Ichor Falls

Local Legends

The Stitched Man.

This legend seems to be based on the story of William Harker. Harker was one of the first settlers of the Ichor Falls valley, and a master tailor whose work was known throughout Delaware. Richard Bayard, mayor of Wilmington, DE, was noted to have ordered three suits from Harker in 1836, saying “The man could stitch anything.”

In 1840 a cooking fire started in Harker’s home, tragically killing his wife and infant son, and seriously injuring him. Allegedly, Harker overheard doctors saying that they would not be able to heal his burns, and when they returned to his bedside, Harker called for his sewing kit.

Harker died four days later, and the legend began shortly after — first as a tribute to the master tailor, that he had been able to stitch himself back to health, and went to search for his wife and child to “repair” them too. But the legend became more and more perverse over the generations, with the common lore being that the Stitched Man now sought replacements for his dead family, and that if he claimed you, you would wake up one night with Harker’s ragged, sewn-up corpse laboring over you with a needle and thread, your lips stitched together, with the only sound that of Harker’s softly beating cloth heart.

Totenkinder.

A German mistranslation of, literally, “dead children.” The holiday did not begin as a holiday, but an observance of the 1813 schoolhouse collapse, in which 12 Amish students died along with their teacher. Many settlers believed the collapse to be an omen of God’s displeasure with the settlement, and that Ichor Falls trespassed on hallowed ground. That year, every stick of lumber for building construction was torched, to purge the town of evil.

Decades later, schoolchildren participated in Totenkinder by building small model houses, placing a beloved toy inside, and lighting it on fire. If the house refused to catch fire (as often happens in Ichor Falls due to the humidity), the house was made by a good little boy or girl. If it did burn, the boy or girl was considered sinful.

In 1908, a little girl was badly hurt when her toy house caught her dress on fire. At this point the town treated Totenkinder as silly tradition and superstition, and not a real determination of good and evil. Nonetheless, because it was dangerous to children, Totenkinder was largely abandoned.

The Stillwood.

Because of its uneven ground, oddly tilted treeline and three very similarly curved creeks (flowing from the Erytheia), it’s easy for the inexperienced to get lost in Stillwood Forest southwest of Ichor Falls. One gets the sensation of walking in circles — especially when one encounters what looks like the same small creek several times.

In 1806, one of Edwin Cuthbert’s original party chased a deer into the Stillwood, and wound up lost for two days. When he finally returned, dehydrated and starving almost to the point of death, he insisted that he had been gone for nine days — even going so far as to show diary entries he had made with the rise and fall of the sun.

Although there was no other evidence to support strange goings-on other than a host of tall tales involving secret villages and mythical creatures, settlers avoided the Stillwood for generations. Even when mass logging began in the 1870s, the Stillwood was spared. It remains the oldest growth of all surrounding forests, although much of the other treeline has returned to Ichor Falls today, due to the halting of the logging trade and town evacuation in the late 1940s.

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