“DO WE ALL HAVE A PERSONAL DEMON?” and More True Horrors! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: You might have heard someone say during a severe storm, “it’s raining cats and dogs out there!” Of course, it wasn’t really raining felines and Fidos. But there have been instances of it raining frogs and fish. But did you hear about the time when for two-weeks straight it rained rocks and stones? (Raining Rocks, Storming Stones) *** In the film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” the ending… sorry, spoiler here, but it has been since 1977 so you have had plenty of time to see it… at the end of the film, the aliens drop off dozens of humans that they’ve abducted over the years, and then welcome a volunteer human to leave with them – like an extraterrestrial foreign exchange student program. It’s a fascinating concept, an extremely well-written premise for the film… but could that actually happen? Better question… has it already happened? (The Zeta Reticuli and Project Serpo) *** It could be argued that while William H. Bonney, better known as Billy the Kid, was a real person in history – that his story is more legend than fact. But then, being a notorious outlaw, pretending to die, and convincing everyone you are dead – then living out the rest of your life until you were an old man… that does probably deserve the label of “legend’. Is that story the fact… or is it fiction? (The Billy The Kid Conspiracy) *** Stories of giant, winged predators in the sky streaking down and attacking children and even full-grown men have been around since… well… ever. Some don’t believe it possible, but if you do a Google search for “man-eating bird” you’ll quickly find out they were not only real – but alive not that long ago. Or, perhaps… still soaring the skies, looking for their next meal… especially in and around New England. (Man-Eating Thunderbirds of New England) *** We’ve all heard of guardian angels – the idea that each one of us has a personal, supernatural protector following us at all times, battling for our souls to keep us from spiritual harm, if not physical. But if that’s true – could we also each have a personal demon as well? A being also battling for our souls to send us to hell? One famous witch hunter believed exactly that. (Do We All Have a Personal Demon?)
SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
“Do We All Have a Personal Demon?” by Melissa Brinks for Graveyard Shift: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/5jt3bmde
“Raining Rocks, Storming Stones” originally published in the Atlanta Journal, reposted at The Fortean:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/4dc8m864
“The Billy The Kid Conspiracy” by Marcus Lowth for UFO Insight: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/bdddrvn5
“The Zeta Reticuli and Project Serpo” posted at Gaia: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/mr3r6xtm
“Man-Eating Thunderbirds of New England” by Kevin J. Guhl for ThunderbirdPhoto.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/38vdk35d
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Sixteenth century Europe was a violent era in history when mass hysteria and religious teachings led people to see witches and demons in everything they did. The fear of hellfire caused self-proclaimed witch hunters to rise up, and among them was the infamous Peter Binsfeld, a man who loved torture and hated Protestants, among many other things. Binsfeld was a respected man in his time, and his teachings on demonology and witches are still read to this day. Perhaps his most well known work is his classifications of the Seven Princes of Hell – seven demon lords who each punished sinners for particular crimes committed during their lifetime. No one knows what Hell is like, assuming you believe it exists, but according to the dogma there is no way to escape from Hell, and the Seven Princes of Hell, as described by Binsfeld, were meant to make people atone for their crimes in life. The demons may be interesting, but they’re certainly not beings anyone wants to befriend. Try to avoid it, but if you can’t stop sinning you’re about to find out who you’ll meet in the afterlife.
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
Welcome, Weirdos – this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode…
You might have heard someone say during a severe storm, “it’s raining cats and dogs out there!” Of course, it wasn’t really raining felines and Fidos. But there have been instances of it raining frogs and fish. But did you hear about the time when for two-weeks straight it rained rocks and stones? (Raining Rocks, Storming Stones)
In the film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” the ending… sorry, spoiler here, but it has been since 1977 so you have had plenty of time to see it… at the end of the film, the aliens drop off dozens of humans that they’ve abducted over the years, and then welcome a volunteer human to leave with them – like an extraterrestrial foreign exchange student program. It’s a fascinating concept, an extremely well-written premise for the film… but could that actually happen? Better question… has it already happened? (The Zeta Reticuli and Project Serpo)
It could be argued that while William H. Bonney, better known as Billy the Kid, was a real person in history – that his story is more legend than fact. But then, being a notorious outlaw, pretending to die, and convincing everyone you are dead – then living out the rest of your life until you were an old man… that does probably deserve the label of “legend’. Is that story the fact… or is it fiction? (The Billy The Kid Conspiracy)
Stories of giant, winged predators in the sky streaking down and attacking children and even full-grown men have been around since… well… ever. Some don’t believe it possible, but if you do a Google search for “man-eating bird” you’ll quickly find out they were not only real – but alive not that long ago. Or, perhaps… still soaring the skies, looking for their next meal… especially in and around New England. (Man-Eating Thunderbirds of New England)
We’ve all heard of guardian angels – the idea that each one of us has a personal, supernatural protector following us at all times, battling for our souls to keep us from spiritual harm, if not physical. But if that’s true – could we also each have a personal demon as well? A being also battling for our souls to send us to hell? One famous witch hunter believed exactly that. (Do We All Have a Personal Demon?)
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, to visit sponsors you hear about during the show, sign up for my newsletter, enter contests, to connect with me on social media, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: DO WE ALL HAVE A PERSONAL DEMON?=====
Peter Binsfeld was an important figure of his time. He was considered gifted in his community, and was sent to Rome to complete his education. By the time he returned to Germany he had become a staunch Catholic with extremely anti-Protestant views, and he had also become a witch hunter. When not torturing and investigating suspected witches – which took up a not-insignificant portion of his time – Binsfeld was responsible for crafting multiple important texts of the witch-hunting era. He composed De confessionibus maleficorum et sagarum, translated as On the Confessions of Warlocks and Witches, which detailed his thoughts on the use of torture to obtain confessions of witchcraft, as well as his classification of demons, a reinterpretation of demonic hierarchies in Hell shaped by the seven deadly sins.
Despite Binsfeld’s merciless attitudes toward the use of torture to discover witches – he was firmly pro-torture – he was actually something of a moderate. Though he, like some others of his time, did believe that the Devil could create illusions and other forms of deception to get people to do his bidding, he also thought that people had to consent to those visions, making them guilty. Binsfeld’s moderate stance was that girls under 12 and boys under 14 shouldn’t be held guilty for practicing witchcraft in most cases, only in some; others of his time were content to burn toddlers at the stake for presumed witchcraft. He was also rare in his time for believing that people were not capable of using witchcraft to shapeshift, and that anybody who saw such a thing occur was more likely to be experiencing the Devil’s deception. Likewise, he didn’t believe in witch’s marks – that is, birthmarks, scars, or other disfigurements that were said to mark a person as a witch.
Among his beliefs about witch children and witch marks, Binsfeld also had the unusual belief that each person had a personal demon. Unlike the more general demons of Hell, a person’s personal demon knew them and their habits intimately, making them a more efficient means of seducing people into their evil ways. A personal demon existed in opposition to each person’s Guardian Angel, who could lead a person to righteousness. His beliefs about the push and pull of good and evil left potential witches with free will, as opposed to some other theologies, which contended that people were born good or evil with their lives preordained. Still, Binsfeld’s belief in free will was another tool to persecute people, particularly women, whom he said were more prone to witchcraft due to their natural despair and desire for revenge.
Theologists of Binsfeld’s period were quite interested in creating hierarchies for the many inhabitants of Hell. While the Devil reigned supreme, there were multiple means of classifying his underlings. Prior to King James’s 1591 book Daemonlogie, the Lanterne of Light and Alphonso de Spina’s classification were two of the most prominent. The former is quite similar to Binsfeld’s classification, assigning different demons to different sins, but differed slightly on which sin belonged to which demon. Spina’s classification instead created a hierarchy of different types of demons, including elements of Germanic folklore. King James’s version took hold just two years after Binsfeld’s classification was proposed, but people still find his interpretations intriguing today.
