Little Bits of History

October 22

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 22, 2017

1877: Blantyre, Scotland is the site of Scotland’s worst mining disaster. Blantyre is found in South Lanarkshire and today, has a population of around 17,000. First settled during the bronze age, the region was found to be a repository for coal earlier in the decade. The coalfield had three seams of different size located at three separate depths. The ell seam was the thickest and most shallow at 704 feet. The main coal seam was both middle in size and depth and located 774 feet below ground, and the splint coal seam was the deepest at 930 feet. There were five shafts at the colliery. Shafts 1, 3, and 4 were 24 feet by 8 feet with the first leading to the ell and main seams while 3 and 4 served the splint seam. No. 2 shaft was 16 by 8 feet and worked the splint coal while No. 5 was 10 feet in diameter and used as ventilation for numbers 1, 2, and 3.

At 4.40 AM on this day, the mine was inspected and all seemed to be going normally in pit number 2. At 5.50 AM, the day’s work crew started to descend and as they went down, the firemen (inspectors) were coming up and assured everyone all was well. At 9 AM, a blast was heard on the surface and flame and steam rushed through number 3 pit for a few minutes. Smoke rose from the ventilation shaft. The Inspector of the Mines and the Assistant Inspector were called to the scene by telegraph and arrived around noon.

Number 3 pit was blocked by debris which had fallen during the explosion. The cages and ropes had been damaged in the blast making normal descent impossible. A makeshift large bucket was put together and descent was attempted. The sounds of air moving was noted. Pit number 2 was basically undamaged. A temporary shaft was built to help ventilate the damaged pit and with that, it became possible to find the place of the blast. Four survivors were found, but one died shortly thereafter. The others died within weeks. Everyone else was killed during the blast itself, a total of 207.

The following day, recovery of the bodies began. An investigation into the cause of the blast found that a naked flame ignited firedamp, flammable gases found in coal mines. Usually, methane, it is found in bituminous coal sites and can accumulate in pockets. The miners were using “gauze lamps” a type of safety lamp designed for this sort of mining. They were not Davy lamps, as the report noted. They were not supposed to ignite the dust or gases, but since they were larger, when something went wrong, the ensuing blast was even bigger. The youngest person killed in the blast was a child of 11 and the disaster left 92 widows and 250 fatherless children in its wake. This was neither the first nor last mining disaster at this particular mine.

The coal mining industry is very destructive and it doesn’t have to be. – Kevin Richardson

Coal mining is tough. Acting is just tedious. – Johnny Knoxville

The extraction of oil, coal and minerals brought, and still brings, a cost to the environment. – Bono

Football is a game designed to keep coal miners off the streets. – Jimmy Breslin




Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 22, 2015
André-Jacques Garnerin's parachute

André-Jacques Garnerin’s parachute

October 22, 1797: The first descent using a parachute is successful. André-Jacques Garnerin was born in Paris in 1769. He was captured by the British during the Napoleonic Wars and turned over to the Austrians who held him in prison for three years. He was a student of ballooning pioneer Jacques Charles. Garnerin and his older brother were famous for their hot air balloon work. They regularly staged tests and shows of ballooning feats at Parc Monceau in Paris.

Garnerin began experimenting with parachutes and based his design on umbrellas. He used his silk parachute on this day at Parc Monceau. The parachute looked like a closed umbrella while ascending. There was a pole in the center of the 23 foot diameter cloth and a rope ran through a tube in the pole. The rope was connected to the hot air balloon.  Garnerin was in a basket attached to the bottom of the parachute. About 3,000 feet up in the air, he cut the rope connecting his parachute to the balloon. The balloon continued to rise and Garnerin and his parachute (and basket) floated to the ground. The basket swung violently while it fell and it bumped and scraped along the ground on impact. But Garnerin emerged uninjured.

