Dec. 2, 1547 – Spanish general and explorer Hernán Cortés died at the age of 62 at Castilleja de la Cuesta, Castile from a case of pleurisy. He was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century. Cortés was part of the generation of Spanish colonizers who began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.
Dec. 2, 1703 – Croatian missionary and explorer Ferdinand Konščak was born in Varaždin, Croatia.
Dec. 2, 1777 - Legend has it that on this night, Philadelphia housewife and nurse Lydia Darragh single-handedly saved the lives of General George Washington and his Continental Army when she overheard the British planning a surprise attack on Washington’s army for the following day at Whitemarsh, Pa. During the occupation of Philadelphia, British General William Howe stationed his headquarters across the street from the Darragh home, and when Howe’s headquarters proved too small to hold meetings, he commandeered a large upstairs room in the Darraghs’ house. Although uncorroborated, family legend holds that Mrs. Darragh would eavesdrop and take notes on the British meetings from an adjoining room and would conceal the notes by sewing them into her coat before passing them onto American troops stationed outside the city.
Dec. 2, 1836 - Alabama author Anne Newport Royall published the first issue of her newspaper The Huntress.
Dec. 2, 1846 – Dr. Fielden Straughn Dailey was born at Tunnel Springs, Ala. An 1871 graduate of the Medical College of Alabama in Mobile, he was a Confederate veteran who fought during the last two years as a private.
Dec. 2, 1852 – Prominent Conecuh County Baptist minister, the Rev. Alexander Doniphan Travis passed away at the age of 62. He helped found Sparta and Evergreen, and he was the uncle of William Barret Travis, who was Texas commander at the Battle of the Alamo in 1836. Alexander Travis was buried in the Old Beulah Cemetery in Conecuh County.
Dec. 2, 1859 – Militant abolitionist leader John Brown was executed by hanging for treason and murder. He was convicted on Nov. 2 for the crimes related to his Oct. 16 raid on an arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Va.
Dec. 2, 1861 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Annadale, Va.
Dec. 2, 1864 - Confederate General Archibald Gracie Jr. was killed in the trenches at Petersburg, Va. when an artillery shell exploded near him. Although his family was from the North, his father owned a business in Mobile, Ala., and Gracie moved there upon his resignation from the army in 1856. Gracie soon became an ardent supporter of the southern cause, and he was active in the Alabama state militia. In early 1861, before Alabama seceded from the Union, Gracie was ordered by the governor to seize the federal arsenal at Mount Vernon. Gracie joined the 3rd Alabama when hostilities erupted between North and South, and he served in Tennessee and Kentucky during the first part of the war. He fought at Chickamauga and Chattanooga in 1863, and his brigade joined General James Longstreet for the campaign against Knoxville in November.
Dec. 2, 1865 - Adhering to President Andrew Johnson's Reconstruction plan, the Alabama legislature ratified the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery in the United States, but with the caveat that such an action did "not confer upon Congress the power to legislate upon the political status of freedmen in this State." The 1868 legislature, adhering to Congress's more radical Reconstruction plan, would ratify the 13th Amendment again, but without the qualifying statement.
Dec. 2, 1867 – At Tremont Temple in Boston, British author Charles Dickens gave his first public reading in the United States.
Dec. 2, 1882 – Martha Caroline Peacock, the wife of Noah Dallas Peacock (Lewis Lavon Peacock’s older brother), purchased 100 acres near Bullock in Crenshaw County for $125 from Pennsylvania native Washington Allen and his second wife, Catherine Ann Scott.
Dec. 2, 1895 – The Town of Pine Hill in Wilcox County, Ala. was officially incorporated.
Dec. 2, 1907 - W.B. Salter, G.C. Dean and H.R. Betts of the Betts community and Jas. K. Kyser and John Morrison of Burnt Corn, Ala. were in Evergreen, Ala. on this Monday en route to Montgomery to attend the Masonic Grand Lodge meeting.
Dec. 2, 1907 - Passenger Train No. 4, due to arrived in Evergreen, Ala. at 4:20 p.m., was thrown off the tracks on this Monday at Dyas Creek. Three mail clerks were severely injured and the train badly damaged, according to The Evergreen Courant.
