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This page contains those stories and articles
which do not fit neatly within the other sub-sections.
Knitted stockings have been made in England and other northern European countries since the mid-16th century, if not earlier. Stocking knitting was so important a commodity that a number of knitting schools were opened in England as early as 1588. In 1589, in hopes of getting a patent, William Lee presented Queen Elizabeth with a pair of wool stockings made on a knitting loom he had invented. The Queen, as impressed as she was by the stockings, refused to grant a patent because she did not want the stocking knitters to become unemployed.
Stocking knitting continued in America as an item for oneself or family member, or for commercial gain. In 1652, John Pynchon of Springfield, Massachusetts was selling knitting needles and finished stockings. During the American Revolution, and the Jeffersonian embargoes (1808 to 1814, the end of the War of 1812), stockings could not be imported to this country easily, so stocking knitting became a source of personal pride-- especially if you were able to produce extra pairs to give to soldiers.
In both The Workwoman’s Guide (1838) and deDillmont’s Encyclopedia of Needlework (1884) the basic form for stockings remained unchanged. The stocking is divided into five parts: top, knee, leg, heel, and toe. Like most 19th century patterns, there are no yarn, needle, or gauge recommendations that would make much sense to us. However, here’s a pattern I’ve developed and tested that produced a comfortable stocking:
Round 11: Purl 1, knit 3, slip 1. Knit 1, pass slipped stitch over, knit to 5 stitches from end of round, knit 2 together, knit 3.
Rounds 12 and 13: Purl 1, knit to end of round. Repeat these three rows 12 times, until there are 104 stitches remaining.
Round 1: Purl 1, knit 3, slip1, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over, knit to 5 from end, knit 2 together, knit 3.
Rounds 2-4: Purl 1, knit to end. Repeat these four rows 6 times.
Round 1: Repeat round 1 of 1st section.
Rounds 2-5: Purl 1, knit. Repeat these 5 rounds 5 times.
Round 1: Repeat round 1 of 1st section.
Rounds 2-6: Purl 1, knit. Repeat the 6 rounds 4 times.
Round 1: Repeat round 1 of 1st section.
Rounds 2-7: Purl 1, knit. Repeat these 8 rounds 2 times. You should now have 64 stitches.
Knit 16 stitches. Turn work. Slip1, purl 31 stitches. Place remaining 32 stitches onto one needle for instep (nothing will be knit from this needle until the heel is finished).
Turn the Heel:
Knit to the middle of the row (16 stitches), knit 2, slip 1, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over, knit 1, turn work,
Next row: Slip 1, purl 5, purl 2 together, purl to gap, slip 2, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over, knit 1, turn.
Next row: Slip 1, purl to within 1 stitch away from the gap, purl 2 together, purl 1, turn. Continue in this manner, until all stitches have been used.
Knit the second half of the heel stitches, and then pick up the 16 stitches along the right side of the heel. With an empty needle, knit across the instep. With an empty needle, pick up the 16 stitches along the other of the heel and knit remaining half of heel stitches. The round begins at the center back of the heel.
Next round: Knit. Repeat these two rounds until you have 16 stitches on needle #1, 32 stitches on needle #2, and 16 stitches on needle #3. Continue to knit plain until bottom of foot measures 2 inches less than desired length from heel to toe.
Round 2: Knit. Repeat these two rounds until 32 stitches remain. Then work decreased round every round until 8 stitches remain. Cut yarn leaving an 8-inch tail. Thread yarn on darning needle, draw needle through remaining stitches, and pull snug. Pull end into inside of stocking and weave to finish. The stockings may be blocked.
In 1802, Elizabeth Drinker of Philadelphia complained a French tourist wrote that Quakers "put on worsted stockings" in September. She said he was mistaken as she, a Quaker, "have not put them on till this day [Nov. 6], it has been such a moderate fall…" This is a good hint that cotton and wool were used just as seasonally as today.
For those who can not knit, there are modern options. James Townsend (a catalog for re-enactors) sells cotton tubes that have been knit on the same type of machine used to make T-shirts. But, the quality is not consistent (and a turned heel is so much more comfortable). Heavy tights in white or black are also an option. Please remember that striped stockings are a civil war fashion.
Back to Top
A Newark Valley Farmer's
Trip Into the Twilight Zone
For more information, contact:
In April 1964 Gary Wilcox was a busy man.(*) He owned a 300 acre farm on Davis Hollow Road, approx. 2.1 miles northeast from the Village of Newark Valley. He worked alone caring for 100 head of stock and milked some of his cows three times a day. After doing his morning chores, he proceeded to bring his daily ration of manure for his fields, many of which would soon be part of his spring plowing duties. The time was around 10 a.m. As he approached a lower field above his house and barn, he saw a bright flash of light on the hill. The flashing was intermittent, like a mirror reflecting sunlight. (Walter Webb gave these figures: .7 miles from the witness, 1,350 elevation, about 330 feet above barn [Story, p. 247]) Although there was an old abandoned icebox near the flashing light, Gary realized that the light wasn't coming from that object and decided to investigate.
When he was about 100 yards away, the flashing light turned into an egg-shaped object. At first he thought that it was the wing tank from a fallen airplane. Wilcox shut off his tractor and walked the remaining 100 yards. When he came in close proximity to the object, this was the description given in the police report:
"The first thing I noticed was that it was off the ground, it was a little bigger than a car in length. (Note 1) It was an oblong shape something like an egg. There were no seams, rivets or anything like that. It was completely smooth. It was aluminum color. I touched the thing and the metal was harder than aluminum and it did not move. (Note 2) I don't know whether it was on legs or hovering in the air. It was about 20 ft. in length, 4 ft. high and 15 or 16 ft. wide. While (I was) feeling it there was no vibration or sound and it was not hot or anything. While I was touching it, two (2) small men (Note 3) about 4 ft. high came out from under the tank object. I don't know where they came from. Each of them was carrying a tray about a foot square. The tray looked like it was made of the same stuff the ship (tank) was made of. Inside the tray was what appeared to be sod. I was standing about a foot away from the ship." (Gary started referring to the tank as a ship from this point) [Schwarz, police report, p. 76]
Wilcox was quite frightened. He also thought that this might be some kind of trick, perhaps a Candid Camera stunt, but he was able to communicate with them. One of the figures advanced to within five feet of Wilcox and said, "Don't be alarmed. We have talked to people before. We are from what you know as the planet Mars".
In his police report, Wilcox gave a very detailed description of the two figures:
"I could understand what was said but cannot tell whether they were speaking English or not.(Note 4) One of the men was standing in rear of the other. I could see that both of these 4-foot-high men had arms and legs the same as us. I couldn't tell whether they had feet or hands the same as us. They were quite broad for such short persons (or individuals). I could not distinguish whether they had shoulders or not; they seemed to just go straight down. They had no face, such as eyes, ears, nose, mouth, or hair. The voice seemed to be coming from about them rather than from either of them. There was a voice, but I don't know where it was coming from insofar as their body was concerned. They seemed to have a sort of suit on that covered where the head would normally be located all the way down. When they raised their arms, you could see a wrinkle where our elbow would be located. The color of this completely smooth cover-all-type suit was whitish-aluminum-tint color. There was no evidence of hair. The only thing I noticed was the wrinkle when they moved their arms at the elbow." [Schwarz, police report, p. 76]
A conversation followed that would last about two hours. Wilcox couldn't tell which figure was speaking to him, but it appeared to be the one closest to him. They told him that they had been watching him for some time. In fact, they (assuming their race) had been watching people on earth for some time. He was asked questions about the tractor, the manure and the manure spreader. They were very interested in organic substances, such as soil. Martians obtained their food from the atmosphere and had a very rocky terrain that was not suitable for growing. They knew little about agriculture, but were visiting earth in the hope that they could restore their soil and raise food crops. Cows were quite a mystery to them. They could only come to earth every two years and on this voyage they were collecting samples from the Western Hemisphere. The figure expressed an interest in commercial fertilizer and Wilcox made an offer to bring them some.
