Posts Tagged ‘History’

Fun Fact Friday, Number Seventy-One!

April 13, 2018

The category for today’s trivial imponderable is “American history.”  Do you know . . . what was Billy the Kid’s real name?

William H. Bonney was actually an alias that Billy the Kid was using when he was sentenced to die.  His real name was probably William Henry McCarty, Jr.  His mother preferred to call him Henry because she did not want him known as a junior.

Source: Sorry, Wrong Answer: Trivia Questions That Even Know-It-Alls Get Wrong, by Dr. Rod L. Evans.

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The Pony Express!

April 9, 2018

The Pony Express, utilizing horse and rider teams in relay fashion, was an early mail-delivery system between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California (more than 2,000 miles).  But did you know . . .

  • they were more than twice as fast as their competitors?
  • they were a financial failure and only remained in business for nineteen months?
  • there was a weight limit on the riders?
  • the riders were required to take a loyalty oath?
  • the mail was carried in a specially designed saddlebag?
  • the cost kept ordinary people from using the Pony Express?
  • one rider completed a 380-mile run in less than two days?
  • the riders didn’t have the deadliest job?
  • Buffalo Bill Cody was not a Pony Express rider?
  • the transcontinental telegraph is what put the Pony Express out of business?

Source: www.history.com

“You May Fire When You Are Ready, Gridley . . . !”

March 3, 2018
GeoDeweyThese are the words spoken by Commodore George Dewey on May 1st of 1898, in the Battle of Manila Bay (in the Philippines) during the Spanish-American War to Captain Charles Vernon Gridley.  But were you aware that it wasn’t until March 3, 1899, that George Dewey became the very first person in the United States to hold the distinguishing rank of “Admiral of the Navy.”
“You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.”  ―George Dewey
Source/Notes:  To Charles Vernon Gridley – the captain of his ship – on 1 May 1898 – As quoted in: Washington Post, 3 October 1899.
Photo source:  By Admiral George Dewey, scanned from photogravure from 1899 book in Infrogmation own collection, and uploaded by Infrogmation to en:Wikipedia on 13 November 2002. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

A Mule is Born!

October 26, 2017

Today marks the day that the first mule was born in the United States (1785).

In addition, October 26th represents the day for several other “firsts,” such as the first . . .

  • Jewish weekly newspaper in English  (The Jew [monthly], New York, NY, 1849)
  • washing machine (Hamilton Erastus Smith, Philadelphia, PA, 1858)
  • steeplechase (American Jockey Club, Jerome Park, Westchester County, NY, 1869)
  • Army pilot to fly solo in an airplane (2nd Lieutenant Frederic Erastus Humphreys, College Park, MD, 1909)

Source: Famous First Facts, by Joseph Nathan Kane, Steven Anzovin, and Janet Podell

First Female Supreme Court Justice!

September 25, 2017

Today marks the day (in 1981) that Sandra Day O’Connor took her seat on the Supreme Court of the United States after taking the oath of office (which was administered by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger).  She was originally nominated on July 7th by then President Ronald Reagan and was eventually approved by the Senate, in a 99-0 vote, on September 21st.

In addition, September 25th was the day for several other “firsts,” such as the first . . .

  • newspaper published in the British colonies (Publick Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestic, Boston, MA, 1690)
  • newspaper publisher (Benjamin Harris, “the father of American newspapers,” 1690)
  • constitutional amendments to fail the ratification process (first two articles of the eventual Bill of Rights, 1789)
  • play presented by a Jewish professional acting troupe (Die Hexe, Hebrew Opera and Dramatic Company, New York, NY, 1880)
  • micropaleontology course at a college (Columbia University (Prof. Jesse James Galloway), New York, NY, 1924)
  • transatlantic telephone call carried by the transoceanic cable  (Cleo Frank Craig [Chairman, AT&T] in New York, NY, to British Postmaster General in London, UK, 1956)

Source: Famous First Facts by Joseph Nathan Kane, Steven Anzovin, and Janet Podell.

Time to Evacuate!

August 27, 2017

Do you recall which natural disaster caused the evacuation of an entire city?  It was Hurricane Katrina (a category 3 hurricane),  that caused the evacuation of the entire city of New Orleans on this date in 2005.  As the storm approached the then mayor, Ray Nagin, asked for voluntary departures, but the very next day (August 27th), he made the exodus mandatory.  Obviously, those without transportation were unable to comply and when Katrina hit (on August 29th), she destroyed levees and sunk the city under floodwaters up to twenty feet deep.

