Kelly / Hopkinsville (Kentucky) 'Goblins' Incident (1955)

EnolaGaia

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J. C.'s version tends to confirm the most complete condensation toward which I was working as an exercise objective. The maximum justifiable (though still admittedly hypothetical) condensation is to restrict the known shooting events to the ones for which there was physical evidence observed by non-resident third parties:

- the living room window shots
- whatever shots were fired in the front yard outside the front door

These are the only two events for which investigators found spent shells and specific gunshot damages.

If they're pushed late / later in the evening (as, e.g., J. C. claimed) it makes for a compact series of events promoting panic and motivating the rushed evacuation to Hopkinsville.

This basically leaves two additional scenes to either explain or dismiss:

- whatever happened earlier in the evening to start this whole thing (first sighting / first shooting)
- whatever happened (and when, and where ... ) at the time Ms. Glennie fell / fainted / whatever

According to almost all accounts the first of these additional two events or scenes involves Taylor. It seems to me this condensed overview reveals a distinction between the Taylor-involved version of events and the Sutton-enumerated version of events. The trickiest bit relating to these seemingly divergent narratives is the fact Ms. Glennie herself cited Taylor as a shooter after 2200. If it weren't for that it would be tempting to consider a two-part evening storyline with Taylor heavily involved in the earlier part, J. C. taking his place in the last part, and Lucky heavily and prominently involved throughout.
 

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The other thing J. C.'s memories do strongly suggest is that Lucky, as much as Taylor, may have elaborated to some degree when speaking to the press (e.g. the four boxes of ammo....
If we look back at those early newspaper articles, they were absolutely pivotal in setiting the foundation of our evidently enigmatic encounter.

As noted, there are essentially only three, from the 'Kentucky New Era', the 'Madisonville Messenger' and the 'Evansville Press', all published next day, on 22 August and seemingly in that order as regards the latest news.

Central to all, was the impression given of a lengthy sequence of continuous events and one statement stands out, right at the very beginning, from the 'Kentucky New Era':

“We need help,” one of the men said, “we’ve been fighting them for nearly four hours.”

However, as noted, the entire 'New Era' article is based on what the reporter gleaned from speaking to some of the law enforcement personnel involved, not the witnesses themselves.

Unraveling the apparent true facts behind John Sutton's pistol shots, highlights a further, related factor, namely that the only actual claims concerning his involvement, originate from 'Lucky' Sutton, within the 'Evansville Press':

'He said his brother, John, used four boxes of .22 shells in his pistol, shooting at the little men.

He said that when bullets hit the creatures they bounced off "like from a concrete pavement."

(...)

He said John Sutton shot one of the creatures with his .22 and the bullets just glanced off the body".

This newfound interview with John Sutton himself, is the only time he has personally clarified the true facts.

So far as I can see, neither John Sutton, or Billy Ray Taylor are ever quoted.

All of which now perhaps leads to the following new perspective.

In her documented account of the firearms used, Isabel Davis states:

"3) .22 rifle; had belonged to Mr. Lankford, then to J.C. Sutton. Used that night by Billy Ray Taylor".

What we have isn't a rifle, it's a pistol and not used that night by Billy Ray Taylor, instead by John Sutton.

It would now appear that John Sutton was proverbially , 'firing at shadows'.

Aside from Mrs Lankford's 1959 interview, what indication otherwise now exists, that Billy Ray Taylor even had a firearm at all?

And Mrs Lankford's 1959 interview, with that avowed doorscreen shot, remains problematic.
 

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... However, as noted, the entire 'New Era' article is based on what the reporter gleaned from speaking to some of the law enforcement personnel involved, not the witnesses themselves. ...

There were a New Era photographer and a reporter on the scene with the police during the night. One or more New Era personnel visited the farmhouse the following day.

There was also a Madisonville Messenger stringer / reporter on the scene during the night when the cops were present. The earliest Messenger article mentions contact with the police the following day. It's not clear whether any Messenger personnel visited the farmhouse on Monday. My guess is that they probably did.

It's the sources for the Evansville Press article of the 22nd that aren't clear. Based on the text, they contacted the police and visited the farmhouse on the 22nd. It's conceivable they spoke with the cops at the farmhouse rather than in Hopkinsville.
 

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It would be tempting to consider a two-part evening storyline with Taylor heavily involved in the earlier part, J. C. taking his place in the last part.
This is a possibility I too have previously considered.

Certainly worth another look at... what evidence do we have for Taylor's early involvement?
 

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What evidence do we have for Taylor's early involvement?
There's the photograph.... what about actually firing shots though. The 'Kentucky New Era' article states:

"The men got their guns, a shotgun for Sutton and a .22 caliber target pistol for Taylor. By and by one of the little men pressed his face against the window and the shotgun was fired through the window. The face disappeared.

The men decided to go outside and see if the visitor had been hit. Taylor was in front and when he emerged from the front door, a huge hand reached down from the low roof above the door and grabbed him by the hair. He pulled away, and the two men went on out of the house.

