Little Bits of History

October 23

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 23, 2017

42 BC: Marcus Junius Brutus (the Younger) commits suicide. Brutus had initially supported Julius Caesar but after assuming power and trying to gain even greater control, Brutus and his compatriots plotted to kill Caesar, and managed to do so in 44 BC. He and his partners thought of themselves as Liberators but immediately came into conflict with the supporters of Caesar, Marc Antony and Octavian. A Civil War ensued which culminated in the Battle of Philippi in Macedonia. The Second Triumvirate with Octavian and Antony faced Brutus’s forces on this day.

Earlier in the month, Antony had faced Cassius in the south while Octavian and Brutus clashed in the northern part of the island. After receiving the misinformation that Brutus’s forces had been defeated, Cassius committed suicide. His was the most severe loss of the day and otherwise the battles were a draw. Both sides disengaged and readied themselves for another meeting. That battle took place on this day after Octavian and Antony had been able to gather both their armies together and Brutus had been able to coalesce his own forces. The Triumvirate had 19 legions and 33,000 cavalry or over 100,000 men and up to 223,000 troops if auxiliary numbers were in line with legionary numbers. The Liberators had 17 legions and 17,000 cavalry or 100,000 men or 187,000 total troops – again that is if auxiliary numbers matched.

Brutus was not the same leader as Cassius had been and had to offer his men an extra 1,000 denarii for them to stay and fight. In the weeks between battles, Antony and Octavian had slowly moved their troops to attack Brutus, who still held higher ground. However, holding this position left him in danger of being surrounded by opposing troops. The combatants met in mostly hand to hand combat and little use of missiles was needed because of such close quarters. The body count for the day’s match was not given, but due to the type of fighting, it was probably high. Brutus lost the day and the war and so, committed suicide by running into his sword as it was held by two men.

His army was surrendered to Antony and Octavian. Antony, in a show of respect, covered Brutus’s body with his best purple cloak. The cloak was stolen and eventually the miscreant was captured and killed. Brutus’s body was cremated and the ashes sent back to his wife. The end of this battle marked the height of Antony’s own fame as a general, a leader, and a man of power. He would go on to make some of his own mistakes, leading to his own downfall dying twelve years later.

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience. – Julius Caesar

An angry man is again angry with himself when he returns to reason. – Publilius Syrus

Young men, hear an old man to whom old men hearkened when he was young. – Augustus



Messing with the Mob

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 23, 2015
Dutch Schultz

Dutch Schultz

October 23, 1935: At 10.15 PM, the Palace Chophouse in Newark, New Jersey is invaded. Arthur Simon Flegenheimer was born in New York City in 1901. He was Jewish and born to German immigrants parents. The father abandoned the family before Arthur was ten although he tried to change the story, saying his father had died. Arthur dropped out school in the 8th grade to help support his family. He took small jobs in the neighborhood and eventually these led him to work in a nightclub owned by a minor mobster. Soon Arthur was robbing craps games and eventually turned to burglary. At age 18, he was arrested and incarcerated. He managed to escape but was recaptured.

After he was paroled, he began to work for Schultz Trucking and when asked what his name was, gave it as Dutch (a corruption of Deutsch which means German) and soon became known as Dutch Schultz. With Prohibition, there was a new revenue stream to be controlled and Schultz Trucking began smuggling liquor and beer into New York City from Canada. Dutch got into an argument with the company and went to work with Italian competitors. Schultz moved up through the ranks in the mob and rose to a position of power. He got into more trouble with the law for tax evasion and Thomas Dewey brought him to trial twice for the crime. He asked for permission from the mob to kill Dewey and was denied. Schultz had also run afoul of Lucky Luciano. Schultz disregarded all advice and made an attempt on Dewey’s life which led to the order for his murder.

