The Amazing History of UFOs Over Michigan – 10 Eyewitness Accounts

We have made a little arrangement with the Minden City Herald to exchange stories from time to time. Nathan and Amber Mark’s weekly paper has covered the lower Thumb since 1889. We are thrilled to offer some of their content. Editor Nathan Marks wrote an interesting article about the extraordinary number of sightings of UFOs over Michigan including the Thumb region.

“If ‘They’ Are Out There, There Are Lots of ‘Them’”

Minden City Herald

That was the headline of a Port Huron Times Herald article in 1966 about “another barrage of UFO reports” from around the country. Reports of unidentified flying objects [UFOs] have been documented for centuries well before the modern-day explanations of “it must have been a plane or helicopter or drone” were feasible. These reports have been made across the country and the world—and in Michigan’s Thumb.

Ed Note: On March 25, 1966, then-Congressman Gerald Ford called for an examination into a “rash of reported sightings” of unidentified flying objects in Michigan. (You can view Ford’s press release here.)

On April 15th, the Pentagon released a statement verifying that recently leaked photos of “unidentified aerial phenomena” (UAP) were legitimate photos taken by United States Navy personnel in 2019, as confirmed by Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough. She told CNN that beyond confirming the legitimacy of these unknown aerial objects, the defense department had no other comment.

“To maintain operations security and to avoid disclosing information that may be useful to potential adversaries, DoD does not discuss publicly the details of either the observations or the examinations of reported incursions into our training ranges or designated airspace, including those incursions initially designated as UAP,” Gough’s statement says. 

In April 2020 the Pentagon released multiple videos taken of other UAPs that included remarks of awe from the pilots witnessing “rotating” objects in the sky before them. For decades reports regarding UFOs have received little comment from the United States government. But as they recently have begun to acknowledge that there do appear to be crafts or objects in the sky that they cannot identify, it makes one begin to wonder about the numerous reports of strange items in the sky from the past several decades in the Thumb. 

We have collected a number of these reports as they are interesting to read. We scoured the archives of the Minden City Herald, Harbor Beach Times, and Port Huron Times Herald for reports from local people about the things they have reported as having seen in the skies dating back to the early 1900s. We found so many of them that we cannot re-publish them all, but we will share several. These excerpts will be presented in chronological order.

Sightings of UFOs Over Michigan and the Thumb

1901 – Chester Nye and Herbert Trace “saw that mysterious light again on the Cass Road. When first seen, it was up in the air. It came down, went up again, and then disappeared.” [Published in the “25 Years Ago” section after having in re-published in 1931 in the “30 Years Ago” section. 9 Mar 1956, Minden City Herald]

UFOs over Ruth

1951 – Janis Stein wrote a first-person story in 2006 based on the testimony of an area resident who wishes to remain anonymous. The occurrence took place when she was eight years old in 1951 when she was working with her brothers in a field north of Ruth. “Twenty rods to our south, something was hovering two or three feet above the ground. Perfectly round and gray in color, it reminded me of two pie plates fastened together, creating a domed effect.” 

“The saucer measured about 14 by 14 feet and made not a sound as it continued to hover near our pond. Though there were no cattle there now, in the past Daddy used to pasture cattle in an adjacent field; the pond had been their watering hole. The 15 minutes we stood there side by side by side equaled an eternity.

Mesmerized, [her brother] quietly commented on the few antennae protruding from its “roof” and its lack of windows. Three sets of blinking lights flashed continuously around the bottom of the craft, and I almost fainted from disbelief when a door with connecting steps dropped down from the underside of the saucer. We had never seen anything like it.” From the book Musings of a Country Girl: A Collection of Short Stories from Small-Town America by Janis Stein, 2009. 

Sanilac County UFO Sightings

1953 – “Palms, Jan. 27 – A weird sky object has been sighted hovering close to the ground in this area of Sanilac County. At least four farmers in this area are convinced they saw a weird object at different times between Wednesday and Monday nights—and three farmers that this Times Herald reporter interviewed are sure they might have seen the much talked about flying saucer. All four farmers are hardworking, practical men.

These men are more interested in the price of feed and grain than in personal notoriety. The three that were interviewed were all hesitant about telling what they had seen for fear that people might think them silly. Cecil Hamill, Ervin Geeck, and Mike Lawler all described essentially the same object—and all were convinced of what they had seen.”

The men’s descriptions included “an object that looked like a huge star but had an appearance of being close to the ground. The object revolved, changing colors from red to green to white and hovered close to the treetops” [Geeck]. Lawler was with Carl Kohler on their way to Minden City when they spotted the object and “they followed it for more than a mile … it started to descend gradually and then they lost sight of it.”

