This actually was Weird and Off-Beat News....in the 1940s. But the mystery remains. Couldn't think where to put this extremely odd subject so it's here. Mass hysteria? An actual physical presence dementedly attacking home sites? Still unknown..... The Wiki entry also has much info on similar incidents which occurred in Botetourt County, Virginia, about ten years earlier. Very good article here: In Search of the Mad Gasser. (Fortean Times) The Mad Gasser of Mattoon is often held up as a classic example of mass hysteria and has led to even more extraordinary claims of Nazi or alien involvement. But is the case really as mysterious as it seems? Jonathan Downes ventures to the American Midwest to investigate. much more at the link Wiki: Mad Gasser of Mattoon Many other internet sites include coverage of the events also.