Candle In The Night


The papers tell the following about a Brattleboro affair:


The story goes that a boy way back in 1811 made a kite and attached a paper lantern to it, in which he put a candle, and arranged it so that when the candle had burned out it would explode some powder which was in the bottom of the lantern. He kept the secret to himself, and waited for a suitable night in which to raise his kite.


The boy got his kite into the air without being discovered, for it was so dark that nothing but the colored lantern was visible. It went dancing about in the air wildly, attracting much notice, and was looked upon by ignorant people as some supernatural omen.The evil spirit, as many supposed it, went bobbling around for about twenty minutes and then exploded, blowing the lantern to pieces.


Next morning all was wonder and excitement, and this lad, who had taken his kite and hidden it after the explosion without being found out, had his own fun out of the matter. The people of Brattleboro never had any explanation of the mystery until nearly sixty years afterward, when the boy who had become quite an old gentleman, published the story in a Brattleboro newspaper.


Aurora of the Valley, Volume XXIII, No. 51, Saturday, December 21, 1872.

Published in Bradford, Vermont by L. J. McIndoe & Son.


The original account most likely appeared in George E. Crowell's "The Household", a monthy journal with twenty pages and over fifty thousand subscribers at this time. This "Aurora of the Valley" article was reprinted in the Chicago Tribune for December 10, 1872.


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A Dying Confession.


Sixty years ago considerable excitement was caused at Brattleboro, Vermont, in the United States, by a strange meteor which appeared one dark night, and, after hovering in the sky for about twenty minutes, suddenly vanished with a loud explosion.


Many persons considered the phenomenon to be a supernatural omen, and so mysterious and striking was the occurrence, that it has never been forgotten in the district, and the story of this wonderful light in the heavens has been handed down from one generation to another as one of the most remarkable events of the present century.


The mystery has at last been solved. An old gentleman has lately died at Brattleboro, and according to a Vermont paper, on his deathbed he confessed that when a boy in 1811 he made a kite and attached a paper lantern to it, in which he put a candle, arranging the contrivance so that when the candle had burned out it would explode some powder in the bottom of the lantern.


He kept the secret entirely to himself, and, choosing a dark night when nothing but the colored lantern was visible, managed unobserved to get his kite into the air, thus producing the sensation which so profoundly affected the district.


Having made this confession, without which he could not die comfortably, the old gentleman turned his face to the wall and expired in perfect peace.


Wellington, New Zealand Evening Post, March 12, 1873.


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Rareified Air-Balloons In Brattleboro.


The most appropriate use ever made of the unsold tickets was by Messrs. Hooper and Hughes, in the construction of rarified air-balloons, which were started upon their important mission near the old meeting-house on the village common.


Henry Burnham, "Brattleboro, Windham County, Vermont; Early History, with Biographical Sketches of some of its Citizens. (Brattleboro: Published by D. Leonard, 1880). Page 36.


The Brattleboro historian is referring here to his boyhood friends sending aloft some recollections from the somewhat demoralized Vermont Lottery, probably around 1829.


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