Little Bits of History

August 21

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 21, 2017

1883: A tornado touches down in Rochester, Minnesota. In 1863, William Worrall Mayo came to the area as part of his service as an examining surgeon for the draft board during the US Civil War. He liked the region and brought his family out the next year. After the War, Mayo opened his private practice in Rochester and became a leading figure in local governance. His two sons grew up in Rochester, went back east to get medical training. Both were away on this day when a massive tornado touched down and destroyed one-third of the town. There were at least 37 dead and more than 200 injured. The Mayo family escaped harm as did the Sisters of Saint Francis, led by Mother Alfred Moes.

The sisters were trained as teachers, but were immediately drafted into helping the wounded. After the crisis passed, Moes came to Mayo to ask about establishing a hospital in Rochester and he agreed, although by the time Saint Marys Hospital opened in 1889, Mayo was 70 years old and worked as a consulting physician. By then, both of his sons had completed their medical training and were on staff at the new hospital. Mayo considered Augustus Stinchfield to be the best doctor in the area and asked him to join the family practice. Stinchfield did and so WW Mayo was able to retire at the age of 73 in 1892. The new hospital grew with the early partners profit sharing.

WW Mayo died in 1911 and by 1919 the remaining founders created the Mayo Properties Association and their private practice became a not-for-profit entity. As their practice grew, they needed more space and new additions were added with the “Red” building going up in 1914 and the Mayo Institute for Experimental Medicine built in 1922. The Plummer building was added in 1927, the Mayo Clinic building went up in 1954, and the Gonda building opened in 2002. Each new building also incorporated new medical technologies as they became available.

Today, the Mayo Clinic has a presence in three large US areas: Rochester, Minnesota, Jacksonville, Florida, and Phoenix, Arizona. At their main campus in Minnesota, they have over 34,000 employees and about 6,000 at the other two sites. They own and operate the Mayo Clinic Health System which has over 70 hospitals and clinics across Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Georgia with another 17,000 employees. The Mayo Clinic sees over 1.3 million patients per year from all over the US who come for the specialized medical care offered. They are noted for their research, education, and innovative medical care. In 2016-17, the Mayo Clinic, Rochester was voted as the number one hospital in the US by the US News & World Report. There were nearly 5,000 facilities also judged.

Physical symptoms, emotions, social pressure, conditioned thinking, lack of awareness, and other factors influence behaviors. To lose weight, you need to target those underlying factors, not just what you eat or do. – Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic Diet

Learn to relax. – Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic Diet

Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, involves a wearing away of the tough, lubricated cartilage that normally cushions the ends of the bones in your joints. – Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic on Arthritis

What is diabetes? The term diabetes refers to a group of diseases that affect the way your body uses blood glucose, commonly called blood sugar. – Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic Essential Book of Diabetes: How to Prevent, Control, and Live Well with Diabetes




August 20

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 20, 2017

1938: Lou Gehrig sets a new record. Henry Louis Gehrig was born in 1903 in Manhattan. He was the son of German immigrants and weighed almost 14 pounds at birth. His father was an alcoholic and often out of work, so his mother supported the family working as a maid. His two sisters and brother died early. Lou went by his middle name to keep from being confused with his father, who had the same name. Lou came to the attention of baseball fans at an early age. While playing in high school in front of a crowd of 10,000, 17-year-old Lou hit a grand slam completely out of the ballpark, an unheard of feat of prowess for someone so young.

Lou graduated from high school in 1921 and attended Columbia University on a football scholarship and studied engineering. New York Giants manager advised the young man to play summer professional baseball under an alias even before he started college. He did, but was found out and was banned from college sports for a year. He did play his sophomore year as fullback and in the spring played for his college baseball team at first base and as pitcher. On the day Yankee Stadium opened with Babe Ruth hitting a home run, Gehrig was pitching for Columbia and struck out 17 Williams College batters setting a team record.

