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ALSACAT:

As its name suggests, ALSACAT is my comprehensive catalog of UFO sighting reports in Alsace, the region is the North-East of France, whether they are "explained" or "unexplained".

The ALSACAT catalog is made of case files with a case number, summary, quantitative information (date, location, number of witnesses...), classifications, all sources mentioning the case with their references, a discussion of the case in order to evaluate its causes, and a history of the changes made to the file. A general index and thematic sub-catalogs give access to these Alsatian case files.

Case of Andolsheim, on April 6, 1857:

Case number:

ALSACAT-1857-04-06-ANDOLSHEIM-1

Summary:

A book published in 1953, written by the Irish Desmond Leslie tells with little detail and without citing any source that "on April 6, 1856, in Colmar", France, "doctor Dussort" saw a flying black "torpedo."

When the thing is passed overhead it "gave off a low melodious whistling sound."

The story was picked up by ufologists thereafter sometimes with omissions of form and color, or addition that the object would have "hovered backwards."

The real story can be found in the Press of the time and goes like this:

On April 6, 1857 between 4 and 5 p.m., Mr. Charles-François Dussourt, M.D. of the military hospital of Colmar, was near Andolsheim, a suburb of Colmar, on the left bank of the River Ill, when his attention was suddenly attracted by a whistling sound quite like the sound of a projectile going fast rhough the air. At the same time he saw, at a height given as about 100 meters, pass above him, at fast speed from west to east on a strongly titled trajectory, a very black body, elongated in a pointed manner in the front part and terminated by a spherical mass, the whole measuring, as far as can be judged, from 30 to 40 centimeters long. Apparently the middle part was about the size an arm.

The short interval of time which elapsed between the appearance of the meteorite and the sound of its fall allowed the observer to assess with sufficient accuracy the distance at which it met the ground.

We see that this is a report of a meteorite fall and not a report about some torpedo-shaped UFO emitting a melodious sound. I found no indication that the meteorite was recovered.

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: April 6, 1857
Time: Between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Duration: ?
First known report date: April 18, 1878?
Reporting delay: Hour, days?

Geographical data:

Department: Haut-Rhin
City: Andolsheim
Place: Outside near the River Ill, UFO in the sky.
Latitude: 48.061
Longitude: 4.409
Uncertainty ratio: 2 km

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 1
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: 1
Witness(es) ages: Adult.
Witness(es) types: Military MD.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Told the Press?
Type of location: Outside, near small river, UFO in the sky, falling.
Visibility conditions: Daylight
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: Uncertain
UFO departure observed: N/A, fall.
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: ?
Witnesses interpretation: Meteorite fall.

Classifications:

Hynek: DD
ALSACAT: Probable meteorite fall.

Sources:

[Ref. da1:] "LE COURRIER DE LA DROME ET DE L'ARDECHE" NEWSPAPER:


L'Alsacien [newspaper] of Strasbourg tells that a fireball was seen falling, Monday, April 6, between four and five o'clock in the afternoon, in the suburbs of Andolsheim, district of Colmar.

The department of Haut-Rhin already has, as we know, a famous fireball, the one that fell on November 7, 1492, in Ensisheim, between eleven and twelve o'clock, almost under the eyes of the Emperor Maximilian the 1st.

This prince had it carried into the choir of the church of this city. It was brought in procession with great ceremony, and remained there until it was placed in the National Museum of Colmar, to be later returned to Ensisheim.

It weighed at the time of his fall, 260 pounds. Its weight is now much diminished, many fragments having been taken. The Natural History Museum of Paris has one that weighs 20 pounds.

[Ref. pr1:] "LA PRESSE" NEWSPAPER:


The newspaper L'Alsacien reported the fall of a meteorite in the suburbs of Andolsheim, in the Colmar district. By chance a competent observer, Dr. Dussourt, chief physician of the military hospital in Colmar, was on the spot, he could see the phenomenon and determine a fairly approximate area of the country where the meteor fell.

