The legend on the picture below states that according to oral tradition, this 1858 western Virginia pie safe from Washington or Wythe County, supposedly depicts an earlier 19th century alien visitation. When I first put this page up around Aug. 1, 2003, I wrote was still trying to contact the author for more information.
On Aug. 9, 2003 I finally spoke by phone to the author, historian J. Roderick Moore. Amazingly he claimed that he made up the statement about the oral tradition and alien visitation as a "practical joke" on the editors of the magazine, thinking they would immediately call him on it and take it out. When there was no comment, he said he didn't bother to correct the statement. I have to take him at his word, but I don't understand why this well-respected Virginia historian didn't simply call up the editors when his alleged prank failed and have the false information quickly removed. Historians usually try very hard to be accurate. Even an innocent hoax like this could hurt his professional reputation. (In fact Moore told me he had received some "grief" about it from a few fellow historians over the years). Nonetheless, the following, earlier commentary by me should be considered in light of Moore's disavowal.
For what it's worth, this large-eyed "alien" predates the first TV "bug-eyed" aliens of the 1950s by 100 years. Yet psycho-social debunkers claim that the first reports of seeing such aliens came only after the TV shows and were inspired if not definitely caused by them. The following picture could disprove that theory in at least this one instance (assuming this really was supposed to depict an alien, as Moore's article orginally stated).
COMMENTS: Overall the artwork looks very stylized. Five and six-sided stars were commonly used in American folk artwork. Therefore, the six-sided star below the alien head may not have any special significance (however, see new discussion belowfor other possibilities). The alien "robe" reminds me of stylized cornstalks I have also seen in southwestern U.S. Indian artwork.. (One reader noted that the figure could be nothing more than a stylized plant with the "head" simply being a pistil and stamen of a flower. I can't argue with that interpretation, except for the folk story that originally went along with the figure, which Moore now disavows)
If anybody has any further information, please contact me. (Thanks to my wife who stumbled across this photo and made me aware of it.)
Relation to 1952 "Flatwoods Monster?"
When I posted a link to this page on UFO Updates August 4, 2003, researcher Kenny Young quickly wrote back that the above image reminded him of drawings of the famous West Virginia "Flatwoods Monster" UFO sighting of September 12, 1952. I've included a side-by-side comparison of the the two beings below.
There are indeed some similarities (and differences). Both critters have a rather unusual "skirt" below and an arced, pointed "hood" or "collar" above. Both are large-eyed and round-headed.
However, what I am most struck by is the round, glowing area below the head in this rendition of the Flat- wood's monster. The corresponding area in the other image is also depicted as round, but with a 6-pointed "Star-of-David" inside. Although normally thought of as the symbol of Judaism, a true Star-of- David is composed of two flat triangles, whereas there are indications that the artist meant to depict two interlocking triangles.
SPECULATION: If the latter is the case, then the hexagram could represent an ancient occult symbol for Satan or demons. The red-headed Flatwoods Monster certainly scared the wits out of the witnesses who saw it and a similar being one hundred years earlier could easily have been interpreted as an agent of the devil or a product of witchcraft. The hexagam could also conceivably be some sort of "hex sign" to ward off evil. An expert in the symbols and religious beliefs of the people of that region and time would be very useful here in interpreting what the artist might have been trying to convey. (Note: Roderick Moore stated that the six-sided star was indeed a common symbol and geometric design. Furthermore, the area was so culturally diverse, that it would be virtually impossible to deduce if the figure had any special signficance unless the artist had actually written something down about it.)
It is also interesting to note that Flatwoods, West Virginia. is only about 100 miles north of Washington County, Virginia. For more on the Flatwoods Monster, click here..