July 31, 1498 – On his third voyage to the Western Hemisphere, Christopher Columbus became the first European to discover the island of Trinidad.
July 31, 1703 – English novelist, journalist and pamphleteer Danie Defoe was pilloried for sedition. He had published a pamphlet called "The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters" in 1702, written as a satire of High Church policies toward Nonconformists, or Dissenters - Protestants who didn't conform to the established Church of England practices. He wrote it from the High Church viewpoint, advocating the killing of Dissenters as the simplest way to deal with them, and it was a huge seller.
July 31, 1715 – Seven days after a Spanish treasure fleet of 12 ships left Havana, Cuba for Spain, 11 of them sink in a storm off the coast of Florida. A few centuries later, treasure was salvaged from these wrecks.
July 31, 1775 - In Boston Harbor, at Nantasket Point (Little Brewster Island) Patriots stopped completion of repairs on a lighthouse and killed or captured 32 Redcoats. Minutemen had raided the island 10 days before and burned the lighthouse.
July 31, 1777 – French aristocrat Marie-Joseph Paul Roch Yves Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, then age 19, was commissioned a major general in the Continental Army by the U.S. Second Continental Congress – without pay. The resolution passed by Congress asked that the services of Gilbert du Motier "be accepted, and that, in consideration of his zeal, illustrious family and connexions, he have the rank and commission of major-general of the United States." He would visit Claiborne in Monroe County on April 6, 1825.
July 31, 1790 – The first U.S. patent was issued, to inventor Samuel Hopkins for a potash process.
July 31, 1792 - The cornerstone of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, Pa. was laid. It was the first building to be used only as a U.S. government building.
July 31, 1806 – The Rev. Pitts Milner, founder of Georgiana, Ala., was born in Wilkes County, Ga.
July 31, 1816 - Union General George H. Thomas, who deserves a share of the credit for the Union success in the west, was born in Southhampton County, Va. Thomas commanded a corps at Stones River and became a Northern hero for his actions at Chickamauga in September 1863. When a gap appeared in the Union line at a crucial moment and Confederate troops began to pour through it, Thomas led a rally that saved the Federals from a serious defeat.
July 31, 1831 – Monroe County Commissioners purchased the 80-acre plot that surrounds the three-acre public square in present-day Monroeville, Ala., the site of the old 1903 courthouse, now the Monroe County Heritage Museum, and the present courthouse built in 1963.
July 31, 1835 – French-American anthropologist and explorer Paul Du Chaillu in either Paris or New Orleans, La. He became famous in the 1860s as the first modern European outsider to confirm the existence of gorillas, and later the Pygmy people of central Africa. He later researched the prehistory of Scandinavia.
July 31, 1837 – Mary Harris Jones or “Mother Jones” was born in Cork, Ireland.
July 31, 1861 - Ulysses S. Grant was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers.
July 31, 1861 - The Missouri State Convention voted 56 to 25 to elect a new pro-Union governor. Hamilton R. Gamble, pro-Union was elected to replace Claiborne Jackson, pro-Confederate.
July 31, 1861 - The Army of the State of Tennessee was transferred to the Confederate States of America.
July 31, 1862 – During the Civil War, in response to Union General John Pope's order that citizens be shot as spies, Confederate President Jefferson Davis ordered Pope's officers be held as felons and not prisoners-of-war.
July 31, 1862 – During the Civil War, Confederates Braxton Bragg and Kirby Smith met in Chattanooga to agree on strategy against the Army of the Ohio.
July 31, 1862 – During the Civil War, two days of Confederate attacks began on the Union camps and shipping between Shirley and Harrison’s Landing, Virginia.
July 31, 1863 – During the Civil War, a treaty was signed with bands of the Shoshone Indians at Fort Boise, in the Snake River County, the Idaho Territory.
July 31, 1863 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Lancaster, Paint Lick Bridge and Stanford, Kentucky; at Saint Catharine’s Creek, near Natchez, Mississippi; and at Morris’ Mills, West Virginia. Two days of skirmishing also began in the vicinity of Kelly’s Ford, Virginia.
July 31, 1864 – During the Civil War, a skirmish occurred near Watkins’ Plantation in Northern Alabama.
July 31, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were foght in the vicinity of Fort Smith, Arkansas; at Orange Grove, which is near Donaldsonville, Louisiana; and at Hancock, Maryland.
July 31, 1864 – During the Civil War, Brownsville, Texas was reoccupied by Confederate forces.
July 31, 1864 – During the Civil War, lines were reestablished at Petersburg, Virginia in the area of the huge crater.
July 31, 1875 - Andrew Johnson, the 17th President of the United States, died of a stroke at the age of 66 while visiting his daughter in Elizabethton, Tennessee.