The Garnerin brothers created a stir when they announced in 1798 that their next flight would include a woman. They had to go to officials to explain how the decreased air pressure was not going to harm the internal organs of their delicate passenger. There was a fear that the poor woman would lose consciousness and there was also the impropriety of her being aloft in such close quarters with – men. They were forbidden to take a woman up since she was ill equipped to understand the dangers inherent in the ascent. More meetings were held and the ruling was overturned. Citoyenne Henri and Garnerin made their trip on July 8, 1798 and flew about 19 miles without ill effect on the delicate passenger.

Garnerin was the Official Aeronaut of France and he and his wife made a trip to England in 1802 during the Peace of Amiens. They made a number of demonstration flights while visiting. On September 21, Garnerin rose from the Volunteer Ground in North Audley Street in Grosvenor Square and then made a parachute descent into a field near St. Pancras. Ballooning was a family affair. He often went up into the air with his brother. His wife was first his student and then married Garnerin. She was the first woman to parachute. His niece was also a trained balloonist, beginning to fly at age 15. Garnerin was struck by a wooden beam while making a balloon and died from his injuries in Paris on August 18, 1823. He was 54 years old.

Bold Garnerin went up / Which increased his Repute / And came safe to earth / In his Grand Parachute. – English ballad

The young citoyenne who will accompany me is delighted to see the day approach for the journey. I shall ascend with her from the Parc Monceau, some time during the next ten days. – André-Jacques Garnerin, advertising his upcoming flight with a woman

Both optimists and pessimists contribute to our society. The optimist invents the airplane and the pessimist the parachute. – Gil Stern

The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision. – Maimonides

Also on this day: When the World Was New – In 4004 BC, the world was created – according to the math.
Where Is He? – In 1844, Jesus Christ did not return to Earth.
Pretty Boy – In 1934, Charles Floyd was killed.
No, Thanks – In 1964, Jean-Paul Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize.
Shipwreck – In 1707, four ships sunk off the coast of England.




Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 22, 2014
Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell

Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell

October 22, 1707: Navigation errors led to the sinking of four ships. In 1707, the War of Spanish Succession was in play and the British, Austrian, and Dutch forces under the command of Prince Eugene of Savoy besieged the French port of Toulon, trying to take control. The campaign was fought from July 29 to August 21 and the British sent a fleet of ships to help. Although the ships were able to inflict damages on the enemy, the overall effect was negligible. The British fleet was ordered to return home. There were 15 ships under the command of Sir Cloudesley Shovell.

They left Gibraltar on September 29. There was horrible weather during the voyage home with squalls and storms a near constant. The fleet sailed out to the Atlantic and then passed the Bay of Biscay, heading for England. The weather only worsened and the ships were thrown off course. On this day, the ships finally were able to enter the English Channel. The navigators believed they were positioned west of Ushant. Because of the bad weather, the accuracy of the longitudinal calculation was off. Instead of a position of safety, the ships were sailing towards the Isles of Scilly, and archipelago off the coast off the southwestern tip of the Cornish peninsula.

Before their course could be corrected, four ships were lost on the rocks of the islands. The flagship HMS Association was a 90-gun ship under the command of Captain Edmund Loades and with Admiral Shovell aboard. The ship struck the Western Rocks at 8 PM and sank, drowning the entire crew of about 800 men. Directly behind Association was HMS St George, which also struck the rocks but was able to escape. HMS Eagle, a 70-gun ship commanded by Captain Robert Hancock struck the Crim Rocks and sank in 130 feet of water with all hands. The HMS Romney, a 50-gun ship commanded by Captain William Coney, hit Bishop Rock and went down with only one crewman surviving. The last to sink was HMS Firebrand, a fire ship commanded by Captain Francis Percy. This struck the Outer Gilstone Rock but was able to float free for a while. She sunk close to Menglow Rock and lost 28 of her 40 man crew.

The exact number of men who died in the disaster is unknown. Various records give differing numbers between 1,400 and 2,000 officers, sailors, and marines killed. This is the greatest maritime disaster in British history. For days after the sinkings, bodies continued to wash ashore along with wreckage and personal items. Myths surround the sinking, including Admiral Shovell’s unwillingness to listen to a sailor’s report they were off course. Shovell did not survive the disaster and the legend of his murder after washing ashore barely alive is unsubstantiated.