Mr. Dr. Dussourt was on the left bank of the River Ill, when his attention was suddenly attracted by a whistling sound of a particular nature quite like the sound of a projectile, or a flock of birds going fast through the air. At the same time he saw, at a height of about 100 meters, pass over him at a high speed, moving from west to east following a line strongly inclined on the horizon, a very black body, elongated in a point in its front part and ending in a spherical mass; the whole measuring, as far as can be judged, from 30 to 40 centimeters long, and apparently in the middle part it was about the size of an arm.

The department of Haut-Rhin already has a famous fireball, who fell, on November 7, 1492, in Ensisheim, between eleven and twelve o'clock, almost under the eyes of the Emperor Maximilian. This prince had him carried it into the church of this city. It was brought in procession and with great ceremony, and remained there until it was placed in the National Museum in Colmar, to be later returned to Ensisheim. It weighed 260 pounds went in fell. Its weight is now much diminished, many fragments having been taken off. The Natural History Museum of Paris has a fireball that weighs 20 pounds.

[Ref. aa1:] "ALMANACH ASTRONOMIQUE 1878":


On April 6 this year, a fireball was seen falling, between dfour and five o'clock in the afternoon, in the suburbs of Andolsheim, Colmar district.

By chance a competent observer,



Mr. Dussourt, M.D., was on the left bank of the River Ill, when his attention was suddenly attracted by a whistling sound of a special nature quite like the sound of a shot, or a flock of birds quickly going through the air. At the same time he saw, at a height of about 100 meters, pass above him with a great speed, moving from west to east, describing a line strongly inclined on the horizon, a very black body, elongated in a pointed manner in the front part and terminated by a spherical mass, the whole measuring, as far as can be judged, from 30 to 40 centimeters long, and apparently in the middle part it was about the size an arm.

The short interval of time which elapsed between the appearance of the fireball and the sound of its fall allowed the observer to assess with sufficient accuracy the distance at which it met the ground.

The Department of Haut-Rhin already has a [... other fireballs cases...]

[Ref. re1:] "REPERTOIRE DES CONNAISSANCES USUELLES":


here are some details on the latest bolide explosions and recent falling fireballs:

On April 6, 1857, a meteorite fell between four and five



in the evening, in the vicinity of Andolsheim, district of Colmar. Dr. Dussourt, who was on the left bank of the River Ill, heard a hissing sound of a particular nature quite like the sound of a projectile or birds quickly going through the air. At the same time he saw, at a height of about 100 meters, pass over him, at a great speed, moving from west to east, following a strongly inclined line on the horizon, a very black body, elongated at the front tip and terminated by a spherical mass, the shole measuring about 30 or 40 centimeters long and appearing to be in its middle part the size of an arm. The department of Haut-Rhin already has a famous fireball, that fell on November 7, 1492, in Ensisheim between one hour and noon, almost under the eyes of Emperor Maximilian the First. This prince had it carried in the choir of the church of this city, in a processional manner and with great ceremony, and it remained there until it was placed in the National Museum in Colmar, from where it later returned to Ensisheim.

[Ref. la1:] DESMOND LESLIE AND GEORGE ADAMSKI:

1856 April 6th. Colmar, France. Dr. Dussort saw a black flying "torpedo". As it passed overhead it gave off a low melodious whistling sound.

In his acknowledgements, Desmond Leslie wrote:

No acknowledgment would be complete without a most grateful thought cast in the direction of the shade of the late Charles Fort, whose researches have literally saved me years of labor.

[Ref. ur1:] "URANUS" MAGAZINE:


Finally, on 6th April, 1856, a Dr. Dussort, of Colman [sic], France, saw, during the afternoon, "a black object spherical at one end and pointed at the other. It was about 100 yards above him, and was accompanied by a whistling sound."

[Ref. kr1:] "KRONOS, CHEMISTRY ENGINEER":

This author published an exact quote of the Leslie and Adamski version ([la1]).

[Ref. ps1:] CHRISTIANE PIENS AND JACQUES SCORNAUX:

April 6, 1856, Colmar (France). Dr. Dussort observes an object in the shape of a "torpedo that hovers backwards", which emits a melodic whistling sound 12.

