The Farmer Who Traveled 800,000,000 Miles

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Buck Nelson: Farmer, contactee, and UFO convention organizer.

In the early days of contactees and UFOs, the Missouri farmer Buck Nelson was a breath of fresh air. While other contactees figured talking eloquently and lying about their academic credentials would make their stories believable, the plain-speaking Nelson admitted his education didn’t go any further than the sixth grade. He presented himself as a humble, hard-working guy, and though Nelson’s stories were every bit as ridiculous as his contemporaries, they have an amusing, folksy kind of charm to them.

Fortunately, Nelson was kind (and brave) enough to share his encounters of giant space dogs and Venusian English teachers in a booklet he published in 1956, the bluntly titled “My Trip to Mars, the Moon, and Venus.” For a journey that covered, as an opening page calculates it, an astonishing 800,000,000 miles, the booklet is short and to the point. As far as I know, it’s the only full-length piece of work Nelson ever wrote, and for that, we’ll have to assume it’s the definitive account of his tale.

Before his epic space odyssey, Nelson claimed to have had four earlier contacts with aliens. The first happened on July 30, 1954, when Nelson noticed three UFOs flying outside his home. He took a few pictures and waved a flashlight at the saucers, thinking they would come down and land. I have no idea whether waving a flashlight is offensive in Venusian culture, but the UFOs responded to Nelson’s request by shooting him with a ray of light and knocking him onto the ground. The attack had paralyzed him for a moment, but oddly enough, healed some long-suffering back pain and improved Nelson’s eyesight.

The subsequent encounters were much less violent. The occupants of the UFOs talked to Nelson during the second encounter, and they finally showed themselves on the third. On March 5, 1955, the colorful crew visited Nelson at his home, consisting of an earthling, two Venusians, and a giant space dog. The earthling was a young man named Bucky. Bucky was born in Colorado, but his parents sent him to be brought up on Venus, where he lived and taught English. (Fun fact: Nelson later learned that Bucky was a distant cousin.)

The Venusian guests were both older men. The older of the pair never mentioned his name, but the other said that his name was the distinctly Venusian Bob Solomon, and that he was 200-years-old. Frankly, none of these people are as interesting as the dog though, a 385-pound giant named Bo. On her hind legs, Bo stood even taller than Buck Nelson, and she could shake hands (eh, paws) just like a human.

Over the space of an hour, the friendly crew marveled over Nelson’s ordinary home, and invited him to come along for a trip to outer space sometime. On April 24, Nelson’s friends picked him and his dog Teddy up for the promised trip. Before entering their UFO, Nelson was given the Venusians’ “Twelve Laws of God,” a set of rules that pretty much just updated the Ten Commandments. Unlike the Ten Commandments though, Nelson tells us that the people of outer space actually listen to these rules, and hence are able to live without such destructive influences as war, disease, jails, and- truly the Devil’s liquid- tea.

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After writing the Twelve Laws down for all mankind, Nelson was allowed to enter the spaceship. His hosts let him fiddle around with the controls, laughing at him when he accidentally flew the ship upside down. First the crew visited Mars, then the moon, and then Venus. Nelson was introduced to various leaders, and sampled the local cuisine on each stop. Generally, the inhabitants of Mars, the moon, and Venus were like earthlings. They ate a lot of fruits and vegetables, and like Buck Nelson, wore overalls. They lived for a long time, using natural medicine and hypnotism to treat pain.

 

Of the three destinations, Nelson spent the longest amount of time on Venus. He noted that Venusian cars lacked wheels, but could float three to five feet off the ground. Because the cars could float, Venus had no roads. Because there were no roads or even government buildings, the Venusians paid very little in taxes. They worked only an hour a day, and spent much of their time visiting and socializing with others. For entertainment, the Venusians had “Book Machines,” computer-like devices that could read books and play music.

When Nelson was dropped back off on Earth, he found that he was gone for three days. Nelson promised his extraterrestrial friends that he would tell everybody about the trip. He traveled to Detroit to talk at a “saucer club,” and was allegedly interviewed by astronomers and scientists in Chicago. (Nelson claims these scientists were positive, based on his descriptions, that he had visited the Moon.) Interested in his story, men from the Armed Forces investigated Nelson as well, looking over his house and buying the pair of overalls he wore on his space odyssey. (Again, we have only Nelson’s word to confirm this.)

On December 25, 1955, Bucky showed up at Nelson’s house to deliver a message. It seems Nelson recorded Bucky’s voice, but I can’t find any trace of a recording. In the booklet, however, Nelson writes Bucky’s message down verbatim. To sum it up, Bucky lovingly warned mankind to give up atomic weapons, otherwise America would destroy itself fighting a war on its soil. The rest of that Christmas was pretty cheerful; Nelson hosted some other guests, and one of these men tried selling Bucky insurance.