Paul Krichell, a Yankee scout, had been watching Gehrig and liked his pitching, but not as much as he was impressed with Gehrig’s batting. Lou was hitting some of the farthest distance home runs of all time including a 450 foot home run at a home game, in which the ball landed outside the park at 116th Street and Broadway. Gehrig was signed to the Yankees on April 30, but played in the minors for parts of two seasons. He joined the New York Yankees part way through the 1923 season at the age of 19. He saw limited play in his first two years. In 1926, Gehrig really made it to the big times. During his first full season and playing at first base, the young man batted .313 with 47 doubles, 20 triples (leading in the American league), 16 home runs and 112 RBIs.

Gehrig played for the Yankees until 1939 and racked up an impressive number of records and awards. He played for the All Stars seven times and was World Series champion six times with being the American League’s MVP twice. He was an amazing batter and even hit four home runs in one game in 1932. He was captain of his team from 1935-39. On this day, he set a record for the most grand slams at 23. The record stood until 2013 when Alex Rodriguez surpassed the Iron Horse. Gehrig’s performance was sluggish in the last half of the 1938 season and by spring training the next year, it was noted that something was terribly wrong. On his 36th birthday, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or what came to be called Lou Gehrig’s disease. Two days later, he retired from baseball. He died on June 2, 1941 at the age of 37.

There is no room in baseball for discrimination. It is our national pastime and a game for all.

I love to win; but I love to lose almost as much. I love the thrill of victory, and I also love the challenge of defeat.

In the beginning I used to make one terrible play a game. Then I got so I’d make one a week and finally I’d pull a bad one about once a month. Now, I’m trying to keep it down to one a season.

I might have had a tough break; but I have an awful lot to live for. – all from Lou Gehrig



August 19

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 19, 2017

295 BC: Quintus Fabius Maximus Gurges dedicates a temple. Gurges was the son of Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus, five time consul (highest elected office in the Roman Republic), and a war hero during the Samnite Wars. There were three separate engagements, 343 BC to 341 BC, 326 BC to 304 BC, and 298 BC to 290 BC where the Romans and Samnites contested control of area south of Rome and north of the Lucanians in the Apennine Mountains. Because the wars waged over different reasons and involved different allies, the Etruscans, Umbrians, Picenti, and Senone Gauls were also fighting as well. These wars were young Rome’s testing ground and proved their ability to overcome formidable rivals.

Gurges was not living up to his potential but with his pedigree, was honored with election to Consul. Gurges comes from “the glutton” and refers to the indiscretions of his youth. Setting aside his hedonistic lifestyle, he embarked on a life of public service. In 295 BC, he was Curule Aedile, a public office dedicated to public buildings and regulations of festivals. There were two kinds of aediles, a plegeian one for the lesser status, and a curule one, for both the lesser and higher status patricians. These offices were usually held by young men who were going to make a life in politics. In this capacity, the Curule could hold festivals and increase his name recognition.

In this vein, Fabius Gurges, trying to lose the gluttonous name, levied fines against wealthy women convicted of adultery. There is no record of how many women were convicted nor what their fines were, but the monies were used to build the first temple to Venus near the Circus Maximus. Venus, the Roman goddess of love, beauty, desire, sex, fertility, prosperity, and victory, was akin to the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Venus was the mother of Aeneas, who survived the fall of Troy and fled to Italy. Julius Caesar claimed to derive from her line. She was the central figure of many Roman festivals and revered in the Roman pantheon.

Fabius built this first temple on Aventine Hill, but more would follow as the goddess helped Rome conquer ever more territory. Most of these shrines were lost to antiquity, but some remnants of Venus’s great status remain. Fabius apparently gained enough status with the building of the first temple to be elected as Consul for the first time in 292 BC. He was not the brilliant strategist his father was and he was soundly defeated by the Samnites. In respect for his father, he was given a chance to prove himself and was elected to Consul twice more, to recover his reputation. It worked and he became a successful general and eventually even outstripped his father with honors within the state. He was killed in battle during his last Consulship.

