Little Bits of History

Go West

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 31, 2012

Lewis and Clark Expedition map

August 31, 1803:  Meriwether Lewis leaves Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Lewis and Clark’s expedition officially ran from 1804-1806 and they were tasked with reaching the Pacific Ocean and finding out exactly what the young nation had purchased from France. Lewis, a US Army Captain, and William Clark were both from Virginia and veterans of the Ohio wars with the natives. They were in search of a path from the East Coast to the West and hopefully would be able to find the always dreamed of Northwest Passage – a water route across North America.

President Jefferson had long held a dream of exploring this vast region between the two shores and with the purchase of the land from France, his dream could come true. The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 brought 828,000 square miles of territory under US control. The treaty was signed on April 30 and almost immediately there were plans to explore the region as well as let the Indians living there know the Americans were now in charge. The President chose two men to lead the Corp of Discovery. Lewis left to prepare for their journey making the trip from Pittsburgh (then called the Gateway to the West) to Camp Debois – a distance of about 600 miles – and met up with Clark so they could start planning their trip.

The items brought from Pittsburgh were specially struck silver medals bearing the image of President Jefferson and a message of peace and friendship. These were to be given to natives along the way and were called Indian Peace Medals. They also brought an air rifle along that was powerful enough to kill a deer. This display of military power was also to let those along the route know of American might. Other arms were also brought along as were flags, cartography equipment, gift bundles and medicines. The discovery mission was more than simple discovery.

They left camp to begin their journey on May 14, 1804. The mission suffered one casualty, when Sgt Floyd died of appendicitis three months into the trip. During the arduous mission, Lewis and Clark drew about 140 maps, recorded more than 200 plants and animals that were new to science, and noted at least 72 separate native tribes. They made notes on the regions landscapes as well as astronomy, climate, mineral deposits, weather, and all flora and fauna. They managed to return to St. Louis on September 23, 1806 having covered 7,689 miles.

Left Pittsburgh this day at 11 ock with a party of 11 hands 7 of which are soldiers, a pilot and three young men on trial they having proposed to go with me throughout the voyage.

January 1st 1804 Snow about an inch deep Cloudy to day, a woman Come forward wishing to wash and doe Such things as may be necessary for the Detachmt Several men Come from the Countrey to See us & Shoot with the men.

Monday 14th 1804 a Cloudy morning fixing for a Start Some provisions on examination is found to be wet rain at 9 oClock many of the neighbours Came from the Countrey mail and freemail rained the greater part of the day, I set out at 4 oClock to the head of the first Island in the Missouri 6 Miles and incamped, on the Island rained.

September 23rd 1806 we rose early took the Chief to the publick store & furnished him with Some clothes &c. took an early breckfast with Colo. Hunt and Set out decended to the Mississippi and down that river to St. Louis at which place we arived about 12 oClock. we Suffered the party to fire off their pieces as a Salute to the Town. – all from journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

Also on this day:

Who Was He? – In 1888, Mary Ann Nichols was brutally murdered.
Try This – In 1900, Coke was first sold in England.
Fairy Tale’s End – In 1997, Princess Diana is killed in a car crash.

Advertisements
Tagged with: ,

Well Being with Sikhs

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 30, 2012

Ram Das Ji

August 30, 1574: Ram Das Ji becomes Guru. He was born in Lehore, Punjab, Pakistan (now India) in 1534. He married Bibi Bhani who was the younger daughter of Guru Amar Das who was the third Guru of the Sikhs. Ram Das became the fourth of the Ten Gurus of Sikhism. He was instrumental in organizing the structure of Sikh society. He was the author of four hymns of the Sikh Marriage Rites. He also founded the town of Ramdaspur which is now a Sikh holy city. He wrote many more hymns and 688 are included in the Guru Granth Sahib – a book of teachings for Sikhs.

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded in the Punjab region in the 15th century. Guru Nanak Dev was the first guru. Today, it is the fifth-largest world religion and has over 25 million followers. They follow a philosophy called Gurmat, meaning “of the gurus” which was designed by the Ten Gurus. Devout Sikhs are to embody the ideal of “Sant-Sipahie” or saint-soldier. This means they must have control over their vices and be immersed in virtues. Their principle beliefs are Faith and Justice. They advocate for salvation through personal meditation centered on the name and message of God.

