Little Bits of History

July 9

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 9, 2017

1850: US President Zachary Taylor dies in office. He was born in 1784 in Virginia to prominent plantation owners. He was one of nine children and married in 1810. They had six children. He had enlisted in the US Army prior to marrying and was a first lieutenant after the Chesapeake-Leopard Affair. He rose through the ranks. He purchased two plantations along with the slaves attached to them. He served in the War of 1812, commanded Fort Howard, served in the Black Hawk War, Second Seminole War, and the Mexican-American War. By the end of his service, he was both a war hero and a major general. He returned home from his final combat assignment in 1847.

While serving in the Army, Taylor had never stated his political beliefs or even voted. He was an independent and believed in a strong banking system. He disapproved of President Andrew Jackson’s reluctance to stop the bank collapse of 1836. He thought the expansion of slavery was impractical even though he owned over 200 slaves. He was a firm nationalist and believed secession was not a good idea. He aligned himself with the Whig Party even though he did not totally agree with their stand on tariffs and internal improvements. At the Whig National Convention, he beat Henry Clay and Winfield Scott to get the nomination for President. He chose Millard Fillmore as his running mate.

Although he was elected in November 1848, he did not resign his Western Division command until late January 1849. He spent the time after the election in selecting his cabinet. He frustrated some Whigs by not appointing patrons but he would not appoint any Democrats, either. He was hoping for a diverse representation of the country and avoided any prominent Whigs, such as Clay. He set out for Washington, D.C. in late January and didn’t arrive until February 24. He met with outgouing President Polk who felt the new President was totally unqualified. Taylor finalized his cabinet and took office on March 4.

Just sixteen months later, and without having accomplished any of his hoped for goals, he was at a picnic on July 4. The cornerstone for the Washington Monument had been laid two years earlier and the construction site served as the venue. During the day he had several servings of fresh fruit and some iced milk. Later in the day, he began to sicken. Medicine of the time was not as good with diagnosis or treatment and as the days passed, he became ever more ill. He died of some intestinal malady at 10.35 PM. He was 65 years old. He was buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C. before his body was moved to his home in Louisville, Kentucky.

I should not be surprised if this were to terminate in my death.

I did not expect to encounter what has beset me since my elevation to the Presidency.

God knows I have endeavored to fulfill what I conceived to be an honest duty. But I have been mistaken.

My motives have been misconstrued, and my feelings most grossly outraged. – all from Zachary Taylor, July 8, 1850

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 9, 2015
and Beate Kunzel*

Serge Klarsfeld and Beate Kunzel*

July 9, 1979: A parked Renault is purposely blown up. Serge Klarsfeld was born in Bucharest in 1935. His Jewish family escaped Romania and made their way to France before World War II. His father was arrested in Nice and the SS deported him to Auschwitz where he died. Serge, his mother, and sister all survived the War with the help of OSE, an organization for helping Jewish children. His mother helped the French Resistance. Beate Kunzel was born in Berlin in 1939. Her Christian family was not targeted and her father served in the Wehrmacht during the War. In 1960, she went to Paris to work as an au pair and learned more about the Holocaust. She later worked for the Franco-German Alliance for Youth. They married in 1963. Their son, Arno, was born in 1965 and became a human rights lawyer.

Beate was fired from the Alliance for Youth in 1966 because of her campaign against the West German Chancellor, Kurt Kiesinger. He had been in the foreign ministry during the war working in the radio propaganda department. Beate was convicted in West Germany for slapping Kiesinger in 1968 and was sentenced to a year in prison, later lowered to four months. Records released in 2012 revealed Beate had been working with the cooperation of East Germany and had been paid for her actions. Both she and her husband had been regular Stasi (German Ministry for State Security) contacts. The Klarsfelds had been blackmailing West German politicians regarding their activities during World War II.

Both were activists against far-flung anti-Semitism throughout much of what was German occupied territory. Beate was arrested in Warsaw and deported from Poland in 1970. She was accused of being a German spy and in 1971 the German Democratic Republic would not permit her entry into the country. Both Klarsfelds were convicted in West Germany for attempted kidnapping of a former Gestapo chief in order to bring him to France for prosecution. They continued with Nazi hunting and resumed contact with the Stasi to try to track down war criminals.

