Aurora Cemetery: Home of the Strangest Historical Marker in Texas
My husband and I take day trips in the Dallas – Fort Worth area of north Texas as often as possible. We enjoy exploring historic downtown squares, cemeteries, family-run restaurants and uncovering quirky and/or overlooked sites.
Yesterday, we popped over to the Aurora Cemetery which was established in 1861. Like many older cemeteries, it has a Texas State Historical Marker. While pioneers, cattlemen, farmers and soldiers often figure prominently on such signs, what makes this historical marker so unusual is that it mentions a spaceship crash in 1897.
A spaceship crash?
The following is an adapted excerpt from my Amazon Best Seller: Unexpected Texas. Enjoy!
Aurora Cemetery was established in 1861. Like many older graveyards, it has a Texas State Historical Marker. While pioneers, cattlemen, farmers, and soldiers often figure prominently on such signs, what makes this historical marker unusual is that it mentions a spaceship crash in 1897.
The Roswell of Texas?
You’ve probably heard of the Roswell Incident, an alleged spaceship crash in the desert of New Mexico in 1947. While the Roswell Incident is arguably the most well-known case in UFO history, here in north Texas there exists an alleged extraterrestrial wreck (complete with an alien body) which took place 50 years earlier.
A spaceship crash in north Texas?
As the story goes, in the early morning hours of April 17, 1897 a mysterious craft crash-landed in the north Texas town of Aurora.
According to a newspaper article which appeared in the April 19th edition of The Dallas News, a cigar-shaped airship ran into a windmill, spread debris across several acres and – strangest of all – a small humanoid body was discovered in the wreck.
According to the reporter, although the petite alien was “not an inhabitant of this world,” his or her body was buried in the local cemetery.
Here’s a link to a scan of the original article, and here’s what the reporter claims:
“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.
Evidently some of the machinery was out-of-order, for it was making a speed of only ten or twelve miles an hour, and gradually settling toward the earth. 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, scattering debris over several acres of ground, wrecking the windmill and water tank and destroying the judge’s flower garden.
The pilot of the ship is supposed to have been the only one aboard and, 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.”
What with epidemics, crop failure and being slighted by the railroad, the townsfolk of Aurora paid little attention to the odd incident. Given the mindset of the era and the challenges they faced, it’s not surprising that instead of studying the alien’s body for science, the locals buried the creature and moved on with their lives.
No reportage exists regarding the actual funeral ceremony, although a headstone was placed at the grave site. According to photos and verbal accounts, this first headstone depicted a crudely carved cigar-shaped object with portholes in the side.
In any case, the weird incident faded into the background as the once-booming town of Aurora withered into near oblivion. Then, in 1973 a United Press International blurb mentioned the alleged spaceship crash reported in north Texas.
This little article created so much interest in the old story that local police had to guard the alien grave day and night to keep trespassers from digging it up. Sadly, the night they quit this vigil someone stole the original headstone for the space creature. There was even a push to officially exhume the alien’s body, but the cemetery association declined.
Of course, there is also the strong possibility that the whole thing is a hoax.
Here’s what debunkers say:
1. There was no windmill on Judge Proctor’s land.
2. There is no well.
3. There is nothing buried beneath the gravesite.
4. There is no mysterious metal near the crash site.
5. The reporter made the story up hoping to make the town a tourist attraction.
Here’s what believers say:
1. The History Channel found evidence of a windmill on Judge Proctor’s land.
2. They found a well at this site, too. The well was capped in the 1950′s because the owner thought it was contaminated by the alien debris. The History Channel convinced the current owner to let them uncap it and test the water.
3. Melted metal has been found in the alleged crash site area. This metal is not some unearthly element. It’s aluminum. While aluminum seems commonplace to us now, it was actually quite rare in the late 1800′s.
4. The History Channel also found, via ground-penetrating radar, a casket-shaped item in the ground exactly where the alien is allegedly buried. (While the original tombstone was stolen in 1973, a new grave marker, which I’ve seen, was added by the local townspeople back in 2000.
Unfortunately, as of this writing the alien’s headstone has been stolen once again.)
5. The 1947 Roswell Incident crash debris was taken to Fort Worth, Texas which is only 30 minutes away from Aurora.
6. The town of Aurora is set up like a military base. (I’m not sure what they mean by this, since as I mentioned earlier the town of Aurora is barely there. I did notice a street called, “Base,” but beyond that, I don’t understand this claim.)
While I don’t think there is conclusive proof that an alien crashed to earth here in north Texas, I do think something unusual happened in Aurora back in April of 1897. Sadly, it is such a cold case that we may never know the truth.
I definitely wish the Aurora Cemetery would let a respected investigation group exhume the alien’s coffin and see what is really in there. Maybe there’s a note saying that the whole thing is a prank. The cemetery board very nearly exhumed the body back in 1973. However, since Texas state law requires the next of kin to be notified prior to exhumation, that makes this case a little tricky!
There was a rash of, “mysterious cigar-shaped airship,” sightings all across the US, but especially in Texas, in 1896 and 1897. Some of the accounts are downright ridiculous. In one I came across, the aliens reportedly sang religious hymns and had a barbecue.
Perhaps what makes the Aurora incident so enduring is that – even if it is just a tall Texan tale – its details dance along the edge of possibility without plunging overboard and landing in the utterly implausible. This is good advice for storytellers (and other professional liars) everywhere. Then again, to paraphrase Freud, “Sometimes a cigar-shaped object is just a cigar-shaped object.”
Visiting Aurora Cemetery: Directions and Finding the Alien Grave
There isn’t an official street address for Aurora Cemetery, but it’s not hard to find. If you have a GPS, set it for: Cemetery Rd, Aurora, TX 76078. If not, head towards Rhome, Texas on US 81/287. Exit onto Highway 114, drive roughly 1.5 miles then turn onto Cemetery Road. The cemetery will be on your lefthand side.
To find the alien grave site, turn right as you enter the Aurora Cemetery gates. It’s pretty easy to find there in the older section of the graveyard. There aren’t any graves near it, for some reason. Perhaps people were creeped out at the idea of being buried near the creature, or – since the alien didn’t have any family members – there was simply no one to put beside him or her.
Want to read more?
To read about more weird, offbeat, and overlooked places, check out my best selling travel guide: Unexpected Texas.
For ghost hunting hot spots, check out my best selling travel guide to haunted places: Paranormal Texas.
For a strange-but-true tale of Texas history, check out: The Lynching of the Santa Claus Bank Robber. Happy travels!
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Tui Snider is an author, speaker, and photographer who specializes in North Texas travel, cemetery symbols, and haunted lore. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction – but then, I moved to Texas!”
Snider’s best-selling books include Paranormal Texas , Understanding Cemetery Symbols, and 100 Things to Do in Dallas - Fort Worth Before You Die.