Western Pre-20th Century
UFO Sightings
The following is a report taken from the North American Review, 3:320-322, 1816....a report which the author E. Acharius was also taking to the Royal Academy.
Quoted from the "Handbook of Unusual Natural Phenomena", by William R. Corliss. The event took place over the village Biskophsberga.
"On the 16th of last May (1816), being a very warm day, and during a gale of wind from south-west, a cloudless sky, at about 4 O'clock, p.m., the sun became dim, and lost his brightness to that degree, that he could be looked at without inconvenience to the naked eye, (the sun) being of a dark red, or almost bright color, without brilliancy. At the same time there appeared at the western horizon, from where the wind blew, to arise gradually, and in quick succession, a great number of balls, or spherical bodies, to the naked eye of the size of the crown of a hat, and of a dark brown color. The nearer these bodies, which occupied a considerable though irregular breadth of the visible heaven, approached towards the sun, the darker they appeared, and in the vicinity of the sun, became entirely black. At this elevation their course (speed) seemed to lessen, and a great many of them remained, as it were, STATIONARY; but they soon resumed their former, and accelerated motion, and passed in the same direction with great velocity and almost horizontally. During this course some DISAPPEARED, others fell down, but the most part of them continued their progress almost in a straight line, till they were lost sight of at the eastern horizon. The phenomenon lasted uninterruptedly, upwards of two hours, during which time MILLIONS of similar bodies continually rose in the west, one after another irregularly, and continued their career exactly in the same manner (mentioned above). No report, noise, nor any whistling or buzzing in the air was perceived. As these bodies slackened their course on passing by the sun, several were linked together, three, six, or eight of them in a line, joined like chain-shot by a thin and straight bar; but on continuing again amore rapid course (speed), they separated, and each having a tail after it, apparently of three or four fathoms length, wider at its base where it adhered to the ball, and gradually decreasing, till it terminated in a fine point (tapered tails). During the course, these tails which had the same black color as the balls, disappeared by degrees."
The author goes on to state that some of the balls came to earth near one observer. As it neared the ground it lost its black color and became hard to see until they reached the ground and again became more visible, but this time as a ball of changing colors. The people compared them to soap bubbles (plasma?) These then disappeared leaving a thin film: "....a scarcely perceptible film or pellicle, as thin as a cobwed, which (itself) was still changing colors, but soon dried up and vanished.
Since this event took hours it was witnessed by all the people of the village.
Bonnycastle, R. H.; American Journal of Science, 1837 (Example of Earth Light)
At a quarter past nine O'clock on Sunday night the eighth day of May, in the present year (1837), my attention whilst regarding the heavens was forcibly attracted to the sudden appearance due east of a shining broad column of light. At first, as my window overlooks the bay of Toronto and the low island which separates it from the lake, I took this singular pillar of light for the reflection from some steamboat on the clouds, but having sought the open air on the gallery which commands a full view of the bay and of Ontario, I was convinced that the meteor was an effluence of the sky, as I now saw it extend upwards from the eastern water horizon line to the zenith, in a well defined, equal, broad column of white strong light, resembling in some degree that of the aurora, but of a steady brightness and unchanging body, whilst there were few or no clouds. Ursa Major, then near the zenith, was situated with regard to this column, at a quarter past nine as below, the column passing nearly vertically between (z) and (H) [the author refers to the Greek letters here]
There was no moon, as on that day it rose at 2h. 4m. consequently it was dark, and the sky was not very cloudy the meteor was seen to the greatest advantage as the night wore on. It passed very slowly and bodily to the westward, continuing to occupy the space from the horizon to the zenith, until the upper part first faded slowly and then the whole gradually disappeared, after it had reached nearly to due northeast...
Jul., 1868 Copiago (Chile). A strange "aerial construction" bearing lights and making engine noises flew low over this town. Local people also described it as a giant bird covered with large scales producing a me- tallic noise. Although not an actual landing, this is the first instance of close observation of an unknown object at low altitude in the nineteenth century. (Fort 638; Anatomy 11)
Extract from: Symon's Monthly Meteorlogical Magazine, 1869. (Strange cylinder of fire)
Our in Cheatham county [Tennessee] about noon on Wednesday---a remarkably hot day---on the farm of Ed. Sharp, five miles from Ashland, a sort of whirlwind came along over the neighbouring woods, taking up small branches and leaves of trees and buring them in a sort of flaming cylinder that traveled at a rate of about five miles an hour, developing size as it traveled. It passed directly over the spot where a team of horses were feeding and singed their manes and tails up to the roots; it then swept towards the house, taking a stack of hay in its course. It seemed to increase in heat as it went, and by the time it reached the house it immediately fired the shingles from end to end of the building, so that in ten minutes the whole dwelling was wrapped in flames. The tall column of traveling caloric then continued its course over a wheat field that had been recently cradled, setting fire to all the stacks that happened to be in its course. Passing from the field, its path lay over a stretch of woods which reached the river. The green leaves on the trees were crisped to a cinder for a breadth of 20 yards, in a straight line to the Cumberland. When the "pillar of fire" reached the water, it suddenly changed its route down the river, raising a column of steam which went up to the clouds for about half-a-mile, when it finally died out. Not less than 200 people witnessed this strangest of strange phenomena, and all of them tell substantially the same story about it.
