Empires, Pirates, and Jenkins’ ear

On this date, April 9, 1731, a war, which came as the result of a war which was, itself the result of a war, found casus belli in the form of traumatic auriculectomy. It is a story of empires, great navies, pirates- because all great stories include pirates- and perhaps the most famous ear removalContinue reading “Empires, Pirates, and Jenkins’ ear”

Janet Guthrie: If Your Desire is Strong Enough, Anything is Doable

Janet Guthrie was the first woman to qualify and compete in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500, among many other racing firsts. But her goal wasn’t so much to be the first to do something, but, rather, to be the best.

A Rooftop Murder: Stanford White, Henry Thaw, and the Trial of the Century

On June 25th, 1906, many New York City socialites were attending the theatrical premier of “Mam’zelle Champagne” at Madison Square Garden. One member of the audience was Stanford White, a prolific and famous architect. During the show’s final number White was approached by Henry Thaw, a multi-millionaire and son of a coal and railroad baron.Continue reading “A Rooftop Murder: Stanford White, Henry Thaw, and the Trial of the Century”

Porky Bickar and Foolish History

It was the spring of 1974 and residents of the Alaska panhandle town of Sitka woke to a surprise. 3400 foot mount Edgecumbe, towering over the city, was belching thick, black smoke. Little did the worried residents know that local resident Porky Bickar was following in an ancient tradition. This episode of The History GuyContinue reading “Porky Bickar and Foolish History”

The “Great Olive Poisoning” of 1919

On Saturday, August 23rd, 1919 the Lakeside club of Canton Ohio held a dinner and dance to celebrate the return of Colonel Charles C Weybrecht, formerly adjutant general of the state of Ohio and most recently commander of the US 146th infantry regiment, just returned from the war in France. The party, some version ofContinue reading “The “Great Olive Poisoning” of 1919″

Vitus Bering and the European Discovery of Alaska

It wasn’t until the 18th century that Russia decided to explore their Pacific coast, sending a Danish explorer to map the furthest reaches of their dominion, and determine whether or not Asia and the Americas were connected. That Danish explorer’s name was very nearly lost to history, and while you might recognize his name today,Continue reading “Vitus Bering and the European Discovery of Alaska”

James “Doc” McFadden and the Hurricane Hunters

Deliberately flying an airplane into a hurricane might seem crazy. Deliberately flying a plane into a hurricane for the purpose of research, to better understand, and thus better prepare people, for the hurricane’s wrath might seem heroic. Doing that nearly six hundred times in a career spanning more than five decades, might just make youContinue reading “James “Doc” McFadden and the Hurricane Hunters”

The Union Boss and the Most Successful Race Car in History

“Umbrella Mike” Boyle was the scourge of Chicago in the first half of the twentieth century. The notoriously corrupt leader of one of Chicago’s most powerful unions associated with mobsters and corrupt politicians, and could freeze the city in gridlock on a whim. But at the height of the depression, Umbrella Mike changed the faceContinue reading “The Union Boss and the Most Successful Race Car in History”

The 1831 City Bank of New York Robbery

Sometime between when First Teller Lancaster S Burling locked up the vault in the City Bank of New York on Saturday, March 19, 1831 and when he opened the bank on Monday, someone entered the vault and stole the astounding sum of $240,000. It was not, as some newspapers at the time asserted, the firstContinue reading “The 1831 City Bank of New York Robbery”