Wilcox expressed an interest in visiting Mars, but was told that the thinness of the atmosphere would make that impossible. In fact, earth's atmosphere was so thick that "they can't stand it". (Wilcox admitted later that he would have refused an interplanetary vacation). They also told Wilcox that landing in congested areas was impossible because traffic fumes effected the performance of their space vehicles. Although they had a variety of ships, they usually did not appear after dark because their crafts were much more observable then. The figure expressed great concern that their ship had been seen. When Wilcox explained how this happened, he was told that no one should be able to see the ship beyond 100 feet. The conversation ranged into other topics other than crops, fertilizer, and agriculture. The figure spoke of space, their ship, and of other subjects that went over Wilcox's head.
Part of the reason for learning about soil and agriculture concerned a potential cataclysmic change that might take place: " . . . Mars and Earth will be trading environments, due to the rockets, missiles, and miscellaneous objects ejected into space from Earth." [Schwarz, p. 70] According to Wilcox's police report, other planets might be involved as well. [Note 4] They also advised that people from Earth should not send individuals into outer space. They predicted that the astronauts Glenn, Grissom (?), and the two cosmonauts from Russia would die within a year due to exposure from space.
Before they left, Wilcox was advised 'for your own good' not to say anything about the experience to anyone, but "the visitor made no threats nor extracted a promise from him to keep the encounter secret." According to the police report, this was how the encounter came to an end:
"They then walked back under the ship and disappeared. They ducked a little bit when they went under it. The ship then seemed to hover. I heard a noise that sounded like a car motor idling. It was not loud. Then it just took off slowly forward above the ground in a gliding manner and flew over the valley in the direction of (Ed) Sokoloski's barn and disappeared into the air after it was about 150 ft. away. There was no heat, blasting, wind, dust, noise (other than the idling sound), light, or anything else left behind when the ship took off.
"They did not try to harm me in any way and there was nothing with them that looked like a weapon. They did not raise or lower their voice. It was the same throughout the conversation. They did most of the talking." [Schwarz, police report, p. 77]
After the vehicle left, Gary noticed pairs of 2 1/2-inch square depressions in the ground where the figures had stood. There was also some red dust where the vehicle had rested (evidently from propulsion). It disappeared after a couple days. (Note 5)
Gary went back home and called his mother (Note 6), giving her the highlights of the experience. He milked cows again and did some other chores. He went back up on the hill again at 4:30 and took a 75 lb. bag of fertilizer along with him. He dropped it where the craft had been. When he returned on Saturday morning, April 25th, the fertilizer was gone. When asked if he thought that the Martians had returned for it, his response was: "Well, anybody who would walk all the way to that field to get an eighty-cent bag of fertilizer would be crazy."
The police report ends this way:
"I have read this statement and it is true. I realize that the incident described above is unusual, but I do certify that it is a true and accurate account of what actually happened."
(signed) Gary T. Wilcox
(witness) George E. Williams
(witness) Paul J. Taylor
Whether Gary told his mother not to say anything about the story isn't known. What is known is that the news got around. His mother, naturally, had her doubts about the incident and jokingly asked if he had been drinking. Reportedly Wilcox replied, "What, at ten o'clock in the morning?" A neighbor of his, Miss Priscilla Baldwin, became especially interested (Note 8). Miss Baldwin had been a radar technician during World War II. She sat with Gary on April 28th and took detailed notes of his experience. On April 29th she accompanied Gary to the site of the encounter. She took some pictures and collected some rocks and leaves where the red dust had accumulated. Recent rain had eliminated any evidence of dust.
Miss Baldwin then contacted the Tioga County Sheriff's Department and Officer George Williams carried out an investigation on both April 29th and May 1st. Miss Baldwin was free at the time as well. Since Wilcox did not want to interrupt his chores, Miss Baldwin took Officer Williams up to the field where the encounter had occurred. Officer Williams was shown where the red dust had been and where the fertilizer had been left. Because of recent rain there was no evidence of any red dust. On May 1st when they came back to the barn, Officer Williams asked Wilcox if he would be willing to come to Owego that evening to make a formal statement. He agreed and subsequently went to Owego at 7 p.m. When Miss Baldwin stated that she had taken notes of her conversations with Wilcox, Officer Williams asked if he could borrow them. She gave these to the officer. On May 7th she traveled to the Sheriff's Office and these notes were returned to her.
Officer Williams did note what he felt was a discrepancy in the account. Wilcox had driven to the sight on the afternoon of April 24th with his tractor to drop off a bag of fertilizer. On April 29th he drove up to the same spot with his tractor accompanied by Miss Priscilla Baldwin. Williams could not find a second set of tractor tire marks when he came to the site with Baldwin and Williams could not understand this. He also did not investigate for any depressions in the ground as evidence of the Martians taking earth samples. This piece of information was not conveyed to him at the time of his onsite examination for some reason. Williams did give this assessment of Wilcox's character:
"He admitted that he drank a little but he was not drinking at the time of this reported incident. He also stated that he had some marital difficulty, but this did not encourage him to drink any more than he had been accustomed. This man does not appear to be unstable or mentally disturbed in any way . . . . He is a hard worker. The complainant [Baldwin] in this case says that she has no reason to doubt him." [Schwarz, Wilcox, p. 73]
Miss Baldwin's interest may have stemmed from two reasons. First, she had known Gary for quite some time and knew that he was a very quiet, reliable individual. She couldn't imagine that Gary would do anything like this for the publicity. Her experience during World War II may have also been a contributing factor:
"I was in the Air Force for three years and my career field was A.C. & W. (radar). In my work I plotted 'UFO blips' (as they were called at the time) on the radar screen in the control center. Many time blips were not identified. The speed in most cases was unbelievable. However, I don't know if any of that was ever the reason for my interest or not, but I do believe it had a lot to do with it." [Schwarz, (Wilcox), p. 73]
After the police report was filed, Sheriff Taylor contacted the FBI office in Binghamton and the Boston, Massachusetts, Atlantic Coast Air Command. The Binghamton FBI office contacted their superiors in Albany who consequently contacted the Air Force. Although Hancock Air Force Base, Syracuse, claimed that the case was "under investigation", Wilcox claims that the USAF never contacted him. Wilcox also claimed that officials from the Space Guidance Center in Owego had paid a visit to the farm. According to Walter Webb's report:
"The FBI, or federal agents of some kind, visited the sheriff's office and, according to Wilcox, pointed out to the sheriff's office certain items in the story that should not be divulged. These 'items' might alarm the public, they said." [Story, p. 248]
Wilcox also claimed that the civil defense checked a soil sample from the site for radioactivity. He received a letter stating that the sample gave a reading of 1.5 roentgens with the "plug out" and 2.5 roentgens with the "plug in". The reading should have been zero with a reading of 3.5 roentgens considered contamination level. This statement has never been independently confirmed. [Story, p. 248]
The first newspaper report that the author could find came from the Binghamton Press and the Owego Times dated May 8th, 1964. (Note 9) The general viewpoint was one of disbelief, but also that the source of the story, Gary Wilcox, was someone of exceptional reliability.
Newark Valley's own newspaper, the Tioga County Herald, did not report the story until May 15th. The paper was run by a husband and wife team: Justine F. Brandes, editor, and Leon G. Brandes, publisher. It's article expressed great dismay over missing what was probably the "biggest scoop" in the paper's history. Assuming that Justine was writing copy, she first became aware of the story from talk circulating in the local village. Her first reaction was to investigate, but thought she should ask the advice of a "more experienced newspaper man." This is what she was told:
"The advisor thought the story much too fantastic to be more than another rumor. He advised against spending the time at a critical juncture just before publication. It was rotten advice.
"So the Herald came out without a line just before the waves of publicity began to roll in by newspapers, radio and television with stories and pictures." [Tioga County Herald, May 15, 1964]
The article did include one of the many testimonials to the character of Wilcox:
"It is well known that he is a person of integrity and soundness, of fine character, and in no sense a notoriety seeker. Any statements he makes cannot be lightly dismissed."
The Herald's view was similar to many in the village: they couldn't believe that Wilcox would make up such a story, but they also couldn't believe that such an event could ever take place. They were in their own "twilight zone". A local dry goods and variety store, Kalkan's, did make an effort to extend hospitality. They advertised that the Martions [sic] were indeed welcome at their store and could purchase souvenirs if they ever came to the village.
