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How To Use This Site

This blog was updated on a daily basis for about two years, with those daily entries ceasing on December 31, 2013. The blog is still active, however, and we hope that people stopping in, who find something lacking, will add to the daily entries.

The blog still receives new posts as well, but now it receives them on items of Wyoming history. That has always been a feature of the blog, but Wyoming's history is rich and there are many items that are not fully covered here, if covered at all. Over time, we hope to remedy that.

You can obtain an entire month's listings by hitting on the appropriate month below, or an individual day by hitting on that calendar date.
Use 2013 for the search date, as that's the day regular dates were established and fixed.

Alternatively, the months are listed immediately below, with the individual days appearing backwards (oldest first).

We hope you enjoy this site.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

October 8

Today is Columbus Day for 2012, the date this entry was first posted.

At least in my part of the country, Columbus Day has declined to the point of being practically a non entity, as far as observed holidays are concerned.  Nothing happens to note it, other than that I think it is a Federal holiday and Federal services are halted.  Some state ones used to be, but I know that various state offices have, for many years, been given the option of omitting the holiday in exchange for taking the day after Thanksgiving off.

To our south, in Colorado, this day has sometimes been the source or real controversy, however, even in modern times, as American Indians have used it to make a counter observance noting the harm inflicted upon them by European Americans starting in 1492.

The day itself was first observed in Colorado as a state holiday staring in 1906, and became a Federal holiday in 1937.  It's a floating holiday that always occurs on the second Monday of October.

Today is also Canadian Thanksgiving Day, a national holiday in Canada since 1879.  Thanksgiving being a holiday centered on the harvest, the earlier Canadian date, as opposed to the later American date, makes sense.  The current floating holiday was established as the second Monday of October in 1957.

1821  James Long Texas forces surrendered to Mexican forces commanded by Colonel Juan Ignacio Pérez at La Bahía.  Attribution:  On This Day.

1835   John Allen Campbell, Governor of Wyoming Territory from 1869 to 1875, born in Salem Ohio.  As Territorial Governor,. Campbell was a career soldier up until his appointment as Governor, and later became a counsel to Switzerland.  He signed the bill granting Wyoming's women the right to vote.

1838   The Battle Creek Fight, also known as the Surveyor's Fight, occurred between surveyors and Indians at In Navarro County, Texas.  Attribution:  On This Day.

1867  John S. Casement, railroad contractor and Civil War era general, and post war chief engineer for the Union Pacific, appointed Territorial delegate to Congress.

1889  The brewery in Sheridan burned.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1915  The first oil well was drilled in the Elk Basin.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1917   First draft of Owen's Dulce et Decorum Est, October 8, 1917.
(A bit off subject here, but;) Today is the anniversary of the first known draft of Wilfred Owen's well known Great War poem, Dulce et Decorum Est.

Dulce et Decorum Est

By Wilfred Owen
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
I'll be Frank that Owen isn't my favorite Great War poet, in a war that oddly seemed to produce a lot of poets (or did the war just occur in a time when poetry was more common?).  And contrary to what is commonly believed, Owen's fame came posthumously after the war when his work was actually published, not during it. The sort of gloom and despair attributed found in Owen's poems, while not unique to him alone by any means, was also not a common view amongst English veterans of the Great War or even the UK itself until well after it.
1917:  The Second Liberty Loand Drive Commences. October 8, 1917.
Elyse Robert and Dorothy Kohn putting Second Liberty Loan posters on the side of the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, October 8, 1917.

1918  Countdown on the Great War. October 8, 1918: Sgt. Alvin York and the Battle of Hill 223. The Second Battle of Cambrai. A Scout Gets Through. The Desert Mounted Corps Takes Beirut. The Spanish Flu Closes Everything.

1.  On this day in 1918 Sgt. Alvin York preformed the deeds that would make him a household name in the United States and the most famous American veteran of WWI other than, perhaps, Gen. Pershing.

York was a from the Tennessee hill country and one of eleven children of a very poor family.  With virtually no education at all, he had been supporting his family for some time because of his father's early death.  A devout Evangelical Christian, York was a reformed drinker and fighter who had grown up in a family that depended upon hunting to put food on the table.  He was an extremely skilled woodsman and marksman at the time he reluctantly entered the Army due to conscription. He was also seeking conscientious objector status at that time, but reconsidered his position due to the urging of his military superiors.  He proved to be a good soldier and was assigned to the 82nd Division, seeing combat first in the St. Mihel Offensive.

