Thursday, December 8, 2016

Today in History for Dec. 8, 2016

Major General Frank Blair Jr.
Dec. 8, 65 BCE – Lyric poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus, better known to English speakers as Horace, was born in Apulia, Italy.

Dec. 8, 1765 - Eli Whitney was born in Westborough, Mass. Whitney invented the cotton gin and developed the concept of mass-production of interchangeable parts.

Dec. 8, 1775 - Beginning on this day, Colonel Benedict Arnold and General Richard Montgomery led an American force in the siege of Quebec. The Americans hoped to capture the British-occupied city and with it win support for the American cause in Canada.

Dec. 8, 1776 - George Washington's retreating army in the American Revolution crossed the Delaware River from New Jersey to Pennsylvania.

Dec. 8, 1777 - General William Howe decided to return to the city of Philidelphia after two days of skirmishes north of the city. He made no further attacks on George Washington that winter.

Dec. 8, 1818 – Patrick W. Hayes became the second postmaster at Burnt Corn Spring, Ala., replacing the first postmaster, William James, who took the job on Oct. 27, 1817.

Dec. 8, 1821 – Sparta Academy in Conecuh County, Ala. was incorporated by state legislature, making it the second chartered private academy in the state.

Dec. 8-9, 1824 – During his tour of the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette made official visits to the Senate and addressed the U.S. Congress at the House of Representatives.

Dec. 8, 1850 – The organizational charter was issued to Dean Masonic Lodge No. 112 at Brooklyn, Ala.

Dec. 8, 1850 - The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, in Mobile, Ala., was dedicated. The cornerstone for the cathedral was laid and blessed in November 1835. The foundations were in place by 1837, but the economic crisis known as the Panic of 1837 and a yellow fever epidemic in 1839 delayed progress. By the mid-1840s, the economy had improved and construction resumed, supported in part by generous contributions from the people of Mobile.

Dec. 8, 1861 – During the Civil War, the CSS Sumter captured the whaling vessel, the Eden Dodge, in the Atlantic Ocean.

Dec. 8, 1861 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Fishing Creek, near Somerset, Ky.

Dec. 8, 1861 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought in the vicinity of Dam No. 5 on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, on the Potomac River, Va.

Dec. 8, 1861 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought close to Romney, West Va.

Dec. 8, 1861 - The American Bible Society, supported entirely by private donations from individuals and churches, released a remarkable report on this day. Less than a year from the time the War began, they were already to the point where they were printing, shipping and distributing more than 7,000 copies per day of the New Testament to soldiers in the field. A soldier was likely to carry two items of about the same size: his Testament and a pack of playing cards. One, however, was often found dropped on the field when fighting started. There was a common belief that going to meet one’s Maker with gambling paraphernalia on one’s person did not enhance the chances of the gates of Heaven opening. The counter-part of the American Bible Society, the Confederate States Bible Society, printed and shipped New Testaments from Augusta, Ga.

Dec. 8, 1862 – During the Civil War, a four-day Federal reconnaissance from Suffolk to the Blackwater River, Va. began, and a skirmish was fought at Zuni, Va.

Dec. 8, 1863 – Noah Dallas Peacock (Lewis Lavon Peacock’s older brother) was captured by the Union at Campbell’s Station, where he’d apparently been sent to recuperate after getting shot in the left leg during an engagement at Knoxville on Nov. 24. Noah was captured when the post was overrun by a detachment of Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas’ Union forces.

Dec. 8, 1863 - U.S. President Abraham Lincoln offered his conciliatory plan for reunification of the United States with his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction. By this point in the Civil War, it was clear that Lincoln needed to make some preliminary plans for postwar reconstruction.

Dec. 8, 1863 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought near Scottsville, Ky.

Dec. 8, 1864 – The organizational charter was issued to Norris Masonic Lodge No. 301 in Brewton, Ala.

