The Ghosts Haunting the New Mill at the Innerste River
The new mill at the Innerste river within the Upper Harz region is said to be haunted. It is believed that the cause for this are the old possessions of the papacy which were destroyed when the mill was built. For there used to be a monastery where the mill stands now. And when the mill was built during Protestant times, the ghosts of the old monks grabbed the workers by their feet and pranked them constantly. Furthermore, at one particular location a small flame was burning, and a fat monk - a ghost - was visible the entire day. This ghost pointed towards the spot where the flame burned throughout the day. Finally, the workers - who did not know where else to turn, and furthermore suspected that treasures were buried here - fetched a Catholic priest and asked what ought to be done here. After the priest had observed the activities of the ghost for a while, he said: “Yes, a lot of things are here, and for this reason the ghosts cannot rest.” He now had the workers dig at the spot where the flame burned according to his instructions, and there they found a thrice-locked chest which was surely filled with money. But the priest said that he would have to take the chest home and speak many prayers over it before the money could be taken out. Thus, they transported the chest to his home on a wagon pulled by four horses, and the four horses were barely able to move the chest from the spot. When the priest did not bring the money within the chest back to the new mill at the appointed time, the workers went to the priest’s home. There, they found out that the priest had gone away, but the chest had been left behind. When they finally opened it, there was nothing inside except for a single red pfennig coin. The priest had quietly taken out the rest and sent it ahead to a destination where he himself had planned to go.
When the new mill was already in operation, and leased to the Weibgens in the previous century, the monks and students swarmed across the corridors so much that the mill assistants scarcely dared to fill up the grain when the mill was in operation. At times, the spirits also wore miner’s jackets and green miners’ hats, and in this form the assistants would see them pour the grain out of the sacks. Once, a mill assistant was working there who was studying the Bible intensively and knew how to deal with the spirits. One Sunday afternoon, he was all alone in the mill and the entire house. He had locked all doors and read in the Bible again. Then, the Devil appeared to him in the chamber. The mill assistant immediately realized that it was the Devil, and demanded to know from him how he had been able to enter. Furthermore, he showed him the page in the Bible which he had opened, and there it was written: “Away from me, Satan!”. Then the Devil flew out of the roof with a great noise, and took three shingles with him. No one has been able to put these shingles in again afterwards.
The ghosts, a whole bunch of monks and miners, frequently appeared in the residential house of the new mill. Frequently, twelve students also stepped inside. Of these, the first one always carried a book, and he browsed the entire hour from eleven until twelve o’clock in this book. For the ghosts always stepped inside when the clock struck eleven, and when the clock struck twelve, they went away again. The first one always stepped towards the table with his book. The second one was also very inquisitive, and looked into the book over the first one’s shoulder. But the twelfth student always put a bell on the table when they arrived, and at precisely twelve o’clock he picked it up again when they left. This always made a noteworthy ring when he lifted the bell up from the table.
Among the other spirits that were observed, there were three who had distinctive names among the people of the mill. One of them was “Fateye”, and a fat eye hung out of his head. He wore a white sheet which he had tied into a knot in front of his forehead. This Fateye only ever knocked in order to annoy people, and when there was a racket rising up in the mill and people noticed it, it was always this same evil-minded entity. And then people would say: “Oh, it’s the Fateye!”, and they no longer concerned themselves with it.
Another ghost was called the “Sweeplork”, who always swept around the mill with a new broom. But the most welcome entity of all was the “Friendliest”. Everyone loved it, even though they did not do as it wished. For it always carried a chair into the chamber which it placed into the center of the room. Then it stood next to the chair and waved to everyone that they should sit down on it. Nobody did this, and when, after one hour and at twelve o’clock, nobody had sat down on it, it took its chair and left through the door with it. But then it no longer looked as friendly, but was sad that nobody wanted to sit down on its chair. The Friendliest usually appeared every six weeks. It seemed to feel the most comfortable when there was a fairly merry gathering with dancing and zither music, which happened occasionally when a lot of people from the nearby settlements had flour ground during the night. The Friendliest often stepped into such a cheerful company in the new mill with its chair.
 There is a “Neue Mühle” road in the Innerste river valley on the western outskirts of the Clausthal-Zellerfeld municipality, which sounds like the most likely location.
 Called “Pater” in the German text - which implies a Catholic priest, even though the region was now Protestant.
 I.e. a copper coin.
 A local family which seems to have leased the mill for more than a century, as a subsequent legend starting on p. 156 of the same source elaborates.
 I.e. the 18th century.
 “Puffjacke” in the German source which, according to Grimm’s dictionary, were short miner’s jackets mainly covering the shoulders and only reaching down to the waists. They would have either had short sleeves or mere openings for the arms.
 Presumably, Matthew 4:10.
 “Fegelork” in German. While “fegen” means “sweeping”, “-lork” is not a word I recognized.
Commentary: While a fuller exploration of treasure tales will have to wait for a future date, both flames designating a buried treasure and restless ghosts bound to that treasure are well in line with other treasure narratives. That the (presumably Lutheran) locals fetch a Catholic priest is not surprising either - perhaps it was because they had to deal with the ghosts of Catholics, or perhaps it was because Catholic were generally considered to have greater expertise with unruly spirits than their Lutheran counterparts. That the priest absconded with the loot after the successful excavation is an unusual twist, however.
The appearance of the Devil seemingly comes out of nowhere. Why did the Devil appear at this precise time and place - if it was indeed “the Devil” and not some lesser infernal entity (German folklore is often rather unclear on this distinction)? Perhaps he was simply attracted to so many dead souls in a state of turmoil.
I feel that there is more to the “twelve students” in this tale than this text reveals. I am reminded of the text “Die zwölf Johanneße” (“The Twelve Johns”), one of the legends collected by the Brothers Grimm. It it, a Frankish King had twelve sons who were also called the “German students”, and they had powers to travel all over the world on a wheel of fortune - but the Devil took one of them each year as payment. Thus, the twelve students in this tale might also be masters of the black arts, with the book as a tome of magic. But this remains speculation.
The three other ghosts detailed in this story show the range of possible shapes and personalities such spirits might take - from malicious and annoying to friendly and helpful. Such tales might have been spread to explain the odd noises that might emanate from a mill in operation, or perhaps they were kept alive as pranks and tall tales told by the old hands to the new hires at the mill.