of you who participated in this would have been charged with hate crimes for your actions.

    Instead of highlighting your shameful deed in this manner, why not reach out and offer a letter of apology to my great uncle who is, by the grace of God, 91 years old now. And how about a letter to my grandmother, my mother, my 2 uncles, and my aunt for the terror with which you filled them most weekends? We are a Christian family and we believe in handshakes, forgiveness, and learning from mistakes.

    My grandfather did shoot at you. God rest his soul, he always told me he would have been crushed if he actually killed someone. The man had to defend his family and home. When I was young and used to say that the people deserved it if they we’re hurt, he would shake his head and say, “No, they were just stupid kids acting stupid.”

    Even the man you terrorized had some sympathy for you.

    1. Jennifer, I think if you read to the end of the guys story, he says in so many words that he is sorry for his behavior! I am 34 and my mother told me about this story. I even remember taking the trip by the house on our way somewhere. I am very sorry for what your family went through. You are right NO ONE should have to put up with such stuff, but your grandfather was a wise man! He understood, they were not really meaning harm even though they were doing it! In today’s world things like this would not happen because we see people in different ways. Again I am truly sorry for your family’s pain and that sometimes good kids make bad choices.

    2. Jennifer, I am glad you spoke up on here. I just read this story , and am appalled at this . My grandparents lived down the road from your family, and we used to spend summer time with Agnes . I have very fond memories of Agnes letting my cousins and myself ride on the combine, as Clancy drove the fields. Agnes and my grandmother gave us strawberries at the end of the fun combine ride. As I remember, Agnes was a college educated woman, with alot of spirit. I remember that Clancy wore a WWII aviators cap, with the ear flaps and was very gentle to us little girls.

      I am so sorry that this tale still abides in Marion, especially in Spooky Marion. It does not belong on here. Maybe it can be taken off ; your family has suffered too long already for being private and having a special needs adult. Bless you for speaking out on here!!!

    3. Jennifer… I am extremely sorry your family went through all that torment and harassment!! My heart aches for you and your family!!! Kids do ignorant things and don’t think about the consequences. God bless ALL of you!!!

  8. Jennifer, it was a long time ago and it was harmless fun. Nobody actually harmed your family, so nobody is going to write an apology letter. And I don’t think hate crime charges would have been filed for this. There are more serious hate crimes being committed, and those people don’t get charged.

    1. Stacie B…it was not harmless fun. It was undeserved harassment from a bunch of ignorant people. The sheriff should have done more than read the riot act to them…maybe a couple of arrests would have cured their macabre curiosity.

    2. Stacie B– It was NOT that long ago and it went on for a long long time. AND IT WAS NOT HARMLESS FUN! It was bulling and terrorizing a whole family….esp the mother Agnes and the special needs adult who was not “MONGOLOID”….he was probably Downs Syndrome. I was there in the summers with my grandparents down the road, and SHE told me ( daughter of local preacher) of the bullying and terrorizing of the Pugh family and how awful it was, this was in the 70′s. How dare you say it was HARMLESS FUN…it was not your family that was terrified in their own home and farmland. Not your child that was bullied and endured abuse by strangers. It makes me so mad that it happened then but even madder that you don’t see the horror of it NOW.

    3. Stacie B~ I don’t understand why you would post this type of sentiment even if it’s how you feel. Maybe silence would have been the best option as it is not a helpful comment at all. Empathy and compassion are needed not criticism and scolding. Jennifer Utley~~ I am ashamed that this community behaved this way to your family. Even if they were kids, as kids old enough to drive they were old enough for better behavior.

  9. Jennifer, It is with much regret that I look back at those crazy days and years and remember the social environment that fostered events such as these, that carried so many kids into harms way. It was the pressure of wanting to be part of the scene and wanting to be where all the action was, mixed with the boredom of everyday life in Marion. And, while all the stupid stuff, carried on up and down those roads, which certainly endangered many different people, it was not the only stupid stuff we did. Swimming at Evans quarry, painting stuff on the water tower, drinking, street racing, going out of town to get a fist fight going with the Bucyrus or Mansfield kids, going to the lakes and partying, and more, all made those last years of the 60′s stand out as a very insane and rowdy time. It also brought about the curfew legislation that came as a result. Today, we don’t talk about it much. Maturity gives us the wisdom to see the errors of our past. Certainly, though I did participate, I was not the biggest offender by any means. I was, rather, just one of the last. The guys who started the whole thing are perhaps guilty of creating the monster, but not necessarily of having deliberately made any unkind gestures toward any special needs person. As I said in the interview, I never saw anyone with Downs Syndrome there, and didn’t personally believe there were any. However, as far as the “spooky” part goes, well, the whole thing was spooky to us, all the more so since it was always done at night.

    With regards to your family, I can only add my personal apology to them along with the regrets. As I also said, when I personally was confronted by one of them, he was calm, rational, and not at all what I expected to see at that moment. He was much kinder to me than I deserved. While I would like to think this apology will speak for everyone who went out there those many years ago, I can’t in all honesty say that it does. As I also recall…..a few of those guys who went out there were just plain mean and arrogant, trying to be big shots at the expense of others. I know of one at least who still acts that way.

    Tell your grandfather that he was right about it all, and that most of use, me especially, wish the whole thing had never happened. He certainly was in danger from the worst of them, and the rest of us were just along for the ride. You are right, the real tragedy would have been somebody being shot or killed, or injured in a high speed car accident. I’m really surprised that didn’t happen considering the numbers involved, the fast cars, the beer, and all those ego’s.

    Harry

  10. I realize the family might have been harassed, but I’m pretty sure that people getting chased and shot at only fueled the flames and became proof positive that there was something worth seeing out there. I mean, seriously, if that happened now, the kids would be charged with trespassing and harassment, and the people living out there might be charged with attempted murder. I was not even close to Marion at that time, but I am sorry that family was harassed, but from what I have heard here, those kids’ behavior didn’t warrant attempted murder!

  11. Me and a few friends definitely went out to that house about nine years ago. We were scared. We drove up to the house and the outside light came on. I looked and said, “Hey do you see that man pointing at us?” And then we heard gun shots. We were FLYING and hauling tail, but he was right on our bumper. We finally lost him after 10 minutes. Later that night, we went to a store and got pulled over by the police because the car was reported. The police had been told that we had a gun, which was not true. But they asked us a million questions and showed us a bullet hole in the trunk of the car. Nothing really happened after that, but we never went back out.

  12. Urban Legend: A story made up and told over and over as if it’s true but is untrue!

    I found this out the hard way. In 1973 we moved to Marion and as a 13 year old girl, my siblings and I were the new kids on the block. The older boy’s of the neighborhood who had their licenses said they wanted to take us out to see something scary! We went by the house not knowing anything about it and the guys told us a story that I always assumed was overblown to scare girls! I never went back and thought it was all made up until yesterday….

    I was talking to a family member of the people who lived in the house. I brought the old story up to find out that it was about his beloved family members!!! I felt so bad because I could see the hurt coming from a lifetime of harassment and torment that this family endured over many many years. I feel deeply upset for opening old wounds and even with my apology, I still feel horrible!

    I can only speak for myself, but to the Pugh family: I am so sorry for my ignorance and the pain your family went through for so many years!

    God Bless!

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