1, 1898: Sometimes
tough guys can have a surprisingly human weakness.
Buckey O’Neil, who was killed on this date as one
of Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders (Troop A, 1st
United States Volunteer Cavalry) in the famous battle for
San Juan Hill, Cuba, is possibly a good example.
His stone in Arlington National Cemetery reads:
“Who would not die for a new star on the flag?”
Before becoming a Rough Rider, Buckey was
well-known in Arizona.
Elected for three terms as sheriff of Yavapai
County (Prescott, Arizona), he was known for his honesty,
integrity and courage.
Several times as sheriff he demonstrated that
courage with his six-shooters, and when the call went out
for volunteers to fill the ranks of Roosevelt’s new
cavalry unit, Buckey was there.
(He got his nickname for his habit of “bucking
the tiger” in gambling games – his real name was
William Owen O’Neil.)
But Buckey showed his other softer side in
February, 1886. Prescott
was the home to a small-time bandit named Dennis Dilda.
A series of small crimes became linked to him, but
rather than stealing money, he stole food: poultry - ducks
and chickens - and some cattle.
When a lawman named John Murphy began nosing
around, Dilda ambushed him and buried him on his farm in
an oat sack. But,
a suddenly missing lawman tends to arouse further
suspicion, and Dilda fled.
When authorities unceremoniously threw his wife in
jail, she spilled the beans, and a posse tracked him down
near today’s Kingman.
He was returned to Prescott and sentenced to hang
on a public gallows constructed on the corner of Willow
and West Gurley Street.
Buckey O’Neil was one of the guards at the
a public execution, Dilda rode to the execution’s
location in the back of a wagon sitting atop his own
this apparently worked on Buckey’s normally steady
stomach, and when Dilda dropped through the trap into
eternity, Buckey passed out.
14, 1938: For whatever
reason, the heavy cruiser USS
Houston was the favorite navy ship of President
Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Four times during the 1930’s FDR traveled on long
voyages aboard the Houston.
Eventually, as an aging heavy cruiser, the Houston was made the flagship of the U.S Asiatic Fleet, where during
the dark early days of World War II she was sunk in the
Battle of Sundra Strait by vessels of the Imperial
Japanese Fleet. Of
her compliment of 1061 officers and men, only 368 survived
to be then employed as prisoner-of-war slave laborers on
such Japanese military projects as the bridge over the
River Kwai. But,
on this date, the Houston was docked in San Francisco again waiting to transport the
President of the United States.
As usual, shipfitters and machinists had installed
conveniences for the wheelchair-bound Roosevelt.
One of these conveniences was a forty-foot ramp
called a “brow,” which reached across from the ship to
the dock. As
the presidential limousine pulled up to the brow, Houston sailor Red Reynolds noticed that FDR’s wheelchair was
already sitting on the quarterdeck, and he wondered how
the president was going to come aboard.
The following is his description of what he
my amazement, I watched him lean from the back seat, reach
out, grab the brow rails with both hands, and, hurtling
through the air, draw himself to an upright position.
Then hand over hand, he slowly progressed up the
brow, his feet dangling inches above the deck of the brow.
Stopping occasionally, smiling and nodding to the
a few words to the crowd and leading off with his old
familiar words, ‘My friends.’
As he reached the top of the brow, he reached out,
grasping the arms of his wheelchair, swinging his body
into the air. Raising
his right hand to a smart sailors’ salute to ‘Old
Glory,’ as she waved back from her station on the main
deck aft. As
he dropped the salute all honors were rendered and his
first words were, ‘It’s good to be back home again,
27, 1806: Meriwether
Lewis, George Drouillard, with Joseph and Reubin Field
leave Camp Disappointment to travel down the Marias River.
One of the chores assigned to Lewis by President
Jefferson was to determine if a tributary of the Missouri
would reach far enough north to expand the natural
boundary of the Louisiana Purchase.
