Posts Tagged ‘History’

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.
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]

It’s Been Half a Century!

August 12, 2016

Here is a list of “firsts” from fifty years ago (1966).  A fun stroll through history.

  • 1st civilian astronaut to orbit the earth (Neil Armstrong, March 16th)
  • 1st Black Panther Party organizational meeting (Oakland, CA, October 15th)
  • 1st Black Power advocate (Stokely Carmichael, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Atlanta, GA, in June)
  • 1st African-American cabinet member (Robert Clifton Weaver, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, January 18th)
  • 1st car with front-wheel drive (Oldsmobile Toronado)
  • 1st medical substitute for catgut (Dexon, a polyglycolic acid suture produced in April)
  • 1st African American professional basketball coach (Bill Russell, Boston Celtics)
  • 1st African American Coast Guard Academy graduate (Merle James Smith, Jr., Baltimore, MD, June 8th)
  • 1st computer modem that was practical (John van Geen, Stanford, CA)
  • 1st Department of Transportation (October 15th)
  • 1st endangered species list issued by the federal government
  • 1st federal district court judge who was an African-American woman (Constance Baker Motley, August 30th)
  • 1st hospital to offer a sex-change operation (John Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD)
  • 1st Kwanzaa celebration (December 26th, California)
  • 1st manned docking of two spacecraft (March 16th, Gemeni 8 and an Agena target vehicle)
  • 1st female marathon runner from the United States (Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb, Boston Marathon)
  • 1st Medal of Honor awarded to a Seabee (Marvin Glen Shields of Port Townsend, WA, for heroism in the 14-hour battle at Dongzoal, Vietnam, awarded September 13th, posthumously)
  • 1st motorboat ocean race (Sam Griffith Memorial Race, Miami, FL to Bimini, Bahamas, February 22nd)
  • 1st National Endowment for the Humanities grants (American Society of Papyrologists, Cincinnati, OH)
  • 1st African-American Navy captain (Thomas David Parham, Jr., Newport News, VA, February 1st)
  • 1st open-reel video tape recorder for home use (Sony’s TCV-2010)
  • 1st parachute jumper snagged by an airplane in midair (Charles M. Alexander, Sussex County Airport, Georgetown, DE, August 29th)
  • 1st photograph of the earth taken from the moon (Lunar Orbiter 1, August 23rd)
  • 1st rocket-tracking ship (Vanguard [WWII tanker], January 31st)
  • 1st African-American Senator to be elected by popular vote (Edward William Brooke, Massachusetts, November 8th)
  • 1st Sergeant Major of the Army (William O. Wooldridge, Shawnee, OK, July 11th)
  • 1st space probe to achieve a lunar orbit (Lunar Orbiter 1, August 14th)
  • 1st space treaty signed by the United States (Treaty on Principles of Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies [endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly], December 19th)
  • 1st x-ray three-dimensional stereo fluoroscopic system (University of Oregon Medical Center, Portland, OR, April 15th)

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

The Circus is Coming!

July 16, 2016

Summer, the time of hot days, baseball and apple pie, and the circus coming to town.  Just what was the draw of the circus?  The big tents, the clowns, the exotic animals, the trapeze and high wire acrobatics, jugglers, etc. . . . they were just plain fun!   Did you know that sixty years ago today (in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) was the last time that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus did a show in a “big tent?”  It all boiled down to the economics (cost) of putting on the shows.  All subsequent shows were to be held in arenas.


And speaking of circuses, did you know that there is a circus cemetery in Hugo, Oklahoma?  A mere two-and-a-half hour drive south (and a little east) of Tulsa will bring you to this historical gem of a town.

According to, “This southeastern Oklahoma town first caught the eye of the Kelly Miller Circus, back in 1937.  Hugo’s central location and temperate climate proved an ideal base for a caravan of performers, and through the years the idea caught on.  More than 20 different circuses have called Hugo home, and three still do.”


July 10th . . . !

July 10, 2016

A number of “firsts” occurred on July 10th.  Here’s a brief rundown:

  • 1st Catholic seminary (1791, St. Mary’s – Roland Park, Baltimore, MD)
  • 1st Presidential amnesty issued to rebellious citizens (1795, George Washington, participants in the Whiskey Rebellion)
  • 1st antiquarian book business (1830, Boston, MA, Samuel Gardner Drake)
  • 1st Medal of Honor awarded to a Marine (1863, Sgt. John Freeman Mackie)
  • 1st indelible pencil (1866, Edson P. Clark, Northampton, MA)
  • 1st election law enacted by a state to grant voting rights to women after the adoption of the Constitution (1890, Wyoming)
  • 1st steel seven-masted schooner (1902, the Thomas W. Lawson)
  • 1st Presidential candidate to appear in movie footage (1908, William Jennings Bryan)
  • 1st police radio system (1933, Eastchester Township, NY)
  • 1st President to visit South America while in office (1934, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Cartagena, Columbia)
  • 1st rectangular television tube (1949, Kimble Glass Company, Toledo, OH)
  • 1st telephone call conveyed by a privately owned satellite (1962, Frederick Russell Kappel [board chairman of AT&T] to President Lyndon Baines Johnson, Telstar 1)
  • 1st transoceanic telecast by satellite (1962, from Andover, ME to various stations in Europe)
  • 1st commercial satellite (1962, Telstar 1)
  • 1st swimmer to swim the English Channel underwater (1962, Fred Baldasare)

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