Barnett, Barney (1892-1969)
The connection between the crash of an
alien spacecraft near Roswell, New Mexico, and events on the Plains of
San Agustln in July 1947 was drawn by Barney Barnett, a soil
conservation engineer. Or rather, the connection was drawn by the
original investigators talking to friends and relatives of Barnett.
During those early investigations, the only story of crashed craft and
bodies came from Barney Barnett. Witnesses to the debris field, the
area seventy-five miles northwest of Roswell, included Mack Brazel and
Jesse Marcel Sr., and witnesses to the material picked up there
included Brazel's neighbors and Marcel's fellow officers. There are
literally dozens of people who saw and handled the debris, but it was
only Barnett who talked of seeing a craft and the dead bodies of the
alien flight crew.
Unfortunately, Barnett died before anyone had the opportunity to
interview him. Investigators were forced to rely on the information as
reported by Barnett's family and friends. Alice Knight, Vern Maltais,
Harold Baca, and J. F. "Fleck" Danley all reported that Barnett had
mentioned the story of the crashed alien ship to them. All of them
spoke of Barnett in the highest terms, and all said that he was a
reliable, fine man who was not given to practical jokes, nor
was he one who told tall tales.
According to those friends, Barnett said that he had been driving
through the desert when a flash of light caught his attention. He
turned toward it and came upon a crashed disc-shaped object. Maltais
said that Barnett told him that the craft was metallic, dull gray, and
"pretty good sized." According to Maltais, Barnett thought it had burst
open as it slammed into a low ridgeline. There was almost no wreckage
scattered around the damaged ship. Barnett also said that he saw the
flight crew. The beings were small, with pear-shaped heads, skinny arms
and legs, and no hair. All wore metallic-like, form-fitting silver
"flight suits" without buttons or zippers.
While on the site, Barnett said he was joined by a handful of
archaeologists. They did not approach the craft or the bodies as he
had. He'd gotten closest, standing over one of the bodies. Before they
could do much more, the military arrived, warned them that what they
had seen was classified top secret, and then escorted them from the
It is not clear if Barnett ever told anyone exactly where he'd seen the
craft. Those he did speak to thought that he'd mentioned the Plains of
San Agustin, west of Socorro, New Mexico, and about 125 miles from
Corona and the debris field discovered by Mack Brazel.
That was where the story ended. Investigation failed to find a single
firsthand witness to an event on the Plains. There were others, such as
Robert Drake, who told of a trip into the Plains area in the summer of
1947. Drake, though he didn't see anything himself, did speak to a
cowboy who told him of the crash of some kind of spacecraft somewhere
out on the Plains.
Drake provided two other sources of information. According to him,
students at Chaco Canyon, an archaeological site about a hundred miles
north of the Plains, returned from a July Fourth holiday talking of a
spacecraft crash. He also mentioned Roscoe Wilmeth, a documents clerk
who worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratorywho claimed that he'd
seen a file that mentioned a crashed craft and
alien bodies. Wilmeth told Drake that he wanted to travel to the "body"
site. Drake, as well as others, interpreted that to mean he wanted to
go to the Plains of San Agustin.
According to Drake, he had been making a preliminary survey of the Bat
Cave on the southeastern edge of the Plains with Dr. Wesley Hurt, Dan
McKnight, and Albert Dittert in July 1947. On the way back to
Albuquerque, they stopped at a ranch. Drake, while searching for land
snails, talked to a cowboy who told him of the crash. On the way back
to Albuquerque, Drake, along with the others, discussed the story told
by the old cowboy. Drake no longer remembers who that cowboy might have
been. ; \ :
But Hurt, McKnight, and Dittert, all interviewed by either Kevin Randle
or Tom Carey, said they remembered nothing about such a conversation.
In fact, Hurt said that he'd heard nothing about an alien spaceship
crash on the Plains until researchers began to call him around 1980.
Neither had McKnight or Dittert. Only Drake recalled the event. When
questioned about it, Drake said that it hadn't been a topic of
discussion on the way back to Albuquerque as he had originally said. Of
course, no one had a clue as to who the anonymous cowboy who talked to
Drake might be.
Carey, in his research, also located a number of students who had been
at the Chaco Canyon site in July 1947. Flying saucers and crashed discs
had not been discussed. Instead, they all had engaged in a cooling-off
period. There had been an incident involving fireworks that had angered
some of the students. That had been the topic of discussion.
When all the data about the Drake testimony are examined, it clear that
it fails to meet even the most lenient standards. Of all those
interviewed, only Drake remembers the events he speaks of, even though
others were involved. Those others fail to recall the r.-ents the way
The other corroborating witness, Roscoe Wilmeth, was never - rerviewed.
He died days before he returned from a vacation that would have allowed
researchers to speak with him. His secondhand
testimony doesn't corroborate an event on the Plains because he spoke
of going to the body site, and it was others who made the assumption
that he was talking of the Plains.
The archaeologists who have been located and can speak of the event
firsthand have been located. Dr. W. Curry Holden was the leader of the
expedition. According to the information supplied by Holden, it was
north of Roswell, just to the west of Highway 285. Holden was clear
that the site was close to Roswell and not over on the Plains.