Traveling across the country, talking on and on about Bucky and Bo, and his 800,000,000 mile journey, Nelson earned a bit of a following among people interested in aliens and flying saucers. He was a guest on radio and TV shows, and spoke in churches as well. Since the aliens apparently recognized how to create a brand, they told Nelson that it was best he always wore overalls in his public appearances. “I think it is something which will fit in with their future plans for me,” Nelson speculates in his booklet.

For a while, Buck Nelson had a good thing going on. Between 1954 and 1966, Nelson held UFO conventions on his farm, featuring, according to one 1961 poster, music, telescopes, fried chicken, and “speakers who have contacted our space brothers.” Nelson also sold copies of his booklet, along with pieces of dog hair he took off Bo. Ultimately, however, Buck Nelson and his overalls ended up playing no great cosmic significance. The last few years of his UFO convention saw disappointing turn-outs, and Nelson is believed to have spent the rest of his life in California, staying with relatives until his death in 1982.

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Was There a UFO Crash in Missouri Six Years Before Roswell?

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Reverend William Hoffman told his family in 1941 that he saw a crashed UFO and three dead alien bodies in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

The Roswell UFO Incident of 1947, whether you believe it anyway, is usually considered to have been the first UFO crash in the United States. In the vast and zany annals of American UFO lore, however, there is an earlier case in Cape Girardeau, Missouri that also involves alien bodies and a government cover-up. Unlike Roswell, the 1941 Cape Girardeau Incident has never been the subject of mass media interest, or even a stand-alone book.

The story didn’t surface, in fact, until five decades after it allegedly took place. It was first reported in 1991 by Leonard H. Stringfield,  a ufologist who included it in his book UFO Crash/Retrievals: The Inner Sanctum, the sixth addition of a seven-part series he wrote about UFO crashes. Stringfield’s source was Charlette Mann, a woman who claims that her grandfather William Hoffman was a witness at the crash site.

Hoffman, a pastor of the Red Star Baptist Church, was called up by local police one night in the spring of 1941. They told him that there had been a plane crash, and asked if he could come to minister the pilot’s last rites. After Hoffman said yes, he was picked up by a car, and then taken to an area about a dozen miles away from Cape Girardeau.

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Scene from a documentary about the Cape Girardeau UFO Incident. I

When Hoffman got to the crash site, he found the place swarming with police officers, firefighters, and soldiers. The “plane” turned out to be a small metallic saucer. He saw three dead bodies, each about four feet tall, lying outside the craft. The figures were evidently non-human; they had large eyes, no hair, and only three fingers on each hand. The creatures’ ship had crashed and caught fire, but their bodies showed no sign of being burned.

Due to damage from the crash, the interior of the craft could be seen from the outside. When Hoffman got up closer, he saw that it contained a single metal chair and some gauges and dials. He also noticed a strange script, which he thought looked like Egyptian hieroglyphics.

After things calmed down a bit and Hoffman finished giving the creatures their last rites, two police officers picked one of the bodies up and held it between them for a photograph. Before he left, Hoffman was told to keep what he had seen a secret. He was warned that what he saw was a matter of national security, and that it couldn’t be told to anybody.

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A reconstruction of the lost photo allegedly taken in the Cape Girardeau UFO Incident. This picture was drawn from memory by Charlette Mann.

Of course, Hoffman did just the opposite and told his entire family about what happened as soon as he came back home.  About 2 weeks after the alleged crash, Hoffman received the alien picture from the man who had taken it, possibly a local photographer (and friend of Harry Truman) named Garland F. Fronabarger. Hoffman was said to never have mentioned the crash again, although he did pass the picture off to his son Guy.

Guy showed the picture to his friends and children, including his daughter Charlette Mann. In the mid-1950s, Guy gave the picture to a skeptical photographer friend named Walter Wayne Fisk. This was apparently the last anybody had seen of it. Long before Fisk’s death in 2012, both Charlette Mann and ufologist Stanton T. Friedman tried contacting him with little success.

Aside from Charlette Mann and her sister, nobody else can confirm that the picture existed. Everything we know about the case comes from Mann, and she had gotten the details from her grandmother, who had told it to Mann on her death-bed in 1984. There’s a total lack of witnesses here, and the exact date and location of the crash have never been determined either. I’ve heard that Mann hopes more witnesses will eventually show up, but after so many years, who could possibly still be alive to vouch that it happened?