Friday, August 9, 2019

Viewing the Mysterious Aerial Lights From the Dome of the State Capitol -- August 9, 2019

San Francisco Call, 29-November-1896
There were many sightings of unidentified flying objects in the United States during the late 1890s. I wonder what people saw. Antonio Maceo Grajales was a Cuban rebel leader. I like the discussion of the ethics of bombing civilians from the air.

This is our eighth report from the San Francisco Call.

18-November-1895: "Claim They Saw a Flying Airship"
23-November-1896: "The Great Airship That is Startling the People of Many Cities"
24-November-1896: "The Apparition of the Air"
25-November-1896: "Mission of the Aerial Ship"
26-November-1896: "The Mystery Again Seen at the Capital"
27-November-1896: "It Is to Be Used to Destroy the City of Havana"
28-November-1896: "Attaches a Balloon to the Warship of the Air"

Over His Signature the
Attorney Tells of His


(And Again the Brilliant Shafts
Are Sighted Speeding Above
the Bay Counties.


Spectators in Haywards Insist on the Aeronautic
Theory -- Professor Cross, the Linguist,
Adds His Evidence.

No one has as yet identified the aerial voyager that is supposed to be displaying the mysterious lights that have shone down upon startled gazers in various parts of the State, but the number of those who have seen what they are ready to swear was an airship is constantly growing larger.

While even many of those who have seen the flitting and gleaming lights are not prepared to decrare they are carried by a full-fledged aerial craft they admit they can account in no ordinary way for the phenomenon.

There is, therefore, yet ample room for the mystery to be proved a fake, a hallucination or a verity. Meanwhile, and until the mystery is completely solved, THE CALL will continue to chronicle the news relating to it, taking nothing from nor adding anything to the reports it receives. Whenever definite and conclusive proof. however, is received. it will be given freely, fully and fairly, whatever it chances to establish.

General Hart received a visit yesterday from one of the men who, he stated, has been making trips with the mysterious inventor in his aerial vessel. This general declined to give any information of these trips. He stated, however, that this man and another mechanic in the services of the inventor had gone to the workshop of the inventor to assist in the work of completing a third and much improved craft. This remodeled vessel would be completed, he expected, in about a week.

It was to be a great improvement on the two airships already built, and when it has been properly tested was to be at once dispatched for the scene of its deadly purpose (Havana), which was to be overwhelmed with a shower of dynamite. Considerable time will be consumed, according to the statement of General Hart, in making the crew who are to go on the novel expedition familiar with the working of the vessel.

General Hart has contributed a full statement regarding his connection with the reputed warship of the air and tells some new and interesting things therein in regard to it. He also takes up the defense of the Cuban patriots in a most patriotic and martial spirit.

Professor M. S. Cross, dean of the University of the Pacific, now adds his testimony to that of the believers, and Haywards people of prominence tell some additional startling stories.

The Dean of the University of the Pacific Testifies to the Passage of
the Conqueror of the Air.

Professor M. S. Cross, dean of the University of the Pacific and professor of ancient languages, is one of the best-known scholars and linguists in the United States. He is a brother of Senator Cross of this City. He stands very high in the estimation of all students and professors, so that his testimony on the aerial wonder will be received with profound attention. The following telegram, giving his opinion on the subject, was received yesterday:

SAN JOSE, Cal., Nov. 28 -- Professor M. S. Cross, dean of the University of the Pacifc, confirms the story of tbe airship's passage over East San Jose Thursday night Professor Cross is known in this vicinity as a careful and conservative man of unimpeachable veracity, and his testimony has won scores of doubting Thomases over to a firm belief in the existence of an aerial craft in this vicinity. The fact that the head of a Methodist representative educational institution on this coast has been fortunate enough to view this nocturnal visitor has well nigh silenced the scoffers.

"It was just about 7 o'clock on Thursday evening when my attention was called to the strange light in the air," said Professor Cross. "I was visiting at the residence of Professor Worcester and was called into the yard by him to view the airship. Whether or not it was an airship of course I am not prepared to say, but certain it is there was a rapidly moving light in the heavens far too large and bright to be an electric street light. To my eye it appeared to be about six inches in diameter. It was moving in a southwesterly direction and apparently at a high rate of speed.

