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VOLUME LXXX.-NO. 179.
HART STANDS BY HIS SHIP
A Confirmation of the
Story Received From
THE MYSTERY AGAIN SEEN
AT THE CAPITAL
It Makes Its Appearance in the
Company of the Decep
tively Brilliant Venus.
JOKERS MAKE GENEROUS PUR
CHASES OF FIRE BALLOONS.
More New and Interesting Particulars Regarding
the Local Invention Given by the Ex-
Either the reputed airship is one of the most gigantic hoaxes of the age, or it is
one of the most wonderful advances made in mechanical science, and is the solution of
the preat problem of aerial locomotion which has enlisted the inventive genius of
Whichever it ultimately proves to be, the subject is to-day the all-engrossing topic.
Greetings are tuned to this key; heated arguments are evolved out of it; wagers are
laid, and even physical strife has been engendered over the question whether or not
there realiy exists a successful aerial traveler.
Though there were many new and interesting developments yesterday, nothing
has yet been brought to light that definitely and conclusively solves the mystery, and
speculation continues as absorbing as for the past week or more.
Ex-Attorney-General Hart in an interview fully confirmed his interview of the
day before and added much interesting information to the first statement he made.
Among other things he substantiated thd first reports concerning the airship wbicn
came from Sacramento by affirming on the authority of the inventor that the airship
was actually over Sacramento when the people there claimed to have seen it.
Sacramento, according to reliable witnesses, was again visited by the aerial
vision last night, which put Venus into the shade by the more brilliant glow of its
Considerable sport was enjoyed by practical jokers last night in dispatching fire
balloons skyward, but they had no more the appearance of the alleged lights of the
aerial mystery than the dull glare of a candle resembles that of an incandescent light.
Venus again beguiled people at som3 points, but her deceptive charms have^vi
dently been shorn of much of their power by the publication of the story of how
people had Leen mistaking her for her earthly and more interesting rival.
HART CONFIRMS THE STORY
General Hart was as reticent yesteraay as on the day previous regarding the iden
tity of the reputed airship's inventor or his whereabouts, but was more definite in his
statements as to the identits* of the flying machire, whose secrets are now reposing in
his breast. His words were the first uttered by any reliable person positively con
.necting the invention in his charge with the peregrinating lights seen in the heavens
at various places during the past week.
"As I stated before," said tne ex-Attorney-General, "I have not myself seen the
machine in action or at rest, and I cannot at this time reveal the names of the persons
connected with its invention and construction for the reasons already stated. You
know the idea now is not to get it patented, but to use it for war purposes.
"I do Know, however, that it made a flight last night and was seen at East Oak
land by a lady, Mrs. Taylor, the wife of W. J. Taylor, who is a bookkeeper and who
lives in East Oakland. Siie saw not only the lights, but an outline of the ship. It
was also seen by others in the same locality. Ido not know what the movements of
the machine are to be at any particular time, but I was told by my client that 1 would
not see him again for some days, as he intended to make experimental trips with his
nvention right along for some time."
"People are inclined to be skeptical, general," remarked the reporter, "of the
existence of the machine and expect some statement from you definitely connecting
the lights alleged to have been seen traveling the air with the invention no.v in
"So lar as the public is concerned," smilingly replied the attorney, "we do not
care what they think of the matter. In lact, we would rather they believed it a thing
of fancy. We are not asking the public for anything and do not propose to do so, and
therefore don t propose to take them into our confidence."
"But your reputation is more or less at stake in view of the statements published
in the newspapers and for which you have become sponsor."
"Well, all I can say on that score is that the interview with me as published in
The Call is absolutely correct in every particular, and I will add this on the authority
of a statement made to be by the inventor: He told me he actually went over Sacra
mento at the time the people there ciaimcd to have seen the airship. The inventor
has now practically decided to follow my advice to maintain as much secrecy as pos
sibie, and consequently I don't want to go into particulars about it "
"Where wai it put together? Was it not in the vicinity of Oroville?"
"That is a question I do not care to answer."
'You have stated that you are satisfied the invention is a success?"
"Yes. I have implicit confidence in it and that it is a success, because it is very
like the one I saw in 2Te«r Jersty, and which I witnessed make a flight of fifteen or
"Did Dr. E. H. Beniainm assist in the construction of the macbine?"