Personal note: What travels at tree-top level appearing as a "sort of flaming cylinder" and that burns everything it nears for a great distance, and that is not part of a storm, and is able to move in straight lines, and has so much sustained heat that it can send up a vast cloud of steam for a distance of 1/2 mile once it follows a river?
Dec. 07, 1872 Banbury (Great Britain). At King's Sutton an object 0100 hours resembling a haystack flew on an irregular course. Sometimes high, sometimes very low it was accom- panied by fire and dense smoke. It produced the same effect as a tornado, felling trees and walls. It sud- denly vanished. (Fort 189)
May. 15, 1879 Persian Gulf. Two very large "wheels" were seen spinning in the air and slowly coming to the surface of the sea. Estimated diameter: 40 m. Distance be- tween the objects: 150 m. Speed: 80 km/h/ Duration: 35 min. Witnesses aboard the ship "Vultur" (Round up 17; Anatomy 12)
1880 Aldershot (Great Britain). A strange being dressed in tight-fitting clothes and shining helmet soared over the heads of two sentries, who fired without result. The apparition stunned them with something de- scribed as "blue fire." (FSR 61, 3; Magonia)
1880 Eastern Venezuela. A 14-year-old boy saw a luminous ball descending from the sky and hovering near him. He felt somehow "drawn" to it, but succeeded in backing away in spite of his terror. (Lor. III 2O6)
Capron, J. Rand; Nature, 1882 (Auroral "meteor" / UFO)
I happened to turn to the south, where the moon (with a very pronounced lumiere cendree on its dark part) was nearly on the meridian, when I saw a spindle-shaped beam of glowing white light, quite unlike an auroral ray, had formed in the east. As I looked this slowly mounted from its position, rose to the zenith, and passed it, gradually crossing apparently above the moon, then sank into the west, slowly lessening in size and brilliancy as it did so, and fading away as it reached the horizon. The peculiar long spindle shape, slow gliding motion and glowing silver light, and the marked isolation of this cloud from the other portions of the aurora made it a most remarkable object, and I do not recollect in any former aurora to have seen anything similar.
Noble, William; Knowledge, 1883
Can any of my brother readers of 'KNOWLEDGE' offer a feasible explanation of a very remarkable phenomenon which I witnessed at 10h. 35m. p.m. on Tuesday, August 28? I was just coming out of my observatory when, on the E. N. E. point of the horizon beneath the Pleiades, I saw a bright light. My first thought was that the moon was rising, but an instant's reflection sufficed to remind me that she would not be up for the next two hours. As I watched the light becoming brighter and brighter, I saw that it threw a kind of radial illumination upward, the effect of which I have tried to reproduce in the accompanying rough little sketch. As will be seen, a few distant cumulo-stratus clouds, close to the horizon, crossed it. For a moment I imagined that I was viewing the apparition of a new and most glorious comet; but, as I watched, the "tail" disappeared and what would represent the nucleus flashed up brilliantly. Then I made up my mind that some distant house, barn, or haystack was on fire, and returned to the observatory for a 3 inch telescope, which I keep for looking over the landscape. Before I had time, however, to enter the door, every vestige of illumination disappeared as suddenly as it had come into view, and after waiting in vain for some time, I left the observatory and came into the house. I have diligently inquired if there was a fire anywhere in this part of Sussex on the night of which I am speaking, but there was none.