The motion was not steady. It wavered and swerved, rising and falling slightly. The motion, however, was not that of a balloon. I have frequently watched balloons in the air, and the motion of this light was in no way suggestive of the manner in which I have always seen them behave. Moreover, it was a quiet night. What slight breeze there was I think was from the south. Yet this light traveled rapidly in a southerly direction. As it left us the light seemed to broaden. This suggested to us that there might be two lights which an the craft swung broadside to us joined rays and gave the appearance of a wide streak of light."

Professor Cross is confident that it could not be either a balloon or a natural heavenly body that he saw. "I will be very much surprised," he declared, "if something more than a balloon is not found to have been floating about. I see nothing very wonderful in the construction of an airship. From experiments already made there seems to be every reason to hope for success in aerial navigation."

The point where Professor Cross viewed the ship is about two blocks distant from where John Bawl, whose account appeared in yesterday's CALL, saw it, and the two accounts tally precisely in point of time, direction and general movements. The ship was nearer the earth when Bawl viewed it.

A Mysterious Light Traced From a
Canyon of the Palomares Valley.

OAKLAND, Cal., Nov. 28. -- The residents of Haywards are convinced that the peculiar thing, airship or something else, that they have been watching pass over their town on numerous occasions, has its home somewhere among the canyons of Palomares Valley.

To-night the marvelous light was observed in such a manner as to forever set aside the idea that it is a star. Two parties, several miles apart, observed it. To one it was to the eastward and to the other it passed westward. When notes were compared it was agreed that it had passed over between the two observers.

Ed O. Webb, who is known all over the county as a man not prone to make assertions unless be can back them up informed George Oakes, editor ot the Haywards Journal, that he saw the airship traveling through the heavens in the direction of Castro Valley Wednesday evening about 9:30 o'clock. The brilliant lightly (sic - JT) was plainly seen at his home and also by other members of the family.

Fred Hoyt also saw the light as it was floating leisurely along in the direction of the Liedel place, near San Lorenzo. He was so interested in watching the moving object and would no doubt have solved the mystery had he not lost his balance and fallen into a ditch that he did not see was in his path.

Carl Mohr furnishes the most startling information. He told Mr. Oakes that he saw the airship rise from a canyon near his place Thursday evening about 7 o'clock and proceed in the direction of San Francisco, and also saw it return. Mr. Mohr is very positive in his statement, and firmly believes that the machine is being housed near Lone Tree Cemetery.

About the clearest statement yet made regarding the mysterious airship comes from C. S. Long, C. W. Everett and H. Liedel, three of the best-known citizens of Haywards, who were crossing tne railroad track at the depot in a buggy Tuesday evening, about 6:30 o'clock, when their attention was attracted to an exceedingly bright light in the direction of the bay and they watched it for some time. It was moving very rapidly, and while they could not swear that it was an airship they do not hesitate to say that it completely puzzled them.

"I was going home about 7 o'clock," said Mr. Hooson, "when I met my brother, who called my attention to a remarkable light in the heavens. At the first glance I could see it was a powerful electric light. It was slightly south of east and was moving steadily across the country toward the bay. I have not been a believer in the published accounts of airships, but must now say that I have seen something that was not natural to the skies.

"The light was not a steady light like a star, but flickered like our arc lights here on the streets, and it looked like one of them some distance away. One peculiar feature of the light was the way it changed from time to time.

"It appears as if the operator of a searchlight was placing red and blue glass before the light occasionally so as to make the light more noticeable to any one who happens to be looking into the heavens. No star has ever done that in the past and I am not ready to believe that one is doing any such capers at present. If this was the first time the lights had been seen here I might not think so much of it, but residents have been seeing a light come from the hills on a number of occasions and make its way across the heavens toward the south. It was only corroborative of these to-night when I saw it"

Editor George A. Oakes was another who saw the visitor to-night from his residence in the northern part of Haywards.

"I saw the light to-night for the first time," said he, "and am sure it was no star or fire balloon. It passed east of town and appeared to go across the bay, as if headed for lower San Francisco. The white light was not steady, and changed to a red occasionally. It is more than I can solve, and must be some one who has finally solved the problem of aerial navigation."

