Community members explore the spooky side of the Historic LeRay Mansion District on Oct. 30 during the 3rd annual Haunted LeRay event on post, hosted by the Fort Drum Cultural Resources staff. Carris Campbell, intern at LeRay Mansion, directs Fort Drum family members to a good starting point for a self-guided tour that shared ghost stories culled from oral histories, newspaper clippings and local history books. (Photos by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)
Community members let their imaginations roam during Haunted LeRay history tour at Fort Drum
Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Nov. 2, 2020) – Dressed as the ghost of a former resident of LeRay Mansion, Dr. Laurie Rush cheerfully welcomed a family to the Haunted LeRay history tour Oct. 30.
“I died upstairs,” she said, explaining her character a bit too matter-of-factly.
The family laughed, except for one small boy who stepped back with an uneasy look on his face.
“Oh, no, this isn’t meant to be scary at all,” Rush said apologetically. “I’ll have to change my approach.”
In the three years that the Fort Drum Cultural Resources staff has hosted the self-guided tours, Rush said that was probably the first time she scared anyone.
“Actually, we began offering this as an alternative to those very scary Halloween experiences,” Rush said. “So there’s no bloody hands and nobody is going to jump out to scare you.”
Instead, Fort Drum community members roamed the grounds and read spooky stories, collected from oral histories, newspaper clippings and local history books.
“I’m a huge fan of ghost tours, where you take a walk and learn so much history – it gives you such a wonderful, different perspective,” she said.
Given her choice of costume, Rush said that the tale of Mrs. Phelps haunting the mansion is among her favorites.
“The story of the man in the leather-soled shoes is another interesting one, because this same phenomenon was reported to me by two completely unrelated families, two years apart,” she said. “It’s really unique and unusual.”
According to the story, the in-laws of an officer stationed on post rented a cottage behind the mansion for a weekend visit.
“The woman said that she had a hard time sleeping because the man in the leather-soled shoes was walking through the house,” Rush said. “Then, a couple of years later, a family visited because their son was coming home from Afghanistan, and they stayed in the same cottage.”
Rush met the family because they were interested in learning about the local history on post. That is when they told her that their sleep was disturbed by phantom footsteps.
“They really described the same sounds that the other woman had heard, but they had no idea about that story,” Rush said.
Another time, someone on the cleaning staff had heard the sounds of someone laying out glassware in one of the parlors in the mansion, though the house was empty. Other people have reported hearing sounds of a dinner party coming from the dining room.
As far as her personal experience with the supernatural, Rush said that she has heard the mansion’s toilet inexplicably flush on its own.
“That’s kind of a strange thing to happen, but it’s not nearly as cool as the man in the leather-soled shoes walking around,” she said. “I think life is a lot more exciting and interesting if you allow yourself to believe that these things can happen.”
To learn more about the Fort Drum Cultural Resources program at LeRay Mansion, visit www.facebook.com/FortDrumCulturalResources/.