Since my earliest investigations into the 19th century Birmingham Parramatta "UFO vision" I concluded that the document I had since 1975 was a 1950's copy of Birmingham's "memorandum book." I was able to tracked it back to the people who gave it to Tasman Homan who created the copy and interviewed them. Now because of some on-line digital newspaper archive detective work by Chris Aubeck we now have firm historical evidence of the 1868 vision story via a letter written by a well known horticulturalist and local history researcher Hebert John Rumsey published in at least 2 papers - originally published the Sydney based farmers newspaper "The Farmer and the Settler" on 21 November 1911 and in "The Richmond River Herald" on 5 December 1911 (the latter, which Chris Aubeck published in his new report "Birmingham's Ark", has the rather uninformative headline: "Surveyed Melbourne and Grafton. Some Ancient History." Chris did not publish the"The Farmer and Settler" account, which I have reproduced here. It at least has a much more interesting headline: "An Early Day Surveyor thought he had discovered the secret of flying"). The importance of the Rumsey letter is that it clearly refers to Birmingham's "vision" of July 1868, by both referring to the word "vision" and the date and year described in the only document we have so far - the copy I received in 1975 from Fred Phillips (honorary president of UFOIC). There can no longer be doubt about the general nature of the story revealed in the 1950s copy of Birmingham's "memorandum book", lending further hope that something of an earlier vintage, perhaps Birmingham's original material or more contemporary copies, may yet be found, and even better still, Birmingham's diary and "flying machine" drawing.:
This earlier item originally located by Chris refers to Birmingham's return to Parramatta from America and his "flying machine" - the date 26 August 1887.
I was amazed to see the Grafton connection in Birmingham's life, particularly as I was born in Grafton - an extraordinary link - I come to Sydney in 1975. That year I was given the Birmingham "memorandum book" copy and now in 2013 we find a circular link back to Grafton!
These developments have unleashed the "historical detective" in me, so once again I'm on the trail again of this striking story.
In the 145 years since it took place it has caught the attention of a number of people - Herbert Rumsey (who wrote about it in 1911), Parramatta mayor Frederick Cox (who described his memory of the story in 1932 just before he died, Marjorie Esling who told me about it in the late 1970s - her mother acquired apparently the original "memorandum book" from a local school teacher - Wallace Heywood (or Haywood?)) and Tas Homan, who got it from Mrs. Esling. Homan made a typed copy, a copy of which was handed to me in 1975 by Fred Phillips - a long convoluted journey for a strange document, now confirmed via old newspapers, long before the onset of the modern UFO era.