Jesse Hooson, a student at St. Mary's College, had a good view of the visitor at Haywards to-night.

"I was startled," said he, "on coming along the street to-night to see a very bright light in the heavens. It was like an arc electric light, and, naturally, I stood watching it. The thing was moving toward the southwest with the wind at first, hut changed its course several times, and finally came up into the wind for some distance. It finally disappeared over toward Redwood City. The thing seemed to be operated by some one to see how it would answer a helm or guiding apparatus of some kind."
These parties already referred to saw the machine to the eastward. Now comes a story from a man who was evidently on the other side of it.

Steve Morrison of Haywards was in San Ramon, and coming home to-night he saw the aerial visitor in such a manner as to fix its location approximately. "I was driving over the hills from San Ramon," said he, "when I noticed a very bright white light in the sky west of me. It looked like an arc electric light, but was too high in the heavens for that, and then I knew there were no arc lights out in that part of the country. It was a surprise to me and I watched the thing very carefully. I first noticed it as I came up out of one of the small valleys and could see it move about until I went Into another."

Marshal Ramage of Haywards tells a story which may result in clearing up the mystery of the affair. "It has seemed very strange that this mysterious light should be seen in this vicinity so often. It is possible that the thing, whatever it may be, is being kept up here somewhere. I know of only one place where it would be possible for an airship to be worked out, and I can hardly believe that even there the material could have been taken in without exciting some suspicion, James Spiers, of the firm of Hinckley Spiers and Hayes of San Francisco, resides out in the Palomares Canyon, and is quite an inventor. His sons are great students also, and it might be that they have been at work on something of this kind, and have succeeded in getting a ship that will really travel through the air.

"I recently had a talk with a man who worked for them this summer, and he told me that a new trail had been constructed from the house up to the table land near the crest of the hill and in a canyon. I know the place, and it is hidden entirely from view and would be an ideal place for such work.

"I asked him what the trail was being constructed for, and he said he asked the same question and was told that all that was required of him was to do the work and not worry about what it was for. After this he completed the work without further questioning. He does not know to this day what the trail was built for, and I know of no one who has ever been on the place or on the new trail."

An interesting story was told by W. H. Warren in Crane's store on Thirteenth street. Warren is encaged in the chicken business above the Zeile place. According to his statement he has succeeded in inventing a machine that he states he made a trip in, reaching: the height of 100 feet. This took place at San Pedro not over a month or so ago. He is quite a young man and a clever machinist. He has a complete working model capable of carrying one man. It is made in the shape of a cigar, with a round head, and built of a light frame covered with tin and fitted with wings, and a tail like a fan.

The machinery is worked with gasoline. A trial trip was made and was a success.

The inventor objects to exhibiting his machine, as he has not yet secured a patent on it. He says he secured his idea from watching the flight of the seagull. The machine is now in San Francisco. He has not yet used electricity, but admits that it would be a great improvement.

George R. Toyne, who interviewed Warren for the Haywards Journal, said to-night that Warren had a partner whom he had sent to Oroville to see if he could learn anything of the plans of the new airship for the purpose of comparison.

His Martial Spirit and Patriotism Expressed With the Ardor
of a Soldier.

All of General Hart's martial ardor and spirit of liberty was aroused when he read the editorial in the Bulletin of Friday evening which called him to task for being a party to the proposed use of dynamite for the purpose of destroying Havana. The article in question reads as follows:

A man of former prominence in this State is announced through a paper of standing as the agent or attorney of a man who proposes to destroy the city of Havana with dynamite. In apparent unconsciousness of the horror with which dynamite plots are regarded in all parts of the civilized world this degenerate invites a subscription of $10,000,000 to furnish the means by which a rich, populous and beautiful city may be destroyed.

At a time when the world is devising ways to prevent wars with their Inevitable consequences, this man, whom the people once honored with their votes for a high office, plans a scheme by which the horrors of war may be increased a hundred fold. Whether or not the plan is practicable does not matter. It tends to familiarize the public mind with methods of destruction that have been considered too horrible to contemplate. Assassination is a playful manifestation of hate compared to this plan of wholesale murder. And all for what? It is not proposed to do evil that good may come of it. It is not proposed to offer a sacrifice of lives in a forlorn hope to promote a righteous cause.

