Oct. 17, 1604 – German astronomer Johannes Kepler observed a supernova in the constellation Ophiuchus.
Oct. 17, 1771 – Premiere in Milan of the opera Ascanio in Alba, composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, age 15.
Oct. 17, 1777 - British general and playwright John Burgoyne surrendered 5,000 British and Hessian troops to American General Horatio Gates at Saratoga, New York. Burgoyne successfully negotiated that his surviving men would be returned to Britain by pledging that they would never again serve in North America. The nearly 6,000-man army was kept in captivity at great expense to the Continental Congress until the end of the war.
Oct. 17, 1781 – During the American Revolutionary War, British General Lord Charles Cornwallis surrendered at the Siege of Yorktown. George Washington accepted the British surrender, and this event effectively ended America's War for Independence.
Oct. 17, 1814 – Eight people died in the London Beer Flood.
Oct. 17, 1824 – During his tour of the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette visited Mount Vernon and George Washington's tomb in Virginia.
Oct. 17, 1841 – Greenberry “Green” Henry Shell was born in Georgia. He later moved to Escambia County, Ala. and the community of Appleton was named for his apple orchard. The name, a combination of “apple” and “-ton,” which means “town,” was suggested by Shell’s son, Andrew. The Appleton post office was established in 1901. Greenberry Shell was also a Civil War veteran, having served in Co. D, 16th Regt., Ala. Inf., CSA.
Oct. 17, 1859 - A company of marines arrived and surrounded abolitionist John Brown after his raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia. On the morning of Oct. 19, the soldiers overran Brown and his survivors. Ten of Brown's men were killed, including two of his sons.
Oct. 17, 1861 – During the Civil War, two days of skirmishing began at Federicktown, Missouri.
Oct. 17, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Mountain Home and Sugar Creek, Arkansas; at Camp Wild Cat, Valley Woods, and Rocky Hill, Kentucky; at Lexington, Missouri; and at Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Civilian resistance to the Union draft also broke out in Carbon, Luzerne, and Schuylkill Counties in Pennsylvania.
Oct. 17, 1863 – During Civil War, an engagement was fought at Fort Brooke, Florida. Skirmishes were also fought at Bogue Chitto Creek, Robinson’s Mills (near Livingston) and near Sartarsia, Mississippi; in Cedar County, Missouri; near Camden Court House, North Carolina; and at Accotink. near Chantilly, Groveton, Berryville, Frying Pan Church, and Manassas Junction, Virginia.
Oct. 17, 1864 - Confederate General James Longstreet assumed command of his corps in Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia in May of that year, Longstreet missed the campaign for Richmond, Virginia, and spent five months recovering before retuning to his command.
Oct. 17, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Eddyville, Kentucky; and Carrollton, Smithville, and near Lexington, Missouri. An affair also occurred at Cedar Run Church, Virginia.
Oct. 17, 1888 – Thomas Edison filed a patent for the Optical Phonograph (the first movie).
Oct. 17, 1888 - The first issue of "National Geographic Magazine" was released at newsstands.
Oct. 17, 1892 – German SS general Theodor Eicke was born in Hudingen, Alsace-Lorraine, German Empire now Hampont, Moselle, France.
Oct. 17, 1898 – Shinichi Suzuki, who developed the Suzuki Violin Method, was born in Nagoya, Japan.
Oct. 17, 1915 – Dramatist and playwright Arthur Miller was born in New York City.
October 17, 1916 - Cumberland University (the forerunner of present-day Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham) was defeated by Georgia Tech, 222-0. The Georgia team was coached by a former elocution and oratory instructor, and football coach, at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama (now Auburn University). His name was John Heisman.
Oct. 17, 1917 - Serving aboard the USS Cassin, Alabamian Kelly Ingram became the first American serviceman killed in action during World War I.
Oct. 17, 1917 – The Evergreen Courant reported that there was “a vast quantity of timber throughout this section which was blown down by the recent hurricane, and unless persons who own it take prompt measures to utilize and get something out of it, much of it will go to decay.”
Oct. 17, 1918 – During World War I, Army Pvt. Howard Singleton of Camden, Ala.; Army Pvt. Will Frye of Lower Peachtree, Ala.; and Army Pvt. Marion L. Haigler of Greenville, Ala. “died from disease.”
Oct. 17, 1919 – RCA was incorporated as the Radio Corporation of America.
Oct. 17, 1924 – Evergreen was scheduled to play Florala in football at Gantt Field in Evergreen, starting at 3:30 p.m. Florala’s coach was Grady Vaughn, who was a former Evergreen coach.
