One of the most remarkable yet unexplained incidents in the history of the Wiregrass area took place on the night of May 5, 1900. As startled observers watched, a “cross of fire in the sky” passed from west to east over the region:
The citizens of Ozark, a small town in the southeastern part of the state, were startled at 11:30 o’clock last night by the appearance of what seemed to be a cross of fire in the heavens passing eastward over the place. The cross had the appearance of a bright cloud, and the upright piece seemed to be about 10 feet long, while the cross-pieces were about three feet in length. [I]
It was seen throughout the region, from Jackson and Holmes Counties to the south in Florida to Pike and Barbour Counties to the north in Alabama. Multiple written accounts indicate that it moved rapidly across the sky and that “sparks shot off from it” as it went. Some thought it was no more than 1,000 feet in the air while others estimated it to be to be “not more than 7,000 feet from the earth.” [II]
It would be easy to write this bizarre sighting off as a meteorite or “falling star” were it not for the consistent reports of eyewitnesses that the object was cross-shaped with both an upright piece and cross-pieces.
Many people in the area gave the object religious implications, believing it to be a sign that “the end of the world was at hand.”
Was it an unusual meteorite? Was it a religious phenomenon? Was it an unidentified flying object (UFO)? The mystery has never been solved.
[I] Reported dated Birmingham, May 10, 1900, published in the Helena Independent, May 11, 1900.
[II Multiple newspapers carried accounts of the phenomenon, including publications in Alabama, Georgia, Connecticut, Montana and elsewhere.