12 Inforespace 1792,#4, p. 40.

[Ref. pv1:] PIERRE VIEROUDY:

On April 6, 1856, it is a "torpedo" with an aerodynamic shape that passes over Colmar "with a melodic whistling sound."

[Ref. uw2:] "UFOWEB" WEBSITE:

CITIES DEPT LATITUDES LONGITUDES YEARS
Colmar 68 48.083 7.367 1856 1990

[Ref. jb1:] JEROME BEAU:

1856

April

06 In Colmar (France), Dr. Dussort observes a torpedo that hovers backwards while emitting a melodic whistling sound.

Inforespace # 4, 1972, p. 40 in Piens, C. & Scornaux, J.: A la recherche des ovnis, 1976, p. 182

[Ref. cv2:] CHRISTIAN VALENTIN:

Former journalist Christian Valentin published in 2012 a very interesting book telling the story of UFO sightings, flying saucers sightings, in Alsace, from the beginning to 1980.

In this book, he cites:

"1856. 6 April. Colmar, France. Dr. Dussort saw a flying "torpedo", black, round at one end and pointed at the other. The object emitted a melodious whistling sound through the sky. "

He indicates that the source is the book "Flying Saucers Have Landed", The British Book Centre, New York, and London, Werner Laurie, by Desmond Leslie and George Adamsky [sic, "Adamski" ], published in 1954, and that he gives his personal translation.

He was surprised to find this in a foreign book, whose first part is devoted to the "contactee" Adamski, so that it is hard to give it some credit, but he searched for the source. He searched the available newspapers of that time unsuccessfully, and consulted the 1858 Census file to find a doctor "Dussort" without success either.

But a friend to whom he mentioned the difficulty in finding the source was able to tell him that during a search unrelated to UFOs, he stumbled upon a handwritten draft of a letter dated April 9, 1859, sent by the office of the Prefect to the Mayor of Andolsheim under the M54 reference in the departmental archives of the Haut-Rhin. The letter said that there is a claim a meteorite fell two days earlier in the Andolsheim suburb, and that "MM Dussourd and Hugot" should be assisted to find it for exhibition at the Museum of Colmar.

The author also notes that though he did not find a "Dussort", he found a 2nd class medical officer named "Dussourt" at the military hospital in Colmar in the "Haut-Rhin and Bas-Rhin directory", of which gives the reference.

With the proximity of the premises, the error of almost three years and the name, he wondered if the case is not the same, and says he continues his research.

[Ref. ud1:] "UFODNA" WEBSITE:

6 April 1856:
Colmar, Alsace, France

An unidentified object was sighted, but with appearance and behavior that most likely would have a conventional explanation. One object was observed (Dussort).

Hynek rating: NL

Vallee rating: FB1

The sources are indicated as: "Leslie, Desmond, Flying Saucers Have Landed, British Book Center, 1953; Vallee, Jacques, Computerized Catalog (N = 3073)."

[Ref. tm1:] FRANCESCO TOSCANO AND ENRICO MESSINA:

These two authors published an exact quote of the Leslie and Adamski version ([la1]).

[Ref. ub3:] "UFODATENBANK":