Lucifer is a name many will recognize. Though the name and its meaning of “morning star” or “light bringer” have a variety of applications in various mythologies, Binsfeld used it to refer to the angel who fell from heaven after his attempt to create a new structure of power. Thus, Lucifer, by Binsfeld’s classification, represents the sin of pride. He is often considered to be the leader of demons in Hell, and is therefore particularly evil and dangerous. Because of his high status and importance, Lucifer is sometimes conflated with Satan; in some stories they are the same, but in others they are separate from one another. Because it’s difficult to track down Binsfeld’s original work, which was not in English, it’s hard to say how he felt about the connection between the two.
Beelzebub is known by a multitude of names, including “Lord of the Flies” and “Baal.” The New Testament mentions him as chief of the demons, and Binsfeld associated him with gluttony. Biblically, he’s normally associated with diseases – hence the flies – which makes him an odd choice for gluttony. However, Beelzebub has a long and storied history in biblical lore and apocrypha, where he is often characterized as being just below Satan in rank. Some stories actually rank him as above Satan, but Binsfeld didn’t seem particularly interested in hierarchies, just in which sin the demon presided over. His reasoning behind connecting Beelzebub and gluttony are unclear, though it’s possible that he’s drawing a comparison between flies and the consumption of the dead.
Satan, distinct from Lucifer in Binsfeld’s interpretation of Hell’s hierarchy, is said to reign over the souls of the wrathful. Because Satan is often conflated with Lucifer, there’s some overlap in their histories – Satan is also said to be an angel fallen from Heaven for rebelling against God. ‘Satan’ is translated to ‘the adversary,’ in this case the adversary of mankind. Whereas God is loving and wise, Satan is wrathful towards humanity, reflected in his association with wrath according to Binsfeld’s categorization. Often seen as the ruler of Hell, Satan is therefore one of – if not the – most powerful demons.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that Binsfeld assigned Belphegor the role of torturing the slothful. His image is one of the least intimidating of the Seven Princes of Hell, as he’s frequently depicted on a toilet. However, his past forms have also been associated with phalluses and orgies, but even the Lanterne of Light assigned him to gluttony, not lust. When summoned, Belphegor is said to offer wealth and inventions, and that connection with wealth, which allows humans to not work, is likely why he ended up being associated with sloth. Binsfeld’s belief was that Belphegor tempted people to be lazy, and to do evil through their inaction – though he wasn’t clear about the means and methods of the torture, it certainly wasn’t pleasant.
The name “Mammon” comes from a Chaldee or Syriac word meaning “wealth,” so it’s no surprise that the demon of the same name tortures those who are greedy. According to theology, Mammon was greedy even while in Heaven; part of the reason for his fall was his valuing the gold streets of Heaven over his feelings for God. Though more recent translations of the Bible tend to translate the word “Mammon” as literal greed or wealth, Binsfeld and others of his time viewed him as a demonic figure who lured humans to evil through promises of wealth. Binsfeld didn’t specify what his torture would be like, but, as one of the higher-ranking demons in Hell, it’s clear that it’s best avoided.
Interestingly, Asmodeus’s name comes from the Persian “Aeshma-deva”, translating to “demon of wrath” – but Binsfeld chose to give him dominion over the lustful instead. Because Satan was already responsible for the wrathful, perhaps Binfeld thought Asmodeus was an acceptable second choice. Asmodeus was also said to slay the seven husbands of Sarah in the apocryphal Book of Tobit, as well as saying, in the Book of Solomon, that he, “Is always hatching plots against newlyweds; I mar the beauty of virgins and cause their hearts to grow cold.” There is, then, a connection with lust in his history – it’s just not as straightforward as some. He’s often depicted with three heads, one of a bull, one of a human, and one of a ram, as well as a variety of other animal-like parts no doubt intended to make him all the more fearsome and disturbing.
The word “Leviathan” has many meanings in Biblical contexts. In Jewish tradition, the Leviathan is a large sea monster that God kills and feeds to the Hebrews, but according to Binsfeld he was also the prince of Hell responsible for punishing the envious. St. Thomas Aquinas was one of the earliest to propose Leviathan as the punisher of envious sinners, but it’s unclear exactly why. In the writing of Father Sebastien Michaelis, which is reportedly based on the testimony of a demon, Leviathan was said to be responsible for tempting people toward sacrilege, which, at the time probably referred to literal theft rather than a general sense of thwarting the will of the church and God. Because of the connection with envy, it’s likely that assigning Leviathan as the overseer of envy comes from him encouraging people to steal from the church.
You might have heard someone use the term, “it’s raining cats and dogs”, you may have read or heard about the actual phenomenon of frogs and fish falling from the sky. But did you hear about the time when it rained rocks and stones for a full two weeks? That story is up next!
STORY: RAINING ROCKS, STORMING STONES=====
What I’m about to share was originally published in the Atlanta Journal on February 7, 1932. I’m going to leave it intact as best I can, but I’m giving you a trigger warning because there are times in the article when the newspaper reporter is not as culturally sensitive as we are today when it comes to people of color. But I’m leaving it in as I have done with past articles, because I think it’s important not to erase history, but rather, learn from it so we don’t repeat it. Here is the story:
Headline: “Two-Weeks’ Shower of Rocks”
Byline: “How the Rocks at Their Childhood Home in Jackson County, Georgia, Suddenly ‘Came to Life’ and Began to Fly Through the Air Is Told for the First Time in the Following Interview With Dr. R.B. Adair and Mrs Josephine Hudson, of Atlanta. The Phenomenon Has Never Been Explained”
Article: A WEIRD natural or supernatural phenomenon that occurred In Georgia sixty-eight years ago – pebbles, stones and boulders rising from the surface of the earth and sailing slowly through the air, seemingly propelled by some mysterious power or impulse of their own – is recalled by Dr. R. B. Adair, 83, of 957 Virginia N. and his sister, Mrs. Josephine Hudson, 81, of 154 Dodd S. E.
Because of a promise made to their mother in childhood, Dr. Adair and Mrs. Hudson have never before discussed outside the family circle the two-week “rock shower” that occurred at their home in Jackson County, Georgia, in 1864, and the publication of this interview marks the first time that any record of the phenomenon has appeared in print.
Dr. Adair and Mrs. Hudson were born and reared on a farm still known as the old Adair place, which is located on the Hood Mill Road, formerly the Burns Mill Road, a small thoroughfare linking Jefferson and the Athens commerce highway. The farm is four miles southwest of Commerce which, in 1864, was known as Harmony Grove.
What caused the stones on the Adair farm to behave in such a strange fashion over a two-week period in September, 1864, neither Dr. Adair or Mrs. Hudson have any idea. The name of Dr. Adair, who retired from the practice of dentistry in Atlanta two years ago, is nationally known in dental circles, for aside from being a leading figure in his profession he won fame as a pioneer in the treatment of pyorrhea, or disease. He is a scientist in every sense of the word, but nowhere in his life-long study of science has he found a solution to the mysterious flight of stones which he witnessed at the age of 15.
“It was in September, and fodder pulling time” said Dr. Adair, recalling the experience. “We had four ne3gr0es on the farm at that time, a man, a woman and two young girls, and early in the afternoon I had set them to gathering fodder in the bottom land just across the creek from our residence. After starting them to work, I saddled my horse and left for Commerce, then known as Harmony Grove, to get our mail; there was no rural delivery in those days, and with father and my three older brothers at the front, the ride to the post office was part of my daily routine. Upon my return home, some two hours later, I found that the slaves had pulled very little fodder. They were crouched in a silent huddle in the cornfield, and seemed to be badly frightened. Dismounting my horse, I strode toward them, demanding, to what they meant by idling away the whole afternoon. They explained that they had done no work because somebody had been throwing rocks at them ever since I had ridden away.
