MYSTERIOUS DEATHS KEEP FAYETTE FACTOR BOILING
More weird incidents linked to the Fayette Factor surfaced last week in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Indiana.
The Fayette Factor is a little-understood phenomenon in which the incidence of paranormal events is much greater in places named for Marie-Joseph de Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette, one of the USA's Founding Fathers and a prominent Freemason.
Fayette County, Pennsylvania, which has had the most weird incidents of the current flap, weighed in again with another surge of mysterious fires.
"Salvatore Ross Jr. came home to Fayette County, Pa. as a hero for losing his leg and his eyesight in Iraq. Now he's an arson suspect."
Pennsylvania "State Police confirm that they are looking at Ross, 21, of Dunbar, Pa. in connection with a fire that damaged six cars on property owned by his grandfather, Joseph, also of Dunbar."
"The fire happened late Tuesday night," April 6, 2004, "on Hardy Hill Road."
Elsewhere in the county, "police are searching for the person who threw a large chunk of cement off an overpass in Fayette County."
"Police said the cement chunk was thrown off the Buke Road overpass along Route 119 and went through Anthony Keepers' windshield."
"Keepers, 58, was flown to a Pittsburgh hospital where he was suffering from head, face and body injuries."
Another bizarre traffic incident claimed the life of a Fayette County teenager.
"A teenager was killed and a man was seriously injured in an accident early Saturday morning," April 3, 2004, "on Route 51 near Perryopolis, Pa."
"James P. Stokes, 17, of 408 Bells Mills Road, West Newton, Pa. was pronounced dead at the scene of the 7:15 a.m. accident in Perry Township, Fayette County. It is believed that Stokes was on his way home after taking an entrance examination at Penn State-Fayette, the Eberly campus, said Fayette County coroner Philip Reilly."
"According to state police Trooper Christopher Klacik, Stokes was driving north when his car and another headed in the opposite direction collided."
"The driver of that car, Robert Bobin, 49, of Monongahela, was first taken to Uniontown Hospital and then to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia, where he was listed in critical condition last night."
"Klacik said police were investigating what caused Bobin's car to cross the center line as well as how fast the two cars were traveling."
"Reilly said Stokes wasn't wearing a seat belt and died of major blunt force trauma to the head, chest and lower extremities. It's unknown whether Bobin was wearing a seat belt, according to police."
Commenting on the accident, Fortean researcher Loren Coleman pointed out that the newspaper report first appeared in Kittaning, Pa. (population 4,787), north of Fayette County. Kittaning, he pointed out, was the location where the 2002 movie, The Mothman Prophecies, was shot.
Loren added, "Isn't it strange...name-gamewise...that the weather station for West Newton is nearby Mount Pleasant, Pa.?"
(Editor's Comment: Not strange at all, if you know about that mountain's unusual past. For more on Mount Pleasant, see the feature story in this issue.)
In North Carolina, "human bones found in Fayetteville could belong to a Fort Bragg soldier missing for more than a decade."
"The remains were found Wednesday," April 7, 2004, "in the backyard of a home on Catalpa Road."
"Police want to know if the bones belong to Sgt. Terry Lee Webb. He has been missing since 1991."
"Police hope to identify the remains later this week."
Another mysterious death took place in Indiana.
"A Lafayette woman who disappeared in Montgomery County Saturday," April 3, 2004, "was found dead Tuesday," April 6, 2004, "police said."
"The body of Sabrina Commons, 32, was discovered laying in a bean field Tuesday, said Montgomery County Chief Deputy Bob Coudret."
"The cause of death has not been determined, and foul play has not been ruled out, he said."
"Commons, 32, had been missing since Saturday, the day police found her abandoned sports utility vehicle in the ditch at the end of a dead-end county road just outside Darlington (population 854), about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Lafayette. Her body was found more than a mile from her car."
"Investigators, with the help of a K-9 unit, spent four days searching for Commons, police said."
"Several witnesses reported seeing a woman matching her description walking away from the search party, Coudret said. He said police believe she was apparently trying to avoid being found."
"Footprints and cigarettes police say belonged to Commons seemed to match that theory, he said."
