Hidden Histories

A UFO in 19th-Century Lancaster County, Pennsylvania?

Monday, 6/29/09

The subject of UFO's are of course nothing new, but continue to create controversy, debate and investigation, within the scientific community and public-at-large, as to their existence or fallacy. Yet most studies of 'Unidentified Flying Objects' are predominately concerned with sightings from the modern-era, particularly that of the 20th and now 21st centuries.

The same is true of Pennsylvania. Temple University's tenured Professor David M. Jacobs, in such works as The Threat: The Secret Agenda: What the Aliens Really Want..And How They Plan to Get It, has investigated the 'abductee phenomena,' while the mysterious falling object that swept over the southwestern sky of Pennsylvania in 1965, purportedly crashing in the woods near Kecksburg, Pennsylvania, south of Pittsburgh, also continues to elicit much discussion.

However, various newspapers within Pennsylvania, reported how on Saturday, August 14th, 1869, the following mysterious sighting or encounter, transpired in broad daylight near Adamstown, located in East Cocalico Township, Lancaster County:

"About two hundred yards north of the village is an open lot, and at 12 0'clock, while the villagers were taking dinner, a luminous body was seen to settle near the centre {sic} of this lot. It is represented by four or five different parties, who witnessed it from several points, to have assumed a square shape and shooting up into a column about three or four feet in height and about two feet in thickness.

The sun was shining brightly at the time, and under its rays, the object glittered like a column of burnished silver. The presence, after reaching its full effulgence, gradually faded away, and in ten minutes time it had entirely disappeared.

Those who saw it were unable to tell what it was. It seemed to inspire terror rather than admiration. After it had disappeared a number of persons visited the spot, but not a trace of anything unusual could be found. Similar objects have been seen in the neighborhood on several occasions during the night time, but none before in the day time, or so bright as this.

The land in the immediate vicinity is dry, there being no swamp about, otherwise the phenomenon might be accounted for. We do not know whether the Jack o' Lantern assumes such large proportions or whether it appears in midday under a bright sun. Perhaps some of our friends versed in the sciences can solve the mystery." -Lancaster Express.

It is interesting in this description, that even during the 19th century, as today, individuals were not 'gullible,' as many would believe, but sought first for a 'scientific' explanation, and were quite familiar with swamp gases to that of the 'will-of-the-wisp' or Jack o' Lanterns,' a wide-spread phenomenon of mysterious 'balls of light' seen throughout the world today.

Albert Einstein once remarked, how, 'Imagination is the true source of all science.' Thus, it is always best to keep an 'open-mind,' when it comes to the unknown, since far too often, what was once considered 'science-fiction,' has repeatedly become 'scientific fact.'

The above account is only ONE of MANY diverse records, available within the collections of The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, topics which are as pertinent today as they were in the past.

History often does indeed 'repeat itself,' not only as to the existence of unexplained phenomena, but in mankind's continual search to understand and solve such mysteries. 'Curiosity' may often 'kill the cat,' but such sacrifices into the unknown has resultingly given us most of our modern inventions and conveniences.

*Bold & italicized words in the above newspaper article are not emphasized as such in the original, but have been highlighted by this blog's author.

Original sources:

'Singular Phenomenon.'--The Oxford Press (Oxford, Chester Co. PA, August 18, 1869, p.3, col.2; The Lebanon (PA) Courier, August 19, 1869, p.2, col.4.

Comments

Facinating account - please post more of the same ...

Facinating account - please post more of the same as you find them! I'd like to refer those of us who were as captivated by the above blog entry as I was, to my paper on 19th century UFO sightings, that was publsihed in Darklore, Volume 2, in 2008.

You can find a summary here: http://www.dailygrail.com/news/19th-century-ufo-reports

Sincere regards,

Theo Paijmans

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