July 2007

Abraham Lincoln, the Universal Humanitarian

Most people are aware of Abraham Lincoln pardoning soldiers that were court marshaled and sentenced to hang. In addition, many people only think of the Indian Wars as happening in the 1870's. However, there was a major incident in the western United States in the Fall of 1862 between Native Americans and the United States military.

Between 1851 and 1858 the Sioux agreed to several treaties promising cash payments and annuities over a period of fifty years in exchange for twenty-four million acres of land. Unfortunately, these payments were made directly to White traders who, in turn, were to supply the Native Americans with goods. Most of the agents diverted the payments to themselves and to relatives.

By the start of the Civil War (1861), the Sioux were literally starving due to lack of money and goods. They banded together and formed war parties and attacked White Americans. After killing some civilian farmer families and pillaging of White settlements, they fought a series of battles with the United States military.

In October 1862, the fighting subsided and 2,000 Sioux surrendered to United States officials. 392 were brought to trial and 303 were found guilty of murder and mayhem. They were all sentenced to hang. The entire court proceedings took only ten days! General John Pope sent word to Abraham Lincoln, as Commander in Chief, seeking permission to execute them immediately. Lincoln responded that he wanted to review the matter first. He sought counsel and most pleaded with him to order the execution of all 303 Native Americans that were found guilty by trial. Weeks passed. Then Lincoln made an announcement to Congress:

“Anxious to not act with so much clemency as to encourage another outbreak on the one hand, nor with so much severity as to be real cruelty on the other, I caused a careful examination of the records of trials to be made, in view of first ordering the execution of such as had been proved guilty of violating females. Contrary to my expectations, only two of this class were found. I then directed a further examination, and a classification of all who were proven to have participated in massacres, as distinguished from participation in battles. This class numbered forty, and included the two convicted of female violation. One of the number is strongly recommended by the commission which tried them for commutation to ten years’ imprisonment. I have ordered the other thirty-nine to be executed ”

Lincoln spent several weeks carefully reading transcripts from the trial. In the end, he ordered that only the 38 Sioux that led the massacres and violating females were to be hung. One was sentenced to ten years in prison. The rest were pardoned.

On December 26, 1862, at 10:15 AM, 4,000 United States military officials looked on as they were hung. To this day, that hanging is known as the United States' largest mass execution.

Door With Mysterious "X" on it Causes Great Panic!

Back in the middle 1980's, when I was Editor and Publisher of a magazine for newspaper collectors, I had the fortune to have as a subscriber Stanleigh Nettleton. At the time he was in his late seventies and described himself as the "Original Bionic Man" as he had false teeth, a replaced hip, eyeglasses and a pacemaker for his heart. Unable to actually write an article for my magazine, he sent me an audio tape of his experiences in the 1930's while working for the Chicago Herald-American newspaper. Below is a transcript of one of his experiences from 1939.

About 1939 I was working the complaint desk on the Chicago Herald-American one Sunday morning. The complaint desk was simply where people call in that missed their paper and I would call the branch manager and he would send a kid over there with another paper. However, it was also the message center for 7 district managers and 91 branch managers who were supervising 3000 carriers delivering over 100,000 home delivery papers in Chicago.

About 6:30 I got a call from Freddy, the branch manager in 158. He called in and simply said, "The boss is looking for me, tell him I'll call him when I get back. I just got a call from Austin Avenue Police Station that they are holding a couple of my kids out there, so I am going out there now to see what the beef is."

Well, about 8:30 Freddy calls and he says, "I'm back and everything is OK." I asked "What about the kids the cops picked up?" He says, "Well, that's a long story. I'll tell you Tuesday when I come in the office."

Come noon Tuesday Freddy comes over to the desk and says, "Let's go eat." As we ate lunch Freddy tells me about the carriers.

Out on Wilcox Avenue in Chicago's West Side there was this big apartment building that was entirely occupied by Jewish families. In one of these apartments was an old Jewish fellow who managed to flee the Gestapo and came to live with his son in Chicago. One Sunday morning the father goes out into the hall to pick up the paper and as he turns to come back in the apartment, he freezes with fear, for right in the center of the door was a big "X" mark made from white chalk. This was exactly the way the Gestapo would mark the houses in Germany when they took the Jews away to the concentration camps.

He finally stopped shaking enough to go in and wake up his son. He brought him out in the hall and pointed to the door. Wouldn't you know it, there wasn't any mark there now. Well, the son thought the old man had some horrendous experiences in the past couple of years so maybe his memory was failing, so the son went back into the apartment and went back to sleep.

The following Sunday the old man watched the apartment door all day long and nothing happened. But the next Sunday when he went to pick up the paper the mark was there again. This time he didn't hesitate and ran in and got his son, brings him out and shows him the mark on the door. His son related to his father that if it happened again he would call the police. When he said that his father shouted "No, No, No." He believed that if the police knew he was there that they would call the Gestapo and he would be back in trouble again. So the disagreement went on. Then for the next 4 or 5 weeks the mark would appear and then mysteriously disappear. Finally, the son called the cops.

Well, when the cops got there, there wasn't any mark on the door. The cops thought both the son and father were a little bit crazy. However, the cops told them that if it happens again to call them and they would come out. So a couple of weeks later it happens again. This time they were there in time to see the mark on the door. The cops asked them if they had received any threatening phone calls or threats of any kind. They hadn't.

The following Sunday the cops sat out in front of the building and watched the front door from 6 to 7 a.m. Come 7 a.m. the cops both agreed that no one had been in or out in the last hour except the milkman. So they grabbed the milkman and hassled him. The milkman was able to convince the cops that he didn't know what they were talking about and that he had only been on the route for three weeks. Since this had been going on for longer than that, the cops finally let the milkman go and gave up for now.

