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Blood Rain
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Raining Blood And Body Parts In North Carolina

By James Donahue

Of all the unexplained rainfalls of peculiar objects that have reportedly dropped from cloudless skies, the 1884 rain of blood on the Silas Beckwith farm, located west of Raleigh, and a fall of flesh and blood on the Thomas Clarkson farm near Clinton in 1850, may rank among the most bizarre.

The February 15, 1850 event was described by Clarkson in the North Carolinian, a Fayetteville newspaper. He said three of the family children ran into the house exclaiming: "Mother there is meat falling!" He said it seemed to fall from a strange looking cloud overhead that had a red appearance. When it was over blood and body parts that looked like flesh, liver and brains were found scattered over an area about 250 to 300 yards in length.

Authorities examined some of the material found on the farm with the best microscopes available and agreed that it was flesh from once living creatures, but they were unable to determine what kind of animal it had been.

The blood fall that happened on February 24, 1884 received more national attention. That is because it was observed by Bass Lasater, a sharecropper who worked the farm with her husband, Cite, who told her story to her neighbors, which attracted the attention of a local doctor who visited the farm to take samples. The story also was told in the Chatham Record, a small newspaper published in the nearby town of Bell.

From there the story reached the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, where chemistry professor Francis P. Venable made the decision to visit the farm some three weeks later to hear the story first hand and collect soil samples. Venable concluded that the dried substance found in the dirt was indeed partially decomposed blood.

How could this have happened? Venable was unable to explain it. If it was a hoax, it had to have been an elaborate one because of the amount of blood that had fallen.

Lasater, who watched the strange blood-fall, said it lasted for nearly a minute, spattering a field just outside her cabin with droplets as large as a man’s finger. By the time it stopped, the isolated storm had soaked a rectangle shaped part of the field measuring 70 feet across and about 50 feet wide. This amounted to about a tenth of an acre.

In his written report of his findings, Venable said that Lasater was frightened and emotionally affected by what had happened. He wrote that she took it "as a portent of death or evil of some kind."

It was noted that the blood fell from a clear and cloudless sky. If the blood had been the result of a slaughter of animals, Venable concluded that it would have taken a lot of animals to have left that much blood in one patch of ground.

"As to theories accounting for so singular a material falling from a cloudless sky, I have no plausible ones to offer," he wrote. "I have deemed this strange matter worthy of being placed on record."

Writing this might be comparable to contemporary boards referring unresolved issues to committee where it can lie buried in political rhetoric, never to see the light of day.

Venable later served as president of the university.