“Of course I scoffed at this excuse because I knew that no one in the neighborhood would stone our darki3es. But the slaves insisted that they were telling the truth, and assured me that if I’d wait a minute I’d see the rocks flying over. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before rocks began to whizz into the field from all directions, coming from the hills on each side of the bottom and from up and down the creek.”
At first Dr. Adair did not notice the peculiar flight of the stones. Like the ne3gr0es, he was inclined to believe that they were being thrown by several persons who were hiding in the brush surrounding the cornfield, and he determined to drive the offenders off the farm in short order.
“Telling the slaves to go ahead with their work”, he continued, “I went into the house and got my gun. Our watchdog was as big as a young lion and one of the bravest animals I’ve ever seen, and as I passed through the yard I commanded him to come along with me. He obeyed reluctantly, keeping close to my heels, with his tail between his legs and glancing fearfully at the whizzing stones. However, I did not learn until sometime later why he was unwilling to accompany me.
“The rocks were still flying from all directions as I crossed the cornfield, and they continued to drop around me as I searched the brush below where the ne3gr0es were pulling fodder. Finding no one hiding there, I forded the creek and worked my way up the opposite bank. Still the stones droned through the air and plopped among the bushes on all sides, but nowhere could I discover the persons were throwing them. Nor did the dog, who was very unfriendly toward strangers, make any sign to indicate that he scented an outsider. Directly opposite the cornfield was a stretch of stubble land from which the wheat had been cut a short while before, and as I reached it I witnessed a spectacle that was so startling it almost caused me to forget the flying stones.
“Watermelon vines had grown up in the stubble, and a number of them bore young melons from as large as a teacup to the size of a man’s head. As I crossed the stubble field I observed several of these little melons detach themselves from the vine, roll along the ground for a short distance, and break all to pieces. I stood staring at the bursting melons, watching the undeveloped seeds plop out of the rind and scatter over the ground, until a yelp from the dog told me that he’d been hit by a rock and brought, my mind, back to the business at hand.”
Although puzzled at the odd antics of the watermelons, Dr. Adair does not recall that he was frightened; and as for the rocks, which were still falling everywhere, he was more than ever convinced that they were being thrown by human hands. Later, when he learned that the stones were traveling of their own volition, he tried to connect their flight with the bursting of the green melons, but without success.
Renewing his search, he combed both banks of the creek, thoroughly investigated the gullies and washes surrounding the cornfield, and then climbed a steep hill directly opposite the homestead. This elevation was known as Graveyard Hill because of a small private burying ground that was located on its crest, out of sight of the Adair residence in the valley below. Lest superstitious persons attempt to attribute the phenomenon of the flying rocks to whatever spirits may have Inhabited this little cemetery, both Dr. Adair and Mrs. Hudson emphatically deny that any of their family ever gave the slightest thought to the ghost stories that were so dear to the hearts of the old-time black slaves.
“If there were any such things as ghosts, they would have eaten us out of house and home, back on the old farm,” Mrs. Hudson pointed out. “For aside from the few graves on Graveyard Hill, there were Indian burial mounds an up and down Turkey Creek, and the plowmen frequently turned up human teeth and bits of bone. Besides, she added smiling, ghosts are supposed to wait till midnight to start their pranks, and the stones began to fly in the middle of a bright afternoon and continued their antics for two weeks, day and night.”
But to return to Dr. Adair’s narrative. When he failed to locate any marauders on Graveyard Hill he went back to the cornfield and enlisted the aid of the slaves. Because the cornstalks in the field and the bushes covering the hills and the banks of the creek obstructed his view, it was difficult for young Adair to determine the exact direction from which the rocks were coming. Taking the slaves to a cleared field farther down the creek into which the stones were pelting in a veritable shower, he formed them in a circle, faces turned outward, and told them to keep their eyes straight to the front. In doing this, he believed that they would eventually locate the hiding places of the people who were stoning them.
“As we were taking up our positions,” he resumed, “I first noticed the peculiar flight of the stones. They seemed to be traveling very slowly, much slower than a flying bird, and most of them were following a horizontal course at a height of three to six feet above the ground. The ne3gr0es had already been struck several times, and upon reaching the open field a rock hit me on the elbow. It was about the size of an egg, but its impact was so gentle that it caused no pain, merely sending a tingling sensation through my funny bone. After striking me, it dropped to the ground at my feet. Giving the word to the ne3gr0es, we began to spread out, all of us searching the edge of the field with our eyes in the hope of finding the rock-throwers.
“Then it was that we discovered that they weren’t being thrown at all. In all parts of the cleared field rocks of different sizes were slowly rising out of the plowed soil and flying through the air of their own volition.”
Needless to say, this uncanny situation was too much for the nerves of the youthful master and the slaves, and the five of them beat a hasty retreat to the house, dodging through the shower of slow-moving stones. In the detached kitchen behind the big house they found gathered the rest of the household, which, in the absence of the father and three older brothers, consisted of Dr. Adair’s mother and five younger brothers and sisters. Mrs. Hudson, the eldest of the children, was then a girl of 13.
“The children and the slaves were terrified, but mother assured us that there was nothing to be afraid of,” Dr. Adair said. “She was at a loss to explain what was causing the rocks all over the farm to rise up out of the ground and go sailing through the air for a short distance, but she scoffed at the theory that ‘ha’nts’ were the reason for the disturbance, as the darki3s suspected. She remarked that she was supremely thankful that none of us had been injured, and cautioned us to remain indoors until the rocks stopped falling.”
Dr. Adair and Mrs. Hudson remember their mother as a woman who was absolutely without fear; in the absence of the men of the family, she frequently went out alone at night, carrying a torch and armed with an old pistol, to attend to the stock or investigate strange noises about the premises. She was a heroine of that, great corps of wives and mothers who so gallantly kept the borne fires of the south burning while their men-folk were at the front with Lee.
It is not surprising that Dr. Adair, upon reaching the house, learned that during his absence at Harmony Grove she had visited various parts of the farm in hope of learning what caused the peculiar flight of stones. The watchdog accompanied her on her tour of investigation and the fact that he was struck by several rocks accounts for his unwillingness to return to the danger zone with his youthful master.
While the family was gathered in the kitchen, several big rocks rose from the terrace just outside the door and thumped down on the floor of the porch. One of a them, a flat piece of shale a foot and a half in diameter and weighing twenty-five pounds, Dr. Adair recognized as a stone from the walk; he carried it to the yard and found that it fit snugly back into hole from which it had been flung.
Several hours passed without the rock shower showing any signs of abating, and as darkness settled down it became imperative that Dr. Adair take the hands into the open and finish up the farm work. With stones flying all around them, they hauled several loads of bundled fodder to the barn and stored it in the loft, working to the weird patter of the falling pebbles. They were making syrup on the place that day, and long after dark, as he tended the fire, Dr. Adair heard the clatter of small stones striking against the kettle.
Next morning the stones were still whizzing back and forth, although they did not seem as numerous as during the preceding afternoon. The phenomenon continued for ten days or two weeks, the flights of the rocks becoming shorter with each passing day. The Adairs grew so accustomed to seeing stones leap into the air and thud back to earth that they actually failed to note the day on which the pebbles and boulders on the place began to behave as boulders and pebbles are supposed to behave.
Mrs. Hudson substantiates her brother’s story in every detail, although she points out that she was not an eyewitness to the rock showers that occurred on distant parts of the farm. In a naturally soft voice to which eighty one years have added clarity and sweetness, she describes the phenomenon as she viewed it from the vicinity of the big house and the kitchen.