Oct. 17, 1924 – Croatian SS officer Anton Geiser was born in Đak-Selci, Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
Oct. 17, 1927 – Major League Baseball pitcher Johnny Klippstein was born in Washington, D.C. He would go on to pitch for the Cubs, the Red, the Dodgers, the Indians, the Senators, the Phillies, the Twins and the Tigers.
Oct. 17, 1930 – A pep rally the night before the Alabama-Tennessee football game in Tuscaloosa turned into a near riot when parading students “bombarded” a movie theater with eggs and vegetables after being refused admittance. The fire department and police had to be called in to disperse the students, but no arrests were made. The theater suffered minor damage. The next day, Alabama beat Tennessee, 18-6.
Oct. 17, 1930 – Repton High School beat Conecuh County High School of Castleberry, 25-0, in Repton.
Oct. 17, 1932 – One of Evergreen’s oldest and most highly respected citizens Edward Johnston McCreary, 68, passed away around 11 p.m. at his home in Evergreen following “a stroke of paralysis” around 4 p.m. McCreary was born in the Johnstonville community on Feb. 5, 1864.
Oct. 17, 1933 – Albert Einstein fled Nazi Germany and moved to the United States.
Oct. 17, 1940 – The body of Communist propagandist Willi Münzenberg was found in South France, starting a never-resolved mystery.
Oct. 17, 1943 - The Detroit Lions set a rushing record when they achieved a negative 53 yards against the Chicago Cardinals.
Oct. 17, 1948 – The Evergreen Methodist Church dedicated its new, custom-built Moeller pipe organ during its Sunday morning worship service. Members of the organ committee included Mrs. E.B. Stowers, Mrs. O.C. McGehee and Mrs. Verna W. Millsap.
Oct. 17, 1957 – The Monroe Journal reported that Capt. W.H. (Billy) Lee, a native Monroe Countian, had been named one of the physicians to attend Queen Elizabeth of England during her tour of the nation’s capital. Son of Mr. and Mrs. John T. Lee Sr. of Frisco City, Capt. Lee was stationed at Ft. Myers, Va., where he was in charge of a clinic.
Oct. 17, 1957 – The Monroe Journal reported that the Monroeville Kiwanis Club had elected eight members to its board of directors for 1958. Those board members included C.H. Harper, J.P. Farish III, Chuck Pelham, Lee Duvall, John Finklea, R.A. Wible and L.L. Dees. Their election followed by a week the naming of new officers for the club: Robison Harper, president; A.B. Blass Jr., first vice-president; and George Gibson, treasurer.
Oct. 17, 1961 – Scores of Algerian protesters (some claim up to 400) are massacred by the Paris police at the instigation of former Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon, then chief of the Prefecture of Police.
Oct. 17, 1962 - The New York Yankees won their 20th World Series when they beat the San Francisco Giants.
Oct. 17, 1963 – “All the Way Home,” a movie version of Alabama author James Agee's book “A Death in the Family,” was released.
Oct. 17, 1966 - President Johnson left Washington for a 17-day trip to seven Asian and Pacific nations and a conference scheduled in Manila.
Oct. 17, 1975 – On homecoming night, Sparta Academy improved to 6-1-1 by beating Chickasaw Academy, 56-20, at Stuart-McGehee Field in Evergreen. Kelsey Nix was crowned Miss Homecoming.
Oct. 17, 1975 – T.R. Miller beat Evergreen, 22-8, at Brooks Stadium in Evergreen. Also that night, Frisco City beat Conecuh County High School, 36-0, in Castleberry. McKenzie beat Repton, 14-6, in Repton. Bill Watkins scored Repton’s only touchdown.
Oct. 17, 1976 - Part 2 of “The Biscuit Eater,” a movie version of the story by Alabama author James H. Street, was broadcast as part of the “Wonderful World of Disney” television series.
Oct. 17, 1978 - U.S. President Jimmy Carter signed a bill that restored full U.S. citizenship rights to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
Oct. 17, 1980 – The Primm-Rouse-Dunnam House in Camden, Ala. was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.
Oct. 17, 1989 - An earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter Scale hit the San Francisco Bay area in California at 5:04 p.m. The quake caused about 67 deaths, 3,000 injuries, and damages up to $7 billion. The tremor hit just before the live TV broadcast of the World Series game at Candlestick Park, and the sportscasters took on the role of news anchors.
Oct. 17, 2000 – Pro Football Hall of Fame tackle Leo Nomellini died at the age of 76 in Stanford, Calif. During his career, he played for the University of Minnesota and the San Franciisco 49ers. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1969.
Oct. 17, 2012 – The Mt. Moriah Fellowship Baptist Church Cemetery in Butler County, Ala. was added to the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register.
Oct. 17, 2014 – The World War II tanker movie, “Fury,” was released in U.S. theaters. Starring Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña and Jon Bernthal, the film portrays US tank crews in Nazi Germany during the final days of World War II.