Dec. 25, 1223 – Roman Catholic friar and preacher St. Francis of Assisi created the first Nativity scene in a cave outside Greccio, Italy to entertain the villagers of Greccio. A Nativity scene, or crèche, is the special exhibition of objects that represent the story of the birth of Christ. Such nativity scenes quickly became popular, and within 100 years, every church was expected to have some sort of Nativity scene at Christmastime.
Dec. 25, 1492 – The carrack Santa María, commanded by Christopher Columbus, ran onto a reef off Haiti due to an improper watch.
Dec. 25, 1553 – Spanish-Chilean explorer and politician Pedro de Valdivia, first Royal Governor of Chile, was captured and killed at the age of 56 in a campaign against the Araucanian Indians in Tucapel, Cañete, Chile.
Dec. 25, 1635 – French soldier, geographer, and explorer Samuel de Champlain died from a severe stroke at the age of 61 in Quebec City, Canada.
Dec. 25, 1642 - Scientist and physicist Sir Isaac Newton was born in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England.
Dec. 25, 1643 – Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean was found and named by Captain William Mynors of the English East India Company vessel, the Royal Mary.
Dec. 25, 1776 – Patriot General George Washington and 5,400 Continental Army troops crossed the Delaware River at night for a surprise attack against Hessian forces serving Great Britain at Trenton, New Jersey, the next day. The unconventional attack came after several months of substantial defeats for Washington’s army that had resulted in the loss of New York City and other strategic points in the region. The victory was not particularly significant from a strategic point of view, but news of Washington’s initiative raised the spirits of the American colonists, who previously feared that the Continental Army was incapable of victory
Dec. 25, 1789 - Congress drafted the Bill of Rights.
Dec. 25, 1802 – David Moniac, the first Native American graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, was born in Montgomery County, Ala.
Dec. 25, 1826 – The Eggnog Riot at the United States Military Academy concluded after beginning the previous evening.
Dec. 25, 1832 - Latter Day Saints prophet Joseph Smith predicted an American Civil War and said it would start with the rebellion of South Carolina.
Dec. 25, 1834 – Confederate veteran Redden McCoy Andress was born in Pineville, Ala. He enlisted at Camp Davis on Oct. 25, 1861 and served as 1st Lt. of Co. H of the 17th Alabama Regiment. He was wounded at Shiloh in April 1862. He was mortally wounded in the left arm on July 2, 1864 at the Battle of Peachtree Creek near Atlanta and died on July 21, 1864. According to family tradition, Andress was buried in the flower bed of a home near the battle. A slave brought his officer's sword and personal effects to the family. His widow, Parthenia Elizabeth Riley Andress, later filed a Deceased Soldier’s Claim in his name.
Dec. 25, 1856 – National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Pud Galvin was born is St. Louis, Mo. During his career, he played for the St. Louis Brown Stockings, the Buffalo Bisons, the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, the Pittsburgh Burghers, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Browns. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1965.
Dec. 25, 1861 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Grider’s Ferry, Cumberland River, Ky.
Dec. 25, 1861 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Ft Frederick, Md.
Dec. 25, 1861 – During the Civil War, a Federal expedition to Danville, Mo. began.
Dec. 25, 1861 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Cherry Run, Va.
Dec. 25, 1862 - Lieutenant Elisha Hunt Rhodes of the 2nd Rhode Island, a famous diarist, spent Christmas Day in camp with other Union officers and writing in his diary: “I should like to be home this Christmas night.” Rhodes is one of the most famous diarists of the Civil War, and his vivid account of the war was edited and published by his great-grandson, Robert Hunt Rhodes, in 1985 as “All for the Union: The Civil War Diary and Letters of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.”Filmmaker Ken Burns featured Rhodes’ war experiences in his 1990 documentary “The Civil War.”
Dec. 25, 1864 - Union Admiral David Dixon Porter began a ground attack on Fort Fisher, North Carolina. The attack failed. The previous day Porter began a bombardment that failed to destroy the fort. The following January Union troops succeeded in taking the location.
Dec. 25, 1868 - U.S. President Andrew Johnson granted an unconditional pardon to all persons involved in the Southern rebellion that resulted in the Civil War, including to all Confederate veterans.
Dec. 25, 1869 - Angered over a card game dispute, 16-year-old John Wesley Hardin, who lived in Pollard, Ala. for about 18 months, shot James Bradley dead during a showdown on a deserted street in Towash, Texas. Bradley shot at Hardin but missed. Hardin killed Bradley with bullets to the head and chest.
Dec. 25, 1877 – Mary Elizabeth McCorvey Fountain died at Tunnel Springs, Ala. She was the mother of former Monroe County Probate Judge Murdock McCorvey Fountain.
Dec. 25, 1890 - “Ripley's Believe It or Not!” creator Robert Ripley was born in Santa Rosa, Calif.