•I don't know Dr. Benjeniin, and don't know whether he did or not "
. "From what do you derive your confidence in the airship; irom having seen it in
actual operation, from a view of it at rest or simply from having seen the plans?"
"I have seen the plans. I have no doubt that when the machine is completed it
wiu be a success. *
"What do you mean by being completed?"
"When it is completed for the purpose for which it is now intended to utilize it
for war purposss. It would drown everybody in it if it were to fall over a body of
water as it is now built." J
"What are the other weak points that the inventor is trvitie to perfect by thp*«
trial flights?" * * Cl Dy lftese
"From what I understand it has to be able to carry power enough to maintain
itself bl the air for a certain number of consecutive hours, say about six. It can now
maintain itself for six hours, but not against the wind. To sail against the wind or
at angles to it more power is required than to go with it. Then itlands tou quickly
There is no provision for maintaining it in the air when the power gives out."
"Is it not possible that people frequently take the planets, such as Venus Mars
and Jupiter, which now appear very clearly in the sky. for the airship?"
"In all probability. Ttie airship sometimes displays one light and sometimes
three. These lights are under control and can be used as desired by the person man
aging the airship. I have no doubt that you will have ample and unmistakable evi
dence of tie existence of the invention in a few day?. The machine will be made
plain to the public, though my advice is to keep the details of its construction secret."
How this evidence was to be presented the general did^not say, but allowed it to
be understood that the machine would be brought so close to the earth's surface that
i.ts shape would be plainly distinguishable, as well as the lights that are now seen.
Picking up some telegram*, General Hart called attention to the widespread nnd
deep interest the reports of the flights of the aerial wonder have created. "Here are
telegrams from two New York papers," he said, "asking me to confirm the reports
telegraphed East about the invention. One of them asks for 500 words, but all I ehall
say in answer is that I believe the airship will be a success and that the inventor in
sists on secrecy, and has nothing more to say at present."
The San Francisco Call
SAN FRANCISCO, THURSDAY MORNING, NOVEMBER 26, 1896.
ALL SACRAMENTO AGAPE.
Thousands Conf dent the Airship
Mystery Made Another Visit.
SACRAMENTO, Cal.. Nov. 25.— Again
the mysterious serial visitant made its
appearance over this city this evenine,
and within a few brief moments the entire
city was in an uproar of excitement.
The floating searchlight was plainly
visible to all the gazing thousands, and
it so timed its arrival as to appear at the
same time that Venn*, the brilliant even
ing star, was illuminating the heaven?.
The onlookers found that a marked differ
ence existed between Venus and her
strange aerial competitor. This difference
consisted not only in the marked color of
the lights, but also in the size of the two
iigats. Large and brilliant as is Venus,
queen of the heavens, the light shown by
the mysterious aerial visitant proved to
be fully three times as large.
When the searchlight of the winged
visitor first appeared it was seen moving
rapidly from the northeast and heading
in a southwesterly direction. As it neared
the southern boundary of the city it
turned directly toward the west and after
passing the city went south, being dis
tinctly visible for upward of twenty min
utes. It moved with far more rapidity
than it had been seen to do in its two
former visits, and this would be accounted
for in case it be a veritable airship by the
fact of the calmness of the atmosphere,
there being not a breath of wind moving
at the time of its first appearance.
Later in the evening it again ap
proached the city from the west, having
evidently made a circle, and passed away
to the north and east, tnus completing
the circuit of the city and allowing nearly
all the residents a perfect view of the
mysterious visitant. There were many,
however, who failed to leave their houses
in time to catch a glimpse of the swiftly
moving light and who, when they did
reach the open and gazed up into the
ethereal vault, saw nothing but Venus;
but the vast majority raw both — Venus
and the moving searchlight.
Among ti.e numerous groups gazing
skyward this evening was one composed
mainly of State officials and prominent
lawyers of the city, and their expressions
of amazement and, in cases, intense
chagrin were very plainly expressed,
often in vigorous though perhaps nut
eloquent or refined Saxon.
