John’s Believe It Or Not… May 18th

In 1783 the First United Empire Loyalists reach Parrtown (Saint John) New Brunswick. In 1980 Mount St. Helens erupts. In 1974 India joins the nuclear club. In 2004 Randy Johnson throws a perfect game at 40. In 1861 Newspaper report criticizes Mrs. Lincoln.

John Fioravanti Stands at the front of his classroom in 2006

It’s Therapeutic Thursday Again! Did you know…

* 1783 – First of 7,000 United Empire Loyalists reach Parrtown (Saint John), New Brunswick. (On this day in 1783, the first United Empire Loyalists, known to American Patriots as Tories, arrive in Canada to take refuge under the British crown in Parrtown, Saint John, Nova Scotia (now New Brunswick), Canada. The town was located on the Bay of Fundy just north of the border with what is now the state of Maine. Most of the refugees came from New York, which had been under royal control throughout most of the War for Independence. After the Treaty of Paris ended the War for Independence in February 1783, the British evacuated their New York Loyalists to remaining British territories, mainly in Canada. These families had been dispossessed of their land and belongings by the victorious Patriots because of their continued support of the British king and were able to regain some financial independence through lands granted to them by the British in western Quebec (now Ontario) and Nova Scotia. Their arrival in Canada permanently shifted the demographics of what had been French-speaking New France until 1763 into an English-speaking colony, and later nation, with the exception of a French-speaking and culturally French area in eastern Canada that is now Quebec. In 1784, one year after their arrival, the new Loyalist population spurred the creation of New Brunswick in the previously unpopulated (by Europeans, at least) lands west of the Bay of Fundy in what had been Nova Scotia. In 1785, the Loyalists yet again made their mark on Canadian history when their combined settlements at Parrtown and Carleton of approximately 14,000 people became British North America’s first incorporated city under the name City of Saint John. Loyalist refugees in western Quebec received 200 acres apiece. The division between the Anglophile and Francophile sections was ultimately recognized by creating the English-dominant province of Ontario, west of Quebec, in 1867.)

United Empire Loyalists Arrive in New Brunswick

* 1980 Mount St. Helens erupts. (Mount St. Helens in Washington erupts, causing a massive avalanche and killing 57 people on this day in 1980. Ash from the volcanic eruption fell as far away as Minnesota. Seismic activity at Mount St. Helens, which is 96 miles south of Seattle, began on March 16. A 4.2-magnitude tremor was recorded four days later and then, on March 23-24, there were 174 different recorded tremors. The first eruption occurred on March 27, when a 250-foot wide vent opened up on top of the mountain. Ash was blasted 10,000 feet in the air, some of which came down nearly 300 miles away in Spokane. The ash caused static electricity and lightning bolts. Authorities issued a hazard watch for a 50-mile radius around the mountain. The National Guard set up road blocks to prevent access to the area, but these were easily avoided by using the region’s unguarded logging roads. Many residents of the area evacuated, but a substantial number refused. Harry Truman, 84—no relation to the former president—was one resident who refused to move and, after receiving a great deal of positive media coverage for his decision, became a national icon as well as, later, the subject of a local memorial. Throughout April, scientists watched a bulge on the north side of Mount St. Helens grow larger and larger. Finally, on May 18 at 8:32 a.m., a sudden 5.1-magnitude earthquake and eruption rocked the mountain. The north side of the peak rippled and blasted out ash at 650 miles per hour. A cloud of ash, rocks, gas and glacial ice roared down the side of the mountain at 100 mph. Fourteen miles of the Toutle River were buried up to 150 feet deep in the debris. Magma, at 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit, flowed for miles.)

FEMA Photo by NOAA News taken on 05-18-1980 mount saint helens erupting
FEMA Photo by NOAA News taken on 05-18-1980 Mount Saint Helens erupting

* 1974 India joins the nuclear club. (In the Rajasthan Desert in the state of Pokhran, India successfully detonates its first nuclear weapon, a fission bomb similar in explosive power to the U.S. atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. The test fell on the traditional anniversary of the Buddha’s enlightenment, and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi received the message “Buddha has smiled” from the exuberant test-site scientists after the detonation. The test, which made India the world’s sixth nuclear power, broke the nuclear monopoly of the five members of the U.N. Security Council–the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, China, and France. India, which suffered continuing border disputes with China, refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968. Fearing a second war with China and a fourth war with Pakistan, India actively sought the development of a nuclear deterrent in the early 1970s. The successful detonation of its first bomb on May 18, 1974, set off an expanded arms race with Pakistan that saw no further nuclear tests but the development of lethal intermediate and long-range ballistic missiles by both countries. On May 11, 1998, India resumed nuclear testing, leading to international outrage and Pakistan’s detonation of its first nuclear bomb later in the month.)

