Sunday, July 5, 2015

Today in History for July 5, 2015

David G. Farragut
July 5, 1610 – John Guy set sail from Bristol with 39 other colonists for Newfoundland.

July 5, 1687 – Isaac Newton published one of the most important books in the history of science, “Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica” or "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy."

July 5, 1775 – The Second Continental Congress adopted the Olive Branch Petition, written by John Dickinson, which appealed directly to King George III and expressed hope for reconciliation between the colonies and Great Britain.

July 5, 1777 - British General John Burgoyne led Redcoats, Hessian mercenaries, Canadians, Loyalists and Indians to a victory at Ticonderoga, N.Y.

July 5, 1801 – U.S. Naval officer David G. Farragut was born in Campbell's Station, Tenn. (now Farragut, Tenn.). He is best remembered for his order at the Battle of Mobile Bay, in which he was victorious, usually paraphrased as "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" in U.S. Navy tradition.

July 5, 1819 - Alabama's first constitutional convention was convened in Huntsville, Ala. Less than a month later, the 44 delegates, representing 22 counties, adopted what would become known as the Constitution of 1819, the first of six Alabama constitutions.

July 5, 1819 – John Murphy and Dr. John Watkins represented Monroe County in the Alabama Constitutional Convention in Huntsville, Ala. Samuel Cook represented Conecuh County in the constitutional convention.

July 5, 1861 – Union and Rebel forces clashed at Carthage in southwestern Missouri, resulting in the first large-scale engagement of the war and signaling an escalation in the hostilities between the North and South. The Missouri State Guardsmen, a force of 6,000 men commanded by Confederate Governor Claiborne Jackson and Colonel Sterling Price, were poorly equipped and outfitted mostly in civilian clothing. Their Union counterpart was a force of 1,100, mostly German-Americans from St. Louis, commanded by General Franz Sigel. Both sides claimed victory.

July 5, 1863 - U.S. Federal troops occupied Vicksburg, Miss. and distributed supplies to the citizens.

July 5, 1864 – Joseph G. Sanders, aka “The Turncoat of Dale County,” was granted a provisional commission as a Second Lieutenant by Union Major General Nathaniel P. Banks, which he received on July 17, 1864 with orders to report for duty with Co. F of the First Florida Cavalry (U.S.) on Aug. 23 when the regiment was mustered in for Federal service in Florida. Sanders accordingly presented himself at the U.S. outpost at Barrancas, Fla., where he enrolled for a term of three years.

July 5, 1865 - The U.S. Secret Service Division was created to combat currency counterfeiting, forging and the altering of currency and securities.

July 5, 1865 - President Andrew Johnson signed an executive order that confirmed the military conviction of a group of people who had conspired to kill the late President Abraham Lincoln, then commander in chief of the U.S. Army, and with his signature, Johnson ordered four of the guilty to be executed. Confederate sympathizers David E. Herold, G. A. Atzerodt, Lewis Payne, Mary E. Surratt, Michael O’Laughlin, Edward Spangler, Samuel Arnold and Samuel A. Mudd were arraigned on May 9 and convicted on July 5 for “maliciously, unlawfully, and traitorously” conspiring with several others, including John Wilkes Booth, who had assassinated President Lincoln on April 14, 1865. In addition to targeting Lincoln, the conspirators had planned to kill General Ulysses S. Grant as he led Union armies in the Civil War against the southern states. Vice President Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln to the presidency, was also one of the group’s intended prey.

July 5, 1879 – Jesse D. Andrews shot and killed Daniel Powell during an argument at Cokerville (in Monroe County, Ala.?).

July 5, 1915 – “The Heart Punch,” a drama starring world heavyweight champion Jess Willard, was scheduled to be shown at the Arcade Theatre in Evergreen, Ala.

July 5, 1915 – The Liberty Bell left Philadelphia by special train on its way to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. This was the last trip outside Philadelphia that the custodians of the bell intended to permit.

July 5, 1916 – The steamboat “City of Mobile” was destroyed during a “hurricane” at the wharf at the foot of Dauphin Street in Mobile, Ala.

July 5, 1917 – During World War I, Army Pvt. Robert B. Hines of Canoe, Ala. “died from disease.”

July 5, 1921 - After Judge Hugo Friend denied a motion to quash the indictments against the major league baseball players accused of throwing the 1919 World Series, a trial began with jury selection. The Chicago White Sox players, including stars Shoeless Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver and Eddie Cicotte, subsequently became known as the “Black Sox” after the scandal was revealed.

