Oct. 11, 1492 – During his first voyage to America, two hours after sunset, Columbus became the first observer on record to notice the unexplained, luminous “white water of the Bahamas,” near the western edges of the Sargasso Sea.
Oct. 11, 1759 - Parson Mason Weems was born in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. He is best remembered as the source of some of the apocryphal stories about George Washington, including the famous tale of Washington and the cherry tree ("I cannot tell a lie, I did it with my little hatchet"), which was included in “The Life of Washington” (1800), a bestseller that depicted Washington's virtues and was intended to provide a morally instructive tale for the youth of the young nation.
Oct. 11, 1767 – Surveying for the Mason–Dixon line, separating Maryland from Pennsylvania, was completed.
Oct. 11, 1776 – During the American Revolutionary War, at the Battle of Valcour Island on Lake Champlain (in what is now Clinton County, N.Y.), a fleet of 15 American gunboats under Brigadier General Benedict Arnold suffered heavy losses and was defeated by a British fleet under Sir Guy Carleton. Although nearly all of Arnold’s ships were destroyed, it took more than two days for the British to subdue the Patriot naval force, delaying Carleton’s campaign and giving the Patriot ground forces adequate time to prepare a crucial defense of New York.
Oct. 11, 1779 - Casimir Pulaski, a Polish nobleman, was killed while fighting for American independce during the Revolutionary War Battle of Savannah, Ga.
Oct. 11, 1809 – Along the Natchez Trace in Tennessee, famous explorer Meriwether Lewis, age 35, died under mysterious circumstances in the early hours of the morning after stopping for the night at Grinder’s Tavern, an inn that was also called Grinder's Stand. Some say he committed suicide, while others say he may have been murdered.
Oct. 11, 1821 – Sir George Williams, who founded the YMCA, was born in Dulverton, England.
Oct. 11, 1861 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Harper's Ferry, West Va.
Oct. 11, 1861 – During the Civil War, a six-day operation against Lipan Indians from Fort Inge, Texas began.
Oct. 11, 1862 – During the Civil War, in the aftermath of the Battle of Antietam, Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart and his men looted Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, during a daring raid into the north. About half of the supplies for the Union army came through the rail center at Chambersburg, and Stuart planned to destroy a railway bridge in the town. On the morning of Oct. 11, they began cutting telegraph lines, seizing horses and any supplies they could carry, and destroying everything else before Stuart ordered his men to turn back to Virginia by the afternoon of Oct. 11.
Oct. 11, 1870 – Union doctor Edward DeWelden Brenneman passed away at the age of 31 and was buried in Washington, D.C.’s Oak Hill Cemetery. During the Battle of Gettysburg he amputated the right arm of Conecuh Guards’ Mitchell B. Salter of Evergreen.
Oct. 11, 1881 – Physicist and psychologist Lewis Fry Richardson was born in Northumberland, England. He was the first to apply mathematical techniques to predict the weather accurately, but his system did not become practical until the advent of electronic computers after World War II.
Oct. 11, 1884 – Eleanor Roosevelt, the longest-serving First Lady, was born in New York City.
Oct. 11, 1885 – Noble Prize-winning French writer Francois (Charles) Mauriac was born in Bordeaux. He became famous for his book “A Kiss for the Leper” (1922), about a wealthy but hideous man whose life is destroyed by an arranged marriage to a beautiful peasant woman. He also wrote “The Desert of Love” (1925), “Thérèse” (1927), and “The Knot of Vipers” (1932).
Oct. 11, 1889 – The Monroe Journal reported that Monroe County, Ala. native Charles J. Torrey had been elected as Mobile’s city attorney by a “flattering majority.” He served as Monroeville’s chancery registrar before moving to Mobile in 1875. He lost the circuit judge’s race in 1886 by a small margin.
Oct. 11, 1890 - The Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in Washington, DC.
Oct. 11, 1895 – Dr. Ray Fountain passed away at his home in Finchburg.
Oct. 11, 1899 – Major League Baseball’s Western League was renamed the American League of Professional Baseball Clubs.
Oct. 11, 1890 – Famous train-robbing outlaw Rube Burrow was buried in Fellowship Cemetery, about four miles northeast of Vernon in Lamar County, Ala.
Oct. 11, 1895 – Dr. Ray Fountain of Finchburg, Ala. passed away.
