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URECAT - UFO Related Entities Catalog

URECAT is a formal catalog of UFO related entities sightings reports with the goal of providing quality information for accurate studies of the topic. Additional information, corrections and reviews are welcome at patrick.gross@inbox.com, please state if you wish to be credited for your contribution or not. The main page of the URECAT catalog is here.

JANUARY 21, 1909, CHESTER, PENNSYLVANIA, USA, SOMEONE, AND POLICEMEN:

Brief summary of the event and follow-up:

The authors of a reference book about the "Jersey Devil" sightings say that on January 21, 1909, around 10:30 p.m. in Chester, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, USA, a respected citizen heard strange noises on the shed roofs of Robinson's Brickyard.

The clatter quickly changed to a scuffling sound in the middle of Eagle Street and suddenly out of the fog "there arose a strange-looking animal - half beast and half bird - with wings like a bat and a long tail the end of which looked like the point of an arrow."

By the glare of the electric lights, the man observed the creature flying low through the fog along Eagle Street.

As it neared the elevated railroad, "it seemed to rise like a big airship" and soared across the tracks just as the northbound express train was passing, causing the engineer to blast repeatedly on his whistle.

The "Jersey Devil" was then seen fluttering over City Hall, and it landed near the school at 3rd Street and Jeffrey Street.

Several policemen then chased it up to Commerce Street, where it disappeared into the fog in the backyard of Thomas Marshall's funeral parlor.

While the policemen chased it, they found numerous footprints, and neighbors reported hearing the flapping of large wings and the racket of strange feet.

Basic information table:

Case number: URECAT-001532
Date of event: 1909
Earliest report of event: 1909?
Delay of report: Day, days?
Witness reported via: Not known.
First alleged record by: Not known
First certain record by: "Jersey Devil" book McCloy and Miller.
First alleged record type: Not known.
First certain record type: "Jersey Devil" book.
This file created on: July 16, 2013
This file last updated on: July 16, 2013
Country of event: USA
State/Department: Pennsylvania
Type of location: City streets.
Lighting conditions: Night and fog.
UFO observed: No
UFO arrival observed: N/A
UFO departure observed: N/A
UFO/Entity Relation: None
Witnesses numbers: 1 then several
Witnesses ages: Not reported. Adults.
Witnesses types: Not reported. Man, policemen.
Photograph(s): No.
Witnesses drawing: No.
Witnesses-approved drawing: No.
Number of entities: 1 or more
Type of entities: Winged animal
Entities height: Not reported
Entities outfit type: Not reported or none.
Entities outfit color: Not reported or N/A.
Entities skin color: Not reported.
Entities body: Not reported. Half animal half bird. Long tail the end of which looked like the point of an arrow.
Entities head: Not reported.
Entities eyes: Not reported.
Entities mouth: Not reported.
Entities nose: Not reported.
Entities feet: Not reported.
Entities arms: Not reported. Bat-like wings.
Entities fingers: Not reported.
Entities fingers number: Not reported.
Entities hair: Not reported.
Entities voice: None reported.
Entities actions: Walked and flew in city streets.
Entities/witness interactions: None, or fled.
Witness(es) reactions: Observed, chased.
Witness(es) feelings: Not reported.
Witness(es) interpretation: Not reported.
Explanation category: Probable confusion, bird, sandhill crane.
Explanation certainty: Medium.

Narratives:

[Ref. mm1:] JAMES MCCLOY AND RAY MILLER:

The authors say that on January 21, 1909, around 10:30 p.m. in Chester, Delaware County, a respected citizen heard strange noises on the shed roofs of Robinson's Brickyard. The clatter quickly changed to a scuffling sound in the middle of Eagle Street and suddenly out of the fog "there arose a strange-looking animal - half beast and half bird - with wings like a bat and a long tail the end of which looked like the point of an arrow."

By the glare of the electric lights, the man observed the creature flying low through the fog along Eagle Street.

As it neared the elevated railroad, "it seemed to rise like a big airship" and soared across the tracks just as the northbound express was passing, causing the engineer to blast repeatedly on his whistle.

