1782: All nations have within their history events that give a
person pause to wonder about the human race.
This is one of
March 11, 2003:
In Kuwait near the border
with Iraq, there is a tremendous build-up of troops – primarily
American and British – in preparation for an impending attack on
Saddam Hussein’s despotic regime.
Unlike the first Gulf War, media reporters will be imbedded with
and traveling alongside the attacking troops.
On this date, in order to bring foreign correspondents up to
speed on the weapons, equipment, and organization of the US Marines
Corps, a “show and tell” presentation has been organized.
Many of these reporters represent organizations and/or nations
that do not support military action against
1927: The lore of the American West is filled with the names and
deeds of famous people. Yet,
besides the Jim Bridgers, Buffalo Bills, Wyatt Earps, George Custers,
and Billy the Kids, there are many whose deeds and names are all but
lost to history. One of
these is Henry Avis, who died on this date at age eighty-six.
Born in 1840, Avis spent his teenage years catching and breaking
wild horses. At eighteen he
was employed as a teamster in and around Fort Laramie by fur
trader/explorer, Major Andrew Drips.
He then moved on to J.M. Hockaday and Co. as a mail wagon and
stagecoach driver. At
twenty-one he signed on with the Pony Express.
Because he knew the country, Avis was assigned a route through
Sioux country west of
March 26, 1832:
On this date explorer,
adventurer, and budding self-taught artist, George
Catlin, boards the steamboat Yellow Stone for the first
steamboat trip up the Missouri River to Fort Union in today’s North
Dakota. It is primarily to
Catlin, and the soon to follow Swiss artist Karl Bodmer, that we owe our
understanding of the appearance of early plains Indians.
Catlin went West with an idealized notion of Indians.
His experiences, however, provided a serious look at real Indian
people and he recorded, both visually and verbally, every detail he
could. He knew he was
recording a vanishing race. At
April 8, 1899: On this date there appeared in The Paper, a newspaper published in Kerrville, Texas, an article describing the following incident. During the summer of 1872, the paddlewheel steamer Peninah, of the Kountz Line steamship company, left Yankton, Dakota Territory, laden with freight for Fort Benton, Montana. Just up river from the Standing Rock Agency, which today lies partially in both North and South Dakota, the Peninah was forced to lay up for some minor repairs. Tying up to the shore at the base of a bluff, her passengers lounged about the deck enjoying the sunshine when they began to hear a sound resembling distant thunder. As the noise seemed to grow closer, the passengers began to take shelter thinking it might be the pounding hoofs of an impending Indian attack. As the noise “resolved itself into a wild roar,” hundreds of buffalo began pouring over the cliff. Because the Peninah was tied up so close to shore, many of the buffalo plunged clear over the steamboat into the Missouri River. Some, however, fell on the deck of the Peninah, while others crashed to earth on the narrow shore between the steamer and the bluff. Many of the falling buffalo were “maimed and bleeding from broken legs or internal injuries.” They continued to pour over the bluff for nearly an hour, filling the river with both injured and swimming animals. “The sandbars were covered with the big shaggy animals, who began to climb up the opposite bank, where they stood exhausted.” From the carcasses on the deck, men set about cutting fresh meat and skinning off the hides for eventual sale, and the next day when the Peninah pulled back onto the river, the surrounding hills were covered with buffalo.
April 15, 1912: This is the one-hundredth anniversary of one of the most storied disasters in modern times. Man learned the hard lesson that his best wisdom is not infallible and that size and opulence provides no guarantee of safety. Just before midnight on the night of April 14, about four hundred miles east of Newfoundland, the speeding luxury liner, HMS Titanic, fails to divert her course from an iceberg and ruptures five of her sixteen allegedly watertight compartments along the starboard side. Touted as the pinnacle of maritime technology and unsinkable, Titanic slides beneath the surface of the North Atlantic in less than three hours; at about 2:20 A.M. on the morning of April 15. Was it just by chance that such a great vessel should damage herself so in striking an iceberg? Answering that question, an early evaluation of the accident said, “at a speed of 21 knots, she represents an energy of over 1,000,000 foot-tons…” and when hitting an iceberg, her “delicate outside skin will be torn like a sheet of paper.” Pinnacle of maritime technology or not, her required number of lifeboats are set by ship tonnage rather than number of passengers. Because of this shortage of lifeboats and the lack of satisfactory emergency procedures on a maiden voyage, over fifteen hundred people go down with the ship or freeze to death in the cruel sea. Of the seven hundred or so survivors, most are women and children. The remains of many victims are never recovered, but the sad identification photographs taken of those bodies that were recovered still haunt us today. Outrage over the circumstances of the disaster stretched to both sides of the Atlantic to eventually bring positive improvements in ship safety regulations and regular patrols plotting the location and movement of icebergs.
April 17, 1790: On this date, at age 84, one
of America’s Founding Fathers and one of the truly great men of his
time (or of any time), Benjamin Franklin, passes into history.
At age 22,
After such a long and fruitful life,
BENJAMIN FRANKILN And DEBORAH
Today thousands of
April 26, 1798: Today is the birthday
(maybe) of James Beckworth,
one of the most intriguing of America’s mountain men.
Not only was Beckworth one of the few African Americans to roam
the mountains, he was also one of the few mountain men to write about
his exploits. The problem
is, much of what he wrote was exaggerated, which throws all of it (even
his birth date) into relative question.
Yet, there are many facts about his colorful life that are
provable by either supporting records or the confirmation of fellow
mountain men. Starting life
likely as a slave, Beckworth was a freeman when he joined William
Ashley’s third fur trapping expedition into the
Paul “Cougar Heart” Jacobson