This article was published in the daily newspaper The Chicago Times-Herald, Chicago, Illinois, Saturday, April 17, 1897.
Warning: the airship stories must not be taken at face value as "UFO sightings." Evaluation of such stories is under way here.
AIR SHIP SEEN NEAR MINONK, ILL.
Two Illinois Train Crews Describe It As a Gigantic Aerial Machine Rectangular in Form
Bloomington, Ill., April 16, 1897. - Air ship stories of an apparently entirely reliable character came in, in rapid succession this evening and all seem to be corroborative. The first story came from Rankin and Arrowsmith on the Lake Erie and Western Railway, east of Bloomington. The telegraph operators at those points reported that, about dark, an airship had hovered over the towns and then set out in the direction of Bloomington.
Soon after this the crew of an Illinois Central train from the north arrived in the city. Conductor William Walmsley, E.M. Carter, superintendent of bridges, and Mr. Adamson, chief of agents of the Illinois Central, all reported that, while the train was at Woodford station, near Minonk, about 7 o'clock, they saw an air ship at great altitude and going west or northwest.
A few minutes later a passenger train of the Illinois Central arrived from Chicago. The mail agent on the train, J.P. Eson of Bloomington, and William Black, train baggageman, asserted that they saw a gigantic aerial boat sailing westward, while they were between Barnes and Merna station in this county [McLean county]. Others on the train declared that they also saw the air ship. It was a flat object, of apparently rectangular form, and carried red and white lights.
Haney Savidge, a resident of Downs township declares that one day this week, while he was at work in a field, an air ship alighted near him and that six people disembarked therefrom, remained a few minutes and conversed with him, and then jumped aboard, ascended and sailed away. Robert Hitch and family, who live three miles south of [unreadable] also saw an air ship between 8 and 9 o'clock last night.
VANDALIA, Ill., April 16 The much talked of air ship was seen by a number of reputable citizens of this place about 8 o'clock this evening. A telegraphic dispatch from Greenville told of the presence of the mysterious phenomenon near there, and a crowd collected and saw the spectacle in the northwestern sky near the horizon. It showed white, red and green lights, and slowly disappeared in a northwesterly direction.
WEST CHICAGO, Ill., April 16 The air ship was seen to-night apparently three miles northwest of the city. Its light changed from white to red and it was traveling due northwest.
CAIRO, Ill., April 16 The famous air ship was seen here about 8:30 o'clock this evening. It appeared to be hovering over the western horizon, and gradually grew smaller as if disappearing in the west. Different colored lights were seen, and the visitor appeared as it has been described numbers of times before. The attention Professor Baldwin of the weather bureau was attracted by it, and after a careful examination he declared that it was the planet Venus. Professor Baldwin believes this is the same object that has attracted the attention of the people over half a dozen states recently.
PIERRE, S.D., April 16 A mysterious light, which was seen by many last night passing over this city, going rapidly westward, was declared by a number who saw it to be an "air ship". A dark object hung below the light.
WATERLOO, Iowa, April 16 It has developed that the alleged air ship here was built by a local wag and secretly placed on an out lot last night. A man from a town 100 miles distant, an entire stranger is in charge. Fully 5,000 people have viewed it today. It is an immense structure of canvas and light lumber, 40 feet long, 20 feet wide and about 10 feet high.
JEFFERSON, Iowa, April 16 A local paper this morning printed a lurid story concerning an "air ship" which was alleged to have plunged into the earth north of town. Before noon a number of people had actually visited the place to see the hole where it disappeared.
ANN ARBOR, Mich., April 16 A hot air balloon or "air ship" with red and yellow lights was seen by a large number of persons about 9 o'clock tonight. It passed over the southern part of the city, and was traveling eastward at a rapid rate. It was seen by students on the university campus and by persons in all parts of the town.
VINCENNES, Ind., April 16 More than a score of citizens of unquestioned veracity saw some strange body passing over the city early this evening which they think was the mysterious "air ship". Such men as Colonel M.P. Ghee, ex-Mayor Ewing, Edward Watson, Thomas Eastham, Judge DeWolf, Scott Emison, Will Mason and others saw the strange aerial visitor. Heretofore they have doubted the story of the air ship, but all now admit that seeing is believing.