Hon. E. D. McCabe, secretary to Gov
ernor Budd, was one of this group, and as
it was the first time he had witnessed the
mysterious light he was correspondingly
UNCLE SAM — If you will excuse me, gentlemen, I will help Major McKinley first*
EX-ATTORNEY-GENERAL W. H. H. HART.
astonished. During the past week he has
been inclined to laugh at the theory that
aerial navigation had been accomplished,
and in speaking of the subject after the
disappearance of the visitant he said:
"I am simply astonished, and will not
attempt to give any explanation cf this
mystery. The light is certainly produced
by electricity or magnesia, and can by no
possibility be a star or a meteor. Again,
there were seconds when it flickered and
disappeared entirely from view, exactly as
I have time after time observed ordinary
arc lights to do when the current was in
"In my judgment it certainly resembled
an extra large arc light, and it moved so
rapidly that I was obliged to repeatedly
step back several f«ot in order to keep it
in view over the intercepting buildings.
I am not prepared to say it is an airship,
although it certainly looked as though
attached to a b.-dy of some kind. I can
only say that I am thoroughly convinced
that it :s a mystery and in my judgment
neither a star nor a fake."
District Attorney Frank D. Ryan viewed
the visitor for the first time. After ex
pressing his astonishment he muttered:
"And thero will be strange sights seen in
the heavens. Wars and rumors of wars.
I shall certainly attend church to-morrow,
for this may be the advent of the millen
nium." Then laughing he said :
"That thing is too deep for me. I don't
understand it. It mipht be that aerial
travel has been accomplished. It seems as
strange and improbable as were the inven
tions of the telephone, phonograph and
electric power as applied to streetcars."
George A. McCalvy, Deputy Secretary
of State, said: "I confess I am simply
amazed, for ever since the first appear
ance of the reputed airship 1 have been a
most pronounced skeptic. Attorney Col
lins of San Francisco is aft intimate friend
of mine, and I must confess tbat I have
experienced considerable amusement by
interviewing him by 'phone since
bis reported connection with the
air vessel. In the language of the
day, 'I have done many tilings to Attor
ney Collins,' but you may put me on
record as eaying that I am now fully con
vinced that there is more truth than
poetry in tne old adage 'that he laughs
best who laughs last.' This light is cer
tainly no fnke ana I am almost tempted
to believe that the problem of aerial travel
J. A. Donlon, Assessor of Ventura
County, was one of the onlookers. It re
quired considerable persuasion to inauce
him to cross the street to catch a glimpse
of the mysterious visitant, but the look of
incredulity quickly left his facj and he
said: "Tnis simply passes my under
standine. That is certainly no star, and
I won't attempt to offer any explanation."
Professor Dodge of Gait, who is in at
tendance on the Teachers' Institute, now
in session, saw tne light and declared that
he could distinguish the outlines of a dark
body connected with it, but so indistinctly
as to be unable io give any idea of its
Judge W. A. Henry was also an inter
ested spectator, and also proclaims it not
a fake, but a reality.
Charles T. Jones, the attorney, was a
spectator, but firmly declined to give any
opinion as to what the light was, except
to say that he thought it was neither a
stAr, a meteor nor a fake.
W. R, Stone of the Secretary of State's
office was also deeply interested in the
moving mystery. He said:
"It looks like an arc light and moves as
| though attached to some kind of a vessel,
! and is certainly neither a lantarn attached
| to a kite nor any other kind of a fake that
I can imagine. I must confess that I am
stumped to find an explanation of the
mystery other than that it may be an air
Such were the expressions of but a few
of some of the leading men of note in this
city, and thero were hundreds who stood
in close proximity to these few and who
uttered similar sentiments.
Lieutenant Fred Martin, commander of
the Signal Corps, who was an onlooker,
"It simply passes all explanation, and I
am fully convinced this is no fake. This
afternoon two gentlemen, Messrs. Haines
and Fleehart, came into my office about
4 o'clock and told me that they had just
scon the airship moving over the city in
a northeasterly direction. They described
it as a dark, misty object, traveling
at an enormous height, yet visible acainst
the ciear blue of the ether. I did not pay
very much attention to their story at the
time, as I was inclined to think they might
have seen a cloud, but they were evidently
much in earnest in their deliberations and
said that no clouds were visible and that
the dark object moved with jjreat rapid
ity. Now that I have seen this mysteri
ons light coming from the «ame direction
iii which they saw it going, I am rather
inclined to believe that they have been
eye-witnesses of some mysterious air ves
DR. BENJAMIN DISAPPEARS
The Friend of the Inventor Changes
His Place of Residence.
