I Know February is Black History Month . . .

just by glancing at Digging History stats — even if I didn’t already know what is commemorated during this month.  Why is that? Last year, one story (and it’s a good one!) received hundreds of views during February and beyond – the story about Sarah E. Goode, an African American woman who invented a cabinet bed.  The same pattern is occurring this year with multiple daily views of the article. I imagine that many of the views belong to students (or “innovators” as they are called) of Chicago’s Goode STEM Academy who are perhaps tasked each February with writing a story about their school’s namesake.  I’m happy to be used as a reference for this interesting story.  However, I hope those young people take time to look around Digging History for more articles about unique and unusual events in history – or read a Tombstone Tuesday article or two. Kids (of all ages), if you’re looking for other interesting African Americans in United States history try these articles:  Bessie Coleman, Stagecoach Mary, Phillis Wheatley, Ellen and William Craft or this fascinating article about freed slaves who owned their own slaves.  You can learn about the Underground Railroad by reading “The Mapmaker’s Children”.  Here’s a thought-provoking article: When and Why Did African Americans Stop Supporting the Party of Lincoln?  There’s even a Ghost Town Wednesday article about a Kansas town which was for a time home to a significant African American population.  These two African Americans had the most unusual names: Mary Susan Ann Rebecca Yankee Doodle Jay-Ho Bonaparte Dekelter Payne Spencer and Tonsillitis Jackson (you won’t believe his siblings’...

Felonious Females: “Badger Girls”

  No one seems to know for sure where the term “badger game” originated.  Perhaps it was so-named because it had its origins in Wisconsin, the Badger State, or perhaps it was named after a rather cruel sport called “badger baiting”.  Badger baiting appears to have originated in England during the nineteenth century.   Without going into the sordid details, this blood sport pitted a badger, normally a docile creature, against a dog (some dogs were bred as “badger dogs”). Stories began appearing in American newspapers in the early to mid-nineteenth century.  Even into the early twentieth century the so-called “badger game” was still popular and most profitable, hardy despite its age, according to Duluth News-Tribune (01 Oct 1922).  The con game had ousted card sharping as the number one “indoor sport” on trans-Atlantic ocean liners.  The game was played best, however, when a couple worked together. They picked a man, preferably a rich business man with a family, and proceeded to dupe him or “vamp” as one headline read.  The wife of the con couple would complain about her husband’s mistreatment and how she was afraid he would suspect something.  According to one United Press correspondent, somehow the victim usually fell for it, believing himself some sort of heroic Lothario.  The victim then found himself in a compromising position with the con wife, and of course in walked the “jealous” husband. The scene might have played out like this: scorned husband threatens to throttle the victim while the wife pleas for his forgiveness, to which he replies, “No! Not for $10,000!” – maybe $20,000?”  Amazingly, it seemed to work...

The cows can’t get used to it and the milk trains won’t wait (the history of Daylight Saving Time)

Today most of America simply moves their clocks up one hour in March and sets them back one hour in November (or in this day and age, your digital devices reset it for you).  Thereafter, there are few, if any, references to Standard or Daylight Saving Time.  However, back in the early twentieth century it was a HUGE deal and not without controversy.  In many ways it was city dwellers vs. rural America. In the eighteenth century, Benjamin Franklin wrote an amusing tongue-in-cheek essay, entitled “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light.”  In the essay he essentially proposed that instead of using candles or oil lamps for light in the mornings that natural sunlight be used instead.   Franklin, on the night previous, had seen a demonstration of an oil lamp and he began to think in terms of economy and thrift.  Was the price of the oil to fuel the lamp worth the cost? When he posed the question to his hosts at the demonstration of the oil lamp, he apparently gave them something to ponder: I was pleased to see this general concern for economy, for I love economy exceedingly. After the meeting, he retired to his apartment and bedded down at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning.  A noise awakened him about 6:00 in the morning and he was surprised to see the room filled with light.  At first he thought that perhaps several of the lamps he had seen demonstrated the night before had been brought in.  However, upon rubbing his eyes he realized the light was coming through the windows.  In somewhat disbelief,...

2014 Will Be Here Soon!

Thanks to all who have read my history blog since its inception in October.  The following chart gives you an idea of where it’s being read or viewed around the world (click to enlarge): I’ve taken several days off for a break — as it turns out I’ve been sick with the flu a good portion of that time, but I’ve had lots of time to read which means I have some fascinating stories to tell starting on New Year’s Day 2014.  I’m also adding a new Friday blog category called “Far-Out Friday” — these will be stories that sound like fiction or something Hollywood might produce — but the stories are true (and fascinating!). Sunday’s religious-themed articles in January (and maybe beyond a bit) will be written as stories of “Early American Faith:  Puritans vs. Those Other (Heretical) People”.  I’ve read some fascinating books of late and I can’t wait to share my reviews on Book Review Thursdays.  Tombstone Tuesdays will feature some great stories I’ve “dug” up (‘scuse the pun) and Mondays will feature some Civil War and “motoring” history. I hope all of you have a safe, healthy and Happy New Year! Everyone have a great day — someday it will be history! Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens...

Christmas History: 1911 F A O Schwarz Toy Catalog

This is really cool — browse through the pages and see what “rich kids” asked Santa for in the early 20th century.  You can read it for free online or download to your Kindle or Nook.  Enjoy! Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new...

Christmas in America

Just a few historical tidbits today about Christmas in America: Celebrating Christmas in early America was a big no-no.   Puritans strictly forbade the celebration and anyone guilty of exhibiting Christmas spirit (mentioning St. Nicholas, gift giving, candles or singing) was fined five shillings.  That was in Massachusetts.  By contrast, the Virginia colonists enjoyed their celebration of Christmas – the first mention of eggnog was made by Captain John Smith in 1607. Dutch immigrants brought the legend of Sinter Klaas to America and gift giving was part of their celebration. The first Christmas after the U.S. Constitution was ratified, December 25, 1789, Congress was in session. Although a few states declared Christmas as a holiday in the 1800s – Alabama in 1836 and Louisiana and Arkansas in 1838 – the federal holiday was not enacted until June 26, 1870. Cartoonist Thomas Nast began drawing depictions of Santa Claus for the Christmas edition of Harper’s Weekly in 1863.  Abraham Lincoln asked Nast to draw Santa with Union soldiers to perhaps demoralize the Confederates – a little psychological warfare? Everyone have a great day — someday it will be history! NOTE:  I’m taking a break from daily posts for a few days – maybe one here and there but back to daily articles after the first of the year for sure.  Everyone have a Blessed and Merry Christmas! Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share...