Sikhism is a revealed religion and is based not on a final destination of heaven or hell, but rather on a spiritual union with God which results in salvation. The Khalsa Code of Conduct is the official guide for Sikhs and was laid out by the last of the Ten Gurus. They do not believe in reincarnation; this is your chance to reach salvation. In the Khalsa, members are said to be part of the Army of God. They are not the army of the Punjab nor the Sikhs. They are tasked with protecting and safeguarding all people regardless of religion, color, race, or creed.

Between 1469 and 1708, the Ten Gurus were able to lay down the foundations for the new religion and give an underlying structure for believers to follow. Guru means teacher, guide, or mentor. As each new leader emerged, he reinforced previous teachings and laid down new ones to help define the religious tenets. Today, Punjab is the only place on Earth with a Sikh majority however there are many who live outside the region in India and small enclaves elsewhere around the globe.

I have studied the scriptures of the great religions, but I do not find elsewhere the same power of appeal to the heart and mind as I find here in these volumes. – Pearl S. Buck on Sikhs

If some lucky men survive the onslaught of the third world war of atomic and hydrogen bombs, then the Sikh religion will be the only means of guiding them.  – Bertrand Russell

Unlike the scriptures of other creeds, they do not contain love stories or accounts of wars waged for selfish considerations. They contain sublime truths, the study of which cannot but elevate the reader spiritually, morally, and socially. – Max Arthur Macauliffe

British people are highly indebted and obliged to Sikhs for a long time. I know that within this century we needed their help twice and they did help us very well. As a result of their timely help, we are today able to live with honour, dignity, and independence. – Winston Churchill

Also on this day:

Yesterdays and Todays – In 1909, the Burgess Shale site was discovered.
Thin Red Line – In 1963, a direct link between Washington, D.C. and Moscow was established.
Wreck of the Pandora – In 1791, the Pandora sinks.

Tagged with: , ,

Day Tripper

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 29, 2012

August 29, 1966: The Beatles give their last paid full concert. The performance was held at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. They performed eleven songs in front of an appreciative audience. A rough recording of the concert was not released, however much of the audio has found its way online. The audio cuts out during the last few minutes, leaving “Long Tall Sally” a little short. Film of the concert was taken by a 15-year-old in attendance and has been seen in a documentary called The Unseen Beatles. Other official footage from news teams from San Francisco and Sacramento are also included.

The Beatles were a British rock band made up of four people. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey) became one of the most popular rock bands in history. The band was formed with five members early on and through shifting personnel changes, came to us in America as the Fab Four and led the second British Invasion. They began to gain popularity in 1962 with the release in the UK of their first single, “Love Me Do”. By the time they got to the US shores in 1964, Beatlemania was an international phenomenon.

The Beatles are the best-selling band in history with record sales of over 1 billion units. They also hold the record for #1 album spots in the UK and have held that spot for the longest time. They have won numerous awards both during their tenure and after their breakup in 1970. They were listed as the #1 artists in Billboard’s 2008 listing. As a group, they were listed as one of the top 100 most influential people of the last century. John was murdered in 1980 and George died in 2001. Paul continues to perform and is one of the wealthiest people in England. Ringo also continues to perform, both musically and as an actor.

Candlestick Park is in the Bayview Heights area of San Francisco. Ground breaking took place on August 12, 1958 and the stadium opened two years later. Construction costs ran to $15 million ($111 million in today’s dollars). The name has changed over time and now is once again back to being Candlestick Park. It is the home stadium of the San Francisco 49ers, a National Football League team. It has also been home to the San Francisco Giants, a Major League Baseball team and for one year (1961) was home to the Oakland Raiders, another NFL team. Owned and operated by the city and county, it seats 69,732 fans today.

Gene Autry was the most. It may sound like a joke – Go and have a look in my bedroom, It’s covered with Gene Autry posters. He was my first musical influence. – Ringo Starr

I wanted to be successful, not famous. – George Harrison

Buy, buy, says the sign in the shop window; Why, why, says the junk in the yard. – Paul McCartney

If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace. – John Lennon

Also on this day:

Have You Hugged Your Hog Today? – In 1885, Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler patents the motorcycle.
Last Man Standing – In 1911, Ishi was found.
The Ashes – In 1882, The Ashes rivalry begins.

Tagged with: ,

Enceladus

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 28, 2012

William Herschel

August 28, 1789: William Herschel discovered Enceladus. It is the sixth largest moon of Saturn and was named for a mythological giant. Little was known of this moon until the two Voyager spacecraft passed near it in the early 1980s. The diameter is about 310 miles (our own moon is about 1,080 miles) and it is about 1/10 the size of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. There is water ice on the surface, making it particularly good at reflecting the sun’s light. The Voyager’s passing showed that the moon is both covered in craters from old impacts but also shows signs of tectonically deformed terrain. In 2005, Cassini showed the surface in greater detail and led scientists to determine that the moon is still geologically active.

