Little Bits of History

July 26

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 26, 2017

1953: The Short Creek Raid takes place. Short Creek, Arizona lies in the northwest part of the state, close to the Utah border in Yuma County. It was founded in 1913 by members of the Council of Friends, a breakaway group from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The members picked a remote location in which to practice polygamy, a practice abandoned by the LDS Church in 1890. On this day, under orders from Governor John Pyle, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and Arizona National Guard entered Short Creek to put a stop to what Pyle called “the foulest conspiracy you could possibly imagine”.

At the time of the raid, about 400 people lived in Short Creek. The Mormon fundamentalists, practitioners of polygamy, had been tipped off about the raid. The 102 Arizona officers of public safety and their National Guardsmen entered the town and found the adults singing hymns in the schoolhouse while the children played outside. They arrested them all, except for six people who were found to not be fundamentalist Mormons. There were 263 children brought into custody. It was over two years later before 150 of the children were finally returned to their parents. Some parents never regained custody of their children.

Pyle had invited over 100 reports along to see his raid and efforts to clean up the state’s miscreants. Because of the methods used and the number of children taken into custody, most media  attention was negative. Even though this was the same week as the Korean War Armistice Agreement, both Time and Newsweek had pieces about the raid, decrying the actions as “odious” and “un-American”. It was noted that the raid was the first time in American history where polygamists were seen sympathetically. Their plight was likened to the treatment of Native Americans in the 1800s. Pyle lost his next bid for re-election and noted it was probably backlash from this raid.

One of the few news outlets to applaud the raid was from the Salt Lake City Deseret News, owned by the LDS Church. They were fearful of the harm the polygamists might have on the reputation of the Church as a whole. They did not applaud the children’s removal from their parents, however. There have been parallels drawn between this raid and that of the FBI arrests of Warren Jeffs, who was arrested for sexual abuse of minors in 2008. (Within five days, they had removed 416 children from Jeffs’s compound located in Texas.) Eventually, fundamentalist Mormons began to return to Short Creek, but they changed the name of their town to Colorado City.

So many times in the history of Mormon polygamy, the outside world thought it had the movement on the ropes only to see it flourish anew. – Scott Anderson

Those who imagine polygamy to be handy cover for promiscuity are apparently off the mark. If polygamists share one quality, it is that, polygamy aside, they are extraordinarily strait-laced. – Molly Ivins

Polygamy: An endeavour to get more out of life than there is in it. – Elbert Hubbard

Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same. – Oscar Wilde


Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 26, 2015
LL Zamenhof

LL Zamenhof

July 26, 1887: Unua Libro is first published. The English translation is First Book and its official title was Esperanto’s International Language. Its first publication was in Russian and it was written by Polish oculist, LL Zamenhof. He was born in 1859 to Polish-Lithuanian Jewish parents. He was bilingual raised to speak in both Yiddish and Russian (Polish was restricted and forbidden to be used in public by order of the Tsar). He went on to learn to speak German, French, and Hebrew. He also learned to speak Polish. In school he learned Latin, Greek, and Aramaic and in later life learned to speak English but by his own account, not fluently. He also picked up some Lithuanian and Italian. He grew up in a region with many dialects and watched as neighbors argued ineffectively, often causing much greater damage since they could not understand each other. He dreamed of having one common language available to all.

Using the pseudonym of Esperanto (which translates to “one who hopes”) he published his booklet with sixteen rules of grammar and 900 roots of vocabulary. Also included were translations of the Lord’s Prayer, some Bible verses, and other literature. He called the work “an international language” and like a national language, it was “common property”. In essence, he put the work in the public domain. He signed the work as “Doktoro Esperanto”. Those who learned the new language, called it Esperanto after the pen name used by Zamenhof. The language itself came to be known as Esperanto.

The work was first put into English by Julian Steinhaus and called Dr Esperanto’s International Tongue. Richard Geoghegan pointed out to Zamenhof the poor translations throughout the English version and the doctor purchased all remaining copies and paid Geoghegan to produce a new and improved translation. In 1905, Zamenhof brought out a new book with the sixteen grammar rules, a dictionary, and some exercises to help the novice become acclimated to the new language. In the original book, he called for a petition to be signed by 10 million people pledging to learn to speak Esperanto. He never received that many votes, but the idea was revived in 2014.

