Little Bits of History

June 24

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 24, 2017

1717: The Premier Grand Lodge of England is founded. Initially it was called the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster. Guiding principles were and remain the ideal of tolerance and understanding brought about by the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution of the 1600s. George I, the first Hanoverian King of England had recently come to power and the first Jacobite insurrection had been quashed. The men of London were inspired to create a space where knowledge and craftsmanship were appreciated. Four lodges had previously held meetings and each was known for the location in which they met. On this day, the four separate lodges came together at the Goose and Gridiron Ale-house in St. Paul’s Churchyard in London and created the Grand Lodge.

Their first order of business was to arrange when to meet again and to choose a Grand Master from among those present. In the early days of the Lodge, there was probably little grandeur to be had. Anthony Sayer was the first Grand Master and little is known of him. He was replaced by George Payne who held a high government position in the Exchequer. He was both the second and fourth Grand Master with John Theophilus Desaguliers holding the position in between, he was a scientist, clergyman, and one of Isaac Newton’s students. After this, all Grand Masters held a position in the nobility.

George Payne wrote the General Regulations of a Free Mason as his own project for himself. Within a few years, The Constitutions of the Free-Masons was penned and held the history, rules and regulations, and an updated constitution about the “most Ancient and Right Worshipful Fraternity”. Not even all of London let alone the rest of the world was impressed with the London Lodge and conflict built up over time. Two major factions were on the rise within the movement and it wasn’t until nearly the end of the century some measure of cohesiveness could be maintained.

The Freemasons were established as fraternal organizations of stonemasons beginning in the 14th century. They helped regulated the qualifications of the craftsmen and their interactions with authorities and with clients. Even now, the degrees maintain the three grades of medieval craft guilds with Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master Mason. The basic organizational unit of Freemasonry is the Lodge and these are governed at the regional level (state, province, or nation) by a Grand Lodge. There is no international or worldwide Grand Lodge. Regular Freemasonry today demands members believe in a Deity and no women are admitted while there is no discussion or politics or religion included. Continental Freemasonry is more “liberal” and some or all of these restrictions have been abandoned.

Man’s action are the picture book of his creeds. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Growing old is no more than a bad habit which a busy man has no time to form. – Ande Maurois

The poor man is not he who is without a cent, but he who is without a dream. – Harry Kemp

The Society or Fraternity of Freemasons is more in the nature of a system of Philosophy or of moral and social virtues taught by symbols, allegories, and lectures based upon fundamental truths, the observance of which tends to promote stability of character, conservatism, morality and good citizenship. – H. W. Coil

Battle of Magh Rath

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 24, 2015
Canal bridge at Moira

Canal bridge at Moira

June 24, 637: The Battle of Magh Rath is fought. Known today as the Battle of Moira, it was fought between the Gaelic High King of Ireland Domnall II (aka Domnall mac Áedo) and his foster son, King Congal of Ulster and Domnall the Freckled (Domnall Brecc) of Dalariada. The battle was fought near the Woods of Killultagh which is outside the village of Moira in what is today known as County Down. It was allegedly the largest battle ever fought in Ireland. The strength of either army is unknown as are the number of casualties suffered on each side.

At the time, Ireland was subdivided into several fiefdoms with lots of tribal loyalties shifting with time as kings allied themselves or fought with neighboring kings. There was some involvement from Great Britain, mostly from Scotland. Dalariada was a Gaelic kingdom encompassing western Scotland and Ulster around this time. Kings would shift alliances and allies as their needs changed with time. Congal first came to power in Dalaradia before being declared King of Ulster. Domnall II came into conflict with Congal, even though Domnall’s rise to power came because of Congal’s defeat of the previous High King, Suibne Menn.

It was Domnall’s raid into Leinster in 628 which brought him to the position of High King, which may have been possible only because of Congal’s prior success on the battlefield. The two powerhouses met in battle in 629 with Congal losing the engagement. Domnall continued to engage rivals throughout the 630s until near the end of the decade, Congal along with his ally from Dalariada were brought to face the High King. There is not much known of the actual battle. Tales exist which stated the enormity of the armies. Domnall II’s armies were local Irishmen while Domnall I was able to bring in Scots, Picts, Anglo-Saxons, and Briton (Welshmen). At least one side had a cavalry of substantial size. A 19th century historian claimed the fighting may have lasted a week.

