Friday, November 25, 2005

The Aurora UFO Crash of 1897

For those of you who are not aware of it let me start off today by saying right up front that this Blog is written in central Texas and so I am more than normally aware of the subject to b discussed. Texas is called the “Big State”. We “grow them big in Texas”. We like big trucks, big hair, big stories and big etc. This preoccupation with all things big applies to many things, but is especially true regarding "tall tales." I have heard them all over and over, and sometimes it is difficult to separate truth from fiction. Such is often the case with the story of the UFO crash in the small Texas town of Aurora, and the subsequent burial of a dead alien in the local cemetery. Let’s take a closer look...

The town's history book labels the community as "the town that almost wasn't," and but for this event that me have been true. Aurora is located just off US 287 west of Rhome, about a mile south, on State Highway 114 to Bridgeport. There is a sign beside the highway that says CEMETERY, and points south toward the graveyard. Aurora was designated a "historical site" by the State of Texas and interestingly enough, the historical marker at the site actually includes the word "spaceship". Newspapers, along with diaries and letters by local residents, reported that an alien craft hit a windmill and was torn to pieces, along with its occupant in April, 1897. The official historical marker was installed by the State of Texas, and although nobody knows exactly where the actual grave site is located, it is certain that the alien was, in fact, buried in the Aurora Cemetery, after the efforts of the local doctor failed to save it’s life following the crash. This event has become the most important news story to ever come out of this small Texas town.
This incident has been covered up and ridiculed from the U.S. Government and has been widely reported to be a hoax (a weather balloon? Swamp Gas? Venus?). This, to say the least, stinks like Roswell in 1947? The US government has a long history of cover-ups in regards to such occurrences. It is hoped that the current, renewed interest in the incident will last, and that a new investigation will clear up the Aurora event for good, although much time has passed. It is tragic that most, if not all of the original witnesses are long dead, for, at one time, up until around the early seventies, there were quite a few people still living who had been children at the time and not only remember the crash, but remember a rash of “airship” sightings, all over East and North-Central Texas, as well as the stories which were passed down to them from their “elders”. Almost everyone who grew up in those parts of the state have heard stories from their grandparents, or other “old folks” about such events, many of whom were “substantial” citizens, including doctors, clergymen, judges, army personnel, sheriffs and other professionals.
Aurora crash was, in fact, the culminating event in a rash of “airship” sightings in East and Northeast Texas, Oklahoma, North and Central Louisiana in the period between 1895 and 1898. Robert Atkinson, of Center, Texas, a veteran of the Spanish American War, often told of seeing, as a teenager, strange, “flashing lights” in the sky, as did Polk Burns of the same city. Similar incidents were recountered by Bud Knight, a prominent resident of San Augustine, Texas, who died in 1981 at the age of 108. Lee Choron, who died in 1976 at the age of 94 recalled seeing “moving lights flashing in the sky” while living in Swift, Texas (near Nacogdoches) while in his “teens”. Nor, were civic records and town newspapers of the time completely silent on the matter. Reports, although not common, do exist. On April 22, 1897 in the small central Texas town of Rockland, John M. Barclay was intrigued when his dog barked furiously and a high-pitched noise was heard. He went out, saw a flying object circling about 20 feet above ground. He described it as having an elongated shape, with protrusions and blinding lights, it went dark when it landed, only a short distance from his home. Barclay was met by a man who informed him that his purpose was peaceful and requested some common hardware items to repair the craft. He paid with a ten-dollar bill and took off "like a bullet out of a gun."
On that same day,
April 22, 1897, some one hundred miles away, in the community of Josserand, Texas, Frank Nichols, who lived some five miles east of Josserand, and was one of its most respected citizens, was awakened by what he called a “machine noise”. Looking outside, he saw a heavy, lighted object land in his wheat field. He walked toward it, but was stopped by two men who asked permission to draw water from his well. He then had a discussion with half a dozen “short, dark men” men, apparently the crew of the strange machine. He was told how it worked but could not follow the explanation.
Three days later, on
