William Phelps Mansion

Fort Drum, Town of Leray, Jefferson County, New York

The United States Government has owned this house since September 24 1941 along with LeRaysville, when it was acquired from Mr. and Mrs. William V Delaney as part of the Pine Camp Military Reservation (Fort Drum) expansion. Government acquisitions also included the Leray Mansion and the Sheepfold Cemetery.

The history of this once beautiful limestone starts when William Phelps, a well known cabinetmaker from Connecticut, purchased the two lots, each four rods wide and 15 rods deep, facing the front of LeRaysville main street. The first lot he bought from James D. Leray de Chaumont on December 9 1817. Then on March 28 1823 he purchased the adjoining lot from Alfred and Margaret Lathrop. It is believed that the Wm. Phelps Mansion was built shortly after the last purchase. Phelps had a stone cabinet shop near the main house.

William Phelps came to LeRaysville from Connecticut in 1814, He was one of the early postmasters appointed on June 4 1840. His wife Eliza Jane Brown was the daughter of Cyrus Brown. In 1856 their son William S Phelps built a sawmill in the same location where Benjamin Brown constructed a sawmill in 1801.**William Phelps died January 2 1868 at the age of 76. On March 5 1886 his wife Eliza Brown died at the age of 91 years and 6 months and 7 days. Both are buried in the Sheepfold Cemetery on what is now Fort Drum. Their son William S. Phelps was appointment postmaster Feb 4 1875. He was a storekeeper, lawyer and had a lumber business in Leraysville. He served with the 194th New York Volunteer Regiment during the Civil War. He was the Justice of the Peace and Leray supervisor from 1856-1858.

William S Phelps was born February 1, 1822 and died December 30, 1899. He married Julia Payen (born June 20, 1828 and died July 4, 1912), the daughter of Jules Rene of Paris France. Both are buried in the Phelps lot at Sheepfold Cemetery.

The chain of title for this limestone mansion runs through many owners. On September 2 1834, William and Eliza sold it to Zelotes Phelps of Hartford County Connecticut. In 1836 Zelotes and Sarah deeded it back to William and Eliza. Later is passed to William S and Julia Payen Phelps. It was conveyed to Jane Phelps on August 25 1859. On June 1 1868 Jane Phelps of Philadelphia Pennsylvania sold it to Lydia B Child. On September 21 1875 Lydia B Child of Vineland New Jersey sold it to Leonard Mosher. On November 6 1886 the Mosher estate was conveyed to Frederick Appenzeller a Native of Switzerland. Frederick Apperzeller was postmaster, merchant and hay buyer at LeRaysville and served as supervisor. One of his daughters married De Witt Nichols of Leraysville.

On October 29, 1912, Frederick Appenzeller disposed of the house to Frank Bowman (1897-1969) and his wife Maude (1893-1963) of Leray, NY. Both are buried at Hillside Cemetery Antwerp, New York.

May 2, 1918 Frank Bowman conveyed it to William H. (born 1877) and Nellie Rendel Peters. On February 23, 1930 William H. Peters died and full title of the house passed to his widow Nellie. Nellie then sold the house to William V and Marion T. Delany on August 5 1935. Nellie Peters (1877 - 1951) is buried beside William. H., who remarried someone named Ellis.

William and Marion Delancy lived in the Phelps Mansion for six years. The United States government through Declaration of Taking acquired it for Pine Camp military reservation.

Note: James Le Ray De Chaumont returned to France in 1836 where he died on December 31 1840 at the age of 80 years. Jules Rene Payen purchased his estate including the LeRay Mansion at LeRaysville in 1840. The Payen Monument has the Insignia of "A Knight of the Legion of Honor", (Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor). He died on July 27 1862. Payen was a distinguished French engineer and chemist. His daughter Julia Phelps inherited his estate (Leray Mansion) and properties.