Dec. 2, 1907 – Ethel Spence, a 14-year old resident of the Orphans Home in Evergreen, Ala., “met a horrible death” on this Monday. “She arose at an early hour to make the fire and while using kerosene, the oil exploded, enveloping her in flames, burning her body so badly that death ensued about noon.” She was buried on Dec. 3, and “her tragic death cast a gloom over not only the Home but the community.”
Dec. 2, 1907 – Massachusetts native J.H. Farnham died at the age of 87 at Belleville, Ala. Farnham moved from Massachusetts to Claiborne “when quite a young man,” but eventually moved to Belleville and conducted business in Evergreen for many years.
Dec. 2, 1907 - George Kyser, “doubtless the oldest citizen in Conecuh County,” died on this morning at his home near the Bowles community. He was born July 3, 1815 and was more than 92 years old at the time of his death. He was a veteran of two wars, having served in the “Indian” and Civil War. He had resided at the place where he died for 61 years.
Dec. 2, 1908 – An organizational charter was issued to Fidelity Lodge No. 685 in Florala in Covington County, Ala.
Dec. 2, 1914 – Monroe County High School student and basketball player Clinton Whisenhant died suddenly from “heart failure” while “preparing for a practice game.”
Dec. 2, 1915 – An organizational charter was issued to Local Lodge No. 779 in Huxford (Escambia County, Ala.)
Dec. 2, 1916 – In Lovecraftian fiction, British occultist and psychic Titus Crow, who dedicated his life to the study of the paranormal, especially the Cthulhu Mythos, was born in London, England. He first appeared in 1970’s “Billy’s Oak” by Brian Lumley.
Dec. 2, 1919 – During World War I, Army Pvt. William Jones of Camden, Ala. “died from disease.”
Dec. 2, 1937 – The Evergreen Courant reported that traffic was heavy in the vicinity of Evergreen High School this week with the coming and going of trucks to and from the school’s athletic field, which was being enlarged.
Dec. 2, 1939 - New York's La Guardia Airport opened.
Dec. 2, 1942 – Frisco City, Ala. native Grady Gaston’s plane, a United State’s Army Air Force Consolidated B-24 Liberator named “Little Eva,” crashed while returning from a bombing mission. The plane had gotten lost and ran out of fuel northwest of Burketown, Queensland (near the Gulf of Carpentaria) in Australia.
Dec. 2, 1942 - Opening a new era of science, the first controlled atomic chain-reaction took place in Stagg Field, a former squash-rackets court in Chicago.
Dec. 2, 1950 – Army PFC Barney A. Tolbert of Escambia County, Ala. “died while missing” in Korea.
Dec. 2, 1958 – Short-story writer George Saunders was born in Amarillo, Texas.
Dec. 2, 1963 - The Major League Rules Committee banned the use of oversized catcher's mitts. The rule went into effect in 1965.
Dec. 2, 1963 – Novelist Ann Patchett was born in Los Angeles.
Dec. 2, 1972 – The "December Giant," the largest sinkhole in the United States, collapsed in Shelby County, Ala. One of the most spectacular examples of a sinkhole, the “December Giant” was formed in a matter of hours. The "December Giant," also known as the "Golly Hole," sank to a depth of 150 feet and left a 450-by-350-foot-wide crater.
Dec. 2, 1975 - Ohio State University running back Archie Griffin became the first player in history to win the Heisman Trophy two years in a row.
Dec. 2, 1982 - Barney Clark received the first artificial heart, surviving for 112 days with it.
Dec. 2, 1983 – NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers was born in Chico, Calif.
Dec. 2, 1984 - Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins threw his 40th touchdown pass of the season.
Dec. 2, 1987 - "The Grabowski Shuffle" video by Mike Ditka and The Grabowskis was certified Gold and Platinum by the RIAA.
Dec. 2, 1988 - ESPN aired its 10,000th Sports Center, making it the most televised cable program in history.
Dec. 2, 1997 – In “V for Vendetta,” V blew up the Old Bailey.
Dec. 2, 2002 - Liam Gallagher of Oasis was arrested and charged with assault after kicking a police officer in Munich. He lost two front teeth in the brawl.
Dec. 2, 2005 – Army Staff Sgt. Phillip Travis, 41, of Beatrice, Ala. was killed when the truck he was riding in overturned at Tallil Air Force Base in Iraq.