Dec. 25, 1894 - The University of Chicago became the first Midwestern football team to play on the west coast. U.C. defeated Stanford, 24-4, in Palo Alto, Calif.
Dec. 25, 1914 – During World War I, a series of unofficial truces occurred across the Western Front to celebrate Christmas.
Dec. 25, 1914 – Judge John T. Lackland of Grove Hill, Ala., judge of the first judicial circuit, passed away in a Selma hospital at the age of 62 following an operation. A native of Virginia, he moved to Alabama as a young man and was elected judge in 1903. He was re-elected in 1910.
Dec. 25, 1914 - Noel Gayler was born in Birmingham. He went on to earn three Navy Cross medals for his actions as a U.S. Navy fighter pilot during World War II; he was the first individual to achieve the honor. He would eventually become a four-star admiral. Gayler (pronounced GUY-ler) was the U.S. Navy Air Operations Officer for the Second Carrier Task Force in 1945. He flew over Hiroshima, Japan, less than a week after it was destroyed by the first atomic bomb used in warfare, an experience that profoundly affected him. Gayler also was present during the Japanese surrender aboard the battleship USS Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945. He would become noted for his staunch opposition to nuclear weapons that stemmed from his flight over Hiroshima and later observations of nuclear tests.
Dec. 25, 1915 - Miss Lula Nole was accidentally shot in the face with a .22 caliber rifle by her little nephew on this Christmas day near Roy (present-day Frisco City, Ala.). “Only a flesh wound was inflicted and no serious consequences are apprehended,” according to The Monroe Journal.
Dec. 25, 1924 – “The Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling was born in Syracuse, N.Y.
Dec. 25, 1924 - A.R. Agee “had the misfortune to lose his dwelling and practically all furniture by fire” at Perdue Hill, Ala. on this Christmas night. Agee had only recently purchased the building and the fire was accidental, The Monroe Journal reported.
Dec. 25, 1925 - Alabama author Ann H. Hebson was born in Montgomery, Ala.
Dec. 25, 1927 – National Baseball Hall of Fame second baseman Nellie Fox was born in St. Thomas Township, Pa. During his career, he played for the Philadelphia Athletics, the Chicago White Sox and the Houston Colt .45s/Astros. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997.
Dec. 25, 1945 – NFL quarterback Ken “The Snake” Stabler was born in Foley, Ala. He would go on to play for Alabama, the Oakland Raiders, the Houston Oilers and the New Orleans Saints.
Dec. 25, 1946 – Pro Football Hall of Fame fullback Larry Csonka was born in Stow, Ohio. He would go on to play for Syracuse, the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants.
Dec. 25, 1946 – Singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, who grew up in Mobile, Ala., was born in Pascagoula, Miss.
Dec. 25, 1947 – M.C. Ferguson was allegedly stabbed to death by his brother-in-law T.J. Howard, age about 30, on this Christmas night at the home of Joe Howard in the Nymph community of Conecuh County, Ala. Sheriff W.D. Lewis arrested T.J. Howard and charged him with the killing shortly after Ferguson died.
Dec. 25, 1950 – The Stone of Scone, the traditional coronation stone of British monarchs, was taken from Westminster Abbey by Scottish nationalist students. It later turned up in Scotland on April 11, 1951.
Dec. 25, 1956 - The home of Birmingham, Ala. minister and civil rights leader Fred Shuttlesworth was bombed. Although the structure was severely damaged, Shuttlesworth emerges uninjured, to the amazement of the gathering crowd. Undaunted, and interpreting his survival as a sign of God's favor, Shuttlesworth and other local activists proceeded with plans to challenge Birmingham bus segregation the next day.
Dec. 25, 1956 – Novelist Harper Lee spent Christmas in New York City with her closest friends in the city – Michael and Joy Brown - and received a gift that changed her life. The Browns paid for her to take a year off from her job to write whatever she pleased. The result was the 1960 novel, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” which went on to win the Pultizer Prize, sold more than 30 million copies and became one of the most beloved books in American literature.
Dec. 25, 1958 – National Baseball Hall of Fame left fielder Rickey Henley Henderson was born in Chicago, Ill. He would go on to play for the Anaheim Angels, the Boston Red Sox, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Mets, the New York Yankees, the Oakland’s Athletics, the San Diego Padres, the Seattle Mariners and the Toronto Blue Jays. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.
Dec. 25, 1958 – The Monroe Journal reported that The Journal had been published a day early that week in order for the papers to reach the mails on Wednesday. The paper was to be available to holders of post office boxes on Tuesday afternoon and mail distribution was to follow.
Dec. 25, 1958 – The Monroe Journal reported that Miss Nelle Lee of New York was the guest of her father, A.C. Lee, and Miss Alice Lee. Other guests in the home had been Hank and Ed Conner of Eufaula.
