Jan. 17, 1524 – Giovanni da Verrazzano set sail westward from Madeira to find a sea route to the Pacific Ocean.
Jan. 17, 1706 – Prominent Freemason Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston, Mass. and went on to become a printer, a scientist, an inventor, a writer, the founder of America's first lending library and one of the Founding Fathers of America itself.
Jan. 17, 1773 - Captain James Cook's ship, the Resolution, became the first ship to cross the Antarctic Circle, and Cook and his crew became the first Europeans to sail below the Antarctic Circle.
Jan. 17, 1781 – During the American Revolutionary War’s Battle of Cowpens, Continental troops under Brigadier General Daniel Morgan defeated British forces under Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton at the battle in South Carolina.
Jan. 17, 1814 – Lt. Joseph Morgan Wilcox was buried at Fort Claiborne, two days after getting killed in a fight with Creek war party. Wilcox County, Ala. was named in his honor.
Jan. 17, 1820 – Anne Bronte, the youngest of the literary Bronte sisters, was born in Thornton, Yorkshire.
Jan. 17 1862 – During the Civil War, a demonstration by the Federal Navy took place on the Tennessee River at Fort Henry, Tenn.
Jan. 17, 1863 – During the Civil War, the Federal Army of the Mississippi, under the command of political general Major General John McClernand was ordered by Major General Ulysses S. Grant to re-embark for Milliken’s Bend, La., above Vicksburg, Miss., after storming Arkansas Post, Ark. without proper authorization to do so. A five-day Federal operation between New Erne and Onslow, N.C., also began, with skirmishes taking place at White Oak Creek and near Jacksonville, N.C. Skirmishes were also fought near Newtown, Virginia and near Newtown, West Virginia.
Jan. 17, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Lewisburg and Brownsville, Ark.; at Chucky Road and Dandridge, Tenn.; and near Ely's Ford and near Ellis' Ford, Va.
Jan. 17, 1865 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Ivey's Ford, Ark.
Jan. 17, 1865 – During the Civil War, 10 days of heavy rain (the heaviest rainfall in 20 years) began in Savannah, Ga. Union General William T. Sherman's army waited 10 days before conducting a campaign against South Carolina. Sherman's army did not begin moving until the end of the month. When the army finally did move, it conducted a campaign against South Carolina that was worse than that against Georgia. Sherman wanted to exact revenge on the state that had led secession and started the war by firing on Fort Sumter.
Jan. 17, 1897 – The Jackson & Jernigan steam saw mill at Kempville in Monroe County, Ala. burned, causing a loss of several thousand dollars.
Jan. 17, 1906 – The home of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene E. Henderson at Drewry in Monroe County, Ala. burned down after a faulty stove flue ignited a fire while the family was eating breakfast. The house was one of the few antebellum homes remaining in the area. E.E. Henderson, a farmer and businessman who was around 40 years old, had died from typhoid fever in the home on Jan. 11.
Jan. 17, 1907 – The Monroe Journal reported that Monroe County Sheriff M.M. Fountain was in Montgomery during the first of that week.
Jan. 17, 1912 - English explorer Capt. Robert Falcon Scott reached the South Pole. Norwegian Roald Amundsen had beaten him there by one month. Scott and his party died during the return trip.
Jan. 17, 1914 – National Book Award-winning poet William Stafford was born in Hutchinson, Kansas.
Jan. 17, 1915 – Russia defeated Ottoman Turkey in the Battle of Sarikamish during the Caucasus Campaign of World War I.
Jan. 17, 1916 - The mid-winter term of the Monroe County (Ala.) Law and Equity Court convened on this Monday with Judge W.G. McCorvey presiding. “The court is grinding away on the civil docket this week, the number of cases, however, is not unusually large,” The Monroe Journal reported. “Few beside jurors, witnesses, court officials and parties litigant are in attendance.”
Jan. 17, 1916 - Winston Churchill, beginning his service as a battalion commander on the Western Front, attended a lecture on the Battle of Loos given by his friend, Colonel Tom Holland, in the Belgian town of Hazebrouck.
Jan. 17, 1917 – Confederate veteran Joseph R. Bass of Evergreen, Ala. passed away in Caddo Mills, Texas at the age of 79 and was buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery at Caddo Mills.
Jan. 17, 1922 - Capt. J.L. Marshall of Perdue Hill visited Monroeville, Ala. on this Tuesday.
Jan. 17, 1941 – McKenzie High School’s varsity boys basketball team beat Evergreen, 27-18, in McKenzie, Ala. Later that night, in Evergreen, the “E” Club held a dance at Evergreen High School. The club was open to players who had logged 21 quarters in basketball.
Jan. 17, 1944 - A radio version of Alabama author Octavus Roy Cohen's book “I Love You Again” was broadcast as part of “The Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre” series.
Jan. 17, 1945 – The Nazis began the evacuation of the Auschwitz concentration camp as Soviet forces closed in.
Jan. 17, 1949 – In an incident attributed to the Bermuda Triangle, within 12 days before of the first anniversary of the disappearance of the Star Tiger, her sister ship, the Star Ariel, carrying a crew of seven and 13 passengers, disappeared between Bermuda and Kingston, Jamaica.
Jan. 17, 1950 - The second television version of Alabama author William March's story "The Little Wife" was broadcast.
