War of Worlds Broadcast Wasn’t the First Time Delawareans Heard About Martian Invasion of Delaware

The article included weekly illustrations.  A Wilmington newspaper man kills a Martian. Source:  Sunday Morning Star, 1929.

The article included weekly illustrations. A Wilmington newspaper man kills a Martian. Source: Sunday Morning Star, 1929.

Some residents of Delaware had been unnerved by the Mercury Theatre’s War of the World Broadcast on October 30, 1938.  But once the Orson Welles’ radio play came to an end and nerves settled on that scary Mischief Night a few people recalled that this wasn’t the first time they had heard about Martians invading the First State.

A Wilmington Newspaper, the Sunday Morning Star printed a series about the appearance of mysterious planes over Wilmington, Inexplicable deaths from some strange source, and alien invaders a decade earlier.  In this equally imaginative story, written by W. Clyde Young and published serially in the Star in 1929 as Halloween neared, two newspaper reporters shared a first person story that starts with strange unidentified flying objects passing low over the City.  Sensing a good story for the Sunday edition, the appearance of those unusual craft caused two journalists to jump in a car and rush down the State Road (du Pont Blvd) in search of the airborne fleet that had just passed over the busy industrial city.

“That trip down the State Road was destined to involve them in the weirdest, most thrilling adventure a Delawarean had every known,” Young wrote.  In the middle of the roadway they found a dead patrolman whose body had been horrible burned.  When they reached the State Highway Police Station it appeared that some sort of strange, unexplainable battle had destroyed the place.  There were more bodies, men who had died in some bizarre way.

They were unable to understand what was going on, but needed to reach a phone to get the New Castle County Corner to the scene to investigate the deaths.  Since the phone at the station was destroyed, there was nothing else they could do but go off in search of a house with a working line.   In this rural outlying area they found a farm where they made the necessary calls to officials and also checked in with editors and were told “that the world was being invaded by men from another planet, believed to be from Mars.”

As they started to leave the house a Martian appeared but the reporters killed that invader. The story continues along those lines in weekly installments for about a moth.  Although the invading aliens did enormous damage, they were eventually turned back.  “The retreat of the Martians is believed to be universal,” the article concludes.

It was just a fictionalized account and while it was widely read, it didn’t cause alarm the way of the radio broadcast did in 1938.  And on that unforgettable Halloween in the Middle of the Great Depression, when the radio had some worrying about men from Mars invading Delaware, some remembered a similar story a decade earlier.

Delaware receives some visitors from Mars.  An article in the Sunday Morning Star, Wilmington, 1929.

Delaware receives some visitors from Mars. An article in the Sunday Morning Star, Wilmington, 1929.

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