He was at Palace Chophouse which he used as headquarters and in the restroom when Charles Workman and Emanuel Weiss, two hitmen working for Louis Buchalter’s Murder, Inc. Workman entered the bathroom and shot Schultz with the bullet entering below his heart and exiting the small of his back. While this was going on, Weiss joined in and both hitmen fired at Schultz’s entourage. Otto Berman, Schultz’s accountant; Abe Landau, Schultz’s chief henchman; and Schultz’s bodyguard, Bernard “Lulu” Rosencrantz were all hit. Berman collapsed immediately. Landau’s carotid artery was severed but he still somehow managed to give chase. Weiss got to an escape car and fled, leaving Workman behind. Rosencrantz had been hit with 00 lead buckshot at point blank range.

Rosencrantz  called for an ambulance before losing consciousness. Since he and Landau were more seriously wounded, they were taken away first and a second ambulance came for Schultz and Berman. Berman died first, Laudau bled to death eight hours after the shooting. Schultz survived surgery, but died of peritonitis 22 hours after the incident at the age of 34. As his life was ending, he was babbling and everything was written down but no clues were found. Rosencrantz died seven hours later. Workman was found guilty of Schultz’s murder and was sent to Sing Sing. Weiss was electrocuted in 1944 for an unrelated murder.

You can play jacks and girls do that with a soft ball and do tricks with it.

I want harmony. Oh, mamma, mamma! Who give it to him? Who give it to him? Let me in the district -fire-factory that he was nowhere near.

Cut that out, we don’t owe a nickel; hold it; instead, hold it against him; I am a pretty good pretzler -Winifred- Department of Justice. I even got it from the department. Sir, please stop it. Say listen the last night! – all from Dutch Schultz as he incoherently talked before dying

Dutch Schultz did that murder just as casually as if he were picking his teeth. – Dixie Davis

Also on this day: Fore – In 1930, the first miniature golf tournament was held.
Bump! Boom! – In 1958, the Springhill mining disaster struck.
Poison Gas – In 2002, the Moscow Theater Hostage Crisis began.
Schtroumpfs – In 1958, the Belgian comic strip debuted.
National Women’s Rights Convention – In 1850, the first convention was held.

* “Schultz dutch mug” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –



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National Women’s Rights Convention

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 23, 2014
Mott, Stanton, Susan B Anthony

Lucretia Mott, Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton

October 23, 1850: The first National Women’s Rights Convention begins. In 1840, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton went to London with their husbands for the first World Anti-Slavery Convention. The women were not permitted to participate but they became friends and planned to organize their own convention in support of women’s rights. It took them several years, but in 1948 they along with three other women worked to create the Seneca Falls Convention, an event attended by about 300 people and lasting two days. There were about 40 men in attendance causing dissention until Frederick Douglass took the podium and gave an impassioned speech on women’s suffrage.

The success of the first convention spurred the women on hoping to have these meetings in each state. Lucretia Mott was a drawing card and would only be in the area for a short time and so a Regional Women’s Rights Convention was called within a few weeks. It wasn’t until April 1850 before Ohio women began to petition their constitutional convention for women’s equal legal an political rights. Lucy Stone was leader in that state. She partnered with Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis to work toward this goal and eventually this led them to plan a National Convention. They began contacting other women to attend and speak. Stanton was one of the women sought as a speaker but she was unable to attend, due to the timing of her pregnancy.

Stone went to visit her brother who died of cholera shortly after her arrival. She was left to settle his affairs and accompany his pregnant widow back east. Fearing this would not allow her to attend the convention, she sent messages ahead and asked Davis to lead the convention in her stead. The affair had been scheduled for October 16 and 17. While traveling east, Stone contracted typhoid fever and was near death in Indiana. Since she was the leading signatory, the convention was delayed and Stone made it back to Massachusetts just two weeks before the opening.

There were 900 people at the first session, the majority of them men. Several newspapers reported on the event and over 1,000 people were there by the afternoon with more turned away at the doors. Delegates came from eleven states including one from California, a state admitted only a few weeks before. The National Women’s Rights Convention was held yearly from 1850 through 1860 but was interrupted by the US Civil War. Two more events were held after the end of the war. It would take decades longer before women were considered to be able to handle the vote and given a voice in the rule of the land. Their equal treatment under the law is still somewhat spotty and the Equal Rights Amendment failed ratification before the March 22, 1979 deadline. Even with an extension to June 30, 1982, the ERA could not pass.