Jan. 17, 1950 – Novelist Luis Lopez Nieves was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Jan. 17, 1951 – The Monroe Journal reported that Alabama’s last surviving Confederate veteran – 104-year-old P.R. (Riggs) Crump of Lincoln - had died. Crump celebrated his 104th birthday on Dec. 23, 1950. He joined the 10th Alabama Regiment in 1863 at the age of 16. He saw action in the Virginia campaign and saw General Lee’s surrender to Grant. He was buried near Lincoln.
Jan. 17, 1955 – James “Big Jim” Folsom began his second term as Alabama’s governor, replacing Gordon Persons. Folsom’s second term ended on Jan. 19, 1959, when he was succeeded by John Malcolm Patterson.
Jan. 17, 1959 – Early on this Saturday morning, Floyd Bennett Dees, 69, a “well known and much esteemed citizen” of Evergreen, Ala., was found dead a few hundred yards from his home on Rural Street. He’d been missing since mid-afternoon of the previous day and a search was made for him all through the night, but it wasn’t until around daylight that he was found by his grandson, Wayne Peacock. He was lying in a ditch not far from the highway and had apparently died several hours earlier from a heart attack.
Jan. 17, 1962 – Sebastian Junger, who wrote “The Perfect Storm” in 1997, was born in Belmont, Mass.
Jan. 17, 1970 - The Doors played the first of several shows at the Felt Forum in New York City. The shows were recorded for use on their "Absolutely Live" album.
Jan. 17, 1971 – During the Vietnam War, led by South Vietnamese Lt. Gen. Do Cao Tri, and with U.S. air support and advisers, some 300 paratroopers raided a communist prisoner of war camp near the town of Mimot in Cambodia on information that 20 U.S. prisoners were being held there.
Jan. 17, 1972 - Roger Staubach and Bob Griese appeared on the cover of TIME magazine.
Jan. 17, 1972 – During the Vietnam War, President Richard Nixon warned South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu in a private letter that his refusal to sign any negotiated peace agreement would render it impossible for the United States to continue assistance to South Vietnam.
Jan. 17, 1978 - Coach Joe Connally of the Auburn University football coaching staff was the featured speaker at the annual Lyeffion High School football banquet held at the school on this day. Taking part on the program honoring the Yellow Jacket players were assistant coaches Jim McKinnon and Ronnie Williams, Coach Connally and head coach Darwin Cook. Jacket players receiving awards were Jerry Johnson, defensive back; Harold Kyser, offensive back; Willie Hunter, offensive lineman; Kenny Nevlous, defensive lineman; and Joe Salter, sportsmanship.
Jan. 17, 1980 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Sparta Academy placed three players on the Alabama Private Schools Association’s All-District III football team. Those players included Ronnie McKenzie, Terry Peacock and Greg Crabtree.
Jan. 17, 1981 - Monroe County’s Junior Miss, DeLois Clausell, was one of 49 contestants who arrived in Montgomery on this Saturday to compete for the 1981 state Junior Miss title.
Jan. 17, 1982 – On what is now known as "Cold Sunday," in numerous cities in the United States, temperatures fell to their lowest levels in over 100 years.
Jan. 17, 1983 - Alabama Gov. George C Wallace began serving his fourth and final term as Alabama’s governor. His term would end on Jan. 19, 1987.
Jan. 17, 1983 – A number of Conecuh County, Ala. public officials were administered their oaths of office and officially began serving their terms in office. Probate Judge Frank T. Salter began his fourth term in office. District Judge Sue A. Bell and Circuit Clerk Jean E. Ralls were beginning their first full terms in office. County commissioners beginning their first term in office included Percy Salter, Jerold Dean, C.W. Salter and Freddie Stallworth, who was the county’s first black commissioner. Coroner Danny Garnett was also beginning his first term in office.
Jan. 17, 1991 – Operation Desert Storm began early on this morning. Iraq fired eight Scud missiles into Israel in an unsuccessful bid to provoke Israeli retaliation.
Jan. 17, 1994 – Weather reporter Harry Ellis reported 1.11 inches of rain in Evergreen, Ala.
Jan. 17, 1995 - The Los Angeles Rams announced that they would be moving to St. Louis.
Jan. 17, 1995 - Probate Judge Rogene Booker swore in retired state trooper Tom Hall as Conecuh County, Alabama’s new Sheriff on this Tuesday afternoon. Hall’s wife, Velois, held the Bible for the ceremony while his brother-in-law and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Milsted, looked on. Jeff T. Brock was sworn in as Conecuh County’s new District Judge. He was sworn in by his uncle, Evergreen City Judge Joe Nix. Jo Ann Harper was sworn in as Conecuh County’s new coroner. She was sworn in by Booker, and Libby Biggs held the Bible for the ceremony.
Jan. 17, 1995 - A ribbon-cutting was held on this Tuesday for ABC Computers, located at Colony Square Mall, in Evergreen, Ala. The new business was owned by Andy Gladwell.
Jan. 17, 1996 - Pink Floyd was officially inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.
Jan. 17, 1999 - The Atlanta Falcons beat the Minnesota Vikings to advance to the Super Bowl for the first time in team history.
Jan. 17, 2016 – A UFO was reportedly seen around 6:50 p.m. on this Sunday in Pelham, a suburb of Birmingham, Ala. The witness in this case had stepped outside to smoke when he looked up and saw an “erratic traveling flame.” At first, he thought this “bright flickering flame” was some kind of burning parachute, and as he watched, he thought it was going to land about 50 yards away in a neighbor’s yard. Suddenly, it stopped descending and changed direction, and as he continued to watch it began to gain altitude. The witness said he watched the object as it traveled away from him, and eventually it became so small that he could no longer see it.