Editorials for the paper were written by Clyde Allen in a column entitled "Lookout by Clyde." While never saying that Wilcox was spinning a yarn, much of Clyde's treatment of the event was spent debunking the theory that space travel of that magnitude was even possible.
Newark Valley's one and only article on the story ends with a bit of self-deprecation, but includes the fact that Wilcox was not the only one who saw strange objects in the sky:
"In the village here there was hardly any other topic of conversation for days. There were believers and unbelievers, a surprising number of the former. As the story spread it inevitably grew. There were stories that others had seen similar objects in the past in this area, but were too awed to tell about it. [italics mine]
"This is likely the to be last visit of Martians to Tioga county we fear, and the Herald will probably never get another chance to redeem itself as a news media." [Tioga County Herald, May 15, 1964]
Exactly what papers carried the story outside of Tioga and Broome Counties has yet to be determined. Radio and television accounts, likewise, have not been documented.
NICAP (Note 10) investigators Stephen Putnam and Walter Webb spoke separately with Wilcox. Walter Webb's interview took place on November 8, 1964 and gives considerable detail. [Story, pp. 246-49].
One Year Later
The following year another journalist paid Wilcox a visit. His reaction wasn't as accommodating: "Mr. Wilcox did not seem particularly happy to see a reporter show up on his farm". Two stories did appear in the Binghamton papers about this time. They were the typical follow-up stories for an event of this magnitude. A variety of rumors had been in circulation: his dairy farm had gone belly-up because nothing would grow any more, he had been in New York City being treated for radiation burns, the government was guarding his land as part of a study, and there was a darkened patch of ground in his pasture where nothing would grow. None of this was true. [George, "Everybody is Talking . . .] (Note 11)
Wilcox was even busier at this point than the year before. Besides running his farm he was working nights as a janitor at the Berkshire school. Wilcox stated that the notoriety that he had gained had not hurt his personal life, in spite of all the varied rumors.
"I just don't worry about it. I know what I saw and other people have seen things. I even thought somebody was playing a joke on me, but I was in the service for six years and not even jet planes take off that fast."
When asked if he would keep the incident a secret if he had to do it over, this was his reply:
"No. I've got nothing to hide. I would report it. If I saw another one today, I'd do the same thing. Then people would say I'm crazy."
He would like to think that this was part of some big joke, but knows that this was not the case. He was hopeful that someday an explanation would be forthcoming "to him and the rest of the world".
"A man down in Berkshire says he saw something like this recently, too. I'm not the only one". [Italics mine]
The Psychiatric Study by Dr. Berthold Eric Schwarz
In 1968 Dr. Berthold Eric Schwarz was the Assistant Attending Psychiatrist at the Montclair Community Hospital in Montclair, New Jersey. He first learned about Wilcox's encounter with alien beings while he was studying a variety of UFO sightings that had occurred in Towanda, Pennsylvania. On October 18, 1968, Gary Wilcox was psychiatrically examined in his home. His wife was interviewed as well. He also spoke to Wilcox's two brothers, Floyd and Barry, his mother and Sheriff Paul J. Taylor. Another interesting contact was Vic Kobylarz, a neighboring farmer and steelworker. Vic was a relative by marriage to Mrs. Theresa Krajewski, who happened to be a friend of Dr. Schwarz. Vic spoke with Wilcox shortly after the UFO event.
At the time of the interview Gary was no longer a farmer. He was now a highly skilled mechanic and had received several promotions. According to Dr. Schwarz, Wilcox had "never had any UFO, psychic, or other very unusual experiences before, nor has he since." The details that he gave Dr. Schwarz coincided very accurately with statements that he had made to Miss Baldwin and to Sheriff Taylor.
This paragraph sums up a great deal of Wilcox's psychological profile:
"Wilcox had no past history for neonatal disturbances, serious illness in the formative years, neurotic character traits, dissociative or amnestic experiences, fugues, sociopathic behavior, school problems, head injury, encophalopathy, surgery, or any kind of aberrant behavior. He had never been hospitalized, and he did not have a family physician. Review of all his bodily systems revealed no disease stigmata. He was a good student in school and had one semester in college. He spent three years in the Army, being stationed in Germany. He was a sergeant in the Engineers and received an honorable discharge." [Schwarz, Wilcox, p. 78-9]
Wilcox had two brothers and a sister. There was no family history for mental illness or sociopathic behavior (such as lying, stealing, cheating, delinquency, drug usage, alcoholism, etc.). Wilcox had called his mother within one hour after his encounter. No one in the family had ever experienced anything like this before. Wilcox had never shown any particular interest in UFOs or any other kind of exotic subject. According to his brother, Floyd, Wilcox had turned down a considerable sum of money from a leading national magazine for the publication rights to his story, this in spite of Gary not being especially affluent. He also refused payments for lectures of his experience.
"He graciously consented to psychiatric study and freely gave permission for publication of this story in a scientific journal with the understanding that his current address would not be revealed."
"Study of Gary Wilcox's (and his wife's) answers to the Cornell Medical Index Health Questionnaire, Rotter Incomplete Sentences Test, and the computer automated Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) revealed answers consistent with physical and emotional health. On the MMPI 'a configural search for positive traits and strengths showed correlations for describing the subject as compliant, methodical, orderly, socially reserved, and sincere.'" [Schwarz, Wilcox, p. 80]
Dr. Schwarz conceded that single UFO experiences do have drawbacks, but that the report by Gary Wilcox was "exceptional because of his unusually healthy background, during and after the purported incident, [and] the rarity of such close-range UFO occupant encounters . . ." It should also be noted that Wilcox did not learn about the Socorro, New Mexico, encounter until May 11th when Wilcox's father brought a newspaper clipping describing the event. [See description of this encounter later in the article.]
The predictions made by the aliens do present a bit of a dilemma. (Note 12) Their prophecy concerning the death of various astronauts was never fulfilled as stated. However, Virgil Grissom and two other astronauts did perish in a tragic Apollo capsule fire on January 27, 1967. Russian astronaut Vladimir M. Komarov was actually the first known man to be killed in space. This happened on April 24, 1967, exactly three years after the prophecy, when his capsule plunged to earth under unopened parachutes.
Komarov, Schwarz noted in his study of Wilcox, had some other unusual experiences in outer space. On October 12, 1964, he was scheduled to orbit for at least five days, but returned to earth after 24 hours. As reported by London newspaperman Bruce Sandham, "Recording of radio transmissions . . . indicates that the spacecraft's crew had seen something strange and inexplicable in orbit - something that terrified them so much that they made a hasty and unscheduled descent from space." This account appeared in the Daily Gleaner, Jamaica, Monday, February 26, 1968. [Schwarz, Wilcox, p. 83] Komarov also shared another experience with world-famous telepathist Joseph Dunninger at the Seattle World's Fair in 1962. He had observed in space "strange phantasms . . . odd things that appeared before his eyes. He was sure his mind was not playing tricks on him, and that it was not an illusion." It should also be noted that a number of American astronauts in the period of 1963 through 1969 reported strange objects in space. [Schwarz, Wilcox, p. 83]
In another testament to Wilcox's mental stability, Schwarz stated that Wilcox had "no mental disturbance, no history of being hypnotized, no suggestion of paranoid thinking, no hints of specific psychopathology, and no cultural-religious-like determinants that could account for his experience." His encounter with alien beings had much in common with accounts shared by others worldwide. There are also a variety of references to other people in Northern Tioga County seeing something strange or unusual either on April 24th or in that general time period. Wilcox was told that a respected gentleman of Berkshire was "out in his field that day and saw something that was unexplainable." A letter sent to Schwarz by Walter Stevens recalled that he and a friend had seen a possible UFO that "almost blinded us for a moment," on April 18, 1964, on Route 38. Vic Kobylarz also stated how "one or two people saw something (UFOs) near Gary Wilcox's farm that day." [Schwarz, Wilcox, p. 78]
Here are some final conclusions and assessments given by Dr. Schwarz:
"It is ironic that billions are spent to put men on the moon in order to probe the secrets of space, yet apparently little attention is paid to the possibility that forms of life - ufonauts - from somewhere in the universe, possibly outer space, may have already landed on earth.
