Feb. 20, 1726 – American Revolutionary soldier William Prescott was born in Groton, Province of Massachusetts Bay. He is best known for quote, "Don't fire until you see the white's of their eyes."
Feb. 20, 1792 – The Postal Service Act, establishing the United States Post Office Department, was signed by United States President George Washington.
Feb. 20, 1835 - Young Mobile, Ala. printer Charles R.S. Boyington (of Boyington Oak fame) was hanged for the murder of Nathaniel Frost.
Feb. 20, 1836 – Edmund P. Gaines, who arrested former Vice President Aaron Burr near Fort Stoddert, Ala. in 1807, and his men were the first U.S. soldiers to revisit the scene of the Dade Massacre in Central Florida, where they identified and interred the bodies.
Feb. 20, 1844 – Canadian sailor and adventurer Joshua Slocum was born in Mount Hanley, Nova Scotia.
Feb. 20, 1861 - The Confederate Legislature, meeting in Montgomery, Ala., established the Confederate Department of the Navy.
Feb. 20, 1862 – During the Civil War, Tennessee Governor Isham Harris moved the state capital from Nashville to Memphis to get away from advancing Federal forces.
Feb. 20, 1862 - U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's 11-year-old son, William Wallace “Willie” Lincoln, died from typhoid fever. The probable cause was polluted drinking water in the White House. The health of the President’s son, interestingly enough, had parallels with that of many men in the armed services of North and South. In March of 1861 the boy had come down with measles; the same disease wreaked havoc on armies in the first year of the war. Even Robert E. Lee noted that the ailment was “mild in childhood but devastating in manhood,” and many died. Willie seemed to recover well from that attack, but typhoid was a disease of polluted water, and in Washington D.C. there was hardly any other kind to be had. The Lincolns were devastated, but they were not the only ones in mourning for a son; the casualty lists from the Battle of Fort Donelson were printed in the newspapers on this day. The loss of this child hastened Mrs. Lincoln’s mental imbalance.
Feb. 20, 1863 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought in the vicinity of Fort Halleck, the Dakota Territory, with Ute Indians and on the Shelbyville Pike in Tennessee.
Feb. 20, 1864 – During the Civil War, a Federal operation up the White River from Helena, Ark. began. Skirmishes were fought at Pease Creek, Fla.; at Flat Creek, on the Sevierville Road near Knoxville, and at Strawberry Pains, Tenn.; at Upperville and Front Royal, Va.; and near Hurricane Bridge, West Va.
Feb. 20, 1864 – During the Civil War, the Battle of Olustee, the largest battle fought in Florida during the war, occurred in Baker County, Fla. During the battle, Confederate forces under General Joseph Finegan defeated an army led by Union General Truman Seymour, allowing the Confederates to keep control of Florida for the rest of the war. The Yankees suffered around 1,800 killed, wounded, or captured, while the Confederates lost about 900 men.
Feb. 20, 1864 - Union General William T. Sherman left Meridian, Miss. and headed for Vicksburg. He had waited five days for Union General William Sooy Smith to arrive. Smith never reached Meridian after being defeated by Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and forced to return to Memphis.
Feb. 20, 1865 - Union General William T. Sherman's army left Columbia, S.C. Soldiers under Sherman had begun ransacking the city three days earlier.
Feb. 20, 1865 – During the Civil War, a skirmish occurred near Tuscumbia, Ala.
Feb. 20, 1865 – During the Civil War, an attack on Fort Meyers, Fla. occurred, and a skirmish was fought at Center Creek, Mo. A Federal operation was conducted between Greensville and Warrensburg, Tenn., and a four-day Federal operation between Nashville and Pine Wood, Tenn. began.
Feb. 20, 1878 - The West Alabamian newspaper reported that windows were being installed in the Pickens County Courthouse on this date. These windows were the windows in the main courtroom, which were the first windows installed due to a court session due to take place in the middle of March. The garret windows, including the one with the ghostly face, were supposedly not installed until weeks after Wells’ death. (13 Alabama Ghosts)
Feb. 20, 1887 - The first minor league baseball association was organized in Pittsburgh.
Feb. 20, 1889 – Act No. 322 of the legislature of Alabama, which incorportated Marion Military Institute, was approved.
Feb. 20, 1893 – Playwright Russel Crouse was born in Findlay, Ohio.
Feb. 20, 1902 – Photographer Ansel Adams was born in San Francisco.
Feb. 20, 1906 - Jennie Faulk left on this Tuesday for St. Louis to purchase her spring goods of hats, millinery and ladies goods, “which will be larger and better than ever,” The Monroe Journal reported.
Feb. 20, 1910 – Little League Baseball founder Carl Stotz was born in Williamsport, Pa.
Feb. 20, 1910 – German SS officer Rudolf Beckmann was born in Osnabrück in northwest Germany.
Feb. 20, 1915 – Evergreen’s boys basketball team beat Effie, 21-18, at Effie, Ala. Effie’s girls beat Evergreen, 16-15.
Feb. 20, 1915 - “Miss Topsy Turvy” or the “Courtship of the Deacon,” a comedy in three acts was presented at the high school auditorium by the Excel Dramatic Club in Excel, Ala.
Feb. 20, 1916 – The building committee at the Monroeville (Ala.) Methodist Church reported on this Sunday the adoption of plans and the selection of a “desirable lot on a prominent corner for the location of a new church building,” and that between $4,000 and $5,000 had already been pledged toward the erection of a “handsome, commodious and up-to-date brick structure.”
Feb. 20, 1920 – Admiral and explorer Robert Peary died at the age of 63 in Washington, D.C.