A young sailor boy came to see me today. It pleases me to have these lads seek me on their return from their first voyage, and tell me how much they have learned about navigation. – Maria Mitchell

The rules of navigation never navigated a ship. The rules of architecture never built a house. – Thomas Reid

We were suddenly faced with the necessity of training a lot of young men in the art of navigation. – Clyde Tombaugh

We have always been taught that navigation is the result of civilization, but modern archeology has demonstrated very clearly that this is not so. – Thor Heyerdahl

Also on this day: When the World Was New – In 4004 BC, the world was created – according to the math.
Where Is He? – In 1844, Jesus Christ did not return to Earth.
Pretty Boy – In 1934, Charles Floyd was killed.
No, Thanks – In 1964, Jean-Paul Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize.

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Where Is He?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 22, 2013
William Miller

William Miller

October 22, 1844: Jesus Christ does not return to Earth. William Miller was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1782 and had little formal education although he was well-read. His family moved around New England and after marrying, Miller settled in Poultney, Vermont where he held a number of civil offices. He was raised as a Baptist but became a Deist as a young man. After serving in the War of 1812 and wrestling with the meaning of death, he returned to the Baptist church and became a Baptist preacher. He studied the Bible diligently for his own benefit and to gain ammunition for debate with his Deist friends. Miller became convinced the actual date of the Second Coming was to be found in Scripture.

Miller “did the math” and was certain he found the correct date in 1818. His first calculations brought Jesus to Earth in 1843, however he continued his private study. In September 1822 Miller went public with his revelations. In 1832 he sent 16 articles to the Vermont Telegraph, a Baptist paper, for print. By 1840 Miller’s following burst out of Vermont and he became a national figure. He was helped in this by publisher Joshua Vaughn Hines who spread his message via print. Miller did not give an exact date for Christ’s reappearance, stating it would happen between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. On March 22, 1844 the date was moved to April 18. In August, after much recalculation, the date October 22, 1844 was chosen.

Miller’s followers, called Millerites, were deeply saddened on October 23 and many abandoned their beliefs. Some of his followers continued to learn from him and eventually founded the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, based on many of his teachings. Not everyone was sanguine in regards to the failed prophecy. Millerites were taunted, subjected to ridicule and even physically assaulted. One church was burned and a mob armed with clubs and knives attacked a group of Millerites. Another group of believers was tarred and feathered.

The bewildered and disillusioned included even Miller, who died in 1849 while still awaiting his Savior’s return. The responses of the believers were of three varieties. By 1845 religious doctrines began to gel. Joseph Turner led the first sect, holding to the “shut door” theology. If a believer did not accept gospel prior to the Second Coming, the door of opportunity would close and the individual was beyond redemption. Joshua Hines refused to accept the shut door philosophy especially after the no-show in 1844. The third group, led by Hiram Edson, said the date was correct but the event itself was misinterpreted. He preached Jesus’ return happened on this date. It was given that the return was to heaven and not to this mortal realm.

“I was thus brought… to the solemn conclusion, that in about twenty-five years from that time 1818 all the affairs of our present state would be wound up.” – William Miller

“I waited all Tuesday [October 22] and dear Jesus did not come;– I waited all the forenoon of Wednesday, and was well in body as I ever was, but after 12 o’clock I began to feel faint, and before dark I needed someone to help me up to my chamber, as my natural strength was leaving me very fast, and I lay prostrate for 2 days without any pain– sick with disappointment.” – Henry Emmons

“Our fondest hopes and expectations were blasted, and such a spirit of weeping came over us as I never experienced before….We wept, and wept, till the day dawn.” – Hiram Edson