Dec. 8, 1864 - Being unable to muster anything near the manpower to directly give battle to Gen. William T. Sherman’s army as they marched from Atlanta to the Sea, desperation forced a resort to weapons both sides really considered illegal: buried “land torpedoes” which exploded when stepped on. What would today be called land mines were considered lawful to use around forts, but not in open roadways. After Sherman came across a young soldier who had had his foot blown off by such a mine, he confirmed an order by Maj. Gen. Frank Blair Jr. that Confederate prisoners should march in the lead to dig up these bombs. These men protested that they had not buried the bombs and had no idea where they might be. Sherman, blunt as ever, told them that if someone had to be blown up, he would rather it be them than his own men.

Dec. 8, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Tuscumbia, Mo.; at Hatcher’s Run, south of Petersburg, Va.; and near Bryan Courthouse and Ebenezer Creek, Ga.

Dec. 8, 1881 – Major Jeremiah Austill, a hero of the Canoe Fight of 1813, died in Clarke County, Ala. at the age of 86. (Some sources say he died in 1879.)

Dec. 8, 1886 – Mexican artist Diego Rivera was born in Guanajuato.

Dec. 8, 1894 – Cartoonist and writer James Thurber was born in Columbus, Ohio.

Dec. 8, 1897 – The organizational charter was issued to Carney Masonic Lodge No. 549 in Atmore, Ala.

Dec. 8, 1897 – English physician Doris Bell Collier was born in Manchester, England. Collier, who, in addition to carving out a successful private practice, also managed to write more than 40 mystery novels, short stories, and radio plays under the pseudonym of Josephine Bell. She was a founder of the Crime Writers’ Association, the British equivalent of the Mystery Writers of America organization.

Dec. 8, 1906 – Welsh novelist Richard Llewellyn was born in a suburb of London, England. He wrote 24 novels, but he is most famous for his first book, “How Green Was My Valley” (1939).

Dec. 8, 1908 - W.R. Blackwell visit The Monroe Journal on this Tuesday. Blackwell had just returned from attending the meeting of the Masonic Grand Lodge in Montgomery.

Dec. 8, 1909 – The organizational charter was issued to McKenzie Lodge No. 701 in McKenzie, Ala. (Butler County) and K.A. Mayer Lodge No. 703 in Pine Hill, Ala. (Wilcox County).

Dec. 8, 1915 – The Evergreen Courant reported that J.T. Vann and his family had moved to Evergreen during the previous week from Monroeville and were occupying the E.C. Page home on Park Street.

Dec. 8, 1915 – The Evergreen Courant reported that two more men had announced their candidacies for office in the upcoming election. They were W.C. Relfe and W.S. Oliver, and each was seeking the office of Conecuh County Tax Assessor.

Dec. 8, 1918 - A movie version of Alabama author Mary McNeil Fenollosa's book “The Strange Woman” was released.

Dec. 8, 1920 – Walter Solomon of Excel, Ala. allegedly killed Sherman English of Repton, Ala. Both men were taxis operators, and the killing appeared to have resulted during an argument over transporting a passenger.

Dec. 8, 1920 – The Rev. David J. Wright passed away at the age of 88. He was born in the Sepulga community in Conecuh County, Ala. on March 22, 1832. During the Civil War, he enlisted as a first lieutenant in the Third Georgia Regiment and was “shot down four times on battlefields and from these wounds was maimed for life.” At the time of his death, he had been a Masonic lodge member for 50 years.

Dec. 8, 1921 – The first issue of The Thomasville Times in Thomasville, Ala. was published.

Dec. 8, 1938 - Alabama author Zora Neale Hurston appeared on the radio program “The American School of the Air” to read folk stories from her book “Mules and Men.”

Dec. 8, 1939 – The Montgomery Advertiser released its sixth annual all-state high school football team. Sam Yarbrough of Monroeville, Ala. was named to the third team, and Calvin “Hop” Stevens of Monroeville was named as an honorable mention.

Dec. 8, 1940 - The Chicago Bears trounced the Washington Redskins in the National Football League (NFL) Championship by a score of 73-0, the largest margin of defeat in NFL history.

Dec. 8, 1941 - The United States entered World War II when it declared war against Japan. The act came one day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Britain and Canada also declared war on Japan.