I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives. – Jane Austen

I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves. – Mary Wollstonecraft

Humankind is made up of two sexes, women and men. Is it possible for humankind to grow by the improvement of only one part while the other part is ignored? Is it possible that if half of a mass is tied to earth with chains that the other half can soar into skies? – Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

There could be a powerful international women’s rights movement if only philanthropists would donate as much to real women as to paintings and sculptures of women. – Nicholas D. Kristof

Also on this day: Fore – In 1930, the first miniature golf tournament was held.
Bump! Boom! – In 1958, the Springhill mining disaster struck.
Poison Gas – In 2002, the Moscow Theater Hostage Crisis began.
Schtroumpfs – In 1958, the Belgian comic strip debuted.

Bump! Boom!

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 23, 2013
Springhill, Nova Scotia mining disaster

Springhill, Nova Scotia mining disaster

October 23, 1958: Springhill, Nova Scotia, Canada is hit by an earthquake. When an underground earthquake strikes at the location of human mining efforts, it is referred to as a “bump.” There is some speculation the mining efforts trigger the geologic event by placing variable stresses on underground stratum. While actively mining, shifting pressures can cause supporting galleries to collapse or disintegrate. The town of Springhill was dependent on the coal mining industries. They had already suffered through the 1891 fire and the 1956 explosion. The mines remained productive.

In No. 2 mine, the method of removal had been improved to forestall disaster. The underground tunnel was one of the deepest in the world. The sloping shaft went ever downward for 14,200 feet and reached 4,000 feet below the surface. The “room and pillar” technique had been changed twenty years earlier to the safer “long wall retreating” method. A small bump occurred at 7 PM – during the evening shift. These were so common, the men ignored the irritant. At 8:06 PM a large bump hit and “severely impacted” a large portion of the mine. Three distinct aftershocks alerted those on the surface to the catastrophe in the mine.

The floor of part of No. 2 mine was smashed into the ceiling, instantly killing several men. Many others were trapped in small pockets of space. Rescue teams immediately began to look for survivors. Some wounded, limping men were encountered at 13,400 feet and aided to the surface more than 2.5 miles up the sloping shaft. Toxic gas released in the bump was found at 13,800 feet. Rescue workers had to drill shafts down through the rubble to vent the rooms and bring in fresh air. By 4 AM the next morning, 75 miners had been saved.

Others remained trapped with little food or water and dwindling air supplies. The media arrived and maintained a vigil with the groundside families of those still entombed below. The rescuers continued to work. On October 29 contact was made with twelve still trapped miners. They were freed on October 30 at 2:25 AM. On November 1, one last group of survivors was found. The remains of 74 men who were killed were brought to the surface sealed in metal containers due to the advanced state of decomposition. There were 100 survivors. The men who risked their own lives in the rescue effort were awarded a Gold Medal by the Royal Canadian Humane Association for their bravery.

“Bravery is being the only one who knows you’re afraid.” – Franklin P. Jones

“Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death.” – Omar N. Bradley

“Let bravery be thy choice, but not bravado.” – Menander

“Focus on where you want to go, not on what you fear.” – Anthony Robbins

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Mining has always been a dangerous operation whether it was for coal or other metals. Thousands have died over the centuries. The earliest mining disaster with greater than 100 deaths involved comes from the Rammelsberg Mine in Goslar, Germany where in 1376 disaster struck the mine. The largest number of deaths from a mining disaster took place in 1942. There was an explosion in the coal mine located in Benxi, China (Honkeiko Colliery mine) which took the lives of 1,549 miners. There were 1,100 at a coal mine located in Courrieres, France in 1906 who were killed by the explosion there. In this century, the greatest disaster was not an explosion, but rather a release of 100,000 tons of cyanide contaminated water from the Baia, Mare, Romania mining company, Aurul. Up to 80% of the aquatic life in affected rivers were found to have been killed. 

