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The Aurora, Texas UFO Incident (1897)

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posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 09:09 AM

I’ve often remarked that some of the best cases are some of the oldest ones. This incident is likely the oldest (well-documented) UFO crash story there is, and not too long ago, some new information surfaced that supports the story, and dismisses some of the criticisms. Further in the post, I’ve included links to some of the television show investigations into the case.

In the late 1800’s, just a few years prior to the Wright Brothers’ first flight, numerous sightings of fast moving cigar-shaped airships were reported across the United States, especially over the skies of Texas.

Sightings of Cigar-Shaped Craft in Texas, between 1896 and 1898
Note the cluster near Aurora in the upper right

Here are some of the other accounts of sightings, also in the April 19, 1987 Dallas Morning News: (courtesy of another post by member burzvana)

Here is a description from Milam County, Texas.

"The monster had the appearance of the pictures of the great whaleback ships of which so much has been written, with immense wings both fore and aft, with great fins beneath and on the sides. The noise of its approach was not great, but it produced a humming sound, which he thinks was caused by the machinery that propelled it."

Here is a description from Hunt County, Texas.

"I saw an immense cigar shaped vessel resting on the ground in front of me. I saw three men walk out of the vessel. Two of them went to work about the rigging of the ship. The other asked if I would mail some letters for him."

Here is a description from Stephenville, Texas.

"It consists of a cigar shaped body about sixty feet in length to which is attached two immense aeroplanes, and the motive power is an immense wheel at each end, in appearance much like a metallic windmill. It is driven by an immense electric engine which derives its power from storage batteries. The crew consisted, as stated, of two men who gave their names as S. E. Tilman and A.F. Dolbear."

Here is another description.

"A. B. Ewing, as he was going home from his store, says he was startled by a strange buzzing noise overhead. Looking up, he saw what seemed to him to be a mammoth alligator with wings outstreatched and when nearly overhead the lights went out and only a glimmer could be seen all along the side of the long body."

Here is another description.

"The ship was seen travelling in a southern course, moving at the rate of about forty five or fifty miles an hour. It looked to be from 75 to 100 feet in length, carried what seemd to be a headlight, not unlike those used on a locomotive and was some quarter of a mile from the earth."

Here is another description.

"It seemed to be whaleback in body with bat-like wings, windows with lights inside with a powerful headlight in front. It was not over 500 feet above the ground, but ascended rapidly until almost out of sight. It had almost meteor like speed."

From the accounts, it almost seems more like some kind of terrestrial invention, and human pilots. However, this was also a period largely considered to be run by “yellow journalism”, with sensationalized stories made to sell papers. So, was this such a story? Or, did something really crash in Aurora?

The article states that around 6am local time, on April 17, 1897, it was reported that a flying craft hit a windmill on the property of Judge J.S. Proctor and crashed, killing the pilot.

Artist Depiction of Crash

The pilot was said to be “not of this world” and buried in the local cemetery, according to correspondent S. E. Haydon.

Newspaper Article

The wreckage was reportedly dumped into a well on the property. Nothing much happened with the story after this time, as it then faded into the town lore.

Historical Marker in Aurora’s cemetary

Interestingly, there is a mention in the hotly debated Majestic documents that mentions 1897 as a starting point. Seems to be an odd date in retrospect, but a strange coincidence, don’t you think? (skip down to the last paragraph, where he ordered an investigation of all War Department files regarding unconventional aerial phenomenon reported since 1897).
Link to the document, allegedly by George C. Marshall.

Around 1945, Mr. Brawley Oates purchased the property, and reportedly cleaned the debris out of the well (it is not known what he did with it). He later developed a debilitating case of arthritis, which he claimed was due to contaminants in the well water.

Mr. Brawley Oates

Mr. Oates’ hands

The old story goes that he sealed the well for these reasons, however in 2008, during a UFO Hunters investigation, an interview with Oates’ nephew (and new owner of the property), Tim Oates later revealed the well was sealed due to the pipes being corroded, and the well no longer being functional. The well was sealed in 1957, and this is indicated in the cement slab covering.