Feb. 20, 1924 - Prof. G.A. Harris left Monroeville, Ala. on this Wednesday for Chicago to attend the annual convention of the Department of Superintendents of the National Educational Association.
Feb. 20, 1926 – Horror writer Richard Matheson was born in Allendale, N.J. He wrote for television shows, including “The Twilight Zone” and “Star Trek,” and he wrote more than 20 novels and 100 short stories. His most famous books include “I Am Legend” (1954), “The Shrinking Man” (1956), later retitled “The Incredible Shrinking Man,” and “What Dreams May Come” (1978).
Feb. 20, 1928 – Major League Baseball pitcher Roy Face was born in Stephentown, N.Y. He would go on to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Detroit Tigers and the Montreal Expos.
Feb. 20, 1929 - The Boston Red Sox announced that they would begin playing games on Sundays.
Feb. 20, 1930 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Dr. H.C. Fountain attended the Winter Fox Hunt in Mobile, Ala. during the previous week, where he acted as one of the judges.
Feb. 20, 1933 – The Congress of the United States proposed the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution that would end Prohibition in the United States.
Feb. 20, 1933 – Adolf Hitler secretly met with German industrialists to arrange for financing of the Nazi Party's upcoming election campaign.
Feb. 20, 1934 - The Utopian Society in Los Angeles started a chain-letter campaign proclaiming that "profit is the root of all evil."
Feb. 20, 1936 – Maryland native and former slave Flora Stallworth dies at Nichburg in Conecuh County, Ala.
Feb. 20, 1939 - A radio version of Alabama author William March's story "Nine Prisoners" was broadcast as part of “The Columbia Workshop” series.
Feb. 20, 1941 – Major League Baseball pitcher Clyde Wright was born in Jefferson City, Tenn. He would go on to play for the California Angels, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Texas Rangers.
Feb. 20, 1944 – 100 Nazi POWs arrived in Greenville, Ala. by special train, guarded by 25 U.S. soldiers and military police. They were transported to Camp Greenville, four miles north of the city, where they were to be quartered while working at the Greenville and Chapman plants of W.T. Smith Lumber Co. They were mostly young men around 20 years of age.
Feb. 20, 1950 – Welsh poet Dylan Thomas embarked on his first reading tour of the United States.
Feb. 20, 1952 - The movie “The African Queen,” screenplay by Alabama author James Agee, was released.
Feb. 20, 1952 – Emmett Ashford became the first African-American umpire in organized baseball by being authorized to be a substitute umpire in the Southwestern International League.
Feb. 20, 1962 - John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, circling the globe three times at more than 17,000 mph.
Feb. 20, 1963 – College and NBA basketball legend Charles Barkley was born in Leeds, Ala. He would go on to play for Auburn University, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Pheonix Suns and the Houston Rockets.
Feb. 20, 1967 – Music legend Kurt Cobain was born in Aberdeen, Wash.
Feb. 20, 1967 – In the Area I basketball tournament at the Coliseum in Monroeville, Ala. second-seeded Lyeffion played Coffeeville, and Beatrice played fourth-seeded Fruitdale.
Feb. 20, 1969 – The Monroe Journal reported that the dredge “Natchez,” owned by the Williams-McWilliams Co. of New Orleans, La., a subcontractor of Arundel-Dixon, prime contractor for Claiborne Lock and Dam, was at work on a contract to move over a million yards of dirt from the dam site. The dredged material was to be pumped through the big, 20-inch pipe into a spoils area nearby. This would probably be developed later into a recreation area, The Journal reported.
Feb. 20, 1969 – The Monroe Journal reported that Spc. 4 Charles D. Eddins had received an Air Medal for flying 25 hours over hostile territory during the month of September 1968. Eddins was a gunner and crew chief on a transport helicopter. Some of his duties included transporting men into combat, transporting supplies to the ground forces and carrying the wounded from the battlefield. He was stationed with the First Air Cavalry Division at Quan Loi, Vietnam.
Feb. 20, 1975 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Laurie Cotter of Evergreen, Ala. had been gathering information about “the ghost at Gaineswood” in Dempolois as part of her Interim Term studies at Birmingham-Southern College. Cotter talked to former residents of the house, the author of a book on Alabama ghosts and a 100-year-old man from Demopolis. Cotter’s project, supervised by members of the education and history departments at Southern, was designed to give her experience in local history through personal interviews.
Feb. 20, 1982 – Lyeffion High School won the Class A, Region I basketball championship by beating A.L. Johnson, 72-58, at Conecuh County High School in Castleberry, Ala., earning a berth in the state tournament with a 24-3 overall record. Donald Lee led Lyeffion with 22 points, and Michael Grace had 21 points.
Feb. 20, 1984 – University of Alabama cornerback Ramzee Robinson was born in Huntsville, Ala. He went on to play for S.R. Butler High School, Alabama and the Detroit Lions, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Cleveland Browns.
Feb. 20, 1987 - A bomb exploded in a computer store in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the blast was blamed on the Unabomber.
Feb. 20, 1993 - The Florida Marlins opened their first spring training camp.
Feb. 20, 1994 - Alabama author and Poet Laureate Carl Patrick Morton dies in Helena, Ala.
Feb. 20, 1997 - Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants signed a contract worth $22.9 million over two years.
Feb. 20, 2000 - Garth Brooks began training with the New York Mets.
Feb. 20, 2002 - ESPN and the Liberty Bowl signed a contract that extended through 2008.
Feb. 20, 2004 - Alabama author Babs H. Deal died in Montgomery, Ala.
Feb. 20, 2005 – Hunter S. Thompson died at his home in Woody Creek, Colo. of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was 76 years old.