"In summary, Gary Wilcox, almost twenty-eight years old and a farmer of Newark Valley, New York, claimed he had a close-range experience with a UFO and two of its occupants. From psychiatric evaluation of Wilcox and interviews with various members of his family, neighbors, and friends, it would seem that he is a truthful person with no emotional illness and that his experience was 'real' even though the interpretation of his encounter is a complicated and uncertain matter." [Schwarz, Wilcox, p. 84]
An Encounter in Socorro, New Mexico
On the day that Wilcox had his encounter with Martians, there was a similar occurrence that evening in a western state. Lonnie Zamora of the Police Department in Socorro, New Mexico, was chasing a speeding motorist about 5:50 p.m. Suddenly he heard a roar and saw a blue and or orange flame in the sky as it descended some distance away. He was concerned about the safety of a nearby dynamite shack, stopped his pursuit of the speeder and headed in the direction of the shack.
Coming to the top of a ridge he saw a shiny, aluminum-like object below him about 150-200 yards south of his position. Zamora thought it looked like a car that had been placed on end. He then saw two humanoid figures about 4' tall in white coveralls close to the object. Zamora kept driving until the terrain became too rough and radioed headquarters that he might be at the scene of an accident. He then proceeded on foot.
As he left the car he heard two or three loud thumps like the slamming of a door. These were spaced a second or two apart. When he came within 50 paces of the object there was a loud roar, which gradually rose in pitch. Once again he saw a blue and orange flame that rose from the ground leaving a cloud of dust. Zamora ran back to his car. When he turned he saw an oval shape headed in his direction and dove for cover below the ridge. When the noise had stopped, he saw the craft proceeding about 15' above the ground as it gradually cleared the dynamite shack. The craft accelerated to clear a mountain range and disappeared.
Sergeant Sam Chavez was next on the scene, but had arrived too late to witness the craft. Zamora did point out a bush that was still burning from the flames and they also investigated four separate burn marks and four depressions. These, they assumed, had been made by the legs of the landing gear. In an investigation done by an engineer, W. T. Powers, it was estimated that the force needed to produce such depressions was the equivalent to at least one ton per mark. Four small round marks were found within the quadrilateral of the landing gear. These were described as 'footprints'. Zamora had also seen an insignia about 18" high on the side of the craft and subsequently made a sketch.
The Socorro encounter was widely reported and created immense excitement throughout the world. It was included in Project Blue Book by the US Air Force. Normally an incident with a single witness is not investigated, but this one warranted special attention. The conclusion was that the apparition could not be not be explained by any known device or phenomenon.
Was the craft that landed in Newark Valley in the morning the same one that set down in Socorro that evening? Both crafts had similar shapes and sizes. The humanoids or human-like creatures that came with the craft had similar descriptions. If a craft can travel between planets, it probably has a propulsion speed that would take it clear across the country relatively quickly.
The differences are substantial, however. Wilcox saw no landing gear on the craft that was in his field. It also stayed in a horizontal position in spite of the fact that there did not seem to be any kind of propulsion keeping it above the ground. He also did not mention any insignia or seeing flames of any sort. The noise that it made upon leaving was similar to the idling of an engine. And if the Newark Valley visit was for the purpose of collecting soil samples and learning about growing conditions, what was the reason of stopping in the middle of the desert?
An Encounter in Oakdale
Both of these reports, Newark Valley and Socorro, have been publicized extensively and are well known to most investigators and fans of UFO phenomena. In the process of doing research into these two incidents, the author has learned of other inexplicable encounters in the vicinity of Newark Valley and in the Southern Tier of New York in general. The first one comes from Julie Conklin, a current resident of Broome County. She grew up on Grant St. in Oakdale, near the present site of the Oakdale Mall.
When she, her brother and her cousin were walking along a flood wall in that area, the three of them saw "an egg-shaped object, large and silver colored, silent, at moderate altitude, moving quite fast. We were so scared that we flung ourselves to the ground." Julie and her cousin were 12 at the time, her brother age 9. Although they told their parents, this encounter was never reported. Julie could not remember the exact time, but April 1964 was a reasonable estimate.
Encounter in Conklin, New York (Note 13)
On the afternoon of July 16, 1964, five young boys were playing in an apple tree along Woodside Avenue in Conklin. They claimed to have seen a UFO-type craft in a field along side the road. The boys were Edmund Travis (9), Randy Travis (7), Billy Dunlap (7), Gary Dunlap (5) and Floyd Moore (10). They noticed a strange domelike object, "shiny like a bumper", resting in a field along side the road partially hidden by tall weeds. Their attention was then drawn to some sounds similar to someone playing a penny whistle. These appeared to come from a humanoid creature situated in a tree about 150 feet away.
"The creature was about the size of a small boy (estimated to be about three feet tall) and was dressed in shiny, black pants and a black short-sleeved shirt. The face had a humanlike appearance. On the head was a black helmet with two antenna-like wires protruding from the top and white wavy lines across the front. A transparent plate or lens covered the eyes and was part of the helmet. The whistling sounds appeared to come from the general area of the stomach."
[Story, Conklin, p. 86]
The boys started throwing apples and stones at the creature, but he was out of range. He continued to emit odd noises. The boys asked the figure if he needed help or water. The same noises continued with no other response. The figure then fell backward out of the tree and appeared to fall slowly or float to the ground upon which it then headed toward the dome-like object.
Three of the boys ran to the Travis home. They told Mrs. Edmund Travis that they wanted water for the spaceman. The grandfather of the Travis boys was sent after the other two boys. He met them along the way and at first the boys denied seeing a spaceman for fear of punishment for lying. Later they admitted to seeing the figure.
"Mrs. Travis scolded the children and threatened to punish her sons if they did not tell the truth. They tearfully insisted they were being truthful. The boys were then separated and required to tell about what they had seen. Each told the same story. After that, Mrs. Travis said she believed the boys, especially since they did not change their story in the face of punishment." [Story, Conklin, p. 86]
The boys went with Mrs. Travis to the field. The object and the creature were gone, but there was a perfectly circular area where weeds had been flattened and bushes broken. The moss appeared dry and yellow as if "intense heat had withered it". Two depressions were found outside the area as though the object had been supported on legs. A newsman discovered a third depression later that day. The description of the creature "floating to the ground" has strong similarities to the Kelly/Hopkinsville, Kentucky, affair that occurred on August 21-22, 1955. There were a variety of "little humanoids" that besieged a farmhouse. When the creatures were knocked out of the trees or scared off by gunshots, they reportedly floated to the ground.
Towanda, Pennsylvania (Note 14)
At 8:15 p.m. on April 25, 1966, Robert W. Martz, a 73-year-old retired electrical contractor from Monroetown, Pennsylvania, was driving with his friend Charles Dayton. He suddenly noticed a
"very awesome, huge, flaming body, which lit up a large area, visible for a few seconds. It had a red flame with a green and yellow tail. Then the second view was of a dark object. The huge flames went out like turning off an electric bulb for a few seconds. There was a dim light in four portholes, and then all darkness. It looked like it was 250 feet in front of us and 250 feet up, and it could go at a terrific speed. It was about 25 feet in length and had a tail 35 feet long."
The car's engine had stalled and the lights went out. There was no odor, but Martz felt very warm. The car's engine was soon able to function. Dr. Schwarz later did a psychiatric interview of Martz and found him to be a perfectly credible witness. Martz and Dayton were not alone in what they experienced. The Daily Review of Towanda had a feature article entitled "Thousands Awed by Fiery Object Seen in Eastern Sky" that appeared on April 26, 1966.
Another Newark Valley Incident
Four years after the Wilcox incident, two young boys had an alleged encounter with a UFO right in the Village of Newark Valley. Tom Doyle (age 7) and his brother Matt (age 6) were living on Elm St. One morning in late June they were walking up to visit one of their friends at the other end of the street. Tom believes that the time was about 8 or 8:30 because there was still dew on the grass. He is also quite sure that it was late in the month because they were already out of school.