"Commons had two children, a son, 7, and a daughter, 3. They are staying with a relative, Coudret said." (See the Kittaning, Pa. Leader-Times for April 5, 2004, "Fayette accident kills teen, hurts man;" the Pittsburgh Channel for April 8, 2004, "Iraq war hero suspected in Fayette fire;" the Pittsburgh Channel for April 6, 2004, "Driver hurt by rock thrown from Fayette County overpass;" WRAL-TV News from North Carolina for April 5, 2004, "Fayetteville bones could be missing soldier;" and the Washington, Ind. Times-Herald for April 8, 2004, "Police find the body of missing Lafayette woman." Many thanks to Loren Coleman for these news stories.)
UFOs SIGHTED NEAR THE VANDENBERG AIR BASE
Three UFOs, described as "three white, dim, circular, fast-moving crafts," were seen Wednesday night, March 24, 2004, over Porterville, California (population 39,615), about 120 miles (200 kilometers) northeast of Vandenberg Air Force Base.
"They moved like nothing I had ever seen before," the witness reported, "They were three low-flying white objects, dim in brightness, flying eastwards very fast. No sound. Two of them continued east and one broke out of formation and banked south in a fast, impossible 90-degree turn. I've never seen anything like it. I'm very excited about it."
Earlier the same evening, at 6:04 p.m., in Moorpark, California (population 31,415), 90 miles (144 kilometers) east of Vandenberg, witnesses reported, "We were looking out our window. All of a sudden, five bright dots, not blinking, came blasting through the sky in a linear formation. Also, the objects left a trail of yellow that faded away in seconds and also, for some reason, made my lamps blink a few times as they passed over."
A week later, on Wednesday, March 31, 2004, an unusual event was reported at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
"The U.S. Air Force delayed the launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile due to a malfunction, base officials said."
"The missile was scheduled to be launched from the base between 12:01 a.m. and 6:01 a.m. on Wednesday but was delayed indefinitely at 2:55 a.m. when officials discovered the problem."
"The missile was to take about 30 minutes to reach
the Kwajalein Missile Range in the Marshall Islands, about
4,200 miles (6,720 kilometers) away. The Air Force
routinely test-launches the nearly 60-foot (18-meter)
missile to assess the performance and reliability, as part
of the Force Deployment Evaluation Program."
RED UFO SEEN OVER LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY
On Thursday, April 1, 2004, at 11 p.m., eyewitness L.B. reported, "I saw a red spot in the western sky that wasn't moving. It approached from the west, over the Ohio River, in Louisville, Kentucky (population 256,231). After focusing on it for about 30 seconds, it immediately descended out of sight of the building at a rate of speed too fast to determine."
"It wasn't an airplane or a comet, and was too small to make out a shape except to say a dot-like shape, non- blinking, just motionless--still in the sky."
"It was stable in the sky when first sighted; then departed with extreme rapid descent unlike any speed known to me." (Email Form Report)
SOLITARY UFO SIGHTED IN ELK CITY, OKLAHOMA
Eyewitness Joseph Bottone reported: "On the evening of (Friday) March 12, 2004, I looked up into the dark sky as I got out of my car and pulled my keys out of my pocket to enter my room. As my eyes got used to the light, I noticed what I thought was a satellite streaking slowly through the sky to the south."
"As I was looking at this, it suddenly shot off like a bullet with a large curve towards the west. I felt as if I was going to faint as my mind could not believe my eyes."
"This was no dream, and, as I said to myself, 'Oh, my God!' it dawned on me that I saw an anomaly I will never forget. I felt honored to see such a thing. I thought later that it seemed like the bright object noticed I saw it, and it somehow then decided to 'take off.' But how it knew I was looking at it is a mystery as the object must have been as high as the average satellite. It also seemed to want me to see it or maybe I 'sensed it' and found it somehow telepathically. This all happened in beautiful Elk City (population 10,510) in Oklahoma." (See the Elk City, Okla. Daily News for April 5, 2004, Letters to the Editor. Many thanks to Jim Hickman for this newspaper article. Be sure to visit Jim's Web site at this URL: www.thehickmanreport.com.)
NIGHT SAUCER SEEN IN STONY PLAIN, ALBERTA
On Monday, April 5, 2004, at 10:30 p.m., the eyewitness, Mr. Hailburg, "spotted a UFO coming in" to Stony Plain, Alberta province, Canada (population 8,274), a suburb about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Edmonton.