Today, it is used as an international auxiliary language. There are between 160,000 and 300,000 active or fluent users and at the turn of the millennium there were an estimated 2 million people who were able to use Esperanto to help communicate effectively. The language is available in 120 countries with the highest usage in Europe, East Asia, and South America. The most popular platform to learn the language is lernu! where 150,000 registered users were studying and between 150,000 and 200,000 visitors come each month. Esperanto Wikipedia has about 215,000 articles (32nd largest) and as a comparison, there are almost 5 million articles in English. In 2012, Google Translate added Esperanto as its 64th language.

A different language is a different vision of life. – Federico Fellini

Language comes into being, like consciousness, from the basic need, from the scantiest intercourse with other human. – Karl Marx

A man who does not know foreign language is ignorant of his own. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Language is an anonymous, collective and unconscious art; the result of the creativity of thousands of generations. – Edward Sapir

Also on this day: The Polite Bandit – In 1875, a strange, but polite, man committed his first robbery.
First Railway – In 1803, Surrey Iron Railway opened.
As the Worm Turns – In 1989, Robert Morris was indicted.
Feebs – In 1908, the FBI was formed.
And the Rains Came – In 2005, Mumbai flooded.

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And the Rains Came

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 26, 2014
Mumbai flooding from 2005

Mumbai flooding from 2005

July 26, 2005: It rains in Mumbai. Rain began to fall around 2 PM. The trains came to a halt around 2:30 because the tracks were waterlogged. Since the trains weren’t running, more traffic took to the roads. The roads became treacherous with low-lying areas dangerous to drive through and in some cases, completely impassable. With cars and trains having difficulty, buses were filling. By 4 PM, a BEST bus left Churchgate for Mahim, 8.8 miles away. It took four hours to make the trip. By 5 PM cell phone networks were down and only some landlines were still functional. With the disruption in communications, radio and TV stations were unable to get weather updates, increasing the level of chaos.

Power Lake started to overflow at 4 PM and during the course of the storm discharged 5.95 million cubic meters of water (over 1.5 billion gallons) into the Mithi River. When looking at graphs of water movement after the storm, it was noted that two flood waves took place. The first coincided with the high tide. The second wave would normally have been absorbed because it was during a time of low tide. However, the first flood wave did not have time to recede and so the second wave met with still remaining water from the first. The drainage systems were clogged and unable to draw off standing water. Power was cut off during the evening since stations were submerged.

The rains continued to fall and 994 mm (39.1 inches) lashed Mumbai over a 24 hour period. This is the eighth highest 24 hour rainfall. Rain continued intermittently the next day as well. Between 8 AM and 8 PM, 644 mm (25.4 inches) fell. For the next week, torrential storms blew over the city. Other places in India were also struck by these storms. Historically, the greatest 24 hour rainfall in India took place in 2004 when 1,168 mm (46.0 inches) fell in Aminidivi on May 6. The previous record for Mumbai was 575 mm (22.6 inches) which fell during one day in 1976.

At least 5,000 people died as a result of these floods along with 24,000 animals. All commercial, trading, and industrial activity was halted for several days. Schools were shut down and post-storm the days were classified as holidays. The financial cost of the floods were estimated at $100 million. Neither the Bombay Stock Exchange nor the National Stock Exchange of India could fully function. All domestic and international airports were closed for over 30 hours which either cancelled or delayed over 700 flights. Much of the public transportation system suffered losses and damages. Over 26,000 vehicles had been stranded on the roadways. Emergency relief was organized and implemented as quickly as possible with over 25,000 people helped at fifteen locations.

The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life. – John Updike

You pray for rain, you gotta deal with the mud too. That’s a part of it. – Denzel Washington

The rain begins with a single drop. – Manal al-Sharif

Also on this day: The Polite Bandit – In 1875, a strange, but polite, man commits his first robbery
First Railway – In 1803, Surrey Iron Railway opened.
As the Worm Turns – In 1989, Robert Morris was indicted.
Feebs – In 1908, the FBI was formed.

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First Railway

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 26, 2013
 The Surrey Iron Railway

The Surrey Iron Railway

July 26, 1803: The Surrey Iron Railway opens for business. The nine-mile long narrow gauge railway linked Wandsworth (then in Surrey) and Croydon – now all parts of South London. There had been prior plateways used to move goods, but they were all parts of canal systems. Surrey Iron Railway was first proposed as yet another canal. Diverting water for the venture would have adversely affected many water-powered mills and factories, the customer base of the proposed transport system. This new venture, the first ever to be funded by an Act of Parliament – the railway – was started.