Venus favors the bold. – Ovid

When their city was occupied by the Gauls, and the Romans, who were besieged in the Capitol, had made military engines from the hair of the women, they dedicated a temple to the Bald Venus. – Lactantius

For an actress to be a success, she must have the face of a Venus, the brains of a Minerva, the grace of Terpsichore, the memory of a MaCaulay, the figure of Juno, and the hide of a rhinoceros. – Ethel Barrymore

Our grandkids will lead the lives of the gods of mythology. Zeus could think and move objects around. We’ll have that power. Venus had a perfect, timeless body. We’ll have that, too. Pegasus was a flying horse. We’ll be able to modify life in the future. – Michio Kaku



August 18

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 18, 2017

1940: Britain’s Hardest Day. By June 1940, Nazi Germany had taken over Western Europe and Scandinavia. Britain refused to negotiate a peace with Hitler and so he issued (Wehrmacht) Directive No. 16 on July 16. Operation Sea Lion was the German code name for their plan to invade the British Isles. In order for Germany to invade the island nation, they had to have air superiority over Britain. The Luftwaffe was ordered to destroy the Royal Air Force before land troops could swarm the islands. Hermann Goring was given the task of planning the destruction of the RAF. The primary target for this assault was the RAF Fighter Command.

The Luftwaffe carried out a number of attacks in July and early August attacking shipping in the English Channel with little success. They had a particularly daring plan scheduled for August 13. On that day, Adletag, or Eagle Day, they planned a concerted attack on British airfields but it was a failure. In order to destroy the RAF, they had to trap planes on the ground and so redoubled their efforts on this day. The German’s assumed British air strength was depleted by previous attacks but their numbers were off. Even as August wore on and the RAF suffered losses, they had more planes and pilots in reserve than Germany knew about.

The Germans thought they would need to take out 300 existing British planes. But Great Britain had 855 serviceable machines and another 289 at storage units and 84 at training centers. With 1,438 fighters at the disposal of the RAF, Britain was up to the challenge of defending itself from the air. Britain had been planning air defense since spring and understood the imminent danger even before France fell. They did not, however, believe dogfights could take place, since the faster planes would exert too much g-force for bodies to tolerate. They knew they needed to defend the air by placing anti-aircraft guns around the perimeter of their island.

There were several attacks waged in various parts of England on this day. Both sides suffered great losses but Germany’s losses were far heavier. Britain had 27-34 fighters destroyed compared to Germany’s 69-71. But the RAF also lost 29 planes on the ground with another 23 damaged. In the air, they had 39 planes damaged while Germany had 31 damaged. Ten Britons were killed with another 19 wounded while there were 94 Germans killed, 25 wounded, and 40 captured. Both sides lost more aircraft on this day than at any point in the Battle of Britain, including September 15. Because of these heavy losses, the day became known as “The Hardest Day”.

The laurels for the day’s action went to the defenders.

he aim of the Luftwaffe was to wear down the Fighter Command without suffering excessive losses in the process, and in this it had failed.

It cost the attackers five aircrew killed, wounded, or taken prisoner, for each British pilot casualty. In terms of aircraft, it had cost the Luftwaffe five bombers and fighters for every three Spitfires and Hurricanes destroyed in the air or on the ground.

If the battle continued at this rate the Luftwaffe would wreck Fighter Command, but it would come close to wrecking itself in the process. – all from Alfred Price



August 17

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 17, 2017

1549: The Prayer Book Rebellion comes to an end. There are several names for the rebellion/revolt which took place in Devon and Cornwall in England. During the 16th century, England broke away from the Catholic Church. As part of that process, the Book of Common Prayer was presented as a rule book for the change in religious practices, rites, and services. Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, was the author of the book and one of the leaders in the enforcement of it. This was a widely and wildly unpopular change, especially in areas steeped in Catholicism. Along with decades of poor economic conditions and the raising of prices for everyday needs, the citizens revolted.

