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Plague: an infectious, epidemic disease caused by a bacterium that is transmitted to humans from rats by means of flea bites that is characterized by fever, chills, physical prostration, and often results in death or permanent harm.

Around the turn of the century there was a small township in a rural area south of Dallas, TX. Though short-lived, the township did thrive once upon a time. This community, like most others, had all the essentials and businesses of a bustling small town. Curiously, it was also the one community in the state with the largest percentage of graveyards. At the forefront of this community was an estate known as Reindeer Manor and its owner James Sharp. You’ve heard the stories of a wooden house struck by lightning and burning, killing the family inside, only to be rebuilt of brick and steel, and then followed by several more deaths. This is indeed the same house, built on unhallowed ground, and mocking Mother Nature who has made her attempt to reclaim this ground for herself.

The community did well into the mid-1920s. While most of the country was enjoying the Jazz Age this small village was overtaken by sickness. The disease was never positively identified. It started by attacking the elderly, then the youth, and, after a few weeks, anyone was susceptible. The sickness attracted flies, contaminated the water supply, and infected the food sources. The land was so stricken with death that hunting was prohibited for fear of diseased meat. “Fear the deer” became the catchphrase, a warning spoken by the locals. The cemeteries could not keep up. Several small graveyards where hastily built, and the above ground cemetery was at capacity. In short, Death himself occupied many corners of this community.

While it seems everyone was at risk, the Sharp family was apparently immune to the spread of this disease. There were rumors that it was something the Sharps had done intentionally to the townspeople. There was even wild speculation that James was involved with the devil and had asked the devil to poison them. As far-fetched as these theories were, to the simple country mind-set of the time they seemed completely plausible. In hindsight, there is a very simple explanation. The Sharps drank water from a cistern that collected rainwater. The remaining people all drank from a community well filled with ground water that had been tainted. It’s entirely possible that the Sharps kept this a secret for fear of their water storage being ravaged.

Events really came to a head that autumn. The Sharps were throwing a party for their friends and business associates. It was a gala affair, opulent and fancy, with good food, great music, and the best liquors. During the festivities a contingent of the surviving townspeople plotted a revenge that noone deserved but got regardless. The plan was simple. The liquor was poisoned with arsenic. As it was the height of Prohibition many of the guests had no clue what alcohol tasted like. By the time anyone with knowledge noticed the damage had largely been done. The surviving partygoers were finished off with farm implements and cooking equipment. In a short time the deed was done. The dead were left where they fell amongst upturned furniture. Some were poisoned, some mutilated, and some were even dismembered and burned in the living room fireplace. At the end of the ordeal the townspeople realized their mistake. They continued to die in large numbers. With the owner of the cemetery dead their last resort was to wrap the dead in burlap sacks and stack them in the house with the hope that the structure would prevent desecration from animals and time. The remaining few people passed away or fled south to the woods hoping to escape.

Today the manor sits timeless and silent. However, the memory of that autumn massacre still possesses the mansion at Reindeer Manor. It is said that on a brisk fall night if you trek through the manor halls your screams can awaken and replay the events of that fateful night. Some say it’s the ghosts of the Sharp family, or perhaps it's guilt-ridden villagers who may or may not be dead. Others say it's just the rage and contempt that still leeches from the old plaster walls and the poor souls who were laid to rest in such an environment. Maybe it’s the descendants of the few who got away. And maybe, just maybe, the horror is all in your head. After all, do you know where YOUR water comes from? After 40 years we’re opening up more of the house and surrounding land than has been seen by visitors before.

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