|Paul Du Chaillu|
July 31, 1498 – On his third voyage to the Western Hemisphere, Christopher Columbus became the first European to discover the island of Trinidad.
July 31, 1715 – Seven days after a Spanish treasure fleet of 12 ships left Havana, Cuba for Spain, 11 of them sink in a storm off the coast of Florida. A few centuries later, treasure is salvaged from these wrecks.
July 31, 1775 - In Boston Harbor, at Nantasket Point (Little Brewster Island) Patriots stopped completion of repairs on a lighthouse and killed or captured 32 Redcoats. Minutemen had raided the island 10 days before and burned the lighthouse.
July 31, 1777 – French aristocrat Marie-Joseph Paul Roch Yves Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, then age 19, was commissioned a major general in the Continental Army by the U.S. Second Continental Congress – without pay. The resolution passed by Congress asked that the services of Gilbert du Motier "be accepted, and that, in consideration of his zeal, illustrious family and connexions, he have the rank and commission of major-general of the United States." He would visit Claiborne in Monroe County on April 6, 1825.
July 31, 1792 - The cornerstone of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, Pa. was laid. It was the first building to be used only as a U.S. government building.
July 31, 1806 – The Rev. Pitts Milner, founder of Georgiana, Ala., was born in Wilkes County, Ga.
July 31, 1816 - Union General George H. Thomas, who deserves a share of the credit for the Union success in the west, was born in Southhampton County, Va.
July 31, 1831 – Monroe County Commissioners purchased the 80-acre plot that surrounds the three-acre public square in present-day Monroeville, Ala., the site of the old 1903 courthouse, now the Monroe County Heritage Museum, and the present courthouse built in 1963.
July 31, 1835 – French-American anthropologist and explorer Paul Du Chaillu in either Paris or New Orleans, La. He became famous in the 1860s as the first modern European outsider to confirm the existence of gorillas, and later the Pygmy people of central Africa. He later researched the prehistory of Scandinavia.
July 31, 1837 – Mary Harris Jones or “Mother Jones” was born in Cork, Ireland.
July 31, 1861 - Ulysses S. Grant was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers.
July 31, 1861 - The Missouri State Convention voted 56 to 25 to elect a new pro-Union governor. Hamilton R. Gamble, pro-Union was elected to replace Claiborne Jackson, pro-Confederate.
July 31, 1861 - The Army of the State of Tennessee was transferred to the Confederate States of America.
July 31, 1864 – During the Civil War, a skirmish occurred near Watkins’ Plantation in Northern Alabama.
July 31, 1875 - Andrew Johnson, the 17th President of the United States, died of a stroke at the age of 66 while visiting his daughter in Elizabethton, Tennessee.
July 31, 1879 – Around 10 p.m., after the “Emma” delivered a load of freight on the wharf at the Lower Warehouse at Claiborne, Ala., J.B. Crow and a “couple of young men” caught a “gang of thieves” in the act of stealing flour and coffee, something they’d apparently been doing for several years. The thieves included Allen Howard, Ran Taswell, Dick James, Adam Taswell, Lang Agee, Singleton James and Jesse McGrew. In the ensuing confrontation, Ran Taswell was shot in the leg and died from his wounds about four hours later. Agee was also shot, but managed to escape as did Dick James, Adam Taswell and Singleton James. McGrew and Howard were arrested and placed in jail. “Thus has one of the boldest and most shameless band of thieves been bursted up that has been organized in this section in many years.”
July 31, 1908 – Fletcher Stallworth and Sam Booker were killed and two others were critically injured in a boiler explosion at W.D. Johnson’s saw mill near Skinnerton, Ala.
July 31, 1912 – W.B. Coker of the China community exhibited the first open boll of cotton of the season in Conecuh County.
July 31, 1914 – W.A. Baggett of Belleville, Ala. produced the first bale of cotton for 1914 and marketed it at Repton.