While investigating that, Lewis also hoped to
discover a portage route between the Marias River and the
neither of these ideas materialized, Lewis named this
northern-most campsite Camp Disappointment.
As they traveled down the Marias, they came upon
eight Blackfeet warriors – members of a branch tribe
known as the Piegans.
Making camp with the Piegans, he sought information
on the local area and a nearby British trading post.
He also wanted to seed the idea of trading with
Americans and keeping peace with their neighboring tribes:
the Nez Perce and Shoshones, who also would be trading
with the Americans. He
had little idea that such notions – trade by neighboring
and thus competing tribes with representatives of the U.S.
– would be unsettling to the Piegans.
Such trade would directly affect the balance of
power between the tribes, which presently favored the
the morning Lewis awoke to a disturbance in camp – the
Piegans were stealing their firearms.
Lewis and Drouillard quickly recovered the guns,
but during the struggle Reubin Field stabbed and killed
one of the Indians. A
second struggle ensued when the Piegans attempted to steal
the horses. Shots
were exchanged and as a rifle ball closely missed Lewis,
he killed a second Piegan.
Immediately they broke camp and continued down the
the expedition of the Corps of Discovery, there were
several touchy moments between the explorers and native
peoples, but this incident involved the only real violence
and resulted in the only Indian causalities.
It also happened to be the first contact between
the Blackfeet people and the American government.
It was not to be forgotten.
(The only loss of a member of the Corps was that of
Sergeant Charles Floyd, who succumbed to natural causes on
August 20, 1804.)
6, 1945: In the early
morning - 2:45 A.M. – the silver fuselage of a B-29
Superfortress lifts off the runway at Tinian Island in the
Marianas Islands of the Western Pacific.
Painted on its lower left nose in black block
letters is the name, Enola
the controls is pilot Colonel Paul Tibbets, whose
mother’s name is Enola Gay.
In the bomber’s bomb bay is a new weapon: the
world’s first atomic bomb; code-named Little
other B-29’s join in the flight: one assigned as an
observation plane and the other as an advanced weather
plane: their names are The
Great Artiste and Necessary
Evil (named later).
The mission’s target is the city of Hiroshima,
which is located in the southwest of Japan’s largest
island and has an estimated population of between 300 and
400-thousand souls. At
approximately 6:45 A.M., Colonel Tibbets announces to his
crew that they are indeed carrying an atomic bomb and Little
Boy is then armed and prepared for release.
At 8:16 A.M. at an altitude of 26,000 feet, the
bomb is dropped. The
immediately executes a radical 159-degree turn and within
approximately one minute is engulfed in a flash of
blinding light. At
some 1900-feet above the ground, Little
Boy has exploded.
Putting on protective goggles, Colonel Tibbets and
the crew of the Enola
Gay observe a deadly-looking cloud rising into the
upper atmosphere. An
estimated 80,000 people have been killed instantly, and of
the 90,000 buildings in Hiroshima, only 28,000 remain.
Many more people will die in the following days and
more will suffer; some of them for years.
(In 1976, the United Nations estimated that the
final death total was 140,000 plus or minus 10,000.
In 1990 persons qualified to receive A-Bomb Victims
Medical Care still numbered 352,550.)
As history well-knows, the horror of this first
atomic bomb was not enough and another B-29 Superfortress
dropped a second atomic bomb – Fat
Man – 3 days later on the city of Nagasaki.
When Paul Tibbets was 87-years old, in a
conversation with the Pulitzer Prize winning author /
historian Studs Terkel, he discussed several little-known
facts involving his atomic bomb experience.
of secrecy issues, it was initially intended to drop
atomic bombs simultaneously in both the European and
Pacific Theaters: two missions conducted at the same time.
With the surrender of Germany, this became
atomic bomb was not a weapon intended just for the
Japanese as some would like to believe.)
Hiroshima bomb cloud was not a “mushroom” cloud –
Tibbets called it a “stringer,” which “just came
up.” It was
“black as hell,” contained light, colors, white and
grey, and had a top like a “folded Christmas tree.”
there was a third atomic bomb: “I got a phone call from
General Curtis LaMay.
