Monday, February 15, 2016

Today in History for Feb. 15, 2016

Feb. 15, 1493 – While on board the Niña, Christopher Columbus wrote an open letter (widely distributed upon his return to Portugal) describing his discoveries and the unexpected items he came across in the New World.

Feb. 15, 1564 – Scientist and writer Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, Italy.

Feb. 15, 1764 – The city of St. Louis was established in Spanish Louisiana (present day Missouri).

Feb. 15, 1776 - From Halifax, Canada, Novia Scotia Governor Francis Legge reported to British headquarters in London that traitorous elements in Cumberland, Nova Scotia, have contacted American General George Washington. Washington received a letter from the Nova Scotians, in which they expressed their sympathy for the American cause, on Feb. 8. They invited General Washington and the Continental Army to invade Nova Scotia at his earliest possible convenience.

Feb. 15, 1820 – Women’s suffrage movement leader Susan B. Anthony was born in Adams, Mass.

Feb. 15, 1821 – The Murder Creek Navigation Co. in Conecuh County, Ala. was officially incorporated.

Feb. 15, 1835 - Union General Alexander Stewart Webb was born in New York. When the Civil War broke out, Webb was assigned to defend Ft. Pickens, Fla., but he was soon called to Washington and placed in the artillery in the army guarding the capital. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Feb. 15, 1854 - Alabama established a statewide public school system with the passage of the Alabama Public School Act. This legislation, which provided funding for the system and created the position of state superintendent, cited the state's 1819 constitution as the basis for a system of free schools in Alabama: "Schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged in this State."

Feb. 15, 1861 - Raphael Semmes, who would later command the CSS Sumter and the CSS Alabama, resigned his U.S. Naval Commission.

Feb. 15, 1861 - In Montgomery, Ala., the Confederate Congress decided that Fort Sumter and other forts must be acquired "either by negotiation or force."

Feb. 15, 1862 – As U.S. General Ulysses S. Grant attacked Fort Donelson, Tenn., Confederates tried to break out of the Yankee perimeter. The fort fell to Union General Ulysses S. Grant the next day.

Feb. 15, 1862 - Confederate General Henry Hopkins Sibley ordered his men to cross the Rio Grande and capture the Val Verde fords in an attempt to cut off Union Colonel Edward R. S. Canby's communication. This was the beginnig of the Battle of Val Verde.

Feb. 15, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Venus Point, Ga. and near Flat Creek, Mo. An eight-day Federal Naval expedition began on the Tennessee River from Cairo, Ill. to Eastport, Miss. by the USS Tyler.

Feb. 15, 1862 – During the Civil War, one of the most shameful examples of Confederate defeat snatched from the jaws of victory occurred at Ft. Donelson on the Cumberland River in Tennessee. The gunboats of Flag Officer Foote prevented the Rebel forces from taking to the river in large numbers to escape, so they did the only thing they could. They put up a fight fierce enough to break a hole in the Union line of attack. McClernand’s right flank was blown completely away. In response to what was obviously a clear Confederate victory Gen. Pillow pulled the victorious troops back into the fort and debated who should have the honor of surrendering the garrison. Gen. Floyd, the official commander, decided to decline, as did Gen. Pillow. The surrender of Fort Donelson was left to Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner. In a sad display of what should have never happened, the other two generals sulked themselves away from the proceedings. Lieut. Col. Nathan Bedford Forest led his command and others of a like mind to safety prior to Buckner’s surrender of Fort Donelson.

Feb. 15, 1863 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought near Arkadelphia, Ark.; and at Cainsville, Nolensville and Auburn, Tenn.

Feb. 15, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Saline River, Ark.; at Charleston, Mo.; in Overton County, Tenn.; and in Wayne County, West Virginia, along Laurel Creek. A nine-day Federal operation from Fernandina to Woodstock and King’s Ferry Mills, Fla. began. A Federal operation began between Vicksburg and Grand Gulf, Miss.

Feb. 15, 1864 – During the Civil War, three days of intermittent skirmishing began in the vicinity of Marion Station, north of Meridian, Miss. Gen. William T. Sherman’s men had had a long march from Vicksburg, and in the winter with bad conditions, including harassment from withdrawing Confederates. The day before they had arrived in the vicinity of Meridian, Miss. and discovered that Gen. Polk’s Confederates evidently were not going to contest the Federal occupation of Meridian. On Feb. 15, Sherman’s troops were given their orders. They were to take shovels, axes, crow bar, and other implements of destruction and tear up the railroads, the depot stations, the public buildings, the hotels, arsenals, military storage facilities, and anything whatsoever that looked like it might provide aid and comfort to the Confederacy or soldiers thereof. Orders to leave private homes unmolested were largely (but not entirely) obeyed.

Feb. 15, 1865 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Bates’ Ferry on the Congaree River, at Red Bank Creek, Savannah Creek, and near Two-League Crossroads, near Lexington, S.C. A two-day Federal reconnaissance out from Nashville, Tenn. began. A two-day Federal reconnaissance encompassing Fairfax Courthouse, Aldie and Middleburg, Va. began.

