The Writing Traveler: What came from the skies above Aurora?

A tombstone with the carving of a cigar-shaped spaceship was placed in the Aurora cemetery where, rumors say, the pilot of the UFO was given a Christian burial.

At three minutes past dawn on that fateful morning, a silver cigar-shaped vessel appeared above the southern horizon.

We watch the skies above Aurora.

What happened there?

What came from beyond the clouds?

And what secrets lie in the earth of Aurora.

The town had been built back in the 1870s on a promise. Some day the railroad would be headed its way. So fifteen businesses and a few more than 450 good, honest, hard-working farmers and merchants settled down around the trading post. The Dallas, Pacific & Southwest Railroad even charted and graded a right-of-way through the little town.

But, alas, twenty people suddenly died from a strange disease that would later be diagnosed as spotted fever, and the railroad, just as suddenly, abandoned its plans to link Aurora with the rest of Texas. The town squared its shoulders and grew in spite of being shunned.

In 1897, the quiet streets of Aurora were echoing the gossip and rumors about those “strange and mysterious airships” that had been seen in the skies above Forney, Tioga, Mansfield, and Waxahachie. Some said with quivering lips that the silver ships were at least two hundred feet long.

Some couldn’t forget the powerful headlights that beamed down from their snub noses. Others reported that two gasoline engines turned the propellers that kept each craft aloft.

Caleb Pirtle

A few even swore that the vessels were piloted by creatures who wore blue sailor suits. And one claimed that three beings climbed down from a ship, sang Nearer My God to Thee, and passed out temperance tracts. Repeated once, passed on twice, and printed in a God-fearing newspaper that heralded any gossip as gospel.

Aurora was undaunted. The town’s three hundred good, honest, hard-working farmers and merchants didn’t pay any attention at all to such wild tales, regarding them only as the frenzied results of alcoholic tongues or maybe religious hysteria.

They went to bed on the night of April 16, and at three minutes past dawn the next morning, a silver cigar-shaped vessel appeared above the southern horizon. It didn’t stay long, lasting only until it hovered at last beside those rusty, complaining blades of Judge Proctor’s windmill.

We read a yellowed clipping of a news story written by S. E. Hayden, an Aurora cotton buyer, seventy years ago for a Dallas newspaper:

About 6 o’clock this morning, the early risers of Aurora were astonished at the sudden appearance of the airship which has been sailing throughout the country. It sailed directly over the public square and when it reached the north part of town collided with the tower of Judge Proctor’s windmill and went to 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 on board, and while his remains are badly disfigured, enough of the original has been picked up to show that he was not an inhabitant of this world. T. J. Weems, the U.S. Signal Service Officer at this place and an authority on astronomy gave it as his opinion that he (the pilot) was a native of Mars.

Papers found on his person – evidently the records of his travels – are written in some unknown hieroglyphics, and cannot be deciphered. The ship was too badly wrecked to form conclusions as to the construction or motive power … The pilot’s funeral will take place tomorrow.

For the next several years, there was gossip that the fragmented metal had been suddenly and unceremoniously confiscated by the military and never returned.

Maybe.

Probably.

Probably not.

It sounded reasonable anyway.

Maybe those left with empty hands should have asked the military to sign a document or something. Then again, those wearing starched uniforms and possessing starched faces did not look as though they would have been willing to sign anything. They just took the scattered pieces from the wreckage and left.

No hello.

No goodbye.

No good riddance.

Nothing at all.

the rumor persisted that the remains of the man from outer space had been given a Christian burial in the community cemetery. And there at the foot of an unknown grave was a hand-hewn marker with no name.

Instead, it had been carved with the outline of a cigar-shaped object, maybe even a flying machine.

Who knows?

Who will ever know?

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