The assassins of tyrants have been in darker periods represented as acting under a delusion that robbed assassination of its infamy. But this California lawyer, this man who was at one time the head of the Department of Justice for this great State, now proposes to make murder a speculation. For a sum of money he proposes to destroy the capital city of the most populous island in the West Indies. This proposition is made without any seeming sense of its monstrosity. It is discussed with the same disregard of moral sense the hired bravado exhibits when asked to name his price for murder.

It is no wonder that an eminent clergyman said in his Thanksgiving discourse that California is noted for the startling irregularity with which society advances. If this eminent clergyman had seriously considered the dynamite proposition he might have added that California is noted also for the startling irregularity with which civilization leaps backward into the dark ages. The fact that a proposition of this nature could be placed before the people of this State is a reflection upon our civilization. The least measure of punishment that could be anticipated from a self-respecting community would be a protest that would make the State an impossible place of residence both for the originator of the infamous proposition and for the agents of dissemination.

That law and journalism should have combined to make the destruction of great cities a legitimate speculation is much to be regretted. It is the province of law to teach how evils mny be remedied through the exercise of reason. It is the province of journalism to show how society may lawfully protect itself from nil kinds of desperadoes and anarchists. But in this case a lawyer uses a newspaper to familiarize the public mind with a scheme that an average jailbird could not contemplate without horror.

The day for the promulgation of this project was badly chosen. It was a day when peace and good will were being invoked in public meetings and private residences. The churches were open that the people might be taught the blessing of peace and charity. In public halls all through the city the poor were invited to partake of the cheer of the season. On such a day the conscience of the people was startled by a proposition to wipe a great city off the face of the earth in consideration of the sum of $10,000,000.

Commenting thereon yesterday he said:
"My attention has been called to the editorial in the Bulletin of last night. All I have got to say in reference to it is that the destruction of Havana by dynamite is not half as horrible as the press dispatches of the butcheries of Cubans by the Spanish authorities.

"Of course, in the event that Havana was to be attacked by the airship with dynamite sufficient time would be given for non-combatants to leave the city.

"The apathy shown by the Government of the United States in extending belligerent rights to the Cubans, in view of the atrocities of the Spaniards toward the Cubans and American citizens, is such that it is not to be wondered at that the genius of American invention should discover a means whereby justice can be done to those heroes who are fighting for independence against the oligarchy of Spain."

"For my part, I consider it far more noble to aid a struggling people like the Cubans, who are trying to free themselves from the oppressions of Spain, even though by dynamite, than to be silent and say nothing and practically wink at the atrocities shown the Cubans by the Spanish authorities.

"In the event that it should become necessary to capture Havana, either with artillery or dynamite, it would no doubt be horrible for those who are located in that city. But at the same time if it is necessary to destroy Havana in order that the Cubans may earn their liberty Havana will be destroyed. And, notwithstanding the Bulletin, I predict that within ninety days Havana will be destroyed unless it surrenders to the Cuban forces.

"It appears that the Bulletin is greatly afraid of dynamite, yet we all know that the Government of the United States has been experimenting with dynamite guns for months, and, in fact, they have reached such a point of perfection that it is proposed to use it in guns for harbor defenses in the United States.

"Does the editor of the Bulletin think it is proper for the United States to throw a few hundred pounds of dynamite at some foreign vessel and sink her or blow her up and kill or maim those on board, and that such an act is not proper for the Cubans, who are fighting for liberty? We would simply be trying to keep a vessel out of one of our harbors, while the people of Cuba are fighting for the most precious boon of mankind. I submit that it would be more proper for the Cubans to use dynamite than for the United States to destroy a foreign vessel with a dynamite gun.

"In the event, as I have heretofore stated, that the airship should be used for military purposes in and around Havana it would be better to haw a base of operation within thirty or forty miles of Havana.

