Little Bits of History

October 24

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 24, 2017

1871: A mob enters Chinatown in Los Angeles. The attack was generally motivated by racial tensions in the region, targeting the immigrants from the Far East. There had been a longstanding feud between rival Chinese gangs or tongs. Yut Ho had been abducted and the two tongs were engaged in a shootout to settle the score. During the gunfight a local rancher, Robert Thompson, was killed in the crossfire. Since there was already racial discrimination in the region, it fired up a crowd who came en masse to the region in order to wage their own private non-sanctioned war.

There were over 500 people crowding into Calle de los Negros, which also had the local naming of Nigger Alley. It was a tough neighborhood just northeast of Los Angeles’s main business district. The unpaved street was named before California was a state and it had been occupied by dark-skinned Hispanics who were likely of mixed racial heritage including Native American and/or African-American strains. In earlier times, the neighborhood was more high end and home to prominent citizen of Los Angeles. But by the 1860s the area had greatly deteriorated into slums. It was at this point in history that it became one of Los Angeles’s first Chinatowns.

The angry mob entered the street and began destroying every Chinese owned home and business. The street was full of bars, gambling houses, dance halls, as well as more suitable business ventures. The Chinese were dragged from their homes and beaten and tortured. At least 18 Chinese immigrants were lynched as well. This was the largest mass lynching in American history. Animosity in California grew to such an extreme against the Chinese that in 1882, US President Chester Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act into law which forbade any further Chinese immigration. It was the first law ever passed in the US to exclude a specific ethnic group from being admitted. It was to last ten years but was made permanent in 1902. It was finally rescinded in 1943.

The City of Los Angeles responded to this massacre by arresting only ten members of the mob. Eight were convicted but these convictions were overturned on a technicality. The eight men who served only a short time in San Quentin were: Esteban Alvarado, Charles Austin, Refugio Cotello, LF Crenshaw, AR Johnson, Jesus Martinez, Patrick McDonald, and Louis Medel. The East Coast papers were full of the horrific events and appalled by the crimes as well as the legal system’s response. They began to refer to Los Angeles as a “blood stained Eden”.

Defeating racism, tribalism, intolerance and all forms of discrimination will liberate us all, victim and perpetrator alike. – Ban Ki-moon

The greatest problem in the world today is intolerance. Everyone is so intolerant of each other. – Princess Diana

Discrimination is not liberal. Arguing against discrimination is not intolerance. – Richard Dawkins

Intolerance is evidence of impotence. – Aleister Crowley




Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 24, 2015
1911 Wright Glider

1911 Wright Glider

October 24, 1911: Orville Wright is able to fly for 9 minutes and 45 seconds. The Wright brothers, Wilber and Orville, began their foray into flight by making a kite in 1899. They flew the kite near their home in Dayton, Ohio. It had a wingspan of only 5 feet and was too small to carry anyone. They wanted to test their theory of wing-warping for roll control – an essential discovery making controlled flight possible. Their first Wright Glider able to carry a person was built in 1900. It was designed after Octave Chanute’s 1896 two surface glider. The wing airfoil was based on Otto Lilienthan’s tables of aerodynamic lift. This was a full size craft but it was first tested for flight on October 5, 1900 by flying it again as a kite, this time near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Wilbur went up in the first plane while men on the ground held tethered ropes. Eventually it was possible to make several test flights but the plane was abandoned when the brothers went back to Ohio and it was torn apart by storms and pieces salvaged for other uses. They built a second glider in 1901 and tested it at Kill Devil Hills, about four miles south of Kitty Hawk. This glider had larger wings and the brothers were able to fly 50 to 100 times in free flights as well as many tethered flights as a kite between July 27 and August 17, 1901. During these flights, measurements of lift and drag led the brothers to believe that Lilienthal’s calculations were wrong.

The 1902 Wright Glider was their third glider and the first to have yaw control by having a rear rudder under the pilot’s control. Their wing design was perfected during the winter using their homemade wind tunnel. They were able to fly with true control between September 19 and October 24, 1902 and their longest glide lasted for 26 seconds and went 622.5 feet. They put their craft into storage. The wingspan was 32 feet, 1 inch and had an area of 305 square feet. The craft, empty, weighed 117 pounds. They returned to North Carolina in 1908 to test their new Flyer III and found that the storage shed and the glider inside had been destroyed by storms.

In 1911, Orville Wright returned to Kill Devil Hill along with Alec Ogilvie. They hoped to test an automatic control system for the glider but did not invite reporters to witness their attempts. The glider was taken up on this day using a design which is considered now to be a conventional tailplane. The pilot was seated with hand controls rather than lying prone in a cradle. Winds that day were about 40 mph and the plane was able to fly much longer. The previous record had been 1 minute and 12 second so the nearly ten minute flight was quite remarkable. In fact, the record stood for ten years.

