Little Bits of History

July 8

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 8, 2017

1932: The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) reaches its lowest point during the Great Depression. The Dow was created by the Wall Street Journal editor Charles Dow and was first calculated in 1896. Dow and his business partner, Edward Jones, brought together an index showing how 30 large publicly owned companies in the US were faring in the stock market. The average is price weighted to compensate for stock splits and other adjustments. It isn’t a true average of the thirty prices of the stocks, but is the aggregate of the thirty stocks divided by a divisor based on these compensations. This has given a more consistent value for the index. It was devised to give an indicator of the performance of the industrial sector of the market.

The thirty industries have changed 51 times in the years since The Dow was invented and General Electric has had the longest continuous presence on the list from 1907 to the present day, but it was also included in the original list, fell off, and was added back. The most recent addition came in 2015 when Apple was added. Microsoft has been part of The Dow since 1999. The Great Depression began in 1929 and most economists believe the precipitating factor was the collapse of the US Stock Market on October 29, a day known as Black Tuesday. A minority of economists believe the collapse was a symptom and not the cause of the largest worldwide depression in the 20th century.

The Roaring Twenties, the years after World War I ended, was a time of excess and wealth. Optimism gave a look into a brighter future. Many rural people abandoned their farms and moved to the cities to find a more prosperous life. The families who remained on the farms were faced with financial woes while their city cousins were wildly speculating in the markets. In the spring of 1929 there were already warnings of an impending collapse and the market and The Dow were both fluctuating. As money tightened, the economy grew tighter as well. And then the collapse came and domino effects spread the crisis around the world.

On this day, The Dow reached its lowest point, but rallied slightly before closing. At its lowest, The Dow was 40.56 and the day closed at 41.22. This was a 90% drop in the value of the index from the high point of 1929. There was panic selling due to a drop in consumption which led to lower productions and more unemployment. While the markets and economies would eventually recover and slowly inch upwards, it took nearly a decade to do so. President Roosevelt came to power during this time and his policies, along with the anticipation of the US entering World War II finally led to an economic recovery and The Dow slowly followed in its wake. Today, The Dow is over 20,000 and continues to fluctuate as do the markets worldwide.

Market forces and capitalism by themselves aren’t sufficient to ensure the common good and to limit the concentration of wealth at levels that are compatible with democratic ideals. – Thomas Piketty

Lost wealth may be replaced by industry, lost knowledge by study, lost health by temperance or medicine, but lost time is gone forever. – Samuel Smiles

Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1. – Warren Buffett

A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business. – Henry Ford


What a Tangled Web

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 8, 2015
Roswell Army Air Field's press release

Roswell captured something

July 8, 1947: Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) issues a press release. Something had crashed near a ranch in Roswell, New Mexico. The US Army Air Forces were conducting top secret tests and were not able to give out totally accurate information lest they give away their secret Project Mogul. They were testing microphones attached to high altitude balloons. The purpose was to detect sound waves which were generated by Soviet atomic bomb tests. The project began in 1947 and ended in 1949 when a network of seismic detectors and air sampling techniques came into use. They were both easier to deploy and operate and were substantially cheaper.

Public information officer Walter Haut issued a press release from RAAF on this date. It was said that people from the field’s 509’s Operations Group had recovered a “flying disc” which had crashed. They did not want to have to say that it was a nuclear test monitoring device. Later in the day, Commanding General of the Eighth Air Force Roger Ramey  said it  was a weather balloon. Also supplied were debris from the wreckage – foil, rubber, and wood – consistent with the weather balloon description. The story died the next day and the government felt they had successfully hidden Project Mogul and could still monitor Soviet nuclear testing. The event faded from memory – for about 30 years.

Between 1978 and the early 1990s may UFO researchers looked into the crash near Roswell. Many interviews were held with those who claimed to have been witness to or somehow connected to the events which took place in 1947. Hundreds of documents were released under the Freedom of Information Act. Leaks came forth from the mysterious Majestic 12. The UFO experts came to the conclusion that an alien ship and not a weather balloon had crashed in New Mexico. As more claims came to the media’s attention, the interest of the average American increased. By the mid-1990s, the majority of Americans believed an alien ship had landed at Roswell and the government was keeping it a secret.

