Here's a strange story. What is interesting about this factual story are the differences in various reports on the web.
If you do research on line you'll sometimes find many confusing accounts of the same story.
Differences in stories can be the natural result of people passing on information honestly but from different sources and perspectives. The more perspectives you get, therefore, the better you can see the big picture.
In 2004 I've had some great feedback from people involved in this story and I'll update this page again soon.
This article was one of the first created for this site. Like all articles on Xenophilia.com it is updated any time new information arrives.
Perhaps her first name was Hulitt and it was March 30th.
"There are a number of stories of people being injured, and even killed, by meteorites. The most celebrated case was that of Mrs. Hulitt Hodges of Sylacauga, Alabama. On the 30 March 1954 Mrs. Hodges was asleep on her sofa when a 3.86 kg (= 8.51 lbs unit conversion) stony meteorite crashed though her roof and hit her, causing abdominal injuries which, fortunately, were not serious. The funny thing about the incident - although she probably did not find it amusing at the time - is that Mrs. Hodges lived opposite the Comet Drive-In Theatre. The photograph ... shows Mrs. Hodges shortly after the malevolent meteorite struck her. It caused extensive bruising which took a number of weeks to disappear." meteoritearticles.com - Thursday, December 23, 1954, Lethbridge Herald
As Sid from Chicago points out in an email, a few years after I wrote this article, in 1954 it was not unusual to use the full name of the husband when speaking of the wife. So, for example, Hillary Clinton may have been referred to as "Mrs. Bill Clinton" if they were a couple in 1954.
No, you spell it "H-e-w-l-e-t-t" and it was in September.
"Do meteorites ever hit people? Yes they do. In Sept. 1954, Mrs. Hewlett Hodges of Sylacauga, Alabama, was hit by a meteorite as she slept in her living room. The flying rock weighed about 10 pounds." triviaplanet.com
Her name was Ann, and it was on November 30th.
"A frequent contributor to Alabama Heritage, Hall has written on Hernando de Soto, the Sylacauga meteorite that struck Mrs. Ann Hodges in 1954..." uanews.ua.edu
"On November 30, 1954, a meteorite struck Ann Hodges, of Sylacauga, Alabama, while she was at home taking a nap; she suffered a severely bruised hip." astronomy.ohio-state.edu
November 30, 1954
Nasa avoids her first name, but agrees on the date, November 30, 1954
"On November 30, 1954 Mrs. Hewlett Hodges of Sylacauga, Alabama was severely bruised by an 8 pound stony meteorite that crashed through her roof. This is the first known human injury." solarsystem.nasa.gov
Her name was Elizabeth, and it was certainly in 1954.
"There are some old Chinese records of people being killed by falling meteorites, but there is no record of meteorite deaths in modern times. Elizabeth Hodges, of Sylacauga, Alabama, was given a terrible bruise on the side by a falling meteorite in 1954, and a young boy was struck in the head by a meteorite that had been slowed down by the leaves of a banana plant in Uganda in 1992." uanews.ua.edu
Her name was E.H. Now that makes sense. Probably Elizabeth Hewlett
"The only known case of anyone being injured by a meteorite fall is that of Mrs. E. H. Hodges, who lived in Sylacauga, Alabama. On 1954, November 30, while Mrs. Hodges was resting on her sofa, a 4kg (= 8.82 lbs unit conversion) meteorite crashed through the roof of her house, bounced off the radio and hit her arm, resulting in a minor injury." ctel.net
Her name was Annie. This site has other meteorite near misses and strikes.
"Hodges meteorite. November 30, 1954, Sylacauga, Alabama. Annie Hodges was napping on her couch when an eight-pound stony meteorite crashed through her roof. It bounced off a large console radio and hit her in the arm and then the leg, leaving her badly bruised." sau.edu
In this one the rock gains an extra pound. Notice the variation in factual accounts so you'll have a baseline for comparing accounts of wilder stuff.
"I like apocalyptic movies- as I tell friends, I'm good in emergencies. The end of the century has brought us a spate of them: "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon". Of the 2, "Deep Impact" is far more realistic, but "Armageddon" is much more fun. In "Deep Impact" (Dreamworks-director Mimi Leder who also did "Peacemaker") a comet is going to wipe out Earth in an ELE: extinction level event and old salt astronaut Robert Duvall is sent out to blow it up. They keep doing this in these movies: try to blow the objects up. That would, of course, cause a rain of comets or meteors much more devastating than the original.
Deaths and Damage by Meteors
Here are a few interesting meteor strikes, including the Hodges event from "Rain of Iron and Ice", by John Lewis, 1997. This book lists every known damage, injury, and death from meteorites and air bursts (when a meteor explodes at altitude like a nuclear bomb, but without the radiation) back to 1400 BC. Here are some highlights:
"Barbotan, France 7/24/1790: Meteorite crushed cottage- killed farmer and some cattle.
Martinsville W.Virginia 3/11/1897: Man knocked out, horse killed, walls pierced.
Yugoslavia 12/8/1929: Meteor hits bridal party, killed 1 (speak now or forever hold your...)
Holbrook, Arizona 7/19/12: Building struck, 14,000 STONES FELL
San Francisco Sept 28, 1934: Plowing head on at 7000 ft into great shower of meteors, United airliner rocked by some explosions.