July 5, 1925 – French author, traveler and explorer Jean Raspail was born in Chemillé-sur-Dême, Indre-et-Loire, France.

July 5, 1928 – The Evergreen Courant reported that the Evergreen Motor Car Co. was moving into the “pretty new building recently completed on Rural Street” and was scheduled to officially open in that location on Sat., July 7. All seven models of the New Ford Car were to be on display on that day, several of which have not been shown in Evergreen, Ala. before.

July 5, 1928 – The Evergreen Courant reported that the newspaper was moving its offices to a new home two doors east of its present location, and its new home was to be in the building recently completed by the Evergreen Motor Car Co. Part of the newspaper’s equipment had already been moved, and the July 5 issue of the paper, which was about half its normal size, was composed in the old office and printed in the new because the printing presses had already been moved. The editor noted that the new location would be more accessible to the public because it was downstairs whereas the old location had been upstairs.

July 5, 1937 – SPAM was unveiled by Hormel Foods.

July 5, 1940 – Artist Chuck Close was born in Monroe, Wash.

July 5, 1950 – The Battle of Osan, the first face-off of American and North Korean troops in the Korean War, took place at Osan, just south of Seoul.

July 5, 1950 – Army Pvt. Charles R. Hendrix of Monroe County, Ala. was killed in action in Korea, and Army Pvt. O.C. Clarke Jr. of Covington County, Ala. died while a prisoner of war in Korea.

July 5, 1988 – The Evergreen City Council named veteran city employee Clayton Davis to serve as Water Department Superintendent, replacing Franklin Williamson, who had retired earlier that year.

July 5, 1988 – Terry Lynn Parker, 23, of Rt. 1, Evergreen was killed in a logging accident on this Tuesday morning while working with a logging crew in the Mobley Creek area of Covington County, near Brooklyn, Ala. Parker, who was employed by Bruce Salter Logging Co., was struck by a falling tree at 9 a.m. and pronounced dead at the scene at 11:25 a.m., according to Covington County Sheriff’s Investigator Max Hooks.

July 5, 1989 - The pilot episode of "Seinfeld" aired on NBC.

July 5, 1991 – Evergreen’s 14-&-15-year-old Babe Ruth All-Stars were scheduled to play South Monroe in Atmore, Ala. at 7:30 p.m.

July 5, 1998 - Roger Clemens of the Toronto Blue Jays got his 3,000th career strikeout.

July 5, 2002 – National Baseball Hall of Fame left fielder Ted Williams died of cardiac arrest at the age of 83 in Inverness, Fla., and his son sent his father’s body to be frozen at a cryonics laboratory. During his career, he played for the Boston Red Sox and managed the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966.

July 5, 2012 – Longtime local radioman Gary Downs, 63, passed away in a Monroeville, Ala. nursing home.

July 5, 2009 – The largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever discovered, consisting of more than 1,500 items, was found near the village of Hammerwich, near Lichfield, in Staffordshire, England.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Sun., July 5, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.20 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.25 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 0.25 inches

Summer to Date Rainfall: 4.85 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 28.90 inches

Notes: Today is the 186th day of 2015 and the 15th day of Summer. There are 179 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hours Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line and south of U.S. Highway 84, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Singleton tells of how gypsies had a reputation for snatching children

George Buster Singleton
(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “Arrival of gypsy caravans was a time of excitement,” was originally published in the March 21, 1996 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

Silver coins that jingle, jangle
Fancy shoes that dance in time.
Oh, the secret of her dark eyes,
They did spell a gypsy rhyme.

The time for the arrival of the gypsy wagons was usually in the early spring as the cool days of Old Man Winter slowly faded from across the countryside.

As a small boy of four, the line of slowly moving covered wagons with brightly colored banners streaming into the breezes was a sight to behold. Too young to attend school, this small barefooted boy waited patiently beside the country road for the first view of the wandering people who were sure to stop and camp down the road aways. Word that the gypsy caravan was coming always preceded the wagons by a day or so.

The old fireside tales would begin anew about how the gypsy nomads lived and how they could tell anyone’s fortune. The stories were that the gypsy women could look into the palm of your hand and read the signs of how long a person would live and if happiness or tragedy was forthcoming in their lives.

