As the birthplace of the nation, the buildings and geography of the Delmarva Peninsula are rich with stories and legends. Some even say those places are haunted. Investigate for yourself this weekend in Smyrna.

Duck Creek Historical Society is ready to prove that history is more than facts and figures and old war stories. How? The organization has teamed up with Delmarva Historic Haunts, which will come in and lead several groups through its paranormal investigation process.

“It’s going to be fun,” said DCHS member Jess Hansen Herbert. “People won’t just be listening to a lecture. The will get the chance to become an investigator.

WHISPERS IN THE DARK

Newbies always want to know if the tours will be scary.

“Sometimes we get recordings of people talking that weren’t there,” explained DHH founder Rick Coherd. “That can be unsettling. But, older homes have stories and legends of people living, dying, giving birth and getting married in them. All of that leaves a residue, made up of their lives.”

But, Coherd, though respectful of the entertainment factor, wants people to be just as interested in the history of old buildings, too.  He explained that his organization—made up of teachers, historians, policemen and nurses—never goes in to a place trying to prove it is haunted. They go in to document.

Investigators typically use video equipment and tools like electronic voice phenomenon recorders, thermal detectors and electromagnetic field meters. But, their most powerful tool is research. Coherd said that it’s important to know a building’s background, the people who lived there, the language they used, the games they played. He says it’s the only way to get any kind of response.

“For instance, during the Civil War, people didn’t use the word ‘dumb,” he said. “They would have called a person a ‘peawit.’ You have to use the vernacular of the time.”

When the research is done and the tools are working correctly, unnerving experiences can occur. Coherd has lots of stories of whispers in the dark and forces tugging on clothing. But, he hates to use the word “ghost.”

“We say ‘ghost’ because it’s what people are familiar with. Truthfully, we don’t know what it is,” he said. “But, when it reacts to you, you can’t help but think this is a force with intelligence, with feelings.”

HAUNTED SMYRNA

Because the Delmarva history dates back to the birth of the nation (and much further back in Dutch-settled areas), Coherd said the area is rich with activity and phenomenon. DHH explored several buildings in Smyrna earlier this year and found a lot of activity and unexplained energy. 

Participants in Saturday’s tours will have the opportunity to visit three historic sites with a DHH tour guide to investigate what’s there (or not there) for themselves.

At 7:30 and 10:30 p.m., a group of about 40 will be divided up into four groups. The tours will start at the Smyrna Museum and Plank House, continuing at the Delaware House and the Presley Spruance House. Participants will also get a chance to check out DHH’s mobile lab, which contains all the tools and equipment needed to investigate paranormal occurrences.

“Here’s the thing. When you  make it clear that you’re documenting and that you’re on the good side, you can talk to history,” Coherd said. “Sometimes, history talks back.”