UFO interest began in 1978 when nuclear physicist Stanton Friedman interviewed Jesse Marcel, the only person known to have accompanied the recovered material from the crash site to Fort Worth. This renewed interest in the case and the first conspiracy book came out in 1980. Charles Berlitz and William Moore released The Roswell Incident which was their third conspiracy book. More books followed and as Americans became more concerned about a cover-up, the General Accounting Office launched an inquiry. The debris was found to be part of Project Mogul. The idea of recovered alien bodies was laid at the feet of psychology and the innocently transformed memories of anthropomorphic dummies used for things like Operation High Dive. UFO proponents fail to believe the government’s claims and remain convinced of alien visitation.

We have no proof, But if we extrapolate, based on the best information we have available to us, we have to come to the conclusion that … other life probably exists out there and perhaps in many places. – Neil Armstrong

Statistically it’s a certainty there are hugely advanced civilizations, intelligences, life forms out there. I believe they’re so advanced they’re even doing interstellar travel. I believe it’s possible they even came here. – Astronaut Storey Musgrove

Unknown objects are operating under intelligent control… It is imperative that we learn where UFO’s come from and what their purpose is. – Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter Director, Central Intelligence Agency 1947-1950

We all know UFOs are real. All we need to ask is where are they from. – Dr. Edgar Mitchell

Also on this day: The Wall Street Journal – In 1889, The Wall Street Journal began publication.
Con Man – In 1898, Soapy Smith was gunned down.
Bear Market – In 1932, the markets hit their lowest point during the Great Depression.
Our Lady of Kazan – In 1579, an iconic painting was discovered.
The End – In 2011, the Space Shuttle program was retired.

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The End

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 8, 2014
Space Shuttle Atlantis lifts off

Space Shuttle Atlantis lifts off

July 8, 2011: The Space Shuttle Atlantis lifts off. She was named after RV Atlantis, a two-masted sailing research ship of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution from 1930 to 1966. The space shuttle’s designation is OV-104. Rockwell International received the contract for building Atlantis on January 29, 1979. Assembly took from March 30, 1980 until April 10, 1984. The shuttle arrived at Kennedy Space Center on April 13 and her maiden flight began on October 3 with a return to Earth on October 7.

Over the years, Atlantis flew 33 missions and transported 207 crew members into space. She spent 306 days, 14 hours, 12 minutes, and 43 seconds in space while completing 4,848 orbits around Mother Earth. During the missions, fourteen satellites were deployed. Atlantis docked with the MIR space station seven times and the ISS twelve times. Atlantis flew only twice before the Challenger disaster temporarily grounded all shuttles. Atlantis also was the shuttle with the shortest turnaround time with her second mission taking off in November 1985, only 50 days after her inaugural flight.

The Space Shuttle program lasted from 1972 to 2011 and encompassed 135 flights. Columbia was NASA’s first fully functional orbiter and was finally ready for launch on April 12, 1981, the 20th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s famous trip into space. The Challenger, Discovery, and Endeavour were the other three ships involved in the program. It was estimated that the program would cost $9.45 billion in development and recurring costs as well as $9.3 million per launch ($45 billion and $57 million respectively in today’s currency). The actual total cost of the entire program, adjusted for inflation, was $196 billion. To be fair, the entire program lasted much longer than expected.

Originally envisioned as a 15-year program, flights took place for thirty years after the original development proved successful. Even the loss of two ships and fourteen lives did not cause the program’s demise. It was, however, time to retire the fleet. Discovery was the first to retire after completing her final mission on March 9, 2011. Endeavour was next when the last mission ended on June 1. Atlantis was supposed to be retired first, but with further extension of the program, two more flights were added. When she landed on July 21, the program was officially over. After traveling almost 126,000,000 miles (more than 525 times the distance from Earth to the Moon), the shuttle retired to the Kennedy Space Center where she is proudly displayed in the Visitor Complex in Florida – a great place to retire.

