Encounters with the Unknown—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, December 2014
Tennessee’s Mystery Airship and Occupant reports of 1907
by: Albert S. Rosales
Date: April 20 1907
Walter Stephenson was out training his pair of bloodhounds and had just finished a long chase with his dogs and sat down on a log to rest, when things got weird. He spied upon the eastern horizon a speck, which he took to be a large kite. He paid little attention to the object, and shifted his gaze temporarily to other scenes. Soon his attention was attracted to a whirring noise and looking upward, he saw that the speck which he had a few moments before discovered in the eastern sky had approached almost directly over him, and that the object was in reality a huge balloon, but of a pattern and appearance he had never in his life before seen. He discovered that the floating mass was rapidly approaching the earth. Of a sudden, the observer says, strains of music calculated to charm the spheres burst from the balloon, which circled around and around and finally landed at Dikeman Springs. A number of strange people emerged from the car, which was closely curtained with a substance that fairly glistened in the sunshine that temporarily burst through the obscuring clouds, and all going to the big, flowing spring, knelt by it in a supplicating attitude and so remained for a minute or more.
Mr. Stephenson says that while this was going on he sat quietly within speaking distance, and when the strange visitors arose to their feet and he supposed their devotional exercises were over, he asked if he might be permitted to inquire who they were, and what their mission? He said that instantly a visor was lifted by one of the company and the benign face of a lady showed from underneath and said in German, “Haben sie Beten?” (Did you pray?) And instantly all were aboard, the airship rose, circled about for a minute or more and was gone in a westerly direction. Mr. Stephenson says that the incident left an impression upon him that he can never forget, and while he knows that it was some human invention, it looked and the music sounded more like that ‘of angels than of mortals.’
Source: Theo Paijmans “The Tennessee Aeronaut Flap of 1907” citing Evening News (Ada Oklahoma) July 1 1907 and other newspaper sources.
Location. Bold Springs, Tennessee
Date: April 21 1907
Time: 03:30 a.m.
A Mr. W. A. Smith described as a respected farmer living four miles from the town of Bold Springs, told how he left for town that Saturday morning at around 3.30 am. He was just on his way when he heard strains of music. Shrugging it off, thinking that perhaps a wedding must be taking place, he then noticed that the music came from above. He looked up and “was amazed to see a large balloon of unusual size and strange pattern.” Suspended from the balloon was a large closed car from within which the music appeared to come. The car was strung with electric lights, and a brilliant searchlight was carried at the front. No machinery or mechanism appeared in view, and the motive power could not even be surmised.
The balloon directed its searchlight to a large spring, heading directly toward it. Finally the balloon descended slowly to the ground, about 30ft (9m) from the edge of the spring. Smith left his horse tied to a tree and went for a closer look. As he came close he noted a peculiar party of queer-looking persons in strange garb kneeling beside the spring, apparently engaged in silent prayer. Smith decided not to make contact, but as the group returned to their aerial craft, one of them pointed to him uttering some words that Smith could not understand. In closing, the Nashville American remarked: “In justice to Mr. Smith it should be stated that his story was told here Saturday afternoon, nearly 16 hours before the Sunday American reached town. In Sunday’s American appeared a story from Dickson, Tenn., in the adjoining county, chronicling the appearance of a similar aircraft, and crediting the strange visitors with speaking German.”
Source: Theo Paijmans “The Tennessee Aeronaut Flap of 1907” quoting the Nashville American
Location. Near Pleasant Spring, Tennessee
Date: April 22 1907
Herman Schubert, who with his family lived at the edge of town claimed that the mystery aeronauts visited thereabouts as well. Schubert, who was German, regarded the aeronauts as “merely visitors from what he calls ‘the old country’.” The Schuberts occupied a large farm with a spring, a natural basin 20ft (6m) wide, at the edge of a 40-acre wood lot. The spring is the headwater of a small stream, which, from its rise on the Schubert farm, is known as Schubert Creek.
Schubert and his 15-year old son Carl were at the spring-house that Sunday evening. Finishing his work, it was now near dark. Carl sat at the edge of the basin. The old man heard his son calling in a half-frightened tone, so he rushed outside. At an elevation of several hundred feet the two saw a large airship or balloon; from their account it is impossible to decide which. Suspended from the body of the air machine was a large closed car, very similar to the body of a stage coach, except that it was probably 35ft (10m) long, and had an entrance on either side instead of at the end. The airship landed at the edge of the spring and the Schuberts retreated inside the spring-house to witness the scene from there. Twelve to 14 people were seen walking to the spring “their attitude one of reverence, as though standing on sacred ground, or in a sacred presence.” At the spring the group arranged itself along the edge and knelt, apparently in silent prayer, being thus engaged for several minutes. When the strange aeronauts returned to the carriage, the elder Schubert, addressing no one in particular, asked what they were doing and who they were. The party with one exception, continued unheeding on the way to the car. Only one of the party took note of Mr. Schubert’s request. Turning toward the two this one of the travelers said, without raising the head covering, “Sie haben nicht gebeten; Rede uns nicht an,” which Mr. Schubert says is the German equivalent for “Thou has not prayed; address us not.” Mr. Schubert spoke to them in German, and the spokesman replied, evidently surprised at hearing the tongue; “Unsere Wohlfahrt ist noch nicht vallented; in guten Zeit wird die welt alles wissen.” This, Mr. Schubert says, is German for, “Our pilgrimage is not yet completed; the world will know all in time.” The spokesman then turned and followed his companions into the car, which rose rapidly and took a southerly direction.
Source: Theo Paijmans “The Tennessee Aeronaut Flap of 1907” quoting “Nashville American, Tennessee, 23 April 1907”
Location. Near Nashville, Tennessee
Date: April 26 1907
Mail carrier Asa Hickerson had been delivering the mail and was descending a steep hill with a little log building named Peabody School at the bottom, when his attention was drawn to “sounds resembling the chanting of some weird, funeral dirge, proceeding seemingly from the tops of the forest trees through which his route winded.” His horse became restless and all his attention was needed to calm the frightened animal. Pausing briefly, Hickerson left his buggy to adjust the harness, when once more the strange sounds were heard, but now much louder; simultaneously there swooped into plain view a gigantic aircraft that gradually and with the ease of a huge bird, settled softly to the ground, some 50 yards (46m) from where Mr. Hickerson struggled with his now almost unmanageable roan mare. A group of several men exited the long car attached to the craft, and forming in single file, resumed their long chant, and proceeded slowly to the mouth of an abandoned oil well at the side of the road. There the group conducted a strange ritual. Forming a circle around the well, one of them carrying a long staff plunged it three times in the well after having made “sundry passes in the air” with it. The group then withdrew to the opposite side of the road where the staff, dripping with the oil, was stuck in the moist earth and set alight. The band then joined hands and again lifting their voices in song, slowly circled around and around the flaming rod, while a small spiral column of black smoke whirled slowly upwards.
The ceremony finished, the group returned to the airship. Hickerson too wanted to know what was going on. So he asked, “What are you doing here?” The one who had carried the staff replied in sonorous tones “Betreue deine sunde und bete!” (Be healthy and pray) extending his right hand as if invoking a benediction. The huge vessel then with the poise and grace of an eagle rose slowly until well above the forest and headed in a northeasterly direction and was soon lost to view.
Source: Theo Paijmans “The Tennessee Aeronaut Flap of 1907” quoting “Nashville American, Tennessee, 28 April 1907