He said, ‘You got another one of those damn
said, ‘Yes Sir.’ He
said, ‘Where is it?’
I said, ‘Utah.’
He said, ‘Get it out here.
You and your crew are going to fly it.’”
However, by the time the bomb was transported to
California, the Japanese had surrendered.
The fuselage of the Enola Gay is on display in
the World War II Aviation
Exhibition Station at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center,
Chantilly, VA. The
Superfortress that dropped Fat
Man on Nagasaki, Bockscar,
is on display at the U.S. Air Force Museum near
10, 1872: This
is the 21st birthday of J. Wright Moore, and
although his name is not as well-known as the likes of
Buffalo Bill, J. W. Moore was one of the most successful
buffalo hunters in the American West.
On this date, Moore and his party were standing on
the north side of the
somewhere on today’s mid-Kansas plains.
The river, being in flood from melting winter
snows, stretched from bank to bank some seven hundred
their vantage point the party bore witness to the
beginning of one of Mother Nature’s strangest events:
the start of the southern bison herd’s great migration.
It was a scene never seen before, nor to be ever
seen again. For
miles across the plains masses of buffalo – a heard of
millions of prime animals strangely devoid of old or very
young – began crossing the
Pressing against each other in a solid mass, they
crossed in ever-growing relays.
For six to seven weeks the herd crossed the
to then slowly trek ever northward toward
following summer they migrated between the
, and the Red River of the North into
trapped by the heavy snow of winter blizzards, the
majestic animals simply perished.
Although throughout the journey, hunters set up
stands along the flanks of the herd to unmercifully
harvest their prey, it was not the heavy bullets of
long-range Sharps and Remington rifles that decimated the
herd, it was their own unaccountable urge to forever march
Note: What was
a buffalo worth? The
meat – only the best of cuts – sold for 2 ½ cents per
pound, while the hides sold for $3.05 each.
In one-month-long camp some 40 miles from
, J. W. Moore took 305 hides and twenty-thousand pounds of
23, 1804: Two
of the America’s first six frigates, the 44-gun President and the 38-gun Constellation,
are sailing across the Mediterranean Sea to relieve a
third frigate, the 44-gun Constitution,
in the blockade of Tripoli.
The Barbary Coast nations located along the
southern coast of the
have been raiding American merchant shipping and demanding
tribute for safe passage. Refusing
to pay such tribute, the young
intends to gain the respect of these pirate nations by
military presence. As
the two warships slip through the waves, a sudden shudder
runs through the lead ship.
Sounds of rumbling and grinding vibrate up through
the President’s hull,
and the deck lurches throwing crewmen off their feet.
Commodore Samuel Barron, who described the incident
as: “a violent shock like striking on an uneven, rocky
bottom, which at every stroke seemed to lift and let fall
the ship about one foot,” ran up from his cabin to the
like all the other men on the ship, wondered what they had
struck in the open sea.
However, Barron “discovered no appearance of the
shoal, nor had the ship lost her way (slowed down).”
then maneuvered in close with her officers reporting
that she too seemed to have “grounded,” but like the President
had not slowed nor suffered any damage.
Discussing and eliminating every conceivable
explanation, the officers finally agreed that they must
have sailed through the seismic disturbance of an undersea
officers had heard of such things, but did not realize the
noise and violence that could accompany such an
common seamen, being of the naturally superstitious nature
of the period, were shaken with fear.
Of this Barron commented, “Their alarm,
agitation, and amazement appeared much greater than what
had been created, I believe, had the ship been actually
Did you know that this day never happened?
For the citizens of
, this day as well as the next 10 days in September of
1752 were erased from the calendar.
In 46 BC Julius Caesar replaced a lunar calendar
with a 365-day calendar that included a leap year every
four years (called the Julian Calendar).
However, by 1582 AD that calendar had become out of
step with the seasonal cycles by 10 days.
