© 2014 Enfys McMurry All rights reserved.

June 11 1897: During June of 1897, hundreds of sightseers witnessed a series of balloon ascensions by John Walters of Allerton. They assembled on the vacant lot on the south east corner of the Square. They watched as the canvas bags filled with smoke and gas. They heard the bugle blast and the peal of the town’s fire bell that signaled take-off. They cheered as aeronaut Walters waved his handkerchief and parachuted over the side, landing harmlessly three miles to the east in the Chariton River bottom. But on June 9 1897, something went wrong. This time Walters was accompanied by his small dog, Nero. Both were attached to parachutes. The balloon lifted. It reached 30 feet. A sudden wind blew it dangerously close to the Western Union telegraph lines east of the lot. Walters found his parachute caught by a fastener on the balloon. The fastener splintered. Walters now inverted, fell 40 feet , his head and back striking the cone of the roof of the old calaboose just off the Square’s north side. People carried him to Dr.Reynolds’ office on Pill Row.

The aeronaut was unconscious. His breath came in deep gasps. He bled from his mouth, nose, ears and a deep wound on his right temple. He lived 20 minutes. Hundreds of the curious lined up outside Dr.Reynolds’ office and filed past the body. Walters’s body was put on a train. The next day he was buried in Lineville Cemetery. Pleasure was expressed that the dog, Nero, was safe. (129)

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