Alabama 11/28/54: Mrs. Annie Hodges struck by 9lb meteorite that crashed through roof, destroying radio
Cuneo Italy 12/5/84: Strong explosions, blinding flash, windows broken, daytime fireball "bright as sun"
Peekskill, N.Y. 10/9/92: Car trunk, floor, pierced by meteorite.
The big impacts people know about are the 1908 Tunguska Siberian airburst, that blew down trees for 18 miles and was heard in London, and Arizona's Meteor Crater: about 1 mi. across and 500 ft deep, both explosions about 15 megatons and caused by a rock about 120 ft across." - mikehammer
I've also read that the Tunguska event was the result of a secret weapon experiment by Tesla, but that's a story for another time.
Constantinople 472: hissing humming blinding white fireball, fading to yellow and coppery red; turbulent copper cloud; blinded, burned people cowered in terror; blast wave blew out windows and doors, knocking pedestrians to ground and sailboats flat; hot sulfurous wind; 1 hour of fine black dust
China- Feb 3,1490: Stones fell like rain- OVER 10,000 KILLED
So, Mrs. Hodges was either very lucky or very unlucky, depending on how you look at it.
Good Web Sources: .Edu, .Gov, .Mil
Web sites that end in .edu are usually university sites. I've found that information on these sites and on government web sites (.gov or .mil) are generally good sources of information. Jimmy in Birmingham saw the meteor at the Red Mountain Museum. He read this article and sent me a link to this Accurate descriprion of Hodges Mereorite from the University of Alabama.
"The "Hodges Meteorite" fell from the sky on Nov. 30, 1954, punching a hole in the roof of a house in the Oak Grove community, near Sylacauga, smashing a wooden radio cabinet and then landing on 31-year-old Ann Hodges, as she lay dozing on her couch. The meteorite, which weighed about 8.5 pounds, hit Hodges' hand and hip and caused extensive bruising, according to published reports from the period.
The only confirmed occurrence of a meteorite hitting a human, the incident resulted in an Air Force investigation, a mini bidding war, a flurry of media attention and a lawsuit. Hodges, against her husband’s wishes, donated the internationally publicized meteorite to the University's Alabama Museum of Natural History in 1956, said Dr. John C. Hall, retired assistant director of the UA museum."
Left to right: 1) "Dr. John Hall will give a 7 p.m. Nov. 30 presentation recognizing the 50th anniversary of the so-called "Hodges Meteorite," billed as the only known meteorite to have ever struck a human." 2) "Ed Howard, then Sylacauga mayor, Ann Hodges and then Sylacauga Police Chief W.D. Ashcraft pose with a meteorite underneath the point where it crashed through Hodges' house in 1954. Hodges donated the meteorite to UA's Alabama Museum of Natural History in 1956." 3) "The late Dr. Walter B. Jones, Alabama State Geologist, was director of the Alabama Museum of Natural History when the famous meteorite came to call UA home." 4) "Traffic jams reportedly extended for several blocks surrounding the Hodges home (shown here, circa 1954), as some 200 reporters flocked to the scene of the meteorite crash."
Of course, the best evidence always comes from those with first hand experience. Paige who read this article wrote to say, " My father was Mrs. Hodges' attorney in this case. We kept the meteorite in our house for about six months while its ownership was being decided."
"Yes, that's the meteorite. I'm the baby. Yes, I touched it many times, but of course, I don't remember it. Family legend is that I used to beat my dolls' heads on the meteorite."
Neat stuff! I created this web page about an unusual event. I put it up and just left it. Years later, with no more effort than listing my email address, I was getting excellent inside reports. With the Internet we are more connected today than ever before in recorded human history. For any mystery, if you research carefully and keep an open mind, the odds of finding answers are getting better and better.
Please join me in using this unbelievable force to solve our energy, health, political, resource and entertainment problems in this new age of information. Put up a page of your own, share information and see what happens!
A. Her name was most likely Elizabeth Ann Hodges. She went by the nick name Annie and she was married to a man named Hewlett (or Hulitt) Hodges.
B. According to most sources, it happened on November 30th, 1954 in Sylacauga, Alabama. As Sid in Chicaco points out, some dates listed may be "when an article was published, or when the incident was reported, instead of when it actually occurred."
C. The Internet CAN be an accurate tool to locate factual information about extraordinary past events.
Not one web site claimed the Hodges meteorite was a hoax, a cover up or a conspiracy. None claimed the Hodges event never happened. Interesting. Could it be that some strange stuff you read on the net is actually... true? Yes. Some.
As an interesting side note, check out NASA's Deep Impact web site.
"On July 4, 2005, Deep Impact will arrive at comet Tempel 1 and impact it with a 350-kg (770-lbs) mass, producing a football field-sized crater, seven stories deep. Ice and dust debris will be ejected from the crater, revealing the fresh material beneath.
Sunlight reflecting off the ejected material will provide a dramatic brightening that will fade slowly as the debris dissipates into space and falls back onto the comet.
Cameras on the spacecraft will send images back to Earth of the approach, the impact and its aftermath."
For most of recorded history, people have believed that life on earth came from the stars. Read our article on Panspermia for a modern scientific (although still fringe) view of this theory.