As they came to the intersection of Elm Street and Franklin Street, they saw an object coming over the horizon from the west, approximately where Alexander Pond is now. Because it was moving so slowly, they thought it was a balloon. As it continued to approach traveling approximately at 20 mph, they both realized that this was something completely out of the ordinary. Matt became quite frightened and ran back home. Tom, on the other hand, became quite mesmerized, and gazed with great concentration on the aerial phenomenon.
The object that he saw was a saucer-like space craft approximately 30' to 35' across and about 10' high. It appeared to have a second level that had a row of dark, round portal windows. It was gold colored and the metal appeared to have a scratchy texture to it. It was generating a sound similar to what one would hear from an electric power substation. He estimates that it wasn't much more than 70' off the ground because it wasn't much higher than the treetops. It kept traveling east along Franklin, over to the present location of the Shursav grocery store and then disappeared over the hill.
This was one of the most incredible experiences that Tom ever had in his life. His descriptions today are as vivid and clear as they were 36 years ago. He feels very privileged that he was able to experience this phenomenon and it helped create in him an interest and appreciation for science and technology that have stayed with him to this day. This was obviously a different type of craft than the one seen by Gary Wilcox, although the method of propulsion would appear to be similar. The time period of 1968 also helps give the encounter credibility. The Martians had told Wilcox that they visited earth about every two years.
Strange Lights Seen on Route 38B
John Robble, who worked for a local firm in the Triple Cities, relates this incident from the fall of 1971. He was a night shift manager for a department in a local firm when one of his employees became ill. This was probably due to her pregnancy and Robble offered to take her home. The woman lived in Newark Valley and one of his technicians accompanied them. The technician drove the woman's car and followed closely behind Robble.
Robble does not remember the exact time of the year, but it was quite chilly and there was a heavy fog that had set in. About 3 to 3 1/2 miles out Route 38B, Robble observed a change in the color of the fog. It had turned a reddish-orange color and had a kind of pulse to it. The approximate area probably straddles the Broome County-Tioga County line.
He pulled over because he thought that there might be some type of accident up ahead. He stepped out of the car and conversed with both his technician and his sick employee. The woman was very frightened by the experience. Robble told them that he was going to walk on ahead and that if he didn't return to take his car and head back to town.
He walked into the light without incident. He could hear no sounds of any type or any evidence of a craft up above. He decided to drive through the light, which took about 10 minutes before the normal color appeared. Because of the thickness of the fog, he may have traveled one half mile. He was not able to tell how far to the left or right this color was diffused. When they reached the juncture of 38 and 38B, he took his employee to her home. On the return trip this unusual color had disappeared.
When he returned back to work, Robble reported this incident to the authorities at the Broome County Airport. He was told that other people had reported seeing something similar. John was told that the strange light was due to an atmospheric inversion. An atmospheric inversion is also known as a temperature inversion. It occurs when warm air is trapped at ground level by a colder air mass above it. It frequently occurs in certain cities and is of concern because pollutants often become trapped and can cause visibility and health concerns. Robble was never given an explanation of how a temperature inversion occurred in that area at that particular time and certainly not what would have caused the fog to turn a reddish-orange color.
Other Incidents From 1964
The website Bibleufo.com is primarily an online book called The Greatest Deception by Patrick Cooke. Cooke has created the Oracle Research Institute in which he develops his theory relating to God, aliens and religion. Irregardless of whether you give credence to his theories or not, the site does have extensive historical references. For the year 1964 there were a variety of encounters in the Southern Tier and Central New York. Here are others that were listed besides the Wilcox encounter and the sighting in Conklin, New York.
Homer, NY: On April 11, 1964, a physiotherapist W. B. Ochsner and his wife, saw two cloud-like objects darken at 6:30 p.m. One of these objects shot away and returned during the 30-45 minute interval.
Sherburne, NY: An engineer stopped his car when he saw an aluminum-looking object that was hovering about 15 meters above the ground. The edge of the craft appeared to be fluorescent. After three beams of very bright light were emitted, the craft flew off at a high speed. This encounter lasted six minutes. [No date was given for this encounter.]
Norwich, NY: On July 27, 1964, at 7:30 p.m., an engineering supervisor by the name of Duabert witnessed an aluminum sphere with a luminous ring. It remained stationary for 4 - 5 minutes. This encounter, the one in Homer and the one in Socorro, New Mexico, were all included in Project Blue Book.
* This account of Gary Wilcox's encounter with Martians is taken primarily from four sources:
The notes by Miss Baldwin, the report by Office Williams and the police report recorded at the Sheriff's Office were included in the book UFO Dynamics by Dr. Berthold Eric Schwarz. Schwarz did a psychiatric study of Wilcox on Oct. 18, 1968, as part of work he was conducting regarding UFO contactees. This study was included in his book. Although Schwarz did not include his own notes of Wilcox relating his experience, he stated that what Wilcox told him "corroborated all the salient features mentioned in Miss Baldwin's and Sheriff Taylor's reports.
Although there is a great deal of similarity when comparing the four accounts and very few discrepancies, there were a number of variables. I have tried to combine the four into a unified whole. Where discrepancies and contradictions occurred, I have made note of these.
Specific Notes on the Text:
Gary Wilcox's encounter with alien beings happened when I was a junior in high school. I certainly remember some of the discussions that took place at the time of the incident, but as with so many other events, this one eventually buried back in the recesses of the memory bank. I have always had an open mind about the subject. Since my brother became quite a fan of science fiction, I had a bit more contact with this type of subject matter than many other people. I came to believe that intelligent life beyond the confines of our planet was certainly plausible. I also kept reading stories or accounts of individuals who had actually made contact with such beings, but there was always this measure of disbelief that would always rise to the surface. How could such things actually take place? What kind of substantive proof could be acquired that would quiet the naysayers? What kind of proof would I accept as conclusive? Over the years the Newark Valley encounter slipped further and further into folklore and mythology.
Maybe 20 some years ago, my cousin showed me a John Keel book Our Haunted Planet. The Wilcox encounter was included. This made me realize that someone in the world of UFO's took this incident seriously. Keel also mentioned a psychiatric study done by Dr. Berthold Eric Schwarz. This intrigued me immensely. It had been published in Flying Saucer Review, but at the time I was unable to acquire a copy of Schwarz' work. It certainly wetted my appetite for more material. If a legitimate psychiatrist went through all this effort to study Gary Wilcox, there must be something more to this encounter than the typical "incident".
When I became school media specialist for the Newark Valley High School in 1985, UFO research was quite a "hot topic" for a number of years. In one of the books that I had acquired, Atlas of the Supernatural, there was section on UFO's. On a world map that listed 70 sightings that stretched back to Biblical times, Newark Valley was listed. I was immediately astounded by this because it makes this encounter one of the most significant in world history (at least according to the author's of this book). The Socorro, New Mexico, encounter also was given this distinction. Charles Bowen's account in the reference series Mysteries of Mind, Space and Time gave me much more detail than I had known before. Both the Newark Valley incident and the Socorro incident were given prominence. I also had a few of the original newspaper clippings from the time period that a local historian had saved for her scrapbook.
When scanning the Letters to the Editor in the Press & Sun-Bulletin, I came across one entitled "UFO data suppressed" by Don Rutter, Sr. Rutter was a local historian, research and iconoclast (I use this last term as a compliment). He referred to a November 1 article in the Press in which Kopernick Observatory Director E. Jay Sarton had stated "Although fabulous tales of UFOs persist, no convincing evidence has come to light." Rutter took exception to this statement and referred to the research done by astronomers and scientists such as Stanton Friedman, Don Berliner and Fred Steckling. I saved the letter, but did not place a date on it. I'm guessing 1992.
This prompted a letter from myself in which I related the material I had discovered concerning the Newark Valley encounter. This letter resulted in a phone call from a man (whose name I don't' remember now) who genuinely believed in extraterrestrials and that they had contacted people on earth, but had doubts about the Wilcox story.
Probably about two years ago, in the process of discussing this incident at school, a fellow teacher was relating some psychic experiences that had occurred in her home. She also mentioned hearing about a UFO encounter from one of her students. It was the student's father that had the experience, Tommy Doyle. I would rank his account with the same level of credibility as that of Gary Wilcox.
