The truth is out there. Way out there. Like rural-Texas-tumbleweeds out there.
To say Aurora, Texas is small is an understatement. The town has a population of about 1,200. It’s the kind of place where everybody knows everybody, and everybody in Aurora knows Ned. Ned is a dead alien, and he became a permanent resident of Aurora under very curious circumstances.
On April 17, 1897, it was reported that an unidentified flying object crashed into a windmill and burst into flames on an Aurora resident’s property. S.E. Haydon, a Dallas Morning News reporter, was the first to document the incident writing, “About 6 o’clock this morning the early risers of Aurora were astonished at the sudden appearance of the airship which has been sailing around the country. It was traveling due north and much nearer the earth than before…It sailed over the public square and when it reached the north part of town it collided with the tower of Judge Proctor’s windmill and went into pieces with a terrific explosion…”
Ned was found amongst the intergalactic debris. Haydon went on to describe what was left of the poor alien: “While his remains were badly disfigured, enough of the original has been picked up to show that he was not an inhabitant of this world. Papers found on his person-evidently the record of his travels-are written in some unknown hieroglyphics, and cannot be deciphered.”
The townspeople did what any close-knit, small community would do for a dead spaceman. They gave Ned a nice, Christian burial in Aurora Cemetery.
Ever since he was interred, people from all over the country made the trek to Aurora to visit the alien’s resting place. Fueled by the popularity of science fictions shows like STAR TREK and THE TWILIGHT ZONE, interest in Ned hit a fever pitch during the 1960’s and 70’s. Some people were so agog that they demanded Ned be exhumed.
According to the May 25, 1973 edition of the Orlando Sentinel, “An International UFO Bureau spokesman said the organization would go to court if necessary to open a grave in a small North Texas cemetery it says contains the body of an 1897 astronaut who “was not an inhabitant of this world.”
Image Source: Orlando Sentinel May 25, 1973
Hayden Hewes, the director of the group, was absolutely convinced they had legal means for exhuming Ned: “After checking the grave with metal detectors and gathering facts for three months, we are as certain as we can be at this point he was the pilot of a UFO which reportedly exploded atop a well on Judge Proctor’s place in April 1897.”
Hewes and his group were never granted permission to dig up Ned, and they weren’t the last to try and be denied. The official reason Aurora would not allow Ned to exhumed was because of a little Texas law that says you have to “notify next of kin before you exhume remains.” Perhaps the real reason they weren’t allowed to bring Ned to the surface is because Ned might not be there.
Source: Poughkeepsie Journal, Sep 16, 1979
There is speculation that Dallas Morning News reporter S.E. Haydon fabricated the story. Aurora was not what you would call a “thriving” city in the 1890’s. The railroad went bankrupt, the west side of town was ravaged by fire, over-planting depleted the land, and a “spotted fever” epidemic decimated the population. Haydon watched his entire family die from the disease. His wife, children, and friends were completely gone. He was left alone in a ghost town. In order to entice people and commerce back into Aurora, Haydon may have used his writing skills and platform to craft an out-of-this-world tale and create a permanent tourist trap that has worked liked a charm for 120 years. It certainly worked on me.
During a recent trip to Aurora Cemetery, I was happily amused to find that I was not the only person looking for Ned. There were two other people paying their respects at his makeshift tombstone under a twisted tree, right where the legend claims he is buried.
If you happen to live in North Texas, go out to Aurora, and see Ned for yourself. If you’re not in the area and bad sci-fi is your jam, I suggest watching the terrifically terrible 1986 film loosely based on the incident called THE AURORA ENCOUNTER (The only thing redeeming about this movie is its poster.)
At the end of the day, you can believe one of two things about what happened in Aurora in 1897: One, S.E. Haydon made the story up. Or two, an actual alien is buried in an old cemetery in Texas. The latter is more fun to believe. And I want to believe.