Oct. 11, 1905 – During the evening, on the road leading from Claiborne, Ala., to their homes near Axel (between Peterman and Fountain), Jim Wiggins shot and killed his employee A.T. Aycock after an argument over pay. Aycock was said to have been drunk, and Wiggins shot him in the head with a pistol.
Oct. 11, 1910 – Former President Theodore Roosevelt became the first U.S. president to fly in an airplane. He flew for four minutes with Arch Hoxsey in a plane built by the Wright brothers at Kinloch Field (Lambert–St. Louis International Airport), St. Louis, Missouri.
Oct. 11, 1915 – The fall term of Conecuh County, Ala. Circuit Court convened at noon with Judge Gamble presiding and Solicitor Bricken at his post. The grand jury was organized with J.A. Culpepper of Brooklyn as foreman. In the Oct. 20, 1915 edition of The Courant, it was reported that the grand jury returned 39 indictments.
Oct. 11, 1917 – Will and Bob Blackwell, brothers who escaped from the Pensacola jail “on the night of the hurricane,” were captured by the Escambia County, Fla. Sheriff near Coffeeville in Clarke County and were taken back to the jail in Pensacola. They had been given a death sentence for the murder of Mr. and Mrs. Davis, an elderly couple who lived in Okaloosa County, Fla., and were in jail pending an appeal to the Supreme Court for a new trial. Under Florida law at the time, an escape automatically dismissed an appeal, so the time of their execution was to be set by the trial judge.
Oct. 11, 1918 – During World War I, James Leroy Burge died, reportedly from influenza and was buried at sea in route to Europe. He was a member of the U.S. Army’s 150st Infantry Regiment, 38th Infantry Division. He is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at Suresnes American Cemetery in Suresenes, France.
Oct. 11, 1918 – During World War I, Army Pvt. James Williams of Camden, Ala., Army Pvt. Emmett N. Richburg of Castleberry, Ala., Army Pvt. Wm. J. McEntire of Brewton, Ala., Army Pvt. Fred Dixon of Andalusia, Ala. and Army Pvt. Caley S. Harrell of Grove Hill, Ala. “died of disease.” Army Pvt. Wm. McD. Reaves of Camden, Ala. was killed in action.
Oct. 11, 1922 - Alabama author Thomas Hal Phillips was born in Corinth, Miss.
Oct. 11, 1925 - The New York Giants played their first NFL game. The Giants lost to Providence, 14-0.
Oct. 11, 1939 – J.M. Minish, the owner of a furniture factory in Monroeville, Ala., died in a Johnson City, Tenn. hospital. He was buried the next day in Butler, Tenn.
Oct. 11, 1945 - Alabama author Fred Bonnie was born in Bridgton, Maine.
Oct. 11, 1951 – The Monroe Journal reported that the final inspection of Monroeville, Alabama’s regional livestock coliseum had been held during the past week and that the dedication of the coliseum was scheduled for early spring. E.T. Millsap was Monroe County’s Probate Judge at the time.
Oct. 11, 1957 – A football game between Excel High School and Monroe County High School ended in a 6-6 tie in Excel. Halfback Donald Evans scored Excel’s touchdown on a two-yard run, and halfback Scobie Branson scored Monroe’s only touchdown, also on a two-yard run. Other outstanding Excel players in that game included Harvel Lee and Harry Sawyer. Other top Monroe players in that game included Wayne Tait and Joe Wemberly.
Oct. 11, 1961 – Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young was born in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Oct. 11, 1962 – Pope John XXIII convened the first session of the Second Vatican Council, also known as Vatican II, with the goal of bringing the church up to date with the modern world. More than 3,000 delegates attended, including many of the Catholic bishops from around the world, theologians, and other church officials. As a result of Vatican II, Catholics were allowed to pray with Protestants and attend weddings and funerals in Protestant churches; priests were encouraged to perform mass facing the congregation, rather than facing the altar; and priests were allowed to perform mass in languages other than Latin, so that parishioners could finally understand what was being said throughout the service.
Oct. 11, 1971 – Evergreen, Ala. Future Farmers of America Chapter members and recent Evergreen High School graduates John Crum Sessions and Herbert Brown left Evergreen to attend the National FFA Convention in Kansas City, Mo. On Oct. 14, Sessions was to receive the National FFA Award in Processing. Brown, who was a past State FFA Vice President, served on the Courtesy Corps at the convention.
