West Virginia is a weird place. The amount of ghosts, monsters, UFOs and other strangeness here in the Mountain State make West Virginia a paranormal enthusiast's dream. And, one of the weirder incidents in our spooky lore is the Elk Garden Cemetery UFO.
|RD Dean Memorial I.O.O.F. Cemetery Gate and Nethken Methodist Church in background. Photo by KC of Find-a-Grave (2014)|
UFO flaps are nothing too out of the ordinary, and West Virginia has seen a few times over the years where a large amount of unidentified flying objects have been seen by multiple witnesses over a period of time. One such UFO flap occurred in the small community of Elk Garden, located in Mineral County, during the 1960's and 1970's. It seems as if a large, rounded craft was seen shining lights in the vicinity of Nethken Hill, especially around the local Methodist Church and its adjoining cemetery. The best viewing spot was around the Kalbaugh Farm on the western side of the hill, and it wasn't unusual for carloads of residents and out of town visitors to drive up the hill and try to catch a glimpse of the unexplained lights. Not everyone was lucky enough to see the lights, but a few residents did over the years, including a local minister.
The incident in question was documented in Bob Teets' 1994 book, West Virginia UFOs: Close Encounters in the Mountain State. On the evening of October 8th, 1967 Reverend Harley DeLeurere was contacted by a member of his congregation (noted in the book as being the town's mayor) and the man's adult son. The man and his son told the minister that they were going to watch for UFOs on Nethken Hill and asked Rev. DeLeurere to join them. He gladly did...and it would be about two hours later that he would question that decision.
At that point, the men noticed something strange near the roof line of the Kalbaugh home. The mayor's son described it as 'a big turtle with lights on it.' The craft moved towards the Methodist Church cemetery, but it ultimately ended in the nearby R.D. Dean Memorial I.O.O.F. cemetery. There is hovered over a day-old grave at a height of about six feet and shone a beam of light directly down onto the fresh grave. The men ran towards the cemetery, but by the time they got there, the craft and the light had vanished without a trace.
It was believed even at that time that there was a connection between new burials at both cemeteries and the strange craft. It seemed to many that any time someone was buried in either the Methodist Church or the I.O.O.F. cemetery, the mystery lights were seen. But what WAS the connection? West Virginia isn't the only area where UFOs have been seen hovering over cemeteries. According to the site, Inexplicata--The Journal of Hispanic Ufology, similar tales can be found in Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere. One theory that has been proposed is that these UFOs are sending these beams down to freshly buried bodies to retrieve previous alien implants from those bodies.
The community of Elk Garden only had a population of about 300 during the time of the sightings and witnesses do feel there was a correlation between the lights and new funerals. If these lights were intended to retrieve implants...well, that's a HUGE chunk of residents that must have had these implants! What was so special about this community and its citizenry that would warrant such close study by beings from another world?
Out of curiosity, I went to the Find-a-Grave page to check out the list of burials for the R.D. Dean I.O.O.F. Cemetery. The VERY FIRST entry was for an 81 year old woman named Berdie Mae Roderick Abernathy. Berdie Mae passed away on October 5, 1967...just days before the incident noted by Rev. DeLeurere. Could she have been the owner of the fresh grave that allegedly drew the attention of a turtle-shaped craft from beyond our understanding?
In a state full of weirdness, this is truly one of the stranger incidents, not just in West Virginia UFO lore, but of UFO lore in general. Why do YOU think these UFOs were so interested in these two little cemeteries in a small WV community? Let me know your thoughts down below in the comments or over at Theresa's Haunted History Facebook!