Well, with so many space shuttle missions that we’ve done, I think it’s just sort of natural that each one hasn’t necessarily gotten the attention that the early ones did. – Ellen Ochoa

NASA asked me to create meals for the space shuttle. Thai chicken was the favorite. I flew in a fake space shuttle, but I have no desire to go into space after seeing the toilet. – Rachael Ray

The launch of a space shuttle can still make you weep with amazement and wonder, if you happen to be watching it. – Hanna Rosin

The space shuttle has been a fantastic vehicle. It is unlike any other thing that we’ve ever built. Its capabilities have carried several hundred people into space. – Robert Crippen

Also on this day: The Wall Street Journal – In 1889, The Wall Street Journal begins publication.
Con Man – In 1898, Soapy Smith was gunned down.
Bear Market – In 1932, the markets hit their lowest point during the Great Depression.
Our Lady of Kazan – In 1579, an iconic painting was discovered.

Con Man

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 8, 2013
Soapy Smith

Soapy Smith

July 8, 1898: Con man Soapy Smith is gunned down. Jefferson “Soapy” Smith was born in Georgia in 1860. His grandfather was a plantation owner and his father was a lawyer. At the end of the US Civil War, the now impoverished family moved to Texas. Smith witnessed the shooting death of Sam Bass, a notorious train robber who was hunted by the Texas Rangers. Smith began his life of crime shortly thereafter in Fort Worth, Texas. There he met up with, and eventually led, a gang of con men. They travelled from town to town playing games of “chance” with unwary victims.

Smith’s early specialties included the shell game, three-card monte, and any game he could cheat. The Soap Gang got its name in Denver. Smith would stand on a corner with a box containing bars of soap, most of them wrapped. As the crowd gathered, he would wrap a few bars with dollar bills. He wrapped one bar with a $100 bill. He then rewrapped them in brown paper and hid them among the other bars. Onlookers purchased the soap, hoping to get the bars wrapped with money. When about half the soap was gone and the $100 bill still not found, Soapy would auction the rest of the bars to the highest bidders. No one ever won the $100 bill and Smith’s name changed to Soapy. He used the same con for twenty years.

Soapy made enough money to begin bribing politicians, police, and judges. He formed three different crime rings. First in Denver and then in Creede, Colorado. He then moved to Skagway, Alaska. The Klondike Gold Rush brought miners and Soapy to the far north. Soapy put the town’s US Marshall on his payroll first. He then opened a telegraph office and was paid large sums to send messages. The wires only went to the wall (Skagway got telegraph service in 1901). He also had poker games in the back and made many new friends. He and his friends would find the best ways to separate the newly rich miners from their gold.

Townspeople formed the “Committee of 101” who tried to oust the Soapy Gang. Soapy formed his own volunteer army and got President McKinley and the US War Department to support his claim. On July 7, 1898 John Stewart returned from the Klondike with a sack of gold. He had $2,700 (≈ $84,000 in 2009 USD) worth of gold in the sack. The Soapy Gang lured Stewart into a game of three-card monte. When Stewart refused to pay his losses, the gang members stole all his gold. Five members of the Committee of 101 met with Soapy and some friends the next night. Both sides opened fire and Soapy was killed instantly. Frank Reid, Soapy’s opponent, died twelve days later.

“I’ve always loved movies about con men. I think con men are as American as apple pie.” – Bill Paxton

“I consider bunco steering more honorable than the life led by the average politician.” – Jefferson R. Smith

“I beg to state that I am no gambler. A gambler takes chances with his money, I don’t.” – Jefferson R. Smith

“My god, don’t shoot!” – Jefferson R. Smith’s last words

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Three-card monte is a classic “short con” and has been around since the beginning of the 1400s. There are three cards, usually the queen of hearts and the two black jacks. The player (mark) tries to pick the queen to win the game. Usually play starts with a dealer working with a groups of shills or setup men. They win regularly during the early stages, drawing in the mark. Once the mark starts to play, his money disappears as he loses game after game. The usual method for conning the mark is the way the cards are thrown to the table. The dealer picks up one card in one hand and the other two with the other. Using sleight of hand, he can toss either of the two cards, top or bottom, to the table. The mark will track the wrong card from the beginning and lose his bet. After winning several hands, either one of the shills or the dealer himself will “spot” the police coming and fold up and run off, leaving the mark poorer, but not necessarily wiser.