April 25, 1897, in Merkel, Texas. People returning from church served a heavy object being dragged along the ground by a rope or cable, attached to a “cigar shaped” lying craft. As the assembled crowd watched, the line managed to get caught in a railroad track. The craft was too high for its structure to be visible but protrusions and a light could be distinguished. After the craft hovered in place for about 10 minutes, a man came down along the rope cut the end free, and went back aboard the craft, which flew away toward the northeast. The man was described by all witnesses, as being small and dressed in a light blue uniform.
The next day, late in the evening of
April 26, 1897, near the town of Aquila, in South Texas. A local lawyer, whose name was not reported by the press, was surprised to see a lighted object fly quietly overhead as he was riding from his office to his home, just outside the city limits. His horse was scared and nearly toppled his carriage. The object was large, and “oblong”, and sported a bright light that was observed to be sweeping the ground below the object. When the main light was turned off, a number of smaller lights became visible on the underside of the dark colored, metallic craft, which revealed an elongated, transparent canopy. It continued forward, toward a hill, some seven miles to the south of Aquila. When the witness passed the same way, approximately one hour later, he saw the object rising. It reached the altitude of the cloud ceiling and flew to the northeast at a fantastic speed with periodic flashes of light.
These accounts, all given by respectable witnesses, separated by several hundred miles, yet all in a direct line with
Aurora, describe a very similar object. It must be remembered that in 1897, distances were much greater than they are today, and news traveled at a much slower rate. It is inconceivable that there could have been any collusion between witnesses, and highly unlikely that people living in towns separated by several hundred miles, could have heard news or read accounts of happenings in other towns within the space of two or three days. This was a time, it must be remembered, when most news traveled by wire, or by railroad, and unless there was a critical need for residents of one region to have news of another, the expense of wiring such news was avoided.
Much may be made, in some quarters of the “quaint” descriptions given of the object… it, indeed, must be a single object, or at least identical objects… such as the presence of “machine noises” and “ropes”. This is perfectly understandable in light of the fact that this was a time before sophisticated machinery, especially sophisticated flying machinery was common, or even, for that matter, known. It would be six years before the Wright Brothers would take their first, halting, leap above the ground, and the dirigible airships of such pioneers as the Count von Zeplein, were in the very early stages of development, a continent and an ocean away. Certainly no native of East, Central or
South Texas had ever seen such an object. It is highly unlikely that very many of them had even heard of such things. Science Fiction of the day was limited to the works of Jules Verne, and the very early works of Herbert George Wells, and it is unlikely in the extreme that residents of a tiny Texas town, only a few years removed from fighting for it’s survival with the Apaches and Comanches would have access to such current works.
The point, is this. The residents of
Aquila, Hillsboro, Merkel, Jossarand, Nacogodoches, Swift and Aurora, would describe what they saw in terms that they understood, and could relate to. Any unusual sound, emanating from an obviously “manmade” object would be described as a “machine sound”. Likewise, any form of line, tie-down or connector would be described as a rope, cable or line. A classic example of such a description would be the existence of the “cargo” cults of the South Pacific… religious sects of islanders who being members of a pre-industrial, stone age culture, worship the airplanes that their ancestors first saw during the Second World War, and revere the crews as Gods who brought gifts… “cargo” from the sky. Far fetched? Not at all. Imagine how anyone living today might describe an object from a thousand years or, or so, in our own future.
It is also worthwhile, at this point, to repeat the fact that people of this time and place, late 19th Century Texas, were extremely conservative in nature, skeptical by necessity, and most unlikely to take off on flights of fancy. There would simply be nothing to be gained from concocting a story concerning such a thing as an “airship." They would not only not be believed, their sanity, sobriety and competence would have come into serious question. Unlike today, when, as one must admit, such accounts are commonly hoaxed as an attempt to gain attention and momentary fame, this simply would not have been the case in 1897. The most likely result of such a story, unless absolutely and verifiably true would have been shunning by the community as the “village idiot” or as the “town drunk”. Worse, in the primarily Protestant Fundamentalist religious atmosphere of the time, which, by the way, has changed but little since that time, one would have been considered “blasphemous”, “sacrilegious” and possibly even “Satanic”, and definitely shunned by most “upright” and “upstanding” citizens of the community.

