6 December 2015


Geraldine Sutton Stith. The Kelly Green Men: Alien Legacy Revisited. McClanahan Publishing House. 2015.

The author of this book is the child of the second marriage of one of the principle characters in one of ufology’s strangest episodes; the Kelly ‘little green man’ story of August 21, 1955, the basic details of which can be found hereThe event occurred before Geraldine’s birth and she has reconstructed the story from family memories and the books published at the time; and provides quite a lot of detail about the family background.
Of course this is not a scientific book, indeed it has been written for the annual commemoration of the event, which the community is hoping to utilise as a tourist attraction. Nevertheless it provides interesting insights into how individual experiences become transformed into folklore and gathers a range of other stories around it. The author has been told three separate accounts by people who swear that their stories are true, all mutually incompatible (two suggesting conventional explanations, the third a variant on the Roswell tales). It seems safe to assume that none of them is objectively true, but they show the development of rival traditions of belief and disbelief.

This one of those stories which resists easy explanations; ignoring obviously folkloric explanations such as monkeys escaped from the zoo, or those which are based on cultural snobbery (ignorant hillbillies and the like), the only partway reasonable solution is that what was seen were owls, but the author points out that if this was the case, given the wild shooting at the things, bodies and feathers would have been found. It is more likely that there were no bodies because there was nothing physically present out there. The experience belongs in a class of experiences which we can call the phantom night siege, in which people come to believe that they are being attacked by shadowy figures (see for example Ronald Westrum and Bob Rickard in Fortean Times 45) and used as the plot in the film Assault on Precinct 13.

Whatever its cause the event seems to have been traumatic. The young couple who were visiting the family fled the state of Kentucky and never returned, the matriarch left the house to go and live in town, the marriage between Elmer Sutton and his first wife broke down soon afterwards.

There are some useful maps and illustrations in the book. . 
  • Peter Rogerson.

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