The Newspaper Account from July 10, 1952 to July 16, 1952.
On Saturday, April 27, 2002, Emily, Stacia and I drove to Salisbury Maryland about 2.5 hours from Kennsington. We visited the Wacomia Free Library (410-749-5171. Open M-W 10AM to 5 PM. Th-Sat 9AM to 5 PM. They charge 20 cents per photocopy. Bring my own paper next time?) just off Route 50 on Division Street and viewed the microfilm record from The Salisbury newspaper. In 30 minutes I was able to extract the following stories which all appeared on the front page. I only had time to look at the newspapers of July 10-16, but the July 10 account sounds like there may have been an additional news story in the July 9th issue.
The Enigma Project says that reports persisted for two weeks after the July 10 event so there are probably more newspaper artivcles to dig out of the microfilm files.
Also, I need to look at Washington and Baltimore papers too. I did this on May 1, 2002.
The Washington Post.(Library of Congress Microfilm record)
July 10 - 20, 1952 searched. No mention of the Hebron Lights. The main news was the Eisenhower was nominated by the Republican National Convention for its presidential candidates, with Richard Nixon as VP. There was also news on the 12th about 'Catholics to Observe the 35th Anniversary of Fatima'. On July 13th there was 'Big Blast on Mars Puzzles Science' about a Japaneese astronomer's odd observation of a bright flash. On July 18-19th 'Saucer Reports hit rate of 30 a week' in Dayton Ohio. Then on 13th, two piolots see 8 glowing red-orange disks near Norfolk, Virginia. There was a lengthy article in the Baltimore Sun on July 17 page 52 about these UFOs seen at 500 feet, but one source credits them to tracer rocket launches at Langly Air Force Base.
The Baltimore Evening Sun(Library of Congress microfilm)
The first mention was a July 14th article on page 32. "Camera advised as trap to Hebron Ghost Light' by Jacob Hay. The article cites a Dr. H. C. McComes "Baltimores leading ghost debunker" and a former Hopkins and Princeton psychology professor who advocated that the light needs to be photographed by a professional so that it could be better studied. He was generally dismissive of any but a natural explanation. On July 15th there was mention of the continuing heat wave with the third consecuitive temperature over 90 degrees in Baltimore. This heat wave was also mentioned in The Salisbury but I didnt get the particulars. The heatwave seems to have started just after the Hebron Light sighting on July 10th so it is probably not relevant.
The second article apeared on July 16 on page 34. "Hebron Light Only Marsh Gas, Hopkins Prof. Believes". Heres the text:
That ghastly light which has been mystifying State police near the Eastern Shore village of Hebron may be nothing more than marsh gas, acording to a Johns Hopkins professor. "There must be a marsh out there perhaps a peat bog" the Hopkins man suggests. The gas is generated by decaying vegetable matter, seeps up to the surface, gathers in a sort of pocket and is moved around by gusts of wind" he said. The Hopkins professor, who wouldn't be publically identified said "It seems a shame to have the State police sitting out there all night trying to catch a bag of gas". However, the professor's explanation wouldn't seem to cover some reorts of the behavior of the Hebron light. Marsh gas could scarcely be expected to indulge on bursts of speed up to 50 miles an hour and sudden changes of direction such as some observers have reported.
This is a curious article because in the July 14 article the 'unnamed professor from Hopkins' clearly has a name. Also, this article and the derisive comment about the State troopers probably caused the State Police to stop talking about the light publically because they looked petty silly.
And now for the main story.
July 10, 1952 (page 1)
Police Chase Mysterious Glow. Spooky Light Haunts Shore Road.
Hebron - A weird ball of light which grows bright as an automobile headlight, then vanishes as you come close to it, put in another ghostly appearance last night on a back road near here.
Lt. C. C. Serman of the Maryland State Police and three troopers were eyewitnesses to the eerie light last night. They tried to approach it. The light went dim and disappeared. Police say they are baffled to explain the phenomenon. Old timers will vouch for such a light having been seen on scores of occasions. It has been a legend around here for at least 50 years.
About 20 car loads of people and trooppers in two police cars were attracted to the location last night. The light picks a spot on the Church Street Extd road about a mile west of Hebron near Route 50.
Lt. Serman said he witnessed the light last night after police had received calls about it. "I saw it last night" the barraks commander of Maryland State Police near Salisbury said. He said it has a sheen like a neon light. One of the troopers, Robert W. Burkhardt, who has seen the light on several occasions, was along last night. Trooper Burkhardt described the light as being about the size of a wash basin, about the height of an automobile light, and the same color as a headlight. The phantom light dances around the wooded road, bounces into the woods on one side and crosses into the nearby field, he said.
Burkhardt said he saw the brilliant globe about 10 P.M. last night. He and trooper 1-c Edward Bracey attempted to chase it for about a half-mile. It disappeared. Lt. Serman and Trooper 1-c Robert Weir, in another car, and the other two troopers, attempted to converge on the light. As they drove close to it, the light faded. Trooper Burkhardt said last Friday when he say the light he made a search of the woods to see if some one might be playing a prank. He found nothing. Burkhardt said the light picks no set time for an appearance, and it's difficult to judge for how long it burns. The light never reaches an altitude of over automobile height. It grows red when it gets ready to dim-out.
Mrs. William H. Nock Jr of Mardela was in another car with Trooper Burkhardt's wife last night. She described the light as 'like a car coming down the road with one headlight on" Then it disapears she said. Mrs. Burkhardt witnessed the same thing. Robert A. Gambrill, 54, of Mardela didn't see the phenomenon last night, but he said 'That's an old, old, story." He's witnessed the fleeting light "several times in his life" He's seen it the year round, he said. He described it as looking like "an automobile with one light. You drive up to it and it disappears". The light also plays tricks he said. First its in front of you and then it darts behind you, he said.
