September 16, 1893: The Oklahoma Land Rush of 1893

ok3All set!

At one minute before twelve o’clock my brother and I, noticing that the soldier out in front was squinting upward along his rifle barrel and intent on the coming signal, slipped out fifty feet in front of the line, along the railroad embankment… Viewed from out in front the waiting line was a breath-taking sight. We had seen it only from within the crowd or from the rear. The back of the line was ragged, incoherent; the front was even, smooth, solid… I thought I had sensed the immensity of the spectacle, but that one moment out in front gave me the unmatched thrill of an impending race with six thousand starters in sight.

First in the line was a solid bank of horses; some had riders, some were hitched to gigs, buckboards, carts, and wagons, but to the eye there were only the two miles of tossing heads, shiny chests, and restless front legs of horses.

While we stood, numb with looking, the rifles snapped and the line broke with a huge, crackling roar. That one thundering moment of horseflesh by the mile quivering in its first leap forward was a gift of the gods, and its like will never come again. The next instant we were in a crash of vehicles whizzing past us like a calamity…

A little before midnight, we woke to a distant clatter of hoofs, shouting, and shooting. ‘Number – section – township – range -. Keep off and get off!’ Then crack! crack! went the rifles, after each call, from the pretty country we had been admiring at sundown…

After a hearty breakfast we pumped up our sorry tires and packed up to start south for the town sites. Ever since daybreak boomers had been straggling northward, bound for Kansas and all points east.

One young fellow who stopped for a moment while we were eating breakfast was a fair sample of this crowd… He had staked a claim in our nice little valley, along with a half dozen others on the same tract; and of course, as in such cases all over the Strip, nobody under heaven could know who had arrived first. But for him the delicate question had been settled by the gay horsemen in the pitch darkness of the night before. By the time they were through with him he felt assured that he must have arrived about a week late.

‘I wouldn’t live here next to such neighbors, anyway,’ he told us with considerable heat. At this safe distance and in the daylight his feelings had turned to indignation, but he was still trembling a little.”

Source: Humphrey, Seth King, Following the Prairie Frontier (1931)

September 15, 1963: Birmingham Sunday

Birmingham1It was Youth Sunday, and the young people of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, were dressed in their Sunday best when a bomb hurled from a passing car blasted the crowded church, killing four girls and triggering outbreaks of violence that left two more persons dead in the streets.

Thousands of hysterical Negroes poured into the area around the church and police fought for two hours, firing rifles into the air to control them. As darkness closed over the city, shots crackled sporadically in the Negro sections. Stones smashed into cars driven by whites. Downtown streets were deserted and police urged white and Negro parents to keep their children off the streets.

Police reported at least five fires in Negro business establishments. An official said some were being set, including one at a mop factory touched off by gasoline thrown on the building. Meanwhile, NAACP Executive Secretary Roy Wilkins wired President Kennedy that unless the Federal Government offers more than “picayune and piecemeal aid against this type of bestiality” Negroes will “employ such methods as our desperation may dictate in defense of the lives of our people.”

City police shot a 16-year-old Negro to death when he refused to heed their commands. Police said Johnny Robinson fled down an alley when they caught him stoning cars. They shot him when he refused to halt. A 13-year-old Negro boy, Virgil Ware, was shot and killed as he rode his bicycle in a suburban area north of the city.

Shortly after the bombing, police broke up a rally of white students protesting the desegregation of Birmingham schools, and a motorcade of militant adult segregationists en route to the student rally was disbanded. Police patrols, augmented by 300 State troopers sent into the city by Gov. George C. Wallace, quickly broke up all gatherings of white and Negroes. Wallace ordered 500 National Guardsmen to stand by at Birmingham armories.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. wired President Kennedy from Atlanta that he was going to Birmingham to plead with Negroes to “remain non-violent.” But he said that unless “immediate Federal steps are taken” there will be “in Birmingham and Alabama the worst racial holocaust this Nation has ever seen.”

Mayor Albert Boutwell, tears streaming down his cheeks, announced the city had asked for help. “It is a tragic event,” Boutwell said. “It is just sickening that a few individuals could commit such a horrible atrocity. The occurrence of such a thing has so gravely concerned the public…” His voice broke and he could not go on.

As police struggled to hold back the crowd, the church’s pastor, the
Rev. John H. Cross, grabbed a megaphone and walked back and forth, telling the crowd: “The police are doing everything they can. Please go home.”

“The Lord is our shepherd,” he sobbed. “We shall not want.”

The only stained glass window in the church that remained in its frame showed Christ leading a group of little children. The face of Christ was blown out.