Dec. 25, 1961 – “The Innocents,” a movie version of Henry James's book “The Turn of the Screw,” with screenplay written by William Archibald and Alabama author Truman Capote, was released.
Dec. 25, 1962 – The motion picture adaptation of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a film based on the 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Monroeville, Ala’s Harper Lee, opened in theaters. Directed by Robert Mulligan, the movie starred Gregory Peck, Robert Duvall, Mary Badham, Phillip Alford and John Megna. In 1995, the United States National Film Registry picked “To Kill a Mockingbird” for preservation in the Library of Congress as a “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” film.
Dec. 25, 1971 - The longest pro-football game to date finally ended when Garo Yepremian kicked a field goal in the second quarter of sudden death overtime. The Miami Dolphins defeated Kansas City, 27-24. The total game time was 82 minutes and 40 seconds.
Dec. 25, 1975 - In the early morning hours on this Christmas Day, George Lutz of “Amityville Horror” fame looked up at the house after checking on the boathouse and saw a pig standing behind his daughter Missy at her bedroom window. When he ran up to her room he found her fast asleep with her small rocking chair slowly rocking back and forth.
Dec. 25, 1976 – NBA basketball player and coach Tim James was born in Miami, Fla. He went on to play for the University of Miami, the Miami Heat, the Charlotte Hornets and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Dec. 25, 1989 - Former Major League second baseman and manager Billy Martin, 61, died in a truck crash in Fenton, N.Y. During his career, he played for the New York Yankees, the Kansas City Athletics, the Detroit Tigers, the Cleveland Indians, the Cincinnati Reds, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Minnesota Twins. He also managed the Twins, the Tigers, the Texas Rangers, the Yankees and the Oakland Athletics.
Dec. 25, 1996 - Six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was killed in her Boulder, Colorado, home. John and Patsy Ramsey, her parents, called police at 5:52 the following morning to report that their daughter was missing. Although police found a ransom note demanding $118,000, the money would never be necessary, because JonBenet’s body was found under a blanket in the basement that afternoon. The crime soon became a national sensation.
Dec. 25, 1997 - A movie version of Alabama author Forrest Carter's book “The Education of Little Tree” was released.
Dec. 25, 1997 – Kazakh mountaineer and explorer Anatoli Boukreev, 39, died in an avalanche on Annapurna I in Nepal. Boukreev had a reputation as an elite mountaineer in international climbing circles, (for summiting K2 in 1993 and Mount Everest via the North Ridge route in 1995), but became more widely known for his role in saving climbers during the 1996 Mount Everest disaster.
Dec. 25, 1999 - Weather observer Harry Ellis reported a low temperature of 25 degrees on this day in Evergreen, Ala.
Dec. 25, 2002 - University of New Mexico junior place-kicker Katie Hnida attempted to kick an extra point in a game against UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl. Though her kick was blocked by UCLA, Hnida became the first woman to play in a Division I football game.
Dec. 25, 2003 - The ill-fated Beagle 2 probe, released from the Mars Express, disappeared shortly before its scheduled landing on the Red Planet.
Dec. 25, 2003 – The Monroe Journal reported that Monroe Academy had honored a number of outstanding student-athletes earlier that month during its Fall sports awards banquet at the school. Junior halfback Bonner Williams was named the Volunteers’ Most Valuable Player. Senior linebacker Anthony Brantley and junior linebacker Josh Lowery shared the Most Valuable Defensive Player Award. Other award winners that night included Hunter Moye, Most Valuable Lineman; Thomas Steele, Coaches Award; Colby Mixon, Taylor Dobson, Josh Kilpatrick Moye, named permanent team captains; Matt Yelverton and Justin Wilson, Most Improved Players.
Dec. 25, 2003 – The Monroe Journal reported that “in a powers-with-numbers approach,” plans were underway to develop a multi-county economic development approach with a proposed commercial park near the intersection of Highway 41 and Interstate 65 in Conecuh County, Ala. During the previous week, the Escambia County (Ala.) Commission had agreed unanimously to contribute up to $4,000 to help fund a Phase II study on the proposed industrial park site. Probate Judge Otha Lee Biggs, chairman of the Monroe County Commission, said on Dec. 23 that Monroe County would also consider contributing $4,000 during its January meeting.
Dec. 25, 2007 – A two-vehicle accident on Interstate Highway 65 claimed the life of Cynthia McGill Till, 60, of Repton, Ala. The accident took place at 2:35 p.m. near the 57-mile marker, about one mile south of Atmore in Escambia County, Ala.
Dec. 25, 2014 – The Evergreen Courant selected Tuskegee University quarterback Justin Nared, a native of Evergreen, Ala., as the newspaper’s seventh annual Sportsman of the Year. During his senior season at Tuskegee, Nared led the Golden Tigers to a 9-3 overall record, the 2014 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Football Championship and an appearance in the Division II playoffs.