Cooch-Dayett Mill

By Derek Stoner, Conservation Project Coordinator

The fresh-fallen snow contrast with the flaming yellow leaves of the Tuliptrees on Sunday, October 30, 2011. Image by Derek Stoner.

Welcome to the Month of November!  Here at the Delaware Nature Society, this is our Membership Month, when we celebrate our wonderful members and continue to grow the ranks of Delaware Nature Society supporters.

Here at The Nature of Delaware blog, we are going to offer up a unique opportunity to get to know the Dealware Nature Society better: a Blog Blitz for Membership Month!

Every weekday for the whole month, we will feature stories and images that highlight the many facets of the organization.   There are so many great things going on at our various sites and through our literally hundreds of programs. 

The planted Sunflowers in the foreground mirror the bright foliage of the forest in the background at Flint Woods on Halloween Eve. Image by Derek Stoner.

Delaware is a beautiful place and we will take you to some of our favorite natural areas in the First State, as well as expanding your horizons with stories from more distant destinations. 

A classic Brandywine Valley Scene: Split-rail fence, a pasture, and beautiful woodlands. Image by Derek Stoner, October 31, 2011.

So strap on your seat belts and get ready for a great ride as we take you on a tour of the Delaware Nature Society. Membership Month is here and we thank you for joining us!

As part of the Blog Blitz for Membership Month, there will be special prizes and opportunities.  Stay tuned every day so you don’t miss out!

My name is John.  I am 90 years old, and I have been 90 for a long, long time.  I am by myself in my home, Cooch-Dayett Mill.  I have been here by myself, mostly on the third floor, since the 1980’s when the mill closed.  I witnessed the fires that struck the Mill in 1933 and 1916.   In fact, I was here when the Mill was built in 1838, although I was alive then.  My grandfather was alive when former Governor Sir William Keith owned this land, 666 acres south of Newark, in 1725.

 

 

 

The upper floors of Cooch Dayett Mill.

The upper floors of Cooch Dayett Mill.

I usually roam the mill after dark, and not once have I been interrupted in the past 25 years…until last Saturday night.  On this night, I was contacted by several groups of people in the mill.  They were asking me questions.  I answered. 

 

The strange wands they held I recognized from when my father found water in the backyard.  They were dousing rods.  The other equipment my visitors held, I did not recognize.  My how times have changed.

The strangers asked me to respond to their questions with the dousing rods.  Yes to cross them.  No to wave them back and forth.  “Is there someone here with us?”  they asked.  I responded by crossing the rods. “Are you a man?”  I crossed the rods again. “Will you speak with us tonight?”  Again, I crossed the rods.

 

 

 

After 25 years alone at night in the Mill, I finally had visitors.  I hate company.

After 25 years alone at night in the Mill, I finally had visitors. I hate company.

My visitors wanted to know if I could touch them.  I crossed the rods, then blew on either side of one visitor’s face.  This certainly surprised my visitor, and perhaps scared her.  The lights were off.  Yes, it scared her.  Good.

 

 

 

 

I made this mirror move back and forth ever so slightly.  Only one of my visitors noticed.

I made this mirror move back and forth ever so slightly. Only one of my visitors noticed.

To another who was wearing a fancy camera around his shoulder, I pulled on the strap.  This was in the basement of the mill, which is a dark, dank, old place.  Scary even in daylight.  This young man was not deterred, but I know he felt it.  I heard him whisper so to another.

 

At one point, I believe this person caught a photo of me in my orb form.  Some thought it was a dust particle in the flash.  No.  It was me.  In my orb form.  I sat on another man’s head while he tried to contact me with the dousing rods.  I lied to this man, saying I was a woman and wanted to talk.  Sometimes it is fun being a ghost!

 

 

 

Look at the man in the back right.  I was caught in my orb form on his head as he used the dousing rods to speak with me.

Look at the man in the back right. I was caught in my orb form on his head as he used the dousing rods to speak with me.

After midnight is when my fun really started.  I didn’t think they would realize it, but I moved an old nail several times in the dank basement.  Even I don’t like to go down there.  My visitors did in fact find that the nail was moved.  They placed it on a railing, and when they left the room, I moved it to the floor.  I did this multiple times, but it seemed to only amuse my visitors, not scare them. 

 

 

 

 

I was caught on camera again.  I like this corner of the Mill's first floor.  This is where I travel in my orb state.

I was caught on camera again. I like this corner of the Mill's first floor. This is where I travel in my orb state. You can see me against the dark wood to the left of the window.

My favorite place after midnight is the old sewing shop.  Many of my late-night visitors feared this room.  I am able to start a severe headache in certain people who enter.  Over the years, others who enter the room start crying for no reason.  I try to make anyone who enters the sewing shop feel horrible.  It works on some people.  Stay out.  This is my Mill! 

Story from John the ghost’s point of view on a recent Delaware Nature Society ghost tour of Cooch-Dayett Mill, run by Delaware Ghost Tours.  Join us next year if you dare!