The 1897 Aurora, Texas, UFO Crash

The crash of a UFO on April 17, 1897, on a farm on the outskirts of Aurora, Texas, resulted, according to locals, in a fatality the alleged alien body buried in an unmarked grave.

Around the time indicated, numerous sightings of a mysterious cigar-shaped airship had been reported across the United States. One of the accounts dated  April 19, 1897, appeared in the Dallas Morning News. Written by S. E. Haydon, an Aurora resident, it claimed that a UFO had crashed into a windmill on the property of a local judge J.S. Proctor. [1] The pilot said to be “not of this world” and a "Martian" was killed, the body interred in the nearby cemetery. The wreckage was reported to have been tossed into a well beside the windmill, though some pieces ended up with the alien in his grave.
In 1935 the property was purchased by a Mr. Brawley Oates who cleaned out the well to use as a water source. Later on he and others developed arthritis, cysts and goiters contracted, he maintained, from water that had been contaminated by the wreckage. In order to limit exposure the well was sealed with a concrete slab, an outbuilding constructed atop the location. (When questioned in 2008 during a UFO Hunters investigation, a nephew, Tim Oates, agreed the well had been sealed but for a different reason: corroded pipes had rendered it unusable.)

A number of investigations have sought the truth:

The hoax theory is based on research by former mayor, Barbara Brammer. Apparently in the months before the alleged UFO crash Aurora had been beset by a series of devastating reversals: a boll weevil infestation, a fire that claimed several houses and lives, a spotted fever epidemic and a railroad that bypassed the town.

Aurora was in danger of dying and Brammer concluded that Haydon, known as a jokester, embellished the incident the notoriety a last-ditch attempt to keep the town alive.

In 1998, KDFW a Dallas-based TV station aired a report. The information gathered revealed that though something had crashed in Aurora there was no definitive proof of either extraterrestrials or advanced technology. An historical plaque erected by the State of Texas outlines the tale and labels it “legend.”

On December 2, 2005, a television series called UFO Files aired an episode related to the event titled “Texas' Roswell.” The episode featured a 1973 investigation by aviation expert Bill Case and Earl Watts of MUFON, Hayden Hewes and Tommy Blann of the International UFO Bureau and Fred Kelley a professional treasure hunter.

The investigators uncovered two elderly witnesses, Mary Evans and Charlie Stephens who as children remembered their parents visiting the crash though they themselves were forbidden.

An investigation of the Aurora Cemetery at first seemed promising, a grave marker appearing to show a flying saucer, with something in the grave registering on a metal detector. A request for exhumation was refused, however, followed by the marker disappearing, and the detector no longer reporting metal. The researchers unimpressed deemed the evidence to be inconclusive, a hoax a definite possibility.

On November 19, 2008, a spin-off series called UFO Hunters, aired a second documentary titled “First' Contact” complete with notable updates:

Tim the new owner of the crash site, and nephew of Brawley, was more amenable in his dealings with investigators and allowed the well to be unsealed and examined. Except for copious amounts of aluminum the water tested normal.

Adding to the findings remnants of a windmill base, found nearby, called into question a reporter's assertion (in Time magazine) that judge Proctor had never owned a windmill.

In addition, although exhumation at the cemetery remained forbidden, ground penetrating radar and photos from prior visits revealed an unmarked grave in an area dedicated to the 1890s. Deterioration, however, was so extensive that radar was unable to verify the contents.

[1] Haydon and Procter were friends known for their whimsy, both men often submitting satirical stories to the local papers. Proctor even wrote his own version of the tale and published it in his own newspaper (the Aurora News). Apparently the town constable "roared with laughter" after reading it, his opinion “The judge has really outdone himself this time.”

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