|Nathan Bedford Forrest|
Dec. 24, 1524 – Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama died from malaria in Kochi, Portuguese India, somewhere between 55 and 65 years old. He was the first European to reach India by sea, linking Europe and Asia for the first time by ocean route, as well as the Atlantic and the Indian oceans entirely and definitively, and in this way, the West and the Orient. This was accomplished on his first voyage to India (1497–1499).
Dec. 24, 1745 - Patriot, physician and social reformer Benjamin Rush was born in Byberry Township, Pa. Rush was an early supporter of the Patriot cause and an eager signer of the Declaration of Independence. He served as a surgeon during the war and expressed outrage at what he considered the negligent treatment of the Continental Army.
Dec. 24, 1777 – Kiritimati, also called Christmas Island, was discovered by James Cook.
Dec. 24, 1814 – Following the American victory on Lake Champlain which led to the conclusion of the U.S.-British peace negotiations in Belgium, the Treaty of Ghent was signed, formally ending the War of 1812.
Dec. 24, 1824 – During his tour of the United States, the Marquis de Layayette arrived at the "Jug Bridge" crossing the Monocacy River on the National Pike east of Frederick, Md.
Dec. 24-25, 1826 - The Eggnog Riot, sometimes known as the Grog Mutiny, took place at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. The incident involved two Alabama cadets, William R. Burnley and Samuel Alexander Roberts, as well as future Confederate president Jefferson Davis.
Dec. 24, 1828 - William Burke who, with his partner William Hare, dug up the dead and murdered to sell the corpses for dissection, went on trial in Edinburgh.
Dec. 24, 1851 - A fire devastated the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., destroying about 35,000 volumes.
Dec. 24, 1861 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Wadesburg, Mo.
Dec. 24, 1861 – The first of two days of Federal operations near Fairfax Courthouse, Va. began.
Dec. 24, 1863 - At the height of the Civil War, the Battle of Dandridge occurred at Dandridge, Tenn. as Confederate General James Longstreet and Union General Ambrose Burnside struggled for control of Knoxville. The 59th Alabama Infantry Regiment was there as well, and I believe it’s possible that Lewis Lavon Peacock was there too.
Dec. 24, 1863 – Capt. David William Kelly of Co. F of the 36th Alabama Infantry Regiment died from wounds he received on Nov. 25, 1863 at Rossville Gap on the left at Missionary Ridge, Tenn. After getting wounded, he was sent to a Union hospital and was then transferred to the U.S. Army of Cumberland Hospital at Chattanooga. He was buried in a trench grave at Confederate Cemetery in Chattanooga.
Dec. 24, 1864 - A Union fleet of 66 ships, under Admiral David Dixon Porter, began a bombardment of Fort Fisher, North Carolina. Although an impressive display of firepower, the attack failed to destroy the fort, and a ground attack the next day did not succeed either.
Dec. 24, 1865 – In Pulaski, Tenn., a group of Confederate veterans convened to form a secret society that they christen the “Ku Klux Klan.” The KKK rapidly grew from a secret social fraternity to a paramilitary force bent on reversing the federal government’s progressive Reconstruction Era-activities in the South. Former Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest was the KKK’s first grand wizard, but in 1869, he unsuccessfully tried to disband it after he grew critical of the Klan’s excessive violence.
Dec. 24, 1893 – Outlaw Charles Kelley was arrested in Monroe County, five miles south of Pine Apple, hiding in a cotton house owned by H.L. Solomon. Solomon and some of his neighbors captured him and took him to Greenville the next day, which was Christmas. On Dec. 17, he and accomplice John Hipp robbed and murdered Butler County Tax Collector C.J. Armstrong. On Dec. 28, Hipp and Kelley were taken by a mob of 100 armed, masked men and lynched on the courthouse columns.
Dec. 24, 1903 – Polish-Russian geographer and explorer Ernst Krenkel was born in Białystok, now Poland, to a German family.
Dec. 24, 1906 – Canadian electrician and chemist Reginald A. Fessenden transmitted the first radio broadcast, which consisted of a poetry reading, a violin solo and a speech.
Dec. 24, 1914 – Monroe Journal editor Q. Salter announced that “following our usual custom” there would be no Dec. 31 edition, so that his employees could have the holidays off from work.
