Anyway, another instance of unidentified lights in the sky was reported by a Massachusetts schoolteacher in 1808. Mysterious airships plagued San Francisco in the 1870s, Wild West cowboys in the 1880s, and then returned to San Fran in 1896.
In 1897, a flying saucer was said to have crashed into a windmill in Aurora, Texas, with insinuations that the spaceship had been making rounds across the Midwest that year, too. And, of course, there are myriad pre-Columbian sightings by the indigenous peoples of the North American continent, going back for millennia and recorded in petroglyphs and tribal myths.
This isn’t to suggest any kind of Ancient Aliens-style, history-erasing racism, by the way, just to point out that we’ve all been seeing weird stuff in the sky and then telling others about it for literally all of recorded history. Conventional wisdom (and skepticism) might finger the 1940s as the start of America’s alien obsession, but the truth has been out there (or not) for much, much longer.
Eirik Gumeny is the author of the Exponential Apocalypse series, a five-book saga of slacker superheroes, fart jokes, and assorted B-movie monsters, and he recently added werewolves and assassins to The Great Gatsby. He’s also on Twitter a bunch.
Top Image: San Francisco Call, 1896