"It was coming from the west," he reported, "It was about 10:30 p.m., and I went outside and started to shoot a tennis ball in my backyard with my dog. Then I glanced up in a westerly direction and noticed this odd, ship-like thing. It had three lights--one red, one green and the other white. But the object all of a sudden turned on this really bright white light, and it looked like just a flying, glowing white ball. Now, it came in from the west and probably came as far as Main Street. It then began shifting left and right, probably about 100 meters (330 feet) north and then about 100 meters left (south--J.T.). It did this a few consecutive times."
"It then turned off the really bright white light, and I saw only the three lights--red, green and white, and it was just hovering there for about 30 seconds. It then turned on the really bright white light again and flew up really high, about 30 meters (100 feet) in a diagonal direction. It then turned off the light and sped away really fast, off to the south, and it vanished. It didn't make a sound." (Email Form Report)
UFO CAUGHT BY CAMERA IN MAR DE AJO, ARGENTINA
On Sunday, March 28, 2004, ufologist Ruben Mansilla reported, "There was an event here in Mar de Ajo" in Argentina. "A local resident named Roberto Garcia took some photos with his digital camera and left them at the camera store."
When the images were printed out, they showed a daylight disc in the partly cloudy Argentinean skies. "Upon doing so, my friend called me (Mansilla) immediately since he knows of my interest in these things." (See the magazine El Dragon Invisible of Argentina for March 29, 2004. Muchas gracias a Scott Corrales, Carlos Iurchuk and Guillermo Gimenez para esto informe.)
NEW CATTLE MUTILATION REPORTED IN ARGENTINA
"The legend of the infamous Chupacabra has appeared once more in Entre Rios," a province in northern Argentina, "and in a town close to our city, San Benito."
"Police sources said yesterday that last Saturday (April 3, 2004), the sheriff's office of a neighboring community was visited by a farmer from a rural area who identified himself as Emilio Fernandez Kint, 59, who stated that on that day he had noticed that one of his animals was missing. Immediately he went in search of the stray bovine and found it laying in a thicket."
"Upon approaching to see what was wrong, he found that the animal was missing a left eye and the hide and flesh in a 5-centimeter (2-inch) circle around its belly. What startled the farmer the most was the absence of blood on the soil or anywhere in the vicinity."
"Kint stated that he called a private veterinarian who visited the site and attested to the missing organs, but who otherwise was unable to offer an explanation for the animal's death."
"During his exposition, the farmer also noted that a few nights ago he had seen strange lights in the night sky, precisely over the place where he had found the animal."
"He added that not far from there he found a large circle of flattened grass whose cause was unknown." (See the Argentinean newspaper El Diario de Parana for April 7, 2004, "Is Chupacabra on the prowl again?" Muchas gracias a Scott Corrales y Gloria Coluchi para esto articulo de diario.)
LARGE GREEN UFO SEEN BY VILLAGERS IN VENEZUELA
On Monday, March 8, 2004, "a large intensely luminous green object, with blue 'windows or portholes' along the side, was seen flying over San Antonio de los Andes" in Venezuela's state of Miranda.
"People living in the barrio Urbanizacion Los Castores" in San Antonio de los Andes, located about 600 kilometers (360 miles) southwest of Caracas, the national capital, "saw a strange green light streaming through their windows. Curious about the phenomenon, they ran outdoors. Once they got outside, they saw the green UFO crossing the night sky overhead. The sighting lasted for several minutes" before the object disappeared over the Cordillera de Merida." (Muchas gracias a Hector Arturo Escalante y Proyecto Orion para esto informe.)
CROP CIRCLES REPORTED IN QUEENSLAND
"Residents of the small town of Conondale, west of Maleny" in Australia's state of Queensland, "say they are baffled by large areas of flattened grass."
"Crop circle enthusiast Chris White gave the complex drawings an 8 out of 10."
"'You can't imagine anyone faking these because the seed beds would be broken, and it doesn't look like it's been trampled or crushed.'"
"'There are people in England who set out to do a hoax...but even they couldn't fake it. This definitely looks like the real thing."
"Retired teacher Kate Dash visited the circles on Ahern Road and said she doesn't believe the pattern was man-made."
"'I've been to England to study crop circles for the last five years,' Mrs. Dash said, 'This looks authentic to me. The way the grass has been flattened is amazing and would be almost impossible to do as the patterns are beautifully symmetried.'"
"Both crop circle enthusiasts (cerealogists in the USA and Canada--J.T.) said they had nothing to do with making the circles, which are generally associated with UFOs."
