|Death: ||Apr. 19, 1897|
Update, July 25, 2013: A photo volunteer reports that someone has removed the Little Traveler's new headstone.
In 1896 and 1897, reports of mysterious airships using powerful searchlights were being reported all over the United States, from California to Illinois. Hundreds of people reported seeing one of these airships in several counties in Texas. On Monday morning a little after 6 a.m., April 19, 1897, the airship crashed in Aurora on Judge James Spencer Proctor's place, destroying the windmill over his well along with the judge's flower garden. There was a big explosion, and debris was scattered over several acres. The airship pilot was nursed in a local barn but died that day.
According to the Fort Worth paper the alien occupant of the aircraft was given a Christian burial in the Aurora cemetery. He was put to rest at noon the day after the crash. The Dallas Morning News on April 19, 1897 had an article about the crash and several other stories about sightings of the airship all over northern Texas. Between April 15 and April 19 of 1897, the Dallas Morning News contained accounts of sightings from 21 different towns. The occupant of the airship was reported as being humanoid and small in size and the Dallas Morning News said he "was not an inhabitant of this world." There is mention in some accounts of strange hieroglyphs among the wreckage. Jim Marrs is one of the few people who has researched this case in depth, and according to his book, Alien Agendas, Bonnie Etoy Oates and Brawley Hoyle Oates bought Judge Proctor's property. Mrs. Oates said that nothing grew for years in the spot where the airship crashed. The Oates family, notably Brawley Oates, also suffered from health problems such as cysts and goiters supposedly caused by the drinking water from their well.
Video on the crash with Bonnie Oates
In the 1920's people wanted to dig up the body but were stopped by locals with shotguns. A strange little headstone was the only marker for the little airship pilot but it disappeared in 1973. Bill Case used a metal detector at the grave site. He detected three metal areas that might have been wreckage pieces or personal possessions. The weekend after the gravestone disappeared in 1973, someone removed the metal pieces in the grave using 3 inch pipe and a special tool for that purpose. After the grave was disturbed in 1973, cemetery officials hired a lawyer to fight UFO researchers who wanted the alien body exhumed. The cemetery board was worried about spotted fever starting up again; the town had been devastated from an epidemic in 1888. Officials are worried about digging up the wrong grave, they are not as well marked as they are now. Bottom line, folks in Aurora are very protective of their cemetery and are not willing to have any graves disturbed.
Some debunkers claimed there was never a windmill at the Proctor place; but in 2008, the television show UFO Hunters found the windmill struts in the ground when they did their investigation. They also discovered that metal was still embedded in an old tree which was damaged by the crash. Researcher Marrs, who lives only a few miles away from Aurora, talked to three old timers who were still alive in the 1970's who remembered the crash. One eyewitness he interviewed actually saw the airship in the air flying over the town and another one witnessed people removing the wreckage the next day. The third old timer said her dad told her the crash was a hoax, but she did not have any first hand knowledge. One of her best friends was head of the local historical society, and she claimed as well that the crash was a hoax.
When Chief of Staff General Marshall wanted UFO incidents investigated after the "Battle of Las Angeles" in 1942, he asked for a report of all incidents since 1897. Interestingly enough, the United States Air Force's top secret hypersonic plane is named the Aurora. The government may have already dug up the body and removed it. Its been reported that right after the crash, military personnel visited Aurora. But if you are still there little guy, rest in peace. Your DNA is safe in Texas.
From the city of Aurora, Texas official webpage:
"The city is most famous for the legend of the airship crash of April of 1897. This alien sighting pre-dates the Roswell Incident by fifty years. Local citizens are rumored to have buried the alien in our local cemetery. A Texas historical marker notes the event."
Aurora Cemetery Marker Text:
The oldest known graves, here, dating from as early as the 1860s, are those of the Randall and Rowlett families. Finis Dudley Beauchamp (1825-1893), a Confederate veteran from Mississippi, donated the 3-acre site to the newly- formed Aurora Lodge No. 479, A.F. & A.M., in 1877. For many years, this community burial ground was known as Masonic Cemetery. Beauchamp, his wife Caroline (1829-1915), and others in their family. An epidemic which struck the village in 1891 added hundreds of graves to the plot. Called "Spotted Fever" by the settlers, the disease is now thought to be a form of meningitis. Located in Aurora Cemetery is the gravestone of the infant Nellie Burris (1891-1893) with its often-quoted epitaph: "As I was so soon done, I don't know why I was begun." This site is also well-known because of the legend that a airship crashed nearby in 1897 and the pilot, killed in the crash, was buried here. Struck by epidemic and crop failure and bypassed by the railroad, the original town of Aurora almost disappeared, but the cemetery remains in use with over 800 graves. Veterans of the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts are interred here.
News article from the time of the crash: S. E. Haydon, reporter for the Dallas Morning News reported on Monday, April 19, 1897:
"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.
Mr. T.J. Weems, the U.S. Army Signal Service officer at this place and an authority on astronomy gives it as his opinion that the pilot was a native of the planet Mars. Papers found on his person -- evidently the records of his travels -- are written in some unknown hieroglyphics and cannot be deciphered. This ship was too badly wrecked to form any conclusion as to its construction or motive power. It was built of an unknown metal, resembling somewhat a mixture of aluminum and silver, and it must have weighed several tons. The town is today full of people who are viewing the wreckage and gathering specimens of strange metal from the debris. The pilot's funeral will take place tomorrow."
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."
For some video about this incident, check out this History Channel report and this March 14, 2009 Jim Marrs' lecture.
Another unusual grave in the Aurora cemetery is Loreta, the world's talking bird (1958-1963).
Our little alien gets a new headstone.
Thanks to Paul Pasholk for sponsoring this memorial!
Created by: graver
Record added: May 08, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 52130170