Traditional processions and pilgrimages were banned and any symbols of the Catholic Church were confiscated. In Cornwall, William Body was in charge of enforcing Cranmer’s rules and believed it included religious shrines, which he desecrated. This led to his murder on April 5, 1548. A poll tax was levied on sheep and Cornwall was a sheep farming district. The local aristocratic leadership wasn’t local anymore with Lord Russell residing in London. Locals had more of a free reign in expressing themselves and their dissatisfaction with the system. The area was not at all keen to be part of England in the best of times and often tried to separate themselves from London’s rule.

The Act of Uniformity made it no longer legal to hold religious services in Latin, the Catholic method. Instead, the liturgy had to be done in English. This outraged the citizens of Devon and Cornwall who partly spoke Cornish and didn’t understand the English version. The parishioners of Stamford Courtenay in Devon forced the priest to revert to Latin and this was the sparking event which triggered the entire pent up anger of the region and began a revolt. After decades of oppression at the hands of the British aristocracy, the peasants, whose way of life was being systematically dismantled, declared to “Kill all the gentlemen”.

In London, King Edward VI and his Privy Council sent in troops to “pacify” the rebels as well as instructing Lord Russell to take an army into the region and with mercenary soldiers, bring about a military solution to the problem. There were several different military engagements between June 6, 1549 and this date. At the Battle of Sampford Courenay, Russell had amassed troops numbering about 8,000 and greatly outnumbered the rebels. They were able to overrun the last holdouts to the rebellion. Although leaders were able to escape, they were tracked down and executed. In all, about 5,500 died in the revolt which was totally quashed and the Common Book of Prayer continued to be used throughout the country.

Kill all the gentlemen and we will have the Six Articles up again, and ceremonies as they were in King Henry’s time. – slogan of the rebellion

And so we the Cornyshe men (whereof certen of us understande no Englysh) utterly refuse thys newe English. – from the eighth Article of the Demands of the Western Rebels

I am often asked about my attitude to the Prayerbook Rebellion and in my opinion, there is no doubt that the English Government behaved brutally and stupidly and killed many Cornish people. I don’t think apologising for something that happened over 500 years ago helps, but I am sorry about what happened and I think it was an enormous mistake. – Bishop of Truro (June 2007)

West Cornwall was inhabited by a population of Celtic descent, which was mostly Cornish speaking; the western part of East Cornwall was inhabited by a population of Celtic descent, which had largely abandoned the Cornish tongue in favor of English; and the eastern part of East Cornwall was inhabited by a population of Anglo-Saxon descent, which was entirely English speaking. – Mark Stoyle



August 16

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 16, 2017

1869: The Battle of Acosta Ñu is fought. It was part of the Paraguayan War, also called the War of the Triple Alliance and the Great War in Paraguay. Paraguay stood against the Triple Alliance of Argentina, the Empire of Brazil, and Uruguay. The war lasted from 1864 until 1870 and with an estimated 400,000 deaths was the deadliest and bloodiest war in Latin America’s history. Paraguay had a strong army prior to the war’s start but by the end, had lost about 70% of their male population. They were forced to cede territory to Argentina and Brazil at the end.

The Paraguayan Army suffered a total collapse and after conventional warfare was no longer possible, President Francisco Lopez waged a guerrilla war for another 14 months. By the time of this particular battle, the Paraguayan Army was in rapid retreat. Asunción, Paraguay’s largest city and capitol, was occupied by Alliance forces but Lopez refused to surrender. Instead, he fled the city and vowed to continue fighting to the end. The Brazilian commander, Luís Alves de Lima e Silva, Duke of Caxias, opined the war was militarily over and fighting should cease. The Brazilian emperor, Pedro II, wanted to keep fighting until Lopez was completely quashed.