One of the strange little men was in a nearby tree, another on top of the house. A blast from Sutton’s shotgun knocked another one of the men down but he did not appear hurt. He disappeared in the darkness.

Taylor reportedly opened fire on other members of the invading party, also with little effect".

Isn't this simply mistaken... not Taylor, it was John Sutton?
 

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Isn't this simply mistaken... not Taylor, it was John Sutton?
Depends on how this is interpreted...

I now read that as an error.... because.... it doesn't mention John Sutton at all and we know he was using the pistol and, "opened fire on other members of the invading party, also with little effect".
 

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There were a New Era photographer and a reporter on the scene with the police during the night.
The damnable problem with this formative article is that statedly:

"Both Chief Greenwell and Deputy Sheriff Batts said they got approximately this story from the still terrified and excited Sutton and Taylor families".

It's seemingly their 'approximate' recollections only and then we are reliant on the 'New Era' reporter writing them down correctly in a notepad.


However, in the 'Madisonville Messenger' article:

"Here is the story they told to officers and reporters..".

This time though, there is a critical difference:

"...being run off each time by 'Lucky' Sutton's shotgun or his brother's .22 pistol".

There's no mention of Taylor.

In the 'Evansville Press' article, whilst 'Lucky' Sutton describes the shots fired by John Sutton, he makes no mention of any fired by Taylor.

I know... it's not definitive.... just seems to make sense if the 'New Era' article cites Taylor, when it should be John Sutton.

Why would the 'New Era' report include details of Taylor repeatedly firing the .22 pistol to help ward off the threatening creatures, without any accreditation to Sutton doing exactly the same?

Additionally, whilst the 'New Era' states:

"Deputy Sheriff Batts said the men told him that in all they fired up about four boxes of .22 pistol shells".

"In all"...? Alternatively, from the 'Evansville Press', we read:

"He said his brother, John, used four boxes of .22 shells in his pistol, shooting at the little men"

Again, it does suggest the 'New Era' second-hand account, may not be entirely trustworthy.
 

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This is a possibility I too have previously considered.
Certainly worth another look at... what evidence do we have for Taylor's early involvement?

Perhaps surprisingly - or tellingly - there's little evidence in the 3 earliest newspaper accounts of 22 August about who was involved from the initial sighting up through any initial shooting. More specifically ...

Kentucky New Era

One man (unnamed) went to the well for water and saw an object "come over the trees and land in a field ..." He returned to the house. Later, someone (unnamed / unidentified) noticed little men approaching. The first mention of specific residents was the passage saying Lucky and Taylor took up guns (shotgun and .22 target pistol, respectively). There's no mention of any shot(s) fired until a visitor pressed its face to a window and the shotgun was fired at it.

After this first shot Lucky and Taylor exited into the front yard and Lucky fired his shotgun (only one firing is specifically mentioned). Then there's a vague statement that Taylor fired on other visitors with no effect.

Later the article goes on to say "the men" fired "about four boxes of .22 pistol shells."

Madisonville Messenger

This version claims 'they' (i.e., any / all the listed residents) saw the UFO land, but paid little attention to it. It goes on to say multiple little men (eventually up to 15 of them) were around the place starting 35 - 40 minutes after the initial sighting. It then jumps to the head-grab event at the front door involving Taylor. The first shooting mentioned was Lucky's firing at the roof following the head-grab. There's no mention of Lucky, Taylor or J. C. arming themselves by this point in the story.

This version then shifts to claiming there were multiple intruder visits, each of which was repelled by Lucky (shotgun) and J. C. (.22 pistol).

There's no mention of Taylor being armed or shooting at all.


Evansville Press

There's a blanket claim of a running battle lasting hours, with the residents using only a shotgun and a pistol (both singular).

This version vaguely states 'they' (residents; number / identities unknown) saw the UFO land.

Alene is quoted as saying the first little man was sighted "right after dusk", and shots were fired at it. She mentions Taylor being the one who was the object of the head-grab at the front door.

Lucky is quoted as saying the first little man sighting was about 45 minutes "after he and Taylor first saw the object land."

Later in the article Alene quoted Taylor describing his sighting of the object and its landing, as if he were the only witness.

There's no mention of Lucky and Taylor shooting at the first-sighted little man.

Lucky mentions only J. C. and himself shooting (in summarizing their shots and ammo usage). There's a blanket claim (source unclear) that Lucky and J. C. kept watch at windows with the women and children on the floor "during the entire incident."

There's no mention whatsoever of Taylor being armed or firing any firearm during the incident.
 
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If they're pushed late / later in the evening (as, e.g., J. C. claimed) it makes for a compact series of events promoting panic and motivating the rushed evacuation to Hopkinsville.
The claims made in this 1976 article by Greenwood are yet another unexpected twist.

If correct, the latter changes completey the entire perspective:

"It was about midnight or 1 in the morning when I got a call from the police department".