"But the property's owner, who does not want to be named, said there was a much simpler explanation for crop circles."
"'It's the wind creating a whirly-whirly (dust devil in the USA--J.T.). It spins around in the long grass and creates the circle,' he said." (See the Australian newspaper The Sunday Mail for April 4, 2004, "In a whirl over crop circles." Many thanks to Robert Fischer for this newspaper article.)
PHANTOM PANTHER ON THE PROWL IN NORTH WALES
"Police marksmen have been scouring North Wales farmland amid fears that a 'big cat' is on the prowl."
"There have been several reported sightings of a large black cat near Llandona Beach."
"And several local horses have suffered mysterious injuries in the past month--the most recent coming only a week ago."
"Armed police with the support of the force helicopter searched the area on Saturday," April 3, 2004.
"Paw prints found at the spot were being examined by experts, and local farmers are planning night shoots in a bid to catch the panther-like cat."
"Local farmer Paul Gash of Tyddyn Bach, Llandona, spotted the cat as he was driving his tractor."
"He said, 'It was over the fence on land belonging to Tanrallt Wen, and it was black and big. Taller than the biggest Labrador dog and four to five feet (1.3 to 1.5 meters) from nose to tail end. It loped across the field, backed up to a tree, and sprayed to mark its territory, just as a domestic cat would do. Then it walked on, quite leisurely, and disappeared into undergrowth.'"
"'It was really daring, and there is no way I would have gone towards it without a gun in my hand.'"
"Mr. Gash phoned Anne and Mike Roberts, who run the nearby Pentaran Stud (farm), because the animal was on the land at Tanrallt Wen."
"Mr. Roberts said: 'I grabbed a shotgun and we dashed there and made a preliminary search. Then, because of injuries we've had to our horses in recent years, we decided to call the police. An armed response unit came within ten minutes or so, and a helicopter half an hour (30 minutes) later. Some local farmers and shooting men turned up to help, but it was to no avail.'"
"'The helicopter used its image-seeking camera over the area for a good half hour but picked up nothing.'"
"Over the last two years, two young foals belonging to Pentaran Stud have been taken from the 60-acre farm."
"Last year, only the hindquarters were left behind on the edge of woodland, and, early this year, a foal disappeared altogether."
"A gelding belonging to Janet Snowdon-Barnes was mysteriously injured only last week."
"A veterinarian was called out to treat the black- and-white horse which had a 6-inch (15-centimeter) gash running down his buttocks. His rug (hide in the USA-- J.T.) was very badly torn."
"Mrs. Snowdon-Barnes said: 'At the time it happened, an attack did not occur to me, but seeing the helicopter search today made it all make sense.'"
"'When Anne Roberts mentioned her fears a year ago, I thought she was away with the fairies (colloquial expression like out in the ozone here in the USA--J.T.), but now I believe her.'"
"North Wales police confirmed a search team attended the scene after receiving the call from Mr. Roberts."
"A big-cat expert believes the mystery animal prowling North Wales farmland is almost certainly a black leopard."
"On Saturday," April 3, 2004, "police marksmen scoured parts of Anglesey following reports of a panther- like creature."
"Paw prints found in fields near Llandona Beach are being examined by experts."
"Last night (Monday, April 5, 2004) Danny Nineham, who examined big cat sightings for several police forces, said the patterns and nature of the horses' injuries are consistent with a black leopard. And he warned the big cat could present a danger to humans."
"Mr. Nineham said it was unusual for a leopard to attack horses."
"He said: 'Normally there's a natural amount of prey around, things like squirrels, rabbits and deer. It's quite rare. It's difficult to attack horses unless they're sleeping. But foals are easy prey, and leopards are wily animals.'"
"Mr. Nineham said he was contacted every day with reports of big cat sightings from across the county. He believes most were leopards."
"'In the 1970s, they were the 'in' thing to keep as pets, but people had them and then got fed up with them,' he explained."
"'There are now breeding leopards in all parts of the country (UK), and it goes unreported. Unfortunately, it's going to take a child getting killed before anybody does anything about it." (See the UK newspaper The Daily Post for April 5, 2004, "Paws," and for April 6, 2004, "Prowling beast 'a black leopard.'" Many thanks to Robert Fischer, UFO Roundup's phantom panther expert, for these newspaper articles.)