Sir Frederick William Herschel was born in Germany on November 15, 1738. He was a musician and followed his father into the Military Band of Hanover. However, he emigrated to England when he was 19. He is known as a British astronomer and technical expert as well as a musician. He not only studied the night skies but also composed 24 symphonies. It was William’s love of music that led him to study mathematics and lenses. With this knowledge, his interest in astronomy was piqued. He met Nevil Maskelyne, an English Astronomer Royal and became even more enchanted.

William began to build his own reflecting telescopes and studied stars that were proximal in the night sky. By measuring small changes he hoped to gain a better understanding of the true position of the stars. He used a 7-foot focal length, 6.2-inch aperture telescope of his own manufacture and began a systematic search of the sky from his back yard. He found many double and multiple stars and reported to the Royal Society. His discoveries were cataloged and he continued to search, discover, and report his findings.

In March 1781, while still searching for double stars, Herschel noticed a nonstellar disk. He thought it might be a comet. He made many more observations and finally was able to chart the object’s orbit. This helped to convince him that the object was probably planetary. He named his new planet “Georgian star” for King George III which pleased the king. However the name didn’t stick. The French were particularly loathe to use the name and referred to the body as “Herschel” instead. After much debate, the planet was finally named what we now call it – Uranus.

All human discoveries seem to be made only for the purpose of confirming more strongly the truths come from on high, and contained in the sacred writings.

The difference of the degrees in which the individuals of a great community enjoy the good things of life has been a theme of declaration and discontent in all ages.

The undevout astronomer must be mad.

I have looked further into space than ever human being did before me. I have observed stars of which the light, it can be proved, must take two million years to reach the earth. – all from William Herschel

Also on this day:

First Tornado Photograph – In 1884, the first tornado photograph is made.
Sci Am – In 1845, Scientific American began publication.
Odds and Evens – In 888, the last date written in all even numbers for over a thousand years.

Sculptor

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 27, 2012

Pietà

August 27, 1498: Michelangelo receives a commission from Cardinal Jean Biheres de Ladraulas for a funerary statue. Michelangelo was born on March 6, 1475 and was a Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer. His first love was sculpture and when asked to paint, he would acquiesce but claim he was a sculptor, not a painter. When asked to take on other projects, he would repeat that he was a sculptor. His poetry comes to us today on the edges of papers he used to make preliminary drawings for both his sculpture and his painted works.

The French Cardinal asked the young sculptor to create a piece for his tomb. He was already an old man and would, in fact, die the following year. It took Michelangelo less than two years to create his work and it was placed in the Chapel of Santa Petronilla as part of the mausoleum for the Cardinal. Shortly after it’s installation, according to legend, the sculptor overheard a viewer speak about the work and was horrified as the appreciative man was told it was done by another artist. Therefore, the true artist signed the work with his entire name and place of birth, claiming his Florentine heritage. It is the only signed piece by Michelangelo. He regretted the act of hubris and vowed to never again mar his work in this manner.

The statue the young artist created is the Pietà. It was made of Carrara marble and depicts the Virgin Mother holding the body of her crucified Son. A young woman looks down upon her son with an expression of intense sadness. Jesus does not show signs of the Passion because Michelangelo did not want the statue to be about death so much as to show the serene face of Jesus as he has conquered death for his followers. It was moved several times after completion and sustained damage in one of the moves. Four of Mary’s fingers were broken off and restored in 1736.

On May 21, 1972 (Pentecost Sunday), the statue was attacked by Laszlo Toth, a disturbed geologist. He walked into the chapel at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City where the Pietà now resides. Toth used a geologist’s hammer to attack the work while shouting, “I am Jesus Christ.” As pieces of marble scattered, onlookers picked up the bits and kept them as mementos, adding to the chaos. Some of the pieces were returned to help repair the work, but many were not. Mary’s nose had to be repaired from a block of marble cut out of her back. The statue was painstakingly repaired and returned to the same chapel, only now it is behind a bullet-proof acrylic glass panel.

If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.

Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish.

I cannot live under pressures from patrons, let alone paint.