"When we got there two people told me they'd been under attack since about 10 p.m. that night".

The 10 p.m. does of course tie-in precisely with Mrs Lankford's statement.

How indeed to reconcile with the story as told and our 7:30ish kick-off...

Needs a rethi.....

I have a vision of Isabel Davis looking down on us...

'Well, I didn't have the Internet in my day and serves you lot right. You should just have let sleeping dogs lie...'.

In Isabel's defence, which I would jump to without hesitation, if my copy of 'Close Encounter at Kelly' was in paper form, it would be dog-eared by now and have post-it notes sticking out everywhere...
 

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I believe the Evansville Press article represents a combination of two narratives - one collected at the farmhouse on the 22nd (largely from Alene), and one separately collected from Lucky, J. C. and Baker in Evansville.

The text indicates Alene and / or other witnesses [1] (in Kelly) said or indicated:

- Taylor was the sole original observer of the UFO landing.
- The little men first appeared "right after dusk".
- Shots were fired during this first sighting.
- Alene doesn't specify who was armed, what weapons were used, or how many shots were fired.
- At some point Taylor went out the front door and something grabbed at his hair.
- Except for the head-grab, Alene doesn't mention any action by Taylor following his initial UFO sighting.
- Alene isn't cited as mentioning more than a single visitor at any given time.
- Alene claimed to have observed a visitor flying over the house into the back yard from the back door, indicating she wasn't hiding / cowering on the floor the whole time.

[1] It's possible Taylor could have been one of the witnesses interviewed by an Evansville reporter / stringer in Kelly on the 22nd, but there are no clues indicating this in the Press article.

Meanwhile, Lucky (in Evansville) said:

- He (Lucky) and Taylor both saw the UFO landing.
- Taylor isn't mentioned at all beyond this one comment.
- The first little man sighted was seen circa 45 minutes after they'd witnessed the landing.
- Lucky doesn't specifically say when anyone first shot at a visitor.
- Lucky shot 17 times, and J. C. used four boxes of .22 ammo.
- Multiple of these little men were 'swarming' all over the place.
- Lucky had a 12-gauge shotgun and J. C. had a .22 pistol.
- Lucky and J. C. kept watch at two windows while the women and children were on the floor.
 

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The New Era article of the 22nd was the first to cite a lone witness to the UFO's arrival at the well in the back yard, but the article didn't identify this witness. Alene's statement in the Evansville Press article of the 22nd indicates Taylor alone first witnessed the UFO, but didn't mention anything about his going out to the well.

The earliest appearance in print of the combined claims (Taylor went to the well, and he alone witnessed the UFO flight / landing) was in the UP wire service story. It would seem whoever filed the story with UP was the first to blend these two items into what would become a canonical part of the Kelly story.

The derivative UP-based stories (I've seen) attribute gunshots to "the Suttons" and don't mention Taylor having wielded or fired a gun at all.

Sanders - arriving some days after the incident and relying entirely on info from the law enforcement folks - missed the UP's attribution of a solo UFO sighting to Taylor and anything to do with the well. She mentions a single man as the initial UFO witness, but doesn't identify him. She claims he was inside the house when he first saw the object.

Her claim Taylor took up a .22 target pistol had to have come from either the New Era article of the 22nd or one of the cops she interviewed. As far as I can tell to date, she couldn't have gotten this from the UP-derived stories.
 

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If we suppose that Taylor was not armed during the incident, it does resolve a couple of things that have been lurking at the back of my mind.

The first was a thought I had some weeks back when reading over the case again: if Taylor was really of low "status" in the household as Davis implies, being the youngest of the men and connected to the family only through his friendship with Lucky, why was he handed one of the household's guns? Maybe he wasn't after all.

The second relates to the 'head-grab' (which does credibly, I think, seem to have been Taylor given that this is how Alene recalled it the same night, and given the newspaper photo showing Taylor standing under the porch peering upwards). I did find myself wondering why Taylor, if he was armed, didn't shoot his 'assailant' himself, relying on Lucky to push outside with his shotgun. But if Taylor was unarmed this makes perfect sense.
 

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The idea of Taylor being armed is noted in one witness interview, this being Andre's interview with Lankford, as quoted by Davis (pp. 30-31; emphasis mine)

"It then jumped up, we thought, right on the roof of the house. As Billy went out the door to get another shot at it, the thing's clawy hands snatched at Billy's head. By that time Alene had come to the door; she grabbed Billy's arm and snatched him back into the house. By then, my son, Lucky, who had been guarding the other doorway (the back door) had also arrived at the front door, coming through the house. He pushed out the door past Billy and Alene and shot at the thing while it was still on the overhang above the front door."

Davis of course independently talks about Taylor firing the .22 through the "screen" in her narrative, but she also has J. C. firing a shotgun at a creature in the window prior to this. Perhaps substituting J. C. for Taylor, and Lucky for J. C (but keeping Taylor as the first man through the door afterwards) would bring her account more into line with what J. C. himself described.
 