Also in the 19th century, a railway line was constructed in the area. As excavation was underway, the remains of thousands of men and horses were unearthed. The numbers found speak to the size of the armies brought into battle on this day. It is known that Congal was killed during the engagement and Domnall II’s position of power was secured. Domnall I’s plans for conquest were shattered and the Uí Néill clan of Domnell II became the de facto dominant power in northern Ireland. This was something they would hold on to, at last in some form, until the Flight of the Earls in 1607. The clan and their descendants ruled for nearly a thousand years.

A field commander never has the information he needs. He has to go with his best hunch. The more information he has, the easier it is for him to win the battle. – Tom Clancy

No battle is worth fighting except the last one. – Enoch Powell

Carry the battle to them. Don’t let them bring it to you. Put them on the defensive. And don’t ever apologize for anything. – Harry S Truman

The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug. – Chris Hedges

Also on this day: The Cynic – In 1842, Ambrose Bierce was born.
UFO – In 1947, Kenneth Arnold saw something strange in the sky.
Victory Parade – In 1945, a parade was held in Moscow.
Dance Fever – In 1374, St. John’s Dance broke out in Germany.
All Four Engines Cut Out – In 1982, a plane lost all four engines and managed to not crash.

* “Canal bridge (road) at Moira – – 360218” by Albert Bridge. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

All Four Engines Cut Out

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 24, 2014
British Airways Flight 9

British Airways Flight 9

June 24, 1982: British Airways Flight 9 loses all engines. The event is also known as the Jakarta incident. The flight originated in London and was to end in Auckland with stops in Bombay, Madras, Kuala Lumpur, Perth, and Melbourne. The 747-256B plane was named the City of Edinburgh and there were 248 passengers and fifteen crew aboard. The flight was passing by Java and problems developed. Fresh crew had come aboard in Kuala Lumpur but most of the passengers had been aboard the plane since London. Mount Galunggung, about 110 miles southeast of Jakarta, is an active stratovolcano and had erupted earlier in the day.

At about 8:40 PM local time, the plane was flying over the Indian Ocean, south of Java. Captain Eric Moody (41) was in the lavatory when things started to go horribly wrong. Senior First Officer Roger Greaves (32) and Senior Engineer Officer Barry Townley-Freeman (40) were in charge when they noticed an odd effect on the windscreen similar to St. Elmo’s fire. Moody returned to the controls and weather radar showed clear skies. Regardless, the crew turned on the engine anti-ice and the passenger seatbelt sign. Smoke began to accumulate in the passenger cabin and it smelled of sulphur. Passengers at the window seats noticed the engines were unusually bright with a strobe effect.

At 8:42 PM, engine four flamed out and the crew performed a shutdown drill to cut off fuel supply and arm fire extinguishers. Less than a minute later, engine two also surged and flamed out. Within just seconds, both of the remaining engines flamed out as well. The glide ratio of a 747 is about 15:1 meaning it can glide forward 15 kilometers for every kilometer it drops. The plane should have been able to glide for 23 minutes and cover 91 nautical miles since it had been cruising at 37,000 feet. At 8:44 PM, Greaves declared an emergency to local air traffic control, stating all four engines had gone out. It was misinterpreted to mean ONLY engine four had gone out. Another plane helped correct the misunderstanding, but the engineless plane could not be located on radar screens by Air Traffic Control.