"There is no doubt that Maceo would throw dynamite into Havana giving them ample notice of that purpose. But suppose that he should give such a notice it is quite evident that the Spanish authorities would pay no attention to it. They would simply remain there and doubt the feasibility of the airship and the horrors of dynamite until they actually felt it, Therefore it seems to me that if the Bulletin would use a little more force in trying to persuade the Government to recognize the belligerent rights of Cuba it might save itself the horror of hearing that a few hundred people had been destroyed by dynamite.

"It seems to be the American policy of late to permit all kinds of atrocities and to permit its citizens to be trampled upon in foreign countries without making more than a mere protest. As an American citizen who has known something of the horrors of war, I protest against such a policy, and for one say that it is necessary for the Cubans to begin using dynamite. The sooner they use it the better it will be for Cuba and American civilization.

"Certainly the generalship shown by Antonio Maceo and his associates and the fact that the part of the island of which they have control has opened free schools on the system of the public schools of the United States convince me that Maceo would be warranted in using anything that God has created or man invented to give to the people or Cuba their political rights and freedom."

The attention of the Examiner has also been attracted to the Bulletin's editorials, and it comments thereon yesterday as follows:

An evening contemporary gravely criticizes ex-Attorney-General Hart for his scheme to destroy Havana with dynamite dropped from a cruiser of the air. The scheme is rather blood-curdling, considered as practical warfare, but it is extremely interesting from the point of view of romance. The romantic quality is highly developed in General Hart. Personally he would not hurt a fly. He never did hurt one, as far as known. But he received his nomination to office as a hero accustomed to revel in carnage on ensanguined battlefields.

What more natural than that his mind should dwell on new deeds, even gorier than those whose narration gave him his fame ? The exercise will please him, and it will do nobody any harm.

We can think of no one better qualified to be the custodian of an airship than General Hart. Our evening contemporary is wrong to chide him for the use he proposes to make of his charge. The more exciting he can make its programme the more the gayety of the commonwealth will be promoted. A reference to the airship was medicine that soothed even "California's" gloom on Thanksgiving night.

To this the Bulletin in its editorial columns last nigh; rejoined as follows:

The Examiner gently chides the Bulletin for having taken the proposition to destroy Havana by means of an airship seriously. The scheme our contemporary admits to be rather blood-curdling, but is considered interesting from a romantic point of view. It Is not supposed that military authorities have been greatly disturbed by menace of the airship. In fact, General Weyler is more intent upon defending Havana from the insurgent forces than from the California general who derives his title from a civil office. But there are lots of people in the world who do not weigh either men or propositions scientifically. They take a man seriously if he takes himself seriously. It Is not likely that California has heard the last of this dynamite scheme. It will be dilated upon us illustrating the characteristics of our people. The romance of the proposition will be visible indistinctly, if at ail, through the smoke of a series of dynamite explosions.

People are now curiously awaiting further developments in this paper warfare, with sympathy leaning toward the side of the Cubans' advocate and defender.

Graphic Story Told by George
Scott, Assistant to the Secre-
tary of State.

George Scott, assistant to Secretary of State Brown, was at Sacramento on the night of the first reported visit of the aerial wonder to that city. He gives a graphic account of what he witnessed.

"Three friends and myself were standing in front of the Capitol," he said, "when the strange light first met our gaze. I said that I saw the light moving in the southeastern part of the city toward the northwest, but some one in the group ridiculed the idea.

"He said it looked like a light in some distant house on the hills, and that the appearance of its moving was due to the mistiness of the atmosphere.

"I had the key of the building in my pocket and suggested that we go up into the dome and take a look at the phenomenon. We climbed up and there saw the lights very distinctly, sweeping across the sky toward the northwest. There were three of the lights, and they appeared to be attached to some body, of which we could only discern a dim outline.

"It's no use trying to tell me that there is no airship," he sententiously concluded.

Attorney Hurst of Woodland Satis-
fied Himself as to a Strange

WOODLAND, Cal., Nov. 28. -- M. D. Hurst, a well-known lawyer of this city, discerned a bright and unusual light in the skies about 10 o'clock last night, traveling in a southwesterly direction from Woodland. Nearly all Mr. Hurst's neighbors also witnessed the phenomenon. Their first impression was that the mysterious light was a group of stars, but closer observation convinced them that this was wrong. The lights appeared to be electric and were watched for an hour.

