Cabarrus Citizens Spooked by Halloween Meteor

31 Oct 2014

Eighty-nine years before H. G. Wells’ Halloween radio broadcast “War of the Worlds” panicked the nation, Cabarrus County experienced its own startling extraterrestrial visit. On Wednesday afternoon, October 31, 1849, a meteor fell through the Cabarrus sky, landing on Hiram Bost’s land in Township 10, near what is now Midland. Because there are no surviving Cabarrus county newspapers from 1849, the Charlotte Journal provides the story.

The first Journal article appeared on Friday, November 2, reporting that Charlotteans “heard a report like a clap of thunder and then a rolling like its distant reverberations.” A November 9 article confirmed that a meteorite, weighing about 19 pounds, struck in Cabarrus County.

The most detailed account of the event finally appeared in the Charlotte Journal on Friday, December 14. The newspaper described the meteorite as “a large mass of dark, bluish, gritty, metallic rock, weighing 19-1/2 lbs.” The meteorite was seen and heard as far away as 250 miles north and south of the Cabarrus area, and it landed in a wooded area about 300 yards from the spot where Hiram Bost stood talking with a neighbor in Midland.

The Journal reported that the two men:

“heard a whizzing noise directly overhead, and a sound like that which might be produced by a large anvil passing over them, while a quantity of small bodies were cutting the air, with a rattling like platoon firing. They could not see the falling body, but sighted the sound of the heavy mass by a tall pine tree, in a direction nearly East, where it was heard to fall with a dull jar of the ground…[T]he next morning, they discovered…a pine log lying upon the ground freshly splintered and wounded upon one side. By the side of a pointed stick, they felt the rock, which had buried itself just beneath the surface of the earth – from which it was taken with care – leaving the impression of its outlines very distinctly in a white clay sub soil…The explosions and noise of the fall caused much alarm to women and men, dogs and horses. Some persons at a distance, saw a fiery elongated body, flaming like iron at a white heat, following a denser and darker ball of fire, passing from West to East.”

According to the practice of the day, the meteorite was named after a nearby town. For some reason, the town chosen was not Concord, but Monroe (Midland was not yet a town). Thus, the meteorite that landed on Hiram Bost’s Cabarrus County farm became known as the Monroe Meteorite. Also, according to common practice, the meteorite was broken up into smaller pieces, most of which became additions to several meteor and meteorite collections in other parts of the country and internationally.

On February 8, 2011, Midland Mayor Kathy Kitts made a presentation to the Town Council. She said the Town had received a wonderful gift from Mr. Richard Bennett in that he had provided them a piece of the Monroe Meteor for display. The following is from the town council meeting minutes:

“From the census listing in 1849, Mr. Bost was listed as a 32 year old farmer owning 543 acres of land. He also inherited land from his father on Jim Sossoman Road and Anderson Creek. When the meteorite fell, it alerted everyone from Davidson, Monroe and all other surrounding towns. Pieces of the meteorite are in the Vatican, Museum of Natural History in Paris, France and the Smithsonian. 

Town Planning Administrator, Richard Flowe took the known coordinates of where it landed and found it was cater-cornered to the present Midland Town Hall. The CCHS [Cabarrus County High School] woodshop will build a shadow box so the Town can display it for all to see.”

Mayor Kitts said this was an important part of Town history because only a small number of meteorites, about 700 of them, have fallen in North Carolina.

Courtesy of the Cabarrus County Public Library, Lore Local History Room