FRENCH JEWS GO TO COURT TO BLOCK THE PASSION
"A Paris court Monday," March 29, 2004, "rejected a request by three Jewish brothers to ban Mel Gibson's (film) The Passion of the Christ on the grounds it would foment anti-Semitism."
"The court ruled that the film," which opened Wednesday, March 31, in French cinemas, "would not threaten public order."
"'To make the death of Jesus into the major motivation of anti-Semitism that leads to secular persecutions against Jews would stem from a narrow view of Mel Gibson's film,' Judge Florence Lagemi wrote in his decision."
"The Benlolo brothers--Patrick, Gerard and Jean-Marc- -presented their case Friday," March 26, 2004, "before going to a screening of the film with a lawyer from the movie's French distributor."
"Calling Mel Gibson 'a tortured soul,' France's main Jewish group on Thursday," April 1, 2004, "charged that his film about Jesus' final hours has anti-Semitic overtones."
"The Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France, an umbrella group for Jewish organizations, said Thursday that The Passion of the Christ is a backward portrayal of Christian teaching."
"The movie debuted Wednesday in France."
"'The film's violence is extreme and sick,' the group said in a statement. 'Unfortunately, the council finds elements of anti-Semitism in the film, which was clearly conceived by a tortured soul.'"
"Some Jewish and Christian leaders have expressed concern that the movie could revive the notion that the Jews collectively were responsible for Christ's death."
"France has faced anti-Semitic violence for more than two years, with many attacks targeting Jewish schools, synagogues and community centers."
The council "noted that it had not asked for the film to be banned, out of respect for freedom of expression." (See the Duluth, Minn. News-Tribune for March 30, 2004, "'Passion' survives court challenge," page 2A; and the Montreal Post for April 3, 2004, "Mel Gibson's 'clearly a tortured soul, says France's main Jewish organization.")
THE PASSION DOES BOFFO BUSINESS IN JORDAN, EGYPT
"Hanan Nasour, a veiled, 21-year-old Muslim woman in Amman," the capital of Jordan, "came out of The Passion in tears and pronounced her verdict: Mel Gibson's crucifixion epic 'unmasked the Jews' lies, and I hope that everybody, everywhere turns against the Jews.'"
"Al-Quran, though, says Jesus' crucifixion never happened.'"
"Such are the contradictions that are welling up in the Arab world dealing with The Passion."
"Even as the film draws huge audiences in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, several other Arab countries have approved it for screening."
"In the Arab world, openly-voiced anti-Semitism--and by extension, a warm reception for The Passion--is bound up in the Arab conflict with Israel."
"In Jordan, a leader of the hard-line Islamic Action Front says Muslims should read Al-Quran (The Koran--J.T.) and pray instead of going to movies. But he doesn't mind The Passion being screened in his country."
"'The Jews are most upset with the movie because it reveals their crimes against the prophets, the reformers and whoever contradicts their opinions,' Hamza al-Mansoor said."
"I expected the film to do well in Amman," Ayesha al- Khatabi, UFO Roundup's Middle East correspondent said. "What is most surprising is how well it is doing in the outlying cities. There are long lines of people waiting to see the film in Zarqa, Karak, Salt and Irbid. Even the Bedouin imams have no objections to its screening. This is very surprising because these are the same men who said the actresses of Baywatch should be whipped."
"In Egypt, the head of a department at Al-Azhar University, who often advises the government censors on film matters, is taking a hands-off approach."
"'My understanding is that it is about the last 12 hours in the life of Christ, which involves Christians and Jews. Muslims have nothing to do with this,' said Sheik Abdel Zaher Mohammed Abdel Razeq."
"Al-Quran (Islam's holy scripture--J.T.) is unequivocal in Sura (Chapter) 4, verse 157: 'They said, 'We killed Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah'--but they killed him not, nor crucified him. But so it was vile to appear unto them. And those who differ therein are filled with doubts with no knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not.'"
"Muslims believe another was crucified in Jesus' place."
"There is a legend that Jesus and his mother fled from Jerusalem and found refuge in Pakistan," Ayesha explained, "There is a tomb near Rawalpindi which is said to contain the remains of Bibi Miraim. (the Virgin Mary-- J.T.)"
"Many in the West accuse director (Mel) Gibson of reviving the Jews-killed-Christ claim that has stirred anti-Semitism throughout the ages."