One of the dead girls was decapitated. The coroner’s office identified the dead as Denise McNair, 11; Carol Robertson, 14; Cynthia Wesley, 14, and Addie Mae Collins, 10.

As the crowd outside watched the victims being carried out, one youth broke away and tried to touch one of the blanket-covered forms. “This is my sister,” he cried. “My God, she’s dead.” Police took the hysterical boy away.

Source: The Washington Post (United Press International) September 16, 1963

September 12, 1953: JFK Marries Jackie Bouvier

Wedding bells resounded through the summer colony of Newport, Rhode Island, when Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, Washington’s prettiest inquiring photographer, married the dashing young Senator from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy. The ceremony took place at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in front of more than 750 guests. The church had been decorated with pink gladioli and white chrysanthemums for the occasion.

Miss Bouvier wore an ivory silk dress with a portrait neckline, fitted bodice, and bouffant skirt, embellished jfk weddingwith more than 50 yards of flounces made by Ann Lowe. Her rose-point lace veil, originally worn by her grandmother, was draped from a tiara. The bride wore a single strand of family pearls, the groom’s gift of a diamond bracelet, and an engagement ring created by Van Cleef & Arpels.

Her attendants, dressed in pink taffeta, included matron-of-honor Lee Bouvier Canfield, maid-of-honor Nina Auchincloss and flower girl Janet Auchincloss. Her bridal attendants were Nancy Tuckerman, Martha Bartlett, Ethel Skakel Kennedy, Jean Kennedy, Shirley Oakes, Aileen Travers, Sylvia Whitehouse, and Helen Spaulding.

Senator John Kennedy’s best man was his brother Robert F. Kennedy. His ushers were Edward M. Kennedy, Charles Bartlett, Michael Canfield, George Smathers, K. LeMoyne Billings, Torbert MacDonald, Charles Spalding, James Reed, Benjamin Smith, Joseph Gargan, R. Sargeant Shriver, Paul B. Fay, Jr., and Hugh D. Auchincloss III. At the rehearsal dinner the evening before, the groom presented each of his ushers with a Brooks Brothers umbrella engraved with the wedding date.

The ceremony was performed by Archbishop Cushing and a special blessing from Pope Pius XII was read before the mass. Tenor soloist Luigi Vena from Boston sang Gounod’s “Ave Maria.”

After the nuptials the wedding party retired to Hammersmith Farm to greet an additional 500 guests at the reception. The luncheon included creamed chicken, sliced ham, potatoes, a pineapple cup, endless rounds of Champagne, and dancing to the music of Meyer Davis and his orchestra. For the first dance, the Kennedy’s chose “I Married an Angel.”

Late in the afternoon, Senator and Mrs. Kennedy departed Hammersmith Farm amid a shower of paper rose petals. They traveled to New York to spend the night at the Waldorf Astoria before continuing on to Acapulco, Mexico for a two-week honeymoon.

September 11, 1609: A Fine Morning in New York

Captain Henry Hudson and his crew of twenty Dutch and English sailors on board the ship Half Moon had explored bays and inlets from Maine to Cape Cod to the Chesapeake looking for the elusive Northwest Passage, when they arrived inside Sandy Hook on September 3. The men explored the bay for about a week, and then on September 11, 1609 Hudson came upon “as fine a river as can be found.”

half moonIt was a sunny hot day. At one in the afternoon, the Half Moon set up the river, favored by the tide and a breeze from the south-south-west. The harbor was well protected, and when the local people came out to the boat, they were friendly and gave the sailors tobacco and Indian wheat.

The next day, twenty-eight canoes came out to the boat, full of men, women and children. The sailors didn’t trust the crowd and wouldn’t let them on board, but they were happy to buy oysters and beans, and they admired the natives’ copper tobacco pipes and earthen pottery.

In the following days the Half Moon sailed up the mile-wide river, and the explorers found it abundant with oysters and salmon. There was high land on both sides, and mountains off to the west, and they traded Indian corn and pompions and tobacco, and beaver and otter skins, and feasted on venison with the natives. One day the master and his mate set ashore and shared their wine and aqua-vita with the locals and all were very merry, especially the natives who had never tasted strong spirits before.

On subsequent days they went ashore and gathered chestnuts, and found good ground for growing corn and other garden herbs, and goodly walnuts and oaks, chestnuts and yews, and slate and good stones for building. The natives were welcoming and eager to trade for trinkets. The mountains looked as if they had metal or minerals in them, and the natives showed them a stone that looked like emery which could cut metal or glass.

