America's First UFO Sighting Was Way Earlier Than You Think

March 23, 2023 1:00 AM ‐ UFOs
Many people think Roswell marked America's first UFO sighting, but the Puritans were actually the first to see an unexplained "great light in the night" over Muddy River in Boston. In 1639, Puritan leader and Massachusetts Bay Colony cofounder, John Winthrop, documented a series of  unusual events that remain baffling today. Winthrop's account isn't easily dismissed โ€“ he played a key role in America's origin story and his writings are taken very seriously by academia today.

Unexplained Sighting

"In this year one James Everell, a sober, discreet man, and two others, saw a great light in the night at Muddy River," Winthrop recorded in his journal on March 1st, 1639. "When it stood still, it flamed up, and was about three yards square; when it ran it was contracted into the figure of a swine. It ran swift as an arrow toward Charlton [Charlestown] and up and down about two or three hours. They were come down in their lighter [a small barge] about a mile, and, when it was over, they found themselves carried quite back against the tide to the place they came from. Divers[e] other persons saw the same light, after, about the same place." Some say the phenomenon was likely "ignis fatuus", a pale light caused by swamp gas combustion. However, since the light was seen in the sky, and not originating from the swamp, this seems unlikely.

Since this first sighting, UFOs have continued to hold sway in our cultural imagination, spawning a whole genre of movies and books. Space opera, for example, is a popular sci-fi subgenre centering around melodrama and romantic adventure set in space.

A Serious Man

"John Winthrop's journal has long served as a cornerstone of Massachusetts historical scholarship," the Massachusetts Historical Society explains. "He diligently recorded the events of his life, along with the trials and tribulations of the people of the Massachusetts Bay Colony during the first 19 years of its existence." Winthrop was hard-working, faithful, governor of the Massachusetts colony โ€“ he had little time or inclination for flights of fancy. "I think it speaks to the fact that those skeptics don't like to admit, but most UFO witnesses, like Everell or Winthrop, are serious, sober individuals," UFO researcher Nick Pope comments.

More Mysterious Sightings

On January 18th 1644, Winthrop reported another sighting. "About midnight, three men, coming in a boat to Boston, saw two lights arise out of the water near the north point of the town cove, in form like a man, and went at a small distance to the town, and so to the south point, and there vanished away." Then, just one week later, another paranormal encounter was "seen by many": "A light like the moon arose about the N.E. point in Boston, and met the former at Nottles Island, and there they closed in one, and then parted, and closed and parted diverse times, and so went over the hill in the island and vanished. Sometimes they shot out flames and sometimes sparkles."

These mysterious events remain unexplained today, yet are sourced from one of the most reliable records in early American history. "It doesn't surprise me you have these very historical figures seeing these things", says Pope. "What we're just beginning to realize is that people have always seen these strange things. There's no smoke without fire. And the believers only have to be right once."

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