Sunday, February 15, 2015

Today in History for Feb. 15, 2015

Raphael Semmes
Feb. 15, 1493 – While on board the Niña, Christopher Columbus wrote an open letter (widely distributed upon his return to Portugal) describing his discoveries and the unexpected items he came across in the New World.

Feb. 15, 1776 - From Halifax, Canada, Novia Scotia Governor Francis Legge reported to British headquarters in London that traitorous elements in Cumberland, Nova Scotia, have contacted American General George Washington. Washington received a letter from the Nova Scotians, in which they expressed their sympathy for the American cause, on Feb. 8. They invited General Washington and the Continental Army to invade Nova Scotia at his earliest possible convenience.

Feb. 15, 1821 – The Murder Creek Navigation Co. in Conecuh County, Ala. was officially incorporated.

Feb. 15, 1835 - Union General Alexander Stewart Webb was born in New York. When the Civil War broke out, Webb was assigned to defend Ft. Pickens, Fla., but he was soon called to Washington and placed in the artillery in the army guarding the capital. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Feb. 15, 1854 - Alabama established a statewide public school system with the passage of the Alabama Public School Act. This legislation, which provided funding for the system and created the position of state superintendent, cited the state's 1819 constitution as the basis for a system of free schools in Alabama: "Schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged in this State."

Feb. 15, 1861 - Raphael Semmes, who would later command the CSS Sumter and the CSS Alabama, resigned his U.S. Naval Commission.

Feb. 15, 1861 - In Montgomery, Ala., the Confederate Congress decided that Fort Sumter and other forts must be acquired "either by negotiation or force."

Feb. 15, 1862 – As U.S. General Ulysses S. Grant attacked Fort Donelson, Tenn., Confederates tried to break out of the Yankee perimeter. The fort fell to Union General Ulysses S. Grant the next day.

Feb. 15, 1862 - Confederate General Henry Hopkins Sibley ordered his men to cross the Rio Grande and capture the Val Verde fords in an attempt to cut off Union Colonel Edward R. S. Canby's communication. This was the beginnig of the Battle of Val Verde.

Feb. 15, 1871 – Frank P. Duke was named postmaster at Burnt Corn, Ala.

Feb. 15, 1895 - Alabama formally adopted a state flag for the first time. The legislature dictated "a crimson cross of St. Andrew upon a field of white," which was the design submitted by John W. A. Sanford Jr., who also sponsored the bill. This flag remains Alabama's flag today.

Feb. 15, 1898 – The battleship USS Maine exploded and sank in Havana harbor in Cuba, killing 274. This event led the United States to the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in April 1898.

Feb. 15, 1903 - Toy store owner and inventor Morris Michtom placed two stuffed bears in his shop window, advertising them as “Teddy bears.” Michtom had earlier petitioned President Theodore Roosevelt for permission to use his nickname, “Teddy.” The president agreed and, before long, other toy manufacturers began turning out copies of Michtom's stuffed bears, which soon became a national childhood institution.

Feb. 15, 1904 - Alabama author Richard Chase was born near Huntsville, Ala.

Feb. 15, 1909 - Alabama author Mary Johnston's play “The Goddess of Reason” opened on Broadway.

Feb. 15, 1915 – On this Monday night in Evergreen, Ala., “some miscreant hurled a piece of slag at Sheriff Williams as he drove along West Front Street below the depot in his automobile.” The rock struck the post just under Williams’ steering wheel with “great force,” but no damage was done. “Whoever threw the piece was so well concealed that he was not observed,” according to The Evergreen Courant.

Feb. 15, 1915 – On this Monday night, an unknown person or persons, dug a large hole in the front yard of the home of J.L. Spence near the train depot in Evergreen, Ala. According to The Evergreen Courant, it was “surmised that the party was hunting for buried treasure, but there is no clue as to who committed the depredation.”

Feb. 15, 1915 – One of Alabama’s most prominent Masons, Angus M. Scott, passed away from pneumonia at the age of 75 at his home in Headland, Ala. “He was for many years grand lecturer of the grand lodge of Masons of Alabama and was perhaps known to more people in the state than any other citizen in private life.”