Watch small children

The farm help had strict orders to look after the small children very closely, because someone had heard that gypsy people would take small children and hide them inside their covered wagons until time to move on. Then, they would take the stolen children and raise them to be wanderers and vagabonds as they were. The story was that after a few short weeks with a gypsy family, a child who had been taken would not be recognized even by its own mother.

Everyone knew that the gypsies were a people who liked to trade. They liked to trade everything from the horses that pulled their wagons to personal jewelry. They would even trade items that they had made for chickens and eggs; milk and butter were also great items of barter. So, as the covered wagons of the gypsy people pulled into the camping area, the crowd of curious onlookers had already begun to gather.

As the gypsy camp came to order, various items that were to be up for trade would appear hanging on the sides of the covered wagons. The camping area was atop a high bank overlooking a large stream, or creek, as it was called. Here the horses could be watered easily while the gypsy band got their drinking water from a large, overflowing artisan well in the center of the camping area.

As the shadows of the evening gradually crept across the large creek and the camping area, the growing darkness was pushed aside by the light of several campfires that had been built at the front of each wagon. These small fires were kept going the entire time that the camp was there. These fires cooked the food and furnished the light for the many dances that were surely to come later in the evenings after the trading was done and the swapping had ceased.

Beside one wagon, a small tent had been erected. Here was where the fortuneteller took her customers so they wouldn’t be distracted by the goings-on around the fires as stories and events were told and retold.

Across the area, over in the edge of the camp area, the medicine woman, or healer, plied her trade. She would remove a wart or mole for a dime. She could cure a toothache by placing a piece of bark on the patient’s gum at the base of the hurting tooth. You could also get a drink of tonic that was guaranteed to rid your body of any impurities, such as boils, poison oak or poison ivy.

My grandmother always said that the old gypsy woman couldn’t do anything that she couldn’t do. So, for this reason, we never patronized the old healing woman. We knew that in due time, Grandma would bring out her remedies, and we kids knew we would take them, whether we wanted to or not.

Strange music

As the activities began to wind down, the faint sounds of a strange music began to ride the winds of the evening. As the music grew louder and faster, out of one of the wagons dashed five or six colorfully dressed young gypsy women.

A small boy of four stood spellbound at the edge of the crowd as they began to swirl and dance to the sound of the strange music. It seemed that the musicians had appeared from nowhere. They had appeared from out of the darkness into the fire-lit area as if by magic; the music and dancing grew faster and faster. The local country folks stood breathless and wide-eyed.

The dancing went on for quite some time. A tambourine was passed around and through the crowd, carried by a beautiful, dark-haired gypsy girl. A few coins could be heard hitting the sheep skin of the instrument as the local farmers coughed up what little money they could afford to give.

A small barefoot boy of four fell instantly in love as the beautiful dark-haired girl paused just long enough to bend down and kiss his cheek for a fleeting moment.

As the hour grew late, a well-dressed man in gypsy clothing stepped into the center of the dance area and announced that the festivities would continue tomorrow night. As the local folks made ready to leave, the small children were counted and all filed into the darkness, where home and soft beds awaited, with a four-year-old’s dreams of traveling with the gypsy caravan.

The gypsy wagons would camp there by the overflowing well for three or four days. A small, wide-eyed boy was always in the crowd as the swirling dancers whirled to and fro in the dim light of the evening camp fires. The small boy hoped to get a glance of the beautiful, raven-haired beauty who had won his heart in that one fleeting moment a night or so before.

But time has a way of changing all things. Gone are the days of the gypsy caravans that traveled the back country roads with their covered wagons. Gone are the communities where happiness and laughter rode the winds of the evening, as the country folks gathered for a time of fun and frolic. Where once was the overflowing well and the gypsy campground, now is an asphalt highway and a long concrete bridge across the large creek. The times of happiness that once could be found there have faded into oblivion. All that remains are a few of the memories.

(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)

Today in History for July 4, 2015

Walt Whitman
July 4, 1054 – The brightest known supernova was seen by Chinese, Arab and possibly Amerindian observers near the star Zeta Tauri. For several months (some sources say 23 days), it remained bright enough to be seen during the day. Its remnants formed the Crab Nebula.

July 4, 1541 – Spanish general and explorer Pedro de Alvarado died at the age of 55 (possibly 56) from injuries he received a few days before when he was crushed by a horse that was spooked and ran amok in Guadalajara, New Spain. He participated in the conquest of Cuba, in Juan de Grijalva's exploration of the coasts of Yucatán Peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico, and in the conquest of Mexico led by Hernán Cortés. He is considered the conquistador of much of Central America, including Guatemala and El Salvador.

