“The Texas UFO” by Neal Murphy

January 21, 2020 - Unidentified Flying Objects have been around for a long time now, the most notorious of these being the Roswell, New Mexico event. On July 7, 1947, a UFO crashed northwest of Roswell on a cattle ranch, scattering debris over a wide area. Several bodies of extraterrestrial beings were reportedly recovered and autopsied. The event was explained by the military as a weather balloon crash, there were no beings, and thus began the most notable cover up in American history.

The New Mexico event, however, was not the first of its kind. Some fifty years earlier a UFO crashed in Aurora, Texas but never received much notoriety. Around 6am on April 17, 1897, a cigar shaped UFO crashed near the small town of Aurora, Texas. The UFO had been seen flying over Missouri and Arkansas earlier before it crashed.  We must remember that this event happened some five years before the Wright brother’s successful airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

There were a number of eye witnesses of this UFO crash. In fact, one of them, S. E. Haydon, wrote an article for the Dallas Morning News on April 19, 1897. Mr. Haydon reported: “About six o’clock this morning the early risers of Aurora were astonished at the sudden appearance of the airship which has been sailing through the country.

It was traveling due north, and nearer the earth than ever before. Evidently some of the machinery was out of order, for it was traveling at a speed of only ten or twelve miles an hour, and steadily settling toward the earth. 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.

Mr. T. J. Weems, the United States’ signal service officer at this place, and an authority on astronomy, gives it as his opinion that he was a native of the planet Mars. Papers found on his person – evidently the record of his travels – are written in some unknown hieroglyphics, and can not be deciphered.

The ship was too badly damaged 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 must have weighed several tons.

The town is full of people today who are viewing the wreck, and gathering samples of the strange metal from the debris. The pilot’s funeral will take place at noon tomorrow.”

Records indicate that the “pilot” was indeed buried in the Aurora cemetery “with Christian rites.” Today the cemetery contains a Texas Historical Commission marker mentioning the incident.

Reportedly, wreckage from the crash site was dumped into the well located under the damaged windmill, while some ended up with the alien in the grave. A large stone was placed at the head of the grave to mark the spot.

Adding to the mystery was the story of Mr. Brawley Oates, who purchased Judge Proctor’s property around 1945. Oates cleaned out the well in order to use it as a water source, but later developed an extremely severe case of arthritis, which he claimed to be the result of contaminated water from the wreckage dumped into the well. As a result, Oates sealed up the well with a concrete slab and placed an outbuilding atop the slab in 1957. The event was eventually forgotten for many years. In fact there was developed a Hoax theory.

The Hoax Theory is primarily based on historical research performed by Barbara Brammer, a former mayor of Aurora, located thirty miles northwest of Ft. Worth, Texas. In the months prior to the alleged crash, Aurora had been beset by a series of tragic incidents. First, the local cotton crop was destroyed by a boll weevil infestation. Second, a fire on the town’s west side claimed several buildings and lives. Third, a spotted fever epidemic hit the town, nearly wiping out the remaining citizens and placing the town under quarantine. Finally, a planned railroad got within 27 miles of Aurora, but never made it into the town.

The theory was that Mr. Haydon was known in the town to be a bit of a jokester, and her conclusion is that Haydon’s article was a last-ditch attempt to keep Aurora alive.  

It was not until 1998 that the event was resurrected by Dallas TV station KDFW who aired a lengthy report about the Aurora incident. The investigation revealed that something had crashed in 1897, but could find no evidence of extraterrestrial life or technology. 

In 2005 UFO Files aired an episode related to this incident titled “Texas’ Roswell.” They uncovered two new eyewitnesses to the crash. Mary Evans, who was 15 at the time, told of how her parents went to the crash site and the discovery of the alien body. They refused to allow her to go with them. Charlie Stephens, who was 10, told how he saw the airship trailing smoke as it headed north toward Aurora. He wanted to go see what had happened, but his father made him finish his chores. He later went to the site and saw the wreckage from the crash.

In 2008 UFO Hunters aired another documentary regarding the Aurora incident, titled “First Contact.” This film featured one notable change from the UFO Files story. Tim Oates, nephew of Brawley Oates and the now-owner of the property with the sealed well where the UFO wreckage was purportedly buried, allowed the investigators to unseal the well in order to examine it for possible debris. 

Water was taken from the well and tested normal except for large amounts of aluminum present. The well had no significant contents, as any large pieces of metal had been removed from the well by a past owner of the property. Further, the remains of a windmill base were found near the well site as earlier reported by witnesses. In addition, the Aurora Cemetery was again examined. Although the cemetery association refused exhumation of the body, an unmarked grave was found in the area near other 1890’s graves. However, the condition of the grave was badly deteriorated, and radar could not conclusively prove what type of remains existed.

Although the Aurora UFO event was never commercialized as was the Roswell event, there still remain questions as to exactly what happened over 116 years ago in the tiny town. Today, in the town of 1,044 people, about half believe that a real UFO crashed and an alien was buried there, and half believe the event was one huge hoax. What do you believe?