researching old newspapers I find that there were very few feature stories published
in the early 1900s. Back then it seems the editors spent most of their time gathering
day-to-day news and keeping readers up to date on current events.
they were rare back then, when a feature story was published it often contained
valuable historic information and on occasion, some quite bizarre articles emerged
from the pages of the local paper.
One of those strange stories appeared
first in the Yoakum Times and the Halletsville Herald printed it
on July 16, 1903. This fascinating piece was about a fellow named Benedict Manning
who was witness to several strange occurrences during his lifetime.
was born in Missouri in 1823 and married a Missouri lass named Rosana Moore in
the spring of 1844. The couple moved to Texas in
1846 and settled in Lavaca County in 1874. Evidently the man was interviewed by
the Yoakum Times in the summer of 1903 and told them some mighty interesting,
yet strange, tales about his experiences while living here in the 1870s.
told the paper, “But few people lived here in those days and those who did live
here were the Mays, [including] Uncle Jimmy, Pat, Joe, and Dick. Also, Henry Vollentine,
John and Patrick Dunn, Dick Riley, Gus and Thad Douglass and a man named Pegg.”
Manning said that back then everybody lived between the Lavaca and Guadalupe Rivers.
He recalled that there was only one house between Yoakum
and the “bay.” He referred to that place as being the Nine-Mile House on the Plasidore.
Manning said that game was plentiful back then and there were no Indians
in the settlement but they often passed by in great numbers.
But of all
the tales he shared with the newspaper, the strangest was the one about the time
he saw stars fall out of the sky. This evidently happened when he was very young
and before he came to Lavaca County. According to the paper, “He was awakened
about midnight and on going out saw the stars falling, and that it was as light
as day and that he held out his hand but could feel nothing, but that they would
strike the ground and bounce.”
Manning recalled that he thought all the stars had fallen from the sky in less
than two seconds because they fell so thick. He said that his sister was the only
other member of the family who witnessed the dramatic event. “The next morning
the neighbors came whining in scared and praying,” said Manning.
the man also heard rocks fall from the sky while living in Lavaca County. This
event happened while he was living on a place later known as the Fink Farm, about
one-half mile north of Yoakum.
He told the paper that he was sitting on his porch one afternoon when he heard
“three loud distinct reports from the cloudless sky.” He looked up and saw a small
cloud of blue smoke leisurely taking its course in a westerly direction.
paper reported, “In a few days he heard that two large rocks had fallen – one
of the rocks fell in Old Concrete, and the other fell between here [Yoakum]
and Halletsville, near
the old Blackburn place; the same rock is lying now near the Halletsville
and Yoakum road.”
person who interviewed Manning evidently also witnessed the phenomenon. According
to the article, “The writer remembers this occurrence as well as if it had only
happened a few days ago, and has viewed the rock many times.”
to me that there was a lot of speculation on the part of Manning and the reporter
because nowhere in the article does it mention any witnesses who actually saw
the rocks fall from the sky.
However, it would be interesting to know
if anyone in these parts has seen those rocks or has heard about them from their
And by the way, before you chastise me for my spelling, the
paper spelled Hallettsville
with one “t” back in those days.
© Murray Montgomery
Star Diary March
9 , 2010 Column