The crew sailed upriver nearly as far as Albany before realizing this was not the passage to the Indies which they sought, but returning to the river’s mouth they realized that they had discovered a fur-trader’s paradise populated by natives with whom one could do business, and an outstanding harbor and tidal river with lands on either side which were ‘the finest for cultivation that I ever in my life set foot upon,’

As Robert Juet, the ship’s master, noted in his journal, “This is a very pleasant place to build a town on.”

Source: Juet’s Journal of Hudson’s 1609 Voyage (New Netherland Museum)

September 10, 1886: H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) is born in Bethlehem, PA

The Helmsman

O be swift—
we have always known you wanted us.

We fled inland with our flocks.
we pastured them in hollows,
cut off from the wind
and the salt track of the marsh.

We worshipped inland—HD
we stepped past wood-flowers,
we forgot your tang,
we brushed wood-grass.

We wandered from pine-hills
through oak and scrub-oak tangles,
we broke hyssop and bramble,
we caught flower and new bramble-fruit
in our hair: we laughed
as each branch whipped back,
we tore our feet in half-buried rocks
and knotted roots and acorn-cups.

We forgot—we worshipped,
we parted green from green,
we sought further thickets,
we dipped our ankles
through leaf-mould and earth,
and wood and wood-bank enchanted us—

and the feel of the clefts in the bark,
and the slope between tree and tree—
and a slender path strung field to field
and wood to wood
and hill to hill
and the forest after it.

We forgot—for a moment
tree-resin, tree-bark,
sweat of a torn branch
were sweet to taste.

We were enchanted with the fields,
the tufts of coarse grass—
in the shorter grass—
we loved all this.

But now, our boat climbs—hesitates—drops—
climbs—hesitates—crawls back—
O, be swift—
we have always known you wanted us.

September 9, 1919: Boston Police go on Strike

The headline in the NY Times read “Battle in Boston Streets – Calvary Charges with Sabres and Infantry with Bayonets – 3 Men Killed, Many Hurt – Gamblers, Thugs, and Thieves Operate Openly and Commit Crimes Against Women”

After years of low pay and miserable working conditions, three quarters of the Boston police force had walked off their jobs, and now 5000 National Guard troops were patrolling the streets of Boston.Boston Police Strike.1

In South Boston the Guardsmen opened fire with rifles and a machine gun killing two. Scores of soldiers and civilians had received broken heads from flying bottles and stones. Others were badly beaten with clubs. Mud, sticks, bottles, paving stones were the weapons of the crowds.

In Scollay Square, before the Calvary and Infantry could clear the streets, a man was killed and a woman shot and many more hurt as the hoodlums who frequented the cheap entertainment district smashed windows and looted stores. Steel helmeted calvarymen clattered through the streets. “Keep Everybody Moving” was the order issued to the troops and they followed it to the letter.

Banks and business offices were fully lighted, and inside guards sat with rifles and automatics clasped in their hands. In every police station there was a machine gun at the ready. Millions of dollars of jewelry and securities had been removed to as far as Worcester and Springfield. In the Back Bay, the homes of the wealthy were guarded by their owners and hired men.

Guardsmen stopped dice games on Avery Street. Two thousand gamesters and onlookers fled as soldiers with fixed bayonets charged the length of the street.

An armed bandit entered the Carleton lunchroom on Columbus Ave, and held up the cashier for $156.

Unprotected women were assaulted in dark corners. Two women pursued by a mob found refuge in the City Hospital. Their pursuers forced their way into the institution but were driven back by a policeman who had just brought in a man with a bullet in his head. A truck carrying 39 cases of shoes was driven away by a thief.

Harvard students who have been on the volunteer force found themselves the object of missiles. Three were charged by a mob and had to retreat to a police station after being pelted with eggs and mud.

Mayor Peters had dithered about trying to raise a volunteer replacement force, but Governor Calvin Coolidge had called out the Guard and informed Mayor Peters that he was prepared the ask the President to send in the Army to supplement the Guard if need be.

The striking police were dismissed by Police Commissioner Curtis, who then hired 1,574 replacement police officers from a pool of unemployed World War I veterans. When the new hires reported for duty, they had to report for work in civilian clothing; members of the United Garment Workers refused to sew uniforms for the scabs.