If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance. – Orville Wright

I confess that in 1901 I said to my brother Orville that man would not fly for fifty years. – Wilbur Wright

The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who … looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space… on the infinite highway of the air.  – Wilbur Wright

It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill. – Wilbur Wright

Also on this day: Nedelin Catastrophe – In 1960, a Soviet Union ICBM exploded on the launchpad.
Notre Dame – In 1260, the cathedral was dedicated.
Terror Along the Beltway – In 2002, the Beltway Sniper was arrested.
Earth – In 1946, the first picture of Earth from outer space was taken.
Thar She Goes – In 1901, Annie Taylor celebrated her birthday.



Thar She Goes

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 24, 2014
Annie Edson Taylor and her barrell

Annie Edson Taylor and her barrell

October 24, 1901: Annie Edson Taylor celebrates her 63rd birthday. Annie Edson was born in Auburn, New York in 1838, one of eight children. Her father ran a successful flour mill and he died when Annie was 12 with the family able to live comfortably from his estate. Annie received an honors degree in a four-year training course and became a teacher. While in school, she met David Taylor and they were soon married. They had a son who died in infancy and just a short time later, David died too. Annie spent the rest of her life working odd jobs and moving around in the effort to support herself.

She eventually came to Bay City, Michigan and wanted to be a dance instructor. There were no dance schools so she opened one. In 1900 she moved to Sault Ste. Marie in order to teach music and then went to San Antonio, Texas and with a friend, went to Mexico City to find work. All these efforts were unsuccessful and so she returned to Bay City. Her need for income did not diminish and she desperately wished to stay out of the poorhouse. In order to make a splash and perhaps garner some income from tales of glory, she came up with a plan.

Annie had a special barrel constructed of oak and iron, it was padded with a mattress. She was going to go over Niagara Falls in the thing. She had difficulty in finding someone to help her launch the contraption as it was too dangerous and no one wished to align themselves with an apparent suicide. Two days before her own attempt, she placed a domestic cat in the barrel and sent it over the falls. The cat survived, albeit with a head wound. It had taken 17 minutes to retrieve the barrel and cat. Annie and the cat posed for a picture. On this day, the barrel was placed in the water on the American side near Goat Island. Annie climbed in bringing her lucky heart shaped pillow with her. The lid was screwed down and friends used a bicycle pump to compress the air in the barrel and then sealed the hole with a cork. Annie was set adrift.

The currents carried her away from the American side and over to the Canadian side and the Horseshoe Falls. She was plucked from the lower waters, relatively uninjured. She, too, had a small gash on her head. She was the first to survive going over the falls and after her trip, the Canadian side has been the site for all daredevil stunts. She was briefly famous and managed to make some money from appearances. Then her manager, Frank Russell, stole her barrel and most of her money and took off. The barrel was eventually found in Chicago and then it was lost completely. Annie’s final years were spent trying to earn enough money from her stunt to pay her bills. She died in 1921 at the age of 82 and is buried in the “Stunters Section” of Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls, New York.

If it was with my dying breath, I would caution anyone against attempting the feat… I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces than make another trip over the Fall. – Annie Edson Taylor

I’m not only the best-known daredevil on the face of the earth, I’m the oldest. – Evel Knievel

I don’t see the risk, I enjoy performing stunts, and I don’t get scared. – Ajay Devgan

The ads all call me fearless, but that’s just publicity. Anyone who thinks I’m not scared out of my mind whenever I do one of my stunts is crazier than I am. – Jackie Chan

Nedelin Catastrophe – In 1960, a Soviet Union ICBM exploded on the launchpad.
Notre Dame – In 1260, the cathedral was dedicated.
Terror Along the Beltway – In 2002, the Beltway Sniper was arrested.
Earth – In 1946 the first picture of Earth from outer space was taken.

Notre Dame

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 24, 2013
Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

October 24, 1260: A Cathedral is dedicated. Located in Chartres, about 50 miles outside Paris, the church’s full name is Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres or in French Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres. While the architect is unknown, his famous building is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in France. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. The church is 426 feet long and has a width of 105/151 feet due to its cruciform design. There are 186 stained glass windows and 200 statues in 41 scenes. There is one labyrinth. There are two contrasting spires, one plain at 349 feet high and one lacy confection at 337 feet high.

Even before the cathedral was built, Chartres was a pilgrimage site. Legend states a tunic belonging to the Blessed Virgin Mary has been housed at the site since 876, a gift from Charlemagne. Many churches have been built on the site and destroyed by fire. A cathedral so destroyed in 1020 was replaced by a Romanesque basilica. This, too, was doomed and mostly destroyed in an 1134 fire which burned most of Chartres to ashes. Rebuilding again took place. A lightning strike on June 10, 1194 started fires which destroyed all but the towers and the facade between them, along with the crypt and Royal Portal. Miraculously, Mary’s sacred garment was found unscathed.

