A community of evil, retired circus midget’s in Cincinnati? It doesn’t get much creepier than that! But, is it true? Well, no, but the so called village where they lived is sorta kinda real, or rather, it used to be.
Urban legend says that, just north of Cincinnati, close to Mt. Rumpke, is a village of tiny houses. This village is inhabited by the before mentioned retired circus midget’s. They apparently shun the outside word. If anyone tries to approach or enter their village, they come out yelling and throwing rocks to drive the trespassers away. Some say that carnival or circus music is always playing there.
As I said before, the so called ‘village’ did exist, but it wasn’t at all what legends claims it was. This was Handlebar Ranch. Below is an article from the Cincinnati post from several years ago, written by David Wecker, that explains it all.
How Anna Ritter’s Little Story Got Out of Hand
By David Wecker
Anna Gay Ritter heard one time that a good way to ruin a person’s business is to make a joke out of it. At any rate, she’s not sure how all the stories about Munchkin and Munchkinland got started. She just wishes they’d go away.
But they won’t. They pass from one generation to the next, like some bad urban myth, except that these stories have a rural setting. They’re vague stories about a group of tiny people who live in tiny houses with tiny windows; stories that somehow have come to center on Anna’s land. It might be funny, if it weren’t happening to Anna.
To be fair, Anna’s 30-acre farm in Colerain Township does have an odd look. She moved here in 1940, with her husband, Percy. It was his idea to call it the Handlebar Ranch Inc. She and Percy were considered city folk then. There was no Mt. Rumpke at the southern edge of the ranch, and their road was a gravel lane.
At first, Percy was in the bicycle rental business. He had 20 bikes and charged a quarter an hour. Then he got into the hayride business and bought a team of Belgian draft horses to pull his haywagon.
Percy had an eccentric way of seeing things. Peggy Pottenger Sickmann – who grew up on a neighboring farm and has been helping out at the ranch for nearly half a century, since she was 10 – says Percy was the kind who did a little bit here, a little bit there.
He built a home halfway up a steep hill of stone, hand-hewn logs, mortar, stucco, tile and boards, with a square turret and a balcony that looks down on the Handlebar Ranch Inc.
The ranch itself could be a textbook example of vintage roadside Americana. It looks like a miniature frontier village – a surreal collection of little buildings, all made from the same odd materials as the house. There are dance floors indoors and out, picnic tables, pavilions, barbecue grills and what he called a rathskeller – all decorated with Anna’s hand-painted Indian totems and cartoony cowboy murals, all in a jaunty wild west motif. Anna is still quite a talented artist.
Percy died in 1990, but Anna kept up the hayride business. If you’re having a party, she’ll dispatch a haywagon. Or she’ll book a hayride for a fraternity or a sorority at Miami University or the University of Cincinnati. Just before Christmas, a group from Crittenden hired one of her wagons for a hayride at Fountain Square.
But I’m ahead of the story. Years ago – Anna doesn’t remember exactly when – Percy came home with a couple of cast-iron school bells he’d bought somewhere. He put them up below the house, at the edge of the road. That was when it started.
‘Kids would come in the middle of the night and ring the bells,’ Peggy says.
‘The Ritters didn’t want them annoying the neighbors, so they’d come out on the balcony and yell at them. And to those kids down on the road, looking up at that balcony, Anna and Percy must’ve looked kind of small.’
Anna is 5-foot-3; Percy was maybe 5-9. It’s the only explanation for the stories that Anna and Peggy can imagine. Anna eventually turned the bells upside down and took to planting flowers in them. But even now, the stories persist. Ridiculous stories. Only a handful of people understand how hurtful they are to Anna.
Rick Heimtold, a 20-year-old cadet with Colerain Township police, has heard the stories.
‘You mean the ones about munchkinland?’ he said.
‘Yeah, I used to go looking for it. We all did, back in high school. There were supposed to be little people there. And if you came around where they lived, they’d throw rocks at you. Those were the stories, anyway.
‘So kids were always looking for it. Sometimes, you’d find it. Sometimes, you didn’t. But there’s all kinds of stories about little people living there.’
They show up in the middle of the night in their cars, looking for Munchkins and behaving in the crummiest possible manner. If school’s out, Anna has learned she can pretty well figure on a carload of them showing up the night before, screaming and yelling, making a ruckus, sometimes vandalizing her buildings and hollering obscenities.
Anna’s no prude. She’s no weakling either. Twice a day, she climbs the difficult hill to the barn at the top of her valley to feed a sway-back horse that, she says, is older than she is.
‘I’ve got the hide of a crocodile,’ she says. ‘But it makes me angry these stories won’t go away.’
Sadly, Munchkinville is no more. Rumpke bought the property a few years ago, and the village was destroyed. But the legend lives on.
Here is the site as it looks today
Pictures used below are not ours, they were pulled from various sites on the web