Caxias refused to continue the fight and resigned. The emperor’s son-in-law, Luís Filipe Gastão de Orléans, Count of Eu, took command of the Brazilian Army. He brought the troops to Caacupe, even though Lopez had fled to Caraguatay. Count d’Eu sent the army’s 1st Corps in pursuit of Lopez. After securing Caacupe, the Alliance troops engaged with the rearguard of the Paraguayan Army on this day at Acosta Ñu, or Acosta’s Field. The field was about 4.6 square miles which was perfect for the Brazilian cavalry. They charged at 8 AM and had the infantry follow up. The Paraguayan retreated across the Yagari River and were outflanked.

The Paraguayan Army was filled with young boys, some with mustaches drown on their faces. As the Alliance soldiers attacked, these frightened children would cling to them and beg for mercy. They were decapitated without hesitation. As they were surrounded, the children tried to flee, but the Brazilian commander ordered the field to be set on fire and the children were killed by the blaze. Of the 3,646 Paraguayans involved in the battle, 2,000 were killed and 1,500 were wounded or captured. The Brazilian army lost 182 and had 420 wounded. In Paraguay, this date is remembered as Children’s Day, a national holiday to commemorate the many children who died in this battle.

Childhood means simplicity. Look at the world with the child’s eye – it is very beautiful. – Kailash Satyarthi

I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection. – Sigmund Freud

It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. – Berkeley Breathed

Unhappy is he to whom the memories of childhood bring only fear and sadness. – H. P. Lovecraft



August 15

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 15, 2017

1843: Tivoli Gardens opens. Located in Copenhagen, Denmark, it is the second oldest operating amusement park in the world. The oldest is also in Denmark. Tivoli is the most visited park in Scandinavia (almost 5 million people per year) and the fourth most visited in Europe, behind Disneyland Paris, Europa-Park, and Efteling. It was originally called Tivoli & Vauxhall, alluding to the Jardin de Tivoli in Paris and Vauxhall Gardens in London. Georg Carstensen was granted a five-year charter from King Christian VIII with the task of creating the park. The King noted that when “people are amusing themselves, they do not think of politics” and therefore granted about 15 acres for the project.

The land was originally outside Copenhagen in the fortified glacis outside the West Gate. To get to Tivoli, patrons had to travel through Vesterport. The park, even from the very start, had a variety of amusements. Buildings were erected in an imaginary Orient style and housed a theater, band stands, restaurants, and cafes along with flower gardens. There were mechanical rides even in the early days and at opening, there was both a merry-go-round and a scenic railway. After dark, colored lamps were lit in the gardens making them a stunning attraction. On special days, a fireworks display could be seen overhead as well as reflected in Tivoli’s lake.

There have been many upgrades over the nearly two centuries of entertainment. The first in 1874 saw The Pantomime Theatre (also built in a Chinese style) taking over many smaller venues. Even now, Columbine and Harlequin perform and since it is pantomime, all audiences can enjoy the show. In the 19th and early 20th centuries there were human exhibitions included. In 1943, Nazi sympathizers burned many of the buildings, including the concert hall. Temporary buildings were used until replacements could be built within a few weeks’ time. In 1914, a wooden roller coaster was added to the park and remains in operation today. Rutschebanen has an operator controlling the speed so it remains safe to ride. It’s top speed in 31 mph.

Rutschebanen is joined by three other roller coasters with the last built in 2004. The Demon has a top speed of 48 mph. Aquila was added in 2013 and is a giant swing generating centrifugal power generating up to 4G. Fatamorgana, a Condor ride, was added in 2016. There are also many kiddie rides available to amuse the younger crowd. There are other attractions with a Tivoli Festival held yearly from May 14 to September 8 with more than 50 different events included. Also on site are a number of performing arts venues offering a range of productions. The park also offers a Halloween Fest in October and Christmas Holidays in December. The builder declared it would never be complete and new things are being added continually.