Doing an internet search turns up numerous references. One that was especially rewarding appeared on the site Bibleufo.com. Whether you believe the theory proposed by the author of this website is another matter, but I was certainly interested in their historical database. The year 1964 had a number of significant sightings. The Newark Valley encounter was included, of course, although the site gives the location as Tioga City rather than Tioga County. A variety of other incidents were listed as having taken place in the Southern Tier and Central New York. As Gary Wilcox had claimed along with a variety of others, he was not alone in seeing unusual aerial phenomenon.
The incident related by Julie C*** came from my school library contacts. She, her brother and her cousin may have actually seen the same craft as what Wilcox had seen. John "Spark" Robble, with whom I have spent time through our Historical Society interests, told me of his father's encounter with strange light patterns on Route 38B.
As we were coming up on the 40th anniversary of the Newark Valley incident, I wanted to summarize what I had been learning up to that point. I had almost given up on finding the Schwarz study. Doing a search on Amazon very recently revealed the title that I sought: UFO Dynamics. I ordered it online and had it in about a week. Another very fortuitous search came from another school media specialist, Julie Benson from the Susquehanna Valley Middle School. Walter N. Webb's account of the Newark Valley incident was located in one of her reference books along with a much more detailed account of the Conklin encounter, as well.
Certain aspects of the encounter do make me wonder just a bit. When Wilcox has his first communication, it sounds like the opening lines of a grade B science fiction movie: "Don't be alarmed. We have talked to people before. We are from what you know as the planet Mars."
For a race of individuals who could engage in interplanetary travel, how is it that they could be so deficient in their knowledge of earthly agriculture? Why would commercial fertilizer be an item worth taking back to their home planet?
With forty+ years of space travel having taken place, some of their predictions do not seem very valid. I am not aware of astronauts dying or developing severe health problems simply from space travel. If you can travel between planets, why would simple traffic fumes cause such a problem for propulsion? Where is the connection between space junk and climate change? If they do have some kind of cloaking device that makes their craft invisible, what difference would it make whether they travel day or night? Apparently this wasn't working on the morning of April 24, 1964, leading to the encounter with Wilcox. For Julie C*** and Tom Doyle, it appears that a similar glitch in the technology occurred. And of all the farms in the country and the world, why did they pick the one owned by Gary Wilcox?
In spite of these misgivings, comparing the accounts as recorded by Priscilla Baldwin, the Tioga County Sheriff's Department and Walter N. Webb along with Dr. Schwarz' psychiatric evaluation has been absolutely astounding. As I read these accounts, my mind keeps turning the information into something akin to an X-files episode, but the rational part of my intellect keeps telling me that here was an account by someone who signed as affidavit that he told the truth. No one in the intervening years has been able to disprove what Gary Wilcox said took place on his farm on the morning of April 24, 1964 and there are probably few people that could be viewed as a more credible source for such an experience. I have to believe that Newark Valley, my hometown, with a population of about 5000, one of thousands of small rural communities scattered throughout the United States, was the location for one of the best documented, most thoroughly studied and one of the most credible encounters with intelligent life from beyond our planet in world history. I leave it to the reader to see if similar conclusions are drawn.
I believe that there is much more information available that will give further credence to the Newark Valley encounter. If there are people still alive that saw something strange in the sky during that time period, I would invite them to document their experience. We owe this to Gary Wilcox, who was not treated entirely favorably by his community along with a few outsiders, and we owe it to our desire to learn about the world in which we live. It is a world that is more fantastic than many of us imagine and a world that certainly goes beyond the confines of this planet we call home.
History in a Tree Stump!
Peter Ian Kuniholm, a classical archeologist working at Cornell University, has been studying tree ring data from various sites around the Mediterranean. Tree ring analysis works like this: trees add a ring of growth each year. In good years the rings are wide and in poorer growing years thinner rings are produced. By matching and correlating tree ring data, Kuniholm is able to date timber from 2660 BC to 627 BC. Eventually he hopes to push the chart back to 7500 BC.
Tree ring research does not need to be the realm of a specialist working in a sophisticated lab. I have often made a count of rings when I'm in the woods and pass by a newly cut stump. I decided to become more scientific, however, in relation to a huge maple tree that grew in my mother's yard. The tree was over 4' in diameter and was beginning to succumb to old age. My mother and I decided to have the tree taken down in 1997. When the but log was removed, a friend of mine came over with a belt sander and we picked the most advantageous place to analyze the life of this tree.
There was a total of 53" of growth. We could recognize 153 rings placing the tree's beginnings back to about 1845. The main part of my mother home also dates from this period. Average growth was .346" per year. The greatest period of growth were as follows: 1853-1863 (5"), 1913-1921 (4 3/8") and 1985-1990 (2 1/4"). There was also two very slow periods as well: 1936-1944 (1 1/2") and 1949-1957 (1 1/2").
I compared this information with notes that I had taken from the Owego Gazette regarding weather. The year 1927 was a year of low growth for this maple and this was also a year that a frost occurred every month at some place in the county. The paper noted that the drought of 1939 was the worst since 1900, but there didn't seem to be a series of dry years from 1936 to 1944. What is somewhat puzzling is that the period of 1961-1966 shows about average growth (1 1/2"), but this was also a period when the Northeast was experiencing an extended drought.
I had been going on the assumption that tree ring growth was a simple function of rainfall: less rain meant a narrower ring. However, it is not quite this simple. One of the technicians with DEC in Tioga County told me that 80% of the cambium growth in a tree occurs in about an 8 week interval. This would most likely be May and June. If it is a dry spring, the tree will probably show a narrow growth ring even if there is heavy rainfall in late summer or fall. It is possible that growth was normal for the early 1960's because the rain that occurred came during the tree's growth period even though total rainfall was well below average.
Another tree ring analysis was prompted by a timber from the Herrick Barn project. The Herrick Barn is the reconstruction of an early 1800's threshing barn on the Bement-Billings Farmstead in Newark Valley. The barn came from Candor and had white pine logs about 8" in diameter for joists under the threshing floor. Although the joists could not be reused due to deterioration, there was enough integrity in the wood to count the rings. The total came to 149.
Russ Heidrich, who lives near Jenksville, examined the rings from a red pine that had been cut in 1996 with nearly the same exact dimension. It had only 43 growth rings! Russ compared the growth pattern of the red pine to the sugar maple, as well. It turned out to be quite a similar match even though the species are not the same and the maple was 100 years old when the red pine was just beginning to grow.
But why would the white pine floor joists have so many more rings? The barn was probably built in the late 1820's or early 1830's so the joists are very likely from the old growth forest. These timbers matured very slowly seeking light from a forest canopy that averaged about 150'. Although water and light were in short supply, variations in rainfall were moderated with a forest canopy that had been growing for centuries.
Although the growth rings are significantly smaller, there are variations that occur. It is hoped that further analysis may pinpoint particular years where rainfall or weather conditions were abnormal. Weather data for the Southern Tier from the period in which this tree was growing is almost nonexistent, but other references may be of assistance. According to The American Weather Book by David Ludlum, there were severe droughts in Eastern New England in 1749, 1761 and 1762. The Eastern states in general had dry years in 1805 and 1822.
One particular year to focus on is 1816, which has been called the year without a summer. Modern meteorologists believe that this spell of cold and inclement weather throughout the Northern Hemisphere was the result of the eruption of the Tambora volcano in Java on April 5, 1815. This supposedly produced the greatest ejection of volcanic material in history amounting to 36 cubic miles. The resulting atmospheric ash that circulated the globe, impacted the weather pattern for the following year.
The Gypsies Are Coming!
This is a phrase that may elicit a variety of emotions in the listener: curiosity, excitement, wariness, fear . . . . Gypsies were travelers. They spoke a mysterious dialect (Romani) which had its origins somewhere in India. Their presence was first noted in Western Europe in 1417 and they had been in America since colonial times. Most Gypsies had blended with the general population in subsequent years, but with the influx of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe in the last quarter of the 19th century, the Gypsies became a much more familiar presence on the American scene.