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... The first was a thought I had some weeks back when reading over the case again: if Taylor was really of low "status" in the household as Davis implies, being the youngest of the men and connected to the family only through his friendship with Lucky, why was he handed one of the household's guns? Maybe he wasn't after all. ...

Agreed ... It's always seemed odd to me that Taylor (a non-family-member and guest at the house) was one of the first to take up a firearm.

On the other hand ...

Ms. Glennie said on the 23rd that J. C. didn't take the UFO (etc.?) stuff seriously at first, but bought into the crisis at a later point. It seems to me the time when J. C. became armed should correlate with the time he started taking the situation seriously. Unfortunately, we don't know when this shift occurred.

If we follow Davis' (and others') claim that Taylor was a long-term guest resident rather than a weekend visitor, it may be that he was already trusted with the available guns. Recall that he was the only resident who went hunting the morning following the incident.
 

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The reason I highlighted the most apparent differences between the Kelly and the Evansville testimonies included in the Evansville Press article of 22 August relates to a later bit of testimony from the one witness everyone agreed was above reproach - i.e., Ms. Glennie.

The different narratives arising out of Kelly and Evansville on the 22nd begin to look like deliberate spin-doctoring above and beyond mere expository errors or misunderstandings.

On their own in Evansville on the 22nd, Lucky and J. C. said they had taken up positions guarding the front and back doors throughout the incident.

Back in Kelly that same day, Alene never mentioned Taylor being armed or shooting.

In 1959 Ms. Glennie told Andre it was Taylor guarding the front door with a weapon and it was Taylor who shot at the visitor she first saw through the front door screen. If this was the case - where was J. C.?

Why were Lucky and J. C. (in Evansville on the 22nd) casting themselves as the sole shooters, having left Taylor back in Kelly to apparently tell people he was continuously involved in the sightings / shootings?

Why did J. C.'s own wife (Alene) never specifically mention her husband as a shooter, and why did she limit mention of Taylor to his being the sole UFO witness and the guy whose head / hair a visitor grabbed at?

How is it that Ms. Glennie (4 years after the incident) finally offered the first expanded account of her experience so as to include Taylor - the man her sons seemed to omit from involvement in visitor sightings and shootings?

Did Taylor (per Ledwith - carried away with instant celebrity) go overboard in elaborating his role and significance in the night's events?

Did Lucky and J. C. - off on their own in Evansville and oblivious to the growing media attention and scrutiny - overstate their own roles in the incident?

Did Alene and Ms. Glennie deliberately downplay J. C.'s involvement (in Ms. Glennie's case, by shifting attributions from J. C. to Taylor) to somehow protect J. C. and / or evade perceived or anticipated negative blowback on the family overall?
 

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The reason I highlighted the most apparent differences between the Kelly and the Evansville testimonies included in the Evansville Press article of 22 August relates to a later bit of testimony from the one witness everyone agreed was above reproach - i.e., Ms. Glennie.

The different narratives arising out of Kelly and Evansville on the 22nd begin to look like deliberate spin-doctoring above and beyond mere expository errors or misunderstandings.

On their own in Evansville on the 22nd, Lucky and J. C. said they had taken up positions guarding the front and back doors throughout the incident.

Back in Kelly that same day, Alene never mentioned Taylor being armed or shooting.

In 1959 Ms. Glennie told Andre it was Taylor guarding the front door with a weapon and it was Taylor who shot at the visitor she first saw through the front door screen. If this was the case - where was J. C.?

Why were Lucky and J. C. (in Evansville on the 22nd) casting themselves as the sole shooters, having left Taylor back in Kelly to apparently tell people he was continuously involved in the sightings / shootings?

Why did J. C.'s own wife (Alene) never specifically mention her husband as a shooter, and why did she limit mention of Taylor to his being the sole UFO witness and the guy whose head / hair a visitor grabbed at?

How is it that Ms. Glennie (4 years after the incident) finally offered the first expanded account of her experience so as to include Taylor - the man her sons seemed to omit from involvement in visitor sightings and shootings?

Did Taylor (per Ledwith - carried away with instant celebrity) go overboard in elaborating his role and significance in the night's events?

Did Lucky and J. C. - off on their own in Evansville and oblivious to the growing media attention and scrutiny - overstate their own roles in the incident?

Did Alene and Ms. Glennie deliberately downplay J. C.'s involvement (in Ms. Glennie's case, by shifting attributions from J. C. to Taylor) to somehow protect J. C. and / or evade perceived or anticipated negative blowback on the family overall?
Yeah, this is something that came up earlier when discussing the possibility of it being a hoax. The earliest accounts attributed to the primary witnesses... just aren't the same story. Why? Is it errors by journalists copying down the stories? Or did the witnesses for some reason tell drastically different stories of the event? If so, for what reason?

In one way of looking at it, they(as a group) ruined their own credibility by (indirectly, and possibly unintentionally) calling each other liars. Obviously it's not the only way to see it, but...