Mr. Hurst is fully satisfied that if the mysterious object was a mechanical contrivance it could not have been operated by a person on the ground. He watched it upward of an hour from a window in his home. He does not pretend to say that it was an airship, but insists that it was not stars. Two Salvation Army officers, who were driving from Knights Landing to Woodland, corroborate Mr. Hurst.

Heard Them Talk.

UKIAH, Cal, Nov. 28. — E. G. Case, grand chief ranger of the Ancient Order of Foresters of the Pacific jurisdiction, and William Held, official stenographer of the local Superior Court, left this afternoon for Potter Valley, a small town twenty miles north of this city.

A telephone message was received from Held at 7:30 o'clock to-night containing the startling information that they had seen an airship when within two miles of their destination. The two gentlemen were driving along in a double team when the airship passed so close to them that their horses were frightened.

The gentlemen distinctly saw the aerial wonder. It was cigar-shaped and was evidently suspended from a balloon.

A Full Statement Made Over the Signature of the Attorney for the
Alleged Cuban Filibuster.

In reference to the airship which has been puzzling and astonishing many of the people of California I will say this:

I have not seen it personally, but have talked with the man who claims to be the inventor. I have spent several hours with him. He has shown me drawings and diagrams of his invention and I am convinced that they are more adapted for the purpose for which he claims them than any other invention making such claims that I have ever seen.

It seems to me that the evidence that THE CALL has been enterprising enough to collect in reference to this airship, the character of the people who have seen the same, the fact that it moves against the currents of air as well as with them, the fact that it has the power to dart from side to side or forward, ought to convince the people that there is something in the invention.

I asked the gentleman who claims to be the inventor what his desires were in regard to carrying on the business, and he stated that he did not desire any money ; that he didn't ask or want any one to invest in it ; that he was not a citizen of California, and that he had come here to perfect and test his airship as the climate and currents of air were most suitable to his purpose. He further stated that he had progressed so far since coming to California that California certainly was entitled to the honor of its invention, as it was in quite a crude state when he first came here; that he had two airships already constructed. One, he said, was of large size, capable of carrying three persons, the machinery, the fixtures and 1000 pounds of additional weight, and another that was much smaller, capable of carrying one man, the machinery, fixtures and 500 or 600 pounds of other matter.

He also stated that he was a cousin of Mr. Linn, who was Antonio Maceo's electrician, and that he is expected to take it to Cuba for the purpose of aiding in the capture of Havana as soon as he could perfect it and acquaint his associates with the handling of it.

He was a man of dark complexion, dark eyed and about 5 feet 7 inches in height and weighed about 140 pounds. He looks considerably like the gentleman playing the part of Arion, the aerial acrobat, but is a little taller.

He claims to have three assistants with him, all of whom are mechanics; that he uses two kinds of power, gas and electricity; that his lights are sometimes produced by electricity and some times by gas, with the aid of reflectors.

He claims to have moved 120 miles at one flight and in a little less than six and a half hours, and at that time was not going wholly with the currents ; that he uses electricity for propelling his vessel against the wind, and uses gas largely in going with the air currents. He does this in order to save power.

He proposes to build another airship, and in fact one of the parties interested with him has told me that they are now at work on the third airship, which is to be more commodious and more perfect than the other two, and that it would be so constructed that in the event the machinery got out of order and it should fall into the water it could be used as a boat by detaching a portion of the airship. When this is completed and ready for use the inventor intends to leave California for Cuba.

So far as the electrical power is concerned, the Fargo electric storage battery is of sufficient capacity, as to power and lightness, to furnish the requisite power for aerial navigation, and the inventor proposes to use this power in connection with the other for his operations. The battery can be stored to its full capacity, which is 20 horsepower, in 17 minutes.

I am of the opinion that this airship will be a success, and that its success is far more probable at this time than the Morse telegraphy was at the time he first offered the same to the public.

So far as the public is concerned this inventor does not ask any one to invest in the enterprise. Perhaps this may be evidence of insanity. I will admit that this is the first time to my knowledge that anybody had anything in California in which he did not want anybody to invest money.

No comments: