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UFOs in the daily Press:

Close encounter of the third kind in 1896:

This article was published in the daily newspaper Stockton Evening Mail, of Stockton, California, USA, on November 27, 1896.

Case file here.

THREE STRANGE VISITORS
Who Possibly Came From the Planet Mars
Seen on a Country Road by Colonel H.G. Shaw and a Companion
They Boarded the Airship

For more than a week the papers all over the coast have been reporting the presence of an alleged airship or flying machine, which many reputable people claim to have seen on several occasions in the heavens at night. Whether or not there really is such a contrivance navigating the air the Mail is unable to satisfactorily determine, but some of the papers have taken the matter seriously and others have been disposed to make light of the statements. A couple of San Francisco attorneys have secured a lot of free advertising by claiming to have clients who have invented and tested successful flying ships, and the newspapers have filled several columns talking about the aerial mystery.

The Mail makes the above statement merely by way of preface to a most remarkable story which is related by Colonel H.G. Shaw of this city, formerly of the Mail editorial staff. Colonel Shaw is at present engaged in collecting an exhibit for the Stockton Commercial Association to be displayed at the Citrus Fair which will be held in Fresno during the coming month. The gentleman was very reticent about relating the circumstance, as he said he had no idea that it would believed by anyone, and he was loath to appear before the public as a romancer or as a man who had looked upon shoe-string when it was red. He tells the story as follows:

THREE STRANGE BEINGS

"Were it not for the fact that I was not alone when I witnessed the strange sight I would never have mentioned it at all. Wednesday afternoon I went out to Lodi and Lockeford in company with Camille Spooner, a young man recently arrived from Nevada. I went to the places mentioned in quest of material to form an exhibit to represent this county at the Fresno Citrus Fair. We left Lodi on the return trip, I should judge, shortly before 6 o'clock, and we were jogging along quietly when the horse stopped suddenly and gave a snort of terror."

"Looking up we beheld three strange beings. They resembled humans in many respects, but still they were not like anything I had ever seen. They were nearly or quite seven feet high and very slender. We were both somewhat startled, as you may readily imagine, and the first impulse was to drive on. The horse, however, refused to budge, and when we saw that we were being regarded more with an air of curiosity than anything else, we concluded to get out and investigate. I walked up to where the strange looking persons were and addressed them. I asked where they were from. They seemed not to understand me, but began - well, "warbling" expresses it better than talking. Their remarks, if such you would call them, were addressed to each other, and sounded like a monotonous chant, inclined to be guttural. I saw it was no use to attempt a conversation, so I satisfied myself with watching and examining them. They seemed to take great interest in ourselves, the horse and buggy, and scrutinized everything very carefully."

WEIGHED LESS THAN AN OUNCE EACH

"While they were thus engaged I was enabled to inspect them as well. As I have already stated, they were seven feet in height and very slender. I noticed, further, that their hands were quite small and delicate, and that their fingers were without nails. Their feet, however, were nearly twice as long as those of an ordinary man, though they were narrow, and the toes were also long and slender. I noticed, too, that they were able to use their feet and toes much the same as a monkey; in fact, they appeared to have much better use of their feet than their hands. I presently discovered that this was probably a provision of nature. As one of then came close to me I reached out to touch him, and placing my hand under his elbow pressed gently upward, and lo and behold I lifted him from the ground with scarcely an effort. I should judge that the specific gravity of the creature was less than an ounce. It was then that I observed him try to grasp the earth with his toes to prevent my lifting him. You can readily understand that their slight weight made such a provision necessary, or they might be blown away."

"They were without any sort of clothing, but were covered with a natural growth hard to describe; it was not hair, neither was it like feathers, but it was as soft as silk to the touch, and their skin was like velvet. Their faces and heads were without hair, the ears were very small, and the nose had the appearance of polished ivory, while the eyes were large and lustrous. The mouth, however, was small, and it seemed to me that they were without teeth. That and other things led me to believe that they neither ate nor drank, and that life was sustained by some sort of gas. Each of them had swung under the left arm a bag to which was attached a nozzle, and every little while one or the other would place the nozzle on his mouth, at which time I heard a sound of escaping gas. It was much the same sound as is produced by a person blowing up a football."

OF INDESCRIBABLE BEAUTY

"From the description I give I do not want you to get the idea that these creatures were hideous. In appearance they were markedly the contrary. They were possessed of a strange and indescribable beauty. I can express myself in no other way. They were graceful to a degree, and more divinely beautiful than anything I ever beheld."

"The strangest part of the story is yet to come. It is the lights they carried. Each held to his hand something about the size of a hen's egg. Upon holding them up and partly opening the hand, these substances emitted the most remarkable, intense and penetrating light one can imagine. Notwithstanding its intensity it had no unpleasant effect upon our eyes, and we found we could gaze directly at it. It seemed to me tobe some sort of luminous mineral, though they had complete control of it."

"Finally they became tired of examining us and our horse and buggy, and then one of them, at a signal from one who appeared to be the leader, attempted to lift me, probably with the intention of carrying me away. Although I made not the slightest resistance he could not move me, and finally the three of them tried it without the slightest success. They appeared to have no muscular power outside of being able to move their own limbs."

STRANGE AIRSHIP

"Well, after trying in vain to move either of us they turned in the direction of the Woodbridge canal, near which we were, and as they flashed their lights towards the bridge we beheld a startling sight. There, resting in the air about twenty feet above the water, was an immense airship. It was 150 feet in length at least, though probably not over twenty feet in diameter at the widest part. It was pointed at both ends, and outside of a large rudder there was no visible machinery. The three walked rapidly toward the ship, not as you or I walk, but with a swaying motion, their feet only touching the ground at intervals of about fifteen feet. We followed them as rapidly as possible, and reached the bridge as they were about to embark. With a little spring they rose to the machine, opened a door in the side, and disappeared within. I do not know of what the affair was built, but just before it started I struck it with a rock and it gave no sound. It went through the air very rapidly and expanded and contracted with a muscular motion, and was soon out of sight."

"I have a theory, which, of course, is only a theory, that those we beheld were inhabitants of Mars, who haw been sent to the earth for the purpose of securing one of its inhabitants. I feel safe in asserting that the stories being told by certain San Francisco attorneys are clumsy fakes, and should not be given credence by anyone."

DASHES HERE AND THERE

Some practical jokers sent up a number of hot air balloons last night, as a take-off on the alleged airship. Several people saw the balloons and enjoyed a laugh. [1]

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