Dec. 8, 1941 – Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle Bob Brown was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He went on to play for Nebraska, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Los Angeles Rams and the Oakland Raiders. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.

Dec. 8, 1943 - Jim Morrison of The Doors was born in Melbourne, Fla.

Dec. 8, 1943 – Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and National Book Award winner James Tate was born in Kansas City, Mo.

Dec. 8, 1949 – Novelist Mary Gordon was born in Far Rockaway, N.Y.

Dec. 8, 1951 – The Evergreen Junior Chamber of Commerce’s second annual Conecuh County Christmas Carnival held in Evergreen, Ala. on this Saturday “was a smashing success with an estimated 10,000 people coming to town for the festivities.” The day’s events climaxed with the big Carnival Parade, which featured the arrival of Santa Claus. Miss June Weaver of Castleberry was crowned Queen Joy by the previous year’s Queen, Miss Alice Fay (Petie) Sullivan also of Castleberry. Miss Patricia Hardin of Castleberry and Miss Glenda Potts of Evergreen were crowned Princess Gaity. “Creating considerable excitement” during the event “was the releasing of 20 guineas. Each of these guineas, except for one named “Foul Ball,” had certificates for a number of valuable prizes attached to it. The prizes went to the lucky ones catching the guineas.”

Dec. 8, 1951 – Nonfiction writer Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa.

Dec. 8, 1953 - Nelle Harper Lee left Monroeville on this Tuesday for her home in New York City after spending 10 days with her father, A.C. Lee, and Miss Alice Lee.

Dec. 8, 1953 – J.U. Blacksher’s basketball team won their second game of the season on this Tuesday night when they beat Excel, 52-42, in Excel. Frank Hadley, guard, led Blacksher wit 17 points. Sonny Baas and Jack Matchett, forwards, led Excel with 14 points each.

Dec. 8, 1954 - A dramatic version of Alabama author William March's book “The Bad Seed” opened on Broadway.

Dec. 8, 1958 – National Baseball Hall of Fame centerfielder and manager Tris Speaker died at the age of 70 in Lake Whitney, Texas. During his career, he played for the Boston Americans/Red Sox, the Cleveland Indians, the Washington Senators and the Philadelphia Athletics, and he also managed the Indians for seven seasons. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1937.

Dec. 8, 1959 – Orville Mack brought a mystifying item by The Evergreen Courant office described as a “chunk of black stuff” that was unearthed by a construction crew working on the new interstate highway between Chapman Road and Owassa, about three miles from Evergreen, Ala. A grader making a cut turned up the chunk 45 to 50 below the surface of the earth. It was black, shiny and “very brittle.” When heat was applied to it, it gave off “an odor smelling strongly of oil.” Examiners said it wasn’t coal, but others said that it might have been oil which seeped into a pocket and solidified. The chunk was put on display at The Courant for public viewing.

Dec. 8, 1962 - Workers of the International Typographical Union began striking and closed nine New York City newspapers. The strike lasted 114 days and ended April 1, 1963.

Dec. 8, 1965 - In some of the heaviest raids of the Vietnam War, 150 U.S. Air Force and Navy planes launched Operation Tiger Hound to interdict the Ho Chi Minh Trail in the lower portion of the Laotian panhandle, from Route 9 west of the Demilitarized Zone, south to the Cambodian border.

Dec. 8, 1966 – The Evergreen Courant reported that the Evergreen District of the Alabama Troopers had posted the best traffic safety record in the entire state during November and were presented with a trophy to mark the occasion. Troopers accepting the trophy included Troy Smith, Cpl. Charles Cargile, Sgt. Tom Melton, Tom Hall and Horace Parker. The post reported 85 accidents for the month with 40 persons suffering injuries in 28 of them. There were two fatalities, both in Conecuh County. Capt. A.G. Mitchell commanded the division.

