DAYTON, Va. — The remnants of soppy mist yawned from hills and fields. A pair of teen-aged ladies jogged by Silver Lake and the sound of speeding water crammed the air.
Silver Lake Mill proprietor Cheryl Lyon mentioned the surroundings is just about this idyllic on daily basis, as it’s throughout Dayton, a small city of round 1,700 folks nestled within the southwestern nook of Rockingham County. The realm is residence to many farms and is a middle for Mennonites, old-order Mennonites and members of Brethren and Church of the Brethren religion communities.
Final yr, Silver Lake Mill celebrated its 2 hundredth anniversary all yr lengthy, with particular occasions every month. To culminate the bicentennial, Lyon together with a workforce of helpers revealed a guide on the historical past of Silver Lake. A lover of historical past, Lyon drew on her long-ago profession as an investigative information reporter and photographer at The Day by day Information-Document to inform a few of the mill’s tales by way of her robust rapport with the group.
Lyon, who at the moment lives in Dayton, began working on the Day by day Information-Document in 1969, on the age of 19. She was born and raised in Washington, D.C. correct, however it was the chance to attend Jap Mennonite Faculty that introduced Lyon to the world.
It wasn’t till a long time later, Lyon discovered she will be able to hint her heritage again to Rockingham County 9 generations. Lyon mentioned her nice grandfather was a carpenter and he moved to the nation’s capital in 1904, looking for work.
“Realizing that gave me a way of rootedness that I’ve simply by no means had as a D.C. native,” Lyon mentioned.
Lyon mentioned she first labored for well-known Day by day Information-Document photographer Allen Litten. Over the subsequent a number of years, she labored in plenty of roles on the paper. Lyon mentioned she wrote plenty of investigative tales about some proposed resorts and colleges that by no means got here to be. She additionally served because the society editor for the DN-R, Lyon mentioned.
“There is no such thing as a higher coaching that I may have for the remainder of my life,” Lyon mentioned, eyes sparking from the mirrored solar contained in the cool mill home. “You should utilize it in so many instructions. I finally went in to 10 years of producing administration; 10 years of selling administration. What you study, (in reporting) you’re taking with you in all places.”
A storyteller at coronary heart, Lyon mentioned she purchased the mill in 1999 hoping to make the area a middle for group and historical past in Dayton. Lyon mentioned the city annexed the land the mill was on, so it might be a part of the city, across the time of the acquisition.
After restoring the mill to what it seemed like pre-1945 — when it was bought by Rockingham Milling Firm and have become a feed mill — folks started bringing her letters, images and different tidbits of historical past and Lyon’s gears began turning.
“Silver Lake: 200 Years Of A Shenandoah Valley Mill & Neighborhood,” was revealed on the finish of final yr. A piece of advantage, “Silver Lake,” has the appear and feel of a textbook and the content material as well. It’s stuffed with the tidbits, together with maps, charts, tales and footage, compiled and written by Lyon.
“Folks have been very and had numerous reminiscences right here,” Lyon mentioned. “As we approached the bicentennial, I began doing extra critical analysis after which in the course of the bicentennial I used to be furiously researching to drag collectively sufficient for the guide.”
Rocktown Historical past Government Director Penny Imeson and Sam Funkouser, govt director of the Brethren and Mennonite Heritage Heart, in Harrisonburg, every wrote forewords. Serving on the guide committee have been Lyon, Allen Litten, Imeson, Linda Jacobs, Richard Jacobs, Randall Jones, Jody Meyerhoffer and Deb Thompson.
The guide talks in regards to the historical past of the mill and highlights its bicentennial celebrations. Lyon put collectively a photograph album of types for volunteers who helped with round a dozen group occasions placed on by the mill over the yr.
“It’s not a historical past of the mill per se, it’s a historical past of a small group right here that I might name a German Baptist group, which is in the present day’s Church of the Brethren,” Cheryl Lyon mentioned.
Copies of “Silver Lake” can be found for buy at Rocktown Historical past, Lyon mentioned.
The occasions included mill-powered ice-cream socials, the place an attachment to the mill churned the ice cream, a “Worship By The Water,” and on Dec. 1, 2022, a “Grand Illumination,” the place lighted bushes have been launched on the lake. A whole lot attended the occasions.
“The houses across the lake on the time in addition to the mill have been all of the Brethren folks, who have been increasing from northern Rockingham County and transferring south,” Lyon mentioned.
House to many old-order Mennonites, Lyon additionally produces the favored “Greatest Little E-book Of Rockingham County.” A yearbook of types, the “Greatest Little E-book” respectfully tells tales of the old-order communities in Dayton, with out highlighting anybody individual, or utilizing pictures of faces.
This yr would be the guide’s tenth quantity. A quantity is launched yearly. Copies are often on sale at Rocky Cedars normal retailer and Rocktown Historical past, Lyon mentioned.
The big wheel on the surface of the mill dates again to 1909, Lyon mentioned. She solely turns it on for particular events, however she mentioned one latest Thursday morning may depend as a special day.
On the western aspect of the mill from the surface, the wheel shuddered to a begin. Its crimson metallic blades resembled aluminum blinds. Water already rushed over a steep drop from the lake.
Contained in the dim millhouse, which Lyon renovated extensively, the flywheels shuddered and made the nowadays-unfamiliar mechanical rumblings of wooden and metallic.
Nearer to silver lake, males fished with coolers and rods, bobbers floating on the water. A plucky duck swam upstream after which floated again down once more. It seemed to be a sport. And simply on the crest of the hill, gone simply as quickly because it might be heard, was a rushing black horse and buggy.
“I knew there was historical past right here — milling historical past a minimum of — I didn’t know something past that,” Lyon mentioned. “Over time, I noticed (the mill) was pulling collectively a fairly uncommon story.”