July 31, 1879 – Around 10 p.m., after the “Emma” delivered a load of freight on the wharf at the Lower Warehouse at Claiborne, Ala., J.B. Crow and a “couple of young men” caught a “gang of thieves” in the act of stealing flour and coffee, something they’d apparently been doing for several years. The thieves included Allen Howard, Ran Taswell, Dick James, Adam Taswell, Lang Agee, Singleton James and Jesse McGrew. In the ensuing confrontation, Ran Taswell was shot in the leg and died from his wounds about four hours later. Agee was also shot, but managed to escape as did Dick James, Adam Taswell and Singleton James. McGrew and Howard were arrested and placed in jail. “Thus has one of the boldest and most shameless band of thieves been bursted up that has been organized in this section in many years.”
July 31, 1896 – The Hon. E.R. Morrisette was scheduled to “address the people on the issues of the campaign” in Monroeville, Ala. on this Friday at 10 a.m. He was also scheduled to speak at Perdue Hill the following day at 10 a.m.
July 31, 1896 – The Monroe Journal reported that Misses Janie and Jessie and Master John Grissette of Garland were visiting the family of their uncle, Capt. Thos. S. Wiggins.
July 31, 1896 – The Monroe Journal reported that work on the new parsonage had been at a standstill for a few days, the workmen “having worked up all available material on the grounds.”
July 31, 1896 – The Monroe Journal reported that, according to The Evergreen Courant, “while at the baseball game, Mr. S.P. Dunn’s horse became suddenly frightened and ran away, throwing himself and Dr. J.C. Snead out. Dr. Snead was not hurt seriously, but Mr. Dunn was knocked insensible for some time and was severely shook up.”
July 31, 1905 – A “windstorm” caused “great devastation” in and around the Buena Vista community in Monroe County, Ala. The Liddell brothers gin house was blown down, a wagon and buggy were “torn to pieces” and many trees were blown down four to five miles from Buena Vista.
July 31, 1908 – Fletcher Stallworth and Sam Booker were killed and two others were critically injured in a boiler explosion at W.D. Johnson’s saw mill near Skinnerton, Ala.
July 31, 1912 – W.B. Coker of the China community exhibited the first open boll of cotton of the season in Conecuh County, Ala.
July 31, 1914 – W.A. Baggett of Belleville, Ala. produced the first bale of cotton for 1914 and marketed it at Repton.
July 31, 1915 – Capt. T.M. Riley held a reunion of the members of his Civil War company, and all the company members that were there the previous year attended except for John McCants of Tinela, who had died. J.J. Finklea gave a brief report on the reunion in the Aug. 5, 1915 edition of The Monroe Journal.
July 31, 1915 – In a doubleheader between baseball teams from Herbert and Mason at Mason, Herbert won both games, 2-1 and 3-0.
July 31, 1915 – Holly Grove’s baseball team beat Bowles, 19-8, at Bowles (in Conecuh County).
July 31, 1916 – Baseball and football great William “Billy” Clyde Hitchcock was born in Inverness in Bullock County, Ala. He was an infielder, coach, manager and scout in Major League Baseball. In minor league baseball, he served as president of the Double-A Southern League from 1971–80. During his career, he played for the Detroit Tigers, the Washington Senators, the St. Louis Browns, the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Athletics, and he managed the Tigers, the Baltimore Orioles and the Atlanta Braves.
July 31, 1918 – During World War I, Army Pvt. William F. Atchinson of Thomasville, Ala. was killed in action.
July 31, 1919 – Writer and poet Primo Levi was born in Turin, Italy.
July 31, 1930 - The radio mystery program “The Shadow” aired for the first time.
July 31, 1932 - The NSDAP (Nazi Party) won more than 38 percent of the vote in German elections.
July 31, 1938 – Archaeologists discovered engraved gold and silver plates from King Darius the Great in Persepolis.
July 31, 1938 – The Dothan Browns baseball team beat the Evergreen Greenies, 10-0, in Dothan, Ala. Also that day, Evergreen’s amateur baseball team beat the Atmore prison team, 7-6, behind the pitching of Bill Seales and Wendell Hart.
July 31, 1941 – During the Holocaust, under instructions from Adolf Hitler, Nazi official Hermann Göring, ordered SS General Reinhard Heydrich to "submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired Final Solution of the Jewish question."
July 31, 1952 – Jerry Donovan, a graduate of Evergreen High School and 1950 graduate of the University of Alabama, left Mobile, Ala. by air for her new assignment as an elementary teacher at an Air Force base in the Philippine Islands.
July 31, 1953 - A television version of Alabama author Ambrose Bierce's story "Horseman in the Sky" was broadcast as part of the “Your Favorite Story” series.