Tim Oates

In 1979, Time Magazine did a story on the case, and interviewee Etta Pegues claimed that Hayden (spelled Haydon in some accounts) fabricated the story, and that it was a joke, to get interest in the town, which was suffering financially. However, later details would illustrate the accuracy of Hayden’s story.
(the article is easily found in their archives, but you’ll need to be a subscriber to view it)

Interest was then renewed in the case in 1998. KDFW, a Dallas-based TV station did a story on the incident. Our own conspiracy master Jim Marrs was interviewed, along with locals (and pretty much in all of the later investigations). The reporter, Richard Ray, was unable to find any conclusive evidence.
Link to the story by KDFW

In 2005, UFO Files aired an episode about the crash. MUFON was also involved in this investigation. They identified two new eyewitnesses to the crash. Mary Evans (15 at the time) recalled her parents going to the crash site (she wasn’t permitted to go) and the discovery of the body. Charlie Stephens (10 at the time) said he saw the ship trailing smoke as it headed north towards Aurora. He said his father went to town the next day and saw the wreckage.

MUFON investigated the cemetery, and found a grave with a marker that appeared to depict a saucer of some sort, and had readings from a metal detector. They were not able to get permission to exhume the body, however. Soon after MUFON’s investigation, the marker vanished from the grave. However, pics were taken of it, and a later investigation used these pics to triangulate the position of the grave.

Old photo of the Grave Marker that used to indicate the grave.
The marker was missing after the MUFON investigation.

At this time, Brawley Oates did not allow investigators access to the well. In addition, the earlier report of Etta Pegues still caused doubts and lent some credence to the idea of a hoax. In addition, she claimed there was never a windmill on the property, which was supported by examining the plans of the property. However, a later investigation (see the 2008 investigation, later in this article) addresses this issue.

(Continued in next post)

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 09:09 AM
reply to post by Gazrok

The MUFON investigation did net some other finds as well. Metallic debris was found on the property, including a curious piece of metal embedded in a rock. This established that the metal must have been molten at the time. An independent lab tested these pieces of metallic debris. The test results indicated the pieces were largely aluminum with trace amounts of iron. Nothing to indicate an ET origin, but also not a ratio that was consistent with normal production practices of the time (and, aluminum would have been costly at the time). Still, the aluminum content was consistent with reports of the debris after the crash.

Link to the UFO Files episode

In 2008, UFO Hunters investigated the case. Unlike previous efforts, this time, they did get permission to remove the cap and investigate the well. In doing so, they discovered the supports of a windmill, which negated the criticisms of those saying there was never a windmill on the property. The evidence shows the Judge did have a windmill there, even though it was added after the plans seen in previous investigations.

Uncovering the well

The well, once uncapped

Small pieces of debris were retrieved from the well and tested. The analysis was similar to the previous one in 2005. High aluminum content, traces of iron. In addition, the water was tested, and the only anomaly was a high aluminum content. This is consistent with the accounts of the debris being in the well for a long period of time, but the possibility of a natural anomaly could not be ruled out. The water tests seem to indicate that Brawley Oates’ condition wasn’t caused by the well water.

Examining the debris

In addition, they used old photos to triangulate the position of the now unmarked grave, and found it using GPR (ground penetrating radar). Like the 2005 investigation, investigators were not permitted to exhume the body in the graveyard. However, using GPR, they did determine the grave was in the right part of the cemetery, by both triangulation of the photo locations, the GPR readings, and the ages of the surrounding graves. Another oddity is that it seems a good deal of space surrounds the unmarked grave. The grave lies in line with other surrounding ones, but with a large area of no graves immediately surrounding it. The grave appears to be collapsed, so it was difficult to make out any other details such as a body.

Where they found the grave (see the site that is set apart from the others, circled)
Note how it is in line with other, surrounding graves)

Link to the UFO Hunters episode


So, was this an embellished tale of lightning destroying a windmill, a crashed ET craft, a crashed terrestrial inventor’s failed experiment, or an outright hoax to sell papers? For me, the hoax seems to be somewhat in doubt by the finding of the windmill supports, and other witness statements, etc. However, the jury is still out on what crashed, and who was flying whatever it was. Regardless, it is always an interesting case to examine.

edit on 9-2-2012 by Gazrok because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 09:29 AM
Those wells in the ground are man made there is loads in Russia they was drilled out for missile launches during the cold war

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 09:32 AM
reply to post by SupersonicSerpent

Huh? No claim is being made that the well is anything other than manmade. (and this well was way before any missiles were ever made, hehe...)