Pope Gregory XIII, to adjust the calendar, ordered
ten days subtracted from October 1582 and a leap year
removed every one hundred years except for the years
devisable by four hundred.
The beginning of the year was changed from March 25
to January 1 (called the Gregorian Calendar).
England adopted this new Gregorian Calendar some
200 years later in 1752, but as there had been a
disagreement over leap year in 1700, an eleventh day was
also removed from September.
The citizens of London violently rioted over the
adoption of this calendar, as they believed eleven days
had been stolen from their lives!
18, 1932: One
of the famous landmarks of Southern California is the
Hollywood sign that overlooks Los Angeles from the
Hollywood Hills. Originally
the sign read “Hollywoodland,” and was advertising for
a real estate development in
. As the movie
industry developed, the sign became synonymous with the
success and glamour of “
,” and was repeatedly repaired until it was finally
restored in 1978. Sadly,
sign has not always reflected success and fame, for on
this date, an attractive aspiring young actress climbed to
the top of the “H” and threw herself to her death.
Her name was Peg Entwistle - originally Lillian
Millicent Entwistle - from
. She had some
initial success on Broadway in
, but when the depression reduced theater attendance, she
. She was
thrilled to be signed by RKO studios for work in Thirteen
Women, staring Irene Dunne, but when the film flopped
and her studio options were dropped, she became depressed.
On the night of September 18, she climbed up to the
sign, took off her coat and folded it neatly next to her
purse, took the worker’s ladder to the top of the
“H,” and dove off headfirst.
Found in her purse was the following note: I am
afraid I am a coward.
I am sorry for everything.
If I had done this a long time ago, it would have
saved a lot of pain. In
cruel irony as only
can provide, the day after her death a letter arrived from
the Beverly Hills Playhouse offering her the lead in a
play – it was about a woman driven to suicide.
24, 2011: Unveiled
today in Founder’s Plaza on the grounds of the El Pueblo
History Museum, Pueblo, Colorado, is a statue of Teresita
that same plaza is a statue of mountain man, James
Beckworth, which was dedicated in May.
Teresita Sandoval and James Beckworth are
considered two of the founders of the City of Pueblo.
The statue of a third founder, Mathew Kinkead, is
scheduled to be honored in 2012.
James Beckworth, a frontiersman of African-American
ancestry is arguably one of the most famous of the
mountain men. His
life’s experiences stretch from General William
Ashley’s original 1823 establishment of the Rocky
Mountain Fur trade, to becoming accepted as a member of
the Crow Nation, to scouting for General John C. Fremont,
to establishing a pass through California’s Sierra
Nevada Mountains during the Gold Rush.
In 1837 he was establishing trading posts in
wife was Luisa Sandoval.
Teresita Sandoval was born in Taos, New Mexico
around 1811, married Manuel Suaso, and in the early 1830.s
moved to Mora, New Mexico.
(Mora is located SE of Taos on Highway 518.)
Hispanics began settling the Mora Valley in the
late 1700’s, and the town of Mora was officially founded
as a farming community in 1835.
The governor had granted some 75 families land in
the Mora area. At
this same time, Teresita left her husband and moved in
with Mathew Kinkead; a native of Kentucky and a
naturalized Mexican citizen.
Some trading companies of the era officially forbid
interracial marriages, but people being what they are,
such marriages – either formal or informal – happened
fact, unofficially, trading companies usually encouraged
agent liaisons with either Hispanic or Native American
simply, it was good for business, and these cross-cultural
women possessed the skills necessary to successfully
maintain life in sometimes very primitive conditions.
To quote a source, “Their skills and connections
gave some of these women enough power and independence to
control their own destinies…they generally enjoyed
higher status and better standards of living than many
other pioneer women.” Kinkead and Teresita moved to the
Arkansas River and establishing trading partnerships with
Beckwith and others founded the early plains trade center
they called “El Pueblo” – today’s Pueblo,