Nov. 02, 1885 Scutari (Turkey). A luminous object circled the har- bor. Altitude: 5-6 m. Illuminated the whole town. Duration: 1 1/2 min, as a bluish-green flame. Then plunged into the sea. Made several circles above the ferry-boat pier. (LDLN 48; Anatomy 14)
Nov. 12, 1887 Cape Race (Atlantic Ocean). A huge sphere of fire was observed rising out of the ocean by witnesses aboard the "Siberian." It rose to an altitude of 16 m, flew against the wind, and came close to the ship, then "dashed oft" toward the southeast. Duration: 5 min. (LDLN 48; Anatomy 14)
Mar. 28, 1897 Omaha (Nebraska). The majority of the population observed an object arriving from the southeast. It looked like a huge light, flew northwestward slowly, came to low altitude. A crowd gathered at a street corner to watch it. (185)
Apr. 01, 1897 Everest (Kansas). The whole town saw an object fly under the cloud ceiling. It came down slowly, then flew away very fast to the southeast. When directly over the town it swept the ground with its powerful light. It was seen to rise up at fantastic speed until barely discernible, then to come down again and sweep low over the witnesses. At one point it re- mained stationary for 5 min at the edge of a low cloud, which it illuminated. All could clearly see the silhouette of the craft. (FSR 66, 4)
Apr. 12, 1897 Nilwood (Illinois). On the property of Z. Thacker, 19 km north of Carlinville, an unknown object landed. Before the three witnesses could reach it, the craft, which was shaped like a cigar with a dome, rose slowly and left majestically toward the north. Witnesses: Edward Teeples, William Street and Franklin Met- calf. (186; Anatomy 12)
Apr. 12, 1897 Girard, near Green Ridge (Illinois). A large crowd of miners saw an unknown object land 3 km north of Green Ridge and 4 km south of Girard. The night operator of the Chicago-and-Alton Railroad, Paul Mc- Cramer, stated that he came sufficiently close to the craft to see a man emerge from it to repair the ma- chinery. Traces were found over a large area. The object itself was elongated like a ship with a roof and a double canopy. It left toward the north. (186,187)
Apr. 14, 1897 Gas City (Indiana). An object landed 2 km south of Gas City on the property of John Roush, terrifying the farmers and causing the horses and cattle to stampede. Six occupants of the ship came out and seemed to make some repairs. Before the crowd could approach the object, it rose rapidly and flew toward the east. (188)
Apr. 15, 1897 Linn Grove (Iowa). A large object was seen to fly slowly toward the north. It seemed ready to land and five men (F. G. Ellis, James Evans, David Evans, Joe Croaskey, Benjamin Buland) drove toward it. About 7 km north of Linn Grove, they found the craft on the ground, came within 700 m of it but it "spread its four giant wings and rose towards the North." Two strange figures aboard the craft made efforts to con- ceal themselves. Witnesses were surprised at the length of their hair. Most residents of Linn Grove saw the craft in flight. (190)
Apr. 15, 1897 Howard-Artesian (South Dakota). A flying object coming closer and closer to the ground followed a train, as reported by the engineer, Joe Wright (FSR 66,4)
Apr. 15, 1897 Perry Springs (Missouri). A passenger train on the Wabash line, going toward Quincy, was followed by a low-flying object for 15 min between Perry Springs and Hersman. All the passengers saw the craft, which had a red and white light. After Hersman it flew ahead of the train and disappeared rapidly, although the train was then running at 65 km/h. (190)
Apr. 16, 1897 Downs Township (Illinois). Approximate date. While working in his field, Haney Savidge saw an aerial craft land near him. Six people emerged from it and spoke to him for a few minutes before leaving again. (191)
Apr. 17, 1897 Williamston (Michigan). At least a dozen farmers saw an object maneuver in the sky for an hour before it landed. A strange man near 3 m tall, almost naked and suffering from the heat, was the pilot of the craft. "His talk, while musical, seemed to be a repeti- tion of bellowings." One farmer went near him and received a blow that broke his hip. (196)
Apr. 19, 1897 Leroy (Kansas). Alexander Hamilton was awakened by a noise among the cattle and went out with his son and his tenant. They saw an elongated cigar- shaped object, about 100 m long with a transparent cabin underneath showing narrow reddish bands, hovering 10 m above ground. They approached within 50 m of it. It was illuminated and equipped with a searchlight. Inside it were "six of the strangest be- ings" the witness had seen, also described as "hid- eous." They spoke a language no witness could understand. A cow was dragged away by the object with the help of a strong red cable; it was found butchered in a field the next day. (Anatomy 16; Ma- gonia)
Apr. 22, 1897 Rockland (Texas). 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 5 m above ground. Elongated with protru- sions and blinding lights, it went dark when it landed. Barclay was met by a man who told him 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." (192; Magonia)
Apr. 22, 1897 Josserand (Texas). Frank Nichols, who lived 3 km 2400 east of Josserand and was one of its most respected citizens, was awakened by a machine noise. Looking outside, he saw a heavy, lighted object land in his wheat field. He walked toward it, was stopped by two men who asked permission to draw water from his well. He then had a discussion with a half-dozen men, the crew of the strange machine. He was told how it worked but could not follow the explanation. (193; Magonia)
Apr. 23, 1897 McKinney Bayou (Arkansas). Judge Lawrence A. Byrne of Texarkana, Arkansas, was surveying a tract of land when he saw a peculiar object anchored on the ground. "It was manned by three men who spoke a foreign language, but judging from their looks one would take them to be Japs." (Farish, in Allende Letters (Award Special, 1968) )
Apr. 25, 1897 Merkel (Texas). People returning from church ob- served a heavy object being dragged along the ground by a rope attached to a flying craft. The rope got 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 about 10 min 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 small and dressed in a light- blue uniform. (194; Magonia)
Apr. 26, 1897 Aquila-Hillsboro (Texas). Approximate date. A law- yer was surprised to see a lighted object fly over. His horse was scared and nearly toppled the carriage. When the main light was turned off, a number of smaller lights became visible on the underside of the dark object, which supported an elongated canopy. It went down toward a hill to the south, 5 km from Aquila. When the witness was on his way back 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. (195)