"The Passion is also being hailed by the Middle East's Christian community. Egyptian churches and Christian bookshops were selling pirated (DVD) versions of The Passion for less than a dollar even before the film opened in Cairo."
"Salim Abraham, 37, a Christian journalist who speaks fluent Aramaic, said, 'I was so happy to see my language, for the first time ever, being spoken on the big screen and in such a powerful movie. I think there is nothing anti-Semitic in it. It gives the facts as they are, though they may be slightly exaggerated in some instances.'" (See the Arabic newspaper Al-Ahram for April 5, 2004, "Gibson's The Passion a hit among the Arabs." Many thanks to Ayesha al-Khatabi for this newspaper article.)
ARE NWO TROOPS BASED IN NORTHERN AUSTRALIA?
Puzzling rumors coming out of Australia's states of Queensland and the Northern Territory have led investigative reporter Joe Bryant to probe the following question: Are troops of the New World Order active Down Under?
"It has come to my attention that either (Australia's prime minister) or the Minister for Customs have stopped surveillance of Indonesian and other aircraft coming into the Northern Territory," Bryant noted, "Including Tipperary Downs (cattle) station," which is reportedly owned by Megawati Sukarnoputri, the president of Indonesia.
Then there is "the steady stream of cars coming down the Birdsville Track across to Queensland or down the inland highway" from Darwin to Alice Springs.
"Are these legitimate travellers, or untracked 'boat people' coming via aircraft into Tipperary Downs?" Bryant asked.
"I am aware of a large property in Queensland where foreign nationals are flown in, apparently without surveillance, to work a large rural agricultural area locked off from the Australian public. Australian officials some time ago visited the location and saw some of the security provisions" the large facility has.
Another strange report tells of black helicopters in Western Australia, flying around the Ord River valley between Wyndham and Kukunurra, seemingly on maneuvers. (Many thanks to "the Belconnen Commandos" for Joe Bryant's article.)
DEAD WHALE TO MARK SITE OF NEW TEMPLE IN VIETNAM
"Thousands of Vietnamese are making pilgrimages to a beach on the South China Sea to worship a dead whale."
"More than a thousand people--many from hundreds of miles away--have journeyed to burn incense near the whale carcass discovered on a beach in southern Vietnam Friday," April 2, 2004, "said a police officer in the Thanh Phu district of Ben Tre province."
"Many villagers, especially the fishermen, worship the giant mammals and believe a dead whale washing ashore is a sign of good fishing to come."
"The 82-foot (25.5-meter) whale was starting to decompose, but it could take weeks to decay completely, said the officer, who identified himself only as Minh."
"The villagers plan to use the bones to build a temple to honor the whale, he said." (See The Star of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for April 6, 2004, page 1. Many thanks to Binh and Trinh for this newspaper article.)
From the UFO Files...
1784: STRANGE SECRETS OF FAYETTE COUNTY, PA.
The Fayette Factor is running in high gear these days, and no place has reported more strange, odd and downright bizarre incidents than Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Stone-throwing poltergeists, mysterious fires, impossible accidents--the list is endless.
Indeed, this region south of Pittsburgh is well on its way to becoming the paranormal capital of Pennsylvania.
Is there anything in the county's past that might explain this sudden outburst of oddities today?
Winding its way through the county is the Monongahela River, which means the river with the sliding banks in Ontouagannha or Shawnee Indian.
Christopher Gist (1706-1759) was the first man of European descent to set foot on the banks of the Monongahela. Gist was what was then called a "long hunter," a back-country trapper and wanderer. Later generations of Americans referred to such people as "mountain men," and they wrote many a chapter of the USA's early history.
When Gist arrived, he found the Monongahela valley populated by an extraordinary blend of Native American tribes. There were Ontouagannha, Miami, Wyandotte, Mohican and the Ottawa, who had come down from the Great Lakes.
(Editor's Note: The Ottawa are a branch of Tackanash's Anishinabe people. "Ottawa" is a corruption of the Anishinabe word Odahwaug meaning trading people.)
"Native American folklore will tell you what happened," UFO Roundup editor Joseph Trainor explained, "It just doesn't tell you when it happened. If I had to guess, I'd say the migration into the valley happened sometime after 800 A.D., which was the end of the Hopewell-Adena civilization along the Ohio River."