Because of high mountains, an altitude of at least 11,500 feet must be maintained to cross over the coast and land at Jakarta. The plane might be too low. If so, they would attempt an ocean landing. The crew began restart drills unsuccessfully. Pressure in the cabin fell and oxygen masks dropped but Greaves mask malfunctioned. Moody dropped the plane to get enough air pressure to breathe. They were going to have to ditch in the ocean, something never before done in a 747. At 8:56 PM, they got engine four running and Moody could slow descent and when engine three came back online, they could climb slowing. Engines one and two were restarted and the plane was successfully landed at Jakarta. It was found that flying through volcanic ash not only stopped the engines, but ruined them and did much damage to the external portion of the plane including darkening the windshield which meant the landing was done blind and with faulty instrumentation. A second incident thirteen days later helped aviation experts understand the dangers of airborne ash.

I don’t believe it—all four engines have failed! – Barry Townley-Freeman

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress. – Captain Eric Moody

Ma. In trouble. Plane going down. Will do best for boys. We love you. Sorry. Pa XXX – note from distressed passenger, Charles Capewell

It got really, really hot. You were perspiring, drenched in sweat. The acrid smoke filling the cabin was at the back of your throat, up your nose, in your eyes – your eyes were running. – chief steward, Graham Skinner

Also on this day: The Cynic – In 1842, Ambrose Bierce was born.
UFO – In 1947, Kenneth Arnold saw something strange in the sky.
Victory Parade – In 1945, a parade was held in Moscow.
Dance Fever – In 1374, St. John’s Dance broke out in Germany.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 24, 2013
Kenneth Arnold with drawing of UFO

Kenneth Arnold with drawing of UFO

June 24, 1947: Kenneth Arnold sees something in the clear blue sky. Arnold was a businessman who founded a company selling fire suppression systems. He was also an experienced pilot with more than 9,000 hours in the air. He spent about half his flying time working with Search and Rescue Mercy Flyer missions. He was also a swimmer and diver and as a young man, he tried out for the US Diving team. He was 32 years old in 1947.

Arnold was on a business trip, flying from Chehalis to Yakima – both in the state of Washington. He was piloting a CallAir A-2. He detoured after hearing about a $5,000 (≈ $46,000 today) reward for a lost US Marine Corps C-46 transport plane that had crashed near Mount Rainer. With clear skies and his experience in search and rescue, he went to find the plane. He was flying at ≈ 9,200 feet altitude. At 3 PM, he gave up the search and flew towards his business meeting.

Arnold changed course eastward and saw a flash similar to sun reflecting on a mirror. Looking carefully to assure himself of clear skies, he noted a DC-4 to his left and about 15 miles behind him. About 30 seconds after the first flash, he saw a series of flashes off to his left. He tried many things to test and make sure the flashes were not somehow a reflection from his own plane. The flashes were in a long chain. As the line moved between Arnold and Mt. Rainier, the objects could be seen as in dark profile against the snow-capped mountain. He saw one crescent-shaped object and eight circular-shaped objects.

Arnold used equipment on his plane to take measurements. The objects quickly flew out of range. When he landed at 4 PM in Yakima, he told a friend about his experience. There was corroboration from a prospector on Mt. Adams and there were many others on the ground in Washington who saw something that day. The pilot of the DC-4 was not one of the witnesses. The story was picked up by the press and by June 27 the term “flying saucer” was being used to describe the objects. The Army Air Force investigated and said it was all a mirage. Even so, the hunt for unidentified flying objects really took off.

“This whole thing has gotten out of hand. I want to talk to the FBI or someone. Half the people look at me as a combination of Einstein, Flash Gordon and screwball. I wonder what my wife back in Idaho thinks.” – Kenneth Arnold, June 28, 1947

“We have objects in the sky. . .they have been spotted millions of times worldwide.” – Joe Firmage

“The least improbable explanation is that these things UFO’s are artificial and controlled. My opinion for some time has been that they have an extraterrestrial origin.” – Dr. Maurice Biot

“At no time, when the astronauts were in space were they alone: there was a constant surveillance by UFOs.” – Astronaut Scott Carpenter (Carpenter photographed a UFO while in orbit on May 24, 1962. NASA still has not released the photograph.)