Feb. 15, 1871 – Frank P. Duke was named postmaster at Burnt Corn, Ala.

Feb. 15, 1874 – Irish explorer Ernest Shackleton was born in Kilkea near Athy, County Kildare, Ireland, about 46 miles from Dublin.

Feb. 15, 1898 – The battleship USS Maine exploded and sank in Havana harbor in Cuba, killing 274. This event led the United States to the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in April 1898.

Feb. 15, 1903 - Toy store owner and inventor Morris Michtom placed two stuffed bears in his shop window, advertising them as “Teddy bears.” Michtom had earlier petitioned President Theodore Roosevelt for permission to use his nickname, “Teddy.” The president agreed and, before long, other toy manufacturers began turning out copies of Michtom's stuffed bears, which soon became a national childhood institution.

Feb. 15, 1904 - Alabama author Richard Chase was born near Huntsville, Ala.

Feb. 15, 1905 – Songwriter Harold Arlen was born Hyman Arluck in Buffalo, N.Y.

Feb. 15, 1909 - Alabama author Mary Johnston's play “The Goddess of Reason” opened on Broadway.

Feb. 15, 1915 – On this Monday night in Evergreen, Ala., “some miscreant hurled a piece of slag at Sheriff Williams as he drove along West Front Street below the depot in his automobile.” The rock struck the post just under Williams’ steering wheel with “great force,” but no damage was done. “Whoever threw the piece was so well concealed that he was not observed,” according to The Evergreen Courant.

Feb. 15, 1915 – On this Monday night, an unknown person or persons, dug a large hole in the front yard of the home of J.L. Spence near the train depot in Evergreen, Ala. According to The Evergreen Courant, it was “surmised that the party was hunting for buried treasure, but there is no clue as to who committed the depredation.”

Feb. 15, 1915 – One of Alabama’s most prominent Masons, Angus M. Scott, passed away from pneumonia at the age of 75 at his home in Headland, Ala. “He was for many years grand lecturer of the grand lodge of Masons of Alabama and was perhaps known to more people in the state than any other citizen in private life.”

Feb. 15, 1918 – Country music singer-songwriter Hank Locklin was born in McLellan, Fla.

Feb. 15, 1919 – During World War I, Army Pvt. Louis Egbert Wells of Red Level, Ala. “died of disease.”

Feb. 15, 1926 – The post office at Burnt Corn, Ala. was discontinued and mail was taken to Evergreen, Ala. The post office at Burnt Corn was reactivated on May 2, 1936.

Feb. 15, 1926 – Major League Baseball pitcher Charles “Bubba” Harris was born in Sulligent, Ala. He would go on to play for the Philadelphia Athletics and the Cleveland Indians.

Feb. 15, 1930 – The filling station and garage building “recently completed” by W.M. Newton at the intersection of Perryman and Main Streets near the Agricultural School in Evergreen, Ala. first opened. The building was leased to J.G. Ring and G.W. Robinson. Ring operated the filling station, and Robinson operate a garage in which he did general repair work.

Feb. 15, 1935 – Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive guard Gene Hickerson was born in Trenton, Tenn. He went on to play for Ole Miss and the Cleveland Browns. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.

Feb. 15, 1939 - Alabama author Lillian Hellman's play “The Little Foxes” opened on Broadway.

Feb. 15, 1939 – The classic Western film, “Stagecoach,” was released in theaters and starred John Wayne in his breakthrough role. The movie also starred Donald Meek as Samuel Peacock, a whiskey salesman from Kansas City who is shot by an Apache arrow as the stagecoach races towards Lordsburg.

Feb. 15, 1940 – Noted lecturer and teacher Dr. Charles E. Barker visited Evergreen, Ala. to give speeches about the “principles of health and right living, in the quarter century he had devoted to his work.” A guest of the Evergreen Rotary Club, Barker gave speeches at the high school and to the Rotary Club.

Feb. 15, 1945 – The Evergreen Courant reported that news of the disastrous fire that Evergreen experienced on Christmas had reached to all parts of the world according to reports which were coming back to Evergreen from servicemen. Lt. (j.g.) R.G. Kendall, who was stationed in Hawaii, reported that he saw an account of the fire in the “Yank,” army publication. Capt. John D. Allen, husband of a niece of Mrs. Katie Cannon, wrote his wife that he heard a radio newscast about the fire at his station in Belgium.

Feb. 15, 1945 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Pfc. Marvin W. Deason, son of Mrs. Laura Deason, of Route 1, Owassa, Ala., was one of a group of combat casualties to arrive at the General Hospital, Camp Butner, N.C. that week for further treatment. Deason was with the 8th Infantry Division at Germany when he was hospitalized. He had served 14 months in the European theatre of operations.

Feb. 15, 1945 – The Evergreen Courant reported that it was a happy meeting when Oswald Hansen and Harris Williamson met up recently in Hawaii. Both were mail specialists in the U.S. Navy and had worked together in the Evergreen post office prior to their enlistment in the Navy.

