Dec. 4, 1674 – Father Jacques Marquette built a log cabin and founded a mission on the shores of Lake Michigan, near the mouth of the Chicago River, to minister to the Illiniwek. (The mission would later grow into the city of Chicago.)
Dec. 4, 1780 - A force of Continental dragoons commanded by Colonel William Washington – General George Washington’s second cousin once removed – cornered Loyalist Colonel Rowland Rugeley and his followers in Rugeley’s house and barn near Camden, South Carolina.
Dec. 4, 1783 – At Fraunces Tavern in New York City, U.S. General George Washington bid farewell to his officers.
Dec. 4, 1791 – The first edition of The Observer in Britian, the world's first Sunday newspaper, was published.
Dec. 4, 1795 – British essayist, philosopher and historian Thomas Carlyle was born in Ecclefechan, Scotland.
Dec. 4, 1802 – The Supreme Council issued its “Manifesto” to the Masonic World.
Dec. 4, 1820 – The City of Selma, Ala. was officially incorporated as a municipality. (Ala. League of Mun.)
Dec. 4, 1846 – The organizational charter was issued to Eureka Lodge No. 64 in Greenville, Ala.
Dec. 4, 1855 – The organizational charter was issued to Santa Fe Lodge No. 226 in Jackson, Ala.
Dec. 4, 1861 – During the Civil War, the U.S. Senate, voting 36 to 0, expeled Senator John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky because of his joining the Confederate Army.
Dec. 4, 1861 – During the Civil War, Queen Victoria of Britain forbid the export of gunpowder, firearms and all materials for their production.
Dec. 4, 1861 – During the Civil War, Confederates destroyed Bacon Creek Bridge, near Munfordville, Ky.
Dec. 4, 1861 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was at Burke’s Station Va.
Dec. 4, 1864 – Eight days of cavalry clashes in Georgia come to an end when Union General Judson Kilpatrick and Confederate General Joseph Wheeler skirmished for a final time at Waynesboro. Although the Rebels inflicted more than three times as many casualties as the Yankees, the campaign was considered a success by the Union because it screened Wheeler from the main Union force as it marched to Savannah, Georgia, on General William T. Sherman’s famous March to the Sea. Wheeler killed or wounded some 830 Yankee troopers and lost only 240 of his own.
Dec. 4, 1867 – Former Minnesota farmer Oliver Hudson Kelley founded the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry (better known today as The Grange). It's the oldest national agricultural advocacy organization.
Dec. 4, 1868 – National Baseball Hall of Fame left fielder Jesse Burkett was born in Wheeling, West Va. He went on to play for the New York Giants, the Cleveland Spiders, the St. Louis Perfectos/Cardinals, the St. Louis Browns and the Boston Americans. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1946.
Dec. 4, 1872 – The crewless American ship Mary Celeste was found in the Atlantic Ocean by the British brig Dei Gratia. The ship had been abandoned for nine days but was only slightly damaged. The cause of the ship's desertion and the fate of its 10 passengers remains a mystery. Theories on what happened include a pirate attack, an encounter with a waterspout, a mutiny by the crew, and an accident involving the ship's cargo: barrels of alcohol.
Dec. 4, 1875 – Poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who is best known for writing “The Duino Elegies,” was born in Prague.
Dec. 4, 1881 – The first edition of the Los Angeles Times was published.
Dec. 4, 1895 – The organizational charter was issued to the H. Clay Armstrong Lodge No. 544 in Salitpa in Clarke County, Ala.
Dec. 4, 1901 – The organizational charter was issued to Downing Lodge No. 580 in Castleberry, Ala.
Dec. 4, 1903 – Mystery writer Cornell Woolrich was born in New York City.
Dec. 4, 1906 - The Alabama Power Company was incorporated in Gadsden. William Patrick Lay, a Cherokee County native who piloted riverboats, was the founder and first president. In 1907, Lay secured congressional approval for the construction of a dam on the Coosa River at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lock 12 site. The Lock 12 dam (now Lay Dam) was completed in December 1913 and was generating electricity by April 1914 and transmitting it to Birmingham by July. Alabama Power Company's development is inextricably entwined with the history of Alabama and has been on the leading edge of economic development issues for most of its history.