Although contact with Gypsies in recent years has been sporadic, Tioga County has had a long history with these colorful migrants. One band which garnered considerable respect was a group led by Joshua Small otherwise known as "Gypsy Josh". The group started making yearly excursions through the county starting in the 1870's. The normal time was May or June and the encampment of June 1900 was typical of his band: 7 wagons, 11 horses, 2 families and 8 people.
Josh was a horse trader and dealing with horses was one of the best known talents of Gypsies along with tin smithing and copper smithing. Anyone visiting a camp would be hard pressed not to buy some trinket or charm while a Gypsy woman told your fortune. Josh's usual campground was Goodrich Settlement, but other campgrounds used by Gypsies included Dean's Tannery, Sawyer's Bridge and an area near Hiawatha Island.
There were references every year in the Owego Gazette concerning the arrival of Gypsies from 1899 to 1933. It was in 1900, however, that another type of Gypsy band started making yearly excursions into the county. Their identified nationality was as varied as their costume: South American, Brazilian, Rumanian, Syrian, Assyrian, Serbian or Spanish. It is more likely that these Gypsies were from the new immigrant centers of Europe. The headline from August 2, 1900, read this way: "The Chief of Police Clears Owego of a Band of Gipsy [sic] 'Flim-Flamers'".
This was a description given from the Gazette on August 22, 1907:
"The largest, dirtiest and most picturesque band of gypsies that had passed through Owego in many years arrived here from the east at about noon last Friday, but their stay in town was limited to about thirty minutes because Sheriff A. W. Parmelee drove them out . . . There were thirteen dilapidated wagons drawn by 31 horses in various stages of emaciation and 68 dirty looking men, women and children. As soon as they arrived here the women began to visit the various business places on a begging tour, while others grabbed men in the streets, importuning them for money in payment for telling fortunes."
When a similar band arrived in town in 1908, Gypsy Josh's reaction was as negative as the local residents. He referred to the other band as "Turks" and that if they approached his camp he would "shoot all of them".
Gypsies were forced to change with the times and before too long they had traded their horse drawn wagons for automobiles. The first motorized troop of 11 autos came in April 1917 and the Gazette made this remark: "Probably the next band will come in aeroplanes".
An article from the Gazette (July 30, 1931) acknowledged the end of an era and took a much more romantic, nostalgic view of Gypsy visitation. The automobile had definitely taken much of the charm associated with the "gaily painted vans and strings of horses which were a source of delight". The Gypsies had brought some color and excitement into the hum-drum lives of the townspeople. The impetus for the article was prompted by two Gypsy bands which had passed through Owego and had subsequently gotten into a pitch battle near Binghamton. State police and local law enforcement officials had to be deployed to quell the fight.
The author was contacted by Matt and Sheila Salo via the internet concerning Tioga County's Gypsy heritage. They have formed the Gypsy Lore Society which works to document the various groups in the United States known as Gypsies. The Tioga County information helped fill a gap concerning Gypsy travels in central New York.
They have a book in print entitled Gypsy Travels in North America An Annotated Bibliography. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and would appreciate anything that fills in more of the Gypsy presence in the Southern Tier.
Roads With an Eastern European
There are a variety of roads in the county that have been named after the Eastern European farmers who came in the period of 1915 to 1925. Unfortunately, many of the names have been spelled incorrectly. Here is a list with the correct spelling included:
Town of Candor: Owlski (Owlkoski), Tomak (Tomek), Nagel, Thargos (Targosz), Molink (Melnyk)
Town of Owego: Kathuk (Katchuk)
Town of Tioga: Metro
Town of Berkshire: Ogapink (Ocapiuk)
Town of Richford: Chwalek
Tioga's First World War I
Tioga County's first casualty from World War I was an Italian immigrant by the name of John Sittelotta. He came to the United States in 1911 and was a section hand foreman for the Erie Railroad in 1917. At first he claimed exemption from the draft because he was supporting an aged mother in Italy, but when his brother agreed to assume the responsibility, he tore up his exemption claim. In September 1917 he became one of the first eight men to leave Tioga County for Fort Dix.
Sittelotta showed a proficiency in small arms and was given the rank of corporal. He was among the first to ship overseas to France. On May 12, 1918, his brother received official notice that his brother had died on the battlefield of Toul, France. In its story about Sittelotta, the Owego Gazette had this to say: "Tioga County will always honor the memory of him who was her first sacrifice to liberty on a European battlefield. Private Sittelotta, may you sleep well beneath the green sod in fair Lorraine".
Tioga's First Draftees
During World War II
Although America was not at war, the draft began almost a year before hostilities broke out. Tioga County's first contingent left in November 1940. They were:
Gordon DeWitt Baker and Leonard Bernard Schmidt of Owego; Roland Victor Noble, Michael Okrepki and Lester Donald Grummons of Newark Valley; Frank Raymond Covert and Nick Wasylysyln of Berkshire; John Robertson Sidey and Robert Samuel Cameron of Waverly; John Park Tribe of Nichols.
When Colorado Dust Settled on
The Dust Bowl devastated large areas of the Plains states. In March 1935 so much dust was blown into the air that a haze could be seen in Tioga County. It was reported that a 2,000,000 acre area in eastern Colorado and western Kansas was being abandoned. The storm was so bad that a malady called "dust pneumonia" was effecting both humans and cattle. Even buffalo grass which had never been turned over by the plow was being blown away in places.
When America Had a Different
View of Weight
If one were to compile a list of national characteristics for this country that have evolved in recent years, weight consciousness would probably surface quite early. The number of products containing the words fat-free, cholesterol-free, low calorie, lean, etc. have proliferated like mushrooms after a warm rain. Searching for "real" butter seems more like a quest for contraband. One's appearance and the need to stay in fashion always seem to favor the lean over the plump. Any extra weight needs to be rid of by means of a dozen different diets or regimens and so many extra pounds are so many extra nails in your coffin.
This aversion to largeness has not always been the case. In fact, a group of heavyweights in Newark Valley were so proud that providence had blessed them with large bodies that they sponsored a "Fat Men's Clam Bake" at the Newark Valley Trout Ponds on a Thursday, September 24, 1874. Assuming that Newark Valley had not become some kind of Mecca for people of amplitude seeking some kind of haven from the scorn of the society, the event can be studied as a way of judging America's attitude toward the size of one's body. There was no hint of offense taken by the plump prose with which the Owego Gazette reported the entire affair and the reporter seemed to feel that many in the country viewed these anatomical leviathans with a bit of jealousy.
The morning began by the group from Owego gathering at the South Central Depot with Capt. Isaiah Flamer, "a handsome colored tonsorial operator of North Avenue" being mentioned by name with a group of other "distinguished and adipose gentlemen." When this "crush of human obesity" rolled out of the cars at Newark Valley, the smiling and corpulent weighmaster general of the day, Frank B. Winship, was ready at the scales.
As each gentlemen stepped on, his name, residence and weight were registered and a red badge was pinned upon his coat by Mrs. Waring, "very much in the same manner as prize pigs are decorated with entry cards at a county fair." [Mrs. Waring was wife of the owner of the Trout Ponds] Capt. Flamer himself tipped the scales at 241 as envious persons of the "clothes pin order" watched each entry receive the coveted badge.
There were 100 men altogether who reached the desired weight of 200 lbs. or more, the necessary qualification to gain admittance. Since the men and their weights were published in the paper, it was public knowledge that many entrants had acquired their badges "by the skin of their teeth". It would have been a sad affair if certain borderline cases had spent several weeks "fattening up" only to loose a pound or two through some illness. It would have meant filling their boots with shot or wandering about "disconsolate with the outsiders".
The clams were baked in beds that were in the shape of a pill box revenue stamp. The beds had handles with the woodwork covered with sod to protect them from the fire. When the clams were cooked these beds were taken up by the handles and distributed among the tables. As the cooking was being done, the men, accompanied by their wives and children, walked the grounds admiring the plumpness of the trout or perspired over the croquet grounds, "knocking about the balls in a manner to remind one forcibly of an elephant manipulating a peck of apples with his trunk."