“Some are tauntingly enquiring, ‘Have you not gone up?’ Even little children in the streets are shouting continually to passersby, ‘Have you a ticket to go up?’ The public prints, of the most fashionable and popular kind…are caricaturing in the most shameful manner of the ‘white robes of the saints.'” – William Miller, letter dated November 18, 1844

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: The Seventh-Day Adventist Church remains active to this day. They are a Protestant church with services held on Saturday, the original seventh-day in early Judeo-Christian times. They still believe that the second coming (advent) of Jesus Christ will happen soon. The church was formally founded on May 21, 1863 in Battle Creek, Michigan. Today, it spans the globe with over 71,000 congregations and more than 65,000 companies. The more than 17,000,000 members are led by Ted NC Wilson. There are over 17,000 ministers available to lead the flock. There have been two separations or schisms within the Church, the first taking place in 1925 and the second four years later. The Seventh-Day Adventist Church is based on 28 Fundamental Beliefs with 27 of them officially adopted in 1980 and an additional belief added in 2005. This last was added after the new millennium since the previous belief was that Christ would return before that marker.

Also on this day: When the World Was New – In 4004 BC, the world was created – according to the math.
Pretty Boy – In 1934, Charles Floyd was killed.
No, Thanks – In 1964, Jean-Paul Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize.

No, Thanks

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 22, 2012

Jean-Paul Sartre

October 22, 1964: Jean-Paul Sartre was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature. Sartre was born in Paris in 1905. His mother was a first cousin of Albert Schweitzer. Sartre’s father died when he was a year old and his mother returned to her parents’ house in Meudon to raise him. There, his grandfather who was a professor, helped to school the young boy, teaching him mathematics and classical literature. When Sartre was twelve, his mother remarried and they moved away to La Rochelle ending the idyllic childhood he had known. In his new environment, he was bullied frequently.

As a teen, Sartre became interested in philosophy and earned a doctorate of philosophy from École Normale Supérieure, a school noted for its encouragement of French thinkers and intellectuals. While Sartre enjoyed the philosophical nature of the school, he was also a committed prankster and his pranks often resulted in those in charge having to leave their positions. He would look back on this with a sense of chagrin or possibly shame. In 1939 he wrote about pranks saying, “There is more destructive power than in all the works of Lenin.”

During World War II, Sartre was drafted into the French army. He was captured by the Germans and spent nine months as a prisoner of war. He wrote his first theatrical piece while in prison. Due to poor health, he was released in April 1941 and given civilian status. He was back in Paris the next month and founded an underground group which soon dissolved without enough support. Sartre took up writing rather than resistance. After the liberation of Paris in 1944, he wrote Anti-Semite and Jew, a study in anti-Semitic hate. Albert Camus referred to him as a “writer who resisted, not a resister who wrote.”

When he was awarded the Nobel Prize, he refused the honor. In fact, he had written a letter on October 14 asking to be removed from the list of nominees and warned that he would not accept the award if offered it. They did not read the letter. On October 23, Sartre published a statement in Le Figaro explaining his refusal stating he did not wish to be “transformed” by such an award and did not want to participate in an East vs. West cultural struggle. He went into hiding soon after. However, his support of existentialism during this time remained intact. He continued to write and as his health failed, he wrote even more quickly trying to get the words onto paper. He died on April 15, 1980 and was mourned by as many as 50,000 people who lined the streets to pay their respects.

As far as men go, it is not what they are that interests me, but what they can become.

Evil is the product of the ability of humans to make abstract that which is concrete.

If I became a philosopher, if I have so keenly sought this fame for which I’m still waiting, it’s all been to seduce women basically.

Only the guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat. – all from Jean-Paul Sartre

Also on this day:

When the World Was New – In 4004 BC, the world was created – according to the math.
Where Is He? – In 1844, Jesus Christ did not return to Earth.
Pretty Boy – In 1934, Charles Floyd was killed.