Tivoli will never, so to speak, be finished, – Georg Carstensen, in 1844

The way I see it, love is an amusement park, and food its souvenir. – Stephanie Klein

In an amusement park, you can go on a roller coaster that carries you up and down, or you can go on another kind of ride that whirls you around in a circle. Similarly, there are different sorts of entertaining experiences in the theater. – Wallace Shawn

I’m not here for your amusement. You’re here for mine. – John Lydon



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August 14

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 14, 2017

1987: Kai Lama is raided. Santiniketan Park Association, Great White Brotherhood, or The Family was a New Age group formed in the mid-1960s in Australia under the leadership of Anne Hamilton-Byrne. She was a yoga teacher and said to be very charismatic. Born in 1921, she attended religious and philosophical discussion group meetings at the home of Raynor Johnson in 1964. These took place outside Melbourne and his home was called Santiniketan. He purchased the adjoining property and named the combined setting Santiniketan Park and built a lodge there, as well, in 1968. Most of the group were middle class professionals and many of them were doctors and nurses. Johnson referred his students to Hamilton-Byrne’s hatha yoga classes.

The Family began to believe Hamilton-Byrne was the reincarnation of Christ and a living god. She was likened to Buddha and Krishna, other enlightened beings. The group held a conglomeration of beliefs, mixing Christianity and Eastern mysticism. By the 1970s, many of the staff from Newhaven Hospital in Kew, a private psychiatric hospital, were also members of The Family. Many of the patients at Newhaven were treated with LSD. The hospital eventually came under investigation for some of their more outlandish treatments.

Hamilton-Byrne, with the help of her many medical associates, was able to adopt fourteen infants and young children between 1968 and 1975. Three of them were told they were her natural born children, the rest were told they were adopted. They were kept in seclusion at Kai Lama, a rural property near Eildon, Victoria. They were home-schooled by their Aunties and Uncles. They were often severely disciplined, often for little or no reason. They were beaten and starved as well as given a host of psychotropic drugs to keep them sedated. As teenagers, they were given LSD, placed in seclusion, and were initiated, into what is uncertain.

Sarah Hamilton-Byrne was one of the children who had been told Anne was her natural mother. She wasn’t. When Sarah was a teenager, she became more and more rebellious and she was banned from The Family in 1987 at the age of 17. She was befriended by Helen D who had been investigating the group and Sarah was able to work with two policewomen who she trusted. On this day, they raided Kai Lama and removed all the children from their “care”. Several of the aunties and uncles were criminally charged. Anne was extradited back to Australia, but the only thing she was charged with was making false statements regarding adoption. Sarah died at the age of 46, suffering most of her life as aftereffects of her time with The Family.

Family is not an important thing. It’s everything. – Michael J. Fox

The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. – Richard Bach

In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future. – Alex Haley

If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace. – Thich Nhat Hanh

August 13

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 13, 2017

1942: The Development of Substitute Materials get official approval. The project was undertaken by the US, the UK, and Canada under the US Army Corps of Engineers. Headquartered at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, it eventually became known as the Manhattan Project. Major General Leslie Groves was the overseeing head and J Robert Oppenheimer was the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory. The project began modestly in 1939. The year before Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman discovered nuclear fission in Germany. The theoretical explanation put out by Lise Meitne rand Otto Frisch made the development of an atomic bomb a possibility, at least in theory.

Scientists fled Nazi Germany and brought tales of the possibility of this new bomb technology being developed by the Nazis. Leo Szilard and Eugene Wigner drafted the Einstein-Szilard letter and warned President Roosevelt of the possibility and the President was duly impressed. Einstein signed the letter, did not ever work on the Manhattan Project, and later said that had he known Germany would not succeed in developing the bomb, he wouldn’t have supported the US working to do so. The US began increased research into uranium-235 isotope and plutonium.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, work increased with “enthusiasm” and a sense of urgency. The US declared war on Japan and Germany and study into this new line of weaponry was essential. In May 1942, their proposals were being finalized and requested a budget of $54 million for construction of bombs, $31 million for R&D, and $5 million for contingencies. This was sent to the executive office and approval came back on June 17 with “OK FDR” written on the document. Security for the project was tightened and work began in earnest. Oak Ridge and Los Alamos were the two main sites for the project but there were several others areas in the US and Canada where essential work was also undertaken.