Also on this day: Fore – In 1930, the first miniature golf tournament was held.
Poison Gas – In 2002, the Moscow Theater Hostage Crisis began.
Schtroumpfs – In 1958, the Belgian comic strip debuted.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 23, 2012

The Smurfs

October 23, 1958: A Belgian cartoon strip makes its debut. Pierre Culliford, pen name Peyo, had lunch with a friend, André Franquin. Peyo forgot the word for “salt” and asked his friend to pass the “schtroumpf”. Franquin responded, ” Here’s the Schtroumpf—when you are done schtroumpfing, schtroumpf it back…” The two joked for the for the rest of the meal about schtroumpf. Peyo went on to draw a cartoon which became a television franchise as well as the comic strip. In French it is called Les Schtroumpfs. In Dutch the word was Smurf, which is what we know them as in English.

The Smurfs are small, blue fictional creatures. They are short, just three apples tall. They are mostly male but there are three female Smurfs who were all added later. The men wear white trousers with a hole for their short tale. They also wear a white Phrygian cap and some carry identifying bits or pieces as well. Most of the Smurfs are 100 years old. Papa Smurf is older and Baby Smurf is younger. Originally there were 99 Smurfs but more were added as needed. They are all archetypal, such as Lazy Smurf or Grouchy Smurf. They speak their own language with “smurf” being used frequently but with enough nouns and verbs for the audience to understand the underlying message.

Their 50th anniversary was celebrated with a commemorative coin minted in Belgium. The year 2008 was also the 80th anniversary of Payo’s birth. The Smurfs was listed as the 97th best animated series by IGN. A movie called The Smurfs was released in 2011. There were two French Les Schtroumpfs movies released, one in 1965 and the other in 1976. The Smurfs were also used as advertising mascots for several products including BP and a public service announcement by UNICEF. They have even appeared at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, as a balloon float. In the US, there was a television series starring the little blue folks from 1981 to 1990. They went into syndication and remained on the air until 2003.

Peyo was born in Brussels in 1928 to an English father and Belgian mother. His name was based on an English cousin’s mispronunciation of Pierrot, a diminutive form of Pierre. He began working in a small Belgian animation studio where he met Franquin. After World War II, the studio folded and Peyo went to work for a newspaper drawing comics. He also did promotional drawing jobs to supplement his income. He had been drawing Johan and Peewit for some time before the first Smurf appeared in the series. The Smurfs went into history. Peyo died on Christmas Eve in 1992 at the age of 64, suffering a heart attack.

Narrator Smurf: There is a place. A place that knows no sadness, where even feeling blue is a happy thing. A place inhabited by little blue beings three apples high. It lies deep within an enchanted forest, hidden away beyond the medieval village. Most people believe this place is made up, only to be found in books or children’s imagination. Well, we beg to differ. (opening lines)

Papa: I’m 546, I’m getting too old for this…

Grouchy: Where the Smurf are we?
Gutsy: Up the smurfin’ creek without a paddle, that’s where!

Patrick Winslow: SMURF, SMURF, SMURFETY, SMURF!  [all the Smurfs are shocked]
Gutsy: There is no call for that sort of language, laddie! – all from The Smurfs (2011)

Also on this day:

Fore – In 1930, the first miniature golf tournament was held.
Bump! Boom! – In 1958, the Springhill mining disaster struck.
Poison Gas – In 2002, the Moscow Theater Hostage Crisis began.

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Poison Gas

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 23, 2011

The Moscow Theater Hostage Crisis

October 23, 2002: The Moscow Theater Hostage Crisis begins. Also called the 2002 Nord-Ost Siege, the Moscow theater was stormed by 40-50 armed Chechens. These armed men and women claimed to belong to the Islamist militant separatist movement in Chechnya. There were 850 hostages taken. The attackers were demanding the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya and calling for an end to the Second Chechen War. The building stormed was the House of Culture of State Ball-Bearing Plant Number 1, a building about 2.5 miles from the Kremlin. The militants arrived during the second act of Nord-Ost at slightly after 9 PM.

