HistoryBuff.com June 2010 Newsletter
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Grant Proposal Update

First, thank you very much for your kind comments when you voted for the HistoryBuff.com grant proposal. I really appreciate them.

The HistoryBuff.com Pepsi Grant Proposal ended up in 200th place when voting ended. Unfortunately, only the top 10 for each category receive funding. The overall top 100 get a second chance for voting.

I am not a quitter. Since I am unable to resubmit my grant proposal to Pepsi, I am going to try a grass roots approach. I see on my subscriber list several are employed by major media companies, universities or Fortune 500 companies. I have prepared a more formal grant proposal and saved it in PDF format. To download it, click here. Then, if you are an employee of a university, if you will, give the chairman of the history department a copy of my proposal and pitch the proposal. If you work for a major media source or a Fortune 500 company, go to the marketing director and pitch the grant. Perhaps, they will want to sponsor the project for branding purposes. If you work for a larger nonprofit organization or foundation, pitch the idea to them. Any help would be most appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Rick Brown

Ok, So This Makes Me a Weirdo...

Whenever I pass by a cemetery where one wouldn't expect to find one, I tend to pull over and wander the cemetery looking to find the oldest grave. On two occasions, it was most gratifying:

In the summer of 1980 I was down at Mammoth Cave, Kentucky doing some wilderness camping. To get to the campsites, I had to drive about four miles down a dirt road. At the end of the road was a parking lot and a one-room church. From there it was a hike in to your campsite The church was literally falling down. Beside the church was a cemetery. As I wandered the graveyard, I noticed the most recent burial was prior to WWI. In the back corner was a set of six graves from the same family that had died on the same day in 1856. The first grave marker had the woman's name, birth and death date - July 7, 1856. The next five markers contained the same information on each: Baby Green, Died July 7, 1856. It appeared likely that the mother died in childbirth and all of the babies were either stillborn or died shortly thereafter. Imagine that! Quintuplets born in 1856!

I work for Redbox and recently two new kiosks in a diffrent city were added to my route. While driving down the two-lane highway to get to the new kiosks, I noticed a small graveyard beside the road. Not the typical small-town cemetery, but a small one of about ten grave markers in one corner of a farm. The first time I passed it by as I was going to fast to stop - 55 miles per hour. The second time, I missed it all together. The third time I managed to stop in time. I parked my car between the road and cemetery and took a walk though the little cemetery. There were ten grave markers. The newest one was for a 14-year-old girl that died in 1870. Four of the markers were too worn to read any information on them. Two of the markers were for people born in the late 1700s and likely died in territorial Michigan. (Michigan became a state in 1837.)

Along this line, I've always wondered what happened to all the family plots when relatives were buried on their own farm. Or, like in the movies, with a wagon train headed west, when people died they were buried near where they died and the rest of the family moved on. What happened to these graves?

I do know of one instance here in Lansing, Michigan where an entire cemetery was moved in 1871. According to the local newspaper, the bodies were exhumed and moved to a new cemetery. Ironically, today the ground where the original cemetery was is now an elementary school!

The Most Unique Disaster in American History?

Disasters such as, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados, volcano eruptions, snow blizzards, ice storms, large fires, and many others are quite common. There is one disaster that took place in Boston in 1919 that is very likely the only one of its kind.

In 1919, a 58-foot-high, 90 feet wide cast iron tank loomed over Boston's North End. The tank held 2.2 million gallons of molasses and burst, sending a tsunami of the sticky liquid down Commercial Street at 35 miles-per-hour, destroying houses, commercial buildings and a part of the elevated railroad. Chunks of metal flew everywhere, piercing into people and buildings for hundreds of feet around.

The burst tank sent out a blast of air that pushed people away. But seconds later a counterblast rushed in to fill the vacuum and pulled them back in. However, most of the damage was caused by the molasses itself. It splashed onto city streets in all directions, speeding faster than a man could run.

Envision a disaster scene with smashed buildings, overturned vehicles, drowned and crushed victims, and terrified survivors running away covered in molasses. Like the modern-day disasters with which we are unfortunately familiar, there was chaos, terror, buildings in ruins, victims to be dug out, trapped survivors to be rescued, rescue workers among the victims, and anguished families rushing to relief centers to find their relatives. It was like any horrible disaster scene, with the addition that everything was covered in smelly, sticky brown molasses. The molasses smashed freight cars, plowed over homes and warehouses and drowned both people and animals. A three story house was seen soaring through the air as well as a huge chunk of the shattered vat that landed in a park 200 feet away.

Rescuers were bogged down in the stuff and were scarcely able to move as the molasses sucked the boots right off their feet. The dark brown sticky stuff filled cellars for blocks around and it took months for it to be pumped out. Salt water had to be sprayed on cobblestone streets, homes, and other buildings because fresh water would not remove the stuff. For months afterwards, wherever people walked, their shoes stuck to the goop. Some people claimed that on a hot day one could still smell molasses even after thirty years.