Two types of bombs were developed but the Thin Man gun-type design proved impractical. The uranium and plutonium issues were eventually solved. Little Boy, another gun-type bomb, was developed. Fat Man, an implosion-type weapon was also developed. They managed to create the bombs and the first firing test was carried out on July 16, 1945 in New Mexico. Successfully completed, two bombs (the only other two bombs in the world at the time) were dropped on Japan the following month, bringing a Japanese surrender. The Manhattan Project cost about $2 billion ($27 billion today) to complete and had about 130,000 people working on it. The project was officially disbanded on August 15, 1947.

The atomic bomb made the prospect of future war unendurable. It has led us up those last few steps to the mountain pass; and beyond there is a different country. – J. Robert Oppenheimer

In this first testing ground of the atomic bomb I have seen the most terrible and frightening desolation in four years of war. It makes a blitzed Pacific island seem like an Eden. The damage is far greater than photographs can show. – Wilfred Burchett

I do not believe that civilization will be wiped out in a war fought with the atomic bomb. Perhaps two-thirds of the people of the earth will be killed. – Albert Einstein

I always go back to Harry Truman: Should we drop an atomic bomb to save 100,000 lives? That’s a hell of a decision to make. Did he make that decision by himself? No, he had advisers. – Lee Iacocca



August 12

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 12, 2017

1883: The last quagga dies. The animal was a subspecies of South African zebras. Originally thought to be a separate species altogether, DNA studies have been done and it was found that the quagga is the southernmost subspecies of the plains zebra and particularly close to Burchell’s zebra. The quagga name was derived from the call the animal made which sounded like “kwa-ha-ha”. The horselike zebralike animal was about 8.5 feet long and about 4 feet at the shoulder. Different from other zebras, the stripe pattern was usually brown and white and stopped at the shoulder or covered only the front part of the body.

European settlers were aware of the differences between more northern zebras which are are also colloquially called quagga, and these animals which came from what is today South Africa. There is little evidence of the animal in the fossil record but it is depicted in cave art attributed to the San whose history goes back 35,000 years. The animal was thought to travel in herds, like zebras do today, and had 30-50 individuals in the herd. Europeans at the time of their discovery called them wild and lively but were said to be more docile than the more usual black and white zebras we see today. They were quite numerous in the Karoo of Cape Province and the southern part of Orange Free State in South Africa.

As more Dutch came to the region and began farming, the herds of quagga were hunted because they competed with the domesticated livestock as both foraged for food. Most of the animals were killed but some were taken to Europe to be displayed in zoos. Breeding programs were unsuccessful and the animal was hunted to extinction in the wild by 1878. On this day, the last zoo specimen died at a zoo in Amsterdam. Only one specimen was ever photographed and that was at the London Zoo. There are only 23 skins preserved today.

As DNA studies grew, the first extinct animal to have their DNA analyzed was the quagga. The Quagga Project is an attempt by South Africa to selectively breed plains zebras to resemble the quagga. First suggested in 1955 and taken up in more earnestness in 1971, the idea was slow to get off the ground. Since it was found to be a subspecies of the zebra after the DNA was read, the idea became more feasible. In March 1986 the project was begun and the following year, nine zebras were selected to begin the selective breeding process. The Project’s first foal was born in December 1988. In 2005, Henry, the first to be considered quagga- like because of his striping, was born. The first fifth-generation Rau quagga was born in 2013. By 2016, the Quagga Project listed 116 animals in 10 locations with six individuals showing a strongly reduced stripe pattern. Their goal is to get 50 such quagga.

There’s no limit to how much you’ll know, depending how far beyond zebra you go – Dr. Seuss

Every time I look at a zebra, I can’t figure out whether it’s black with white stripes or white with black stripes, and that frustrates me. – Jodi Picoult

How fast does a zebra have to run before it looks gray. – Demetri Martin

A zebra does not change its spots. – Al Gore



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