Clad in brilliant white raiment, they appeared to rise off the mountain south of Chimney Rock

Posted by | July 26, 2010

Raleigh Register and State Gazette

September 23, 1806

The following account of an extraordinary phenomenon that appeared to a number of people in the county of Rutherford, state of North Carolina, was made the 7th of August, 1806, in presence of D. Dickie, Esq. of the county and state aforesaid, Jesse Anderson and the Rev. George Newton of the county of Buncombe and Miss Betsey Newton of the state of Georgia, who unanimously agreed, with the consent of the relators, that Mr. Newton should communicate it to Mr. Gales, Editor of the Raleigh Register and State Gazette.

Patsy Reaves, a widow woman, who lives near the Apalachian Mountain, declared, that on the 31st day of July last, about 6 o’clock P.M. her daughter Elizabeth, about 8 years old, was in the cotton field, about 10 poles from the dwelling house, which stands by computation, six furlongs from the Chimney Mountain, and that Elizabeth told her brother Morgan, aged 11 years, that there was a man on the mountain.

Early 20th century penny postcard of Chimney Rock, NC.

Morgan was incredulous at first, but the little girl affirmed it, and said she saw him, rolling rocks or picking up sticks, adding that she saw ‘a heap of people.’ Morgan then went to the place where she was, and called out, said that he saw a thousand or ten thousand things flying in the air.

On which Polly, daughter of Mrs. Reaves, a good four years, and a negro woman, ran to the children and called Mrs. Reaves to see what a sight yonder was. Mrs. Reaves says she went about 8 poles towards them, and, without any sensible alarm or fright, she turned towards the Chimney Mountain, and discovered a very numerous crowd of beings resembling the human species, but could not discern any particular members of the human body, nor distinction of sexes; that they were of every size, from the tallest men down to the least infants; that there were more of the small than of the full grown, that they were all clad with brilliant white raiment; but could not describe any form of their garment; that they appeared to rise off the mountain south of said rock, and about as high; that a considerable part of the mountain’s top was visible about this shining host, that they moved in a northern direction, and collected about the top of Chimney Rock.

When all but a few had reached said rock, two seemed to rise together and behind them about two feet, a third rose. These three moved with great agility towards the crowd, and had the nearest resemblance of two men, of any before seen. While beholding those three her eyes were attracted by three more rising nearly from the same place, and moving swiftly in the same order and direction. After these, several others rose and went toward the rock.

During this view, which all the spectators thought lasted upwards of an hour, she sent for Mr. Robert Siercy, who did not come at first; on a second message sent about fifteen minutes after the first, Mr. Siercy came, and being now before us, he gives the following relation, to the substance of which Mrs. Reaves agrees.

Mr. Siercy said, when he was coming, he expected to see nothing extraordinary, and when come, being asked if he saw those people on the mountain, he answered no; but on looking the second time, he said he saw more glittering white appearances of human kind than ever he had seen of men at any general review; that they were of all sizes from that of men to infants; that they moved in throngs round a large rock, not far from the Chimney Rock; that they were about the height of the Chimney Rock, and moved in a semicircular course between him and the rock, and so passed along in a southern route between him and the mountains, to the place where Mrs. Reaves said they rose; and that two of a full size went before the general crowd about the space of 20 yards, and as they respectively came to this place, they vanished out of sight, leaving a solemn and pleasing impression on the mind, accompanied with a diminution of bodily strength.

Whether the above be accountable on philosophical principles, or whether it be a prelude to the descent of the holy city, I leave to the impartially curious to judge.

George Newton

P.S. The above subscriber has been informed, that on the same evening, at about the same time in which the above phenomenon appeared, there was seen by a gentleman of character, who was several miles distant from the place, a bright rainbow, apparently near the sun, then in the west, where there was no appearance of either clouds or rain; but a haze in the atmosphere. The public are therefore at liberty to judge, whether the phenomenon had any thing supernatural in it, or whether it was some unusual exhalation or moist vapor from the side of the mountain, which exhibited such an unusual rainbow.

Source: article first cited in Travels Through the Northern Parts of the United States in the Years 1807 and 1808, by Edward Augustus Kendall, Esq., publ. I. Riley, New York, 1809

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