I wonder if this is related to how they shortly afterwards decided to avoid speaking of it again?
 

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I decided a few pages back that there was no way to analyse this out to get at what really happened but I do think you're all giving way too much credence to what the newspapers printed. These folk were not degreed journalists. They were small regional and local paper reporters who also covered 4H shows and funerals, and were paid to write stories that would make people read at the ads. Of course they ornamented. I believe that this is not unique to the US.
 

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I decided a few pages back that there was no way to analyse this out to get at what really happened but I do think you're all giving way too much credence to what the newspapers printed. These folk were not degreed journalists. They were small regional and local paper reporters who also covered 4H shows and funerals, and were paid to write stories that would make people read at the ads. Of course they ornamented. I believe that this is not unique to the US.
Well.... the problem there is... if you toss out all the info that might not be 100% accurate... you have nothing left.
 

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I decided a few pages back that there was no way to analyse this out to get at what really happened but I do think you're all giving way too much credence to what the newspapers printed. These folk were not degreed journalists. They were small regional and local paper reporters who also covered 4H shows and funerals, and were paid to write stories that would make people read at the ads. Of course they ornamented. I believe that this is not unique to the US.

All that's true, but ... The early newspaper reports are the best available evidence we have, like it or not.

Two of them (the New Era and Messenger articles published the 22nd) are derived at least partially from what reporters saw at the scene at the time the law enforcement personnel first arrived and investigated. The third (Press) article is the single most substantive collection of comments directly attributed to the key players within no more than circa 12 hours after the incident's end.

Ledwith (involved with news at WHOP, if not a full-fledged reporter) provided the only coherent account of what was happening at the farmhouse the following day.

To be sure, some among the local press (especially the Messenger) would eventually devolve into mocking the whole thing.
 

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While we're on the subject of writers' / reporters' investigatory prowess, expository quality, and veracity ...

This seems an appropriate point at which to insert an admittedly personal rant that's been simmering during the months we've been digging into this case.

I'm not sold on the idea the local press folks were any less worthy of respect than the 'professional' UFO folks who came to town to seek information for their own purportedly expert appraisals.

The dedicated 'ufologist' investigators who first delved into the affair (Sanders, Edwards, and Davis) were clearly biased toward trying to force-fit the story into a UFO narrative, even though the allegedly sighted UFO is the most dispensable part of the entire storyline. Of these three, only Edwards had any professional journalistic background, credentials, or experience. I'm not sure this afforded him any advantage or priority as a source.

More specifically:

- Sanders couldn't even specify how long following the incident it was before she visited the area, she never visited the scene, and she didn't make contact with any witnesses. By her own admission she obtained all her info from the law enforcement folks. It's not clear she ever bothered to review the newspaper reports that had already been published, and she swallowed the myth the entire family had 'disappeared' apparently based on hearsay. Still - such as it is - hers is the only early ufologist account that's coherently written.

- Edwards couldn't make it to the scene until some days following the incident, and he admitted he'd fallen victim to pranksters trying to exploit the publicity. He ended up admittedly relying on Sanders' and the newspapers' accounts for his data, and still managed to get some of the basic facts wrong. His relatively cursory reporting (both in his CSI presentation and his book(s)) contains a lot of cherry-picked info and maximal glossing for "woo factor."

- Davis invested the most effort in trying to get to the bottom of the story 10 months after the fact, only to fail in accomplishing her initially hoped-for objectives and to be surprised to learn Ledwith had already collected much of the information she'd apparently presumed was still unsought. She simply threw up her hands and never made a serious effort to untangle the storylines (as to who did what when), and simply claimed nobody really knew what happened when. She ended up assembling a disjointed and badly organized report that omits as much as it addresses.

More importantly, Davis (like the other two and even Hynek) concentrated on hand-waving and what-if-ing to maintain the possibility there'd been any saucer landing and evaded serious analysis by diverting attention to criticizing the USAF and insinuating there was something covered up.

Compared to these self-serving out-of-town dilettantes the local reporters don't look any worse, and on some issues appear more objective and informative.
 

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The earliest appearance in print of the combined claims (Taylor went to the well, and he alone witnessed the UFO flight / landing) was in the UP wire service story. It would seem whoever filed the story with UP was the first to blend these two items into what would become a canonical part of the Kelly story.
To recap (and keeping in mind anyone who is reading this thread without the background knowledge):

Our most detailed account, albeit, second-hand, is from the "Kentucky New Era' on 22 August:

"Both Chief Greenwell and Deputy Sheriff Batts said they got approximately this story from the still terrified and excited Sutton and Taylor families".

(...)

"About 7 p.m. one of the men went out of the house to get a bucket of water. He saw what looked like a flying saucer come over the trees and land in a field at a point about a city block behind the house. There was no explosion, only a semi-hissing sound, and the watcher returned to the house with the bucket of water".

It's ostensibly backed with Alene's reported remark, published same day in the 'Evansville Press':

"Taylor was quoted by Mrs. Sutton as saying he saw a thing like a red washtub gliding out of the sky to the ground behind the house".

If anyone else had been present during this presumably first sighting of something unrecognisable in the sky, why only reference Taylor as a witness?


The fact, in the same article, its' also claimed "Elmer Sutton said they first saw the little man about 45 minutes after he and Taylor saw the object land", plus the accompanying photograph with Elmer illustrating how the object landed, I would, personally, presume is simply an elaboration, Elmer going along with the request for a photograph featuring himself depicting same.

I shouldn't imagine it mattered too much, as the story was already out of control and even in that 'New Era' article, clarfying "one of the men", events are sensationalied, implying everyone present had witnessed a 'flying saucer' with up to 15 occupants who had attacked the farmhouse residents

"Spokesmen for the crowd told of how something resembling a space ship or flying saucer had landed at the back of their house near Kelly and 12 or 15 men, who appeared to be about 4 feet tall, had got out of the ship and come up to the house and done battle with the occupants.

“We need help,” one of the men said, “we’ve been fighting them for nearly four hours".”

And thus, the legend, began...

When the 'Leaf-Chronicle'' ran their article on 24 August, incorporating Hodson's sketch of a 'flying saucer', with a caption reporting how all the witnesses had watched it both land and depart, that was arguably an inevitable development.


It's an interesting question you bring up and the tale of Taylor visiting the well now being accepted as literal, was doubtless influenced by Frank Edwards inclusion in his 1966 book, 'Flying Saucers: Serious Business', followed, of course, by Isabel Davis in the 1978 'Close Encounter at Kelly'.

More recently, it has been ratified by Geraldine Sutton Stith's book publications 'Alien Legacy' and 'Alien Legacy Revisited', where Isabel Davis' account has effectively been incorporated verbatim.

John Sutton's newly discovered 1976 interview is consequently challenging.

Do we presume his recollection of having himself seen an unexplained, silent, aerial light traveling, when he was located in the yard earlier that night, is a false memory?

A personal conclusion, as matters stand, is that there isn't enough sufficiently persuasive to 'change the ruling on the field'.

We can only document and note the discrepancies, pending any reasonable new shift in perspective?

This, alas, looks like it equally applies to other aspects discussed of late.

More on which, separately.
 

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... If anyone else had been present during this presumably first sighting of something unrecognisable in the sky, why only reference Taylor as a witness? ...

Within that Evansville Press article of 22 August ...

Alene 'quoted' Taylor in describing the UFO and its landing somewhere behind the house. That's it; that's all. By itself, there's nothing in this second-hand report to clearly indicate Taylor alone witnessed the UFO and the landing.

In any case, Lucky indicated in a preceding paragraph that he and Taylor had both seen the UFO arrive and land.

As such, it's unclear whether Alene's statement (in Kelly) and Lucky's statement (in Evansville) definitely conflict (or not) regarding how many of the men really observed the UFO's overflight and landing.

FWIW, recall that Lonnie (age 12 at the time of the incident) stated it was Taylor alone who'd first observed the UFO.
 

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Thoughts re Mrs Lankford...

The integral issue with Mrs Lankford's 1959 account, is being radically different from her statement of 22 August:

"I was walking through the hallway which is located in the middle of my house and I looked out the back door south & saw a bright silver object about two and a half feet tall appearing round".

The 1959 narrative, is substantially divergent. To recap:

"I went out in the hallway and crouched down next to Billy and asked him, 'Now just what have you been seeing?'

(...)

We remained crouched down about three feet from the screen door (the front door) for about 20 minutes, when I saw one approaching the door. Billy and I remained crouching until it came right up to the screen.

I lost my balance and fell flat on the floor, making a thud-like noise and letting out a shriek. At the same time the thing jumped back into the yard and Billy shot at it right through the screen.

It then jumped up, we thought, right on the roof of the house. As Billy went out the door to get another shot at it, the thing's clawy hands snatched at Billy's head. By that time Alene had come to the door; she grabbed Billy's arm and snatched him back into the house. By then, my son, Lucky, who had been guarding the other doorway (the back door) had also arrived at the front door, coming through the house. He pushed out the door past Billy and Alene and shot at the thing while it was still on the overhang above the front door".


Only one of the following can be factual.

First scenario

Elmer Sutton fires through the living room"s, side window's screen.

They want to check for a casualty.

Billy Ray Taylor is first to step outside the front door, the hair-grab' takes place and O. P. Baker pulls him back inside.

Elmer Sutton pushes past them, steps outside, sees a creature perched on the door overhang and shoots it.

Second scenario

Billy Ray Taylor, in the hallway, fires through the front door's screen.

He wants to check for a casualty.

Billy Ray Taylor steps outside, the hair-grab' takes place and Alene Sutton pulls him back inside.

Elmer Sutton pushes past them, steps outside, sees a creature perched on the door overhang and shoots it.


It's all still open to conjecture.

Nonetheless, if the following is accurate, then Mrs Lankford's 1959 recollections can not be.

Evansville Press
22 August


"Mrs (Alene) Sutton said she saw the first little man right after dusk last night and that a number of shots were fired at it.

(...)

Mrs. Sutton said that at one point Billy Taylor went out the front door and something grabbed him by the hair. Baker pulled him back in the house.

Mrs. Sutton was at the back door when this happened".

Two key points;

1. If Alene had seen a creature 'just after dusk', then unlikely, as Mrs Lankford indicates in 1959, "I did not take them seriously until about 10 o'clock, when Alene came in terrified, white, nervously shaking, saying that she had seen one of the little men".

2. If Alene was at the back door and Baker pulled Taylor inside, Mrs Lankford is obviously mistaken that Alene was responsible.

Perhaps most telling of all, is that Alene is unlikely to be mistaken, given this dates from the next day.


One further factor which has to be taken into account is that if Isabel Davis' reports the following correctly,, there does seem to be a precedent for Mrs Lankford perhaps inadvertently elaborating her recollections.

These are strikingly incompatible:

Statement

"I became excited and did not look at it long enough to see if it had any eyes or move".

Isabel Davis' report

"Talking to Mr. Ledwith the next morning, Mrs. Lankford said she thought the slow approach and raised hands meant that the creatures were trying to establish communication".

There doesn't appear to be any known situation where the latter can have occurred.

My thoughts concerning Mrs Lankford, include a necessity to take into account she was caught up in something unfathomable and can not be expected to provide a thoroughly accurate and impeccable account of what she had experienced, especially years afterwards.
 

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Only one of the following can be factual.

First scenario
Elmer Sutton fires through the living room"s, side window's screen.
They want to check for a casualty.
Billy Ray Taylor is first to step outside the front door, the hair-grab' takes place and O. P. Baker pulls him back inside.
Elmer Sutton pushes past them, steps outside, sees a creature perched on the door overhang and shoots it.

Second scenario
Billy Ray Taylor, in the hallway, fires through the front door's screen.
He wants to check for a casualty.
Billy Ray Taylor steps outside, the hair-grab' takes place and Alene Sutton pulls him back inside.
Elmer Sutton pushes past them, steps outside, sees a creature perched on the door overhang and shoots it.

It's all still open to conjecture.

Yes, but ... These two alternative plot lines are not the only ones that were documented. There are yet other versions and possibilities.

For example, the New Era article of 22 August doesn't claim anyone called out or pulled Taylor back inside the door (or at least away from whatever was grabbing at his head).
Taylor was in front and when he emerged from the front door, a huge hand reached down from the low roof above the door and grabbed him by the hair. He pulled away and the two men went on out of the house.
This version doesn't explicitly support Davis' claim that Lucky fired on three visitors in the front yard after exiting the house ...
One of the strange little men was in a nearby tree, another on top of the house. A blast from Sutton’s shotgun knocked another one of the men down but he did not appear hurt. He disappeared in the darkness.
It's not clear whether this mention of a single Lucky shotgun firing refers to the visitor in the tree or the third one who came around the corner of the house. The only thing that's clear is that this doesn't refer to Lucky shooting at the visitor on the roof (a la Davis), but it would if one accepts the following (Madisonville) version ...
 

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The Madisonville Messenger article of 22 August mentions the Taylor head-grab, but not anyone calling out or pulling Taylor back inside.
Taylor started to step out the front door and one of the the creatures reached down from the roof and grabbed at him. 'Lucky' Sutton, armed with a single-barrel .12-gauge shotgun, stepped out and shot the little man off the roof.
This version doesn't align with the Davis version with regard to what happened after Lucky fired that first shot in the front yard. It states:
The shot knocked the strange fellow down but apparently didn't harm him. The whole group of little men fled the scene.
There's no mention of the front yard tree shooting nor Lucky's third firing upon a visitor who came around the corner of the house (a la Davis).
 

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The only mention of the head-grab event in the Evansville Press article of the 22nd is attributed to Alene:
Mrs. Sutton said that at one point Billy Taylor went out the front door and something grabbed him by the hair. Baker pulled him back in the house.
Mrs. Sutton was at the back door when this happened. She said the figure seemed to fly or jump right over the house, land in the back yard and then vanish.
At face value, Alene is attesting to hearsay. As I've previously noted, she could not have seen the front door from the back (bedroom) door - even if there'd been lights on. She could not have witnessed the head-grab, nor could she have seen Baker (or anyone) pull Taylor back inside.

Also note that this third version makes no mention of Lucky (or Taylor) exiting into the front yard and doing any shooting out there. It therefore doesn't support Davis' mentions of the tree and third visitor shootings. Alene simply says a visitor came across / off the roof into the back yard and vanished. This version also indicates she never left the back door during whatever event(s) happened at the front door or in the front yard.
 

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Sanders' report (based entirely on info from the law enforcement personnel a few days later) doesn't mention anyone pulling Taylor back inside. It does mention Lucky calling out to Taylor. It doesn't even try to describe what happened after Lucky and Taylor exited into the yard (which Sanders mis-identifies as the back yard).
Thinking they had wounded the creature, the men decided to creep cautiously outside and investigate. Taylor walked down the hall and out the door. As he stepped under the low hanging roof Sutton yelled, "Look out! He's trying to get you!" -- and a huge hand reached down and grabbed a fistful of Taylor's hair!

Taylor managed to pull loose and dashed out into the back yard, Sutton right behind him. After that nobody seemed to know just what did happen. Evidently the men opened fire on the weird little creatures which were perched in the trees and on the house.
(Sanders, Saucerian Review, p. 21)
 

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In any case, Lucky indicated in a preceding paragraph that he and Taylor had both seen the UFO arrive and land.
For sure, my point was only that even if 'Lucky' had not, it's understandable he would simply go along with this and pose for s photo illustrating the very thing. I personally can't see him taking time to explain that strictly he wasn't involved, initially.

I still have an open mind about this onset of events.

It's Frank Edwards and Isabel Davis' shared account of Taylor's sighting being dismissed as a 'shooting star', then around 30 minutes later the dogs/dog barking alerting everyone, etc., which has been so influential in establishing the popularised version.

It was indeed Lonnie Lankford who was recently mentioned as recalling in a more recent interview, that Billy Ray Taylor had ventured outside for a 'toilet break'.

If we do want to go down the road of there being multiple witnesses, the 'Madisonville Messenger' article of 22 August, does not mention Taylor in isolation:

"Three men in the group were the most eager to talk of their experience... Billy Ray Taylor, 'Lucky' Sutton and John Sutton...

Here is the story they told to officers and reporters...

The three and their wives, plus Mrs. Glennie Lankford... and O. T. Baker, were in the house, along with four children, at about 7:30 p.m. Sunday when they noticed an object "all lighted up" glide into a field.

At an estimated distance of one-quarter mile, it looked to be the size of a No. 2 washtup and was egg-shaped.

They paid little attention to it, however".

John Sutton's newly discovered 1976 interview, would appear to leave us somewhat in the middle, being neither one or the other.

There are more issues arising from that interview and will come back to them in due course.
 

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For sure, my point was only that even if 'Lucky' had not, it's understandable he would simply go along with this and pose for s photo illustrating the very thing. I personally can't see him taking time to explain that strictly he wasn't involved, initially.
Agreed ... This was my point in a post last week:
https://forums.forteana.org/index.p...ucky-goblins-incident-1955.17926/post-2127764

If Lucky were photographed illustrating how the UFO landed, the text should reflect a claim he'd witnessed the landing (and vice versa).

I still have an open mind about this onset of events.
As do I ... A condensation of the eventual sighting / shooting events to include only Lucky and J. C. doesn't mean someone else couldn't have been a sole witness to the original UFO sighting and landing.

It's Frank Edwards and Isabel Davis' shared account of Taylor's sighting being dismissed as a 'shooting star', then around 30 minutes later the dogs/dog barking alerting everyone, etc., which has been so influential in establishing the popularised version. ...
I tend to accept this differentiation or separation of an earlier UFO overflight / landing sighting from a later series of events involving the visitors / creatures (regardless of whether they were actually associated with the alleged UFO). The early newspaper accounts (unbiased by the later Davis / Edwards spin-doctoring) support this gap between the UFO sighting and the first visitor sighting.

John Sutton's newly discovered 1976 interview, would appear to leave us somewhat in the middle, being neither one or the other. ...
I find it difficult to attribute compelling status to J. C.'s claim - circa 21 years after the fact - of being the original UFO witness, unless ...

My recent emphasis on the divergent versions of the resident narratives is related to a tentative hypothesis that there's been some re-attribution of who did what among the residents / witnesses themselves - i.e., a sort of intra-group cover-up or usurpation of credit (or blame?). The ambiguities and conflicts in attributing actions / participation all seem to involve inclusion or omission of Taylor (and, to some extent, June) in one account versus another.
 
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It's an interesting question you bring up and the tale of Taylor visiting the well now being accepted as literal....
How interesting indeed, because it seems to have its genesis within the UP newsfeed on 22 August:

"The Suttons gave this account of the alleged visit from outer space: A relative, Bill Taylor, after returning from a trip to a well Sunday evening, told of seeing a spaceship land in a nearby field".

This appears to be the first full attribution to Taylor and like the same news release's clam that the 'Suttons' fired a warning shot when a creature came within 'about 5 feet from the door', is unsourced.

There isn't any precedent for either and I can't see that they were ever substantiated.

Is Frank Edwards' and Isabel Davis' joint narrative about Taylor being told by the others it was probably just a 'shooting star', then some 30 minutes later, the dog/dogs barking and alerting everyone, etc., founded solely on this?

Seems a bit flimsy as regards reliability, does it not?
 
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