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: UFO or unidentified flying object is any anomaly in the sky (or near the ground, hovering, landing, or taking off). The term can also be UFOB and was officially created in 1953 by the US Air Force as a replacement for other more popular terms which described the shape of the anomaly, usually “discs” or “flying saucers”. Usually, the Air Force would investigate and be able to satisfactorily identify the object so the term was used only for those left unidentified. The term became more popular as the decade advanced. There have been a variety of studies done by both the government and by civilians and they have reached a variety of conclusions about the threat level of UFOs. Some see them as detrimental and some see them as benign. There are some who adhere to a government cover up concerning UFOs and extraterrestrial life.

Also on this day: The Cynic – In 1842, Ambrose Bierce was born.
Victory Parade – In 1945, a parade was held in Moscow.
Dance Fever – In 1374, St. John’s Dance broke out in Germany.

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Dance Fever

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 24, 2012

Depiction of St. John’s Dance

June 24, 1374: St. John’s Dance breaks out in Aachen, Germany. Dancing mania, or choreomania, is a social phenomenon. Historically, these outbreaks took place in Europe between the 14th and 18th centuries. However, a similar affliction was noted in Tanzania in 2008 where students simply fainted for no apparent reason. These were similar in nature to the hysterical reactions of the Middle Ages in mainland Europe noted in history. The first noted outbreak was this event in Germany.

Aachen or Aix-la-Chapelle (or Oche or Aken – depending on language) is a spa city in North Rhine-Westphalia. Charlemagne lived there and it was the coronation location for many Kings of Germany. It is located at the westernmost edge of the country, abutting Belgium and the Netherlands. It was and is a place of refinement. During this outbreak of St. John’s Dance, people were dancing in the streets, screaming in pain but unable to stop until they collapsed in a heap from fatigue. They were also plagued by visions or hallucinations. According to the Catholic Church, they were possessed by the devil.

The “disease” spread quickly and people in small towns along the Rhine River were succumbing to an impulse to dance for hours or even days. Within just weeks, the dancing spread to France and the Netherlands. It took months for the epidemic to cease with records showing about 400 men, women, and children were affected with dozens of deaths attributed to it. There is compelling historical evidence attesting to this and later outbreaks of this type of behavior. With more sophisticated science, we may have some insight into what caused these outbreaks.

It is possible that people reached an altered state of consciousness (necessary to allow them to continue to dance with bruised and bleeding feet, or other odd behaviors exhibited in later outbreaks of a similar type). They may have eaten contaminated foods. Ergot can taint flour and cause adverse effects. Also, this was the time of the Black Plague and the Rhine area had suffered a devastating flood earlier in the year with water rising 34 feet. With farmlands unable to produce and people dying of the Plague, there was not only a food shortage, but an atmosphere of despair. With contaminated flour causing a problem with a few people, and a religious belief in the possibility of devil possession, it was possible for the trance to be spread through the power of suggestion.

I have cultivated my hysteria with pleasure and terror. – Charles Baudelaire

Pain is real when you get other people to believe in it. If no one believes in it but you, your pain is madness or hysteria. – Naomi Wolf

Whatever hysteria exists is inflamed by mystery, suspicion and secrecy. Hard and exact facts will cool it. – Elia Kazan

Mass hysteria is never that far beneath the skin, I suppose. A human being is a thinking animal, but crowds don’t seem to be. – Father Marco

Also on this day:

The Cynic – In 1842, Ambrose Bierce was born.
UFO – In 1947, Kenneth Arnold saw something strange in the sky.
Victory Parade – In 1945, a parade was held in Moscow.

Victory Parade

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 24, 2011

Moscow Victory Parade

June 24, 1945: The Moscow Victory Parade of 1945 takes place. The Soviets called World War II by a different name. It was not just a world war, but for them it was called the Great Patriotic War. It ended for them on May 9 when Germany surrendered to the Soviet commanders. With the war over, Marshal of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin issued Order 370 of the Office of the Supreme Commander in Chief, Armed Forces of the USSR. This order called for a victory parade in the capital city of Moscow. Troops from the Army and Navy would participate in the parade held at Moscow’s Red Square.