July 31, 1916 – Baseball and football great William “Billy” Clyde Hitchcock was born in Inverness in Bullock County, Ala. He was an infielder, coach, manager and scout in Major League Baseball. In minor league baseball, he served as president of the Double-A Southern League from 1971–80. During his career, he played for the Detroit Tigers, the Washington Senators, the St. Louis Browns, the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Athletics, and he managed the Tigers, the Baltimore Orioles and the Atlanta Braves.
July 31, 1918 – During World War I, Army Pvt. William F. Atchinson of Thomasville, Ala. was killed in action.
July 31, 1919 – Writer and poet Primo Levi was born in Turin, Italy.
July 31, 1930 - The radio mystery program “The Shadow” aired for the first time.
July 31, 1932 - The NSDAP (Nazi Party) won more than 38 percent of the vote in German elections.
July 31, 1938 – Archaeologists discovered engraved gold and silver plates from King Darius the Great in Persepolis.
July 31, 1938 – The Dothan Browns baseball team beat the Evergreen Greenies, 10-0, in Dothan, Ala. Also that day, Evergreen’s amateur baseball team beat the Atmore prison team, 7-6, behind the pitching of Bill Seales and Wendell Hart.
July 31, 1952 – Jerry Donovan, a graduate of Evergreen High School and 1950 graduate of the University of Alabama, left Mobile, Ala. by air for her new assignment as an elementary teacher at an Air Force base in the Philippine Islands.
July 31, 1953 - A television version of Alabama author Ambrose Bierce's story "Horseman in the Sky" was broadcast as part of the “Your Favorite Story” series.
July 31, 1954 – The first bale of cotton from the 1954 crop in Conecuh County, Ala. was officially ginned.
July 31, 1954 - An official announcement was made by researchers that Los Angeles smog was caused by the chemical reaction of sunlight on auto and industrial emissions.
July 31, 1954 – The first ascent of K2 was achieved by an Italian expedition led by Ardito Desio.
July 31, 1955 – In the Conecuh County, Ala. Amateur Baseball League, McKenzie was scheduled to play at Lyeffion; Paul was scheduled to play at Old Texas; and Chapman was scheduled to play at Garland.
July 31, 1961 – At Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, the first All-Star Game tie in Major League Baseball history occurred when the game was stopped in the ninth inning because of rain.
July 31, 1963 - A movie version of Alabama author Lillian Hellman's play “Toys in the Attic,” was released.
July 31, 1964 - The first close-up photographs of the moon were sent back to Earth by Ranger 7.
July 31, 1965 – “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling was born in Yate, Gloucestershire, England.
July 31, 1967 – At 9:05 p.m., Alabama Gov. Lurleen B. Wallace signed Act No. 106 into law, which extended the city limits of Evergreen, increasing the city’s size from 6.25 square miles to 16 square miles. The Act began as House Bill 227 and was introduced by State Representative William D. “Billy” Melton. The bill passed the House on June 20 and passed the Senate on July 11. Secretary of State Mabel Amos received the bill and enrolled it at 11:27 a.m. on Aug. 1.
July 31, 1975 – The Drish House on 17th Street in Tuscaloosa, Ala. was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. (13 Alabama Ghosts)
July 31, 1981 - The seven-week baseball players’ strike came to an end when the players and owners agreed on the issue of free agent compensation.
July 31, 1990 - Nolan Ryan won the 300th game of his career, throwing 7-2/3 strong innings with eight strikeouts to lead his Texas Rangers to an 11-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
July 31, 1998 – Local weather reporter Harry Ellis reported a high temperature of 100 degrees in Evergreen, Ala.
July 31, 2001 - Korey Stringer of the Minnesota Vikings collapsed during practice. The 27-year-old died the next day of multiple organ failure due to heatstroke.
July 31, 2014 – Evergreen, Ala. weather reporter Betty Ellis reported that total rainfall for the month of July 2014 was 1.39 inches.
July 31, 2014 – During a special called meeting, the Castleberry, Ala. Town Council voted to revive the town’s dormant municipal court, which hadn’t heard a case in over a decade. Town officials began mailing out certified letters about the change to county and state officials the following days.