On October 8 his battalion was assigned to capture Hill 223 north of  Chatel-Chéhéry, France.  During the battle Corporal York took on machinegun positions while the remainder of his party guarded captured prisoners.  York took those positions on first with his rifle, a M1917 Enfield, and then ended up killing six charging Germans with his M1911 pistol after his rifle was empty.  Ultimately a large party of Germans surrendered to York and York and seven other enlisted men marched to the rear with 132 German prisoners.  During the battle York killed 25 Germans.  His Medal of Honor citation reads:
After his platoon suffered heavy casualties and 3 other noncommissioned officers had become casualties, Cpl. York assumed command. Fearlessly leading seven men, he charged with great daring a machine gun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon. In this heroic feat the machine gun nest was taken, together with 4 officers and 128 men and several guns.
York would go on to be promoted to the rank of Sergeant before the war was over and he became the most decorated American soldier of World War One.  He was commissioned in the Signal Corps during World War Two and obtained the rank of Major, but his health had declined severely and he was used in a moral boosting role.  In spite of ill health he would remain in the Tennessee National Guard until 1951, retiring at the rank of Colonel.  He was famously the subject of a movie in which Gary Cooper portrayed him.

As noted, York was undoubtedly the most famous enlisted man of World War One, and he was truly heroic.  It's worth noting however that his accomplishments weren't entirely unique and there were several other instances of single American servicemen taking large numbers of prisoners under heroic circumstances, one of which we read about here just the other day.  In some ways the difference with York was that he was of very humble origin and not a career soldier, where as the actions by soldiers like Michael B. Ellis, whom we read about the other day, were accomplishments of men from the Regular Army.  These stories have a common aspect to them, however, in that they were undertaken by men who had extraordinary combat skill nearly singlehandedly, which was admirable but which also tends to show that the American Army was so green at the time that it proved to be necessary for extremely heroic men to undertake actions that were nearly suicidal in order to address the combat situation with which they were faced, rather than relying on coordinated unit actions.  In York's case, a lifetime in the woods had prepared him for battle in a unique way.

2.  On the same day that York's action earned the Medal of Honor, the same could be said of James Dozier.

Dozier started his military career in the South Carolina National Guard and had served on the Mexican boarder with that unit.  When it was called into service for World War One he was commissioned an officer and was a 1st Lieutenant on this day when he took over his company when its commander was wounded, even though he also was.  He commanded the unit over the next several hours, personally rushing one machinegun pit with the aid of a lieutenant.  The men under his command took 470 prisoners.

He stayed in the South Carolina National Guard becoming its AG in the 1920s and retired in 1959 as a Lieutenant General.

3.  On this day in 1918 British Empire forces launched a massive assault on the Germans near Cambrai.  In two days they captured the towns but the over matched Germans nonetheless slowed the advance to the point where it needed to be halted.

That says something about the tenacity of the Germans even at this late stage of the war.  The Germans had 180,000 men committed to the defense in this battle. The British Empire forces numbered 630,000. The British assault was a success, but the Germans none the less managed to require the British advance to halt.

Canadian troops on the Cambrai road, 1918.

4.  Pvt. Abraham Krotoshinsky made his way through enemy lines to inform the American Army of the situation concerning the "Lost Battalion".  He would lead troops back to the besieged soldiers.

Pvt. Krotoshinsky was a Polish Jew who had emigrated to the United States in 1912 to avoid service in the Imperial Russian Army. Following World War One he emigrated to Palestine but failed as a farmer and returned to the United States.  Like Michael Ellis, discussed the other day, he was rescued from unemployment by President Coolige who ordered that he be provided with a job in the United States Postal Service.

5.  The Desert Mounted Corps entered Beirut where they took 600 Ottoman troops without resistance.

6.  Laramie and Casper closed public meeting places of all types:

1919  October 8, 1919 The Sox Take Another, Aviators Take Off. And Wool.
On this day, the Sox won again, and with Cicotte pitching.

This caused real concern among the gamblers.  Prior to the series commencing the common thought that the Sox could win two Series games back to back simply by willing to do so, and now it appeared that was true. The Sox were back in the game and it looked like they might take the series.

As a result, Lefty Williams was visited by an enforcer of the gambler's that night and his family was threatened.  The order was that the Sox were to lose the next game.

While the Sox appeared to be rallying, news of the giant air race, with varied accounts as to the number of aircraft in it, started taking pride of place in the headlines.  The race had already been marred, however, by early loss of life.

Cities on the Lincoln Highway that had only recently hosted the Army Transcontinental Convoy now were getting set to look up and watch the air race.

And there was news of a woolen mill coming to the state, something that would well suit a state that, at that time, had millions of sheep.

The Gasoline Alley gang went golfing.

1944  200 Washakie County students let out of school to help with the wheat harvest in a war time measure.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

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