Days Gone By - stories from the past

From recent scientific information, an event like this could happen again with even more serious consequences

We’ve all heard the song “Stars Fell on Alabama” and assume it came from the book titled with the same name written by Carl Carmer in 1934 as well as the song with the same name written by Mitchell Parish and Frank Perkins a few years later.


However, few people realize that the words probably came from an actual event on Nov. 12-13, 1833 in Northern Alabama. On the night of Nov. 12, 1833, people in North Alabama went to bed as normal only to be awakened around midnight when a number of shooting stars began streaking across the night sky.

Depiction of historic meteor shower over Alabama
Depiction of historic meteor shower over Alabama


The Heavens appeared to be crashing down

The number increased to tens of thousands by 3:00 am. The light was so constant from the streaming meteors that the roosters began crowing and people starting arising thinking the sun was up. Cows headed for pasture and chickens left their roost due to the brightness of the sky. The Heavens appeared to be crashing down in the startling meteor display.

A Huntsville editor wrote “people were praying and shouting, thinking the day of judgment had come. The Heavens were on fire as 10,000 meteors fell in one hour.” From newspaper accounts, the people of North Alabama literally thought the world was coming to an end. Travelers, packed and headed for home to be with their families “in the final hours. The Florence Gazette reported: “thousands of luminous bodies [were] shooting across the firmament in every direction. There was little wind and not a trace of clouds, and the meteors succeeded each other in quick succession.”

The shower of meteors was visible far and wide over North America

The maximum shower display was between 2:30 and 4:00 am on the 13th of November. At the Pulaski Pike Race Track, confusion erupted during the annual holiday of horse racing, card playing and cock fighting as sportsmen and planters hid under chairs, tables, and beds to protect themselves from the meteors.

The shower of meteors was visible over North America but was nothing compared to what the people of Southeastern states and particularly North Alabama experienced that night. One astronomer claimed that one meteor was as large as the moon. The shower of Leonids occurs every 33-34 years but nothing has compared to what Alabamians experienced the night of Nov.13, 1833.

The song of this spectacular event has inspired many renditions



The memory of that night stayed was talked about well into the 1890’s and probably inspired the title of Carl Carmer’s book.

Stars Fell On Alabama by Kate Smith

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Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. Truly an interesting story

  2. […] The most spectacular meteoric display ever recorded in the history of the State occurred November 13, 1833, during the early part of the night. The event has long been known as the “night the stars fell.” […]

  3. my father told me of a similar event in the early 1960’s. My father went to work in the predawn. He went outside to see the sky completely filled with shooting stars. His first thought was that there were no explosions. My father thought maybe the Soviet’s had launched rockets on us. But, I am told it was a meteor shower. This event was seen in east Alabama. I have been told by others they saw it also. Also Ham radio operators saw the effects of the meteors. I was told the meteor shower lasted until dawn when the sunrise over took the brightness.


  4. saw many-many last night in gardendale,al

  5. I always thought it was because meteor fell on lady in bed

    1. That happened too, but it was in the 40s or 50s, I’ll have to find the story about that. A woman was hit by one in Sylacauga.

  6. Thanks for sharing. “The rest of the story”. ;))

  7. Remember where in the 50s a car got damaged by a metor. Also heard of story of. Lady getting hit by part of one way bAck

  8. Stars don’t fall…. :-/

    1. Naw, naw they don’t but it is a booger when they blow up though.

  9. I remember that meteor shower of ’33. It was a humdinger

  10. In the 40s a meteor blew over my grandpas land and still find peaces of it today

  11. I’m up and outside early and have seen quite a few streaking across the sky lately

  12. I hope it will be a good night for it tonight!!!!!

  13. That one is ’33 was a really good one. It would be nice to have another one again.

  14. Good history..only one issue…how can you exclude the best version of the song at end..Ella Fitzgerald

  15. My GGG Grandfather witnessed this when he came to buy land so he could move his family from South Carolina.

  16. My parents saw it many years before they met. As a child I was always told the stories each had every time we heard the song or saw a shooting star. I wish I could hear those stories again…….

  17. Just got thru reading The Slave Narratives. In this book it mentions a time when “the stars fell” while some of the slaves lived in Alabama. I didn’t quite understand what that meant before now, thank you for the information.

  18. Recently in Paris on vacation. Dining in place with piano player. He asked where I was from. When I replied “Alabama” this was the song he began to play. Nice…

  19. My great great grandmother write about it g er journal.

  20. What about a Fallin Star written by James Joiner and the metor that hit a woman

  21. I was not aware of this happening. WOw

  22. Just one question. The article said the people were awakened around midnight. What woke them? Shooting stars (meteorites) don’t make a sound. Was it that bright that they were awakened?

    1. The roosters were crowing bc it was so bright, they thought it was morning.

  23. Wow! I hate to sound 70’s but groovey baby

  24. Thats really cool!! Thanks for sharing!!

  25. […] Stars fell on Alabama – from recent scientific information, an event like this could happen a… […]

  26. Jimmy Buffett does a pretty good version.

  27. That must be when stars fell on alabama

  28. That is what Mary and James Vaughn referred to in their book. I guess it was really scary back then with no knowledge of what and why it was happening.

    1. Donna Fred Vaughn where can a person purchase this book?

    2. Mary Wallace Ask Lynn Till. Fred and I researched until we got ours off of Amazon, in 2007 or 2008.

  29. I have a letter my ancestor who saw it wrote in later years.

  30. I love the Billie Holiday song.

  31. My home town had as their slogan “ where the stars fell” & now across the same county says the same. Older people when i I was kid apparently saw a shower that was so intense and bright they say some hit here… how cool would it be to find some proof!

  32. This was a very interesting story. I never knew that it actually happened. So glad that I was able to read about it.

  33. FYI, for those that didn’t know. Plus the song. This is why our car license tags had Stars fell on “Alabama” on them a few years back.

  34. Had always heard that phrase but never knew the story. People must have been terrified. No wonder they thought the world was coming to an end.

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