Oct. 11, 1973 – The famous “Pascagoula Abduction” occurred as co-workers Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker claimed that they were abducted by aliens while fishing near Pascagoula, Miss. The case received widespread media attention and is among the best-known cases of alien abduction.
Oct. 11, 1975 – The NBC sketch comedy/variety show Saturday Night Live debuted with George Carlin as the host and Andy Kaufman, Janis Ian and Billy Preston as guests. Ian performed "At Seventeen" and "In the Winter." Preston played "Nothing from Nothing" and "Fancy Lady."
Oct. 11, 1976 – George Washington's appointment, posthumously, to the grade of General of the Armies by congressional joint resolution Public Law 94-479 was approved by President Gerald R. Ford.
Oct. 11, 1976 – American actress and producer Emily Deschanel was born in Los Angeles, Calif. She is best known for starring in the Fox crime procedural comedy-drama series “Bones” as Dr. Temperance Brennan since 2005.
Oct. 11, 1978 – The Prestwood Grist Mill near Roeton in Coffee County, Ala. was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.
Oct. 11, 1982 – The Mary Rose, a Tudor carrack which sank on July 19, 1545, was salvaged from the sea bed of the Solent, off Portsmouth.
Oct. 11, 1987 - An extensive search for the Loch Ness Monster reached its conclusion. Dubbed Operation Deepscan, the week-long project utilized sonar equipment valued at over one million pounds as well as a fleet of 24 boats. Aside from a few anomalous sonar blips, the expedition ended with no tangible results to suggest the existence of the creature. It would not be the last massive undertaking to scour the Loch for the infamous beast, as the BBC used a myriad of modern technological devices to look for Nessie in 2003. Much like its predecessor 16 years earlier, this project also failed to yield an answer to the cryptozoological enigma.
Oct. 11, 1987 – Retired three-term Circuit Solicitor Ralph Lee Jones, a longtime resident of Monroeville, died at the age of 88 at the Ocala Geriatric Center in Ocala, Fla, where he’d lived since 1984. He served several counties while holding the position of solicitor, now known as district attorney, and he had also practiced law in Monroeville and was elected to the state legislature. Born July 26, 1899 in Frisco City (then called Jones Mill), he later attended high school in Monroeville and went on to the University of Alabama, receiving his bachelor’s degree first and then, at 19, his law degree. He earned letters in football and track and was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society and Pi Kappa Phi social fraternity. He was the first football player at Alabama to earn all-conference honors as well as academic honors, and he was also vice president of the student body. During his college years, he served in the regular Army for a brief period before the end of World War I. Too young to practice law at his graduation, he coached football at Monroe County High School until he reached the required age of 21. Jones was elected Circuit Solicitor for three terms and served in the Alabama State Senate from 1954 to 1958 and in the House of Representatives from 1958 to 1961 and again from 1962 to 1966. In 1929, Jones, along with Alice Lee and the late E.M. Salter, bought The Monroe Journal from Q. Salter. Jones sold his interest five or six years later to Miss Lee. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Monroeville. He was buried on Oct. 14, 1987 in Hillcrest Cemetery following a 10 a.m. memorial service at the Monroe County Courthouse.
Oct. 11, 1990 - Nirvana had it's first show with David Grohl on drums.
Oct. 11, 1994 - Iraqi troops began moving away from the Kuwaiti border.
Oct. 11, 1996 – “The Grass Harp,” a comedic drama film based on Truman Capote’s novella, was released. Directed by Charles Matthau, it starred Sissy Spacek, Walter Matthau and Nell Carter.
Oct. 11, 1998 - Steve Young of the San Francisco 49ers became the 20th player in NFL history to throw for 30,000 yards.
Oct. 11, 2003 - A bench-clearing brawl between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees interrupted the third game of the American League playoffs in Boston. During the fight, 73-year-old Yankee bench coach Don Zimmer charged out of the dugout and tried to tackle Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez, but Martinez dodged the older man’s blows and threw him to the ground. The Yankees won the game and the pennant, but they lost the World Series to the Marlins in six games
Oct. 11, 2004 - The Houston Astros won a postseason series for the first time in their 43-year history. They defeated the Atlanta Braves, 12-3, in Game 5. The Astros had lost seven playoff series previously, three of them to Atlanta.
Oct. 11, 2006 - In New York, Cory Lidle of the New York Yankees and his flight instructor were killed when Lidle's plane crashed into a high-rise apartment building.