The garment’s survival was seen as a sign from heaven and soon donations came in from all over France to rebuild an even more spectacular church. By 1220 the main structure was complete. The grand building incorporated the crypt and the Royal Portal built in the mid-12th century. There were a full set of spires on the plans, but these were never completed. It took forty years for the official dedication to be held. King Louis IX and his family were in attendance when the church was finally officially dedicated.

During the French Revolution the building remained sacrosanct and avoided looting and damage. The stained glass windows splash color onto the floors like scattered jewels. The West Rose and three lancet windows date from 1100. The North and South Rose and five more lancet windows date from 1230. Of the 186 windows, 152 are the original works. Part of the stone floor is given over to a mathematical meditative device. The 11-circuit labyrinth was used by monks who prayed while walking the path. The length of the path is 740 “long feet” or 888 “Roman feet” or 858 feet.

“A pile of rocks ceases to be a rock when somebody contemplates it with the idea of a cathedral in mind.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” – Dalai Lama

“People don’t come to church for preachments, of course, but to daydream about God.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

“There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it.” – George Bernard Shaw

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: In 1548 parts of the Cathedral were damaged because they were considered idolatrous by rioting Huguenots. During the reigns of both Louis XIV and XV many attempts were made to modernize this building as well as many other cathedrals across Europe. In 1786 a huge statue of St. Christopher as well as some tombs and stained glass windows were destroyed in this modernization. The cathedral was rededicated to the Cult of Reason and then to the Cult of the Supreme Being during the French Revolution. During this interlude, many of the kings of Judah were thought to be historical French kings and the statues were beheaded. Many of the heads were found during excavation efforts in 1977 and they are displayed at the Musée de Cluny. The cathedral because a warehouse for food storage for a time.

Also on this day: Nedelin Catastrophe – In 1960, a Soviet Union ICBM exploded on the launchpad.
Terror Along the Beltway – In 2002, the Beltway Sniper was arrested.
Earth – In 1946 the first picture of Earth from outer space was taken.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 24, 2012

First picture of Earth from outer space

October 24, 1946: The White Sands rocket launches. The official name of the craft was V-2 No. 13 and it flew out of the White Sands Missile Range in White Sands, New Mexico. The rocket flew straight up and when it reached the peak altitude of 107.5 miles, it fell back to Earth. The mission had included a camera. Black-and-white photos were taken with the movie camera every second and a half beginning at 65 miles of altitude. The rocket plunged back to Earth and struck the ground at a speed of 500 feet per second. The camera was smashed to bits. However, the film had been protected in a steel cassette and it was unharmed. These were the first pictures of Earth from space.

Fred Rulli was a 19-year-old enlisted man at the time. He was also part of the recovery team whose job it was to find the crash site in the desert and retrieve the film. When the scientists found the cassette in good shape, they were ecstatic – according to Fred. He also relates that when they first projected the pictures on a screen they “just went nuts.” Before 1946, Earth had been pictured from an altitude of 13.7 miles from aboard the Explorer II balloon. Eleven years later, that distance had been greatly surpassed and for the first time, the curvature of the planet could be seen using the camera designed by Clyde Holliday. When the pictures were displayed, Earth could be seen against the blackness of space.

This was only one of the “firsts” from the V-2 rocket program. The Army was able to fire off the captured German missiles brought to New Mexico aboard 300 railroad cars. The scientists on site used the missiles to perfect their own rocket designs and with ongoing launches inserted a number of instruments inside the nosecones. They were able to study temperatures, pressures, magnetic fields, along with other aspects of the heretofore unexplored upper atmosphere.

Holliday worked for the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and worked with many of the other leading scientists of the time – James Van Allen and S. Fred Singer among them. Both of these men would be instrumental in planning the early US satellites. Holliday was concerned with the camera, not just because of the wonderful pictures it was able to return to the home planet. He was also studying how the rocket was steering in the upper atmosphere and what sort of disturbances might be caused by cosmic rays. Today, we have seen the Blue Marble and the wonders of the planet as seen from the Moon. These grainy 35 mm photos are not the same quality, but they have the distinction of being the first pictures from outer space.

They were ecstatic, they were jumping up and down like kids. – Fred Rulli, about the scientists at the crash site

[This is] how our Earth would look to visitors from another planet coming in on a space ship. – Clyde Holliday in National Geographic in 1950

We considered clouds to be a nuisance. – S. Fred Singer

[Holliday was] in an environment with super-Ph.D.s, and he wanted to make clear that photography was a science, too. – Cy O’Brien

Also on this day:

Nedelin Catastrophe – In 1960, a Soviet Union ICBM exploded on the launchpad.
Notre Dame – In 1260, the cathedral was dedicated.
Terror Along the Beltway – In 2002, the Beltway Sniper was arrested.

