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Silver Lake Mill proprietor displays on two hundredth anniversary


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 dashing water stuffed the air.

Silver Lake Mill proprietor Cheryl Lyon stated the surroundings is just about this idyllic each day, 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 two hundredth anniversary all yr lengthy, with particular occasions every month. To culminate the bicentennial, Lyon together with a staff of helpers printed a e-book 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 via her sturdy rapport with the neighborhood.

Lyon, who at present 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, but it surely was the chance to attend Japanese Mennonite School that introduced Lyon to the realm.

It wasn’t till many years later, Lyon realized she will be able to hint her heritage again to Rockingham County 9 generations. Lyon stated her nice grandfather was a carpenter and he moved to the nation’s capital in 1904, looking for work.

“Figuring out that gave me a way of rootedness that I’ve simply by no means had as a D.C. native,” Lyon stated.

Lyon stated she first labored for well-known Day by day Information-Document photographer Allen Litten. Over the following a number of years, she labored in quite a lot of roles on the paper. Lyon stated she wrote quite a lot of investigative tales about some proposed resorts and faculties that by no means got here to be. She additionally served because the society editor for the DN-R, Lyon stated.

“There isn’t a higher coaching that I may have for the remainder of my life,” Lyon stated, eyes sparking from the mirrored solar contained in the cool mill home. “You should use it in so many instructions. I finally went in to 10 years of producing administration; 10 years of promoting administration. What you study, (in reporting) you’re taking with you in every single place.”

A storyteller at coronary heart, Lyon stated she purchased the mill in 1999 hoping to make the house a middle for neighborhood and historical past in Dayton. Lyon stated the city annexed the land the mill was on, so it may very well 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, pictures and different tidbits of historical past and Lyon’s gears began turning.

“Silver Lake: 200 Years Of A Shenandoah Valley Mill & Group,” was printed on the finish of final yr. A piece of advantage, “Silver Lake,” has the appear and feel of a textbook and the content material besides. It’s filled with the tidbits, together with maps, charts, tales and photos, compiled and written by Lyon.

“Folks had been very and had a number of recollections right here,” Lyon stated. “As we approached the bicentennial, I began doing extra severe analysis after which throughout the bicentennial I used to be furiously researching to tug collectively sufficient for the e-book.”

Rocktown Historical past Govt Director Penny Imeson and Sam Funkouser, govt director of the Brethren and Mennonite Heritage Middle, in Harrisonburg, every wrote forewords. Serving on the e-book committee had been Lyon, Allen Litten, Imeson, Linda Jacobs, Richard Jacobs, Randall Jones, Jody Meyerhoffer and Deb Thompson.

The e-book 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 neighborhood 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 neighborhood right here that I’d name a German Baptist neighborhood, which is at present’s Church of the Brethren,” Cheryl Lyon stated.

Copies of “Silver Lake” can be found for buy at Rocktown Historical past, Lyon stated.

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 had been launched on the lake. Tons of attended the occasions.

“The properties across the lake on the time in addition to the mill had been all of the Brethren folks, who had been increasing from northern Rockingham County and transferring south,” Lyon stated.

Dwelling to many old-order Mennonites, Lyon additionally produces the favored “Finest Little Guide Of Rockingham County.” A yearbook of types, the “Finest Little Guide” respectfully tells tales of the old-order communities in Dayton, with out highlighting anyone particular person, or utilizing images of faces.

This yr would be the e-book’s tenth quantity. A quantity is launched yearly. Copies are often on sale at Rocky Cedars common retailer and Rocktown Historical past, Lyon stated.

The massive wheel on the skin of the mill dates again to 1909, Lyon stated. She solely turns it on for particular events, however she stated one latest Thursday morning may depend as a special day.

On the western facet of the mill from the skin, the wheel shuddered to a begin. Its purple steel 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 steel.

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 gave the impression to be a sport. And simply on the crest of the hill, gone simply as quickly because it may very well 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 stated. “Over time, I noticed (the mill) was pulling collectively a fairly uncommon story.”


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