Submarine Bobs Up In Mississippi River Saturday and Takes aboard a Negro Farmer before Disappearing

 

Charleston, April 5, 1941

 

 Jean Valjean is dead but his spirit apparently lives in the body of a Mississippi county Negro man, who farms a few miles north and east of Charleston on the river side of the levee.

     Officers of this county are not easily aroused about any normal procedure-not after major floods, roadside demonstrations and such, but a rush call from an entirely reliable farmer regarding the appearance and then the disappearance of a submarine in the Mississippi river-well, that’s enough to jar the eyeteeth out of most anyone.

     The call came at noon Saturday.

     Officers of this county, augmented by members of the State Highway Patrol responded. The Negro man, who prefers to remain anonymous, was questioned at length. And this is his story:

     He was plowing near the river bank Saturday morning about 10 o’clock. Without any previous warning a submarine poked its grey nose out of the murky depths of the Mississippi (which is about 40 feet deep at that particular place) and eases up on the sloping rip-rapped bank. A negro man on the deck waved to our friend to come aboard. He went.

     There he found one Negro man and five little brown men who escorted him through the ship for tin fish or submersible or whatever it might have been.

     Although questioned at length, the Negro stuck to his story, describing the interior of the locking device on the water tight door, the deck gun and a myriad of other things on the mysterious craft.

     After a pleasant half hour or maybe longer on board, so goes the story, the Negro heard the automobile of his boss approaching and said he had to be going. “Well, we have to go too,” replied his hosts, so he went ashore.

     With a great churning of waters the grey craft slipped silently beneath the waves and disappeared.

     So endeth this chapter.

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     The strange visit aboard an even stranger craft was duly reported when the landlord visited the farm at noon Saturday. He in turn reported to Sheriff Scott. Other officers were assembled.

     He could not be, and was not shaken in his story. Finally he was released, and a report of the matter was transmitted to FBI agents and to the Coast Guard, which incidentally has charge of patrolling inland as well as coastal waters.

     About 3 o’clock Sunday morning a telephone voice asked the landlord where the Negro might be found. Upshot of the conversation was that the Negro ended up in custody of Coast Guardsmen at the Mississippi-Illinois line. He disappeared.

     The disappearance of the Negro informant was as complete as the evaporation of the alleged submarine. Not until Monday noon was the informant found-he had been taken to St. Louis for additional questioning by the FBI agents.