Category Archives: History

What Ever Happened to Confederate President Jefferson Davis?


Cailin asks: What happened to Jefferson Davis after the Civil War? Jefferson Davis was attending a Sunday church service in the capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia, when he heard the news. Union General Ulysses S. Grant had broken General Robert E. Lee’s defenses in Petersburg, less than twenty five miles from Richmond. By nightfall, the evacuation of Richmond needed […]

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Did the Warrior Women Known as the Amazons Ever Exist?


Marleen asks: Did Amazon women really ever exist? They are mentioned time and again by the ancient Greeks in both their history and mythology, going all the way back to Homer in approximately the 8th century B.C.  They were described as formidable warriors who cut off one breast to be better archers (one wonders if being lopsided would affect their […]

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Why Does Rhode Island Have “Island” in the Name When It is Not One?


Aaron asks: Why is Rhode Island called an island when it is not? Most think the history of Rhode Island starts with Roger Williams, but the state’s “discovery” (at least by Europeans) dates back about hundred years before that to approximately 1524 and the Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano (though he did most of his exploring in the name of […]

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Glowing in the Dark, The “Radium Girls”


On December 21, 1898, Marie and Pierre Curie discovered the radioactive element radium (in the form of radium chloride), extracting it from uraninite. They first removed the uranium from the uraninite sample and then found that the remaining matter was still radioactive, so investigated further. Along with the barium in the remaining substance, they also detected spectral lines that were […]

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Hobbs and His Lock Picks: The Great Lock Controversy of 1851


In April 1851, Alfred C. Hobbs boarded the steamship Washington bound for Southampton, England. His official duty was to sell the New York City-based company Day and Newell’s newest product – the parautopic lock – at a trade show – London’s Great Exhibition. But Hobbs had something a bit more nefarious up his sleeve, or rather in the small trunk […]

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A Brief Look at the Werewolf Through History


Since ancient times, the fusion of man and wolf has been the stuff of legend and folklore (“wer” was the word for “man” in old English, with “man” being completely gender neutral). Virtually every culture across the globe has its own werewolf mythology, with this beastly shape-shifter being one of the oldest monsters to terrorize humans. Werewolf legends span so […]

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The Slave Who Helped Assemble the Famous “Freedom Statue” in Washington D.C.


The Statue of Freedom sitting atop the dome of the U.S. Capitol building in Washing D.C. has more alternate names than the obscure half of the Wu Tang Clan. Over the years, the names attributed to it have ranged from things like “Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace” to the far simpler, “Armed Freedom“. However, the one, common thread is […]

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How One Man’s Attempt to Create the Philosopher’s Stone Out of Human Urine Led to the First Element Discovered Since Ancient Times


Phosphorus is an essential element for life. Forms of it are found in DNA, RNA, and all living cell membranes. It is the sixth most abundant element in any living organism. Phosphorus can also be highly poisonous and combustible (white phosphorus is used in many destructive weapons, such as napalm). It was also the first element discovered since ancient times. […]

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The Goingsnake Shootout


Ezekiel Proctor was a 19th century Cherokee man who had walked the Trail of Tears from Georgia to the Indian Territory when he was just seven years old. He was proud of his heritage, and he still spoke the language and basked in the customs of the Cherokee people. When he grew up, he became a lawman. Jim Keterson was […]

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WWII Files: Japan’s Secret Weapon- Exploding Balloons


WWII saw the development of some zany designs for weapons, such as when the U.S. developed pigeon guided missiles and (literal) bat bombs (the latter of which were a little too effective, accidentally destroying the testing base when they escaped), or when the Soviets trained exploding anti-tank dogs. Not to be left out of the fun, the Japanese developed their own oddball […]

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