On this date, their car was parked outside their home in France. No one was in the car when it exploded and no one was near it. There were no injuries. ODESSA claimed responsibility for the bombing. The word is from the German, Organisation der Ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen, meaning “Organization of Former SS Members” and is, in theory, a group of Nazi networks set up to help Nazis escape to Latin America or the Middle East. There is no extant proof of their existence. The Klarsfelds were not swayed and continued their hunt. They were successful in helping find German Nazis and French Vichy officials and bringing them to justice for their war crimes.

Above all, always be capable of feeling deeply any injustice committed against anyone, anywhere in the world. – Che Guevara

We win justice quickest by rendering justice to the other party. – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Justice is always violent to the party offending, for every man is innocent in his own eyes. – Daniel Defoe

Justice is incidental to law and order. – J. Edgar Hoover

Also on this day: Good Lovin’ – In 1995, The Grateful Dead performed together for the last time.
Up in Smoke – In 1878, a patent was granted for the making of a corncob pipe.
Ape Man – In 1922, Johnny Weissmuller broke the minute barrier for the 100 meter freestyle.
The Great Train Wreck of 1918 – In 1918, two trains collided near Nashville, Tennessee.
No Nukes – In 1955, the Russell-Einstein Manifesto was released in London.

* “Klarsfelds” by Personal photographer – Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

No Nukes

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 9, 2014
Russell-Einstein Manifesto

Russell-Einstein Manifesto

July 9, 1955: The Russell-Einstein Manifesto is released in London. Bertrand Russell read the warning during a press conference. The signatories included eleven intellectuals and scientists, including Albert Einstein who signed on April 18 – just days before his death. The first atomic bomb was detonated on July 16, 1945 in a desert in New Mexico. On August 6, the US dropped Little Boy on Hiroshima and on August 9, Fat Boy was exploded over Nagasaki. At least 100,000 civilians were killed immediately with these two bombs. On August 18, 1945, the Glasgow Forward published the first known comment on atomic warfare delivered by Russell. After Hiroshima, Joseph Rotblat left the Manhattan Project, the only scientist to leave on moral grounds.

Russell and Rotblat worked to curb nuclear proliferation over the years. The two men collaborated with Einstein and other great thinkers of the day to compose what has come to be known as the Russell-Einstein Manifesto. This work called for a conference where scientists could meet and discuss the dangers to humanity and our survival issues in regards to weapons of mass destruction which in 1955 included only nuclear weapons. The conference was to be politically neutral and inclusive for all people and governments. Cyrus S Eaton offered to sponsor the first conference which was held in his home town – Pugwash, Nova Scotia. The first Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs was held in July 1957.

Jawaharlal Nehru had been the first to offer hosting a conference with the location in India. The Suez Crisis postponed the event. Aristotle Onassis offered to finance a meeting in Monaco but was rejected. Eaton, a close friend of Russell’s, also offered and his was accepted. The eleven men who signed the manifesto were: Max Born, Percy Bridgman, Albert Einstein, Leopold Infeld, Frederic Joliot-Curie, Hermann Muller, Linus Pauling, Cecil Powell, Joseph Rotblat, Bertrand Russell, and Hideki Yukawa. Ten of these men are Nobel Laureates, the exception being Infeld.

The Pugwash Conferences bring together scholars and public figures seeking to reduce global conflict and find solutions to global threats. Rotblat and the Pugwash Conference were joint winners of the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts toward nuclear disarmament. During the first conference in 1957, 22 scientists met at Thinkers’ Lodge. Members came from around the world. Their main objective remains the elimination of weapons of mass destruction which now include nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. The Secretary-General of the group was Rotblat from 1957 -1973 (he died in 2005 at the age of 96). Today, Paola Cotta-Ramusino holds that post. Russell was the first President, a post created in 1967. Today, Jayantha Dhanapala holds the job.