It wasn't as if there hadn't been a search for archaeologists on the
Plains. Several were identified as having worked on the Plains during
the summer of 1947, although they might not have been there on the
critical days at the beginning of the month. Herbert Dick, making a
preliminary survey of the Bat Cave, arrived in the middle of July, and
reported to various researchers that he knew nothing of a flying saucer
crash. He knew many of the ranchers in the area and spoke to them
frequently, but none of them mentioned any crash of a spacecraft.
Edward Danson, working with J. O. Brew on the Plains in 1947, wrote on
August 20,1991, that he had heard nothing about a crashed craft. In
fact, Danson wrote that he didn't believe the story.
According to all the archaeologists who had spoken of the UFO crash,
the impact site was between Roswell and the debris field found by Mack
Brazel. It should also be noted that many of the neighbors of Brazel,
as well as others in the Corona area, were aware that something was
happening in July 1947. It was not a well-kept secret there.
By way of contrast, no firsthand sources were located who saw anything
on the Plains. All the archaeologists who were there in the summer of
1947 said they had heard and seen nothing. The ranchers in the area,
including Dave Farr, who owns the ranch where Gerald Anderson claimed
the saucer crashed, say they had heard nothing about a crashed saucer
until recently. The single exception was John Foard, who said that he
knew nothing firsthand, but remembered
someone, at some time, talking about a flying saucer crash. In other
words, his information was secondhand at best.
With the elimination of Drake, Anderson, and the archaeologists, the
only source for an event on the Plains was Barney Barnett. Then the
Barnett story suffered a major setback.
Research by various investigators suggested that the crash happened on
the night of July 4, and that the military recovered the craft and the
bodies on July 5. It was a reconstruction based on eyewitness testimony
and limited documentation. On those specific days it can be proven, by
the diary kept by Ruth Barnett, that her husband was at home in Socorro.
What this means is that the story about Barnett, as related by others,
does not track with the established facts. The diary takes Barnett out
of the picture. What it doesn't do is explain how Barnett knew about
the archaeologists. Clearly archaeologists were involved in the case.
They weren't on the Plains, but they were involved.
This, however, is a minor point. There were articles about flying
saucer crashes published in the newsmagazines in 1950. The stories
related to Frank Scully's Behind the Flying Saucers. It's not known if
this is the source of Barnett's tale, or if he actually saw something
on the Plains in 1947. It could be the source of the contamination.
At this point no evidence has been found for an event on the Plains.
The secondhand testimony used to support it has collapsed completely.
The firsthand testimony that has been found was discovered to be
nothing more than a hoax invented for publicity. The Barnett story, at
one time the foundation for the Plains event and alien bodies found
there, is gone. The whole Plains scenario fails to fit into the
framework of the Roswell crash. Without better information, without
firsthand corroboration, Barnett's story, as well as the whole Plains
scenario, must be rejected.
Ruth Barnett (1895-1977)
Like her husband, Ruth Barnett died before
the story of the flying saucer crash broke. She was never interviewed
by the investigators, and her knowledge of the event was told through
secondhand sources. Unlike her husband, she left a written record that
could be critical in understanding what happened in 1947.
Either sometime late in 1946 or early in 1947, someone gave Ruth
Barnett a daily reminder book. Throughout the year of 1947 she kept a
diary of the daily events in her life. Most of the entries included
what the weather had been, who they had seen, who had visited, and
where Barney had been during the day. This information allowed for some
deductions to be made.
The original story of Barney Barnett's involvement suggested that the
object crashed on the night of July 2 and that Barnett found it late on
the morning of July 3. The diary, however, tends to eliminate Barnett
from the case if the dates are accurate. On July 3, the day that
everyone thought Barnett found the saucer out on the Plains of San
Agustin, he was in his office in Socorro. The diary, in fact, places
Barnett in Socorro on every day of the first week of July 1 with the
exceptions of July 2 and July 8.
Given the chronology of the crash story, the July 2 date is a day too
early. If Barnett was on the scene any time on July 2, it would have
meant the event took place on the evening of July 1. There is no
evidence to support that date anywhere in any of the various reports.
On July 5, the date that some researchers have suggested as the '| day
the military recovered die main portion of the craft and the bodies
near Roswell, Barnett was also in Socorro and not out in the desert. On
that day, according to Ruth, Barnett was buying the glass for the
windows of the house they were building. He was clearly in Socorro the
whole day, which left no time for him to get out, far to the west, to
find the crashed craft.
On July 8, the day that the story broke in the newspapers and when some
believe the cleanup on the Brazel ranch began, the diary places Barnett
in Pie Town, far to the west of Socorro, and even farther from the
events taking place around Roswell. Barnett's area of
responsibility centered on the Socorro area and to the west of town. He
would have had no official business in the Roswell—Corona area on July
The diary kept by Ruth Barnett tends to eliminate Barney Barnett as a
participant in the events of early July 1947. There is simply no hint
that he was on the scene of the crashed craft at any time in 1947.
The Roswell Encyclopedia, 45-51, Kevin Randle