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A team of aliens was found probing a highway in Henry County at three a.m. on July 3, 1955. They were Georgia’s first aliens.
Henry County has become well known in recent years for its ghosts, but few are aware of a bizarre but well documented encounter with aliens that occurred 55 years ago.
Mrs. Margaret Symmonds, 52, and her husband, Wesley, of Coverdale, Ohio, left Cincinnati at 7:30 a.m. on July 2 in their brand new Oldsmobile. They drove all day and into the night, stopping at regular intervals and sharing the driving duties while one slept in the back seat. At 3:30 a.m. on July 3 Wesley was asleep and Margaret was behind the wheel, piloting through Henry County a few miles south of Stockbridge on U.S. 129.
"I was not drinking or groggy from driving," Mrs. Symmonds emphasized alter. "My head was clear," and she was chewing gum to help her stay alert. It was a clear, moonlit night and visibility on the generally straight two-lane highway was excellent.
Mrs. Symmonds described the landscape as "desolate...devoid of houses or sign of human habitation." The highway was lined with scrub brush and low trees. It was a location where "anything might happen and there would be no one within miles to know it," she stated.
Margaret was driving sixty MPH on the isolated road when her high beams "shone on four objects that I first thought were animals-maybe hogs or something," standing in the middle of the highway. Cautiously, she reduced her speed to about forty. When Margaret drew closer she saw that the objects were four small humanoids, each measuring three and a half to four feet in height. Their legs appeared to be short for their size, but their arms, apparently devoid of elbows, seemed long for their proportions. She could see little of their bodies because they all wore long "gray-greenish capes." On their heads were slouch-like hats turned down all around the brim.
The nearest figure, standing in her lane, apparently detected the car's approach. It stepped out of the way and looked directly at Margaret. "I was terrified," she related, but still managed to note considerable details of the creature. The head seemed normal in size, but rounded. The eyes "were big, like saucers, and they reflected a reddish light." She saw no pupils. "The nose was long-real long, and pointed," she continued, resembling a classic witch. The mouth was small, with no visible lips.
For some reason, perhaps fright from being startled, the creature had its arms raised over its head. "The hands had claws on them, real long claws," she noted, but did not count the number of claws, nor notice if there were thumbs. The skin was dark colored and "very rough or coarse," but she could not determine if it was actually scaly.
Mrs. Symmonds was unfamiliar with the fabric of the cape and hat, and saw no buttons or other fastening devices on the long cloak.
The figure to the left of the one who stepped aside was bent over, his arms in a "hanging position" and both hands were holding what looked like a straight stick, as if about to dig into the asphalt or "poking at the road." Its back was to Mrs. Symmonds, and she thought its "shoulders were very square and seemed unusually strong looking" for the size of the body.
The other two figures, standing in a cluster with the one holding the stick, had their backs to the Symmonds' car. None of the three moved, "didn't move a muscle" in the estimated 30 seconds it took for the vehicle to pass.
When she realized what she had encountered, Symmonds screamed, swerved onto the right shoulder of the road, and accelerated rapidly upon regaining the pavement. "I passed close enough to reach out and touch them," she said, three or four feet. Wesley woke up but did not see anything. "He wanted to go back and see what it was," Margaret said, "but I was afraid," "terrified," she added later, and continued driving rapidly south.
‘It does sound like a strange story when you tell it," Mrs. Symmonds admitted. "But it isn't when you see it."
After reaching Florida, Mrs. Symmonds revealed the experience to a close friend, Mrs. Bart Mangini, who advised her not to describe the encounter to others. Margaret embraced the advice for a month. However, after their return to Ohio she read news accounts about one of the most fantastic UFO-alien encounters in history. A small "army" of aliens besieged a family in Kelly, Kentucky, near Hopkinsville, for an entire night, surviving point blank rifle fire and returning for more punishment.
The reports motivated Mrs. Symmonds to call the Cincinnati Post and tell her story to reporter Charles Doctor. She then visited their office to approve a sketch of the aliens and have her photograph taken. The story ran on August 23 and on September 5 she made a deposition to Calvin W. Prem, an assistant prosecuting attorney for Hamilton County, Ohio, who notarized the document.
A year later, on August 28, 1956, two respected UFO researchers, Leonard Stringfield and Ted Bloecher, visited the Symmonds. Margaret cleared up several misrepresentations reported in news accounts, was able to recall a few additional details, and advised Stringfield as he sketched more accurate representations of the creatures. The researchers reported that Mrs. Symmonds gave a "clear and detailed account" of the episode and found her "straightforward and cooperative" with no indications that she was lying or elaborating on the story. A thorough account of the incident appeared in the book Close Encounters at Kelly and Others of 1955, written by Ted Bloecher and Isabel Davis and published by the Center for UFO Studies at Evanston, Illinois, in 1978.
Although no UFO was reported by the Symmonds or any local residents, the large, glowing eyes, clawed hands, and diminutive size match the descriptions of a number of reported aliens seen at UFO landing sites, at least before popular science fiction decreed that all aliens had to be of the “Grey” variety.
Jim Miles is the author of two Weird Georgia books and nine books about the Civil War. See Jim's books.