The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection. – all from Michelangelo Buonarroti

Also on this day:

Powerful Industry – In 1859, the modern day oil industry starts.
War is Hell – In 1896, the shortest war in history was fought.
Kǒng Qiū – In 551 BC, Confucius is born.

Big Chuck

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 26, 2012

Charles de Gaulle enters Paris

August 26, 1944: Charles de Gaulle enters Paris. De Gaulle was a French general who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He was born in 1890 and was a veteran of World War I. Between the wars, he was known as a proponent of the mobile armored divisions. During the second war, he led one of the few successful armored counter-attacks at the Battle of France in May 1940. He rejected the 1940 armistice with Nazi Germany from the outset. De Gaulle escaped to England before France fell to Germany in June 1940. Paris was occupied by conquerors on June 14, 1940.

De Gaulle, in England, gave a radio address broadcast by the BBC pleading with French nationals to resist the German invaders. He organized the Free French Forces using other exiles in Britain. He also slowly amassed the oversight of French colonial holdings except for Indonesia, which was under the control of a pro-German Vichy regime. Although he gained a reputation of being a difficult man to work with, by the time the French were ready to retake Paris, de Gaulle was essentially the leader of the French government in exile.

Roosevelt did not wish to set up a provisional government in France and wished to let the now free French vote for the leaders they wished. De Gaulle, however, disagreed and did not want an Allied military government in place. Churchill tried to mediate between the two leaders without much success. After the success of D-Day, the liberation of Europe was in full swing. The Germans were retreating as the Allies advanced. Paris was not a strategic site and not on the Allied list of important cities to control. De Gaulle, however, lobbied for it to be a priority. This was done and on this day, the French General was once again inside his own city.

After the war, de Gaulle was the prime minister of the provisional French government. He resigned in 1946 over political conflict. He was, however, voted back into power as prime minister in May 1958. A new constitution was written under his auspices and the Fifth Republic was founded. De Gaulle was elected President, an office with more power than under the previous constitutions. He resigned from the Presidency on April 28, 1969. He died at his home on November 9, 1970 just a few weeks shy of his 80th birthday.

All my life I have had a certain idea of France.

France has no friends, only interests. (In response to Clementine Churchill, “General, you must not hate your friends more than you hate your enemies.”)

Let us be firm, pure and faithful; at the end of our sorrow, there is the greatest glory of the world, that of the men who did not give in.

Politics, when it is an art and a service, not an exploitation, is about acting for an ideal through realities. – all from Charles de Gaulle

Also on this day:

The Terminal Man – In 1988, Merhan Karrimi Nasseri hit the airport.
Explosive – in 1883, Krakatau began to erupt.
Negligence – In 1928, the first negligence case was started.

National Parks

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 25, 2012

United States National Park Service logo

August 25, 1916: The United States National Park Service (NPS) is formed. The Service sprang from an idea first put into action in 1872 when Yellowstone National Park was established. Back in 1832, George Catlin, an artist, traveled to the Great Plains region of the US. He was concerned about the destruction taking place by the native residents, the animal inhabitants, and the influx of pioneering Americans. He advocated for a system to protect lands from human contamination. This had no immediate success, but authors back East began to take up the topic. Out West, in California, state leaders set up a system to protect Yosemite Valley and this was backed by President Lincoln who signed an Act protecting the land in 1864.

While there is a myth about discoverers asking for a Park system to be set up to protect the lands, in actuality, it was the Northern Pacific Railroad Company who made a big push to conserve the lands and create the parks. They needed customers to use the railway and having these wonderful destinations would encourage easterners to travel westward and visit nature, the likes unknown along the East Coast. The next park to be created was Mackinac National Park in Michigan. This second park came into being in 1875. At first, the military installations in the regions cared for the lands, but eventually, control was given over to federal agents.

The first Director of the Service was Stephen Mather who took office on May 16, 1917 and held it until January 8, 1929. There have been seventeen more directors in the intervening years, most holding the office for several years. Today, Jonathan Jarvis is the Director. The NPS comes under the United States Department of the Interior, whose head is the Secretary of the Interior, a Cabinet post which is an appointment of the President and must be confirmed by the Senate. There are 21,989 employees of the NPS and they oversee 397 units, 58 of them national parks. These cover about 84 million acres.

The NPS also cares for national monuments and memorials as well as military parks. They care for national cemeteries and natural areas, such as wilderness regions. They tend to historical sites, recreation areas, and national parkways. Their current budget is divided into mandatory and discretionary spending, spending about $2.25 million to take care of this precious resource, natural lands. The most visited system is the Blue Ridge Parkway which has over 16 million visitors annually. The entire system sees about 280 million users each year.

