SAN ANTONIO, TXHISTORY Victoria's Black Swan Inn is a Victorian-style mansion in San Antonio located on 35 acres of land which is built partially on ancient burial grounds. In fact the surrounding area was heavily populated by Native Americans which is born out by the discovery of a vast number of artifacts by archaeologists over many years, some of which remain on site to this day. Salado Creek, which runs through the property, was named by the Spanish explorer Domingo Ramon in 1742. In more contemporary times, the setting is best known for being the site of the Battle of Salado Creek, which took place following the Texas Revolution. This is where the Mexican Army invaded Texas for a second time in 1842. The first conflict was the Battle of Rosillo - fought in March of 1813 when Spanish Royalist leaders ordered an attack on the Republican Army led by Bernardo Gutierrez de Lara and Samuel Kemper in an effort to recapture the Presidio LaBahia fortress (below) located there. The Spanish Royalist Army, who had previously retreated to San Antonio planned to ambush the Republicans while they traversed the banks of Salado Creek. There were approximately 950 to 1,500 Royalist troops involved in the attack. Unfortunately, their position was compromised and the Republicans counter-attacked. Within an hour's time the Royalists were soundly beaten - suffering between 100 and 330 losses while the Republic Army lost a total of only six men. Again the Royalists retreated to San Antonio where they signed a treaty with Kemper on April 1, 1813. As part of the agreement, they surrendered Royalist Army Governor Manuel Maria de Salcedo and Nuevo Leon governor Simon de Herrera to the Republican Army. On April 3, those two, along with 12 prisoners of war were executed on the site of the battle. By April 6, a Declaration of Independence and Constitution for Texas were drafted and the Republic of Texas was established. The Republic would be defeated later in the same year by the Royalists at the Battle of Medina. The Battle of Salado Creek was fought in 1842 and pitted volunteer militia from the Texas Republic against the Mexican Army led by Brigadier General Adrian Woll (r.) a French soldier. The volunteers while preparing for the ensuing battle, received word of a prisoner release from another military excursion - the Santa Fe Expedition. Thinking peace was at hand, Republican leader Sam Houston called off a planned attack on the Royalists. On September 11, 1842, General Woll entered San Antonio with 1,500 Royalist troops and quickly took control of the city. To repel this surprise incursion, 200 volunteers under the command of Capt. Mathew Caldwell and aided by 14 rangers from Capt. John C. Hays's regiment took superior position on the bank of the Salado Creek on Sept. 18th and killed off 60 Mexicans against only one loss of their own. Perhaps overestimating the victory, Capt. Nicholas M. Dawson marched from La Grange, Texas to join the fray with plans to attack the rear of the Mexican troops. The plan quickly lay in ruins as the Mexican cannons proved too overwhelming for the troops. However, while the Republicans suffered numerous losses, their combined efforts were enough to drive Woll and his forces out of San Antonio. The first home on the property was built in 1867 by German immigrant Heinrich Mahler who lived there with his wife Marie. A second home was constructed in 1901. The Mahler's ran a successful dairy enterprise and both lived a long and prosperous life there. The house eventually was purchased by two families - the Holbrooks and the Woods who lived there until sometime in the 1940s. After extensive renovations to the property it was renamed "White Gables." After the passing of the Holbrooks and Mr. Wood, Mrs. Wood continued to live in the home with her son-in-law and daughter Park and Jolene Street who purchased the house and lived there in the 1940s and 50s. Park Street was a flamboyant and somewhat theatrical criminal attorney who later attained more notoriety as the inspiration for the character of Perry Mason, a fictitious criminal lawyer created by the Street's close friend and frequent house-guest Erle Stanley Gardner (l.). In fact, the 1950s-60s TV show bearing the name of Park's alter ego was dedicated to him. Mason's "Girl Friday" Della Street also bore the name of Gardner's devoted friends. It is said many of the scripts for the show were written by Gardner while staying in the Street's home. The Streets were well-liked people - especially to the social elite of San Antonio. They threw lavish parties and Jolene proved to be a most gracious and competent hostess. Sadly, Jolene succumbed to cancer in her 30s and some years later Park would commit suicide by hanging himself in their beloved home. This latter incident remains a topic of some controversy as there are many who feel Park's death was actually a murder that was staged to give the appearance of a suicide. The home was owned by Mrs. Ingeborg Mehren before being purchased by its current owner, Jo Ann Rivera in the early 1990s. THE HAUNTING OF THE BLACK SWAN INN The Black Swan Inn's reported hauntings have triggered so much interest that it has been the subject of books and TV documentaries since Ms. Rivera purchased it. In fact, it did not take long for the spirits who inhabit the home to make their presence known to her. After only being there but a few short weeks, Jo Ann was awakened one night around 2-3 am when she had the overwhelming feeling that she was not alone in her bedroom. Upon opening her eyes, she clearly saw the apparition of a man standing at the foot of her bed. After gaining her senses, she asked him, "What do you want?", only to watch him vanish before her eyes. This scene would repeat itself for a week and a half - always at the same time - until one day she moved the furniture in the room around and the incidents suddenly came to a stop. It was later she found out that this was the bedroom of the Street's daughter. Since that time, Jo Ann and many of her staff have bore witness to a host of paranormal activities including - lights turning themselves on and off, music that seems to emanate directly from the walls of the house and doors that open and close by themselves. The sound of piano music sometimes fills the house and phantom footsteps have been heard frequently. Ms. Rivera has also reported the apparition of a young girl that seems to show itself mainly to male guests in the house. A young girl who many feel is named Sarah roams the house. They assume this because this was the name of the youngest daughter of Heinrich and Marie Mahler, the original owners. Sarah is said to a young girl of about 16 who is quite playful and is seen both in the house and on the grounds. She enjoys playing with dolls and the staff have left a tea set out for her enjoyment. Jolene Street died in an upstairs bedroom and her spirit has been seen descending the stairs, going across the lawn and continuing out to the gazebo. She is wearing 1940s attire in the form of a long, flowing gown and seems to float through the air. There has also been sightings of a young woman standing on the second story veranda and observing some of the many wedding ceremonies that are held there each year. Is this Sarah? Or Jolene? In the South wing, there seems to be activity of a more disquieting kind. A workman who was carrying out his task underneath the house reported he was being taunted by children who were poking him with sticks. Also in the South wing is a ladies bathroom where some women have reported being locked inside and yet others say they have seen a ghostly image appear to them in a mirror hanging on the wall. In a dairy barn once known as "The Gypsy Rose", full-form apparitions have been seen along with the sounds of footsteps and unexplained noises.