While a senior at Circleville High School in 1959, the students
were asked in public speaking class to give a speech on a
I chose "Flying saucers" (as they
were popularly called back then) because of my personal interest in
doing research. I discovered that a prominent Pickaway County
farmer, Bruce Stevenson, as a ground observer, had an impressive
flying saucer sighting in February, 1948. As part of the
assignment, I found him to be a very credible, honest person.
The following is an account described in the
Circleville Herald March 1957 about his sighting which is
considered a very historical event by ufologists.
"After keeping his own story within his
circle of friends and relatives for several years 'because nobody in
those days seemed to consider the saucers anything but jokes,'
Stevenson revealed full details of his experience to the Herald in
1952. That was the year of the big wave of UFO sightings, including
Washington, D.C. overflights in July. Bruce's story led to
widespread discussion here on the subject of 'saucers, and also
attracted a fair amount of good natured kidding.
"He felt so deeply on the subject that
he still offered to 'swear on the Bible that I saw what I say I
did.' He felt this way: 'They can believe whatever they want to
believe, and 1 know what I saw on my farm that night.'
"'That night' happened to he a bitterly
cold one in February 1948. Glancing out a window while taking a
drink of water about 2 a.m., Stevenson noted a bright glow all over
the vicinity of his farm buildings and hurried outside expecting to
find them afire. Instead, he relates, he saw a large 'flying
saucer' gliding very slowly over the vicinity of his hog house and
tool barn. "It was so close to the roof of the tool house that
I was afraid it was going to knock off the large flue,"
Stevenson said. "From where I watched it, it moved without a
sound along the roof of the tool house. I'd say I was only about
100 feet from it. The moon was very bright and the ground was
covered with snow making it seem all the brighter". Standing
in the Herald's front office one day recalling his memorable
night, Stevenson said it seemed as though the 'saucer' was only
about as far away as the balcony on the Elks building directly
across Court St.
"Stevenson has told his story many
times over since he first unfolded it for the public in the
Herald. He says he remembers very clearly how:
"(a) The strange disc maintained its
very slow speed and low altitude until it faded from sight far off
to the farmer's left, while Stevenson stood in frank amazement, too
startled in the brief interval to run and awaken other members of
"(b) The dazzling orange-amber glow
which originally attracted his attention was suddenly reduced to a
'dull amber glow' inside the 'dome' of the 'saucer ' just a moment
after he came outside and began watching the eerie visitor.
"(c) The whole object was shaped much
like a broad dinner plate turned upside down with a deep sauce dish
or cup -- also inverted -- as its 'dome.'
"(d) The 'dome' was of something that
looked like plexiglass and the broad edge -- which was pretty wide
-- was of shiny silver, blinking or flashing all around the edge as
though a silent propeller or something was whirling.
"(e) The diameter of the base of the
'saucer' looked bout 60 feet, the 'silver' edge about 12 feet wide,
and the 'dome' about eight feet, rising pretty steep from the shiny
"(f) The position of the 'saucer' did
not permit a view of the under-section.
"(g) A wide silvery brim section had
'little holes of some kind' along the edge.
"And lastly, how within a mile or two
of the Stevenson farm, there have been apparently authentic reports
of 'saucers' or strange lights in the sky at least twice since
Stevenson had the experience 'I'll never forget as long as I
In the 1957 news article, Stevenson, a
highly successful farmer deeply respected for his persona [sic]
integrity, denounced as "crackpots" those public spokesmen
who scoff at the "saucer" reports without making a serious
effort to study their validity (It still goes on today).
In a statement written on August 27, 1972,
Edward C. McCann, former editor of the Circleville Herald
"Before coming to Circleville and
meeting the well known farmer, and during the 20 years that have
elapsed since that time, I have been concerned many times with
"flying saucer" stories, but I feel the same today as I
did after Bruce told -- and often retold -- of his sensational
sighting. I believe that, in the general substance of his
description, he actually saw what he claimed he saw".
Since high school I have continued to do
research and investigate the UFO phenomena. Without a doubt,
Bruce's sighting can be referred to as a classic because of it being
documented in several books on ufology (scientific term for the
study of the UFO phenomena). The time period, February 1948, is
important because it happened just seven months after the famous
Roswell, New Mexico incident of 1947 and other sightings occurring
at that time.
Major Donald E. Keyhoe, a former Marine,
was one of our country's earliest and most respected ufologists. He
was also Charles Lindbergh's aide in the early years of Lindbergh's
fame. Stevenson's sighting was the first of its kind in the nation
or possibly in the world. I give much credence to this last
statement because of his sighting reported in Keyhoe's book
Flying Saucers: Top Secret. Keyhoe writes (in referring how
close someone had come to "saucer" without any bad
effects) "within one hundred feet. We got the report through
Professor Tom Haber of Ohio State University. The sighting was made
by his brother-in-law, Bruce Stevenson. He owns a big, modern farm
near Circleville, Ohio. This sighting was made in the early hours
of February 1, 1948."
Up to the time of Stevenson's sighting,
using the definitions of J. Allen Hynek (former chief scientific
consultant to the U.S. Air Force) about close encounters, none had
come that close. Other books have also told of Stevenson's
experience. They are Jacques Vallee's Anatomy of a
Phenomenon: [and] Lillian Crowner Desquin's book Unidentified
Flying Objects, Fact or Fiction? describes the case in detail.