The parks do not belong to one state or to one section…. The Yosemite, the Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon are national properties in which every citizen has a vested interest; they belong as much to the man of Massachusetts, of Michigan, of Florida, as they do to the people of California, of Wyoming, and of Arizona. – Stephen Mather

The parks are the Nation’s pleasure grounds and the Nation’s restoring places…. The national parks…are an American idea; it is one thing we have that has not been imported. – Horace McFarland

National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst. – Wallace Stegner

National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst. – Theodore Roosevelt

Also on this day:

Swimming the English Channel – In 1875 Matthew Webb becomes the first to swim the English Channel.
Men in the Moon – In 1835, the Great Moon Hoax articles first began to see print.
I See – In 1609, Galileo demonstrated his telescope.

Not a Black Hole – Yet

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 24, 2012

Job Charnock

August 24, 1690: Job Charnock establishes another factory. Charnock was born in London around 1630 into a Puritan family. His older brother was a famous preacher, ministering to Henry Cromwell. Job became a businessman and traveled to India under the employment of Maurice Thomson. While in India, Charnock joined the East India Company. He was stationed in a variety of places and while there, learned the local languages and dressed as the natives. He was a morose man who reported smuggling among his coworkers. While this (and his business acumen) endeared him to the Company, it led to alienation with his compatriots.

His success in factory operation led to advancements and by 1685 he was made chief agent in Bengal. He came into conflict with locals over trade restrictions. This led to hostilities and eventually a truce was reached. However, during this time, Charnock lost his beloved wife, a loss from which he would never recover. He next went on a secret expedition to set up a fortified settlement in Bengal. Charnock found a spot and after persuading the powers in Madras, he returned to his desired location. He chose the spot because of the ease with which it could be defended. He established his new factory on this day, in Calcutta.

Today it is spelled Kolkata and is the capital of West Bengal. At one time, Calcutta was the capital of the British Indian empire, but in 1911 that moved to Delhi. The region has been inhabited for over 2,000 years but prior to Charnock’s coming, nothing is recorded. The founder of the city was said to be Charnock until 2003 when the Calcutta High Court ruled there was no founder. Today, Kolkata comprises what used to be Kalikata, Gobindapur, and Sutanuti.

The city covers 570 square miles and has a population of nearly 4.5 million. It is located on the east bank of the Hooghly River, part of the Ganges Delta system. The climate is tropical with a rainy season during the summer months. It is home to the Calcutta Stock Exchange and is a major commercial and military port. The mayor is Sovan Chatterjee who oversees the city’s 15 boroughs.

Take your map of India, and find, if you can, a more uninviting spot than Calcutta. – George Trevelyan

Thus the midday halt of Charnock – more’s the pity! – / Grew a City / As the fungus sprouts chaotic from its bed / So it spread – Rudyard Kipling

The Square itself is composed of magnificent houses which render Calcutta not only the handsomest town in Asia but one of the finest in the world. – L. de Grandpré

Calcutta, more than New Delhi, is the British-built city of India. – V. S. Naipaul

Also on this day:

Pompeii Disappears – In AD 79, Mount Vesuvius erupts.
Waffling – In 1869, a waffle iron was patented.
George Crum – In 1853, George Crum invents potato chips.

French Wars of Religion

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 23, 2012

St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacres (painting by Francois Dubois)

August 23, 1532: The St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacres begin. The clash began in Coligny and moved outward to Paris. The French Wars of Religion lasted for years – beginning in 1562 and finally coming to an end in 1598. The Protestants (Huguenots, England, and Scotland) were pitched against the Politique (government of France) and the Catholics who were supported by Spain. There were seven waves of hostilities with this being the fourth wave.

Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France. Today, practitioners are simply called French Protestants. They began as followers of John Calvin (1509 – 1564). The three major issues leading up to the St. Bartholomew’s Day event were: First, The Peace of Saint-Germain-en-Laye which ended the third war of religion on August 8, 1570. This war was a Huguenot setback when their prince de Condé was slain. His replacement was Henry III of Navarre who would later become Henry IV. Second, Henry III of Navarre married Margaret of Valois on August 18, 1572. The marriage between the Huguenot prince and Catholic lady was unacceptable to both sides. Third, the final straw was a failed assassination attempt on Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, the Huguenot cosigner of the 1570 peace treaty.