I am bringing the warning pronounced by the signatories to the notice of all the powerful Governments of the world in the earnest hope that they may agree to allow their citizens to survive.

I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.

The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.

Patriots always talk of dying for their country and never of killing for their country. – all from Bertrand Russell

Also on this day: Good Lovin’ – In 1995, The Grateful Dead perform together for the last time.
Up in Smoke – In 1878, a patent was granted for the making of a corncob pipe.
Ape Man – In 1922, Johnny Weissmuller breaks the minute barrier for the 100 meter freestyle.
The Great Train Wreck of 1918 – In 1918, two trains collided near Nashville, Tennessee.

Up in Smoke

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 9, 2013
Corncob pipes

Corncob pipes

July 9, 1878: Patent #205,816 is granted to Henry Tibbe for a corncob pipe. Tibbe, a Dutch wheelwright, arrived in America in 1867. He brought his family to settle in Washington, Missouri where he immediately began making spinning wheels and other furniture. In 1872 John Shranke came into Tibbe’s shop with a sack full of corncobs. He wanted to know if Tibbe could shape them on a lathe to form pipes.

Shranke had a few hand whittled pipes as demos. Tibbe made several more and Shranke left the shop a happy man. Tibbe was left with a few extra corncobs and made some more pipes. He then placed them in his shop window. These sold and happy customers sent more buyers to Tibbe who soon abandoned spinning wheels altogether and began making “Missouri Meerschaum Pipes” full time.

Business grew and soon father and son, Anton, expanded the operation. Steam engines drove the lathes, a fancy plaster coating was added, then sanded and shellacked. Sales grew and along the Mississippi River Valley, corncob pipes were common. By 1891, Anton built the area’s first electric plant to help power the family’s factory and to light the night time streets. They also brought the telephone to town. Henry died in 1896 – a leading citizen of the area.

Pipes have been in use since ancient history. Herodotus describes the practice of pipe smoking in 500 BC writings. Tobacco is native to the Americas and was not available in Europe until the 16th century. Instead, pipe smokers filled the bowl with hashish – a rare and expensive item outside the Middle East. Briar pipes are made from wood while Meerschaum pipes are carved from hydrated magnesium silicate, a mineral found in Turkey. Any substance can be carved to make the bowl for holding the tobacco and connected via a stem or shank to the mouthpiece. Most pipes today are made by machines, but some are still carved by hand and are considered to be works of art as well as functional items.

“The old pipe gives the sweetest smoke.” – Irish Proverb

“No matter how carefully you plan your goals, they will never be more than pipe dreams unless you pursue them with gusto.” – W. Clement Stone

“The pipe draws wisdom from the lips of the philosopher, and shuts up the mouth of the foolish: it generates a style of conversation, contemplative, thoughtful, benevolent, and unaffected.” – William Makepeace Thackeray

“The pipe, with solemn interposing puff,
Makes half a sentence at a time enough;
The dozing sages drop the drowsy strain,
Then pause, and puff – and speak, and pause again.” – William Cowper

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Missouri Meerschaum Company remains in business to this day and is the world’s oldest and largest manufacturer of corncob pipes. Their factory produces 5,000 pipes per day and ships them to all fifty states and several foreign countries. There are several varieties of corncob pipes from the Aristocob to the Riccardo Santia  – the Ultimate Corn Cob Pipe.  Some corncob pipes have shorter stems and some longer. The mouthpieces are made of various substances and some are straight while others are curved. The way the stem attaches to the bowl can be either a right angle or some acute angle. The draw of air must be adequate to keep the tobacco burning. From a CIA collection it was found that they once used a pipe, holding a miniature radio receiver, to send radio transmissions. 

Also on this day: Good Lovin’ – In 1995, The Grateful Dead perform together for the last time.
Ape Man – In 1922, Johnny Weissmuller breaks the minute barrier for the 100 meter freestyle.
The Great Train Wreck of 1918 – In 1918, two trains collided near Nashville, Tennessee.