Imagine, if you will, a genealogist finding a death certificate for a relative that died in Boston in 1919, and the cause of death was "Asphyxiation by molasses." Wouldn’t that throw them for a loop???

Another HistoryBuff.com Project

I have been collecting and researching the Lincoln assassination for forty-four years now. Over the years I have been offered thousands of times a "genuine April 15, 1865 New York Herald’s with coverage of the Lincoln assassination." However, in fact, they were actually very old reprints produced over one-hundred years ago. An average of 3 of these reprint editions appear on eBay on a weekly basis. (In the ten years that I have been using eBay, only twice were they actually an original despite the all the other sellers claiming theirs was an original.)

So far, I have documented thirty-five different times the April 15, 1865 New York Herald has been reproduced. The first was printed in 1871 and the most-recent was in 1908. I am in the process of creating an online atlas of all known reprints of this special edition. I am digitizing all pages of each edition for visitors to compare their specimen to better determine when their reprint was produced. I will be using an advanced version of the program currently utilized for my Online Newspaper Archives.

I am missing examples of the following reprint versions:

  • Kitchel’s Liniment for 1890, 1892 through 1899, 1903 and 1904, 1906, 1907, and 1908. (The date for each can be found at the top margin of page 2.)

  • Smith’s Buchu Lythia Pills ads on pages 2 and 3. (Only one reprint version is known.)

    If you have any of the above reprint versions, I would like to borrow it so I can scan it, and then return it to you.

    In addition to the reprint versions, I would also like to include in my online atlas, the front page of each of the four original editions printed - 2 AM, 3 AM, 10 AM, and 1 PM. If you have one of these, email me and let me know. Because these originals have significant value, if you desire, I can have you take it to your local graphics firm for scanning and burn it to a CD and mail me the CD. This way, your original will be protected from possible damage. I will pay for the scanning.

    Thanks in advance for your assistance.

    Rick Brown


    As a result of my appeal for donations in the previous issue, Richard Luke made a one-time donation. Thank you.

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    April Contest

    CONTEST ONE QUESTION: What comedy trio used Three Blind Mice as their theme song?

    ANSWER: The Three Stooges

    CONTEST TWO QUESTION: Which comedian used Thanks for the memories as his theme song?

    ANSWER: Bob Hope

    One-hundred-twenty-one people entered the contests. Twenty-seven people just clicked "Reply" and did not change the original subject heading - "HistoryBuff.com May Newsletter" - to the correct subject heading. Twelve others did not select a prize if they won. Two had an incorrect answer. All prizes were awarded.

    The May Contest Winners Were:
    • Tony Skinner - Oklahoma
    • Harry Van Noy - Indiana
    • Sue Pye - Massachusetts
    • Robert Ayres - Florida
    • Diane Elmore - California
    • Mitch Mitchell - Texas
    • Joellen Schmidt - Kansas

    This Issue's Questions:

    To enter Contest One, answer the question: A headline in one of my historic newspapers states: "Happy Trails to you Roy." Whom was this headline referring to?

    To enter Contest Two, answer the question: In which war did income tax begin?

    Contest Rules

    • Contest entry deadline is Friday, June 18, 2010. Later entries will be disqualified. Winners will be notified by email within 48 hours after the contest deadline. Winners' names and states will be published in the next issue of the HistoryBuff.com newsletter.

    • To enter Contest One or Contest Two, email your answer to curator at historybuff.com

    • To enter Contest One, use "Contest One Entry" for the emailed contest entry subject heading and answer the Contest One question. Any other subject heading will be disqualified.

    • To enter Contest Two, use "Contest Two Entry" for the emailed contest entry subject heading and answer the Contest Two question. Any other subject heading will be disqualified.

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

    • If entering both contests, entries must be sent in separate emails.

    • If answering the Contest One question, select your prize from the Contest One prize list.

    • If answering the Contest Two question, select your prize from the Contest Two prize list.

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

    • Subscribers to this newsletter that won a prize in my trivia contests in the last 90 days are ineligible to win.
    June Contest One Prize List
    (Select ONE of the two prizes below if enterering Contest One)

    DVD: Vietnam America's Conflict

    23 hours of documentary footage

    Authentic WWII Pillow Cover

    June Contest Two Prize Selection

    (Select ONE of the prizes below if enterering Contest Two)


    The Snows of Kilimanjaro

    Starring Ava Gardner, Gregory Peck & Susan Hayward


    Flash Gordon

    Classic Episodes of the 1950s TV Series

    Original Historic Newspapers

    Original National Gazette historic newspaper from 1829

    The New York Times historic newspaper from 1864

    Original Boston Post historic newspaper from 1871
    That's it for this issue.

    Rick Brown

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