A striking Victorian mansion sits on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin, owned by the university but with a much longer and darker past. If you were to sleep in the house, it’s very likely you might awaken in the night to the sound of screaming. If you try to investigate, you’d find no earthly being was making the noise that roused you. You’ve just met one of the resident ghosts in this gorgeous mansion. Today, we’re taking a look at the Littlefield House in Austin Texas– On Ghost to Coast.
The building was originally constructed for a Civil War veteran in 1893. George W. Littlefield was a member of the Confederate army in the war for succession and enslavement. Becoming a cattleman and a banker after the war was over, Littlefield has been considerably successful and had the cash to burn on an opulent, victorian-style home in the affluent part of Austin. Littlefield and his wife would make numerous contributions to the University of Texas throughout their life, including the funding of another building bearing their name.
The Littlefields were besieged by tragedy while living in the home, losing both of their children in their infancy and being unable to have any more children. Because of this, George and his wife, Alice, financed the college educations of their extended family and employed nephews and husbands of nieces as various managers in his ever expanding business enterprises. Strangely, when they moved to Texas, they brought along the former enslaved man, Nathan Stokes, who was said to be George’s lifelong companion and servant for his entire life. He’s buried nearby the Littlefields in Oakland Cemetery.
The real story of the haunting of Littlefield House lies with Alice Littlefield. George was so frightened of the possibility that “Yankees” might snatch his wife away from him that he often bolted Alice in the attic when leaving to run errands. Understandably, this was not good for Alice’s overall mental health, and she’d often be in hysterics by the time George returned. She took on his fears and was soon terrified of being snatched in the middle of the night and taken away from her husband. By all accounts, the Littlefields loved each other very much, which is why George refused when a doctor recommended committing Alice to a sanitarium. Instead, George hired a team of nurses to help comfort and soothe his wife in her hysterics. Thankfully, Alice’s mental health would improve after George’s death in 1920, seen attending parties and socializing until her own demise 15 years later.
It’s worth noting that this legend is disputed by both family members and campus authorities as being a hoax, though mental health records do exist for Alice.
Many say that Alice haunts the Littlefield, reliving her horrific confinement in the attic and screams she may have released still echo in the opulent halls of the home. She’s also reported to haunt the dormitory on campus bearing her name. In fact, she is said to be the “guardian angel,” of students residing in the dormitory, having saved several students from bodily harm by pulling them back from the top of the staircase as they lose their balance, or a ghostly hand guiding them away from danger.
In the Littlefield House, many sounds echo in the building, not just screams. It’s been reported that many hear piano music echoing in the upstairs, without any piano for it to be coming from. Still others claim to hear frightened, stomping footsteps scurrying up the stairs. Poltergeist activity is also rampant, with some reporting objects being picked up and dropped on the floors, sometimes shattering priceless decor. Alice is also said to appear in windows and mirrors within the house, sometimes looking out at the campus grounds and other times looking in on the guests in her former home.
A portrait of Mary is prominently displayed in the Littlefield House, with some saying that the eyes of the portrait seem to follow anyone passing by it. Who knows if Mary’s spirit still exists on the University of Texas campus in Austin, but many students and staff claim to have experienced ghostly activity. Is Mary the guardian angel of the Texas Longhorns? Is she the one screaming in her former home? We may not ever be able to answer those questions, but at least the woman’s memory has far outlived her and had a positive (and scary) effect on those she left behind.
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Born in Death Valley and raised on the prairie, Deborah is a Wyoming-based paranormal researcher and a senior at the University of Wyoming, studying Communication. Her interests lie in folklore, history, rhetorical analysis and research. With an obvious love for ghost stories, frequently those interests combine with her work on Ghostlandia.