Recently, I’d been hearing talk around the water cooler (not really) that UFO sightings really didn’t start occurring until the 1940′s and 1950′s. Of course, we all know that the flying saucer craze did kick into high gear during those decades, but few realize that the UFO history of the United States goes back much further.
In 1639, Boston Founder and Governor John Winthrop made a peculiar entry in his journal. Within, he describes how several “sober” and “discreet” men spotted an unusual object in the sky that shone as a great light. The object was large and moved across the night sky that suddenly took on the shape of a pig. The event lasted a few hours, and by the time it ended, the crew on board the ship who’d been witnessing the bizarre phenomena found that they’d been pushed back from their original destination quite a bit. It seems others outside the sailors spotted the same object from the shore:
“In this year, one James Everell, a sober, discreet man, and two others, saw a great light in the night at Muddy River. When it stood still, it flamed up, and was about three yards square; when it ran, it was contracted into the figure of a swine: it ran as swift as an arrow towards Charlton [Charlestown], and so up and down [for] about two or three hours. They were come down in their lighter about a mile, and, when it was over, they found themselves carried quite back against the tide to the place they came from. Diverse and other credible persons saw the same light, after, about the same place.”
Boston also holds the title for first USO (Unidentified Submerged/Submarine Object) sighting in the U.S.
In 1644, a tragedy befell the crew of Captain John Chaddock’s ship. The vessel exploded for unknown reasons, and all five aboard lost their lives. Shortly thereafter, people of the town started seeing strange lights in the air and other unexplainable phenomena, which caused many to presume that a curse of some sort had been placed on the ship, or even worse, that maybe a distraught family member of one of the fallen had attempted to conjure the spirit of their loved one. Then, reports began to come in of unexplainable objects rising out of the water.
In his journal, Governor Winthrop detailed the “unholy” affair, and is detailed as follows from CelebrateBoston.com:
“Exactly 16 days after the blowing up of Capt. Chaddock’s ill-fated ship and crew, and just at ‘the witching hour of midnight,’ as Shakespeare calls it, ‘when churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes forth contagion in the air,’ three men in a boat, coming toward Boston—a strange hour for reputable puritans to be out—saw two bright lights rise out of the water, at the place where the vessel had been blown up, just off the North Ferry slip. They made the still more inexplicable [observation] that the two lights assumed the form of a man, and sailed leisurely off over the water to the south, keeping but a short distance from the shore, till it reached Rowe’s Wharf, where it vanished as suddenly as it had appeared just 15 minutes before.”
The story was told and retold about the town, for the next few days, till the whole population had reached a mental condition that made them capable of seeing the ghosts of Chaddock’s buccaneers, if given any kind of chance. A week after the event just described, the old records say, ‘the twin lights were seen again by many,’ but this time they arose off Castle Island, and after traveling through the air just 12 minutes, vanished at the spot where the remains of the ship were resting. The restless spirits of the deep continued to make things satisfactorily terrifying for those who were ‘out late ‘o night’ along the waterfront.
On one occasion, the story was, that at 8 o’clock, a light resembling the moon rose from the water at the wreck, sailed through the air till it was over the highest point of ‘Nottle’s Island,’ now East Boston—but then uninhabited, and an ideal place for ghostly gambols—and there it was met by its twin light, the two suddenly merging into one, then parting, and thus continuing uniting and separating, as if in playful mood, many times, all the while ‘shooting out sometimes flames and sometimes sparkles.’ Finally, uniting permanently, the big illuminated disc floated off behind the hill on ‘Nottle’s Island,’ disappearing from sight of the wondering eyes of Bostonians.
So what do we have here? Clearly something was being witnessed by the various residents, While we can certainly call these UFO and USO reports by definition, there does appear to be a spiritual side to what was observed.