Terror Along the Beltway

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 24, 2011

John Allen Muhammad mug shot

October 24, 2002: Two men are arrested at a Maryland rest stop after police receive tips from a trucker and a second motorist who spot a 1990 Chevrolet Caprice parked there. The killing spree began when Paul LaRuffia was killed as he locked up his pizzeria on September 5 and Claudia Parker was killed during a liquor store robbery on September 21. Then the patterns of the killings changed.

On October 2 at 5:20 PM a shot was fired through a window without causing injury; at 6:05 the first victim of a mysterious sniper fell. The next day, five more were killed as they went about their normal daily routines. Within the next weeks, four more people were killed and three were critically wounded. One of the victims was an FBI agent who was coming out of a Home Depot store. All the killings took place between Baltimore and Washington, DC along Interstate 95, an area known as the Beltway.

The killings were initially thought to be the work of a lone sniper. When captured John Allen Mohammed, 41, and Lee Boyd Malvo, 17, were found to be working together. The investigation was headed by Police Chief Charles A. Moose with help from the FBI. Tarot cards were left at some of the earlier killings. Later, long handwritten notes were left. After learning that the car used by the snipers was a dark Chevrolet, that information was broadcast and terrorized citizens were on the lookout.

Both men were found guilty of the Beltway murders. Malvo, a minor at the time of the killings, has been given life imprisonment without parole. He has since confessed to several other murders across the US and given an additional six life sentences. Mohammed was found guilty and given the death penalty. Mohammed claimed to have modeled himself after Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda’s attacks of September 11. Fortunately his three tiered plan of attack never got past the first phase.

“Muhammad, with his sniper team partner, Malvo, randomly selected innocent victims. With calculation, extensive planning, premeditation and ruthless disregard for life, Muhammad carried out his cruel scheme of terror.” – Virginia Supreme Court Justice Donald Lemons

“I haven’t gone jogging, haven’t gone shopping and I almost run from my car to the apartment. Last weekend was the first time that I’ve seen my apartment complex’s parking lot full. No one is leaving their homes.” – Joe, from Maryland

“The greatest crimes are to associate another with God, to vex your father and mother, to murder your own species, to commit suicide, and to swear to lie.” – Muhammad

“There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.” – Andre Gide

Also on this day:
Nedelin Catastrophe – In 1960, a Soviet Union ICBM exploded on the launchpad.
Notre Dame – In 1260, the cathedral was dedicated.

Nedelin Catastrophe

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 25, 2010

R-16 intercontinental ballistic rocket ready for launch.

October 24, 1960: An R-16 intercontinental ballistic missile [ICBM] explodes on the launch pad at the USSR’s Baikonur Cosmodrome space facility. The R-16 was being tested, and a prototype was on the launchpad. During the test-flight launch, the second stage misfired and 165 military personnel, engineers, and technicians were killed, including Strategic Rocket Forces Marshal Mitrofan Nedelin, the commander of the R-16 project. His death was covered up at the time and it was said that he died in a plane crash.

The bodies that could be identified were shipped home from the central-Asian launch site for private burial. Many more bodies were burned beyond recognition. All other remains were placed into one casket and buried in the rocket workers’ town of Leninsk. With a total black out of information concerning the disaster, the families were left to cope on their own. The world was presented with the fallacy of a perfectly run Soviet rocket program. The first successful launch of the ICBM was on February 2, 1961.

On October 23, the rocket was on the launch pad with hypergolic UDMH-nitric acid fuel loaded. The fuel was highly corrosive and toxic. While getting the rocket ready, the pyrotechnic membranes on the first stage of the rocket were accidentally blown. This meant that the rocket had to be fired within two days or the fuel would need to be drained and the engine rebuilt. It was decided to fire the rocket the next day and arrangements were further hurried along.

Preparations were vast and many procedures were being carried out simultaneously. Nedelin was impatient with the delays. A Programmable Current Distributor [PDC] was left in the post-launch position rather than the pre-launch setting where it should have been. This error resulted in the early firing of the second stage engine and the conflagration that followed.

“The thorns which I have reap‘d are of the tree I planted; they have torn me, and I bleed.” – Lord Byron

”A danger foreseen is half avoided.” – Thomas Fuller

“One’s incompetence is a difficult fact to accept.” – Terry M. Townsend

“The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try nothing and succeed.” – Lloyd Jones

Also on this day in 1260, Notre Dame Cathedral was dedicated.