Fort Covington is a hamlet only 20 minutes north of Malone, right at the Canadian border. Despite being a small town, with a long-standing reputation for the fineness of its farms, the area has a few haunted sites.
The town began as a blockhouse to shelter wounded soldiers during the War of 1812. It is named for General Leonard Covington, who was mortally wounded at the battle of Crysler's Farm and died on a boat on his way to the then-named French Mills, in 1813. This is an appropriate beginning for a haunted area.
Hauntings seem most common in areas of abundant water sources, and Fort Covington is also distinguished in that respect. The Salmon River flows through its north and east sections, the east branch of Deer River crosses close to the edge of the town, the Little Salmon is close by, and Pike Creek is located to the west. Cushman Brook winds through three miles of the town.
Nye Manor, originally known as Parkhurst House, dates from 1827, when it was built as a home for Army Major Jabez Parkhurst. He was a man of considerable accomplishments. He had been admitted to the state bar association at the age of 29, taught at Malone's Harrison Academy, then started his own practice in Fort Covington (then French Mills) in 1815. There he started another career; that of abolitionist and committed member of the local Underground Railroad. He died, of natural causes, on October 31, 1865.
The house passed through several hands and was gutted by fire in 1993. The saga almost ended. Almost.
A descendant saved it from scheduled demolition, rebuilt it, and made it once again a beautiful, living, structure. They kept the original proportions of the house, the Georgian era moldings, and the original glass, gone wavy with age.
The haunted part seems to have sprung from the fact that many people have died in the house. Jabez's first wife, Fidelia, suffered from what the local paper, the Malone Paladium, called "symptoms of mental derangement." She committed suicide in the front upstairs bedroom in 1849.
Jabez's daughter, Caroline, also killed herself, on August 25, 1857. This following the death of her husband, and a year after the death of her only child. There are several reported deaths of children within the house, but this was sadly common at the time, which had little in the way of public health procedures and a marked lack of vaccination.
During the intensive renovations, there were instances of paranormal activity. A pair of brand new flashlights went dead, at exactly the same time, while workers were exploring what had been the library. There was so much neglect and accumulated debris in the basement that the new homeowner left to buy a saw. When he returned, a hatch to the basement had appeared, propped open by a stick.
When working late in the empty house, the new owner heard a female voice saying, "Hello." His wife mentions feeling suddenly saddened when entering certain parts of the building. Both have heard footsteps where no one is walking and doors closing without human agency.
While the house was boarded up and had no utilities, neighbors were puzzled when they saw lights on the upper floor.
Somewhere in town there is a building once owned by the occult writer Gerina Dunwich. Described as both a home and a gift shop at various times, it is the source of many spooky stories.
At one time the upstairs housed a four-room shop, selling antiques and unusual collectibles, gift items like candles and oils, and some occult items such as spell books and tarot cards. When a person would stay late at night, there would be instances of lights turning themselves off and on and doors opening themselves. Objects moved on their own and a radio station changed itself.
One room stayed chilly, no matter what the thermostat was set at. Some people felt "watched" while there, especially one female customer who tried to shop but wound up fleeing hastily.
At the turn of the last century, one of the attic rooms was supposed to have housed a disturbed woman who was locked away and died there, leaving bloodied handprints behind. These appear periodically, needing several coats of paint to cover them. This has led to seances being held there, in attempts to let this spirit find her final rest.
The upstairs bedrooms contain a ghostly presence, while the cellar has glowing lights moving through it.
There is a carriage house which is even older than the main building, with moans coming from the second floor. Possible involvement with the Underground Railroad, known to operate in the area, led to rumors of tunnels leading to Canada that begin in the carriage house.
While the border is close, it would still be a very long tunnel.