Something in the Air (Part 2): “Nearer, Dios Mio, to Thee”

In April of 1897 the little Wise County town of Aurora (see Part 1) wasn’t the only town in Texas seeing wondrous airships in the sky.

On April 14, three days before the Aurora sighting, an airship, described as cigarlike with wings and a searchlight, was reported seen in Weatherford, Corsicana, and Cresson. This clip is from the April 16 Dallas Morning News.

This drawing is from that April 16 Morning News.

The April 19 edition of the Morning News contained reports of airship sightings in a dozen towns in Texas and Oklahoma. In this report, up in Farmersville, City Marshal Brown said he saw an airship that seemed to have on board “something resembling a large Newfoundland dog.” The marshal said he thought he heard the occupants of the airship speaking Spanish. Furthermore, he theorized that Spain had dispatched several such airships to spy on America. (Tension between the United States and Spain was indeed in the news at the time. In fact, twelve months later the United States and Spain would be at war.)

Also seeing an airship in Farmersville was a Mr. Hildreth, who said the three occupants of the airship were singing “Nearer, My God, to Thee” and handing out temperance tracts.

In this April 19 Morning News report, an airship was seen in Waxahachie on April 17. The reports says a woman seemed to be powering the craft with a device resembling a sewing machine. The witness said he reckoned Beelzebub was involved.

Also on April 19 the Morning News reported that an airship was seen on April 17 in Stephenville. This story lists witnesses, including prominent residents. Among the reported witnesses was Sam Houston’s nephew Otho S. Houston, who would move to  Fort Worth and organize eighteen banks, including Fort Worth’s Hunter-Phelan Savings and Trust and Texas State Bank.

From the preceding Stephenville report, this is C. L. McIlhany’s description of the airship and his dire prediction.

So, while airships were being seen all over the state, what about the sky over Fort Worth?

Something in the Air (Part 3): Cowtown Gets Its Boarding Pass

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