Also on this day: The Wall Street Journal – In 1889, The Wall Street Journal begins publication.
Bear Market – In 1932, the markets hit their lowest point during the Great Depression.
Our Lady of Kazan – In 1579, an iconic painting was discovered.

Our Lady of Kazan

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 8, 2012

Our Lady of Kazan (Moscow)

July 8, 1579: A holy icon is found in Tatarstan. Matrona, a young girl living in Kazan, Tatarstan (today, a federal subject of Russia) was told in a vision she would find an icon underground. Theotokos or the Blessed Virgin Mary, came to the child to tell her of this important painting of the Mother and Christ Child spared after fire had destroyed most of the city. An icon, from the Greek for image, is a religious work of art, usually a painting. In a broader sense, it can be an image, picture or representation and is therefore a symbol of the worshiped entity. Matrona (ten years old at the time) discovered Our Lady of Kazan after her third dream about it.

This painting is venerated in the Russian Orthodox Church and also in the Roman Catholic Church. It was thought to be of ancient design and the painting depicts Mary draped in black with a small Christ child (not an infant) dressed in white and gold. Immediately after being unearthed, the painting was used to effect miraculous cures, proving the authenticity of the painting. Immediately after the discovery, construction of the Theotokos Monastery of Kazan was built to hold the icon. Because it was an important symbol of heavenly approval, the painting was brought along during a war with the Poles which the Russians won.

After the victory, the original painting was moved to Moscow and a replica was left in Kazan. There were nine or ten “miracle working” paintings of the design with a bit of latitude given to the painters of the duplicates. It is not known today if any of the remaining paintings are the original or not. As time went on and power centers shifted, the “original” was said to have been moved to St. Petersburg. There are several Cathedrals honoring the Lady of Kazan throughout Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church.

In 1904, what was thought to be the original painting was stolen. The painting had been placed in a golden frame embedded with gemstones. It is thought the frame was wanted, not the picture itself. It was not found before the Russian Revolution of 1917 began and the world of religion was forced underground. It is unclear what happened to the icons throughout that turbulent period. One of the originals, but not THE original was acquired by the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima and given to Pope John Paul II who kept it for ten years. Political intrigue kept the Vatican from visiting Moscow or Kazan to return the painting. The picture was returned to the Russian Church unconditionally on August 26, 2004.

The Patriarch will simply bring to Kazan a copy of the original icon, the great symbolic value of which is nevertheless undisputed. – Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin

Remember, never to fear the power of evil more than your trust in the power and love of God. – Hermas, one of the Seventy

He who busies himself with the sins of others, or judges his brother on suspicion, has not yet even begun to repent or to examine himself so as to discover his own sins… – St. Maximos the Confessor

Our wickedness shall not overpower the unspeakable goodness and mercy of God; our dullness shall not overpower God’s wisdom, nor our infirmity God’s omnipotence. – St. John of Kronstadt

Also on this day:

The Wall Street Journal – In 1889, The Wall Street Journal begins publication.
Con Man – In 1898, Soapy Smith was gunned down.
Bear Market – In 1932, the markets hit their lowest point during the Great Depression.

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Bear Market

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 8, 2011

July 8, 1932: The Dow Jones Industrial Average [DJIA] reaches its lowest point during the Great Depression. The Dow bottomed out at 41.22. Charles Dow founded the stock market index on May 26, 1896. At that time, it represented the dollar average of 12 stocks from leading American industries. The components of the DJIA have changed 48 times during its 115 year history. Today, the Dow consists of 30 major American companies from 3M to Walt Disney.