Dec. 8, 1966 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Homer Faulkner, star Evergreen High School quarterback, had announced that he would sign a grant-in-aid with the University of Mississippi. Representatives of the University were to be in Evergreen on Dec. 11 to sign him. Faulkner, six feet five inches and 190 pounds, was “sought by a number of schools as his exploits on the field drew rave notices from college scouts.” Faulkner was the first Aggie to win a football scholarship since Wayne Frazier signed with Auburn. Faulkner was an outstanding punter, place-kicker and kickoff man in addition to handling the quarterback chores at Evergreen.

Dec. 8, 1966 - The International Red Cross announced in Geneva that North Vietnam had rejected a proposal by President Johnson for a resolution of the prisoner of war situation.

Dec. 8, 1969 - At a news conference, President Richard Nixon said that the Vietnam War was coming to a “conclusion as a result of the plan that we have instituted.” Nixon had announced at a conference in Midway in June that the United States would be following a new program he termed “Vietnamization.”

Dec. 8, 1971 – Russian geographer and explorer Ernst Krenkel died at the age of 67.

Dec. 8, 1976 – Major League Baseball outfielder Reed Johnson was born in Riverside, Calif. During his career, he played for the Toronto Blue Jayes, the Chicago Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Atlanta Braves, the Miami Marlins and the Washington Nationals.

Dec. 8, 1976 – Actor Dominic Monaghan was born in Berlin, West Germany to British parents. He has received international attention from playing Meriadoc Brandybuck in Peter Jackson's epic film trilogy “The Lord of the Rings” (2001–2003), and for his role as Charlie Pace on the television show “Lost” (2004–2010).

Dec. 8, 1978 - Gov. George C. Wallace announced the appointment of Alice Presley of Evergreen to serve as chairman of the Conecuh County Board of Registrars. The appointment represented, perhaps, one of the Governor’s last major appointments in Conecuh County prior to his leaving office in January 1979. Presley’s late husband, James Presley, was the founder of Presley Funeral Home, located on Knoxville Road in Evergreen, Ala.

Dec. 8, 1980 - In New York City, Mark David Chapman shot John Lennon to death in front of The Dakota. Earlier in the day, Lennon had autographed an album for Chapman.

Dec. 8, 1981 – NFL quarterback Philip Rivers was born in Decatur, Ala. He went on to play for Athens High School, North Carolina State and the San Diego Chargers.

Dec. 8, 1981 - Emmie Mildred Pitts Cardwell, a “beloved lady” of Evergreen, Ala. died on this Tuesday in North Florida Regional Hospital in Gainesville, Fla. Cardwell was a member of a prominent, pioneer family and lived all of her life in Conecuh County. She attended Troy State Normal and taught in the public schools of Conecuh County for a number of years.

Dec. 8, 1982 - Norman D. Mayer held the Washington Monument hostage, demanding an end to nuclear war. He threatened to blow it up with explosives he claimed were in his van. After a 10-hour stand-off, he was shot to death by police; no explosives were found in the van.

Dec. 8, 1985 – Major League Baseball third baseman Josh Donaldson was born in Pensacola, Fla. Donaldson graduated from Faith Academy in Mobile and went on to play baseball at Auburn University. As a Major Leaguer, he has played for the Oakland Athletics and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Dec. 8, 1993 - U.S. President Bill Clinton signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Dec. 8, 1995 - Courtney Love was interviewed by Barbara Walters for ABC's "10 Most Fascinating People of 1995." During the interview Love told Walters that she wished she had done "eight thousand million things" differently to prevent husband Kurt Cobain's death.

Dec. 8, 1999 - In Memphis, Tenn., a jury found that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had been the victim of a vast murder conspiracy, not a lone assassin.

Dec. 8, 2009 – Bombings in Baghdad, Iraq killed 127 and injure 448. 

Dec. 8, 2015 -A UFO was reported around midnight on this Tuesday near the Mercedes manufacturing plant outside Tuscaloosa. The witnes and his wife were traveling west on Interstate Highway 20-59 when they saw a bright, white light just over the western horizon. This unusual light moved from south to north and eventually broke into a “smaller, ascending diamond, with the larger piece staying near level.” In all, this sighting lasted one to two seconds, the witness said.

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