Feb. 15, 1945 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Walter R. Poole, the son of Mr. and Mrs. C.A. Poole of Castleberry, Rt. 2, was now in the U.S. Maritime Service. Walter received his training in St. Petersburg, Fla. and was transferred to Alameda, Calif. in January 1945. He attended Conecuh County High School in Castleberry and was employed at the Airport at Evergreen prior to his enrollment.

Feb. 15, 1946 - Edith Houghton, at age 33, was signed as a baseball scout by the Philadelphia Phillies, becoming the first female scout in the major leagues.

Feb. 15, 1948 - Formal dedicatory ceremonies for Our Lady of the Annunciation Catholic Church of Monroeville, Ala. were scheduled to take place on this Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in services to which hundreds of Monroe County citizens had been invited to attend. Scheduled to be present in an officiating capacity was the Most Reverend Thomas J. Toolen, Bishop of Mobile, while the Rev. Purcell of the City of Jude, Montgomery, was to preach the sermon. The Rev. Frank Giri was pastor of the church.

Feb. 15, 1948 – Cartoonist Art Spiegelman was born in Stockholm, Sweden.

Feb. 15, 1949 – Gerald Lankester Harding and Roland de Vaux began excavations at Cave 1 of the Qumran Caves, where they eventually discovered the first seven Dead Sea Scrolls.

Feb. 15, 1954 – American cartoonist Matt Groening, best known for creating “The Simpsons,” was born in Portland, Oregon.

Feb. 15, 1960 – Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back Darrel Green was born in Houston, Texas. He would play his entire pro career (1983-2002) for the Washington Redskins. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.

Feb. 15, 1962 - CBS-TV bought the exclusive rights to college football games from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for a figure of $10,200,000.

Feb. 15, 1963 – The search for the missing Marine Sulphur Queen, a 425-foot freighter, which disappeared 13 days earlier, was discontinued, but five days later the Navy reported finding a life jacket from the ship 15 miles out at sea, south of Key West.

Feb. 15, 1965 – National Football League teams pledged not to sign college seniors until they had completed all of their games, including bowl games.

Feb. 15, 1965 - "The man with the velvet voice," Nat King Cole died in Santa Monica, California. Born the son of a Baptist minister in Montgomery in 1919, Cole sold over 50 million records and became the first African-American male with a weekly network television series.

Feb. 15, 1966 - In response to a letter from Ho Chi Minh asking that French President Charles De Gaulle use his influence to “prevent perfidious new maneuvers” by the United States in Southeast Asia, De Gaulle stated that France is willing to do all that it could to end the war. As outlined by De Gaulle, the French believed that the Geneva agreements should be enforced, that Vietnam’s independence should be “guaranteed by the nonintervention of any outside powers,” and that the Vietnamese government should pursue a “policy of strict neutrality.” President Lyndon Johnson saw De Gaulle’s proposal as part of a continuing effort by the French leader to challenge U.S. leadership in Southeast Asia as well as in Europe. Seeing the American commitment in Vietnam as part of a larger global issue of American credibility, Johnson believed that the United States could not afford to abandon its South Vietnamese ally and rejected De Gaulle’s proposal without consideration.

Feb. 15, 1970 - As the jury continued to deliberate in the trial of the Chicago Eight, defense attorneys William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass and three of the defendants were sentenced to prison for contempt of court. The trial for eight antiwar activists charged with the responsibility for the violent demonstrations at the August 1968 Democratic National Convention took place in Chicago. 

Feb. 15, 1975 - Weather observer Earl Windham reported 1.1 inches of rain in Evergreen, Ala.

Feb. 15, 1976 – Brandon Boyd, a singer-songwriter best known for being the lead singer for Incubus, was born in Van Nuys, California.

Feb. 15, 1983 – Major League Baseball catcher Russell Martin was born in Toronto, Canada. He would go on to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Yankess and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Feb. 15, 1991 – Sparta Academy’s varsity boys basketball team wrapped up their regular season with a 17-4 overall record by beating Wilcox Academy, 88-73, in Evergreen, Ala. Wayne Cook led Sparta with 33 points.

Feb. 15, 1992 – Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was sentenced in Milwaukee to life in prison.

Feb. 15, 1996 - The NCAA football rules committee voted to require a tiebreaker in all NCAA football games.

Feb. 15, 2003 – Protests against the Iraq war took place in over 600 cities worldwide. It is estimated that between 8 million to 30 million people participate, making this the largest peace demonstration in history.

Feb. 15, 2012 – The Alabama Department of Mental Health announced it would close Searcy Hospital in Mount Vernon and all but two of its other state-run mental health facilities in a move to transition all but its forensic and geriatric patients to community-based treatment.

Feb. 15, 2013 – A meteor exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, injuring 1,500 people and damaged over 4,300 buildings as a shock wave blew out windows and rocked buildings. This happened unexpectedly only hours before the expected closest ever approach of the larger and unrelated asteroid 2012 DA14.

Feb. 15, 2014 – The Federal Aviation Administration presented David E. “Dave” McKenzie, a former resident of Evergreen, Ala., with the prestigious Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award during an awards ceremony in Lansing, Mich.

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