Feb. 15, 1918 – Country music singer-songwriter Hank Locklin was born in McLellan, Fla.

Feb. 15, 1919 – During World War I, Army Pvt. Louis Egbert Wells of Red Level, Ala. “died of disease.”

Feb. 15, 1926 – The post office at Burnt Corn, Ala. was discontinued and mail was taken to Evergreen. The post office at Burnt Corn was reactivated on May 2, 1936.

Feb. 15, 1926 – Major League Baseball pitcher Charles “Bubba” Harris was born in Sulligent, Ala. He would go on to play for the Philadelphia Athletics and the Cleveland Indians.

Feb. 15, 1939 - Alabama author Lillian Hellman's play “The Little Foxes” opened on Broadway.

Feb. 15, 1940 – Noted lecturer and teacher Dr. Charles E. Barker visited Evergreen, Ala. to give speeches about the “principles of health and right living, in the quarter century he had devoted to his work.” A guest of the Evergreen Rotary Club, Barker gave speeches at the high school and to the Rotary Club.

Feb. 15, 1946 - Edith Houghton, at age 33, was signed as a baseball scout by the Philadelphia Phillies, becoming the first female scout in the major leagues.

Feb. 15, 1949 – Gerald Lankester Harding and Roland de Vaux began excavations at Cave 1 of the Qumran Caves, where they eventually discovered the first seven Dead Sea Scrolls.

Feb. 15, 1960 – Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back Darrel Green was born in Houston, Texas. He would play his entire pro career (1983-2002) for the Washington Redskins.

Feb. 15, 1962 - CBS-TV bought the exclusive rights to college football games from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for a figure of $10,200,000.

Feb. 15, 1963 – The search for the missing Marine Sulphur Queen, a 425-foot freighter, which disappeared 13 days earlier, was discontinued, but five days later the Navy reported finding a life jacket from the ship 15 miles out at sea, south of Key West.

Feb. 15, 1965 - NFL teams pledged not to sign college seniors until they had completed all of their games, including bowl games.

Feb. 15, 1965 - "The man with the velvet voice," Nat King Cole died in Santa Monica, California. Born the son of a Baptist minister in Montgomery in 1919, Cole sold over 50 million records and became the first African-American male with a weekly network television series.

Feb. 15, 1968 - The first-ever 911 call was placed in Haleyville, Ala. State Representative Rankin Fite made the call fom the mayor's office and it was answered at the police station by Congressman Tom Bevill. The system was put into operation within weeks of AT&T's announcement that it planned to establish 911 as a nationwide emergency number. The Alabama Telephone Company, in a successful attempt to implement the number before AT&T, determined that Haleyville's equipment could be quickly converted to accommodate an emergency system.

Feb. 15, 1983 – Major League Baseball catcher Russell Martin was born in Toronto, Canada. He would go on to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Yankess and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Feb. 15, 1991 – Sparta Academy’s varsity boys wrapped up their regular season with a 17-4 overall record by beating Wilcox Academy, 88-73, in Evergreen. Wayne Cook led Sparta with 33 points.

Feb. 15, 1996 - The NCAA football rules committee voted to require a tiebreaker in all NCAA football games.

Feb. 15, 2003 – Protests against the Iraq war took place in over 600 cities worldwide. It is estimated that between 8 million to 30 million people participate, making this the largest peace demonstration in history.

Feb. 15, 2012 – The Alabama Department of Mental Health announced it would close Searcy Hospital in Mount Vernon and all but two of its other state-run mental health facilities in a move to transition all but its forensic and geriatric patients to community-based treatment.

Feb. 15, 2013 – A meteor exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, injuring 1,500 people and damaged over 4,300 buildings as a shock wave blew out windows and rocked buildings. This happened unexpectedly only hours before the expected closest ever approach of the larger and unrelated asteroid 2012 DA14.

Feb. 15, 2014 – The Federal Aviation Administration presented David E. “Dave” McKenzie, a former resident of Evergreen, Ala., with the prestigious Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award during an awards ceremony in Lansing, Mich.

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