“Being the eldest of the girls I was 13 then it was my duty to look after the younger children and help mother with the housework.” she explained. “I remember we were all terribly frightened when the rocks first began to fly, but, as no one was hurt, we gradually became accustomed to them. After the first day or two the large stones in the houseyard didn’t jump around anymore, and I was not afraid to take the babies out to play. We kept away from the fields and the creek banks, where smaller stones were continuously buzzing through the air.
“Many of the pebbles that fell in the yard or struck the house were wet, proving they had come from the bed of the creek several hundred yards away”, Mrs. Hudson continued. “These, as well as the stones of larger size, seemed always to fly toward us at about the height of a man’s waist. I do not remember seeing any rocks high in the air, although one night a big rock did fall down the kitchen chimney. I was especially frightened that same night when, as I started to carry the baby Into the house to put him to bed, a huge rock jumped into the hall ahead of me. Brother Ben came and rolled it into the yard, placing it back in place in the little terrace that bordered the walk.”
Dr. Adair and Mrs. Hudson explain that their mother, when the rock shower first began, suspected some clever trickery on the part of an unknown enemy who wanted to drive them from the farm. But later, when it became obvious that no human could be responsible for the stones pushing their way out of the ground and soaring off through the air before the eyes or several persons, the little family agreed that they were witnessing a new and uncanny freak of nature. In those autumn days of 1864 the war was drawing to a close, and far-sighted Mrs. Adair realized that, with the freeing of the few slaves, the little farm would be her family’s only asset.
Afraid to call the attention of neighbors to the flying stones lest they spread the story that the property was haunted, she extracted promises from the children and the ne3gr0es that they would never tell what they had seen. No doubt she hoped to have the mystery cleared up when the father and the older sons returned from the army; but the father died immediately after arriving home, two of the sons had been buried on the battlefield, and the home-coming of the third boy, who was a prisoner in Illinois, was so long delayed that the mystery had all but been forgotten. Later, when the farm was sold and the family scattered, the children continued to keep the affair secret, mainly because they realized how utterly incredible their story would sound to an outsider.
Both Dr. Adair and Mrs. Hudson presented the writer with signed accounts of the phenomenon as they witnessed it, and the facts given in this article are taken from these papers. Before consenting to make the story public, Dr. Adair made every effort to locate at least one other witness beside himself and his sister. But letters sent to relatives and former neighbors in the vicinity of Commerce and Hoods Mill elicited the information that the former slaves are long since dead, as are most of the white people for whom the darki3s worked following their emancipation and to whom they may have related the tale.
Oscar Adair, 90, a brother of Dr. Adair and Mrs. Hudson, was in a northern prison camp near Chicago at the time of the occurrence and can only recall the facts as they were given him in contemporary letters and upon his return home, long afterward.
Geologists have no explanation of the strange behavior of the stones to offer, nor do historians recall having heard of a similar occurrence in this or any other part of the country. The sixty-eight-year-old mystery, related for the first time, threatens to remain a mystery.
When Weird Darkness returns, legends of giant, winged predators in the sky streaking down and attacking children and even full-grown men have been around since as far back as recorded history – but they are not just legends, as residents of the New England area have found out over the years.
STORY: MAN-EATING THUNDERBIRDS=====
Long before the arrival of Europeans, man-eating birds were said to terrorize the shores of New England. Native peoples related such stories to early settlers, who recorded and preserved these harrowing tales.
While these traditions might be obscured by the mists of time, some later accounts echo the fear of grasping talons from above once associated with the “Cannibal Birds” of New England.* Let’s step back into America’s Colonial past and beyond to meet some of these frightening avian predators…
The Giant Devil Bird of Cape Cod: The Nauset Wampanoag from Yarmouth told of an extraordinarily large cannibal bird that would frequently visit the south shore of Cape Cod and had carried off numerous children. The giant Maushop (or Moshop), hero to the native people, waded into the sound in pursuit of the avian predator, following it southward to Nantucket. There, on the previously undiscovered island, Maushop found the bones of the children under a large tree. Maushop then smoked a pipe, filled with a weed called poke that the native peopled sometimes used as a tobacco alternative. This created the fog that has been present at Nantucket and on the Cape ever since. This tale was recorded in 1798 by the Reverend Timothy Alden, who learned the story from an old Quaker woman who lived on Cape Cod. In a variant of this tale, Maushop smoked his pipe during his pursuit of the bird and the dumped ashes formed Nantucket.
A slightly different version of Maushop vs. the Cannibal Bird was published in 1830 by novelist and folklorist James Athearn Jones, who grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and was deeply influenced by the Native Americans living there. This included his childhood nurse, Mima, who regaled Jones with many of her people’s stories. In a story that Jones attributed to Mima, the feathered nemesis was described as “a great bird whose wings were the flight of an arrow wide, whose body was the length of ten Indian strides, and whose head when he stretched up his neck peered over the tall oak-woods.” At first the bird only carried away deer and moose, but then many children were discovered missing. Nobody could catch or kill the monster. The people came to fear and avoid this bird, who in turn feared Maushop, fleeing up into the clouds whenever the giant would approach. Worried that the bird would sire numerous offspring that would decimate the human population, Maushop waded into the water and followed the bird to the island of Nope, today known as Martha’s Vineyard. There, he found the bones of the children under a large tree. Maushop located the bird’s nest and, after a hard battle, succeeded in killing the monster and its seven newly hatched offspring. After resting, he smoked his pipe, creating the fog that at times obscures the shores.
A later and longer retelling of the tale, published anonymously in 1915, added the dramatic layer of the protagonist slaying the “Giant Devil Bird” after it had eaten his own teenage son. This story about a cultural hero killing a monster bird was widespread among Algonquian peoples along the northeastern United States and Canada. The native residents of Nantucket had a similar tradition of an eagle that seized a papoose in its talons and was chased by the parents in their canoe. When they reached Nantucket, the parents found the bones of their child that had been dropped by the eagle.
An oral tradition among the Wampanoag who lived in the area of Dighton, Massachusetts told of several white men who arrived on the Taunton River inside a giant bird (probably a European ship). The visitors brought natives inside the bird as hostages and then retrieved fresh water at a neighboring spring. It was there that the Wampanoag ambushed and slaughtered these enemies. The tradition states that “during the affray, thunder and lightning issued from the bird” and the hostages escaped. The spring and the brook that runs from it were named White Spring and White Man’s Brook following this event.
One of the many theories about the enigmatic petroglyphs on Dighton Rock, first documented in 1680, is that the markings document a battle between the Native Americans and people who arrived by ship. The 40-pound boulder originally protruded from the Taunton River near its mouth, the carvings facing the Atlantic Ocean where they could have stood as a warning to other interlopers.
The Culloo of Mount Katahdin: Native Americans in Maine spoke of the fearsome Culloo, a monstrous and fierce man-eating bird that was gigantic enough to carry a moose in its claws. The Miꞌkmaq described them as shapeshifters who could assume both human and avian form. They lived in a village above the clouds and would swoop down to feed on human beings, emptying out villages and carrying their victims off into their home in the clouds. One account, compiled from both Miꞌkmaq and Passamaquoddy sources, states that the Culloo had wide wings as “broad as a thunder cloud,” drawing a comparison to Thunderbird traditions prevalent across North American native cultures.
Mount Katahdin, the tallest mountain in Maine, was believed by the Penobscot to be a nexus for various entities. This included a huge cannibal bird, fear of which reportedly kept many from scaling the mountain. Writer, ornithologist and folklorist Fannie Hardy Eckstorm explained that the word Pamola (more accurately Bumole) referred to three different Penobscot concepts pertaining to Mount Katahdin: the almost harmless spirit of the night wind, the hideously destructive Storm-bird who hovers around its summit in winter, and the rather friendly giant of Katahdin, a human-like figure who dwells inside the mountain and is associated with thunder and lightning.