Dec. 4, 1907 – The organizational charter was issued to Excel Lodge No. 655 in Excel, Ala.
Dec. 4, 1909 – In Canadian football, the First Grey Cup game was played. The University of Toronto Varsity Blues defeated the Toronto Parkdale Canoe Club, 26–6.
Dec. 4, 1911 - Alabama author Robert Payne was born in Saltash, Cornwall, England.
Dec. 4, 1914 – Sam Henderson was “committed to the asylum for the insane” after shooting at his friend and neighbor A.C. Finch multiple times with a Winchester rifle. Finch ran to his house, got his wife and fled to a neighbor’s home. Henderson then “delivered about a dozen shots” into Finch’s house. No one was injured in the incident.
Dec. 4, 1927 - Alabama author Anne George was born in Montgomery, Ala.
Dec. 4, 1943 - Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis announced that any club was free to employ black players.
Dec. 4, 1943 – During World War II, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt closed down the Works Progress Administration, because of the high levels of wartime employment in the United States.
Dec. 4, 1944 – National Baseball Hall of Fame catcher and manager Roger Bresnahan passed away at the age of 65 in Toledo, Ohio. During his career, he played for the Washington Senators, the Chicago Orphans, the Baltimore Orioles, the New York Giants, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs, and he managed the Cardinals and the Cubs. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1945.
Dec. 4, 1952 – The Evergreen Courant reported that one of the City of Evergreen’s new water pumps had been delivered and was being installed and that delivery of a second pump was expected soon. When the installation of the new pump was completed, the city’s new 25,000-gallon elevated water tank was to be chlorinated, cleaned and then will be put into use. Hunter Thornley was Evergreen’s City Clerk at this time.
Dec. 4, 1959 – New runway landing lights were installed and activated at 10 a.m. at Middleton Field in Evergreen, Ala. The runway lights were connected to the airport’s Beacon Light, so that the runway lights came on at night when the Beacon Light was turned on.
Dec. 4, 1962 – Excel, Ala. native Lee Roy Jordan was drafted in the first round by the Dallas Cowboys. He would go on to play his entire career for the Cowboys from 1963 through 1976. In all, he played in 186 NFL games and recorded 1,236 total tackles (including 743 solos), 36 interceptions and three touchdowns. He was selected for the Pro Bowl five times and played on the team that won Super Bowl VI in 1972.
Dec. 4, 1964 - Major League Baseball established a free-agent draft that would take effect in 1965.
Dec. 4, 1970 – Monroe Academy won its first state football title by beating Lowndes Academy, 6-0, in Monroeville, Ala.
Dec. 4, 1970 – In an incident attributed to the Bermuda Triangle, Bruce Gernon Jr. and his father were flying in Gernon’s private Beechcraft plane from Andros Island in the Bahamas to Palm Beach, Fla. The plane flew into a strange, cigar-shaped cloud and flew out of the cloud a short time later to find themselves over Miami Beach. The 200-mile flight normally took 75 minutes, but Gernon claimed that it took them only 45 minutes to cover 250 miles.
Dec. 4, 1974 – Evergreen, Ala. weather reporter Earl Windham reported a low temperature of 28 degrees on this day.
Dec. 4, 1977 - The NFL's 5,000th game was played.
Dec. 4, 1977 - Tony Dorsett of the Dallas Cowboys rushed for 206 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles. He became only the third rookie to rush for more than 200 yards in a game.
Dec. 4, 1997 - John Elway of the Denver Broncos surpassed 3,000 yards for the season. It was his 12th consecutive season to pass for more than 3,000 yards.
Dec. 4, 1992 – The William S. Irby Sr. House at Lower Peach Tree in Wilcox County, Ala. was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.
Dec. 4, 1997 - Barry Sanders of the Detroit Lions set an NFL record when he rushed for over 100 yards in 12 consecutive games.
Dec. 4, 2014 – Witnesses in Fairhope, Ala. reported seeing a UFO around 7 p.m. over the waters of Mobile Bay. They described seeing multiple reddish orange orbs.