July 4, 1641 – Portuguese explorer Pedro Teixeira, age unknown, died in the Portuguese Colony of Brazil. In 1637, he became the first European to travel up the entire length of the Amazon River. His exploits are considered remarkable even by today's standards.

July 4, 1712 - Twelve slaves were executed for starting a slave uprising in New York that killed nine whites.

July 4, 1754 – During the French and Indian War, George Washington surrendered Fort Necessity to French Capt. Louis Coulon de Villiers. Washington signed a confession, written French that he could not read, to the assassination of Ensign Joseph Coulon de Jumonville.

July 4, 1774 – The Orangetown Resolutions were adopted in the Province of New York, one of many protests against the British Parliament's Coercive Acts.

July 4, 1776 - The amended Declaration of Independence, prepared by Thomas Jefferson, was unanimously approved and signed by John Hancock, the President of the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pa. The document proclaimed the independence of a new United States of America from Great Britain and its king. The declaration came 442 days after the first shots of the American Revolution were fired at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts and marked an ideological expansion of the conflict that would eventually involve France’s intervention on behalf of the Americans.

July 4, 1778 – During the American Revolutionary War, American forces under George Clark capturd Kaskaskia during the Illinois campaign.

July 4, 1802 - The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. officially opened.

July 4, 1803 - The Louisiana Purchase was announced in newspapers. The property was purchased, by the United States from France, was for $15 million (or 3 cents an acre). The "Corps of Discovery," led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, began the exploration of the territory on May 14, 1804.

July 4, 1804 – During the first-ever Fourth of July celebration west of the Mississippi River in present-day Kansas, Lewis and Clark fired the Corps of Discovery expedition cannon at sunset and ordered an extra ration of whiskey for the men.

July 4, 1804 - Nathaniel Hawthorne, who wrote “The Scarlet Letter” in 1850, was born Nathaniel Hathorne in Salem, Mass.

July 4, 1826 – Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, died the same day as John Adams, the second president of the United States, on the 50th anniversary of the adoption and signing of the United States Declaration of Independence. Jefferson died at the age of 83 in Charlottesville, Va., and Adams died at the age of 90 in Quincy, Mass. Both men had been central in the drafting of the historic document; Jefferson had authored it, and Adams, who was known as the “colossus of the debate,” served on the drafting committee and had argued eloquently for the declaration’s passage.

July 4, 1827 – Slavery was abolished in New York State.

July 4, 1831 – James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States, died from heart failure and tuberculosis at the age of 73 in New York City.

July 4, 1838 – The Iowa Territory was organized.

July 4, 1845 - American writer Henry David Thoreau began his two-year experiment in simple living at Walden Pond, near Concord, Mass.

July 4, 1846 – Confederate veteran Thomas Jefferson Austin was born in Butler County, Ala. On Jan. 1, 1864, at the age of 17, he enlisted in Greenville, Ala. as a private in Co. E of the 1st Alabama Artillery Battalion. He was taken as a prisoner of war at Fort Morgan in 1864 and was forwarded to Elmira Prison in New York. He was exchanged on March 14, 1865 at Charles River, Va. and was admitted to Richmond General Hospital No. 9. He was later transferred to Jackson Hospital and then to St. Frances deSales Hospital. He was discharged from the Confederate Army on June 6, 1865 and from the hospital on Aug. 13, 1865. He passed away on Feb. 7, 1907 in Jones Mill, Ala. and is buried in Shiloh Cemetery in present-day Frisco City, Ala.

July 4, 1848 - In Washington, D.C., the cornerstone for the Washington Monument was laid.

July 4, 1855 – In Brooklyn, New York City, the first edition of Walt Whitman's book of poems, “Leaves of Grass,” was published, containing a dozen poems. He revised the book many times, constantly adding and rewriting poems.

July 4, 1858 – During a nationwide scandal with roots in Clarke County, Ala., French Army officer Henri Arnous de Riviere was apprehended at the Hotel Napoleon in Hoboken, N.J. He’d been accused of abducting Miss Emily J. Blount, the daughter of Frederick S. Blount of Gosport, Ala.

July 4, 1859 – The Louisville & Nashville Railroad officially reached Georgiana, Ala.