Pretty Boy

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 22, 2011

Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd

October 22, 1934: Charles Arthur Floyd is killed near East Liverpool, Ohio. Floyd was born in Adairsville, Georgia on February 3, 1904. His family moved to Oklahoma when Floyd was ten. Floyd married Lee Hargrove when he was 17 and the next year he supplemented a meager income by robbing a local post office of $3.50 in pennies. He went on to larger thefts.

By the age of 21 Floyd’s luck ran out. He was convicted of payroll robbery and sent to prison for three years. Upon his release, he vowed to never return to prison. He did not vow to give up crime. He moved to Kansas City and acquired a hated nickname as he continued with his life of crime. A paymaster described this criminal as “a pretty boy” and the name stuck.

Pretty Boy Floyd was again arrested in Sylvania, Ohio during a bank robbery gone awry. He was sentenced to 15 years, but escaped on the way to prison. He rebuilt his gang and continued to rob banks. He is said to have taken part in the Kansas City Massacre that ended with four law enforcement officers and one criminal killed. The FBI was called in to help locate “Public Enemy #1.” It is unknown exactly how many banks Floyd robbed. He was “credited” with far more than he was responsible for. His legend grew as did the reward for his capture.

Floyd, Beulah and Rose Baird, and Adam Richetti decided to return to Oklahoma. They purchased a car and began the trip west with Floyd driving. He ran into a tree and the women took the car into town for repairs. Policed alerted the FBI and Richetti was captured first. In 1984, Chester Smith, the sharpshooter who wounded Floyd, claimed that Melvin Purvis, leader of the FBI contingency, questioned Floyd briefly and then shot him at point blank range. This controversial statement has not been verified or proven. Pretty Boy Floyd died about 15 minutes after the first shot, before reaching the hospital.

“Every crime in Oklahoma was added to his name.” – Woody Guthrie’s song about Pretty Boy Floyd

“A bank robber in Los Angeles told the clerk not to give him cash, but to deposit the money in his checking account.” – Bill Bryson

“There’s just more targets out there for bank robbers to hit.” – Frank Bochte

“There’s been quite a few serial bank robbers. But there are now none that haven’t been caught.” – Ricky Roll

Also on this day:
When the World Was New – In 4004 BC, the world was created – according to the math.
Where Is He? – In 1844, Jesus Christ did not return to Earth.

When the World Was New

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 22, 2010
The Earth

The planet as seen from space.

October 22, 4004 BC: As evening approaches, the world is created, according to James Ussher. Bishop Ussher was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1581 into a family of wealth. He entered the newly founded Trinity College at the age of 13, receiving his degree four years later. In 1602 he was ordained as a deacon in the Church of Ireland. He went on to become chancellor of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Ussher went to England in 1619 and there met James I who is the namesake of the King James Bible. King James named Ussher as Bishop of Meath. Ussher became more and more interested in scholarly work. He was relieved of church duties in order to pursue his scholastic quest from 1623 to 1626.

Ussher, like several others scholars before him, including the Venerable Bede, attempted to date the age of the Earth via accounts in the Bible. He published a book entitled in translation “Annals of the Old Testament, deduced from the first origins of the world” in 1650. Ussher and John Lightfoot, who published a similar work, have a calendar of events that led to the same conclusion.

As night fell on the day prior to October 23, 4004 BC, the world was created. Noah’s ark floated in 2348 BC and Abraham was talking with Yahweh in 1921 BC. Moses led the Jews from Egypt in 1491 BC and the Temple of Jerusalem was founded in 1012 BC. Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC and Jesus Christ himself was born in the year 4 BC. The reason that Ussher’s calendar of events survives with such prominence is that it was included in the preface to the King James Bible.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” – first words of the Bible

“The beginning is the most important part of any work, especially in the case of a young and tender thing; for that is the time at which the character is being formed and the desired impression is more readily taken.” – Plato

“It’s a wonderful feeling when you discover some evidence to support your beliefs.” – unknown

“Dogma does not mean the absence of thought, but the end of thought.” – G.K. Chesterton

Also on this day, in 1844, after even more ciphering, Mr. Miller was disappointed when Jesus Christ failed to return to Earth.

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