An old photograph of the Aroostook River, taken circa 1920 and found courtesy of the Maine Memory Network.

One Sunday - August 8, 1897 to be precise - Mr and Mrs Carney decided to go out blueberry picking in the Mullen Bog, which is apparently situated just west of Aroostook River in Masardis, Maine. This entire region is surrounded by dense forests and secluded lakes, and is just 15 miles from the Canadian border. They brought their daughter, Lillian, with them. She was only six years and five months old at the time, and so when she wandered away from her parents a search party was quickly organised. She would not be seen again until 46 hours had elapsed - and she had a bizarre story to tell her rescuers.

An Unnatural Sunshine

As soon as her parents realised that she was missing and that she could not be located after an initial hour of searching, they called for assistance - and were rewarded with an extensive search that lasted until midnight that night. On Monday morning, 200 concerned citizens joined the search effort - combing every inch of the forest 'without finding a trace of the lost child'. The distraught family and their friends ended up staying in the dense woods throughout both nights.

One day later, on Tuesday morning, 300 men turned up to the ever-growing search effort. It was roughly 10am when one Mr. Burt Pollard found Lillian 'two or three miles from where she started'. She seemed to be perfectly calm and collected, and was asking for her mother. There were some wild berries in her hand, but she said that she wouldn't want to eat them for fear that they might negatively impact her health. Guns were fired as joyful signals and the steam whistle at the Simpson Mill sounded to alert people that the child had been found. Tired but satisfied, everyone returned to their daily business.

When questioned about what she had seen while missing, she said that 'the sun shined all the time in the woods' - which has struck many a researcher (including David Paulides) as being extremely odd. The original newspaper source felt the need to clarify that the moon had been shining brightly for some of the time she was alone in the woods, but this also strongly implies that it was also partially cloudy for some duration of the period. When further asked about her experience, she claimed to have heard some people talking a day previously (these were presumably the search party) but had kept still for fear that they might've been 'tramps'. She also claimed to have seen 'little things' roughly the size of her cat, but had clapped her hands to scare them away. The newspaper speculated that these could've been rabbits.

It is interesting to note the similarities between this 1897 case and the more modern Missing 411 phenomenon. People who are victims of this bizarre phenomenon usually swiftly vanish without a trace, and then turn up (either alive or dead) quite close to where they originally disappeared from. This is certainly true for Lillian. Another odd link between this case and the Missing 411 phenomenon is the activity of berry-picking, which has been noted by David Paulides as being a strange constant in several cases.

We also have the manner in which the child seemed to have been unaware that anyone was looking for her, and remained perfectly calm throughout the whole ordeal. I would almost say that she experienced something like a jump forwards in time - there one moment and then not there anymore until 10am on Tuesday morning. Where did she go? Well, Paulides implied on a podcast called Where Did the Road Go? that he is of the opinion that the so-called sun seen by Lillian was actually some artificial light-source. What would artificial lights have been doing in the 1800s?

Sources

Lewiston Evening Journal - Aug 12, 1897

'The Devil's in the Detail' interview with David Paulides on Where Did the Road Go? Podcast

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