David Cusick, a Seneca author, mentions in his book a "golden empire of Twakanah," which he says flourished along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. No one knows why "Twakanah" collapsed, but Cusick mentions that the tribes migrated to the east after the "emperor's" demise.
Anthropologists have noted that most of the Native American tribes that entered the valley came from the west, the exception being the Ottawa.
Although the various tribes had differing traditions, all are in agreement about one particular legend--the story of Ponki.
According to the Ontouagannha legend, Ponki was already living in the area when their ancestors arrived. He was "an old sorcerer-hermit who had long terrorized the Indians," exacting tribute from them, insisting that they hand over young men and women for his strange rituals. Ponki was a jossekeed (Anishinabe for necromancer or medicine man; what we call today a spiritual advisor -- J.T.)
Like any practicing jossekeed, Ponki had a "sacred festival grounds," always located at the top of a hill or mountain. Here he would raise the wooden festival pole and light the Sacred Central Fire and summon the discarnate entities. Ponki's "fire mountain" was Mount Pleasant, located 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Connellsville, Pa.
However, Ponki came to a bad end. "Eventually he was killed, his body was burned, and the ashes were cast to the winds. The ashes, according to the story, were transformed into minute living things (gnats or noseeums, as we call them here in Minnesota--J.T.)" that infested the swamps along the Monongahela.
Mount Pleasant also found a place in a more recent paranormal saga. In December 1965, an acorn-shaped UFO plummeted out of the night sky and hit the ground in Kecksburg, Pa. Mount Pleasant is only 3 miles (5 kilometers) south of Kecksburg, "the second Roswell."
Fayette County's next link with the paranormal had its origins half a world away, in Geneva, Switzerland. Here, on January 29, 1761, Sophie Albertine Rolaz du Rosey gave birth to a baby boy. Her husband, Jean de Gallatin, a local merchant, named him Abraham Alfonse Albert.
Although permitted to call himself a noble, and to use the coveted de as a prefix for his surname, Jean de Gallatin was not a wealthy man. His family was Italian; the original surname was Gallatini; and they lived in the Varzo region of Italy, north of Lago Maggiore, before moving to Geneva.
Albert, as he preferred to be called, was a precocious boy. But in 1770, tragedy struck when both of his parents died. At age nine, Albert was placed in the custody of a spinster aunt, Catherine de Pictet.
Meanwhile, 375 kilometers (225 miles) to the north, in Ingolstadt, a city of the independent kingdom of Bavaria (southern Germany--J.T.), a renegade Jesuit named Adam Weishaupt was laying the foundations for a worldwide secret society that would bring about "the New World Order."
In 1774, Mlle. de Pictet enrolled her 13-year-old nephew in the prestigious Academy of Geneva "where his precocious intelligence brought him to the attention of such renowned scholars as the historian Johannes von Muller, the physicist George-Louis Le Sage and the naturalist Horace Benedict de Saussure."
(Editor's Note: Von Muller was one of Weishaupt's earliest Swiss converts, joining the Order of the Illuminati in 1778.)
"In 1780, a year after graduating from the academy, Gallatin slipped out of Geneva on a pretext and ran away to America. Henry Adams, his first biographer, believed that young Gallatin, inspired by the Declaration of Independence, wanted to escape the stifling conservatism of upper-class Geneva."
Albert's second biographer, Henry Williams Jr., believed that "Gallatin had discovered that his inheritance barely covered the expenses of his education, and he could not bear the thought of relying on his family connections to find employment."
However, both Adams and Williams overlooked an important event that took place in 1780. Weishaupt's Swiss disciples, now called the Illuminati, attempted to seize power and make Geneva the capital of their "Universal Republic." But the uprising failed, and other European nations sent troops to occupy the city.
An American who lived through this uprising was Benjamin Franklin Bache, nickname Benny, a few years younger than Albert Gallatin. Young Ben was the grandson of Dr. Benjamin Franklin by his daughter Sarah and was enrolled in Dr. Cramer's School for Young Gentlemen. His granddad was then serving as the USA's ambassador to France.
It was all pretty exciting for Benny Bache and his classmates. The streets of Geneva were filled with soldiers from France, Spain, Sardinia, Savoia (now northern Italy--J.T.), Austria-Hungary, plus Prussia, Bavaria, Hesse-Anhalt and some other German principalities. The boys used to sneak out after dark, freely violate the curfew, pelt solitary sentries with vegetables, run and hide from the military police and then top off the evening making the rounds of the city's hottest dance clubs. Think Animal House in the Eighteenth Century.
