Published 12:00 am Friday, June 17, 2011

SALISBURY — Don’t read too much into this, but folks are coming out of the woodwork about David Harrison’s “ghost house” at 1031 Highland Ave.
Two people in particular, Lydia Rusher Hatley and Kenneth Edwards, lived in the house years ago (at separate times). They read Tuesday’s story about reports of paranormal activity at the address and Harrison’s plans to offer an art gallery there by day and a ghost house with tours by night.
Sorry to say, Hatley and Edwards never had any encounters with ghosts or unusual happenings at the 1910 house.
“There was nothing ever (haunted) in that house,” Hatley said. “I laughed and laughed and laughed (after reading the story). … That house is not haunted, unless he haunted it after he bought it.”
Harrison has owned the former rental house for 18 years. Over that time, several tenants told him of encounters with ghosts or the unexplained sounds of running children, footfalls on the stairway, whispered conversations and even black clouds.
Harrison also called in young investigators with the Carolina Association of Paranormal Studies, whose three-person team recorded evidence of an apparition, conversations and paranormal movement in the house.
Harrison and the investigators believe the ghostly happenings are connected somehow to a fire in the house’s past.
Hatley knew nothing about a fire. When someone asked whether she would pay the $15 price for a tour of the house, just out of curiosity, Hatley said, “I’m not going to pay $15 for a tour of a house I lived in.”
“… My kids ran all over that house, in the attic and everywhere. And I did, too. My mamma would turn over in her grave, if she knew he was telling people it was haunted.”
Hatley’s uncle, railroader Gus Foster, built the house. It passed on to Hatley’s mother, Lily Foster Rusher, at the uncle’s death.
Lily Rusher lived at 1031 Highland Ave. when her first children were born before the family moved to Faith, where Hatley’s father worked in a rock quarry.
The Rushers later moved back to the Highland Avenue house after Gus Foster died. “I ended back there, too, when Daddy was sick, to help take care of him,” Hatley said.
Hatley, her husband and their four children lived on Highland Avenue for four or five years in the 1950s, she said. Her mother continued living there with Hatley’s siblings after her own family moved.
She confirmed that it was a rental house while her parents lived in Faith. That’s where Kenneth Edwards comes into the picture.
Edwards said he lived in the house as a youngster when the landlord his family rented from was named Foster. He thinks he was about 9 years old when a fire broke out in the house.
“My cousin and I were upstairs, listening to ‘The Lone Ranger,’” he recalled. “Mother told us to get out — the house was on fire. This was about 1940.”
It turns out the fire wasn’t too bad, Edwards says. But he remembers the day for another reason. A couple down the street invited his family to stay with them after the fire.
“The next morning, I got up with the mumps,” he said. “My sister had them also. And to top it off, it snowed that night, and I could not go out.”
Retired from a career as a truck driver for Bamby Bakery and S&D Coffee, Edwards still lives in Salisbury.
Hatley now resides near Rockwell. She has a niece who lives in New Jersey who often visited the house on Highland Avenue to see her Grandmother Lily. Hatley plans to send her the “ghost story” about the old homeplace.
“She will have a good laugh,” Hatley said.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or mwineka@