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Jim: The time when the Stars fell. The Leonid meteorite shower

And 'The brief conversion of Jim McClister'
This bit of anecdotal Adair County history appeared in the April 6, 1921 News. As I read it, Jonathan Edwards' (in) famous sermon, Sinner in the Hands of an Angry God, came to mind.--"Jim"


We do not know the time of the great meteoric shower which brought terror to so many persons. It occurred, however, when Uncle Jim McClister was a young man and engaged in sowing his wild oats. In after years it was spoken of at the time when the "Stars fell." Nothing like it had ever been seen even by the oldest inhabitants in this latitude.

The whole face of the heavens was lighted up with rushing meteors, some sweeping one way and some another. Others like blazing cannon balls apparently headed directly to the earth, all leaving a lighted trail behind them.

(While there is no way to know for certain, this great display of celestial fireworks very likely was the Leonid meteorite shower (perhaps the better word is "deluge") of November, 1833. At that time, James "Jim" McClister would have been about 22 years old, a prime age for sowing wild oats. (Or so I'm told.) And too, the description given here eerily complements that of the 1833 incident. Popular Astronomy of 1948 (Vol 56 p 327) noted that Native American records and those of the white settlers showed that both groups "received the same impression of a veritable snowstorm of stars, descending into the very faces of the observers.")

Many who beheld them believed that the wreck of worlds was under way, and that the day of doom was at hand. Uncle Jim was one of those who shared this view, and it caught him unprepared. He happened to be from home that night, on the opposite side of Crocus Creek. It took only one glance at the sky to start him at his best speed towards his home with the feeling that the day of the general conflagration was at hand, when all earthly things should perish, and he should be called to account for the deeds of the body.

He dashed through the waters of the creek, and rushing up to where his father was viewing the strange phenomenon, he called out, "The end has come, and the heavens and earth are on fire, and you are responsible for the fix I am in. If I had been raised right, instead of being what I am, I would now be a Methodist preacher, and ready to go."

If this story is true, as it used to be told on Uncle Jim, it shows that he could in extremity pay a high tribute to the character of the Methodist preachers of the day, whatever may have been his own shortcoming.

Fortunately for him, he did not have to go at that time, but the repentant spirit did not continue with him, for when the pyrotechnic display ended without any damage to him or the earth, he gave up all aspiration to become a Methodist preacher, preferring rather to continue the sowing of oats.

Compliled by Jim

This story was posted on 2011-02-15 01:15:17
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