A tale attributed to Old John Neptune, Penobscot leader for nearly half of the 19th century, described the fearsome side of Pamola. Despite being warned against it, Neptune said he ascended Mount Katahdin to hunt and sheltered overnight in a shack that had a strong door. While Neptune slept, Pamola swooped down from his perch in the mountain crags and landed in the yard by the shack. Neptune described Pamola as “a great beast, with mighty wings that dragged on the ground, with a head as large as four horses, and with horrible beak and claws.” Pamola “beat upon the door of the shack, and roared and howled and heaved again and again at the fastenings, but by good luck the door was frozen down and he could not budge it. So, with a last, long yell of rage and defiance, he flapped filthily and wickedly away.”
Neptune claimed that other less fortunate souls he knew had climbed the mountain and never returned, victims of Pamola. He also said he had seen Pamola’s cave and knew where, in the northwest basin, Pamola hung out his “lantern of nights” before his den, where he “crawled with his prey.” Eckstorm suspected that Neptune, who had Maliseet ancestry, might have superimposed a Maliseet tale of Culloo over the Storm-bird of Mount Katahdin. Folklorist Horace P. Beck recorded a similar version of this tale, describing the shapeshifting cannibal giant as having “the body of man” along with the other bird-like features described by Neptune, and added the detail that the unfortunate hikers were snatched and fed to the monster’s young. In yet another description of Pamola, it is described as having a head and face like a man’s and a body, shape and feet like an eagle.
“While it would be too much to say that the Maliseet Culloo was the same as the Penobscot Storm-bird of Katahdin, the resemblance is striking,” wrote Eckstorm. “What we can gather with certainty is that some huge bird was supposed to live upon Katahdin.”
Settler John Gyles, who was held captive by the Maliseet from 1689-1695, recorded a tale analogous with the Culloo. Gyles was taken to the Maliseet headquarters of Meductic on the Saint John River in New Brunswick, Canada. Assigned to serve hunting parties, he traveled up and down several Maine rivers including the east and west branches of the Penobscot. In his memoirs, Gyles related a tale told to him about a boy who was carried away by a large bird called a “Gulloua,” who built her nest on a high rock or mountain. Gyles wrote:
“A Boy was Hunting with his Bow & Arrow at the Foot of a Rocky Mountain, when the Gulloua came diving thro’ the Air, grasp’d the Boy in her Talons; and tho’ he was eight or ten Years of Age, she soar’d aloft, and laid him in her Nest, a Prey for her Young; where the Boy lay constantly on his Face, but would look sometimes under his Arms and saw two Young Ones with much Fish and Flesh in the Nest, and the old Bird constantly bringing more. So that the young Ones not touching him, the old One claw’d him up and set him where she found him; who returned, and related the odd Event to his Friends. As I have, in a Canoe, pass’d near the Mountain, the Indians have said to me, There is the Nest of the great Bird that carried the Boy away: And there seem’d to be a great number of Sticks put together in form of a Nest on the Top of the Mountain. At another time they said; There is the Bird, but he is now, as a Boy to a Giant, to what he was in former Days. The Bird which they pointed to, was a large speckled Bird, like an Eagle, tho’ somewhat larger.”
Beck associated this story with Mount Katahdin, which is situated on the drainage divide between the east and west branches of the Penobscot River. Gyles did mention Mount Katahdin separately in his memoirs, explaining that his native captors called it the “Teddon.”
However, Eckstorm believed that Gyles was referring to a different peak as the roost of the Gulloua. She argued that Gyles must have been describing a rocky, steep-sided hill on the Seboois River (spelled “Seboesis’ today; a tributary from the east branch of the Penobscot River). This mountain was called Sowangawas, derived from Abenaki and meaning Eagle’s Nest. It is likely that Gyles and his captors traveled up the Seboois River and across to the Aroostook River, as it was the most direct route to the Saint John River from the Penobscot River, reasoned Eckstorm. She explained, “It is the only route passing close enough to the base of a mountain to permit the voyager to see a bird nesting upon a cliff.”
Furthermore, Eckstorm found evidence that the words Culloo and Gulloa (in one form as “gelu”) had the same meaning and were once in use along the coast of Maine, the St. John River and in Nova Scotia. She connected the meaning of these words and the names of mountains like Sowangawas to golden eagles, the large, cliff-dwelling raptors which presumably would have been more populous in New England during previous centuries. “The bird Gyles saw was unquestionably a golden eagle. We may assume that this bird was the prototype of the dreaded Culloo,” wrote Eckstorm.
The Pilhannaw of New Hampshire: Englishman John Josselyn traveled to New England in 1638 for a 15-month stay and later returned in 1671, residing there eight years before returning to his homeland. Josselyn published two books describing his experiences and the region’s flora and fauna. Later writers considered Josselyn a naturalist of “almost incredible credulity.” Is it therefore interesting that in cataloguing New England’s bird population, including such large raptors as eagles, vultures and hawks, Josselyn described a mysterious monster bird called the Pilhannaw. Could this be the same creature that inspired the Native American tales of man-eating birds in New England?
In his “Account of Two Voyages in New England,” Josselyn wrote the following about this impressive species:
The Pilhannaw is the King of Birds of prey in New-England, some take him to be a kind of Eagle, others for the Indian-Ruck the biggest Bird that is, except the Ostrich. One Mr. Hilton living at Pascataway, had the hap to kill one of them: being by the Sea-side he perceived a great shadow over his head, the Sun shining out clear, casting up his eyes he saw a monstrous Bird soaring aloft in the air, and of a sudden all the Ducks and Geese, (there being then a great many) dived under water, nothing of them appearing but their heads. Mr. Hilton having made readie his piece, shot and brought her down to the ground, how he disposed of her I know not, but had he taken her alive & sent her over into England, neither Bartholomew nor Sturbridge-Fair could have produced such another sight.
Josselyn provided an expanded description of the Pilhannaw in his book, “New England’s Rarities, Discovered: In Birds, Beasts, Fishes, Serpents, and Plants of that Country.” He wrote:
The pilhannaw, or mechquan, much like the description of the Indian ruck; a monstrous great bird; a kind of hawk, — some say an eagle; four times as big as a goshawk; white-mailed; having two or three purple feathers in her head, as long as geeses’ feathers they make pens of. The quills of these feathers are purple, as big as swans’ quills, and transparent. Her head is as big as a child’s of a year old; a very princely bird. When she soars abroad, all sort of feathered creatures hide themselves; yet she never preys upon any of them, but upon fawns and jaccals. She ayries in the woods upon the high hills of Ossapy, and is very rarely or seldome seen.
Josselyn appears to be referring to the Ossipee mountain range in New Hampshire as the nesting place of the Pilhannaw. Derived from Massachusett (Algonquian, Natick dialect) words in the Eliot Indian Bible, Mechquan means “he is much feathered, full of feathers” and Pilhannaw means “wings,” per Eckstorm. The Eliot Indian Bible was the first translation of the Christian Bible into an indigenous American language, published in the early 1660s.
Eckstorm dismissed theories from a later editor of Josselyn’s work that he might have been describing a harpy eagle (found in Mexico and Central and South America) or the great blue heron (which the editor pointed out shares the size and crest of Josselyn’s bird).
The great blue heron is certainly an impressive and colorful bird, standing three to four feet tall and boasting a wingspan of almost six feet. It is found year-round in most of the United States and historically was known to breed in rookeries throughout New Hampshire, including the Ossipee Hills. However, this wading beauty subsists on the likes of fish, frogs, insects and mice, and it would be a stunning surprise to see it flying off with a fawn in its beak!