The Great Train Wreck of 1918

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 9, 2012

The Great Train Wreck of 1918

July 9, 1918: The Great Train Wreck of 1918 occurs at 7:20 AM. There were 101 people killed and another 171 injured when two passenger trains collided outside Nashville, Tennessee. It is the deadliest rail accident in the US. The two trains ran into each other at speeds of 50 to 60 miles per hour. The head on crash occurred on a single track line known as “Dutchman’s Curve” just west of the downtown area. Both trains were derailed on impact.

At 7:07 AM, Train No. 4 of the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis railroad left Union Station on the way to Memphis. The train was pulled by the No. 282 locomotive. The engine was hauling two mail and baggage cars and six wooden coaches for passengers. Engineer Kennedy blew his signal as he approached the signal tower and was given a clear board. Before the train cleared the signal, the red or stop board was dropped but the tower crew were unable to attract Kennedy’s attention and he continued on at speed. He was said to have known the incoming train was running late and may have been attempting to reach the switch a short distance farther than the scene of the accident.

Train No. 1 was pulled by No. 281 locomotive with engineer Floyd at the controls. This train was from Memphis and heading into Nashville. There was one baggage car, six wooden passenger cars, and two heavy Pullman sleeping cars. The train was running 35 minutes behind schedule as it raced toward catastrophe. As the two trains collided, both engines were hurled up into the air and crashed to either side of the tracks. The express car of one train, continued on through the wooden passenger cars of the opposing train, crushing the passengers within, many of whom were African-Americans on their way to work at a gunpowder plant.

The Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) listed deaths at 101 however other sources listed the death toll as high as 121. Thousands came to help with the rescue efforts. Many were trapped beneath the debris scattered across the countryside. The ICC’s official report listed the cause of the accident as human error. The operating practices of the line were found to be faulty and there was lax enforcement of operating rules. The conductor of No. 4 was “busy” and left the rechecking of the signal to a subordinate who misread it. The train register listing the incoming No. 1 train was not properly examined by train No. 4. Because the trains were under the auspices of the US government during World War I, trains were running on different schedules. After this and another train accident earlier in the year, most passenger cars were switched to safer steel cars.

Because somebody blundered, at least 121 persons were killed and fifty-seven injured shortly after 7 o’clock on Tuesday morning.

The dead lay here and there, grotesquely sprawling where they fell. The dying moaned appeals for aid or, speechless, rolled their heads from side to side and writhed in agony. Everywhere there was blood and suffering and chaos.

Of the known dead at least 80 per cent were negroes. In the majority of cases the end came to them without warning.

To hundreds of men and women of Nashville, besides the doctors, nurses and others, are due unstinted praise for their labors in the work of rescue and alleviation of the suffering. – all from the Nashville, Tennessean

Also on this day:

Good Lovin’ – In 1995, The Grateful Dead perform together for the last time.
Up in Smoke– In 1878, a patent was granted for the making of a corncob pipe.
Ape Man – In 1922, Johnny Weissmuller breaks the minute barrier for the 100 meter freestyle.

Ape Man

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 9, 2011

Johnny Weissmuller

July 9, 1922: Johnny Weissmuller breaks the minute barrier when he swims the 100 meters freestyle in 58.6 seconds. Weissmuller is sometimes called the world’s best swimmer. In the 1924 Olympics he took three golds and one bronze medal while in the 1928 Olympics he took another two golds. He also won 52 US national championships and set 67 world records.

Weissmuller, aged 16, began training with “Big Bill” Bachrach at the Illinois Athletic Club in Chicago. His first competition was in 1921 where he swam the 100 yards junior and lost. He would never again lose an official competition. In order to compete in the Olympics as an American he switched identities with his brother, Peter, who was born in 1905 in Pennsylvania. Weissmuller was born in 1904 in what is today, Romania. In 1927 both John and Pete were on an excursion boat that sunk in Lake Michigan. The two brothers managed to rescue ⅓ of the children from drowning that day.