September 8, 1858: US Army Massacres 800 Palouse Horses

The Indian troubles east of Puget Sound seemed to have eased until April of 1858 when Lieut. Col. Steptoe received a petition from settlers in Colville asking for protection from Indians who had murdered two whites and stolen cattle. He recommended a foray to impress upon the Indians the military power that was stationed in the area.
Wild horses Catlin.1
With one hundred and thirty dragoons Steptoe marched from Fort Walla Walla into the Nez Perce country. Despite reports that the Spokane tribe opposed his expedition, he proceeded north until he found himself practically surrounded; six hundred Indians in war paint stood overlooking the ravine through which he hoped to pass. Steptoe called a parley; the War Chief informed him he had heard the troops were there to make war and they would not be allowed to cross the Spokane River.

Steptoe decided to return to Walla Walla, but the Spokanes thought otherwise. A fierce fight broke out, with casualties on both sides, but with their ammunition running low, the troops withdrew in the middle of the night.

In June General Clarke determined a larger expedition should subdue the hostile natives. He ordered three companies of artillery from San Francisco, a company of infantry from Fort Jones, Calif. and another from Fort Umpqua, Oregon. The troops were thoroughly drilled in Indian warfare and armed with Sharpe’s long range rifles. Colonel George Wright was given command.

The expedition set out in mid-August with 800 men. As the troops neared the Spokane River they encountered Indian warriors massed on the crest of the hills. On September 1st heavy fighting began. With the superior firepower afforded by the long range rifles, the regulars began to inflict heavy casualties on the Indians. After four days of withering battle, the Spokanes were ready to talk, but Wright made his position clear – he was there to make war, not to talk peace. He was tired of war, but he would talk peace only on his own terms. EVERYTHING must be surrendered – arms, property, women and children.

On the morning of September 8, Colonel Wright and his troops spotted a large cloud of dust, which revealed a huge herd of 800 Palouse horses. The Indians were driving their stock towards the mountains instead of surrendering them.

Infuriated, Colonel Wright ordered his men to seize the herd, which they proceeded to do, and then, on his order, as the Native Americans watched helplessly from the hills, the horses were taken to the river bank and shot one by one, young colts were knocked in the head as the mares were heard crying for their foals. On the following day, to speed the process of killing, the companies were ordered to fire volleys into the corral.

Wright later wrote: “I deeply regretted killing these poor creatures, but a dire necessity drove me to it. . . The chastisement which these Indians have received has been severe but well merited and absolutely necessary to impress them with our power. … A blow has been struck which they will never forget.”

Following the slaughter, Colonel Wright and his troops burned lodges and storehouses filled with the Native Americans’ winter supply of oats, vegetables, camas roots and dried berries. That winter many of the old and very young died of starvation, and for more than 50 years after, the bleached bones of the horses could be seen strewn along the banks of the Spokane River at the site known as Horse Slaughter Camp.

September 5, 1877: Crazy Horse is bayonetted to death at Fort Robinson, Nebraska

My friend, I do not blame you for this. Had I listened to you this trouble would not have happened to me. I was not hostile to the white men. Sometimes my young men would attack the Indians who were their enemies and took their ponies. They did it in return. We had buffalo for food, and their hides for clothing and for our tepees. We sioux teepee.1
preferred hunting to a life of idleness on the reservation, where we were driven against our will. At times we did not get enough to eat and we were not allowed to leave the reservation to hunt. We preferred our own way of living. We were no expense to the government. All we wanted was peace and to be left alone.
Soldiers were sent out in the winter, they destroyed our villages.

The “Long Hair” [Custer] came in the same way. They say we massacred him, but he would have done the same thing to us had we not defended ourselves and fought to the last. Our first impulse was to escape with our squaws and papooses, but we were so hemmed in that we had to fight. After that I went up on the Tongue River with a few of my people and lived in peace. But the government would not let me alone.

Finally, I came back to the Red Cloud Agency. Yet, I was not allowed to remain quiet. I was tired of fighting. I went to the Spotted Tail Agency and asked that chief and his agent to let me live there in peace. I came here with the agent [Lee] to talk with the Big White Chief but was not given a chance. They tried to confine me. I tried to escape, and a soldier ran his bayonet into me. I have spoken.

Source: Literature of the American Indian by Thomas Edward Sanders and Walter Peek

September 4, 1781: El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles is founded

When Vitus Bering’s explorers crossed from Siberia to Alaska, the Spanish took notice. The Spanish had long considered California their territory, but if the Russians started to take possession from the North. . .     Nervous about the Russian game of global politik, King Charles III of Spain approved plans for a chain of pueblos to settle the coast, missions to convert the heathens, and presidios to provide protection.

In August 1769, a surveying expedition passed through the Los Angeles basin and found a broad river valley, framed by a line of hills, which had “all the requisites for a large settlement.” The Spaniards got shook up by three Los Angelesearthquakes, but they enjoyed meeting and greeting the local natives under the shade of the giant, 400-year-old sycamore tree.