July 4, 1861 - U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, in a speech to Congress, stated the war is..."a People's contest... a struggle for maintaining in the world, that form, and substance of government, whose leading object is, to elevate the condition of men..."

July 4, 1861 - The U.S. Congress authorized a call for 500,000 men.

July 4, 1862 – Lewis Carroll told Alice Liddell a story that would grow into “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland” and its sequels.

July 4, 1863 – During Civil War, the Siege of Vicksburg ended as Confederate General John C. Pemberton surrendered Vicksburg, Miss. to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at the Army of the West after 47 days of siege. The Union victory brought control of the Mississippi River and split the Confederacy in two. The town of Vicksburg wouldn’t celebrate the Fourth of July for 81 years afterwards.

July 4, 1863 - One hundred fifty miles up the Mississippi River from Vicksburg, a Confederate Army was repulsed at the Battle of Helena, Ark.

July 4, 1863 – During the Civil War, General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia withdrew from the battlefield after losing the Battle of Gettysburg, signalling an end to the Southern invasion of the North. Lee did not threaten Northern territory again.

July 4, 1865 – “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland” was published.

July 4, 1872 - Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States was born in Plymouth, Vermont.

July 4, 1881 - Booker T. Washington established Tuskegee Institute.

July 4, 1884 – The Daily British Colonist reported that “(Jacko) has long, black, strong hair and resembles a human being (with the exception that)… his entire body, excepting his hands… and feet are covered with glossy hair about one inch long. His forearm is much longer than a man’s forearm, and he possesses extraordinary strength.” A group of railroad men supposedly captured this half-man, half-beast creature in the vicinity of No. 4 Tunnel, about 20 miles from Yale, British Columbia.

July 4, 1895 - The sheriff of Brewton, E.S. McMillan trapped Morris Slater, aka “Railroad Bill,” in a house near Bluff Springs. Approaching the house, McMillan was shot and killed and Slater once again escaped.

July 4, 1903 – The Philippine–American War officially ended.

July 4, 1911 – The Conecuh Record reported that the dam at Tomlinson’s old mill washed away on this day.

July 4, 1912 – The Johnson-Flynn boxing match was scheduled to be held in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

July 4, 1913 – President Woodrow Wilson addressed American Civil War veterans at the Great Reunion of 1913 in Gettysburg, Pa.

July 4, 1914 – Thomas Reid, who was about 21 years old, drowned in El Pond. He lived about five miles from Castleberry in Escambia County, Ala.

July 4, 1914 – At a large Fourth of July event hosted by the Vredenburg saw mill company, which was attended by over 1,000 people, the Vredenburg baseball team played a double header against the “star Belleville team.” Vredenburgh won the morning game, 5-4, but Belleville won the evening game, 10-8.

July 4, 1917 - U.S. troops made their first public display of World War I, marching through the streets of Paris to the grave of the Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat and hero of the American Revolutionary War. Immense public enthusiasm greeted this first public display of American troops: a symbolic march through Paris, ending at the grave of Lafayette, who had commanded revolutionary troops against the British empire and who, by his own request, had been buried in soil brought from America. To the cheers of Parisian onlookers in front of the tomb, the American officer Colonel Charles Stanton famously declared “Lafayette, we are here!

July 4, 1921 – A few weeks after his mother’s death, H.P. Lovecraft attended an amateur journalism convention in Boston. It was here that he first met Sonia Haft Greene, a Russian Jew seven years his senior, who would eventually become his wife.

July 4, 1922 – Greenville, Ala. celebrated its centennial.

July 4, 1930 - George Michael Steinbrenner III, who would go on to own the New York Yankees, was born in Bay Village, Ohio, near Cleveland.

July 4, 1931 – James Joyce and Nora Barnacle were wed at the Kensington Registry Office, after living together for 26 years.

July 4, 1934 - Boxer Joe Louis, a native of Alabama, won his first professional fight.

July 4, 1934 - At Mount Rushmore, George Washington's face was dedicated.

July 4, 1939 – Lou Gehrig, who’d been recently diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, informed a crowd at Yankee Stadium that he considered himself "The luckiest man on the face of the earth", then announced his retirement from major league baseball.

July 4, 1945 – Monroeville, Ala. resident Sgt. Charles F. Glidewell Jr., with the 1105th Combat Engineer Co., commanded the honor guard that raised American flag over the rubble of Berlin during a special ceremony as Gen. Omar Bradley looked on.