Finally, one Sunday morning, the old man heard the paper thump against the door as the kid threw it down on the floor. He goes out and picks up the paper with the boy still there. Next, the boy takes a piece of chalk out of his pocket and draws an "X" on the door. When the old man sees that he grabs the kid by the shirt and starts yelling. He yells in Yiddish. He yells in German. He wakes up everybody in the building including his son. The son went back into the apartment and called the police.

Soon the police arrived and started questioning the carrier. Soon another carrier walked down the hall and wiped the mark off the door. At this point the cops took the kids and the son to the Austin Avenue Police Station and called Freddy (the kids' boss).

Freddy came down and listened to the newsboys, the cops and the son. Finally he says he can explain everything. He says "First, the kids weren't anti-Jewish or anti-anything else. All they were doing was a good job in delivering their papers." Freddy then went into detail relating what had actually happened. He explained that the carriers were brothers and shared a route. When they started the route, one brother would start on one end of the building and the other brother at the other end and work towards each other. When one finished delivering all the papers he had, he would place a chalk "X" on the door to let the other one know that that apartment was the last one to get a paper. The boy would then go right home and not wait for his brother. The other one, seeing the 'X' would then wipe it off. Since the old man lived near the middle of the building, his door received most of the 'X' marks. This explanation satisfied everyone.

About two weeks later I saw Freddy and asked him how the two brothers that the cops picked up were doing. He says to me "They decided that it would be safer not to place a chalk 'X' on doors anymore, but last week I got a call from a lady in the same building wanting to know why we were stopping her paper. I checked and couldn't find any stop order so I asked her what makes here think we were stopping her paper. She told me that when she went out into the hall to get her paper there was a note on her door that read "Last Paper".

Mr. Nettleton died about fifteen years ago. This is my way of continuing his legacy and keeping him immortal. I still have and treasure the original audio cassette of his experiences.

HistoryBuff.com Update

The HistoryBuff Online Newspaper Archives script debuging is completed. So far I have completed re-entry of the newspapers up to 1865. Only about 350 more newspapers to go.

Some new panoramas will be added to the site. They should be available online in a couple of weeks.

June Contest

GRAND PRIZE QUESTION: What and when was the largest, legal mass execution in United States history?

GRAND PRIZE ANSWER: See first article in this edition of the newsletter.

ALTERNATE PRIZE QUESTION: Who was the first female to be a member of a United States president's cabinet?

ALTERNATE PRIZE ANSWER: Fancis Perkins. She was appointed Secretary of Labor by FDR in 1933.

Ninety-three people entered the contests. Twenty-nine people either had the incorrect subject heading or the wrong answer to the question. (Most had the correct answer but incorrect subject heading.) One newspaper went unclaimed.
The June contest winners were:
  • Linda Balazs - New York
  • Robert Rushing, Jr. - South Carolina
  • Steven Kalan - California
  • Lewis Bowers - New York
  • John A. Ryan - Ontario, Canada
  • Tony Skinner - Oklahoma

This Issue's Question

To enter the Grand Prize Contest, answer the question: Which United States President was was the frist to be inaugurated while BOTH parents were alive?

To enter the Alternate Contest, answer the question: Only one United States denomination of currency has the image of the same president on both sides. Which one is it, and who is the president?

Contest Rules

  • Contest entry deadline is Monday, July 16, 2007. Later entries will be disqualified. Winners will be notified by email within 24 hours after the contest deadline. Winners' names and states will be published in the next issue of the HistoryBuff.com newsletter.

  • Subscribers may enter both contests, but can only win one prize.

  • To enter either contest, email your answer to help@historybuff.com.

  • If entering for the Grand Prize, enter "Contest Entry Grand Prize" for the subject heading.

  • If entering for alternate prize contest, enter "Contest Entry" for the subject heading.

  • Alternate contest entries with prize desires such as "any prize is OK," "any of the historic newspapers" etc. will be disqualified. You MUST select ONE prize. The Grand Prize is considered as only one prize.

  • If entering both contests, send separate emails.

  • From subscribers entering the alternate contest, submitting the correct answer, correct subject heading, submission received by the deadline, as well as advising which ONE alternate contest prize they want to win, SIX will be selected to win ONE of the alternate contest prizes below.

  • From subscribers entering the Grand Prize contest, one will be selected to win the prize from those submitting the correct subject heading, correct answer, and by the deadline.

  • Subscribers to this newsletter that won a prize in my trivia contests in the last 90 days are ineligible to win.
Grand Prize
(One winner will be selected)

    History Channel T-Shirt
    Size XL
Alternate Contest Prizes
Alternate Contest Prizes (Only one of each offered)

DVD Movie
Little Lord Fountleroy (1936)
Freddie Bartholomew & Mickey Rooney

DVD Movie
D.O.A. (1950)
Edmond O'Brien & Beverly Garland

Original Historic Newspapers

Daily National Intelligencer (Washington, DC) historic newspaper from 1842

Original Manchester American & Messenger (New Hampshire) historic newspaper from 1853

The Cuba Patriot (New York) historic newspaper from 1880
Garfield for President Ballot Ad

Original Friendship Weekly Register (New York) historic newspaper from 1893
Front page ad for the Columbian Exposition
That's it for this issue.

Rick Brown

HistoryBuff.com, a nonprofit organization, now accepts donations online with contributions through PayPal or any credit card.
Click the image above to make a donation to HistoryBuff.com. Thanks in advance.

To visit HistoryBuff.com go to http://www.historybuff.com
To unsubscribe from the HistoryBuff.com newsletter, click here and enter your email address in the form. Your email address will be immediately removed.