Readers of Theresa’s Haunted History know that I can’t pass up a good book of paranormal nonfiction. My ever-growing library on subjects such as UFOs, ghosts, cryptozoology, and beyond is one of my most cherished possessions. But, my personal library extends beyond just the paranormal. I am also a collector of West Virginia history books! On one of my many visits to thrift stores and antique shops, I picked up a two-volume set of the history of Gilbert, WV. Gilbert is a small town located in Mingo County, WV. It may be small, but it’s packed with history and interesting stories. Several interesting stories concerning UFOs can be found in the second volume, More Stories About Gilbert, West Virginia and Surrounding Communities, written by Colonel (Retired) Darrell G. Brumfield and Richard N. Ellis. The book was published in 1995 by Gateway Press, Inc, and my copy has some neat annotations and handwritten notes (including the address and phone number for Mr. Ellis!).
Anyway, from what I can gather, Clifford Eugene Ellis starts off the UFO stories with an experience his father, Phillip Ellis, had in the 1920′s. Phillip and a friend had a very early close encounter with a landed unidentified flying object! Here’s the story in his own words:
“In the late 1920′s, in the bottom below Uley Perry’s place on Gilbert Creek, a strange flying object was seen by my Dad and Toney Perry. Dad told me a few years ago about the UFO. Toney and he were driving from Ben’s Creek at night when they saw what appeared to be a tent which had been pitched. They thought that someone was going to camp out. They pulled over, stopped the car, and were going to go over to where the tent was set up. Suddenly, this object they thought was a tent (sides rolled up and lights inside) rose above a big sycamore tree and took off in flight. Dad asked, “What was that?” Toney replied, “I don’t know, but let’s get the hell out of here.” Dad and Toney did not tell anyone of their experience for several days.”
The section on UFO’s concludes when one of the author’s of the book, Richard Ellis, decides (reluctantly, as noted) to share his OWN UFO story. He and a co-worker were rebuilding a diesel engine at a mining site located along the Logan/Mingo County border when they saw a strange craft with actual beings moving around inside it. Here’s HIS story in his own words:
“Sometime in the later 1970′s, exact date unknown, on a Sunday evening, a fellow worker (who will remain nameless for reasons to be detailed later) and I were working, installing a rebuilt diesel engine for a power generator at Clarence Poe’s mine on Sylvia Branch, near Verner. No one else was at the time as all equipment, even the mine ventilation fan, depended on that power plant that we were hoping to get operational right away so as to allow work as usual beginning with the Monday A.M. shift.
The installation was completed, and the test run was nearing when a needed filter was determined to be missing, left at the Marcus Coal Office of Ewell Hatfield in Gilbert. Ewell, who owned the mine and had just arrived at our work site to check on our progress and bring food, suggested we take a well deserved and welcomed break while he returned to Gilbert to get the needed filter.
Following Ewell’s departure, while we were sitting in the cab of our service truck enjoying coffee and a late supper, a row of several lights suddenly appeared in the sky straight ahead, visible through the windshield. Our truck was not running and all lights were off. The observed lights were in the interior of a craft which was no more than 100 yards away, and just slightly above our level as we were very high on the mountain. It appeared to be over the creek, and we were nearer the point or side ridge of the hollow.
We jumped from the truck thinking we were about to witness a plane crash. We then realized that the craft was stationary, and it made no noise, unlike any vehicle known to us. There were no navigational or landing lights visible, and the craft appeared to be cigar shaped, much like the fuselage of a larger conventional airplane in silhouette against a bright starlit but moonless night sky.
Upon closer observation, the lights were revealed to be ports or windows. We could see what appeared to be bodies, head and upper torso, move past the several windows. A pattern of movement was determined which saw the “beings” move in a route predictable from left to right past a window, then hidden by the solid section, only to appear moving by the next window. At the same time, a second similar figure could be seen moving in the opposite direction. It appeared the individuals were changing positions aboard the craft. That was seen clearly, but at a distance that would not allow us to further define body or facial features or dress.
After perhaps a minute, and after all interior movement ceased, the vehicle accelerated from its described position to out of sight as a streak of light as fast as the eye could follow. Our high mountain vantage point and the craft’s direction of travel towards the most distant and open horizon allowed us to track it for many miles into the bright and open sky.
Source: Town of Gilbert Facebook page
It looked exactly like a “shooting star” except that its trajectory was reversed, rising as it departed, much like a military missile upon launch. All of that still without any sound or additional light. The relatively low interior light level and our angle of viewing of the craft upon departure would have made it impossible for us to have traced it for so great a distance. In retrospect, I believe that we witnessed an exiting heat glow due to friction through the earth’s atmosphere, just the reverse of the re-entry glow on our NASA space vehicles.
Total silence, total disbelief, nothing known to man could have done what we had just witnessed! My fellow worker’s first words were “I am never going to say anything about this to anyone!” In the years that have passed, I never mentioned it to him even though we still converse regularly. During work on this account for this book, I questioned him concerning his recollection of the incident. He is still a man of his word. He will not talk about it. I respect his wishes and will not mention it to him again or reveal his name.
We did not tell Ewell upon his return in about one hour; we completed the work and went to our homes. I never mentioned the incidents until I talked with LaDonna Auvil, a fellow teacher at GJHS. As a UFO freak (sorry, “Don-Don”), she convinced me I should share the incident and belatedly report it. Soon after that, in discussion with Clifford Eugene Ellis and Randy Livingood, I admitted to having seen something I could not and can not explain. A UFO by any other name…
I have always scoffed at UFO accounts and especially the abduction reports that were prevalent about the time of our sighting documented here. I considered anyone who told some of the wilder accounts as perhaps a lost cause. If you agree, then maybe I need help.
At about the time of that incident the Chief of Police of Gilbert, Charles Sparks, observed lights over Gilbert and ran into June’s (Runyon) Diner and emptied the place of patrons and help, all of whom reportedly witnessed the UFO. Since I was not among them, I will not attempt to elaborate further on what they may have seen. END OF MY UFO ADVENTURE.”
Both of these stories really intrigued me, but I was especially fascinated by this latter tale. If the Chief of Police and a whole restaurant full of people saw something strange in the sky, surely the encounter would be documented elsewhere. And it was! The Williamson Daily News ran an article on October 23, 1973 with the headline ‘UFO Viewed Over Gilbert.’ This article comes amid a flap of UFO sightings that took place across the United State in the late summer/fall of 1973, and leading up to this article, the Williamson Daily News was doing its best to cover all the strange lights and crafts seen in the skies.
This particular article states that Police Chief Charles Sparks, along with 25-30 additional witnesses spotted a UFO flying in a westward direction, directly over the town of Gilbert the previous night about 9:10pm. Sparks described the UFO as being round, gray in color, with a revolving white stationary light, two small blue flashing lights, and a yellow pulsating light. Sparks and the group of witnesses, including Eugene Justice (head of the water department) watched the craft for about 5 minutes. They estimated it to be about 2000 feet up in the air, and made no sound.
While doing research for today’s blog, I actually ran across quite a few reports from Mingo County and surrounding areas, including this sighting from September of 1982. In addition, the awesome author, Kyle Lovern, has collected quite a few reports in his book, Appalachian Case Study: UFO Sightings, Alien Encounters, and Unexplained Phenomena (as well as the follow-up, Appalachian Case Study, Volume 2). It seems like this area along the West Virginia/Kentucky border is quite the UFO hot spot! Any theories on why that would be, or do you have your own UFO sighting from this area? Please leave me a comment below, or join me over at Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State on Facebook!
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