July 4, 1960 – Due to the post-Independence Day admission of Hawaii as the 50th U.S. state on Aug. 21, 1959, the 50-star flag of the United States debuted in Philadelphia, almost ten and a half months later.

July 4, 1966 – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act into United States law. The act went into effect the next year.

July 4, 1976 - The United States celebrated its Bicentennial.

July 4, 1980 - Nolan Ryan of the Houston Astros got his 3,000th career strikeout.

July 4, 1993 - The Pizza Hut Blimp became deflated in flight, but landed safely on West 56th Street in New York City.

July 4, 2004 - In New York, the cornerstone of the Freedom Tower (One World Trade Center) was laid on the former World Trade Center site.

July 4, 2005 - Following hearings before a judge, Deepak and Satish Kalpoe were released, but Joran van der Sloot was detained for an additional 60 days in connection with the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, 18, of Mountain Brook, Ala.

July 4, 2005 - The Royal Netherlands Air Force deployed three F-16 aircraft equipped with infrared sensors to aid in the search for the missing Natalee Holloway, 18, of Mountain Brook, Ala. without initial result.

July 4, 2006 – Will Clark was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in its inaugural class.

July 4, 2007 - Alabama journalist Harold Eugene Martin died in Bedford, Texas.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Sat., July 4, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: Trace.

Month to Date Rainfall: Trace.

Summer to Date Rainfall: 4.60 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 28.65 inches

Notes: Today is the 185th day of 2015 and the 14th day of Summer. There are 180 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hours Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line and south of U.S. Highway 84, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Friday, July 3, 2015

'WALK TO MORDOR' UPDATE: 242 miles down and 1,557 miles to go

I continued my (virtual) “Walk to Mordor” during the past week by logging six more miles since my last update. I walked/jogged five miles yesterday (Thursday) and one mile today (Friday). So far, I’ve logged 242 total miles on this virtual trip to Mount Doom, and I’ve got 1,557 more miles to go before I reach Mordor. All in all, I’ve completed about 13.5 percent of the total trip.


In relation to Frodo’s journey, I’m on the fifteenth day of his trip, which is Oct. 7 on the Middle Earth calendar. I left off on my last update on Day 14, at Mile 236, which was five miles from the start of Day 15. Three miles later, at Mile 239, Frodo’s group comes near to the south end of the path at midday and reaches the dell at the western foot of a hill near Weathertop.


One mile later, at Mile 240, the group climbs to the top of Weathertop and enters the ruins of the Watchtower of Amon Sul (Hill of Wind). From there, the group can see the Black Riders on the road below. Frodo’s group then returns to the dell, camps there and are attacked by the Nazgul later that night at the end of Day 14.


Frodo is injured in the Nazgul attack and Day 15 (Oct. 7) begins with him being carried on a pony, headed south from the dell. I’ve logged one more mile beyond this point, and the next significant milestone comes nine miles later, at Mile 251, where the group will cross the Great East Road.


For those of you reading this for the first time, I began this “Walk to Mordor” fitness challenge on Jan. 1. Using a book called “The Atlas of Middle-Earth” by Karen Wynn Fonstad, fans of “The Lord of the Rings” created this challenge by mapping out Frodo’s fictional trek to Mordor, calculating the total distance at 1,799 miles. They also used the original "Lord of the Rings" text to outline the journey, so you can follow their route by keeping up with your total mileage.


The folks who worked out the nuts and bolts of this virtual journey have divided it into four parts. It’s 458 miles from Hobbiton to Rivendell, 462 miles from Rivendell through Moria to Lothlorien, 389 miles from Lothlorien down the Anduin to Rauros Falls and 470 miles from Rauros to Mount Doom. (Those locations should sound very familiar to “Lord of the Rings” fans.) The hobbits averaged 18 miles a day, but if you walk (or jog, as I sometimes do) five miles a day, it’s possible to cover 1,799 miles in a year.


If you’re interested in learning more about the “Walk to Mordor Challenge,” I suggest you check out two Web sites, and Both of these sites provide a ton of details about the challenge, including how to get started.


In the end, check back next Friday for another update and to see how much closer I am to Mordor. I hope to knock out at least 13 more miles next week, and I’ll include all that in my update next week.

Today in History for July 3, 2015

Confederate General George Pickett
July 3, 1754 – During the French and Indian War, George Washington surrendered Fort Necessity to French forces.