The story alleges the debris was stored in the well. During the UFO Hunters interview, Tim Oates stated he does remember there being metallic debris that was in there, and cleared out, but he was a kid at the time, and didn't know what they did with the larger pieces of debris.

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 09:50 AM
reply to post by Gazrok

As a native Texan, I've always loved this case. I've even passed through Aurora (not because of this), and thought about the case while there (but didn't do any poking around).

I'm always reminded of Charles Dellschau when I come across this too. If you've followed the airship flap occurring at the time, you're already familiar with books like The Secrets of Dellschau.

This is opinion, but, with all the airship activity at the time, I suspect this case, as interesting as it is, is a case of someone crashing an airship. Some poor inventor with more daring than he had piloting skills crashed into the windmill and wound up having a bad day of it.

I wonder if anyone has tried doing a missing person search for people reported missing in the days and weeks surrounding this case? It'd certainly be an interesting tid bit if there were any inventor types reported missing. It would be nice to finally put a name to the poor fellow laying in that unmarked grave.
He may have had family.

edit on 9-2-2012 by nineix because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 10:14 AM
Great thread gazrok. SnF!

I've never been particuarly impressed or even interested in this case, however.
edit on 9-2-2012 by thesearchfortruth because: eta

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 10:18 AM
reply to post by nineix

This is opinion, but, with all the airship activity at the time, I suspect this case, as interesting as it is, is a case of someone crashing an airship. Some poor inventor with more daring than he had piloting skills crashed into the windmill and wound up having a bad day of it.

It'd be difficult to check out missing persons cases that far back, I'd think. Interesting idea though.

Personally, I think I lean more towards lightning hitting the windmill, with the debris being from the blades, and an exaggerated story based on that incident, but I haven't seen that angle explored in previous investigations.

In my mind, it would explain the molten metal, and with the yellow journalism practices of the time, I can see how it could easily take on a life of its own. Still though, the documentation, acknowledgement by the town, etc. make it a pretty interesting case, if nothing else. It also goes to show that even an investigation decades later, can yield valuable info on a case.

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 11:33 AM
Very nice, Gazrok!

Have always found this Aurora incident fascinating as well! That poor man's hands give evidence of ''something'' having affected him whether due to something naturally occurring or due to a crashed UFO, I'm unsure. Intriguing case but of course!

Too I found the little alien grave interesting. Saw a report on TV not too long ago, within the past month, I'd say which I had never heard before. Had heard of the body being missing but this stated too that some type of metal material had been in the grave also, and that when investigators went back, they found that this metal had been extracted out of it through 3 punctured holes. This was sometime after the body was gone. Anyway, this was news to me. and this technique of retrieval would be high tech , imo, if true.
Hadn't heard about the small puncture holes before so thought I would share.

Whatever was in that grave, someone retrieved it, after removing the body..again if this is true, someBODY would have this evidence. It is in someone's hands! I wish whoever has this confiscated material would come forth and share it with the world.. alas, but they do not want us to know about these things, without question!

Whether this incident was from a high tech cover up (of our very own) even back then , I wish I could answer. Or could this have been something from out of this world? The verdict is still out on my end.

Oh, and if I'm not mistaken, I read that the town was going broke and they needed PR to somehow build the town back up again, so it could have been hoaxed for all I know.

My honest opinion - I do not think it ALL a hoax....but hey, It wouldn't be the first time I was fooled!

Great work! Gaz..Love the sig! too
edit on 9-2-2012 by SeekerLou because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 11:43 AM
I could pretty much go anywhere people are on earth, and if there is an "amazing" story about the area I bet I could find some "amazing" evidence if I looked.

It is a shame that Aurora was going to be hurt finacially by the modern world bypassing it through the use of mass transit. I'm sure that has something to do with this "amazing" story. Back then newspaper folk in little towns printed stroies all the time, and I don't think this one is any different.

Wonder if any of you have checked the papers from the time in that area to read any other "amazing" stories? Might wanna try that, you think?

Of course, if you want to believe, sure you can make the evidence fit anything you want. But I for one don'
t find any use even bothering with such an old case, with such OBVIOUS time-period overtones to even be fooled by all the idiotic "investigators" that insist it is real.

Gee, it's a shame this kind of stuff doesn't happen now, where it would be impossible to cover up....I wonder why all this stuff is nothing more than hjeresay and legend? Huh, odd that.

