Latitude / Longitude:
42°2′25″N 78°48′19″W / 42.04028°N 78.80528°W / 42.04028
2,215 ft (675 m)
Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
Red House (Seneca: joë’hesta) is a town in Cattaraugus County, New York, United States. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 38, making it the least populous town in the state. The town is on the south edge of Cattaraugus County, south of the city of Salamanca.
The area that would become the town was first settled by outsiders after 1827. The town of Red House was formed in 1869 from part of the town of Salamanca. It was named for its famous landmark, the Red House, a Civil War-era domicile located at the confluence of a small creek (later named Red House Creek) with the Allegheny River. The house was remarkable for its strange, dark crimson coloring and was originally constructed as a resting house for those traveling along the river.
Locals have expressed skepticism that the Frecks story has any historical basis, and a 1965 description of Red House’s name origin lists the original owner of the house as being “unknown.” Of the numerous ghost stories that are reputed in Red House, the Frecks story is not one of them. The house was a restaurant and hotel in its last years and, like most others in the town, was demolished in the early 1990s. Newspaper clippings from 1972 have made note of a legend that the house was originally owned by a native American at the time logging began in the area, and that only the door of the house was painted red.
According to an Internet rumor, it was initially occupied by the Frecks family, local landowners of some repute (for whom the hamlet of Frecks is named), whose extended family was torn apart by the ravages of the Civil War, both emotionally and through the loss of several members. As the story goes, when eldest son Johnny Frecks died in the Civil War, his widow began an affair with the next-eldest, James (a relationship said to have been carried on while Johnny was fighting in the war). Exiled by the family for their relationship, the lovers killed themselves, and their ghosts were said to haunt the house for the rest of its existence. Family patriarch Jonathan Frecks II died shortly after of mysterious causes, after which the family donated a great deal of money to the town and promptly moved to another residence out of the area. Several attempts were made to inhabit the Red House, but no one stayed there for any serious length of time as it was reputed to be haunted by the ghosts of the Frecks family.