As the story goes, it was on April 19, 1897, that a slow moving space ship crashed into an Aurora windmill, bursting into flames and pieces. As the debris was searched, the body of a small pilot was discovered. Originally the alien pilot was dubbed the "Martian pilot." Some of the debris also revealed material sketched with a type of hieroglyphic. The town folk gave the poor little creature a proper burial in the local cemetery. This incident, whether true or not, has had just enough publicity to stay afloat for over 100 years. The news of the crash spread quickly, even for that time period. A newspaper article of the event still exists, written by E. E. Haydon, reporter for the Dallas Morning News. Below is the original article:

About 6 o'clock this morning the early risers of Aurora were astonished at the sudden appearance of the airship which has been sailing around the country. It was traveling due north and much nearer the earth than before. Evidently some of the machinery was out of order, for it was making a speed of only ten or twelve miles an hour, and gradually settling toward the earth. It sailed over the public square and when it reached the north part of town it collided with the tower of Judge Proctor's windmill and went into pieces with a terrific explosion, scattering debris over several acres of ground, wrecking the windmill and water tank and destroying the judge's flower garden. The pilot of the ship is supposed to have been the only one aboard and, while his remains were badly disfigured, enough of the original has been picked up to show that he was not an inhabitant of this world.

The story never gained a lot of exposure at the time, but held on until it was commented on by UPI on May 24, 1973:

"Aurora, Tex. -- (UPI) -- A grave in a small north Texas cemetery contains the body of an 1897 astronaut who was 'not an inhabitant of this world,' according to the International UFO Bureau. The group, which investigates unidentified flying objects, has already initiated legal proceedings to exhume the body and will go to court if necessary to open the grave, director Hayden Hewes said Wednesday."

"After checking the grave with metal detectors and gathering facts for three months, we are certain as we can be at this point [that] he was the pilot of a UFO which reportedly exploded atop a well on Judge J.S. Proctor's place, April 19, 1897," Hewes said." "He was not an inhabitant of this world."

The legend was back in the news! Only a couple of days later, UPI followed up the first report with another from Aurora. They had located a living witness to the event. A ninety-one-year-old who had been a girl of fifteen in Aurora at the time of the reported incident was quoted. "I had all but forgotten the incident until it appeared in the newspapers recently." She said her parents had actually been to the crash sight, but had not allowed her to accompany them for fear of what might be in the debris. She recalled that the remains of the pilot, "a small man," had been buried in the Aurora cemetery, validating the other legends.

The Associated Press now joined the chase for the sensational story. From the city of Denton, Texas came this account: "A North Texas State University professor had found some metal fragments near the Oates gas station (former Proctor farm). One fragment was said to be 'most intriguing' because it consisted primarily of iron which did not seem to exhibit magnetic properties." The professor also said he was puzzled because the fragment was "shiny and malleable instead of dull and brittle like iron.”
The town of Aurora still shows traces of Military intervention today, and the question must be asked, "Why would the U.S. Military be in the town of Aurora?" Anyone familiar with the Roswell crash of 1947 will remember that debris from Mac Brazel's field was flown to Ft. Worth, which is only a short hop's distance from Aurora. Is this why the Military was in Aurora? Could the Government have the alien body?

Today Aurora, like other cities, is modernized, and yet a few hints of the past still remain. Although the headstone of the alien was stolen, there remain pictures of it today. A copy of this photo now adorns the grave site. There has been, at times, a lobby to exhume the remains of the little pilot and give it a proper burial, with a new headstone. So far, this has not happened. So the question is; what was the Aurora Crash, hoax or Alien craft? I think the evidence of hoax is poor at best and outright false at worst so… Anyway, it just proves that it is now and has been for over a hundred years a big weird world we live in!

I’m Average Joe

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

have you read the book Solving the 1897 Airship Mystery by Michael busby.He believes the aurora crash was real but it was an airship being test flown by the US military and that the pilot was a human whose body was burned beyond recognition.He believes a group of engineers was hired by the government to secretly conduct expiriments in flight