Case ID19610831
Global case number:19610831-0001-UDB
Date of observation (Day)31
Date of observation (Month)8
Date of observation(Year)1961
Hour of observation
Zip Code
Place of observationGuebwiller
County
Federal state
CountryFrance
Witnesses
Hynek ClassificationNL
Vallee Classification
Ruthledge Classification
Henke Classification
Evaluation
Identification
Investigations
Status of the investigation
DomainUFO-Datenbank
Case added by
Latest change by:
Investigator in charge of the case
SourceDUFOA-Deutschland - SiDat - 1996-2002
State of the information25.04.2015 22:16
Accesses to this record2
Link to Openmaphttp://nominatim.openstreetmap.org/search?q=Guebwiller,France
Link to theobservationhttp://www.ufo-db.com/WfrmSetupSichtung.aspx?uid_Sichtung=6e407220-2bb9-46e9-9a50-0526498e7d86
Summary for guestsLes faits et éventuellement d'autres documents seront publiés progressivement. Nous vous remercions de votre patience.
Preview image
Case ID18560406
Global case number:18560406-0002-UDB
Date of observation (Day)6
Date of observation (Month)4
Date of observation(Year)1856
Hour of observation
Zip Code
Place of observationColmar
County
Federal state
CountryFrance
Witnesses
Hynek ClassificationNL
Vallee Classification
Ruthledge Classification
Henke Classification
Evaluation
Identification
Investigations
Status of the investigation
DomainUFO-Datenbank
Case added by
Latest change by:
Investigator in charge of the case
SourceDUFOA-Deutschland - SiDat - 1996-2002
State of the information25.04.2015 22:16
Accesses to this record2
Link to Openmaphttp://nominatim.openstreetmap.org/search?q=Colmar,France
Link to theobservationhttp://www.ufo-db.com/WfrmSetupSichtung.aspx?uid_Sichtung=dfa528e0-2b3f-4e7d-a093-99605eb3e8db
Summary for guestsLes faits et éventuellement d'autres documents seront publiés progressivement. Nous vous remercions de votre patience.
Preview image

Discussion:

The first thing I want to expose is the entrabnce of the story in the UFO literature.

The origin is clear: Charles-François Dussourt, medical officer at the military hospital in Colmar, made the observation. It was on April 6, 1857, between 4 and 5 o'clock in the afternoon in Andolsheim near Colmar, along the River Ill. This was reported by the local press through the newspaper "L'Alsacien" and included in the Parisian press [Ref. pr1], and at least one other newspaper of the time on April 18, 1857, a regional newspaper [Ref. da1], an almanac, etc., suggesting that the event was surely mentioned in lots of other regional newspaper in France.

This rules out the idea that Desmond Leslie made it up from nothing.

One may certainly wonder how it found its was in a 1953 foreign book about flying saucers, Desmond Leslie's book, but it certainly is very simple: long ago, a man had collected reports of strange events, mainly from the Press, worldwide. He was collecting among other weird reports, the stories which to him evoked flying machines from another planet. This British man was Charles Fort, well known yet too often forgotten in the history of ufology, when people imagine that the idea of extraterrestrial visitors as an explanation for mysterious thing in the sky came up only the int 1950's and from the United States. Desmond Leslie took up ancient reports found by Charles Fort, and commended the work of the latter [la1], because he is likely the main source for these old cases.

I found the local sources of the time for the story, and how it entered sauvcer literature is quite logical. After Desmond Leslie, the story is copied, sometimes with little care, no research effort, and without any mention of any primary source, simply because the copyists did not realize it was Charles Fort who recorded the report, as Desmond Leslie had not explicitly credited him, or because the primary source was never indicated by Charles Fort in the first place, or omitted by Desmond Leslie - more likely. Leslie gave no source for any of the several dozens old reports he listed in his book.

The British Desmond Arthur Peter Leslie, born in 1921 in Ireland, died in 2001 in Antibes, France. He was a pilot, filmmaker, author and pioneer of electronic music.

Maybe some of the copyists preferred to silence Desmond Leslie as their source: he co-wrote part of his book with the American "contactee" George Adamski, a proven big liar, so it would have given a bad look on the story.

Thus Piens and Scornaux say the source is "Inforespace", the newsletter of the Belgian ufology group SOBEPS, Jérôme Beau gives Piens and Scornaux citing "Inforespace" as source, and only Christian Valentin and "UFOdna" (a catalog based on the old UFOCAT) give Desmond Leslie as a source.

In the process, everyone copied Leslie's wrong date, which was maybe Charles Fort's error. The year is 1857 and not 1856. Christian Valentin in the only one before me who tried to go beyond copying the cpoyist, and he found this letter to the Prefect dated April 9, 1959, tellign of a claim of meteorite fall "two days ago". But it is necessarily a wrong year: the event is quoted in the press in 1857, two years earlier, I proved it.