The Jersey Devil was then seen fluttering over City Hall, and it landed near the school at 3rd and Jeffrey Street.

Several policemen then chased it up to Commerce Street, where it disappeared into the fog in the backyard of Thomas Marshall's funeral parlor.

While the policemen chased it they found numerous footprints, and neighbors reported hearing the flapping of large wings and the racket of strange feet.

Points to consider:

Before discussing this particular case, I must make some general remarks about what was called the "Jersey Devil".

In Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, for nearly two centuries at least, some people give reports of encounters with a "creature" whose descriptions suggested that it was some sort of "devil", though in my opinion it was often merely a large bird in migration there, the sandhill crane.

Ufologically, these stories are mostly not considered as related in any way with UFOs or UFO occupants, in my opinion too they should not be part of a catalog of "close encounters of the third kind".

However, some ufologists included such stories in such catalogs, thinking for some reason it does have something to do with the UFO question. Most of the time, they do not include all the Jersey Devil reports, but only a few of them, maybe due to lack of documentation or maybe for some other reason I do not understand.

So I have to include all these stories, because if some source considers, rightly or wrongly, that this a UFO-related, then it is within my scope, not to immediately and arbitrarily disregard their idea, but to evaluate it, and thus to collect the documentation and the comments about it. And therefore, I have to check and document all reported, not just those selected arbitrarily by these ufologists who believed this is UFO material. This is why you cans see I have a file for each Jersey Devil reports, even those that were never included in the ufology literature.

I should note that most stories are fragmentary, often because the sources write about several observations, and what is said about one report is supposed to be implicitly true for the others. I do not do it that way; I publish case files individually and discuss each on its own merits or issues, and offer a specific assessment for each case. But of course, generalities can be said on these reports. As I do not want to disconnect individual reports from these generalities, I make the following notes.

I want to first list the various explanations offered for the "Jersey Devil" - they could apply its late equivalent the West Virginia "Mothman" which was introduced in UFO books the 1960s:

Now let's see this report.

The case has multiple witness - none is named - but as there is no established there is the possibility that the "half animal half bird" creature was in fact several creatures of the same or a different species.

A key point is that there is no indication of sighting distance, but we do know that it was in the night and in the fog, thus, poor observation conditions.

The description is poor, reminiscent of a large bird, only the tail "the end of which looked like the point of an arrow" is strange. The qualification "half animal half bird" does not mean much: a bird is an animal, so were are left with just a bird.

These people may have spotted, like many others then and there, a sandhill crane,

We have no UFO, no aliens, nothing evil, nothing "paranormal" whatsoever. Nothing that could kill the idea that the men may have briefly and poorly seen the scary-looking sandhill at a time when everyone talked about the "Jersey Devil".

There is not enough information to make this explanation a certainty, but there is not a single piece of information that would support she saw a real devil, or an alien, or a pterodactyl, "Bigfoot" or anything extraordinary.

Finally, I need to note that another story has the detail of the tail ending in an arrow point, at the same date and curiously also in "Chester" but in Maryland instead of Pennsylvania. I suspect that this other case is the same as this one but wrongly located.

"Sandhill Crane" (Grus canadensis) - pictures above - is a species of big crane living in North America, Canada, and in the extreme northeast of Siberia. Some are resident, some are migratory, passing sometimes indeed by the states where the "Jersey Devil" was reported.

Its wingspan can reach more than 2 meters.

List of issues:

Id: Topic: Severity: Date noted: Raised by: Noted by: Description: Proposal: Status:
1 Data Severe July 16, 2013 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross Primary source not known and not available. Help needed. Opened.
2 Ufology Severe July 16, 2013 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross Missing basic data, size, distance, duration, description, colors... Help needed. Opened.
3 Ufology Severe July 16, 2013 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross No named witness. Help needed. Opened.

Evaluation:

Probable confusion, bird, sandhill crane.

Sources references:

* = Source I checked.
? = Source I am told about but could not check yet. Help appreciated.

Document history:

Authoring

Main Author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history

Version: Created/Changed By: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross July 16, 2013 Creation, [mm1].
1.0 Patrick Gross July 16, 2013 First published.

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This page was last updated on July 16, 2013