Henry Ravenswood was a transatlantic American man born in 1795. In 1849 Henry established the Big Thunder Mining Company and the town of Thunder Mesa near Big Thunder Mountain after finding gold there and stealing the land from the Shoshone indigenous peoples.
He moved into a grand manor on the highest hill overlooking the town alongside his wife, Martha, and his daughter, Mélanie, whom he was overly protective of. Henry was an obsessive and disciplinarian who believed no man was ever good enough for his Mélanie, and any would-be suitor who believed otherwise perished at his hands.
Suitors included: Barry Claude, an oil-field salesman who Henry had mauled by a bear; Captain Rowan D. Falls, the captain of the Mark Twain Riverboat who was sent over a waterfall in a rowboat; Sawyer Bottom, a saw-mill owner who Henry strapped to a log in his own factory then bifurcated with an industrial buzz-saw; and Ignatius "Iggy" Knight, whom Henry blew up with a large sum of dynamite in the caverns of Big Thunder.
At some other unknown point of time, Henry cheated during a duel with another gentleman by turning around before the draw and firing at the man's back, killing him. Also he was believed to have an affair with the manor's chamber-maid Anna Jones.
Mélanie's final suitor, was a train engineer named Jake who wanted to take her away from Thunder Mesa, he vowed to stop him. His plans came to an abrupt halt, when he perished alongside his wife and a good portion of the town in an earthquake in 1860, due to the wrath of the Thunderbird. Following this, Henry and Martha were buried side by side in the Boot Hill cemetery adjacent to Ravenswood Manor.
When Ravenswood passed, he was reborn as the malevolent Phantom - a deranged skeletal figure who haunted his old manor.
The day of Mélanie’s wedding, he lured her groom into the attic and violently hung him from the rafters. When Mélanie refused to believe her groom would abandon her so she stayed behind the mansion, waiting for him to return. The Phantom tormented her till the end her days, mocking her for her devotion. After Mélanie's own demise, he continued to torment her and the manor became home to many infernal spirits summoned by their resident clairvoyant.
In the years to come, any unlucky guests who wandered into the manor since were forced to confront the Phantom. One notable example included the criminal Milo "One-Eye" Jones who tried taking refuge in the manor around the year 1882 after robbing the Big Thunder Mining Company. In 1884 a missing persons investigation was launched and the manor was closed off indefinitely only to be opened up once more.
Appearances and allusions
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
There are allusions to Henry within Disneyland Paris' Big Thunder Mountain Railroad including a quote from him.
Ravenswood is first seen in the foyer, in a portrait of him and his daughter. At first, he is clutching onto his daughter’s shoulders tightly with a stern expression on his face. Then, the portrait changes to the manor during happier times, and he has one hand on her shoulder and a pleasant look on his face. In the gallery of changing portraits, Ravenswood can be seen on the right side, with his arms crossed. When lightning flashes, his face changes to one of a skeleton with glowing red eyes, becoming the mysterious Phantom. His grave is in the Boot Hill, right after guests exit the attraction. His grave sits next to his wife, Martha. The epitaph reads - “Quarreled and fought as man and wife, now silent together beyond this life”.
The Phantom is first heard in the foyer, welcoming guests into his home. He says that the manor was once a happy place, but that is no more. In the stretching room, he says that everyone is doomed at Phantom Manor, even them. Lightning flashes, and he appears in the cupola, holding onto the end of a noose and laughing. He tells them to look alive, as they leave the stretching room and enter the portrait gallery.
Once guests board their doom buggy, he is seen in the endless hallway, standing behind Melanie holding a candelabra, as they reappear and disappear. He is standing behind her in the ballroom, while she looks down at the ghostly guests below. His face is in the mirror of her boudoir, where she is crying in front of it. When guests leave the boudoir, he is laughing at them, holding onto a shovel as they fall into a freshly dug grave. At the end of Phantom Canyon, he gestures to an empty coffin and a noose hanging from a tree, still laughing at them. After guests leave the attraction, if they look back, they can see him staring out of one of the windows.
The Phantom was available for meet and greets in the early years of Disneyland Paris near the attraction’s entrance. He was phased out in the early 2000s, possibly due to being too scary. He appeared in the stage show C'est Magique and the Disney Sing Along tape Let's Go to Disneyland Paris during the Phantom Manor segments, alongside Melanie. He was seen in the Halloween parade Mickey's Halloween Celebration on a Phantom Manor-inspired float, with Melanie and Mickey Mouse.
- Ravenswood is not the only man cited as the owner of the mines within Big Thunder Mountain. With the 2013 interactive queue at the Magic Kingdom, the owner of the Big Thunder Mining Company was Barnabas T. Bullion. Certain Disney Parks story officials have claimed behind-the-scenes that Disneyland Paris' Frontierland is not cannon, however the evidence in virtually every version of Big Thunder speaks to the contrary, especially as Thunder Mesa exists within the Society of Explorers and Adventurers universe. However, some fans have speculated that they were owners at different points in time. This coming from how Big Thunder Mountain is canonically set during the 1880s while Henry only ran the company from its founding in 1849 to his death in1860 leaving a 40 year gap where Bullion could have heard of the mountain's legendary treasure and come into ownership of the lands/company. In addition to this a portrait of the mountain in Walt Disney World's queue for the ride shows a Big Thunder Mountain range with the form of Disneyland Paris' mountain in the background, making it possible that Thunder Mesa and Rainbow Ridge were towns on different sides of the mountain.
- Ravenswood was likely an influence on Bullion, as they share many similarities. They both ignored the warnings about Big Thunder Mountain. They are both known for their greed and stubbornness. They both have daughters they are overprotective of - Melanie and Abigail, respectively (although Abigail's canonicity in the Disney Parks cannon is not known).
- In the boudoir are letters from a neighbour from Lavinia, New York. It is unclear if the implication is that Henry, Martha, both of them, or an unidentified individual were former residents of Lavinia.