The Pilhannaw holds the distinction of being the first printed reference to any bird of New Hampshire. Zoologist Glover Merrill Allen, a New Hampshire native, supported the view that “Josselyn’s bird was but a confused conception of the golden eagle, the bald eagle, and the great blue heron.” He wrote, “The purple feathers are supposed to indicate the heron, and the white head and tail of the bald eagle may meet the conception of a ‘white-mailed’ bird; the habit of preying upon fawns perhaps indicates the golden eagle.”
Nonetheless, Eckstorm declared that the Pilhannaw “was undoubtedly a golden eagle.”
An adult golden eagle can reach a maximum 7-feet-2-inch wingspan and a weight of 13.5 pounds, according to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. An ornithological survey, published in 1883, noted that the golden eagle “is of infrequent and irregular occurrence throughout New England, nesting anywhere that offers suitable crags for the location of its eyrie, and for the rest roaming about for food like any other bird of prey.” The raptor was reported to breed in remote mountain areas of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. Today, the golden eagle is designated as endangered in both Maine and New Hampshire.
Eagle Attack on Peaks Island: Legends from the distant past have a way of blurring into the tall-tales of bygone but not-so-intangible history. Stories of giant birds are ancient and universal. Native Americans held widespread beliefs in Thunderbirds and other (sometimes related to weather, sometimes not) man-eating avian monsters. As Europeans settled into North America, newspapers reported their frequent, frightening conflicts with birds of prey. The eagles in these stories were often described as being within today’s expected size range for their respective species, but nearly as often they were claimed to be a bit larger. While not true monsters, the menace of these airborne predators was no less real and primitive.
Some modern bird experts view these articles from yesteryear with cautious skepticism. Without wind to assist them, eagles cannot lift more than five or six pounds off of flat ground. However, eagles flying into the wind or snatching prey from hillsides can sometimes carry twice that weight for considerable distances, according to the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management.
As astutely pointed out in an article on this topic on Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog, “Many stories that involve eagles ‘grabbing’ children are likely misinterpretations of eagles attacking children (rather a different thing)…” Eagles might try to lift prey that is too heavy and hop a short distance without succeeding in carrying it away, as well. As for the reasons for eagle aggression, it is possible that many of these accounts, if true, resulted from people purposefully or inadvertently causing the eagle to feel that itself, its nest or its young were in danger. Additionally, juvenile eagles are more likely to target inappropriate prey, as they are still developing their hunting abilities.
One well-documented case of this type, from late 19th century Maine, shows a thematic through line between beings like the Culloo and man-versus-nature narratives of more modern times.
Today, Peaks Island is the most populous island in Maine’s Casco Bay, just a few miles from Portland. In 1881, the island had already started to become a summer resort. Elderly couple Smith C. and Sarah A. Hadlock had resided there for 50 years, the most recent 30 in their “Sea Foam Cottage” near the shoreline. The Hadlocks, full-time residents, remembered a time when summer visitors were considered intruders and would be met at the boat landing by men armed with pitchforks and ordered to leave. Their neighbor on the scenic south side of the island was Dr. James Torrington, who had lived there for a decade. One day late in 1881, the neighbors’ idyllic existence would be temporarily shattered when a ferocious “monster eagle” attempted to carry away the Hadlock’s’ grandson in its huge talons. The following, somewhat sarcastic, dispatch was printed in several newspapers:
Headline: A FIGHT WITH AN EAGLE.
Article: “Dr. Torrington, who is 70 years old and by no means athletic, was hurriedly summoned the other afternoon to the house of a neighbor, Mrs. S. Hadlock, of Peak’s Island, Maine. When he reached Mrs. Hadlock’s he found that he was expected to kill with a gun instead of with his medicine-chest. An eagle of sweeping wing and fierce scream was circling about the Hadlock poultry-yard, and the good woman was protecting her Thanksgiving turkeys by means of brickbats hurled with Amazonian courage. The doctor was amazed and amused, for he never before heard of such boldness on the part of the bald-headed things, however big their beaks. He was about to take aim, when the bird swooped down at him. At that moment a six-year-old child, a grandson of Mrs. Hadlock, toddled out of the house, and the eagle pounced upon the little fellow. Mrs. Hadlock struck frantically at the eagle with a large roller towel, and, releasing the boy, it flew to a neighboring oak. Dr. Torrington put a double charge in the Hadlock shotgun and fired. The eagle flew upward and away over the sea, and its flight showed that it was wounded. Dr. Torrington’s shoulder was dislocated by the recoil of his gun. Before night some fishermen found the eagle’s body half a mile off shore.”
Although the ill-fated bird-of-prey was referred to as a bald eagle in the article, in reality it was a golden eagle, which would have been a rare winter visitor to the area. A contemporary record described the golden eagle Torrington shot as “unique in this vicinity.” The bird was mounted and placed on display at the Portland Society of Natural History. The specimen remained there until that institution closed its doors in the early 1970s, at which time it and other mounted birds were transferred to the Maine Audubon Society, which had absorbed the Portland Society of Natural History. Attempts to contact the Maine Audubon Society about the fate of Torrington’s eagle have thus far gone unanswered.
However, Peaks Island wasn’t the only reported instance of eagles attacking young children in New England…
- In September 1899, an eagle attempted to carry off 4-year-old Anna Heriz in the village of Gurleyville in Mansfield, Connecticut. According to the news article, the bird managed to carry the girl a short distance before landing. A group of children rushed in for the save, attacking the eagle and scaring it away. Three boys were badly scratched by the eagle’s talons in the ruckus.
- In August 1928, an “immense” eagle with a 7-foot wingspan swooped down onto a farm in Lubec, Maine and snatched two-year-old Buddy Lyons in its talons. Before the bird could carry off the toddler, Buddy’s 5-year-old brother grabbed the boy’s ankle and fought successfully to pull him free.
- In August 2001, a bald eagle with a 6-foot wingspan attacked 3-year-old Kayla Finn while she was playing soccer with two other children on Hampton Beach in New Hampshire. Her father ran at the bird and shooed it away as it grabbed for the child and scratched her. The juvenile bird had spent days swooping at balls on the beach, and amused beachgoers had made the mistake of encouraging the bird by feeding it. Two adults also received slight injuries during the eagle’s stay at the beach. An animal control officer finally captured the bird near the New Hampshire border in Salisbury, Massachusetts and it was transported to a local animal clinic.
Avian Monster in the Bridgewater Triangle: Loren Coleman, famous Fortean (paranormal) investigator and founder/director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine, coined the term “Bridgewater Triangle” for an approximately 200 square-mile region of Massachusetts known for its history of mysterious and foreboding occurrences. Phenomena such as UFOs, inexplicable creatures and other unsettling apparitions are centered around Hockomock Swamp, a name which Coleman discovered to be a Native American word for “Devil.”
Coleman tracked sightings of large, unknown birds among the anomalous activity in the Bridgewater Triangle. Case in point: On a summer night in 1971, police sergeant Thomas Downy was driving home near an area in Easton known as Bird Hill, bordering Hockomock Swamp. Suddenly, “a tremendous winged creature over six feet tall with a wingspan of eight to twelve feet” emerged, flapping its broad wings as Downy watched it soar over the trees and disappear into the swampland.
While the creature did not try to make a meal out of Sergeant Downy, its monstrous proportions harken back to the fearsome beasts, the Cannibal Birds, said to haunt the skies of New England so long ago.
But as distant as the past may seem, have we as human beings really changed that much? Are we so far removed from our ancestors who, throughout the world, told and believed tales of fantastic beasts? We remain intrigued by our inherent fears, beguiled by mysteries that defy science as we know it, and constantly in search of a greater truth.