Marshal Georgy Zhukov [who had formally accepted Germany’s surrender] was joined by Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky with the men riding on white and black stallions respectively. These two men led the parade. There is a debated story about Stalin meaning to lead the parade atop the white stallion. However, Stalin was not a horseman and when he tried to ride the horse, he was thrown and therefore gave the horse to Zhukov. Stalin watched the parade standing tall atop Lenin’s Mausoleum.

The parade included two military bands. A Ground Column in which marched Army, Navy, and Air Force members followed.  In this group were members of military schools as well. A Mounted Column displayed Cavalry and Horse Artillery. Also included was the Mobile Column containing Air Defense Forces and Tank Forces. The men and their armaments were proudly displayed.

Soviet forces were mercilessly assaulted with far greater technologies at the beginning of the war. Germany had some of the most sophisticated tanks made at the time and these were employed against cavalry troops. The onslaught of German troops into Russian territory was relentless. However, the Soviet soldiers did not give up, did not surrender, defended Moscow, and eventually prevailed. Their tactics and technology improved. They took back their lands and chased the German Army back from whence it came. This was not without a terrible human cost. The Soviet losses for World War II are at least 10,600,000. That is over ten million dead, 6,829,437 were either killed or missing in action. Another 5,200,000 Soviets were taken as prisoners by the Axis and of those, 3,300,000  died while in captivity. Polish, Romanian, and Bulgarian troops also fought alongside the Soviets and they lost another 51,000 in combat with unknown thousands more dying as prisoners of war. A Russian source claims 27 million Soviets were lost during the war.

“A sincere diplomat is like dry water or wooden iron.”

“Everyone imposes his own system as far as his army can reach.”

“History shows that there are no invincible armies.”

“If any foreign minister begins to defend to the death a ‘peace conference,’ you can be sure his government has already placed its orders for new battleships and airplanes.” – all from Joseph Stalin

Also on this day:
The Cynic – In 1842, Ambrose Bierce was born.
UFO – In 1947, Kenneth Arnold saw something strange in the sky.

The Cynic

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 24, 2010

Ambrose Bierce Circa 1866.

June 24, 1842: Ambrose Bierce, satirist, critic, short story writer, novelist, essayist, poet, editor, and journalist, is born in Meigs County, Ohio. He moved to Elkhart, Indiana while a teenager and served during the Civil War as an officer in the Ninth Regiment, Indiana Volunteers for the Union Army. He resigned from the Army as a brevet Major while in San Francisco. He remained there writing for several local newspapers and periodicals.

He moved to England and wrote from there for three years, moved back to the USA and moved around much of the western half of the country, writing in various venues. He worked for the Hearst Newspapers before eventually moving back to the East Coast. His biting wit along with his penchant for writing social criticism and satirical pieces led to controversy. He was given the nickname “Bitter Bierce” but did have a soft spot and lent encouragement to young writers.

He is best known for his non-fiction work, The Devil’s Dictionary. The dictionary consists of sarcastic or hypocritical definitions laced with political innuendo. Definitions were printed in his newspapers over time and they were first put into book form with the title of Cynic’s Word Book. In 1911, the book was republished with the current title.

At the age of 71 in October of 1913, Bierce left Washington DC to tour his old Civil War battlefields. By December, he was through Texas and on the way to El Paso. He traveled into Mexico which was in a state of revolution at the time. He joined Pancho Villa’s army as an observer in Ciudad, Juarez. It is known that he got as far as Chihuahua, Chihuahua and sent a letter to a friend dated December 26, 1913. He then vanished without a trace.

“CYNIC n. A blackguard whose faulty vision causes him to see things as they are, not as they ought to be.”

“RUM, n. Generically, fiery liquors that produce madness in total abstainers.”

“HOMICIDE, n. The slaying of one human being by another. There are four kinds of homocide: felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy, but it makes no great difference to the person slain whether he fell by one kind or another –the classification is for advantage of the lawyers.”

“Love: A temporary insanity curable by marriage.”

“Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate.” – all from Ambrose Bierce

Also on this day, in 1947 Kenneth Arnold spotted a UFO.