July 3, 1767 – Pitcairn Island was discovered by Midshipman Robert Pitcairn on an expeditionary voyage commanded by Philip Carteret.

July 3, 1775 – During the American Revolutionary War, U.S. Gen. George Washington rode out in front of the American troops gathered at Cambridge common in Massachusetts and drew his sword, formally taking command of the Continental Army. Washington, a prominent Virginia planter and veteran of the French and Indian War, had been appointed commander in chief by the Continental Congress two weeks before. In agreeing to serve the American colonies in their war for independence, he declined to accept payment for his services beyond reimbursement of future expenses.

July 3, 1778 – During the American Revolutionary War, British forces killed 360 people in the Wyoming Valley massacre.

July 3, 1795 - Alabama author and theatrical manager Noah Ludlow was born in New York, N.Y.

July 3, 1848 – Slaves were freed in the Danish West Indies (now U.S. Virgin Islands) by Peter von Scholten in the culmination of a year-long plot by enslaved Africans.

July 3, 1849 – The dispensation (organizational) meeting for Dean Lodge No. 112 at Brooklyn was held, and the lodge’s charter was officially issued on Dec. 8, 1850.

July 3, 1862 – During the Civil War, a cavalry skirmish was fought near Russellville, Ala.

July 3, 1863 – During the Civil War, the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg culminated with Pickett's Charge as troops under Confederate General George Pickett began a massive attack against the center of the Union lines on Cemetery Ridge. The majority of the force consisted of Pickett’s division, but there were other units represented among the 15,000 attackers. After a long Confederate artillery bombardment, the Rebel force moved through the open field and up the slight rise of Cemetery Ridge, but by the time they reached the Union line, the attack had been broken into many small units, and they were unable to penetrate the Yankee center. Union General Alexander Stewart Webb commanded troops defending the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge, and Confederate General Lewis Armistead was mortally wounded while leading a brigade in Pickett's division during the charge at Gettysburg.

July 3, 1863 – A number of the members of the Conecuh Guards were killed or wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg. Capt. William Lee died from wounds he received at Gettysburg. Third Sergeant Robert Richey, William Coleman and William B. Long were killed at Gettysburg. First Lt. Archibald D. McInnis, who was promoted to captain on this day, was also wounded that same day at Gettysburg. William Quinley, who’d been wounded earlier at Gaines’s Farm and deserted to the enemy in 1865, was wounded at Gettysburg. Mich. B. Salter, who was wounded earlier at Gaines’ Farm, was wounded at Gettysburg and had his right arm amputated. He was honorably discharged and returned to Conecuh County. Evans Sheffield, who had been wounded earlier at Gaines’ Farm, was wounded at Gettysburg. He returned to Conecuh County after war and was killed by a falling tree. Fourth Cpl. Joseph A. Thomas and the Rev. George A. Wood, who moved to Georgia after the war, were wounded at Gettysburg. Fourth Sgt. James Cotton was taken prisoner at Gettysburg, remained in prison until the end of the war and died in Texas after war.

July 3, 1881 – Charles J. Waldrop was hanged for murdering Lobina Knight Mitchell on June 30, 1881 in Cragford, Ala.

July 3, 1883 – Czech writer Franz Kafka was born in Prague. He was the author of such influential works as “The Metamorphosis” (1915), which began: "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect."

July 3, 1886 – The New-York Tribune became the first newspaper to use a linotype machine, eliminating typesetting by hand.

July 3, 1890 – Idaho was admitted as the 43rd U.S. state.

July 3, 1895 – Escambia County, Ala. Sheriff E.S. McMillan formed a posse to capture Railroad Bill and later that night at Bluff Springs an immense gun battle ensued and McMillan was shot in the chest and died while Bill escaped once again.

July 3, 1901 - The Wild Bunch, led by Butch Cassidy, committed its last American robbery near Wagner, Montana. They took $65,000 from a Great Northern train.

July 3, 1911 – W.H. Grant, a freight conductor on the L&N Railroad committed suicide in Flomaton, Ala. “Temporary insanity” was supposed to have been the cause.

July 3, 1912 - Rube Marquard of the New York Giants set a baseball pitching record when earned his 19th consecutive win.

July 3, 1913 – Confederate veterans at the Great Reunion of 1913 reenacted Pickett's Charge. Upon reaching the high-water mark of the Confederacy they are met by the outstretched hands of friendship from Union survivors.

July 3, 1915 – A picnic was scheduled to be held at the Varner Bridge on the Sepulga River with a baseball game to be played that afternoon.

