Smyrna couple, public check for ghosts at area haunts

Davis “Mike” Lewis and his wife Charlotte run SAGE, the Smyrna Association of Ghost Hunters.

SMYRNA – As temperatures drop and Halloween approaches, ghosts and goblins creep to the forefront of thought, but for SAGE, the Smyrna Association of Ghost Hunters, ghosts and goblins are top of mind year round.

Since the late 1990s, Davis “Mike” Lewis of Smyrna has been interested in the paranormal. It all started with a single experience while he was working at a hospital.

“I saw a full-form apparition,” he said. “Right in the office across from mine, there was a woman who turned and looked at me then disappeared.”

In the coming years, Mr. Lewis saw shows like “Ghost Hunters” gaining popularity and with a friend, he decided to try it himself.

“We were talking and realized we had so many of the same questions as the people on the shows and thought maybe we should seek the answers ourselves,” he said.

From there, M&M Investigators was founded. One of their early jobs was the Blue Coat Inn in Dover.

“We were the only group that got to investigate that property, which was special because it was very active and it was exciting to have something like that early on,” he said.

After his business partner moved on, in 2018, Mr. Lewis carried on the mission with and renamed it SAGE. Mr. Lewis now operates it with his wife Charlotte, a medium.

The first step of SAGE’s investigations typically begins with a phone call or email from someone inquiring about suspicious sights or sounds around their home.

“We really get the whole gamut of paranormal experiences from footsteps to shadows and even physical touch,” he said. “Mainly, I think people want to be validated in that they are experiencing something, so we come in to firstly detect, then go from there.”

Mr. Lewis begins by taking recordings with an infrared camera, audio recorder and an electromagnetic field detector.

“We see what kind of activity there is. Typically spirits just want to be acknowledged and have you accept their presence,” he said. “So the homeowners pick up on a presence and we get to the bottom of what it is.”

Mrs. Lewis gets in touch with the spirits to learn more about their intentions, which in at least one case, turned out to be potentially lifesaving.

“We had one case where the previous resident had actually died in the home and the spirit lingered on but the new resident didn’t know or understand the message it was sending,” Mr. Lewis said.

“It turned out that he was trying to say the electrical in the house needed to be checked. It actually ended up starting a small fire before it was looked into. But once an electrician came, they said it was a house fire just waiting to happen.”

When it comes to quieting or ridding homes of a spirit, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis take natural approaches, including saying prayers and using sage.

SAGE also does “home cleansings” before move-ins.

“Our main goal is to make our clients feel safe and at ease in their homes,” Mr. Lewis said. “The home should be a haven from the stress and distractions in the world and it makes us feel good to have people be able to enjoy their homes.”

SAGE’s services are all free of charge and the organization can be reached on Facebook at “SAGE Smyrna Association of Ghost Erasers.”

Sold-out ghost tour Saturday

For those who are brave enough to seek out the souls of the past, Delmarva Historic Haunts (DHH) — a paranormal investigation team — will be conducting a sold-out walk-along ghost tour through historic homes in downtown Smyrna on Saturday.

Delmarva Historic Haunts — a paranormal investigation team — will conduct a walkalong ghost tour through historic homes in downtown Smyrna on Saturday beginning at the Smyrna Museum. The event is sold out.

Tours will be divided into groups and will investigate historic buildings on Main Street. All tours will begin and end at the Smyrna Museum.

The tour will include the Barracks — which is the current site of the Smyrna Museum — the Delaware House and the Presley Spruance House, among others.

The Smyrna Museum was once used as a barracks during the War of 1812 and was a center for drafting Union soldiers in the Civil War. The website HauntedPlaces.org said witnesses have reported hearing unexplained voices and sounds there, seen things moving on their own and experienced a feeling of being watched.

Each location along the tour has its own unique history and interesting tales to share. Participants can be part of the action using the DHH’s special equipment to communicate with history. And, if they are lucky, “history will talk back.”

“All of our investigators have a strong historical presence and hope that they can help keep historical places thriving for generations to come,” the DHH investigating team explains on its website. “DHH takes all steps necessary to seek out, find and document any paranormal activity using a scientific and organized approach in all investigations and will not make claims of ‘haunted’ or ‘not haunted’ until all evidence is collected and analyzed, realizing that the truth is often made up of more than one factor.

“Therefore, we carefully consider all evidence from a skeptics point of view to ensure the authenticity of such evidence and rule out any potentially false findings.”

As a bonus, all ticket sales from the paranormal investigation of Smyrna will directly benefit the Duck Creek Historical Society, the local nonprofit organization that oversees and staffs the free Smyrna Museum complex.

Investigations involve walking along Main Street and inside historic homes in the dark — so participants are asked to wear comfortable shoes and bring a flashlight.

Dark Dover

Sarah Zimmerman, superintendent of First State Heritage Park said its historical interpreters like to guide visitors to downtown Dover for their Dark Dover Lantern Tours, giving a glimpse into the city’s darker side of its history with true stories featuring characters who were murder victims or witnesses to nasty crimes.

While their tours aren’t designed to scare guests out of their wits — simply recall history, humor and sorrow through stories of real people from Delaware’s past centuries — organizers caution that the content of the candlelight tour may not be appropriate for children ages 12 and under.

The final Dark Dover Lantern Tour of the year will take place tonight at 8:30.

Ms. Zimmerman said it’s been a tradition since 2007, and people keep coming back. First State Heritage Park will offer the final Dark Dover Lantern Tour of the year tonight at 8:30.

“I think the lantern tours are so popular because it gives people a chance to interact with history that is far removed from the dry and dusty textbooks of their history class,” she said. “There are very few dates to remember on our lantern tours and there is no test afterward.

“It is also a really fun group activity — a shared experience — for a night out that is outside the norm. My favorite part is when people say, ‘Wow, that was so much fun!,’ or, ‘Wow, I never knew that. I had no idea Dover had so much!’”

While walking around the city’s most historical spots under dim candlelight, the interpreters recite true stories of murder and encounter characters whose legends have left their sinister imprint on The Green.

“Out of respect for the families of those buried in the cemetery, we focus on the historical elements and focus on bringing the past to life through historical theater,” Ms. Zimmerman said. “It is our goal to share the stories of those that have departed this life with those that may not have heard of them before. It is a blend of historically significant figures with some ordinary people.

“We find that stories are the best way to connect the past with the present. There is some element of uncertainty or fear in our current culture when it comes to cemeteries, so we do our best to make people feel comfortable. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was not uncommon for people to have picnics at the graveside of their loved ones.”

She did say with this month being October, they are able to spice things up a little more on the lantern tours.

“We do take a few more liberties in October on The Green,” said Ms. Zimmerman. “Our Dark Dover Lantern Tour features some stories that we do not tell on a regular basis because of their sensational nature. There is a lot more murder and mayhem on that special edition tour.”

Pre-registration for Dark Dover Lantern Tours is required and admission is $10 per person. Space is limited. Information can be found at www.destateparks.com/heritagepark or by calling the First State Heritage Park at 302-739-9194.

Ashton Brown is a freelance writer living in Dover.

Staff reporter Mike Finney contributed to this story.

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