Explosion of atom bomb as seen at the surface

* 2004 Randy Johnson throws perfect game at 40. (On this day in 2004, 40-year-old Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Randy Johnson becomes the oldest pitcher in major league history to throw a perfect game, leading his team to a 2-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves. A “perfect game” is when a pitcher faces a minimum 27 batters, recording 27 outs. Through the 2006 season, only 17 perfect games had been thrown, including 15 in the modern era (post-1900). Johnson, known for his overpowering fastball, struck out 13 batters in the game. He led the National League in strikeouts for the fifth time that year; he had previously won four strikeout titles in the American League, even though managers routinely stacked their lineups with right-handed hitters to combat Johnson’s utter dominance of left-handers. The 6-foot-10-inch “Big Unit” used his height and length to full advantage, striding towards the plate and throwing the ball sidearm, so that left-handers could not see the pitch until it was on top of them or past them. Johnson had already thrown a no-hitter in 1990 for the Seattle Mariners; he missed a perfect game that day by walking seven batters. In 1995, still with Seattle, he won his first of five Cy Young Awards, given each year to the best American League and National League pitchers. His next four Cy Youngs came consecutively from 1999 to 2002, while he pitched for the National League’s Arizona Diamondbacks. In 2001, Johnson set a major league record with an average of 13.41 strikeouts per nine innings. He was also the fifth player to throw no-hitters in both the American League and National League after Cy Young, Jim Bunning, Nolan Ryan and Hideo Nomo. The oldest pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the major leagues was 44-year-old Texas Ranger Nolan Ryan in 1991. It was the seventh no-hitter of Ryan’s career. He never threw a perfect game.)

This Week in MLB History: Randy Johnson Makes History with Perfect Game in 2004 | Bleacher Report
This Week in MLB History: Randy Johnson Makes History with Perfect Game in 2004 | Bleacher Report

* 1861 Newspaper report criticizes Mrs. Lincoln. (An obscure California newspaper casts first lady Mary Todd Lincoln in an unflattering light on this day in 1861. Quoting a report in the Sacramento Union, the Humboldt Times recounted a tale of how Mrs. Lincoln had usurped her husband’s presidential duty of appointing federal offices. According to the report, Mary Todd Lincoln, in an effort to help her beleaguered husband deal with a slew of office-seekers, took it upon herself to appoint a stranger–whom she had met on the train–to any office he desired. Mr. W.S. Wood thought he’d like to be superintendent of Public Buildings, not knowing that Lincoln had already given the position to someone else. When Mrs. Lincoln later learned that Wood had been turned away from applying for the job, she assaulted her husband with such a tempest about his ears that he was forced to give Wood the position and dismiss his own choice, a friend from his hometown of Springfield, Illinois. The unnamed reporter attributed President Lincoln’s hollow cheeks, sunken eyes and woe-begone expression in a great degree to Mrs. Lincoln’s caprices and interference. (He was perhaps forgetting that the country was embroiled in a civil war at the time.) The reporter went on to suggest that Mrs. Lincoln had been smitten with Mr. Wood’s handsome features, luxuriant whiskers and graceful carriage. He also noted reports about her dancing with Wood many times at the Inauguration Ball in 1860 and that she had succumbed to his charm and flattery. The accusations of Mrs. Lincoln’s flirtation with Wood were never substantiated.)

Mary Todd Lincoln Mathew Brady/Library of Congress
Mary Todd Lincoln Mathew Brady/Library of Congress

Acknowledged Sources:

* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology

* On This Day – History, Film, Music and Sport

* This Day In History – What Happened Today


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.

10 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… May 18th”

  1. Thanks John, I loved history as a subject at school, so I’m intrigued about Mrs Lincoln and of course, being reminded of how insignificant we are when it comes to natural disasters. This is a lovely post which I thoroughly enjoyed. Kind regards.


    1. Thanks for stopping by with your thoughts, Maretha. I’m pleased you enjoyed today’s post!. This is a fun post to put together each day. I love digging up stories that have some parallels with current events.They help to put events today into perspective. Please come again!


  2. Another great list, John. My brother lives in Spokane, and the Mount St. Helen’s eruption left inches of soot on the ground – some 400 miles away. Interesting comments about Mrs. Lincoln – when it comes to American politics, there is always intrigue and, well, fury…. :).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That must have been a frightening time for the people who lived anywhere near Mt. St. Helens back then. That amount of ash gives us a good idea why flights need to be grounded after an eruption. Politics in any democratic country can be cruel and entertaining. Margaret Trudeau, Pierre’s wife, and Justin’s mother suffered from mental health issues – she went AWOL and began flitting around Europe dating people like Mick Jagger, and making B-movies – all while Pierre was Prime Minister. The media circus was unreal. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Gwen!


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