Missionary Juan Crespí described the scene:
“…After traveling about a league and a half through a pass between low hills we entered a very spacious valley, well grown with cottonwoods and alders, among which ran a beautiful river from a north-northwest, and then, doubling the point of a steep hill, it went on afterward to the south… … It was a good sized, full flowing river, about seven yards wide, with very good water, pure and fresh….The plain where the river runs is very extensive. It has good land for planting all kinds of grain and seeds, and the most suitable site for a mission. The beds are very well lined with large trees, sycamores, willows, cottonwoods, and very large live oaks.”
“As soon as we arrived, about eight heathen from a good village came to visit us: they live in this delightful place among the trees on the river”.

A presidio was built in San Diego in 1769, the San Gabriel Arcángel Mission built in 1771, and in 1777 the first pueblo was founded in San Jose. The Spanish recruited experienced farmers from the dry province of Sonora who knew how to use irrigation during the dry summers as well as skilled artisans who could keep the settlement supplied with tools.

And so they arrived, 11 “Pobladores” families, and the Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles was founded on September 4, 1781. Two of the men (José Fernando de Velasco y Lara and Antonio Clemente Félix Villavicencio) were Spaniards, while the rest of the founders of Los Angeles were African (Antonio Mesa and Luis Manuel Quintero ) or Indian (Pablo Rodríguez, José Alejandro Rojas, José Antonio Basilio Rosas, and Jose María Vanegas) or mixed race Mulatto (Manuel Camero and José Cesario Moreno) or Mestizo (José Antonio Navarro).

On September 4th, an annual march from the San Gabriel Mission to Olvera Street celebrates the origins of the City of the Angels, Los Angeles, which grew from a small multiethnic pueblo into one of the greatest and most culturally diverse cities in the world.

source: KCET


September 3, 1881: The First US National Tennis Championship

When the Newport (R.I.) Casino opened in the summer of 1880 with its block of fine shops, restaurant, archery, billiards, concerts, dancing, horse shows, lawn bowling, tea parties, theatricals, croquet, and tennis, the Newport News gushed “It is doubtful if a more lively place can be found.”

newportTennis-1024x822The Casino found its place on Bellevue Avenue thanks to the events of one fine day during the previous August when James Gordon Bennett, the publisher of the New York Herald, and Captain Henry Augustus “Sugar” Candy of the Queen’s 9th Royal Lancers (and skillful Polo player) were up to their usual summer hi-jinx around the summer colony’s cottages.

On a lark, Bennett bet Captain Candy he couldn’t ride his polo pony up onto the front porch of Newport’s exclusive men’s club, “The Reading Room”. Captain Candy, without any hesitation, mounted his horse and rode onto the porch – and then proceeded right up the front steps, across the piazza, through two sets of broad doors and into the main hall. “Sir,” the white-coated steward informed him at that point, “you cannot ride a horse in here.”

The Governors of the Reading Room were not amused. The act was “a clear violation of the rules,” and they immediately revoked the guest privileges of Captain Candy and soon thereafter Bennett’s own Reading Room membership as well. Fortunately Bennett had the means to build his own “club house” and he quickly commissioned McKim, Mead and White to design the “Newport Casino”.

Late the following summer, the first US National Lawn Tennis Association Championship was the headline event at the new Casino. As a string quartet played on the sidelines and the swells of Newport cheered, 25 young contestants representing the member clubs of the new United States National Lawn Tennis Association met on the close-cropped grass courts to vie for the national title.

The doubles championship came down to a Philadelphia final as Clarence Clark and Fred Taylor (both from Germantown) edged Sandy Van Rensselaer and Art Newbold (also both from the Main Line) in a tight three set match (6-5, 6-4, 6-5) (a margin of one game took a set in those days).

Then the singles players came out. Dick Sears, the nineteen-year-old Harvard man vanquished Bill Powell in the first round (6-0, 6,2), and Anderson in the round of sixteen (6-1,6-2). He continued on his roll as he bested Crawford Nightingale in the quarterfinals (6-3, 6-5) and Ed Gray (6-3, 6-0) in the semis. Finally he met Bill Glyn from the Staten Island Cricket and Base Ball Club, and bested him in the three set final (6-0, 6-3, 6-2). Dick Sears went on to win the next six championships in both singles, as well as in doubles with partner James Dwight, before retiring undefeated.

The US National Championships were held in Newport for 34 years before eventually moving on to Forest Hills, but the Newport Casino remains the hub of tennis in Newport and the home of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

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