In A Nutshell
Stories of cow abductions are a staple of UFO stories. Unfortunately, the first cow abduction story to be taken seriously by the press (and which set a precedent for later tales) was completely and utterly fabricated by a group of professional liars.
The Whole Bushel
In 1897, a Kansas newspaper reported a close encounter of the third kind between a farmer named Alexander Hamilton and, well, aliens. According to Hamilton, his son, and at least one hired worker the story went like this. A large cigar-shaped spaceship with an undercarriage “like a blimp” had appeared, hovering over his farm. The ship unleashed what they described as a lasso, operated by six “beings” in the undercarriage. They’d lassoed one of his sheep and were trying to pull it aboard the ship.
Hamilton and the other witnesses then grabbed hold of the ropes and a tug of war ensued—Kansas farmers versus unknowable creatures from space—until they finally cut the rope with a knife and watched the ship sail away. The next day, the remains of the sheep were found in a neighboring field.
Hamilton’s story was backed up by a signed affidavit by 12 trustworthy citizens swearing to his character. And the tale went down in UFO history. The problem was that the story was completely fabricated. Over 60 years later, UFO investigators would discover that Alexander Hamilton had been part of a “liars’ club.” In essence, they were a group who met regularly to fabricate ridiculous stories for fun. Apparently the liars’ club had disbanded shortly after the airship story, probably because no tale could top the one involving cow rustling aliens with lasso technology.