Hundreds of people, through the year, have viewed the phosphorescent illumination. Legend is that the woods where it is seen is haunted. Once a colored mad was was hanged there, one mad recalls. Another story is that a dispute over gambling resulted in a murder in the forest. Police said they are going to attempt to photograph the light. However, some nights the light avoids the police. Police watched it for nearly two hours last night.
July 11, 1952 (page 1)
Crowds Try To See Mysterious Light
Hebron - About 200 or 300 people who hoped to see the phantom light which cavorts around a back wood's road near here were disappointed last night.
The eerie light, legendary for half a century, failed to materialize, State Police said. Lt. C.C. Serman, who said he say the ball glow the night before, said the throngs of cars and people who collected last night looked like a parade. "You couldn't have seen the light because the area was as bright as Main Street." the State Police barraks commander at Salisbury said. The light picks a location, about a mile west of here on a lonely extension of Church Street, near Route 50.
State Police gave official credence to having seen the weird light the night before. Three other troopers and Lt. Serman saw it the night before and gave chase. It vanished. The light which has been witnessed by others too, is described as about the size of a wash basin, with illumination of the intensity of an automobile headlight. It never goes higher than about five feet. Try and approach it and it slips away vanishes[sic]. Or sometime [sic] it's in front of you then suddenly appears behind your back.
Police are planing to continue their investigation. Lt. Serman said today he wished some one could give a scientific explanation for the uncanny phenomenon.
July 12, 1952 (page 1)
Curious Miss Mystery Light. It Fails to Dance Second Night in a Row.
Hebron - The mysterious phosphorescent light which prances around a lonely woods road near Hebron apparently doesn't perform in front of large crowds.
For two nights in a row, the yellow glow of about wash basin size, has failed to appear. 'How could it?" one state trooper said. He said the location where the light has been seen - a back road about a mile west of here - has been like Lincoln Highway" Nightly, sometimes as many as 300 persons have collected, some carrying beer and sandwiches. They have waited hoping to see the ghostly light. But it has been reluctant to appear.
State Police, and numerous others vouch for having seen the weird light. Police say they are waiting for things to quiet down there before they can properly continue theor investigation. Three troopers and Lt. C.C. Serman, commander of the State Police barraks near Salisbury, attempted to chase the light, which out on a show Wednesday night. For half a century the spectral sight has been legendary in this section. But no one has been able to definitely explain the phenomenon.
"In Tennessee they're very common" an Ocean City man says. Sam Todd, bicycle proprietor, explains the phenomenon being due to gases blowing from the ground. Mr. Todd is a native of Tennessee and came to the Eastern Shore in 1938. Before that, he said he saw similar lights in the Tennessee valley [sic]. "The weather has got to be just right" he says. He believes the ideal conditions are a damp, quiet [contd page 2] night with no wind blowing. That's how it was back home, he says. Oldtimers once explained the cause of the light to him but Mr. Todd has forgotten. All he remembers is that the light is the result of a chemical reaction between several ground gases.
A Washington newspaper has been in communication with police and may get in touch with the Air Force which has been investigating reports of flying saucers and mysterious lights in New Mexico. The Hebron light doesn't cruise any higher than about five feet. It can travel at least 50 miles an hour, olice estimated.
July 14, 1952 (page 1)
Life Photographer Seeks 'Ghost Light'
Hebron - A Life magazine photographer who hoped to return to his Washington office with evidence of the mystifying 'ghost light' which haunts a Hebron woods road faild to get a picture. Albert Fenn of Life came well armed with a variety of cameras to catch the sight. But no light appeared Saturday night. He said State Trooper Robert W. Burkhardt, who has seen the mystery glow on several occasions kept an all night vigil.
The light picks a location on a lonely road one mile west of here. State Police at Salisbury have been baffled to explain the light which put on a real show Wednesday night. It hasn't reappeared since. The light described as about the intensity of an automobile headlight, fades away to the size of [a] red, glowing tennis ball. It's about as big as a wash basin.
July 16, 1952 (page 1)
Professor Believes Ghost Light is Gas
Baltimore (AP) - That ghastly light which has been mystifying State Police near the Eastern Shore village of Hebron may be nothing more than marsh gas, according to a Johns Hopkins professor. "There must be a marsh out there, or perhaps a peat bog" the Hopkins man suggests. "The gas is generated by decaying vegitable matter, seeps up to the surface, gathers in a sort of picket and is moved around by gusts of wind" he said.
The Hopins professor, who wouldn't be publically indentified, said "It seems a shame to have the State Police sitting out there all night trying to catch a little bag of gas" However, the professor's explanation wouldn't seem to cover some reports of the behavior of the Hebron Light.
Marsh gas could scarcely be expected to indulge in bursts of speed up to 50 miles per hour and sudden changes of direction such as some observers have reported.
In the wake of the widespread publicity about the Hebron light, State Police near Salisbury have been advised to elease no further information about it. According to First Sgt. Thomas E. Veditz, information about the light, now has to come from State Police headquarters in Pikesville.
The following map is from http://tiger.census.gov/cgi-bin/mapbrowse-tbl?lat=38.410553&lon=-75.685009
Salisbury is the major city in Wicomico County and is close by Hebron. (http://www.co.wicomico.md.us/)
They have a library. Wicomico County Free Library / 410.749.5171
122 South Division Street / Salisbury, Maryland 21801