HOW THE DISPLAY APPEARED AT ATHENS TENNESSEE
AND ITS EFFECT ON THE PEOPLE
By S. C. Turnbo
On the 24 of July 1906 I met S. W. Fyffe at Coweta who related to me some interesting features of the meteoric display. Mr. Fyffe is a son of Isaac C. Fyffe and Margaret Fyffe and was born in McMinn County Tenn. November 24, 1827. His father was a prominent mason and was chief of the grand lodge of the masonic fraternity at Nashville Tenn. His father was a native of Scotland and was born there in 1792 and come to America at an early age. Mr. Fyffe the subject of this sketch served throughout the Mexican war under Gen. Twiggs for several months and was under General Scott when the war ended. He said that he was in all the prominent battles in that war. Mr, Fyffe was also a Confederate soldier in the 5th Tennessee, Col. McClelland commanding. In this war he was captured twice. The first time he was made a prisnor he escaped from the guards. When he was captured the second time he was sent to Illinoise and Imprisoned at Camp Douglas and was released after the close of the war.
He said when the meteoric display occurred they were living in Athens, McMinn County Tenn. and he had just turned into his 7th year. Their family consisted at that time of his parents, himself and his sister Sarah who was the eldest child and was born in 1821 and his brother William who was born in 1824. We had all retired to bed but we discovered that about 10 P.M. there was something unusual going on in the arial regions. My mother was the first of the family that found it out and she woke us up, Athens was a good sized town at this early date and when the inhabitants found out what was going on in the elements it created great excitement among all the population, men women and children were all frightened. Children cried, women screamed, and men prayed, they all prayed at times and then would shout with terror. The meteors apparently fell thick and descended toward the earth rapidly, the brightest display lasted from the time we first observed it till about 1 A.M. when it began to die away but they would renew in a spasmodic way at times till day light when we saw nothing more of them. The great fiery objects seemed to expand as they approached the earth and disappeared instantly. I was not old enough to realize the magnitude of it, but I recollect that night while it was going on a number of people who were excited and crazy with fright said the world would come to an end before day light and they put in the hours repenting of their wicked deeds and calling on the Lord to have mercy on their souls. The excitement, fear and consternation among the people that night was the worst I ever witnessed during my life. But when the great bright objects began to grow less numerous the fears of the people began to grow less. The noise of shouting and praying began to subside and everybody that was scared were hopeful now that God would spare the earth and its people a little longer and by day light most every one was calm and were all in better spirits after sunrise but this sight of terror was almost all the topic of conversation during the next 6 months or a year afterward.
Springfield-Greene County Library