But if the occupation was fun for Benny, it was a deadly serious affair for Albert Gallatin and his friends, Jean Savary de Valcoulon and Jean Badollet. Using an army of informers, the coalition's military police began arresting and imprisoning members of the Illuminati. Which may explain Albert's sudden desire to leave Switzerland.
Albert arrived in Boston in July 1780. He found the people "dispiritingly provincial" and considered the American Revolution "a tragic mistake." He thought the "revolution" of the Sons of Liberty fell far short of the society-wide upheaval favored by Adam Weishaupt, Adolf Freiherr (Baron) von Knigge, Anacharsis Clootz and other leaders of the Illuminati. To make matters worse, Boston's "narrow-minded residents refused to buy a shipment of tea on which he had expected to turn a large profit."
With bankruptcy staring him in the face, Albert "sank his remaining capital in a wagonload of sugar, tobacco and rum and went up to Machias, Maine, where he spent the next year dickering with the local Indians and a handful of American soldiers stationed nearby."
(Editor's Note: At that time, Maine was a part of Massachusetts. It broke away and became a separate state in 1820.)
While living in Maine, Albert heard for the first time the legend of the sorcerer Ponki from the Passamaquoddy indigenous people. Like the rest of the Illuminati, he had an interest in esoteric subjects and probably asked where Ponki had once lived. "South of Fort Pitt (now Pittsburgh--J.T.)," the Indians told him, "The winding river called the Monongahela."
"In October 1781, having barely broken even, Gallatin returned to Boston and struggled to make ends meet by giving French lessons to Harvard students."
In 1783, his old school friend and fellow Illuminatus, Jean Savary de Valcoulon, reentered Albert's life. Like another Illuminatus, Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord (better known as Talleyrand, who became Napoleon's foreign minister--J.T.), Savary had gone into the land speculation business. Albert suggested the Monongahela valley as an ideal spot for development, and, in July 1783, the two men boarded a schooner bound for Baltimore.
"Gallatin leased a farm near" the Monongahela's "confluence with George's Creek in Fayette County, Pennsylvania." There he built a store and a post office. But the pioneer life was hard. "After the sudden death of his wife Sophie Allegre in the autumn of 1789--they had been married only a matter of months--he grew so depressed that for a long time he would not go outside or even put on clothes."
Two things turned Albert's fortunes around. The
first was the arrival of another friend and Geneva
Illuminatus, Jean Badollet, with news of the French
Soon the settlement became known as New Geneva. Illuminati who had been hunted men in Switzerland found refuge there. Albert used the skills of Swiss and Italian refugees to establish the first glass factory west of the Alleghenies. On Ferry Street, in 1796, a combination hotel, tavern and Illuminist lodge, Harmony Hall, was built.
Initiates of the Columbian Lodge in New York City soon took notice of the Illuminati enclave in southwestern Pennsylvania. Savary introduced Albert to Marinus Willett, Billy Van Ness and other Illuminati of "the Albany Regency," an event which launched Albert's career in American politics.
(Editor's Note: When it comes to black magick, Marinus Willett could easily hold his own with Jean-Baptiste Willermoz and old man Weishaupt himself.)
In 1790, Albert was elected as a state representative
from Fayette County. After that, his rise was meteoric.
He served as Secretary of the Treasury under the USA's
third president, Thomas Jefferson, and fourth president,
As for Mount Pleasant, that spot, too, has a strange history. "An inn was established there in 1793; the place became a relay stop on the Baltimore and Pittsburgh Pike" for cross-country stagecoaches "and attracted a roistering lot," including quite a few residents of New Geneva. "In the face of this, the influence of the (Presbyterian) church waned, and the settlement became known as 'Helltown.'"
That curious name has your editor wondering just how far back those paranormal events actually go. (See Pennsylvania: A Guide to the Keystone State, University of Pennsylvania, 1940, pages 568 to 575; Life of Albert Gallatin by Henry Adams, 1879; and Albert Gallatin: Jeffersonian Financier and Diplomat by Henry Williams Jr., 1957.)
Well, that's it for this week. Join us next time for more UFO, Fortean and paranormal news from around the planet Earth, brought to you by "the paper that goes home- -UFO Roundup." See you then.
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