Dec. 24, 1914 – The Evergreen Courant reported that 18 prisoners in the Conecuh County Jail almost escaped “one night last week.” Some of them used iron bar supports from their cots to remove enough bricks around a window a big enough for them to escape from their cell. They also torn their blankets into “strings” that they’d tied together to help them reach the ground. Sheriff Hines discovered their plot in time to prevent their escape.
Dec. 24, 1914 – The last known Christmas truce occurred, during World War I. German troops fighting in Belgium began decorating their trenches and singing Christmas carols. Their enemy, the British, soon joined in the caroling. The war was put on hold, and these soldiers greeted each other in “No Man’s Land,” exchanging gifts of whiskey and cigars.
Dec. 24, 1939 – Former Monroeville Pressing Shop manager L.D. Moore died suddenly early on this morning at the home of his sister, Mrs. Rex Russell. He was buried in the Baptist Cemetery in Monroeville, Ala.
Dec. 24, 1940 – On this Christmas Eve, Jean-Paul Sartre’s first play was performed, in a German POW camp where he himself was a prisoner. The play was called Bariona, or the Son of Thunder, and it was Sartre’s take on the Nativity story.
Dec. 24, 1942 – The survivors of the Little Eva crash, including Grady Gaston of Frisco City, Ala., found a shack. Also on that day, survivor 2nd Lt. Dale Grimes, the bombardier, drowned in the Robinson River when the current took him out to sea and he was too weak to swim back. His body was later recovered.
Dec. 24, 1946 – U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, who also served as the 44th Attorney General of Alabama, was born in Selma, Ala.
Dec. 24, 1947 – The 20-room Geneva High School was dynamited around 10 p.m., resulting in all the windows in the building being shattered and “considerable repairs” being necessary before the school could be reopened. Sheriff W.P. Register believed that a “bunch of boys” set off the blast as part of a “prank.”
Dec. 24, 1955 – NORAD Tracks Santa for the first time in what will become an annual Christmas Eve tradition.
Dec. 24, 1967 – Army Spc. Travis Robert Sutton of Andalusia, Ala. was killed in action in Vietnam.
Dec. 24, 1967 – In an incident attributed to the Bermuda Triangle, the owner and a passenger on the cabin cruiser “Witchcraft” disappeared while the craft was at a harbor buoy one mile from Miami, Fla.
Dec. 24, 1967 - Joe Namath of the New York Jets became the first NFL quarterback to pass for 4,000 yards.
Dec. 24, 1968 – In the first manned space mission to the moon, the Apollo 8 spacecraft entered orbit around the moon. Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders became the first humans to orbit a celestial body other than our Earth. Apollo 8 circled the moon 10 times over the next 20 hours, while the astronauts tested equipment and took many photographs of the moon’s surface.
Dec. 24, 1969 - Center fielder Curt Flood of the St. Louis Cardinals wrote a letter to Bowie Kuhn, the commissioner of major league baseball, protesting the Cardinals' decision to trade him to the Philadelphia Phillies and asking to be made a free agent.
Dec. 24, 1973 – On this day before Christmas, cars lined up at the few gas stations that were open in the Monroeville, Ala. area. According to The Monroe Journal, “it was the last chance for many motorists to fill up before a Christmas Day that saw all but a handful of stations around the nation close down, largely because of the energy crisis.”
Dec. 24, 1975 – In connection with the “Amityville Horror” case, Father Ralph J. Pecoraro called George Lutz and advised him to stay out of the second floor room where he had heard a mysterious voice telling him to “get out.”
Dec. 24, 1978 – Weather observer Earl Windham reported 1.43 inches of rain in Evergreen, Ala.
Dec. 24, 1980 – Witnesses reported the first of several sightings of unexplained lights near RAF Woodbridge, in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom, an incident called "Britain's Roswell."
Dec. 24, 1981 - Reggie Jackson announced that he would join Gene Autry’s California Angels for the 1982 season.
Dec. 24, 1991 - Alabama author Virginia Sorensen died in Florida.
Dec. 24, 1997 – In “V for Vendetta,” Finch related to Susan V’s transformation and escape from Larkhill.
Dec. 24, 2000 – Thirty-six minutes after the end of a game, both the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins were called back to the playing field. The teams had to play the final three seconds of the game, which the Dolphins had won, 27-24. The end result did not change.