This week’s paper marks the final edition of The Courant for the year 2014, and next week’s paper will be the first edition of the year 2015. Much has taken place in Conecuh County and in the rest of the world during the preceding year, and I’m sure that we’ll be able to say the same this time next year.
In a couple of weeks, in this space, as I usually do on the first or second Thursday of every month, I’ll offer up my monthly review of all the interesting things that were happening in Conecuh County a century ago, way back in January 1915.
The year 1915 was an interesting year in history, and you might be surprised by some of the things that occurred during that year a century ago. One of the most significant events of 1915 occurred on Jan. 25 when the first coast-to-coast long-distance telephone call was made in the U.S. The call was made by Alexander Graham Bell in New York City to his former assistant Thomas A. Watson, who was in San Francisco.
Also in January, Mary Mallon, also known as “Typhoid Mary,” infected 25 people while working as a cook at New York’s Sloan Hospital. Kiwanis was founded in Detroit on Jan. 21, and the U.S. Congress established Rocky Mountain National Park on Jan. 26. Two days later, Congress designated the U.S. Coast Guard as a branch of the U.S. military.
In the world of movies, the controversial movie, “The Birth of a Nation,” premiered on Feb. 8 in Los Angeles. Four days later, the first stone of the Lincoln Memorial was put in place in Washington, D.C.
In the wide world of sports, baseball legend Babe Ruth of the Boston Red Sox hit his first career home run on May 6 off Jack Warhop. On Aug. 31, Jimmy Lavender of the Chicago Cubs pitched a no hitter against the New York Giants. Later, in October, the Boston Red Sox beat the Philadelphia Phillies, four games to one, in the 1915 World Series.
Cornell won the 1915 college football national championship. In pro football, there were two champions. The Rochester Jeffersons won the New York League championship, and the Youngstown Patricians won the Ohio League championship. On Nov. 14, football legend Jim Thorpe played in his first professional football game, a 16-0 Canton loss to the Massillon Tigers.
Another landmark event of 1915 occurred on May 7 when the Imperial German Navy U-boat, U-20, sunk the RMS Lusitania, a British ocean liner on its way from New York to Liverpool, England. In all, 1,198 civilians were killed in the incident. A little over a month later, on June 9, U.S. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan resigned over the controversy regarding the government’s handling of the ship’s sinking.
As World War I raged in Europe, the first prototype military tank was tested by the British Army on Sept. 6. Later, on Christmas Day, British and German soldiers declared an unofficial “Christmas Truce,” during which they left their trenches and played soccer against each other in “No Man’s Land.” Closer to home, on April 16, the U.S. Navy conducted the first catapult launch of an aircraft from a floating platform, launching an airplane from a coal barge at the Pensacola Naval Air Station.
Famous people born in 1915 include singer Billie Holiday, playwright Arthur Miller, Batman creator Bob Kane and entertainer Frank Sinatra. Baseball player and sporting goods manufacturer Albert Spalding passed away on Sept. 9 of that year, and educator Booker T. Washington died on Nov. 15.
As you can see, 1915 was an eventful year in American and world history. Who’s to say what 2015 will bring, but I’m sure that it will likely be as eventful as that remarkable year a century ago.