They thought perhaps it was an airplane in distress but they never heard a crash and scoured the woods the following morning for the object and found nothing. They were reportedly unaware of Mr. Geeck’s sighting. Hamill reported that “the thing floated through the air for about a half-hour before it disappeared.” [The Port Huron Times Herald, republished in the Minden City Herald, 30 Jan 1953]

UFOs over Harbor Beach

1953 – “Leo Gryzbowski, driving home at 10:30 on Monday evening, saw several strange objects in the sky. They appeared as bright colored lights and made a weird sight. Upon arriving home he called his father to witness this strange phenomenon. He noticed the lights when about a mile east of his home and they flashed brilliantly for some time.” [20 Feb 1953, Harbor Beach Times]

Paster Sees UFOs Near Bad Axe

Bad Axe 2020 - UFOs over Michigan
Bad Axe, Michigan

1954 – “Bad Axe, Jan. 14 – Rev. E. W. McDonald, pastor of the Free Methodist church, reports he saw a mysterious light in the northern sky at 7:05 a.m. Wednesday while driving a Bad Axe school bus north of Verona. Mr. McDonald said the light resembled fireworks without sparks. At first he thought it was a farmer’s yard light, but later it was apparent it was not.” [Port Huron Times Herald, 14 Jan 1954]

1962 – “On Monday evening around six o’clock several people in the vicinity saw an object in the sky. When we called Mrs. Wilfred Kroetsch, she told us that it looked silver and was rounded and when they looked through binoculars it seemed to have a red center with green circles going around it. We also called Mrs. Bernard Roberts who, too, said it looked silver and was moving very slowly to the east. The Roberts saw it for at least a half-hour.” [4 Oct 1962, Minden City Herald]

1972 – In her Thumb Prints column, Harbor Beach Times writer Ruby Maschke shared her own experiences. “Twice within the past year, we have seen a light in the sky that did not appear to be a star. The first time we saw what we couldn’t identify, we tried to catch up to it but after driving a few miles the light seemed just as distant as at first sight.

The second time we spotted a light-in-the-sky, it seemed to come closer to our house, and I turned chicken and ran indoors. The boss stayed outside and watched, however, and gradually the light disappeared.” [7 Dec 1972, Harbor Beach Times]

Minden City UFO Spotted

1976 – Katie Engel of the Minden City Herald in her “Odds ‘N Ends” column recalls, “A couple of weeks or so ago, Bill and I were traveling towards Minden City—when about 2 miles west of Forestville we saw this thing in the sky just to our south—it was traveling in the same direction as we were.

It had two rather bright white lights with two red lights on each end, one being higher than the other. It was quite low in the sky. As we turned at Charleston, wouldn’t you know it also turned north, and when we turned at the Heilig corner, it was a bit to the north and [it turned] and went in a south-western direction. I could see it in the sky yet as we came into Minden City. It might have been a helicopter but not a plane as it was traveling too slow. Well, it might have been a UFO.” [26 Feb 1976, Minden City Herald]

1976 – “Anna Philippi called and said that on Friday night a week ago she looked outside about midnight and she [noticed] a glowing deep red narrow object, very high in the sky, higher than the stars. It came from the south and went to the north. She noticed it just west of Big Gulley Road. She wondered if anyone else in the area had seen it. [23 Sep 1976, Minden City Herald]

UFOs Buzz Harbor Beach

Harbor Beach
Harbor Beach Harbor – Courtesy US Coast Guard

1994 – “I know what I saw and I’ll never forget it.” Violet O’Neil of Harbor Beach recalled in a letter to the editor what she witnessed in December 1944 at 4:15 a.m. when, over the lake two miles south of Harbor Beach, she noticed a bright, sparkling light about the size of a softball. “This strange light fascinated me so much, I couldn’t take my eyes from it. It moved very slowly going south and gaining altitude as it went. After about an hour, it stood still, seemed to turn and face the shore (and me). It got brighter and seemed to be traveling west—it was frightening. I became a little more nervous. Soon it began to bob around and jerked like it was hanging from the end of a string. I believe this is when it turned and started to move toward the south again. 

I continued to watch it and it started to increase its speed. It got further away until all I could see was light the size of a large shiny star.” She closed with, “The following nights I didn’t sleep much. I kept getting up and looking out into the darkness hoping I could see it one more time, but this could only happen to a person once in a lifetime.” [29 Dec 1994, Harbor Beach Times]

Beyond reported sightings of strange items in the sky, sometimes strangeness was found on the ground as well. In 1995, the question of whether aliens were “stalking the Thumb” was posed in numerous publications including the Detroit News, Bay City Times, Port Huron Times Herald, and Huron Daily Tribune after “an unusual configuration in a cornfield near Filion” was discovered. Debbie Oglenski of the Harbor Beach Times visited the site in person and was somewhat unnerved by the strangeness of the situation, but the corn had been combined so there was little to see. Regardless, she said, “The skies in Huron County will never look the same to many of us again.”

What do our readers think? Could there be some truth to these accounts? Or could they be dreams or the result of exhaustion or stress? Do you have stories of your own to tell of strange things in the sky? We will gladly keep any stories anonymous if requested.

Reprinted by permission by Nathan Marks; editor of Minden City Herald. To subscribe, visit the publication’s website at MindenCityHerald.com


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1 thought on “The Amazing History of UFOs Over Michigan – 10 Eyewitness Accounts”

  1. I have never heard of most of these UFO encounters before, and I like to think of myself as a hardcore ufology nerd! Many thanks for bringing this article!

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