It could be argued that while Billy the Kid was a real person of history – his legend has overshadowed reality. But faking your own death then living out the rest of your life until you’re an old man – that is pretty legendary. And that’s what many people think actually happened, despite what the history books say. That story is up next.
STORY: THE BILLY THE KID CONSPIRACY=====
It might be oversimplifying the legend of Billy the Kid to say he is an American version of Robin Hood, but the comparison is a valid one. Arguably the first “hero” or “outlaw” (depending on your perspective) of the Wild West, Billy the Kid was shot dead by Sheriff Pat Garrett at the age of 21 on 14th July 1881.
Or was he?
Almost immediately following his death, there were rumors and rumblings that “The Kid” did not meet his demise as history stated he had. In more recent years he has been the subject of several conspiracy theories, and even legitimate investigations, as to exactly what happened to him in the summer of 1881 in New Mexico, and possibly in the years following.
According to Sherriff Pat Garrett’s version of events, following his original arrest, Billy escaped incarceration from Lincoln County Courthouse, in part, by shooting J.W. Bell in the back while he stood guard at the bottom of a set of stairs. However, according to investigator Steven Sederwall, there is considerable doubt if this was actually what happened.
Using the chemical luminol (which will show traces of blood under ultraviolet light), a substantial amount of blood was found at the top of the stairs – even over one hundred years after the killing – and at the same time, not a drop was found at the bottom. While the blood isn’t forced to be Bell’s, there is no record of any other killings in the building, and more importantly the lack of blood at the bottom of the stairs suggests, innocently or not, Garrett’s version of what happened is not correct. Sederwall argued it was most likely that a struggle ensued and Billy killed Bell out of “necessity” rather than malice.
Further to Sederwall’s claims there is also discrepancy over how Billy obtained the gun he used. Records show that Bell’s gun was still in his holster when his body was discovered. This would suggest that Billy had not stolen it from Bell and used it to kill him as Garrett stated.
Various theories and versions of how Billy came to be in possession of a gun have circulated over the years, with one in particular being that a weapon may have been left for him in the outhouse of the court. Sederwall even went as far as to speculate that the weapon might very well have been left for him by Garratt himself.
He mentioned how highly suspect and questionable it was for Garrett to have left town for something so trivial as to “prepare the gallows”, leaving Billy – public enemy number one – in the charge of a deputy.
A quick look into both men’s past lends a little more credence to this theory.
Perhaps conspiracy rumours circulated so strongly due to the fact that Pat Garrett and Billy were known to each other long before Garrett went out to apprehend the outlaw. The pair had both worked for Pete Maxwell on his ranch several years earlier. Although this part of the Billy the Kid legend is not in doubt, to what extent they knew each other, and exactly how friendly they were is very much up for debate.
If there was an “arrangement” between Garrett and Billy though, it surely shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.
Given the large reward that was being offered, and the fact that Garrett had desires on a political career after having spent his life as a Buffalo hunter and barkeeper, it is not inconceivable that the pair hatched a plot to have him apprehended, allowed to escape and then “disappear” to enjoy his half of the reward money in peace, while Garrett is labelled a hero and enjoys the attention as the “man who got The Kid!”
It has also long been assumed that Billy’s friend, Pete Maxwell, was the person who was responsible for “giving up” his friend to Pat Garrett. There were rumours that Billy was romantically involved with his sister and that this did not sit well with Maxwell. For some though, Maxwell, and his property simply presented an opportunity for all of them.
It is certainly possible that Maxwell’s farmhouse was an ideal “out of the way” place for Billy and Garrett to prepare and then put their plan into action. In another bizarre twist, one of the two deputies who were supposedly part of Garrett’s search team, was a cousin of Billy the Kid’s, and had, like Garrett and Billy, worked for Pete on the ranch.
According to a newspaper report, John Poe, one of the deputies with Garrett on the night Billy was supposedly killed, stated Garrett did not see Billy when he shot him, and instead claimed he knew it was him from his voice alone. Poe stated that Garrett himself appeared unsure if the person he had shot was actually Billy the Kid.
Billy was also speaking Spanish in the moments before he died, which although he was known to be fluent in, if he was speaking to Maxwell – which the official accounts state he was – then it is probable that he would have used English. Incidentally, Poe went on to become the next Sheriff of Lincoln County following Garrett. Make of that what you will.
So if the man wasn’t Billy the Kid who met his end that night from a bullet in Garrett’s gun, who was he?
Alleged descendants of Billy The Kid, as well as one particular person who claimed he was in fact the infamous outlaw (who we will get to later), all maintain that it was not Billy the Kid who was killed that evening on 14th July 1881, but an innocent Mexican man (some sources claim his name was Billy Barlow who was half-Mexican). Barlow just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Rather than admit to the tragic error, as well as having to continue his search for the outlaw, it is theorised by some that Garrett simply “passed the man off” as Billy the Kid.
Whether or not it was a genuine error, or whether the intention was for Billy to “escape” all along is the subject of much conversation – at least for those who don’t believe Garrett’s version of the story.
Billy’s body was put on “display” following his killing, but only close friends were asked to identify it. This point has been argued by many authors and investigators, and it is the kind of detail that conspiracy theorists thrive on.
If there was a conspiracy to allow Billy to escape unnoticed into a life of normalcy somewhere, then having only those close to him “identify” his body is one sure way of allowing him to make the world believe he is indeed dead.
Perhaps more interesting than the choice of people asked to identify his remains, was the fact that not one photograph was taken and offered to the rest of the world as proof of his killing. Is it just coincidence that Garrett – an otherwise organised man – neglected to do this?
The alleged grave of Billy the Kid has apparently completely flooded twice. So assuming for one moment that Garrett was telling the truth and this patch of land did indeed house the infamous American legend, it might not do so now. His body, or the remains of it, could have been sent miles away by the intruding waters.
His gravestone still sits where it always has however, now fenced off from the public due to the amount of people who wouldn’t be able to help themselves from chipping away a piece of it for a grim reminder of their visit.
Perhaps most suspect of all, particularly when the amount of inconsistencies in his story are examined, is that the only official account of the life and times of Billy the Kid, is that written by Pat Garrett himself, the man who claims to have killed him.
Those who subscribe to Garrett’s version of events though, point to the rather inglorious way “The Kid” met his end – rather than the incident being told as a gunfight to end all gunfights, with a scenario painted to make Garrett the all-American hero, he instead told a bland, almost gutless tale of shooting a man in the dark and without warning.
While several people have stepped into the public eye claiming to be “The Kid”, one of the most intriguing was a man named William Roberts – known to some as “Brushy Bill” – who sixty-nine years after Billy’s alleged death, claimed he was in fact rogue hero of the Wild West, and what’s more he was seeking a pardon for the crimes he had been charged with.
He appeared to know in detail facts about Billy’s life and, many years after his own death in 1950, his face was examined against the only known “official” photo of Billy the Kid, using techniques and programs that are accepted and utilised by the FBI, CIA and other high intelligence organisations. The results seemed to indicate that the faces matched, and Brushy Bill was indeed Billy the Kid.
A meeting was arranged between Roberts and the governor of New Mexico at the time of his claims. However, possibly realising the historic moment unfolding before him, the governor went on to turn the meeting into a media circus, inviting a whole host of characters to be present.
Roberts had a heart-attack shortly after the meeting began, and died several weeks later. He never received his pardon, nor was there any definite proof he was in fact, Billy The Kid. For now the legends and the theories will continue.
Coming up… in the film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” the aliens welcome a human volunteer from Earth to leave with them – like an extraterrestrial foreign exchange student program. Could that actually happen? Better question… has it already happened?