Paris was an anti-Huguenot area and when Henry came to be married, he was accompanied by many well-born Protestants. The Catholic Parlement of Paris went so far as to snub the marriage. The Pope did not give his blessing to the union, either. As the wedding festivities, such as the were, ended, Gaspard was shot while out on the streets of Paris. Maurevert, belonging to the Catholic house of Guise, escaped after shooting the Admiral. Gaspard suffered a shattered left elbow as well as losing a finger on his right hand.

The Protestants demanded Justice, the Catholics stonewalled, partly from fear. Coligny’s brother led 4,000 Huguenot troops to Paris. The King opted to order the killing of two to three dozen Protestant leaders still in Paris for the wedding, including Gaspard. The resulting melee and months of war left thousands dead. Rates range from 2,000 to 10,000 killed in this portion of the seven wars. Discontent between the religions remained and was acted upon both in Europe and in the New World.

We had better dispense with the personification of evil, because it leads, all too easily, to the most dangerous kind of war: religious war. – Konrad Lorenz

The chief contribution of Protestantism to human thought is its massive proof that God is a bore. – H. L. Mencken

Christian: One who follows the teachings of Christ insofar as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin. – Ambrose Bierce

Hospitals perform more miracles than churches. – Luree

Also on this day:

The Blue Planet – In 1966, the first pictures came back from the Moon.
Holy God – In 1948, the World Council of Churches was founded.
Fannie Farmer – In 1902, Fannie Farmer opened her own cooking school.

Monsters

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 22, 2012

St. Columba

August 22, 565: St. Columba reputedly sends a monster away. He was born on December 7, 521 in Ireland. He is also known as Colum Cille in Old Irish which means dove of the Church. He is also called Colm Cille (Irish) and Calum Cille (Scottish Gaelic) and Kolban or Kolbjørn (Old Norse). He was one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland and worked as a missionary in Ireland and Scotland. In 560, while studying under St. Finnian, Columba copied a manuscript with the intention of keeping it for himself. Finnian disputed Columba’s right to keep the psalter and the disagreement led to the Battle of Cúl Dreimhne in 561. Several men were killed and Columba was nearly excommunicated. Instead, he was sent to Scotland.

There, he ministered to the Picts, a group of Late Iron Age and Early Medieval people in eastern and northern Scotland. He arrived in Scotland with twelve followers. He provided educational opportunities as his was the only center of literacy in the region. He also grew in stature as a religious man and a settler of disputes among the tribes. Because of his leadership skills and friendship with King Breidi (a pagan), Columba was able to influence local politics even though he was unsuccessful as converting the King to Christianity.

According to a biography of the saint’s life (in three volumes) written by Adomnán (who died in 704), on this day Columba came across a group of Picts near Ness River burying a man who had been killed by a monster. Another swimmer was in peril and Columba saved him from certain death at the hands of the same monster by using the sign of the Cross (a religious ritual) and saying “Thou shalt go no further, nor touch the man; go back with all speed.” The beast fled and the remaining Picts glorified Columba. This is said to be the first reference to the Loch Ness monster.

The Loch Ness monster reportedly lives in Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. The description of the beast varies with each report. The wider world was made aware of Nessie in 1933 when George Spicer and his wife claimed to have seen the monster when it ran in front of their car. The next month, another man, Arthur Grant, claimed to have nearly hit the creature while riding his motorcycle. Many more sightings followed. Even with the advent of ever-present cell phones with photo capability, no one has ever gotten a clear picture of the monster.

The Loch Ness Monster is the world-famous creature said to inhabit Loch Ness in northern Scotland. The search for the monster has probably consumed more money, time, and newspaper space than attempts to prove the existence or otherwise of UFOs. – Peter D. Jeans

The Loch Ness monster doesn’t exist either. Loch Ness is just not big enough to hide a thirty foot amphibian or reptile for hundreds of years. – Brien Jones

All types of high-tech underwater contraptions have gone in after the Loch Ness Monster, but no one can find her … Some people in Inverness aren’t keen on collaring the monster, and you can’t blame them: An old prophecy predicts a violent end for Inverness if the monster is ever captured. – Danforth Prince

Alone with none but Thee, my God, I journey on my way; what need I fear when Thou art near, Oh King of night and day? More safe am I within Thy hand than if a host did round me stand. – St. Columba, attributed

Also on this day:

“Excuse My Dust” – In 1893, Dorothy Parker is born.
The Temperature at which Paper Burns – In 1920, Ray Bradbury was born.
America’s Cup – In 1851, the first America’s Cup race is run.