Dr. E. H. Benjamin, formerly of 633 Ellis
street, who is reputed to have considerable
knowledge of the airship, has apparently
aisappeared, and as mysteriously as the
'_'ht that so many thousands have seen
For two years past Dr. Benjamin had
rented the front room of this lodging
house from E. H. Keiser, but yesterday
the furniture, cariets and household fix
tures were disposed of under the auc
tioneer's hammer. Where Air. Keiser and
his tenants have gone wa3 not stated, nor
was there a reason given except one given
in the spirit of fun by a pretty brunette,
"We have had to move for our self-pro
tection. You see, since that airship story
has been afloat, the representatives of the
press have been calling here at all times of
the day and night to see and interview
Dr. Benjamin. Why, some of them have
camped upon the front steps until 4
o'clock in the morning, and if they had
not been personally known to the police
no doubt the officers would have sus
pected that there was trouble in the
hous". Our house has become an object
of curiosity to every one who passes, and
dozens have stopped and looted up to the
windows as though they expected to see
the windows open and an airship or two
fly ont, and all because tne name of Dr.
Benjamin has been connected with the
"Where is Dr. Benjamin to-day?" was
asked of the lady, but before she could
answer the glib- tongued auctioneer
chipped in and said: "He has gone to get
his airship ana take this lady to Europe,
where he will marry her."
After the parties had joked to their cwn
apparent satisfaction they gave this in
formation. Dr. Benjamin left the house
early in the morning — about 8 o'clock as
near as they could judge. He said that
he would be back at noon, but he failed to
Before leaving he packed up all his ef
fects in trunks, which the auctioneer and
his assistar.es moved into a back room
there to wait until the owner should re
turn. Those who moved his effects found
in his room some refuse copper which fur
nished food for comment for a long time.
Thesa consisted of a lot of copper
cups about the size of ferules for small
canes. As these to some extent resem
bled percussion caps, such as are used on
the end of blasting fuse, it was suggested
that the little cups were a part of the ma
terial to be used, as Attorney Hart sug
gested, for the destruction of Havana.
The romance of these little pieces of
brass was shattered, however, when it was
learned that Dr. Benjamin has been ex
perimenting upon continuous bridge
work for teeth and these little cups wore
the crowns for rows of artificial grinders.
Many of these cups were taken away by
the anctioneer's assistants for souvenirs,
but upon being told that they were only
unfinished store teeth the men tossed
tueir copper cups into the street iv dis
Dr. Benjamin did not return during the
afternoon or evening and although in the
evening a dim ii^ht was to be seen in one
of the rooms no response was made to a
call at the door. In truth the door bell
was fastened on the inside. Thus Dr.
Benjamin aisappeared. Whether his
effects have been removed or not is a mat
ter of conjecture.
In connection with the movements of
Dr. Benjamin there is one incident that
apparently connects him with the in
ventor of the airship. It will be remem
bered that several people who claim to
know much about the new ship of the
skies have stated that it was built near
Oroville and that its first flight was taken
therefrom on the night that the lights
were seen in Sacramento. Also that the
inventor and owner is or was a wealthy
resident of Oroville. The latter statement
was made by Attorney Collins at the time
when ex- Attorney-General Hart said that
he talked too much. On that occasion Mr.
Collins stated that the inventor was
brought to him by a client. In the same
interview he acknowledged that Dr. Ben
jamin waa his client. Subsequently he
said that Dr. Benjamin has wealthy rela
tives in or near Oroville.
It was learned last evening that a few
days before the appearance of the air
ship's lights over the Sacramento Valley
Dr. Benjamin went to Oroville to see his
His visit at that particular time has
given rise to some speculation in the
mind of Dr. Joseph D. Hodgen, secretary
of the State Board of Dental Examiners,
of 1005 Sutter street. Last evening Dr.
"I have known Dr. Benjamin for some
time. He comes from Maine, I believe.
He is not a reiruiar practicing dentist, but
he gives much of his time to experiments
in dental work. Of late he has been at
work upon continuous plate bridge work
in artificial teeth, an idea he got from a
dentist irom Oregon.