STORY: THE ZETA RETICULI AND PROJECT SERPO=====
In November 1977, Steven Spielberg released his movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” It was a financial and artistic success. It received a number of accolades, including nominations for four Golden Globes and eight Academy Awards. In 2007, the U.S. Library Of Congress deemed the film “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant” and chose it for preservation in the library “for all time.”
For those new to the topic, the title of Spielberg’s movie came from the UFO classification developed by astronomer and UFO researcher, J. Allen Hynek’s Classification of UFO encounters:
+ Encounters of the first kind: Someone sees a UFO at a distance closer than 500 feet and is able to give a pretty good description of the object
+ Encounters of the second kind: The viewing of an UFO creates a physical sensation. For example, the encounter may involve a feeling of heat, or a feeling of paralysis in the body
+ Encounters of the third kind: Encounters in which a type of “animated creature” accompanies the UFO encounter.
Hynek was an Advisor to the U.S. Air Force on several of its UFO study projects. While he was bound by security clearances, he was undoubtedly privy to information that he was unable to share publicly. He also had a cameo appearance in the Spielberg movie.
In the movie, there are human encounters with extraterrestrials (ETs) and, in the end, one person voluntarily decides to join the ETs and travel with them back to their planet. Could there be any truth to this story? Is it possible that Earth has contacted ETs or that Americans have visited other planets?
The Planet Serpo exchange project traces its origins to the Famous Roswell Incident where a UFO reportedly crashed in the plains near Socorro, New Mexico, on May 31, 1947. The remains of the craft and one living ET, along with the bodies of his four dead companions, were taken to Roswell for analysis. Meanwhile, the government reported to the American public by telling them they had only seen weather balloons.
As it turned out, there were Two Crashes. The remains of the second UFO were not found until about two years later. It appeared the two spacecraft had crashed into each other. By then, six bodies of dead aliens had decomposed, so there wasn’t much of them left. Even so, the remains were taken to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for evaluation and study.
The Roswell living ET, later named EBE1 for “Extraterrestrial Biological Entity,” was friendly and calm. He attempted to communicate, but spoke in tonal qualities that Americans were never able to understand or speak, according to UFO researcher Len Kasten. EBE1 seemed very intelligent and was able to quickly learn English. He informed his “keepers” that he was from a Planet Called Serpo about 40 light years away in the Zeta Reticuli system.
EBE1 worked with the salvaged communication device in his space vehicle to try and contact his home planet. He tried six times and all six times, the communication system failed. In early 1952, EBE1 sadly passed away without ever making contact with his home.
His effort was not unrewarded. In December 1952, the military made contact with the alien race referred to as Ebens who lived on the Planet Serpo in the Zeta Reticuli system, and communications transpired over the next nine years. During this time, an exchange program between the inhabitants of the two planets, Earth and Serpo, was created. Twelve American astronauts, 10 men and two women, were selected for the experiment.
There were strict requirements in order for a person to join the program and the training was rigorous. In short, the ones chosen for the journey could not be married or have children. And though it was not a requirement, having living family members like parents or siblings was not ideal. The assignment required their unquestioned absence for 10 years: no one on Earth should be concerned about their whereabouts for the duration of the mission.
The exchange was scheduled to occur at Holloman Air Force Base on April 24, 1964, with approval From President John F. Kennedy. Two Eben spaceships landed as planned. A contingent of American government personnel greeted them. The 12 American astronauts prepared to embark on their adventure, but for some reason, the exchange got postponed. The Ebens retrieved the remains of their dead comrades and left. The Ebens returned in July 1965 and picked up their passengers. According to Kasten, only one Eben stayed behind on Earth.
The Earth travelers took literally tons of supplies with them, including food, medicine, weapons, and jeeps and motorcycles, but during the trip, they ate Eben food, which they heartily disliked because they said it tasted like paper. On the journey, they explored the spacecraft and were able to communicate with Earth. Unfortunately, one American had some kind of accident and died on the trip. They completed the 40 light-year distance in only ten months.
When the spacecraft landed and the Americans disembarked, they received quite a positive welcome. A large number of Ebens were present to greet them and an Eben female spokesperson spoke to them in fluent English.
The astronauts were overwhelmed with the brightness of the two suns. It was about 107 degrees and they all were in great discomfort due to the heat, which remained a problem for them during their entire stay on the planet.
The Americans expected to stay on Serpo for 10 years. As it turns out, due to their confusion with their calendars, they stayed 13 years. It was difficult to keep track of days and times since the planet had two Suns and it never got completely dark. One day on Eben lasted 40 hours as opposed to our 24.
During their stay on Serpo, the Americans learned what they could about the history of the Ebens. The population of Serpo at the time of the visit was about 650,000 and all were Ebens. There was no other race or species on the planet other than Ebens.
The astronauts learned about the Eben’s religious beliefs and technology. It seemed they lived fairly primitively for a culture that also had advanced technology. Specifically, Ebens had anti-gravity vehicles they used for ground transportation.
After a few years, the Americans moved to the Northern part of the planet where it was cooler and they were able to grow food more to their liking. They had taken with them food to last for more than two years, but when it ran out, they had to eat Eben food which they never learned to like. Due to radiation exposure, two of the members of the expedition died while on Serpo.
Two Americans liked life on Serpo so much, they decided to stay there. The remaining astronauts Returned Homein 1978 and the government quarantined them for an entire year. During that time, they had many debriefings, which resulted in a 3,000 page report. They were then allowed to go back to their normal lives. Little is known about their lives since, except the last surviving one died in 2002. There has been no communication with Ebens on Serpo since 1985, so it is not known what happened to the Americans who chose to stay on the planet.
In 2005, UFO Discussion Group leader and former government employee, Victor Martinez, received a series of emails from someone identified only as anonymous. Anonymous claimed to be a retired government employee and he or she supplied much of the information about the exchange program.
Through the years, officials who are privy to this information have provided some acknowledgement that the reports are true.
The transcript of a President Ronald Reagan briefing by then CIA Director William Casey was discovered. It was a Top Secret Meeting and the recording happened between March 6 and 8, 1981. Director Casey provided Reagan information about the exchange program. Reagan had quite a few questions that he was told would be answered later in an additional briefing session. Unfortunately, we do not have a transcript of that session, so many questions are still left unanswered.
Reagan mentioned his belief in UFOs and his high regard for Steven Spielberg from time to time. He even invited Spielberg to the White House for a special screening of Spielberg’s movie “E.T. The Extraterrestrial,” released in June 1982.
Is humanity ready to know the truth? Now may be the time for the government to release its information regarding UFOs, ETs and the Eben residents of the planet Serpo, including information concerning 12 brave Americans who participated in the Project Serpo exchange program.
Thanks for listening. If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find information on any of the sponsors you heard about during the show, find all of my social media, listen to free audiobooks I’ve narrated, visit the store for Weird Darkness t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, phone cases, and more merchandise, sign up for monthly contests, find other podcasts that I host like “The Church of the Undead”, and more. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts. Also on the website, if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
All stories on Weird Darkness are purported to be true unless stated otherwise, and you can find links to the stories or the authors in the show notes.
“Do We All Have a Personal Demon?” by Melissa Brinks for Graveyard Shift
“Raining Rocks, Storming Stones” originally published in the Atlanta Journal, reposted at The Fortean
“The Billy The Kid Conspiracy” by Marcus Lowth for UFO Insight
“The Zeta Reticuli and Project Serpo” posted at Gaia
“Man-Eating Thunderbirds of New England” by Kevin J. Guhl for ThunderbirdPhoto.com
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Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… (Psalm 27:8-9) “Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper — it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.”
And a final thought… “Giving back to society and community enriches our lives, making it a double blessing.” – Kellie Sullivan
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.