It was her first investigative sighting report. She was very
impressed by his sincerity. Desquin investigated UFOs for more than
In later years, Stevenson still stuck to
his story. Many local residents who are still living recall Bruce
as being a very sincere, honest person. One of the earliest persons
he told of his sighting was Jim Lemaster of Ashville. Lemaster
worked for Stevenson in the late 1940s. Lemaster says that he has
no doubt that Stevenson saw something very strange. Lemaster was
honored a few years ago on his birthday by his many friends,
relatives, and church members. Like Stevenson, Lemaster's honesty
and sincerity speaks for itself.
Bruce Stevenson passed away in 1976 at the
age of 76. One of Bruce's daughters, Grace Richards, recently
stated that an Air Force officer visited her father after the
sighting was reported to the media in 1952. The visit occurred
after the officer retired from the military. His job had been to
investigate UFO sightings. He told Stevenson that his sighting
report was the most detailed description ever recorded and that it
was sent to other world governments.
Stevenson was also told that he was
thoroughly investigated in the local area and that the investigators
could not discredit his character, integrity or loyalty. No one in
the community knew this was being done.
Grace told that her Dad wondered if the
"flying saucer" was attracted to the hog house because of
new ultra-violet lights he had recently installed that shone through
the windows. Carolyn Stevenson, Bruce's wife, was interviewed
lately and reported that she believed without a doubt that her
husband told the truth on what he had seen. He retold the same
story until he died. A few remarks she added were that Bruce, while
watching the object, realized it was perfectly silent; he almost
wanted to walk under a portion of it but then thought differently;
and a sighting form was filled out for the U.S. Air Force and sent
in. No official reply was ever received.
Since then other sightings of UFOs in
Pickaway County have given the Stevenson case even more credibility.
Some have made the local Circleville Herald, including a
sighting by fishermen in the early 1950's. This sighting took place
close to where Darby Creek empties into the Scioto River. The
strange light was seen at night hovering among some trees.
In May 1958, Lockbourne Air Force Base sent
interceptor airplanes aloft to check on a large bright object
traveling at a high rate of speed. A deputy sheriff saw the object
from East Ringgold, the highest spot in Pickaway County.
Darbyville was the scene of a strange
sighting in July 1972. A man and his wife were driving into
Darbyville at night when they saw a UFO following their car. They
excitedly drove to a house where they got the couple from inside to
come out and see the object.
During a wave of national sightings in
October 1973, Circleville had one of its own. Four witnesses,
including two police officers, saw a light make strange maneuvers
over the south end of town, before speeding off. All of these cases
There have been other sightings of strange
looking craft over the years that continue to this day. It is a
conservative estimate that only one in ten cases are ever reported
as the fear of ridicule still prevails. Some of these cases which
are known to the Roundtown UFO Society are as follows:
In February 1958 a strange looking craft
was seen flying over Circleville late at night. Years ago a UFO
followed a couple in their car from northern Pickaway County to
their home near Ringgold and then it hovered outside while they went
in their house.
There have been strange interactions also
with some UFO sightings. In October 1982, a local plant had a power
failure while three witnesses saw a UFO hovering over the power
transfer station. There have been different instances where there
were car engine failures while a UFO was close by.
On April 2, 1984, two Chillicothe women
were startled when a brightly lit circular object followed their car
along Route 104 in Pickaway County. On April 2, 1985, strange
lights were seen hovering near the ground before shooting skyward.
These were seen by a couple driving east of Williamsport. On August
21, 1994, a large triangle shaped craft was seen flying over the
county. It also was unidentified. In a couple of cases daylight
sightings of strange craft have been seen over Circleville.
These are just some of the county sightings
that are known about. Hopefully, as the acceptance level of ufology
increases more witnesses will overcome their reluctance and report
their sightings to the local group. It is import [sic] to collect
this data and turn this information over to interested scientists.
We want scientists to investigate the unexplained and not explain
the uninvestigated. RUFOS does not have any predetermined notions
of UFO origins. There could be a number of explanations. The
society was founded in January 1989. Our hotline telephone numbers
are 477-6252 or 332-1268. Or you can write to us at Roundtown UFO
Society, PO Box 52, Circleville. There is no question that there is
a UFO phenomenon and its been around for quite a long time.
Compared to the rest of the country, Pickaway County has had its
share of unknown sightings with one of the earliest and most
impressive occurring here. Also, Pickaway County has a connection
with the famous Roswell, New Mexico incident of July 1947. But that
is another story in the history of ufology for our country.
Circleville Herald articles: (Stevenson, August 2, 1952;
August 7, 1952; October 6, 1952; March 28, 1957.
"Flying Saucers; Top Secret" by Donald E. Keyhoe, G.P.
Putnam's Sons, New York, 1960, hardback, page 144.
"Anatomy of a Phenomemon" by Jacques Vallee, Ace
Books, Inc., New York, 1965, paperback, pages 92 and 188.
Edward McCann's Statement (former Herald editor), August 27,
"Unidentified Flying Objects, Fact or Fiction" by
Lillian Crowner Desquin, Aegean Park Press. Laguna Hills,
California, 1992, soft cover, pages 2 and 3.
Roundtown UFO Society newsletter, May-June 1995, pages 1, 2 and