Dyer’s Mill Forest and the ghosts of Silver Run

Lights in the forest

Lights in the forest

Telling tale tales about spooky happenings are always fun this time of year. The Huffstutter family’s residence at Dyers Mill Forest in the Silver Run Valley of Maryland when the now legendary occurrences related below first happened adds a bit spice to the retelling.
My attention was drawn to a legend of hauntings at Silver Run mentioned in an article written Linda Morton for the Dec/Jan 2007 issue of Carroll Magazine. Ms Morton wrote: “As the story goes there is a lost silver mine on Silver Run. An early German silversmith who was friendly with the Susquehannock Indians learned the location of this mine with the stipulation he must never tell anyone about it. Among the items the silversmith created from his secret silver stash was a beautiful brooch given to his daughter on her thirteenth birthday. She was so delighted that she begged her father to show the location of the secret mine. Unable to refuse her wish he blindfolded her and took her to the mine. Along the way she broke branches to leave a trail and later returned to the spot with a friend. The Indians felt betrayed and killed both the German silversmith and his daughter. Their ghosts still wander the valley and the legend says they will continue until three persons have died looking for the mine. Thus far two have died in the search. There are many theories for the mines location but it remains a mystery to this day.”
Other accounts, in particular a children’s book by Lois Szymanski, called “Silver Lining” mentions a German settler on Silver Run named Ahrwed and his beautiful daughter Frieda. This account embellishes the story with the additional fact that when the Indians found out Ahrwed told the location of the mine to Freda and she in turn took her friend to the mine they became hopping mad. Not only did they bury the mine thus hiding it forever but Ahrwed along with Frieda and her friend were never seen again.
The legend continued to be retold as over the years a mysterious lantern light was reported gleaming eerily near Rattlesnake Hill, a local landmark where many people believed the mine was hidden. Some residents talked of headless bodies wandering aimlessly in the area.
Local newspapers have also kept the legend alive.
April 25, 1883 Hanover Spectator added more material to the legend.
“….A light, as of a lantern carried by someone was said to have often been seen moving across the hills toward the mine, which, if followed, would disappear; this light always moved in a uniform course, and was never seen to pass beyond the mine. A well authenticated story comes from a man who must have seen Old Ahrwud himself. This man was one night walking along a post fence, not far from the mine, when he noticed a stranger just on the other side of the fence, wearing a long gray beard, a big broad-brimmed hat, and carrying a lighted lantern. The stranger moved quietly with him until they reached a cross fence bounding the next field, when the stranger passed through the fence without raising his lantern and vanished. When this man was asked why he did not talk with the stranger, he answered, “He didn’t look as if he wanted to talk!” A farmer who lived near the mine said that he often saw this light and that he was one night coming down the Hanover road with his team when, at a point in the road where the woods reach from the road to the mine, his horses stopped and refused to go a step. He got off the saddle horse, and went forward, but could find nothing in the road; he then whipped the horses, without making them move, until he felt a breath of cold air across his face, after which the horses moved on as if nothing was wrong. He did not see anything himself, but the horses snorted as if in great fright. Another person spoke of a time when he was a boy, and was one night going near by the mine with his father…when his father with a sudden start said: “Did you see that woman without a head? She was nearly as tall as the trees!” The boy did not see the headless woman, but said that he saw a big fire burning on the top of the trees that same night.”
This article appeared in the February 7, 1885 issue of the American Sentinel
“The famous Myers’ District silver mine, about a mile and a half east of this place, was reopened a couple weeks ago by a young German who has only been in this country two months. The vicinity of the mine still sustains its reputation for queer appearances. The miner says that on Friday morning, 30th ult., at nine minutes past eleven o’clock, the hour the moon fulled, three curiously clad Indians carrying a lantern, appeared on the hill by him and disappeared in the woods beyond. One evening while he was digging by moonlight, they also made their appearance.–T.”
The (Silver Run) News, May 9, 1885. “Monster Seen”
“A Pennsylvania chap, whose sweetheart lives near Rattlesnake Hill, was wonderfully frightened one night a few weeks ago by seeing a large white fiery-eyed monster near the haunted silver mine in this district”.
What’s the truth behind the legend? One source hints that a family kept their savings safe from creditors in a chest buried on Rattlesnake Hill, scaring people away from the real treasure by using ghostly charades. While no ghosts have been reported prowling the haunted silver mine for a hundred years or more it is fun to ponder this old legend attached to the area where our ancestor Ulrich Huffstutter lived. You can’t help wondering if Ulrich and his family told the tale around the campfire one dark Halloween, long, long ago.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *