Edmond Author Explores Oklahoma’s Eerie History
Who can resist a good mystery story? Tales of UFOs, strange sightings and unexplained phenomena turn up in conversations everywhere from playgrounds to coffee shops. It seems we never outgrow the desire to hear about things that defy logical explanations. When these puzzling events occur in familiar locales, they become even more intriguing. Most people hear those stories, shake their heads and go on. But for Edmond author David Farris, tracking down eerie incidents in the Sooner state has become his passion.
Since childhood, Farris has been fascinated by spooky stories. He vividly recalls being in the second grade and seeing news reports of a werewolf roaming the streets of Lawton. “It was on the news and next to the reporter, they had a graphic of a werewolf,” Farris said. A few days later, the story was exposed as a hoax: merely a teenager dressed in a costume. But Farris discovered there are many more local stories that are not so easily explained away.
Growing up, Farris lived near both the Edmond library and the Central State (now University of Central Oklahoma) library. “I’d spend time in the library working on reports and I’d pass by sections and wish I had more time,” Farris said. His favorite area was at the beginning of the non-fiction collection: books filled with accounts of the paranormal, extra terrestrials and unidentified creatures.
Farris began collecting strange and unusual stories set in Oklahoma and filing them in a folder. Over the years, the folder grew into several folders. In 1995, the accounts he’d collected became the basis for his first book, “Mysterious Oklahoma.”
That book is now in its seventh printing and Farris published a second book, “More Mysterious Oklahoma” in 2001.
The first book provides an overview of strange events, while the second gives more detailed information and offers additional stories. One of those focuses on a large number of UFO sightings that took place across Oklahoma in August of 1965. Unexplained objects were seen darting through the sky in dozens of communities, including Edmond.
Beginning around 10 p.m. on August 1, 1965, authorities began receiving calls from startled residents who reported seeing colorful, brightly lit objects hovering over the city before moving off to the north. In the following days, newspapers published accounts from Edmond police officers, highway patrol officers at the watch tower on Broadway Extension and citizens from all walks of life. Tinker Air Force Based tracked four UFOs on their radar. Witnesses agreed the objects they saw that night were not planes or stars. Similar sightings were reported that night in Texas, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming. Sightings continued through the area until August 5. Within a few days, the Air Force dismissed the sightings as astrological observations. They suggested the objects were planets or stars and the color changes that had been observed were the product of scintillation, an atmospheric condition that makes stars appear to twinkle.
Farris doesn’t have an explanation for the observations that week in August, but he does say it was “certainly something extraordinary.” “It will remain a mystery unless someone comes forth and tells us what it was,” he said.
UFO critics often cite the lack of sightings over major cities as evidence of the phenomena being a hoax, but Farris said the events of 1965 as well as the lights over Phoenix in 1997 and Washington, D.C. in 1952, invalidate that argument. “People have seen them, it is just not well reported and not a well-known fact,” he said.
Farris said he has never had an encounter or incident that defies explanation, but he has interviewed several people who have. One of the most unusual stories in “More Mysterious Oklahoma” is that of the McWethy family in Centrahoma.
Over a period of more than a dozen years, the McWethys experienced paranormal phenomena including rocks and pennies falling from thin air both inside and outside their house. Strange voices, missing food and spontaneously breaking objects were also reported at the McWethy home, not only by family members but law enforcement and members of the media. Farris interviewed the family and other witnesses, but could find no explanation. He concludes the chapter on the Centrahoma ghosts with this: “If all of life’s mysteries had answers, then they wouldn’t be mysteries.”
Farris says ghost stories don’t hold the same fascination as some of the other things he writes about. “Ghost stories have to be something special to make the cut.”
He finds land creatures like Bigfoot much more intriguing. Farris credits his childhood days hunting through the wooded areas of a then-sparsely populated west Edmond with his fondness for tales of the hairy man-beast.
Like the other stories in his book, Farris’ Bigfoot accounts are well documented. He collects the information from newspaper archives, libraries and historical societies. Each incident typically has half a dozen or more articles and interviews listed as references. “I want to let people know these are not my inventions,” Farris said. “If you want to do research on your own, you have a place to start.”
His books also let readers draw their own conclusions. “I try to keep things open-ended,” Farris said. “I’m simply collecting stories from Oklahoma to share with people who might be interested in such things.” “Whether you call them mysteries, legend or folklore, they are all part of the tapestry of Oklahoma’s past,” Farris said.
Those who are interested in reading more or learning about stories such as Elmer McCurdy, one of Oklahoma’s errant corpses who toured the country as a sideshow attraction, pick up Farris’ latest book, “Oklahoma Outlaw Tales.” Farris’ books are available at the Edmond Historical Society, the Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma Tourism Gift Shops and Best of Books or directly from the author by sending $12.95 to David Farris, P.O. Box 5991, Edmond, OK 73083.