Dow Jones Industrial Average from 1928 to 1954

The Great Depression was triggered by the crash of Wall Street in 1929. The market closed on October 28 at 260.64 with a drop of 12.82%. The following day, it closed at 230.07 for another fall of 11.73%. These numbers are nothing compared to the 1987 drop when on October 19 the market closed at 1,738.74 for a fall of 22.61 percent. On September 29, 2008, the market dropped by 777.68 points, which is the largest figure for a fall, but that number represented only 6.98% of the market’s value.

The Great Depression did not happen over a one day drop in the markets. There were many problems addressing the world at large and were not solely based in the US. However, the US Stock Exchange began seeing stock prices fall around September 9, 1929. By October 29, with two days of losses over 10% each day, the market was said to crash. The day is known as Black Tuesday. This is said to be a Bear Market or one that is a general decline over a period of time. It is the shift from a time of investor optimism to time of pessimism laced liberally with fear. A Bear Market shows a decline of value of more than 20% over at least a two-month period.

The Bear Market of the Great Depression erased 89% of the DJIA. The stock market index was around 386 at the beginning of the decline. And by this date, with a rating of only 41.22, much of the US and the world’s economies were in shambles. Not only did the markets crash, but personal income, tax revenue, profits and prices, and international trade all plunged as well. International trade dropped by more than 50% and unemployment in the US rose to 25%. Other countries had unemployment rates as high as 33%. Not only did industry suffer, but this was also the age of the great Dust Bowl and farming also was devastated. Crop prices fell as much as 60%. By the mid-1930s there was some hope of recovery but the world did not really put out of the Depression until the beginnings of World War II.

“We will not have any more crashes in our time.” – John Maynard Keynes in 1927

“This crash is not going to have much effect on business.” – Arthur Reynolds, Chairman of Continental Illinois Bank of Chicago, October 24, 1929

“Some pretty intelligent people are now buying stocks… Unless we are to have a panic — which no one seriously believes, stocks have hit bottom.” – R. W. McNeal, financial analyst in October 1929

“The end of the decline of the Stock Market will probably not be long, only a few more days at most.” – Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics at Yale University, November 14, 1929

Also on this day:
The Wall Street Journal – In 1889, The Wall Street Journal begins publication.
Con Man – In 1898, Soapy Smith was gunned down.

The Wall Street Journal

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 9, 2010

Wall Street Journal

July 8, 1889: The Wall Street Journal begins publication. Dow Jones & Company formed in 1882 and published a daily newssheet called the Customers’ Afternoon Letter hand delivered to subscribers by messengers. Charles Dow, a journalist; Edward Jones, a statistician; and Charles Bergstressor, another journalist, formed Dow Jones & Company which disseminated information about the stock market.

By 1884 the company created the Dow Jones Indexes which serve as benchmarks for investors. Circulation of the information via the newsletter grew and the company formed its own newspaper that was four pages and sold for two cents a copy. At the time of its launch, there were fifty employees.

Until November 2003, The WSJ was the largest circulation paper in the nation. Today, The Wall Street Journal outsells every paper in the US except for USA Today. The WSJ has American, European, and Asian editions and has a circulation of nearly 2.1 million as of 2009. In 2005, they also returned to a Saturday edition after a 30 year break. The financial giant has one rival in London’s Financial Times which also publishes international editions.

The WSJ has several distinct sections covering various aspects of the financial world and the political and economic factors that influence it. The Journal has won 33 Pulitzer Prizes beginning in 1947 with the latest won in  2007. The WSJ has maintained an online presence at. with nearly three-quarters of a million paid subscribers. The broadsheet is published by Les Hinton with Robert Thomson as editor. It is still owned by Dow Jones & Company which is itself own by News Corporation. Headquarters remain in New York City.

“Everything you read in the newspapers is absolutely true except for that rare story of which you happen to have firsthand knowledge.” – Erwin Knoll

“It is a newspaper’s duty to print the news and raise hell.” – Wilbur F. Storey

“Nothing but a newspaper can drop the same thought into a thousand minds at the same moment.” – Alexis de Tocqueville

“If you want to know what is really going on in the world, read the business section. The rest is just so much gossip.” – unknown

Also on this day, in 1898 Soapy Smith, crative con man, met his demise.

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