July 31, 1954 – The first bale of cotton from the 1954 crop in Conecuh County, Ala. was officially ginned.
July 31, 1954 - An official announcement was made by researchers that Los Angeles smog was caused by the chemical reaction of sunlight on auto and industrial emissions.
July 31, 1954 – The first ascent of K2 was achieved by an Italian expedition led by Ardito Desio.
July 31, 1954 – Poet and novelist Kim Addonizio was born in Washington, D.C.
July 31, 1955 – In the Conecuh County, Ala. Amateur Baseball League, McKenzie was scheduled to play at Lyeffion; Paul was scheduled to play at Old Texas; and Chapman was scheduled to play at Garland.
July 31, 1961 – At Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, the first All-Star Game tie in Major League Baseball history occurred when the game was stopped in the ninth inning because of rain.
July 31, 1962 – Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Kevin Greene was born in Schenecady, N.Y. He went on to play for Auburn University, the Los Angeles Rams, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Carolina Panthers and the San Francisco 49ers. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.
July 31, 1963 - A movie version of Alabama author Lillian Hellman's play “Toys in the Attic,” was released.
July 31, 1964 - The first close-up photographs of the moon were sent back to Earth by Ranger 7.
July 31, 1964 - In a news conference, Secretary of State Dean Rusk admited there were differences between the United States and South Vietnam on the issue of extending the war into North Vietnam, but agreement on the general conduct of the war. He stated that U.S. warnings to communist China and North Vietnam indicated total U.S. commitment.
July 31, 1965 – “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling was born in Yate, Gloucestershire, England.
July 31, 1967 – At 9:05 p.m., Alabama Gov. Lurleen B. Wallace signed Act No. 106 into law, which extended the city limits of Evergreen, increasing the city’s size from 6.25 square miles to 16 square miles. The Act began as House Bill 227 and was introduced by State Representative William D. “Billy” Melton. The bill passed the House on June 20 and passed the Senate on July 11. Secretary of State Mabel Amos received the bill and enrolled it at 11:27 a.m. on Aug. 1.
July 31, 1972 - Hanoi challenged the Nixon administration on the dike controversy, claiming that since April there had been 173 raids against the dikes in North Vietnam with direct hits in 149 locations. On July 28, in response to claims by the Soviet Union that the United States had conducted an intentional two-month bombing campaign designed to destroy the dikes and dams of the Tonkin Delta in North Vietnam, a CIA report was made public by the Nixon administration. It stated that U.S. bombing at 12 locations had caused accidental minor damage to North Vietnam’s dikes, but the damage was unintentional and the dikes were not the intended targets of the bombings.
July 31, 1974 – Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden was born in Washington, D.C. He went on to play for UCLA and the Baltimore Ravens. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013.
July 31, 1975 – The Drish House on 17th Street in Tuscaloosa, Ala. was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. (13 Alabama Ghosts)
July 31, 1981 - The seven-week baseball players’ strike came to an end when the players and owners agreed on the issue of free agent compensation.
July 31, 1982 – NFL outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware was born in Auburn, Ala. He went on to play for Auburn High School, Troy University, the Dallas Cowboys and the Denver Broncos.
July 31, 1984 – In municipal elections in Castleberry, Ala., Lawrence Ryals beat Billy Wayne Godwin, 230-100, in the race for mayor. Billy Seales won the runoff for the Place 1 seat on the town council over James Masingill; Phelan Findley Sr. won the runoff for the Place 2 seat on the council over Douglas Graham; Larry Bethuen won the runoff for the Place 4 seat on the council over Lula B. Sellers Palmer. On July 10, Mitt Sullivan won the Place 3 seat on the council, and Bill Moncrease won Place 5.
July 31, 1990 - Nolan Ryan won the 300th game of his career, throwing 7-2/3 strong innings with eight strikeouts to lead his Texas Rangers to an 11-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
July 31, 1990 – Local weather observer Harry Ellis reported a total of 5.20 inches of rainfall during the month of July 1990 in Evergreen, Ala.
July 31, 1998 – Local weather reporter Harry Ellis reported a high temperature of 100 degrees in Evergreen, Ala.
July 31, 2001 - Korey Stringer of the Minnesota Vikings collapsed during practice. The 27-year-old died the next day of multiple organ failure due to heatstroke.
July 31, 2014 – Evergreen, Ala. weather reporter Betty Ellis reported that total rainfall for the month of July 2014 was 1.39 inches.
July 31, 2014 – During a special called meeting, the Castleberry, Ala. Town Council voted to revive the town’s dormant municipal court, which hadn’t heard a case in over a decade. Town officials began mailing out certified letters about the change to county and state officials the following days.