Thursday, February 19, 2015

Today in History for Feb. 19, 2015

General Francis Preston Blair Jr. 
Feb. 19, 1473 - Nicolaus Copernicus was born in Torun, a city in north-central Poland on the Vistula River. The father of modern astronomy, he was the first modern European scientist to propose that Earth and other planets revolve around the sun.

Feb. 19, 1777 - The Continental Congress voted to promote Thomas Mifflin, Arthur St. Clair, William Alexander, Lord Stirling, Adam Stephen and Benjamin Lincoln to the rank of major general. Although the promotions were intended in part to balance the number of generals from each state, Brigadier General Benedict Arnold felt slighted that five junior officers received promotions ahead of him and, in response, threatened to resign from the Patriot army.

Feb. 19, 1807 – Former U.S. vice-president Aaron Burr was arrested in the Mississippi Territory at McIntosh Bluff, Washington County, in present-day Alabama and was escorted back to Fort Stoddert by Lt. Edward Gaines. Burr was accused of treason for attempting to form a new, independent republic in the southwest, plotting to annex Spanish territory in Louisiana and Mexico. After spending several weeks in custody in Alabama, Burr was returned to Richmond, Va. for trial. Burr was acquitted of the charges, but quickly left the country to avoid other charges relating to the murder of Alexander Hamilton during an 1804 duel.

Feb. 19, 1819 – British explorer William Smith discovered the South Shetland Islands and claimed them in the name of King George III.

Feb. 19, 1821 - Union General Francis Preston Blair Jr. was born in Lexington, Ky. The colorful Blair was instrumental in keeping Missouri part of the Union during the early stages of the Civil War.

Feb. 19, 1828 – Elisha Moseley became postmaster at Burnt Corn, Ala.

Feb. 19, 1846 – In Austin, Texas the newly formed Texas state government was officially installed. The Republic of Texas government officially transferred power to the State of Texas government following the annexation of Texas by the United States. Texas had officially become a state on Dec. 29, 1845.

Feb. 19, 1847 - The first rescuers reached the Donner Party in Northern California.

Feb. 19, 1864 - The Knights of Pythias were founded in Washington, D.C. A dozen members formed what became Lodge No. 1.

Feb. 19, 1864 – During the Civil War, a federal operation was conducted at Brown’s Ferry, Ala.

Feb. 19, 1865 – During the Civil Ward, the first day of a five-day Federal operation between Eastport, Miss. and Russellville, Ala. began.

Feb. 19, 1865 – During the Civil War, a federal expedition from Barrancas to Milton, Fla. began.

Feb. 19, 1865 – Explorer and geographer Sven Hedin was born in Stockholm, Sweden.

Feb. 19, 1867 – Joseph Ganes Sanders, the “Turncoat of Dale County,” was killed outside Decatur, Ga.

Feb. 19, 1884 – More than 60 tornadoes struck the Southern United States (including Mississippi, Alabama North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky and Indiana), one of the largest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history. About 800 people were killed.

Feb. 19, 1884 - The town of Goshen, Ala. lost 26 people to an F4 twister, classified as "devastating" with winds between 207 and 260 mph. A brick school building literally exploded when the tornado hit it dead on, killing six students and a teacher. Outside of Goshen, 13 more people lost their lives in Alabama.

Feb. 19, 1908 - Alabama author Mildred Lee was born in West Blocton, Ala.

Feb. 19, 1912 – Major League Baseball first baseman Dick Siebert was born in Fall River, Massachusetts. He would go on to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Philadelphia Athletics.

Feb. 19, 1918 – During World War I, Army Pvt. Jodie W. Booker of McKenzie, Ala. “died from disease.”

Feb. 19, 1919 – During World War I, Army Pvt. Dewey Morris of Flomaton, Ala. “died from disease.”

Feb. 19, 1931 – The Evergreen Courant reported that a 65-acre site for a landing field had been leased 5-1/2 miles west of Evergreen, Ala. on the Belleville Highway. The field was to serve as an intermediate landing field for use in the federal air mail service along the Atlanta-New Orleans mail route. Plans were also included for a revolving search light beacon mounted on a steel tower at the corner of the airfield.

Feb. 19, 1935 – Major League Baseball catcher Russ Nixon was born in Cleves, Ohio. He would go on to play for the Cleveland Indians, the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins. He would later manage the Cinncinnati Reds and the Atlanta Braves.

Feb. 19, 1935 - Lou Gehrig signed a contract with the New York Yankees for $30,000.

Feb. 19, 1942 - The New York Yankees announced that they would admit 5,000 uniformed servicemen free to each of their home ball games during the coming season.

Feb. 19, 1942 – Pro Football Hall of Fame safety Paul Krause was born in Flint, Michigan. He would go on to play for the University of Iowa, the Washington Redskins and the Minnesota Vikings.

Feb. 19, 1943 - Alabama author Homer Hickam was born in Coalwood, W.V.

Feb. 19, 1946 - Danny Gardella became the first major league player to go to the Mexican League.

Feb. 19, 1952 – NFL safety and kick returner Eddie Brown was born in Jasper, Tenn. He went on to play for the University of Tennessee, the Cleveland Browns, the Washington Redskins and the Los Angeles Rams.

Feb. 19, 1953 - The State of Georgia approved the first literature censorship board in the U.S. Newspapers were excluded from the new legislation.

Feb. 19, 1964 - Simon & Garfunkel completed the original acoustic version of "Sounds of Silence."

Feb. 19, 1965 - The NFL began using six officials during games.

Feb. 19, 1976 – Sparta Academy’s varsity boys basketball team played Catherine Academy at 6 p.m. in the Alabama Private School Association’s District III playoffs at Wilcox Academy in Camden. The winner and runner-up advanced to the state tournament.

Feb. 19, 1976 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Bob Kendall was collecting historical information on Brooklyn and the surrounding area in connection with the bicentennial. He was particularly interested in the names of the people who organized the bank that never opened in Brooklyn.

Feb. 19, 1999, “October Sky,” a movie version of Alabama author Homer Hickam's book “Rocket Boys,” was released.

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