In addition, August 27th was the day for several other “firsts,” such as the first . . .

  • expedition of Englishmen to cross the Allegheny Mountains  (Fort Henry, VA, 1650)
  • theatrical performance (The Bare and the Cubb, Accomack, VA, 1665)
  • cyclone of record (Jamestown, VA, 1784)
  • major battle lost by American forces (Battle of Long Island, 1776)
  • steamboat to carry a man (built by John Fitch, Delaware River, 1898)
  • industrial school for girls (Lancaster, MA, 1898)
  • oil well that was commercially productive (Seneca Oil Company, Titusville, PA, 1859)
  • metal clarinet (Charles Gerard Conn, Elkhart, IN, 1889)
  • radio broadcast sent from an airplane (James A. Macready, above Sheepshead Bay, NY, 1910)
  • ship to fire a Polaris missile (Observation Island, 1959)
  • Ambassador assassinated in office (John Gordon Mein, ambassador to Guatemala, 1968)

Source: Famous First Facts by Joseph Nathan Kane, Steven Anzovin, and Janel Podell.

Historical Fiction at Its Best!

August 23, 2017

The time has come for me to once again re-read the The Far Pavilions (which I do every three-to-four years for pure entertainment).  An epic novel of British-Indian history that was originally published in 1978 by M. M. Kaye (Mary Margaret).  I cannot explain exactly why I find this read so enthralling except for the possible reason that I’m a hopeless romantic deep down inside and enjoy the total “escapism” by reliving the story over and over.  It is by no means a quick read, either.  At just under 1,000 pages, this tome is a major undertaking, but is worth every treasured moment as I’m transported to nineteenth-century India for many evenings of adventure and romance.

In the opinion of Nancy Banks-Smith (critic for The Guardian), this book is “One of those big, fat paperbacks, intended to while away a monsoon or two, which, if thrown with a good overarm action, will bring a water buffalo to its knees.” (on 4 January 1984)

Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations, category: Books, entry #2, p. 41.

Grand Expedition!

May 24, 2017

Did you know that on this day, May 24th (in 1869), was the beginning of the first exploration of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado by a man other than a Native American?  Major John Wesley Powell left Green River City (above the head of the Colorado River) with nine men and proceeded through the canyon and emerged from the lower end on August 29, 1869.  Only five of the nine men who started the trip completed the trip.

Some other “firsts” for today throughout history include:

  • Commercial telegraph service (1844)
  • State adoption law to consider the interests of the child (1851)
  • Civil War combat action that earned the Medal of Honor (1861)
  • Union Officer killed in the Civil War (1861)
  • Artillery fire to be directed from the air (1862)
  • Army field telegraph used in warfare (1862)
  • Steel arch bridge (1874)
  • National banking association (1875)
  • Anti-saloon organization (1893)
  • Public garage (1899)
  • Oil journal (1902)
  • Strike settlement mediated by the federal Department of Labor (1913)
  • Air combat arm of the Army (1918)
  • Croix de Guerre awarded to an American (1918)
  • Air-conditioned train (1931)
  • Baseball game at night by major league teams (1935)
  • Food-O-Mat (1945)
  • House with a built-in nuclear bomb shelter (1959)
  • Spy satellite (1960)
  • Transatlantic supersonic jet service (1976)
  • Senator to change political control of the Senate by switching parties (2001)

Source: Famous First Facts (6th ed.) by Joseph Nathan Kane, Steven Anzovin, and Janet Podell.

The Tax Man Cometh!

April 13, 2017

With the deadline for filing your 2016 individual returns right around the corner, here’s an infographic on “A Brief History of Taxes” that you just might find interesting.  It hasn’t been updated since 2011, but informative nonetheless.

https://images.turbotax.intuit.com/iqcms/marketing/lib/fun/historyoftaxes/history-of-US-taxes-infographic-657.jpg
Taxes Done Right with TurboTax

Origins of State Names!

March 13, 2017

Happy Monday!  Do you know how your state got its name?  Here is an informative infographic that details this very thing.  Enjoy!

How All 50 U.S. States Got Their Names[Source: Today I Found Out]