John’s Believe It Or Not… March 13th

John standing at the front of his classroom.

It’s Momentous Monday! Did you know…

1859 – John Brown brings first black slaves escaping to Canada on the Underground Railroad. (Slavery existed in the United States for thirty years after Britain abolished slavery. Even before slavery was ended in the British Empire there was very little slavery remaining in Canada. While there was racism and prejudice in Canada it was possible for fugitive slaves to come to Canada and obtain land, find work, and start new lives. However, slaves in the United States could not simply leave. Slaves were someone’s property. If a slave ran away his/her owner wanted their slave returned, by force if necessary. Slaves had to run away and travel hundreds of miles (sometimes over 1000 miles). This was not an easy trip. They had very little food or supplies. During their escape slaves might be captured by slave hunters who would capture them and resell them. A system slowly emerged that helped slaves escape their owners and make it to Canada. This system was the Underground Railroad. It was a large and complicated system made up of people who helped escaped slaves. Some slaves stopped in northern states that had already abolished slavery. Other slaves felt safer in Canada.)

Painting showing African Americans Arrive in Canada on the Underground Railway
African Americans Arrive in Canada on the Underground Railway

* 1942 U.S. Army launches K-9 Corps. (On this day in 1942, the Quartermaster Corps (QMC) of the United States Army begins training dogs for the newly established War Dog Program, or “K-9 Corps.” Well over a million dogs served on both sides during World War I, carrying messages along the complex network of trenches and providing some measure of psychological comfort to the soldiers. The most famous dog to emerge from the war was Rin Tin Tin, an abandoned puppy of German war dogs found in France in 1918 and taken to the United States, where he made his film debut in the 1922 silent film The Man from Hell’s River. As the first bona fide animal movie star, Rin Tin Tin made the little-known German Shepherd breed famous across the USA. The K-9 Corps initially accepted over 30 breeds of dogs, but the list was soon narrowed to seven: German Shepherds, Belgian sheep dogs, Doberman Pinschers, collies, Siberian Huskies, Malamutes and Eskimo dogs. After basic obedience training, they were sent through one of four specialised programs to prepare them for work as sentry dogs, scout or patrol dogs, messenger dogs or mine-detection dogs. In active combat duty, scout dogs proved especially essential by alerting patrols to the approach of the enemy and preventing surprise attacks. The top canine hero of World War II was Chips, a German Shepherd who served with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division. Trained as a sentry dog, Chips broke away from his handlers and attacked an enemy machine gun nest in Italy, forcing the entire crew to surrender. The wounded Chips was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and the Purple Heart–all of which were later revoked due to an Army policy preventing official commendation of animals.)

closeup picture of Chips
Even though Chips’ decorations were eventually rescinded, he still got to meet Supreme Commander Gen. Dwight Eisenhower.

* 1781 William Hershel discovers Uranus. (The German-born English astronomer William Hershel discovers Uranus, the seventh planet from the sun. Herschel’s discovery of a new planet was the first to be made in modern times, and also the first to be made by use of a telescope, which allowed Herschel to distinguish Uranus as a planet, not a star, as previous astronomers believed. The planet Uranus is a gas giant like Jupiter and Saturn and is made up of hydrogen, helium, and methane. The third largest planet, Uranus orbits the sun once every 84 earth years and is the only planet to spin perpendicular to its solar orbital plane. In January 1986, the unmanned U.S. spacecraft Voyager 2 visited the planet, discovering 10 additional moons to the five already known, and a system of faint rings around the gas giant.)

Photo of Voyager 2 flying past Uranus in 1986.
This artwork, by Julian Baum, shows the Voyager 2 space probe less than an hour from closest approach to the planet Uranus on 24 January 1986.

* 1996 Tragedy at Dunblane. (At Dunblane, a 13th-century village on the edge of the Scottish Highlands, 43-year-old Thomas Hamilton bursts into the gymnasium of the Dunblane Primary School with four guns and opens fire on a kindergarten class. Sixteen children and their teacher, Gwenne Mayor, were fatally shot before Hamilton turned the gun on himself. Twelve other children in the class, along with one other adult, were injured. Hamilton was a single man who lived in public housing in the nearby town of Stirling. A former Boy Scout leader, he had resigned in 1974 following allegations of improper behaviour but during the 1980s formed his own youth athletic clubs. The shooting deeply shocked the Scottish village of 9,000 people and led to the passage of more stringent gun bans by the British government.)Memorial flowers laid before the fence surrounding the school property.

* 1969 “The Love Bug” opens in theatres. (On this day in 1969, “The Love Bug,” a Walt Disney movie about the adventures of a Volkswagen Beetle named Herbie, opens in theatres across the United States. According to “Bug” by Phil Patton, the movie was a hit “due in large part to its PG rating and the fact that the great baby boom had peaked in 1960, providing Disney with a bumper crop of nine-year-olds.” Patton also notes that the “The Love Bug” offered an escape: “The day the film opened, the news was full of the costs of Vietnam: 432 Americans had died in the most recent Vietcong offensive and Defense Secretary Melvin Laird was asking for increased spending on the war.”)Poster ad for the movie

Look who was born on this date!

head shot of Emile Hirsch* Emile Hirsch in 1985. (Emile Davenport Hirsch is an American television and film actor, whose works include Wild Iris, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, The Emperor’s Club, The Girl Next Door, The Mudge Boy, Imaginary Heroes.)




Portrait of Charles Grey* Charles Grey in 1764. (British Prime Minister:  As a Whig politician Charles Grey became Prime Minister in 1830 after many years in opposition. His major achievement was pushing through The Reform Act of 1832, which made major changes to the British electoral system. Grey’s other parliamentary achievements included abolishing the slave trade throughout the British Empire in 1833 and putting restrictions on the employment of children. The tea, Earl Grey is named after him.)

Head shot of Lowell* Percival Lowell in 1855. (American Astronomer:  Best known for his speculations that there were canals on Mars. He founded the Lowell Observatory in Arizona which led to the discovery of Pluto and influenced the naming of the planet chosen in part based on his initials PL.)



Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December, 2013, and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

6 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… March 13th”

    1. Thanks for visiting with your comment today, Mae. I find this blog a real challenge each day – what to include or pass by. I’m glad that you’re enjoying it. The name of that planet never fails to crack me up! Nuff said.

      Liked by 1 person

I love comments & questions! Please share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s