The track gauge was 4 feet, 2 inches. Today’s standard gauge is 4 feet, 8 ½ and any rail system with the tracks running closer is considered narrow gauge. Most still-operating narrow gauge tracks measure 3 feet, 6 inches or less. Narrow gauge tracks are cheaper to build, equip, and operate. They are especially useful over mountainous terrain. Many industrial railways use the smaller gauges.

Surrey Iron Railway used horse-drawn wagons to move goods along the River Wandle valley. It worked like modern day turnpikes with people supplying their own transportation and paying for the use of a viable route. The railway was extended in 1805 and was shut down by 1838. William Jessop was involved in the entire project and chief engineer for the second phase. The rail line reached Coulson and was opened to the Merstham quarries.

Jessop was a British civil engineer who worked on a number of projects throughout the Empire. His last major project was the Surrey Iron Railway. He was instrumental in the original construction choice, pushing for a railway rather than a canal. As illness overtook him, he brought his son with him to complete the expansion project. The total length reached 18 miles. The tracks were not built to support the weight of the new steam locomotives. Eventually, the newer technology overtook the small railway and steam locomotion required different tracks built over a different substructure. However, some of the original railway still exists.

“Only now did I recognize the reciprocal relationship which exits between manufacturing power and the national system of transportation, and that the one can never develop to its fullest without the other.” – Friedrich List

“The waste of capital, in proportion to the total capital, in this country between 1800 and 1850, in the attempts which were made to establish means of communication and transportation, was enormous.” – William Graham Sumner

“There can be no doubt that the transportation sector is the most critical sector of our economy.” – Robert Brady

“Transportation made sublimation literal. It conveyed evil to another world.” – Robert Hughes

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: The earliest extant evidence of a rail system is the Diolkos wagon way, a 3.7 mile railway across the Corinth isthmus in Greece. It dates from the sixth century BC. Slaves pushed trucks which ran in grooves in the limestone. It lasted for more than 600 years. A stained glass window in Germany dating from 1350 depicts a railway of the region. It is the earliest record of a rail transport system. It, too, was operated by human power but also could use animals for dragging the car. The line still exists in an updated version and is the oldest still operating system. By 1550, narrow gauge wooden rails were being used throughout Europe in the mines. These were useful in getting materials over land to the shipping lanes nearby. The first iron plate railway used cast iron and came into use in 1768. Development of the steam engine created a new set of problems. The weight meant that a sturdy system with an adequate bed had to be used. The new age of rapid transportation was just ahead.

Also on this day: The Polite Bandit – In 1875, a strange, but polite, man commits his first robbery.
As the Worm Turns – In 1989, Robert Morris was indicted.
Feebs – In 1908, the FBI was formed.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 26, 2012

Federal Bureau of Investigation seal

July 26, 1908: The Bureau of Investigation (BOI or BI) is formed. In 1886 the case of Wabash, St. Louis, & Pacific Railway Company v. Illinois was decided by the Supreme Court. They passed down the decision giving states no power to regulate interstate commerce. The Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 made it a federal responsibility to control commerce between state entities. The Justice Department hired a few men to investigate and enforce the law. Attorney General Charles J. Bonaparte got cooperation from other federal agencies such as the Secret Service. However, staffing shortages remained.

Bonaparte began a separate investigative team – the Bureau of Investigation and staffed it with special agents. Twelve men from the Secret Service became the first BOI agents. The Mann Act was passed in 1910 and was concerned with “White Slave Traffic” or prostitutes being forced to work against their wills and transported across state lines for “immoral acts”. The law was written in ambiguous language and was used to discredit many men who were simply in the company of the “wrong women” and harassed. However, the BOI’s first task was to survey houses of prostitution.

In 1932 the BOI was renamed to the United States Bureau of Investigation and the following year it was linked to the Bureau of Prohibition and renamed the Division of Investigation (DOI). The entity finally became independent of the Department of Justice in 1935 and was granted one more name change to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The director of the BOI followed along with all the name changes. J. Edgar Hoover was the first FBI Director and served for 48 years in total, across all the different nomenclatures. After his death, tenure was reduced to a maximum of ten years.

Today, the FBI is an agency of the US Department of Justice serving as both a federal criminal investigative body and internal intelligence agency. They have jurisdiction concerning more than 200 categories of federal crimes. Their office is headquartered in the spectacularly ugly J. Edgar Hoover building located in Washington, DC. They also have 56 field offices and more than 400 resident agencies in the US and over 50 international offices. They have 35,437 employees and a $7.9 billion budget (2011 figure).

