By Guy W. Moore


In two previous articles in the Halley’s Comet Watch NEWSLETTER (June and August, 1985 issues) I have attempted to show that the story that a virgin was nearly sacrificed to Halley’s Comet in 1910 by a religious fanatic in Oklahoma was a hoax almost surely perpetrated by one Edgar B. Marchant, founder of the Aline (Okla.) CHRONOSCOPE.  After the publication of the second of these articles the following information was brought to my attention and further research reported to me by Mrs. H.L. Elliott of Aline:



First, perhaps I should make it clear in my defense that when I wrote in an earlier piece that Marchant was the editor of the CHRONOSCOPE in 1910 I was relying on the Alfalfa County HISTORY which plainly says, “They (The Marchants) were still publishing the weekly paper in Aline when Mr. Marchant died in 1919.  Ellen sold the paper and worked as a reporter…” Clearly, this is wrong.


Second, two intriguing possibilities suddenly seemed to open.  When Marchant placed his story out of Aline from his old newspaper in 1910 the editor, Mr. Frank Clark, and probably the owner, Mr. Timmons, were aware it was a hoax and may have assisted in its distribution.  Would their descendants know anything about the matter?


As usual, Mrs. H. L. Elliott had the answer to one of the questions; the other remains open as of this writing.


Mrs. Elliott writes, “I knew Mr. Timmons and his family.  They are all gone now.  He died in 1929 and she in the 1950s. Their only son died in 1981.  He also moved to Cherokee from Aline and was editor of the paper there.  He came to Aline to work in the bank and then printed the paper awhile.  I do not remember a Frank Clark and can find no one that does remember him.  He must have been in the town a short time.


Thus, what seemed to be two windows on the past are in one case slammed shut by the deaths of family and descendants and in the other case obscured by a blank pane.  Mr. Frank Clark kept the tale of the virgin and the Comet from appearing in the CHRONOSCOPE but now he has disappeared from the recollections of the people of Aline.  Is it possible that some reader of the NEWSLETTER might have encountered a member of that family”. Perhaps Mrs. Elliott will be able to find out something about him yet – “I will still try to get something for you,” she promises.


Incidentally, the sheriff of Major County in 1910 was Lewis Burwell – one more proof that there was never a “Sheriff Hughes”. 


Should any further developments come to light regarding the virgin and the Comet, readers of this NEWSLETTER will be informed.




Editor’s note:  Mr. Moore filed no further articles on this subject.

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