Remember Friedrich Franz III No More

Less than two weeks after she became the world's oldest person, Dina Manfredini died Monday at the age of 115 years and 257 days. Manfredini had been living at the Bishop Drumm Retirement Center in Johnston, Iowa.

Born in Pievepelago, Italy, on April 4, 1897, Manfredini became the oldest Italian and oldest immigrant who ever lived. She emigrated from Italy to Des Moines, Iowa, in 1920 with her husband Riccardo and raised four children, working at an ammunition factory during World War II and cleaning houses until she was 90. She lied about her age so people would still hire her. "I'm old, old lady, but I work. Work hard. I like work," she told the Des Moines Register in 2004 when she moved to a nursing home for the first time.

The newest oldest person, the Japanese man Jiroemon Kimura, was born 15 days after her on April 19, 1897.

With such a short jump forward, the line of oblivion doesn't gobble up much living history. But there's no longer a person who could have seen the UFO that reportedly crashed in Aurora, Texas, on April 17, 1897, northwest of Fort Worth, leaving behind the body of an extra-terrestrial pilot. An article in the Dallas Morning News two days later recounted the event:

It sailed directly over the public square, and when it reached the north part of town collided with Judge Proctor's windmill and went into pieces with a terrific explosion, scattering debris over several acres of ground, wrecking the windmill and water tank and destroying the judge's flower garden.

The pilot of the ship is supposed to have been the only one on board, and while his remains are badly disfigured, enough of the original has been picked up to show that he was not an inhabitant of this world.

Mr. T. J. Weems, the United States signal service officer at this place and an authority on astronomy, gives it as his opinion that he was a native of planet Mars.

There's also no one who could have known Friedrich Franz III, the second-to-last grand duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in Germany. The grand duke's death on April 10, 1897, was a subject of some confusion at the New York Times, as evidenced by these headlines: "The Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin Shown to Have Committed Suicide" (April 13) and "The Grand Duke of Mecklenburg Schwerin Did Not Commit Suicide" (April 15).


It's a good thing that Mr. Weems had so much experience with extra-terrestrials that he was able to form an opinion about this one's provenance despite the disfigurement of his (sic) corpse.

Weems must've had a good telescope if he could see Martians.

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