We are a fact-gathering organization only. We don’t clear anybody. We don’t condemn anybody.

Just the minute the FBI begins making recommendations on what should be done with its information, it becomes a Gestapo.

The individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists.

Truth telling, I have found, is the key to responsible citizenship. The thousands of criminals I have seen in 40 years of law enforcement have had one thing in common: every single one was a liar. – all from J. Edgar Hoover

Also on this day:

The Polite Bandit – In 1875, a strange, but polite, man commits his first robbery
First Railway – In 1803, Surrey Iron Railway opened.
As the Worm Turns – In 1989, Robert Morris was indicted.

As the Worm Turns

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 26, 2011

Morris worm disk with source code

July 26, 1989: Robert T. Morris is indicted by a federal grand jury, the first person to be brought to the courts by the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. While a graduate student at Cornell University, Morris released a computer worm. He claimed he was trying to determine the size of the Internet. He released the worm via MIT to conceal its origination from Cornell. It was supposed to count how many computers were part of the Net. All did not go exactly as planned.

The Morris worm was released on November 2, 1988 and was one of the first worms distributed via the Internet. The worm was supposed to first check to see if the computer in question had been counted. But Morris wanted to be sure that he was not receiving a false positive. This would have destroyed the worm. Therefore, Morris wrote that it was supposed to copy itself, even if the response to the already checked question was “yes” 1 out of every 7 times. This replication level caused the worm to spread far more rapidly than he had anticipated.

Because of the rapid spread and rapid replication, eventually machines would not only slow down, but come to a complete stop. The denial of service was unintentional, but still a problem. It is said that 6000 major UNIX based computers were infected. The cost of the damage, according to the US GAO was between $10 and $100 million. The loss of productivity caused by the worm was said to range from $20,000 to $530,000 per machine affected.

DARPA responded by funding a central point for experts to coordinate responses to these types of emergencies. The Morris worm is sometimes called the Great Worm reminiscent of the Tolkien creatures, Scathla and Glaurung. Morris was brought to trial and was sentenced to three years probation, 400 hours of community service, and fined $10,000 plus the cost of his supervision. This was far less than the guidelines had called for. Today, Professor Morris is teaching at MIT in the department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He also co-founded the online store Viaweb, one of the first such stores.

“A computer worm is a self-replicating malware computer program, which uses a computer network to send copies of itself to other nodes (computers on the network) and it may do so without any user intervention.” – Wikipedia

“The problem with troubleshooting is that trouble shoots back.” – Unknown

“Computers have lots of memory but no imagination.” – Unknown

“If you have any trouble sounding condescending, find a Unix user to show you how it’s done.” – Scott Adams

Also on this day:
The Polite Bandit – In 1875, a strange, but polite, man commits his first robbery
First Railway – In 1803, Surrey Iron Railway opened.

The Polite Bandit

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 26, 2010

Black Bart

July 26, 1875: On a mountain pass in Calaveras County, California, a man draped in a long, soiled duster (housecoat) with a flour sack festooned with two eye holes over his head, holds up a stagecoach, making off with the Wells Fargo strongbox and the US mail. Black Bart thus began his legendary string of robberies.

Charles E Boles or Bolton, a.k.a. Black Bart, was born in England in 1829 and migrated to the US when he was two. He led an adventurous life, traveling around the country, prospecting for gold and even serving in the Civil War, fighting with distinction and earning awards and promotions.

In 1865, he was discharged and moved to Iowa to farm. This existence did not suit his adventurous spirit and he took off to hunt gold again. He did not take his wife and children with him and they assumed he was dead when he stopped writing home. The four years from 1871-75 must have held some significant event that is lost to history because he emerged from these years as a robber.

He robbed stage coaches on 28 different occasions, stealing about $18,000 total from Wells Fargo. Legend states that during a hold up when a woman in a panic threw her purse out the window, he left it behind stating that he only stole from Wells Fargo. Twice, he left taunting poems in the emptied strongboxes. He was caught in 1883, after leaving a handkerchief with a laundry mark at the scene of the crime. He served four years of his six year sentence at San Quentin and after his release was never seen again.

“I’ve labored long and hard for bread,
For honor and for riches,
But on my corns too long you’ve tred
You fine-haired sons of bitches.” – Black Bart, 1877

“Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.” – (Psalms 62:10), Bible

“It is a poor family that hath neither a whore nor a thief in it.” – proverb

“Things ain’t what they used to be and probably never was.” – Will Rogers

Also on this day, in 1803 the Surrey Iron Railway opened.

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