The terrorists entered firing assault weapons into the air. Between 850 and 900 theater patrons and performers were held. A few of the performers not on stage where able to escape and inform police of the activity in the theater. The Chechens offered to release all foreign nationals who could show a passport, but the Russian authorities wanted either all or none of the hostages released. The terrorists were led by Movsar Barayev, the nephew of a slain Chechen terrorist militia commander. The media were given a videotaped statement listing the claims of the Chechens inside.

That first night, about 150-200 people were released. They included children, pregnant women, Muslims, and some of the foreign nationals. They also released people needing medical treatment. The terrorists threatened to kill ten hostages for each of their number harmed by security forces. On October 24, negotiations between authorities in Russia and the hostage takers in the theater continued. Another 39 hostages were freed on October 24. The next day, another 19 hostages were freed.

On October 25, the Special Forces, called Spetsnaz, pumped the building full of some toxic gas. The intention was to subdue the terrorists and allow the Spetsnaz to enter and free the hostages. Instead, some of the Chechens had gas masks and responded by firing into the outside crowd wildly. The Russians entered the building firing their guns. In the following melee, 39 of the terrorists and 129 of the hostages were killed. Most of those who died were killed by the gas rather than by bullets.

“Naturally, it is a terrible, despicable crime when, as in Munich, people are taken hostage, people are killed. But probing the motives of those responsible and showing that they are also individuals with families and have their own story does not excuse what they did.” – Steven Spielberg

“The issue of terrorism must be dealt with firmly. We must work very hard to avoid loss of life. We must work very hard to avoid civilian casualties.” – Ahmed Chalabi 

“We will fight hostage taking like we fight terrorism. “ – Ali A. Saleh

“Freeing hostages is like putting up a stage set, which you do with the captors, agreeing on each piece as you slowly put it together; then you leave an exit through which both the captor and the captive can walk with sincerity and dignity.” – Terry Waite

Also on this day:
Fore – In 1930, the first miniature golf tournament was held.
Bump! Boom! – In 1958, the Springhill mining disaster struck.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 23, 2010
Eternite Miniature golf course

Eternite Miniature golf course

October 23. 1930: The first miniature golf tournament is held in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA with J. K. Scott winning. Miniature golf is played in a similar fashion to non-miniature golf. There are usually nine or eighteen holes to be played, although there can be twelve holes. The idea is to get a golf ball into the hole in the fewest strokes possible. The mini-course is entirely putting greens with obstacles added, such as ramps and bunkers.

The first mini golf course was created at St. Andrews, Scotland in 1867 for use by women. At the time, women were barred from swinging a club past shoulder height and so were unable to play the regulation course. The popularity of mini golf increased in the 1910s and 1920s with Thistle Dhu (This’ll Do) built in Pinehurst, North Carolina in 1916 and Tom Thumb’s Garnet Carter at Lookout Mountain, Tennessee in 1927. The game was known as garden golf. In 1922, Thomas McCulloch Fairbairn created an artificial green made from cottonseed hulls, sand, oil, and dyed green. This revolutionized the game and mini golf spread everywhere. In the 1920s there were over 30,000 courses nationwide and 150 rooftop courses in NYC alone.

After the stock market crash, the sport became too expensive for most people to play. Innovative folks set up local courses with obstacles built with anything that could be found, like cast off wagon wheels, stove pipes, barrels, or rain gutters. They used whatever space was available and the courses were known as “Rinkiedink” golf.

The first tournament was played by winners of play-offs from the forty-eight states who came to Chattanooga’s Tom Thumb course. The entire purse was $10,000 with top place taking $2,000. Over 200 players came to compete representing thirty states. Today, miniature golf tournaments are held in twenty states and at seven international sites including meets in Europe and Asia.

“If you think it’s hard to meet new people, try picking up the wrong golf ball.” – Jack Lemmon

“Man blames fate for other accidents but feels personally responsible for a hole in one.” – Martha Beckman

“They say golf is like life, but don’t believe them.  Golf is more complicated than that.” – Gardner Dickinson

“I regard golf as an expensive way of playing marbles.” – G.K. Chesterton

Also on this day, in 1958 the Springhill mining disaster took place, trapping Nova Scotia miners.

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