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 12:10 PM

Wonder if any of you have checked the papers from the time in that area to read any other "amazing" stories? Might wanna try that, you think?

Actually, I did, and yes, I found fantastic stories, and even mentioned yellow journalism. Did you read the other accounts of airship sightings posted in the opening thread? Some are quite fanciful...

As I said, my own personal feeling is that it was probably a lightning strike, and then the story got blown out of context. However, since it's one of the earliest mentions of a crash, and there is some evidence that corroborates the story, it's certainly worth looking at, in my opinion.

As for the town suffering, there's no real evidence this story helped drive anything to the town, so that's a pretty loose argument. In addition, Aurora wasn't the only town to have such reports, and those reports didn't seem to do anything for the other respective towns either.

Gee, it's a shame this kind of stuff doesn't happen now, where it would be impossible to cover up....I wonder why all this stuff is nothing more than hjeresay and legend? Huh, odd that.

It'd be extremely easy to cover up something like this today. Officials could easily cordon off the area citing anything from a chemical spill to a gas leak with little trouble. Such a mundane reason wouldn't even be a blip on the public radar, and yet still afford them the freedom to do whatever is needed to secure the site, debris, etc.

edit on 9-2-2012 by Gazrok because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 12:17 PM
Interesting thread OP! Its amazing that this sighting has persisted over a hundred years with no photographic evidence whatsoever. I just moved to Houston, and I can see how there are so many eyewitnesses to these strange events, the Texas sky stretches on forever and it crystal blue. Any sort of abnormality would be obvious to me, as I'm sure if must have been to Texans back then.

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 12:22 PM
reply to post by MainLineThis

I hear what you are saying and agree to a point....however, there has been many a cover-up!

Look at what all the govt has done , has been doing and will continue being done tomorrow! -
But some things eventually come out into the light, folk have to oftimes fight for the truth in matters!
but I hear ya!

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 12:49 PM
Fantastically well-informed thread! I remember reading about this particular UFO incident and was very interested in the ending...if you could call it that. I remember watching a TV documentary where MUFON investigators investigated this story and found the grave of the pilot but wasn't it cut off from people or down a well? This is certainly one of the most interesting UFO cases I have heard about.

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 01:00 PM
Interesting thread about a famous case, I believe there were rumours of a local posse at the time opening up on UFOs during this period (mentioned by Jim Marrs if I remember correctly).

Also, there was rumours of government agents being spotted in the graveyard over a period of decades

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 03:41 PM
reply to post by Zcustosmorum

Certainly possible. Jim Marrs has been in both of the television specials done on it. Feel free to check the show links in the original post.

On the body issue, the rumors have often differed as to whether the body was buried or put in the well. Most point to buried, and the debris in the well.

The big difference between the MUFON investigation, and the fairly recent UFO Hunters one, is that they were able to actually investigate the well, and used GPR on the gravesite.

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 04:15 PM
reply to post by Gazrok

Some of this just doesn't seem right to me. The first description sounds pretty much like a zeppelin to me which, I understand was invented around 1900 in Germany. Maybe the US were working on their own prototype?
Also the two new eyewitnesses identified by MUFON in 2005 were 10 and 15 at the time of the event (1897) which would make them both 118 and 123 years old. Even if this were true, how accurate would their accounts of something that happened 108 years previous be?
The newspaper clipping in the first post seems odd too. Like an apparent 'Martian' carrying papers. Or being given a funeral the next day.
Just little things like these all add up to me and whatever happened, over time stories get exaggerated, details get lost and maybe we'll never know the whole truth.
But having said all that, it's still fun to fill in the blanks yourself sometimes. It's why I joined ATS.

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 04:20 PM
Another thead allowed on this topic the day after it was also here on the Fire Hose page?
Yesterday's response were unsettling to some?

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 04:39 PM
reply to post by Aliensun

Do you have a link? The only other one I saw on the topic recently was a much older post, that had a post added today to it (thus showing on the same page today).

Good catch by an above poster on the ages, I'll have to look at that closely, thanks!

posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 04:43 PM
Great thread!

Saving it to read later tonight.

Thank you for sharing the videos too OP, haven't seen them before, so I can't wait to check 'em out as well.


posted on Feb, 9 2012 @ 05:28 PM
Never heard this one before

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