A UFO Visits Ohio In 1858
In 'The Ilustrated Silent Friend'
By Jesse Glass
Three years after the publication of Walt Whitmans Leaves of Grass, a mysterious miniature book appeared in the bookstalls of New York City. Just large enough to fit in the palm, and easily hidden in a gentleman's pocket or a ladys knitting bag, 'The Illustrated Silent Friend,' by William Earl, M.D., of 12 White Street, offered an extraordinary variety of arcane information.
As the title page of the paperback copy I own informs the public, the 'Silent Friend' is "A Complete Guide To Health, Marriage and Happiness, Embracing Subjects Never Before Scientifically Discussed...With Magnificent Illustrations In Anatomy Of The Lungs, Fistal Delivery, Monstrosities, Uterine Tumors, Generative Organs, Deformities, Diseases, & C. Also, Valuable and Practical Receipts In Medicine, The Arts, Etc." And in 382 pages printed in minute type, Dr. Earl delivers a breathtaking range of quaint and curious lure. Sandwiched in between advertisements for male safes [condoms] made of white Indian rubber, and herbal cures for gonorrhea, were recipes for making wood more durable than iron and practical advice for would-part-time mesmerists.
Of course, many books of the time dealt in similar subjects, but not quite with Dr. Earls panache: "To transfer a pale and sallow face to one of beauty," he tells us, "take one dozen common iron nails, about 2 inches long, one tablespoon of extract of aloes hepatica, put these into a large bottle and poor upon them two quarts of eider, cork them up tightly and shake them every day for one month, then strain off the clear liquid, and of this take one table spoon upon rising and going to bed, when all paleness will leave the face, and it will ultimately attain beauty."
Whether this beauty is attained in life, or ultimately achieved upon the death by poisoning of the patient, Dr. Earl fails to say. Among all the snake-oil clap-trap contained in this entertaining bit of Americana is one entry that, in its strangeness, and its use of specific names and places, stands out from the rest. On pages 253-256, we find this startling entry:
"Do the Inhabitants of other Planets ever Visit this Earth? I propose in this connection to make a few remarks on the following: Mr. Henry Wallace and other persons of Jay, Ohio, have recently detailed to me the annexed. There are thousands of such cases on record. These gentlemen state, that sometimes since on a clear and bright day, a shadow was thrown over the place where they were; this necessarily attracted their attention to the Heavens, where they one and all beheld a large and curiously constructed vessel, not over one hundred yards from the earth. They could plainly discern a large number of people on board of her, whose average height appeared to be about twelve feet. The vessel was evidently worked by wheels and other mechanical appendages, all of which worked with a precision and a degree of beauty never yet attained by any mechanical skill upon this planet.
Now, I know that thousands will, at this recital, cry humbug, nonsense, lunacy, &c., but I know that there are other thousands who will read and reflect. It is for these latter thousands that I write. Once upon a time there appeared a celebrated reformer, who arose among the people and taught a new doctrine, that from its reasonableness and its simplicity, electrified the hearts of the thinking people. But the party who didnt think, and who hated reason, and new ideas, cried out, away with him to the crucifixion. And they did crucify his body, but they have not yet succeeded in crucifying the reason, and new facts and ideas that be taught.
In view, then, of the above, I venture to advance the following remarks: I believe that the time will come when all of the inhabitants of all worlds or planets in the solar system, will regularly visit each other when in the fullness or fruition of things, an interchange of ideas and commodities, visiting and greetings between the respective inhabitants of all worlds or planets, will be common and universal. I believe that the grand aspirations of an advanced humanity on this earth, is not without a good cause and a good reason.
I believe that when the respective atmospheres seen surrounding the different planets in the solar system, indeed, of every part of the universe, shall have passed into the highest condition of excellence and purity of which it is capable, that it will then give life to a more exalted and finished condition of genera and species, or inhabitants. That all of the planets are now inhabited by a kind of beings suited to their respective planetary and electrical conditions, is, I think, certain. And that the inhabitants of thousands of these worlds, that roll with eternal beauty throughout the boundless regions of the immensity of space, have attained that advanced condition in their planetary being, I have no doubt, whatever.