"Abouc two week? ago I met him with
his gripsack in his hand on the street,
and he told me that he was going to Oro
viile or Auburn for a week. I am sure,
come to think t of it, that it was Oroville
and not Auburn. He said that he was
going to see his aunt. I have not seen
him since. The aay I saw him was either
on the 17tl> or the 12th inst. boon after
that I saw the first accounts of the ail
ship oTer the Sacramento Valley."
Dr. Paulln No Longer a Skeptic on
the Airship Proposition.
That each day is witnessing the conver
sion of many skeptics to tne belief that
the airship is a verity is shown by the
willingness of these doubting individuals
to become witnesses to their new faith.
Last night Dr. Paulin of 1757 Nineteenth
street, East Oakland, took the trouble to
telephone his interesting experience to
The Call. He said :
"I never had any faith in the airship
until to-night. About 8 o'clock Judge
Horsburgh, a neighbor, called to us and
told us we could see the airship. We
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looked out ana saw above us what ap
peared to be a group of four or five
lights and above them was outlined some
thing whicn had the form of a whale. It
was moving toward the City. Then it
changed its course toward Sausalito, and
swerved again toward the City and soon
went out of sight."
A night watchman at North Berkeley
( says that he saw the light Tuesday night
j distinctly, and watched it while it trav
j eled from San Pablo ana crossed over un
| til it was back of the high hills of Berke
| ley. This may give some indefinite sort
j of a clew concerning the place where the
. alleged airship may be, in hiding during
; the day, bo this man thought.
A noticeable fact connected with the
I mystery of the alleged airship is that the
light which is observed is seen to be trav
eling against the wind as ofton as with it.
This would not be the case if the light
were carried by a balloon or kite, as a
matter of course.
Lighted Balloons Sent Up in Vari-
ous Parts of the City.
Toy balloons were sent soaring upward
with hot air for a motor from several
places along Market street last night. The
wind was brisk, and when once the bal
loons were above the roofs they traveled
along steadily and naturally attracted
Soon, however, the fuel which gave them
motion consumed the balloon. There was
no one who was stupid enough to believe
for a moment that any such proposition as
that had been sufficient at any time to de
ceive the many who have ascribed to the
mysterious airship the posession of a large
electric light. Those who sent up the fire
balloons on Market street last night soon
tired, observing that little interest was
taken in them.
Several persons with apparently an idea
i of having a little fun at the expense of the
1 public went to the top of Nob Hill last
evening about 9:30 o'clock and sent up a
hot-air balloon with a Japanese lantern
; attached to the bottom.
Instead of mounting rapidly to a great
height the thing wabbled around and
floated off en the wind over Kearny street
toward the bay. For half a mile it scarcely
rose 300 feet, and its construction and
shape were plainly seen. The people on
Kearny street jeered at the fake article
floated over them, and several suggested
that Mr. McEvoy of the American De
tective Agency had changed his place of
operation from Inspiration Point, near
Piedmont, to Nob Hill, San Francisco.
A local fireworks company reported
to-day that they had been doing a big
balloon business within the last few days..
In fact they have sold more of this kind
of fireworks within a week than they have
since ihe Fourth of July. Purchases have
been made by people from Alameda, Hay
wards, Fruitvale, Oakland, Berkeley and
A Vigilance Committee Formed in
the Mission District.
Public interest in the airship is growing
every day and with witless practical jokers
people have no patience.
The prevalence of small hot-air balloons,
| carrying dingy lights across the darkened
I heavens, imposing on the credulity of per-
I sons looking for an aerial wanderer, has
j led to the forming of a vigilance commit
j tee. The committee is at present
composed of but four members— James
Peoples, Ed Perley, Gus Ske!!y and
N. L. Peoples, and is known as the Mis
sion Dolores Vigilance Committee. Al
though the organization has but few mem
bers each member is capable of making it
thoroughly interesting forany man caught
i in the act of releasing a miniature gas
j bag. The most enthusiastic member ia
James Peoples, the captain, who measures
j about six feet four inches and is built in
I proportion. He is looking for and is
anxious to meet a practical joker with a
balloon under his arm. Then the trouble
"We take an occasional trip to Twin
j Peaks in search of balloon men," said Mr.
Peoples, last evening, "but as yet we have
not captured one.
'If we do find one all four of us (we
measure all together something like
twenty-four feet six inches) will jump ail