July 3, 1918 – During World War I, Army Pvt. Jesse V. Emmons of Andalusia, Ala. “died from wounds.”

July 3, 1920 - William Crawford Gorgas, U.S. Surgeon General, 1915-1918, and world-renowned expert on tropical diseases, died in London while en route to South Africa. Gorgas was born in Mobile, Ala. in 1854 and served as the Chief Sanitation Officer in Havana, Cuba, during the Spanish-American War and during the building of the Panama Canal, 1904-1914. In those tropical climates Gorgas saved hundreds of lives by successfully eliminating mosquito breeding grounds and thereby controlling the spread of yellow fever.

July 3, 1927 - Grover C. Hall Sr., editor of the Montgomery Advertiser, published the cornerstone editorial in a series of pieces that won him the 1928 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. The editorials, directed against the Ku Klux Klan, called for Alabama politicians and citizens to take a stand against Klan violence. Hall especially reprimanded Gov. Bibb Graves, a Klan member, urging him to take measures to end the countless floggings of white and black men and women across the state.

July 3, 1928 – In Lovecraftian fiction, noted occultist and horror fiction author Halpin Chalmers was found dead in his apartment in Patridgeville, N.Y. and his apparent murder has never been solved. The Chalmers character first appeared in “The Hounds of Tindalos” (1931) by Frank B. Long.

July 3, 1937 – Playwright Tom Stoppard was born Tomas Straussler in Zlin, Czechoslovakia.

July 3, 1938 – United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Eternal Light Peace Memorial and lighted the eternal flame at Gettysburg Battlefield.

July 3, 1947 - The Cleveland Indians purchased the contract of Larry Doby from the Neward Eagles of the Negro National League. Doby became the first black player to play in the American League.

July 3, 1958 – The Evergreen Courant reported that the “new” Evergreen Swimming Pool was now open four nights a week from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Coach Jeff Moorer was the Recreation Director.

July 3, 1962 - Jackie Robinson became the first African American to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

July 3, 1966 - Tony Cloninger of the Atlanta Braves became the first National League pitcher to hit two grand slams in one game.

July 3, 1967 – In Lovecraftian fiction, Roland Franklyn, the leader of a cult in Brichester, England in the mid-1960s, died and was buried in Brichester’s Mercy Hill cemetery. He first appeared in 1969’s “Cold Print” by Ramsey Campbell.

July 3, 1967 - The Doors released the song "Light My Fire" in the U.S.

July 3, 1971 – Doors singer Jim Morrison, 27, died of heart failure in Paris, France.

July 3, 1972 – Ellis Wayne Golson of Lyeffion, Ala. was scheduled to report to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

July 3, 1974 - Los Angeles Dodger Mike Marshall set a major league record for most games pitched in consecutively when he relieved starting pitcher Tommy John to pitch in his 13th consecutive game. Marshall was remarkable for his ability to pitch every day without experiencing the soreness and injury that plagued other pitchers, like Tommy John.

July 3, 1978 – Evergreen, Ala. received 1.07 inches of rain.

July 3, 1991 - U.S. President George H.W. Bush formally inaugurated the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota.

July 3, 1993 – National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Don Drysdale died of a heart attack at the age of 56 in Room 2518 of Le Centre Sheraton in Montreal, Quebec. He played his entire professional career (1956-1969) for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.

July 3, 1996 – The Stone of Scone was returned to Scotland.

July 3, 1997 – The Old Washington County Courthouse at St. Stephens, Ala. was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

July 3, 2001 - American Brigadier General William Lee Davidson's wallet was brought back the United States from England where it had been held in the Public Records Office in London since the Revolutionary War. Davidson died in combat while attempting to prevent General Charles Cornwallis’ army from crossing the Catawba River in Mecklenburg County, NC.

July 3, 2006 – Mark Childress’ sixth novel, “One Mississippi,” released by Little, Brown & Co.

July 3, 2009 – John Keel, the author of “The Mothman Prophecies,” passed away at the age of 79 in New York City.

July 3, 2014 – A Piper PA-24 Comanche plane crash occurred on Gardner Road in Excel at 11:15 a.m. that left two Daniel Reid and Vance Alexander, both of Birmingham, with injuries. Reid and Alexander were transported to Monroe County Hospital after the accident, but were released a short time later. They departed Shelby County Airport at 10:02 a.m.