Although the day had been cloudy, the sun began to shine around 1:00 and the hungry one hundred began a general waddle up the steps to the dining hall. The Rev. J. K. Peck, formerly the pastor of the M. E. Church at Flemingville and being blessed with his 201 lbs. "invoked the Throne of Grace after which an assault was commenced upon the viands". As the clams were brought to the dining hall, a solemn procession would follow the savory smell of those who were unable to participate because of "insufficient plumpness."
When nearly 5,000 clams had been consumed, the Rev. J. K. Peck addressed the crowd and received considerable laughter and applause. The group also heard from Gen. Stewart L. Woodford, who had been passing through Newark Valley, but who had been induced by Judge Clark to participate in the festivities.
The Gazette remarked that the clambake had been one of the "pleasantest" it had ever attended. There were thirty couples that stayed into the evening and danced to the music of Paris and Smith. The dance lasted until 12:30 with the grounds illuminated by 41 lamps and 30 Japanese lanterns. The Gazette's account ended with the men's names listed, their residence and their weight duly recorded.
In a spirit of fair play, the other end of the weight bell curve was given a chance to gain notoriety in the following year. A lean men's clam bake was scheduled for July 3, 1875, anticipating every "sugar- tong and animated clothes-pin" to be present. Instead of being urged to pack in some extra pounds, would-be competitors were exhorted to "Bantamize at once."
The Rollie Noble Flag Trivia
At the end of World War II, Rollie Noble was with the 65th Division of the 3rd U. S. Army in Linz, Austria. George Patton was the commanding officer. Rollie and his fellow soldiers wanted to fly an American flag when armistice was scheduled to take place on May 8th. It turned out that there wasn't one available.
The soldiers decided to make one themselves from Nazi banners and an Austrian flag. They convinced an Austrian tailor that he should get involved in the project also. When the flag was completed, they hung it from a second story window and it got the attention of Gen. Patton who was passing by in a jeep. He remarked that it was probably the first American flag to fly over enemy soil at the official end of the war.
Rollie had kept the flag all through the years and retold the story to some friends in late 1982 after seeing the movie Patton. Although Rollie died in March 1983 the flag was reflown with full military honors on July 2, 1984, near the Tappan-Spaulding Library in the Village of Newark Valley. It is now in the U. S. Army Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Georgia.
A Champion Tree
Across from the Bement-Billings Farmstead north of Newark Valley is New York State's largest shagbark hickory. Champion trees are determined by a point system which gives a point for each inch of circumference, each foot of height and every four feet of crown spread. Each state has a list of champion trees which are then compared with champion trees of that species from different parts of the country.
The Newark Valley tree is not that tall (75') and is lacking in crown spread (56'), but its girth of over 12' puts it into the champion category. The largest shagbark hickory in the country has a foot less in circumference, about the same amount of crown spread, but is over twice as tall (153'). It's located in Abbeville County, Alabama.
Perhaps Asa Bement, the first settler, decided to leave the tree so he wouldn't have to go so far into the woods to get his hickory nuts.
The Return of the Whitetail
The early settlers of the county marvelled at the quantity of wildlife and game that existed in the woods. Much of this wildlife, including the whitetail deer, was gone within two generations from the process of clearing land for agriculture and sending logs down the Susquehanna. The last record of a deer being killed in Tioga County in the 1800's was 1847.
Whitetail deer became a protected species. An newspaper article from 1907 describes how thrilled a group of railroad passengers were when a young deer bounded out of a thicket between Newark Valley and Berkshire. It made the front page. It was mentioned that it was a $100 fine for killing a deer or even to possess one.
But Tioga County was going through a change. Starting in the 1880's farmers off in the hills could not compete with the commodities that were coming from the Midwest and Plain states and were unable to invest in the new technology and developments taking place in agriculture. As they left their homes, the land went back to nature.
By the 1920's enough forest had returned that people realized that the whitetail deer had once again taken up residence. By the 1930's a debate began as to whether they should be hunted. At first there was a great deal of opposition, but in 1941 the whitetail deer could be hunted legally in Tioga County.
How Glenmary Got Its Name
From 1837 to 1842 Tioga County was the home of Nathaniel Parker Willis, one of the most prominent figures in American literature in that period. He had a parcel of land in the Town of Tioga near the present Talcott Street bridge.
There was a ravine which nearly bisected his property. Willis had great affection for this spot. He built walkways, arbors and bridges and often did much of his writing there. Willis had met his wife, Mary, in England and they had been married in 1835. Because of his affections for his wife and his wife's affections for this ravine, he named it Glenmary.
The Polish Church
Between 1915 and 1925 Tioga County became home for many immigrants from Poland. Almost all of them were farmers and brought with them from the home country a very strong religious faith.
The community was large enough they decided to build their own church. It was built in Catatonk and was dedicated on November 2, 1930. It was named after St. Francis because the priest who was ministering to their needs at that time, Fr.Callistus Szpara, was a Franciscan. The front of the church has just undergone some renovation, and the cornerstone bearing the name "St. Franciszka 1930" is now readily visible.
The Orthodox Cross
At the corner of Barden Road and Lathrop Hill Road in the Town of Candor lies the ruins of a church. Although the walls and the roof have fallen down, the front part with its steeple is still standing.
There are many ruins of Protestant churches scattered around Tioga County. What makes this one different is that there is an image of an orthodox cross directly over the entrance. According to the Eastern Europeans living in the area, a group of Ukrainians tried to establish a congregation there in the 1930's. There may have also been a group of Polish National Catholics that tried to do the same thing.
For some reason the trees growing up around the front of the church gave it an extra measure of protection all these years. However, the beams at the base have deteriorated to the point that it is not likely to make it through another winter.
The Black Church
Blacks have resided in Tioga County from the very early days of settlement. There have been black residents in almost every town in the county, but the black community has always been centered in Owego. In 1842 the community was strong enough that it established the African Methodist Episcopal Church of Owego. It was located on Temple Street and was known commonly as the Bethel Church. It lasted into the 1950's.
Owego's Black Baseball Team
In 1906 a black baseball team called the Cuban Giants entered into an agreement with the Tioga County Agricultural Society to lease the fairgrounds as their headquarters. They also agreed to play against opposing teams for the county fair in September.
On May 22 the Cuban Giants defeated a team from Auburn by a score of 6 to 1, although the reporter for the Owego Gazette said that it could have been 40 to 1. The Auburn team was so poor that the Giants were batting left-handed and letting runners get to first base. The reporter also said, "The color line is the only bar to their being in the fastest teams in the country."
A Black Cemetery
In the northern part of the Town of Owego is the Oakley Corners State Forest. Not far from the end of Snapp Road is a primitive cemetery. It is approximately 30' to 40' to a side and has a broken down stone wall surrounding it. There are a few field stones which appear to be headstones, but there are no inscriptions on them.
There has been no written record discovered to date indicating who might be buried there, but there are two primary reasons for believing that blacks lie in the area. In the 1870's the land was a farm belonging to Madison Livermore. According to the U. S. Census of 1870 he had five blacks working on his farm and in 1875 there were three others. Blacks were working on the farm at least as late as 1879. The claim that the burial ground was for blacks comes from the oral history of the area.
Gypsies in Tioga
Gypsies started coming to Tioga County on a regular basis starting the early 1870's. They would come through in the spring of the year and usually camped at Goodrich Settlement. From the 1870's through the early 1900's the band was led by "Gypsy Josh", an Englishman by birth.
Starting in 1900 there were different groups that came that generated much hostility. A group coming through in August 1907 were described as having "thirteen dilapidated wagons, drawn by 31 horses in various stages of emaciation and 68 dirty looking men, women and children." The women went begging and grabbed men in the streets in an attempt to tell their fortunes. When the first band arrived in autos in 1917, the Owego Gazette remarked, "Probably the next band will come in aeroplanes."
Tioga County Immigrants
Tioga County has long been the home for many people from foreign lands, but in the 1920's it was especially diverse. According to the State Census of 1925, the county was home for people whose homeland was nearly every county of Europe, including all the British Isles. The only exceptions were Spain and Portugal.
The largest ethnic groups were Poles (199), Germans (198), Finns (139) and Italians (111). The Irish, English, Canadians, Russians, Austrians and Scots made up the next ranks.
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