Another issue was raised by Christian Valentin only, was the identity of the witness. He found the right person, Dr. Dussourt, military doctor and the hospital of Colmar. I can confirm this finding, give the firstname, and even more sources than than the 1860 address book for Haut-Rhin and Bas-Rhin:

I found Charles-François Dussourt studied medicine, authoring "Questions about the various branches of medical science" in 1841. I found Charles-François Dussourt was appointed m ilitary senior physician of 2nd class in the Valenciennes Hospital in General Therapeutics Bulletin, volume 72, page 48, 1867. He is also mentioned in the Medical Archives, second series, page 217, 1856, and the Annals of Public, Industrial and Social Hygiene for 1857. I found Charles-François Dussourt was 1st class medical officer in the military hospital of Colmar, with 18 years of service, six active military campaigns in the Bulletin of Acts of the French Empire, Volume 6, page 895, 1856. Finally, he is quoted in The Medical Union, 1867 page 48 and in Lyon Medical, volume 7, page 191, 1871, we learn that he was promoted Officer of the Legion of Honor.

Dussort, Dussourd, Dussourt, that was quite a mess, but things are clear, the newspaper La Presse did write "Mr. doctor Dussourt, chief physician of the military hospital in Colmar".

Now, what about the observation?

We must thing "Fireball", meteorite, or at least meteor passing in the sky.

A meteor across the sky at night is bright. Swollen at the front with a luminous trail backwards. But here we have "a very black body". And it happens in the afternoon. The shape is the reverse of a flaming meteor, pointed tip in front and terminated by a spherical mass. What is described is a meteorite falling down - or something else if you want it at all costs.

Christian Valentin found that the recovery of the meteorite for exhibition at the Museum of Colmar was discussed. So I searched among known meteorites, documented, at that time, to trace this object. I did not find it. No meteorites catalog indicates that it was recovered. The letter found by Christian Valentin did not say it was, only that if the meteorite was recovered, it should be placed in Colmar, implying that it had not been found or not found yet.

The closest to our case that I found is:

ASTRONOMY. — Composition of a fireball stone fallen in April 1857:

Extract from a letter from Mr. Wohler to Mr. Dumas.

"I have recently analyzed a meteoric stone that fell at Kaba, Hungary, on April 15, 1857. This stone is black and its color is due to amorphous carbon. It also contains common elements of meteorites, an organic material, that is to say a carbon hydrogen somewhat similar to paraffin, or to ozokerite scheererite. The amount of bituminous material, it is true, is very small, but I found it for sure. It is soluble in alcohol and charred by calcination. Since then I found the same material in the meteorite that fell in 1838 in Cape Town, Africa [the Cold Bokkeveld Mountains meteorite]. The stone is colored in black and contains 1.5 per 100 carbon. probably the bituminous material is a product of organic nature, and that the presence of coal in these stones is due to the action of fire on the bituminous material at the time of occurrence of the glow of the meteorite in its passage through the Earth's atmosphere."

The source is:

This is the nearest date and nearest place. But obviously Andolsheim is far from Kaba in Hungary for a meteorite already "black" when seen falling, with its strongly inclined trajectory and the sound heard when it hit the ground. It must inevitably ave fallen near Dr. Dussourt. So where is it now? Or is it still over there?

Evaluation:

Probable meteorite fall.

Sources references:

* = Source is available to me.
? = Source I am told about but could not get so far. Help needed.

File history:

Authoring:

Main author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross March 11, 2014 Creation, [da1], [pr1], [re1], [aa1], [rg1], [la1], [kr1], [jv1], [ps1], [uw2], [jb1], [cv2], [ud1], [tm1].
1.0 Patrick Gross March 11, 2014 First published.
1.1 Patrick Gross October 6, 2016 Addition [pv1].
1.2 Patrick Gross October 31, 2016 Addition [ur1].
1.3 Patrick Gross January 25, 2018 Addition [ur1].

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This page was last updated on January 25, 2018.