And that this ship which Mr. Wallace and others saw, was a vessel from Venus, Mercury, or the planet Mars, on a visit of pleasure or exploration, or some other cause; I myself, with the evidence at hand, that I can bring to bear on it, have no more doubt of, than I have of the fact of my own existence. This, mind, was no phantom that disappeared in a twinkling, as all phantoms do disappear, but this aerial ship was guided, propelled and steered through the atmosphere with the most scientific system and regularity, at about six miles an hour, though, doubtless, from the appearance of her machinery, she was capable of going thousands of miles an hour, and who knows but ten thousand miles an hour. What can be more wonderful as an illustration, than the Electric Telegraph to connect the old world with the new. And why then, may not the scientific geniuses of other planets have done as much as ours have?
Besides this, if I had room, I could draw an argument from the electrical condition of the media existing between the planets, to show that a body once in motion at a given distance from a planetary body in space, will move with nearly the speed of electricity till it meets again the resisting media, or atmosphere of another planet or body in space. That all of this knowledge, and a million times more, may be known to some of the exalted beings of other planets in space, I have no doubt. But as I was saying, this aerial ship moved directly off from the earth, and remained in sight, till by distance she was lost to the view. The foregoing is my firm and decided conclusion and belief in this matter."
Dr. Earl lived on to publish a new, enlarged Illustrated Silent Friend, as well as The Parent's Companion; On the diseases of infants and children; Woman; her duties, relations and position; A medical and social work; Seven Causes of Debility; and Moderate the pace that Kills; High pressure business life; all in 1878 and catalogued by the Library of Congress.
Of course, the crux of the matter is this: was there really a Henry Wallace of Jay, Ohio? The most logical place to search would be the old census records for Ohio, and this is exactly what I determined to do. Because of logistical difficulties (I live half a world away), I contacted the Ohio Historical Society via the internet, paid the requisite fee, included a self-addressed envelope with my written request, and received, by mail the following letter dated April 21, 1999:
Dear Mr. Glass:
Regarding your request for information from the 1850 Census, please see the attached materials. You will note that there are several "Henry Wallaces" listed in the Index to the Federal Census of Ohio; unfortunately, none of them are listed in a county that includes a town by the name of Jay. However, there is a town named Jay in Erie County, which is just east of Lorain County. So we copied the Lorain County listing for a Henry Wallace in the hopes that this was the man you are interested in.
Reference Archivist.
The appended pages included copies from the 1860 census of Ohio. I scanned through the spidery and antique handwriting, and there he was! Henry Wallace of Eerie County, and presumably of Jay, was number 549 in the records. His age in 1860 was 30 years old. He was married to Cloe, 28, and had a daughter named Eva B who was 12 years and 8 months old at the time. Henry and his wife were Irish; his occupation was listed as "Sailor." What is more, the entry just previous to Henrys is for one David Wallace, 27 years old, and also from Ireland. He too had a wife and a young daughter to support. Davids occupation is listed as "Ship Carpenter." Presumably, David and Henry were brothers and next-door neighbors in Jay. Further perusal of the page indicates that their neighborhood was composed primarily of sailors, millers, farmers and domesticsi.e., Henry and his family appear to have been members of the working poor of the time. Their position in society was no doubt a difficult one, as was that of many Irish immigrants. Add to this the probability that Henry Wallace was corresponding with Dr. Earl because of a sexually-transmitted disease picked up during his sea-faring life, and an interesting picture emerges: either the sailor was a consummate blarney artist practicing his gift upon a big city snake-oil salesman, or Wallace was a simple person telling the truth to one whom he--mistakenly--believed to be a man of science.
The "other persons," Dr. Earl mentions above, may well have been from this neighborhood of poor people in the small town of Jay, Ohio. No doubt Henry Wallace never suspected that Dr. Earl would mention him by name in his odd little book and thereby allow us to catch a glimpse of this poor man and those who might have witnessed one of the most extraordinary sights any human could behold. What thoughts could have run through their minds in the presence of an airship hovering so near to the earth that it clearly exhibited its crew of giants and the intricate machinery that made it fly? And then to watch it move grandly through the air until lost from sight!
Searching through the Eerie County newspapers of 1858 may turn up more details of what promises to be one of the most exciting UFO sightings of the nineteenth century
copyright 1999 by Jesse Glass.