Weissmuller was also the sixth actor to play Tarzan. He is, however, the most famous. His ululating yell is still used today. He was already the spokesman for BVD (underewar) when MGM tried to woo him away. They finally had to top out his salary already supplied by the underwear manufacturer. Weissmuller eventually made 12 Tarzan, 13 Jungle Jim, and 8 other movies as well as starring in 26 episodes of Jungle Jim made for the small screen.

In the late 1950s, he retired from films and moved to Chicago and began a swimming pool business without much success. He retired from business and moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1965, He then moved to Las Vegas where for a time he was a greeter at the MGM Grand Hotel. In 1974, when he broke his leg, he was found to have a serious heart condition. He suffered a series of strokes in 1977. He eventually moved to Acapulco, Mexico and died there in 1984.

“There is hardly an American male of my generation who has not at one time or another tried to master the victory cry of the great ape as it issued from the androgynous chest of Johnny Weissmuller, to the accompaniment of thousands of arms and legs snapping during attempts to swing from tree to tree in the backyards of the Republic.” – Gore Vidal

“How can a guy climb trees, say ‘Me, Tarzan, you, Jane,’ and make a million? The public forgives my acting because they know I was an athlete. They know I wasn’t make-believe.” – Johnny Weissmuller

“Tarzan is direct; he doesn’t ask Jane if they might have a meaningful relationship or if they can get together for lunch sometime.” – Richard Kahn

“A hippie is someone who looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane, and smells like Cheetah.” – Ronald Reagan

Also on this day:
Good Lovin’ – In 1995, The Grateful Dead perform together for the last time.
Up in Smoke– In 1878, a patent was granted for the making of a corncob pipe.

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Good Lovin’

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 9, 2010

Grateful Dead in concert

July 9, 1995: After thirty years of musical concerts, The Grateful Dead perform for the last time at Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois. The band formed in 1965 in San Francisco where they lived in the Haight-Ashbury district. Their music was influenced by psychedelic rock, folk music, bluegrass, blues, country, jazz, and gospel genres.

Jerry Garcia, guitarist and vocalist, was considered by the media to be the titular head of the band, but he and his band mates never believed it. They were a group of equals with none as leader of the band. Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, and Bill Kreutzmann were thirty year veterans along with Garcia. Ron “Pigpen” McKernan stayed with the original band until 1972. Several other performers joined and left the band over the decades. The final incarnation of The Dead included Vince Welnick and Mickey Hart, as well as the four original members.

The fans of the band were loyal to a fault. Many would follow the band for weeks, months, or even years. They had their own name – Deadheads. The critic from the Village Voice music section mentioned the fans in 1971 and the term appeared in print on the sleeve of the second live album released by the Dead in the same year.

Jerry Garcia died of a heart attack on August 9, 1995 while staying at Serenity Knolls drug rehabilitation center. Without Garcia, the band was not the same. There have been some reunion tours, but the Grateful Dead died along with Garcia and the tours are played by band members under different names.

“I believe the Grateful Dead would have inspired much less of an emotional loyalty in their fans without his lyrics. Robert Hunter really located a traditional sense of character and story line found in English literature and childhood ballads … and placed it in the heart of the weirdest, most experimental music that mass audiences ever fell in love with.” – Steve Silberman

“The Grateful Dead gave birth to punk rock in more ways than we realize. That whole concept of ‘Do It Yourself,’ giving the finger to The Man, that backlash to the ’60s.” – Josh Clark

“Plain and simple, the Grateful Dead define the van culture. For the past 35 plus years, deadheads have followed Jerry G. and the gang around the country in microbuses.” – Jeff Bourne

“There is a road, no simple highway, between the dawn and the dark of night, and if you go, no one may follow, that path is for your steps alone.” – Jerry Garcia

“I read somewhere that 77 per cent of all the mentally ill live in poverty. Actually, I’m more intrigued by the 23 per cent who are apparently doing quite well for themselves.” – Jerry Garcia

Also on this day, in 1878 Henry Tibbe begins mass producing corncob pipes.
Bonus link: In 1922, Johnny Weissmuller breaks the minute barrier for the 100 meter freestyle.