Pittsfield Township Historical Society :: Falling Star: An Historical Fiction
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by Hannah Geddes Wright

Note: This story is factionalized. It is based on an historic event, but the details have been imagined.

Will finished milking the Jersey cow and leaned the little one-legged milking stool in the dusty corner. He turned to carry the milk bucket to the house. He would come back later to feed and bed down the animals.

Stars shone brightly in their fall constellations that crisp, cool October night in 1878. Will Geddes had just reached the back porch of the new house, which he had just that summer completed building, when he heard the sound. It was a low rumble first, then a whistling scream. Will turned quickly and caught sight of the fireball as it fell. It was only a moment in time and then an explosion ripped the air as the fireball struck a large tree across the field in the west woods. Fire sprayed in a wide arc and then drifted to the earth. In the ensuing silence, a circle burned on the frosty ground where the splintered tree now lay like matchwood.

Will stood in stunned silence for a moment, his eyes riveted to the fiery spectacle. Then the door opened and a frightened looking young woman looked out.

"Jennie!"

"Will, what was that sound? Why is there a fire?"

"It was a fireball ... it fell in the woods! Smashed a tree!" Will's heart pounded with excitement.

Jennie grabbed her shawl which hung behind the door and throwing it around her shoulders, she stepped out beside Will on the porch. He put his arm protectively around her.

"It must have been a falling star," mused Will. "Nothing else would fall from the sky like that."

"It could have fallen on the house!" said Jennie with a shudder.

"Thank the good Lord it didn't," breathed Will. They stood watching the flickering fire from afar, until, chilled, they stepped into the house.

"I'll go down in the morning and see about it," Will said. He placed the milk bucket on the kitchen floor and then returned to the barn to feed and bed the animals.

In the early morning light, Will walked briskly across the field toward the still smoking crater. Curiosity burned in his mind as he drew closer. Several-scorched trees stood in a circle around a 20 foot wide depression. The crater was about 5 feet deep in the center and the ground inside looked freshly plowed. Over all was a layer of hot ash ... all that remained of the large oak that had been standing there.

There was no large piece of fallen star such as Will thought there might be ... one large enough to smash a tree! However, in the ashes he noticed a piece of black rock that looked like nothing he had ever seen before. He reached down to pick it up, but quickly withdrew his hand as the heat was still intense. He looked around for more pieces and discovered two more.

He would wait until they cooled.

Will came back the next day, but the rock was still too hot to handle. The third day he was able to pick up one of the smaller pieces. He was awed by its oddness. Black and very heavy, its surface was pitted and mottled. A few of the pits were quite deep. One side showed a flat surface where the rock had sheared off from the main body. William looked again at the crater where the tree had been. How big was the fallen star under the ground? He would never know. He gazed up at the night sky in wonderment. How far had the traveler come and from what distant past? The beginning of Creation perhaps? Again, he could never know.

He began to walk back toward the house carrying the piece of star. He would come back later for the other pieces. What a story this would be to pass on to his children and grandchildren.

 

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