These 18 Overlapping Events Completely Change Historic Perceptions

These 18 Overlapping Events Completely Change Historic Perceptions

Larry Holzwarth - December 11, 2018

The way most people are taught their history lessons is linear, one reason so many detest the subject of history. To those unfortunates, history is a straight line of events, sprinkled with personages and epic sagas, occasional disasters, countless wars and tragedies, all presented through the perspective of the instructor, be it national, religious, or moral. For some people, the overlap of history, epic events in mankind’s evolution and stumbling struggle for enlightenment, has never really been looked at and its significance understood. For example, at the same time the Ancient Romans were building roads and aqueducts across Europe, they were exploring the ruins of the Ancient Egyptian civilizations, ruins older to them than the Roman ruins are to us today.

These 18 Overlapping Events Completely Change Historic Perceptions
Egyptian artifacts discovered by the Romans were as ancient to them as the Romans are to us today. Wikimedia

America’s arguably most famous seat of higher learning, Harvard University, began teaching its students in the classics – Latin, Greek, Principles of Mathematics, etc. – in 1636. It did not present calculus in its mathematics classes since Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz had not yet formulated the discipline. The young men of Harvard did enjoy healthful exercise through several physical activities including a game which involved the carrying of a ball while members of the opposing team attempted to tackle the ball carrier and take over the ball. The Puritan fathers of Cambridge and New England despised the game, which was called football. That football (more like rugby) was played on Harvard Yard before calculus was presented in its classrooms is an amusing note on history, though a completely overlooked one in the linear view.

Here are some examples of history overlapping itself in ways which cause it to be considered in a whole new light.

These 18 Overlapping Events Completely Change Historic Perceptions
The ubiquitous loaf of sliced white bread did not appear on store shelves until 1928. Wikimedia

1. Sliced bread is younger than some of today’s most celebrated people

Commercially sliced bread emerged in the United States in 1928, a convenience which before then was unknown to housewives and sandwich makers. By the mid-1930s it was ubiquitous and by the end of the Second World War, most Americans obtained their daily bread through the purchase of fortified white bread, sliced and packaged, and laced with preservatives to ensure a longer shelf life than that formerly obtained from a neighborhood bakery or from one’s own kitchen. By the 1960s national brands dominated the bread market, though most grocery stores were stocked from locally operated bread factories, many of which also produced cookies, crackers, and other bakery products. For many Americans, mass-produced sliced white bread was the only bread they knew, a modern convenience.

The flabby, tasteless, and well-preserved substance called sandwich bread in stores is actually younger than many famous people, including George Herbert Walker Bush, Betty White, and Olivia de Haviland. Around the same time, commercially sliced white bread appeared on store shelves ovens with accurate thermostat control appeared in the marketplace, which made the baking of bread simpler for homemakers. The convenience of opening a prepackaged loaf won out over the need to knead. By the twenty-first century, there was a backlash against commercially sliced bread, though it remains a staple of larders and pantry shelves. To some consumers, it is simply a product which has been around forever. In fact, it is less than one hundred years old. By the way, sliced bread appeared the same year as another famed American, Mickey Mouse.

You May Interested too: Once America Tried to Ban Sliced Bread During WWII.

These 18 Overlapping Events Completely Change Historic Perceptions
Not until 1928 were women in the UK allowed to vote at the age of 21. Before then they had to wait until they were 30 years of age. Wikimedia

2. 1928 was an important year for women around the globe

Prior to 1928 the United Kingdom, which had previously given women suffrage under somewhat unfair terms, corrected that error by passing a law which made the voting age the same for men and women. Prior to the passage of the Equal Franchise Act men could vote after reaching the age of 21 while women had to wait until they achieved the age of 30. The passage of the act enfranchised enough new women voters that women became – overnight – the majority voting bloc in the United Kingdom, likely a previously unintended consequence. One of the actions taken by the new majority was the banning of a book, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, for the fault of being too explicit in its depictions of relationships between men and women. The United States’ moralists agreed with their British counterparts and the book was banned there as well.

The Germans, as they so often have over the course of the centuries, took an entirely different approach to sexual relationships and their all too often consequences which, if not necessarily surprising could still be somewhat less than convenient. Teutonic efficiency was applied to relationships, or rather the potential result of relationships, when two German scientists developed the first at-home pregnancy test, allowing women to learn whether or not they were with child privately, during a time when her doctor was obligated under the law to inform her husband (if she had one) of her condition. The test was modified (primarily by researchers in the United States); originally the test involved rodents, the Americans modified it to use rabbits and the phrase “the rabbit died” entered the lexicon.

These 18 Overlapping Events Completely Change Historic Perceptions
Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Holly was likely unaware that the iconic New York jeweler was older than the nation of Italy. Wikimedia

3. Tiffany’s is older than Italy

The little blue boxes which mark the bearer as presenting a gift from Tiffany’s are usually a welcome sight and a clear indication of the good taste of the presenter. They also indicate a certain level of financial achievement. Tiffany’s developed its reputation as one of the world’s premier jewelers beginning in 1837, one of the first New York merchants to place price tags on individual items, to avoid dickering over the cost. The store also developed a reputation for refusing to extend credit or payment terms for its merchandise. A little known fact is that the famed NY logo of the New York Yankees was created by Tiffany’s in 1877, though for a police badge. The Yankees adopted the design as their logo in 1909 when they were known by the name Highlanders. Nearby Tiffany’s another New York icon – Macy’s – opened its doors in 1858.

Italy, on the other hand, didn’t exist in 1858, and in the form, it is known today not for many years later. The capital of Italy – Rome – did not acquire that status formally until 1871. Until the reorganization and unification of the 19th century, Italy was a collection of rival city-states and provinces, a target for the competing European empirical factions of France, Austria, Spain, and Germany. Thus the European nation most closely linked to antiquity by the western world through the ruins of the Roman Empire is in actuality younger than two American icons of capitalism and consumption. The Italians celebrate the birth of the nation of Italy as occurring in 1861, though it was a decade later that Rome was accepted as the capital. As of 2017, eleven Tiffany stores were in operation in the nation which it predates by more than two decades.

These 18 Overlapping Events Completely Change Historic Perceptions
RMS Titanic sank just days before the opening of Boston’s venerable Fenway Park. Wikimedia

4. Fenway Park opened less than a week after the sinking of the Titanic

On April 20, 1912, fans of the Boston Red Sox gathered for the first time at the brand new ballpark built on the recovered marshes known as the Back Bay Fens. Their opponent that spring day was the New York Highlanders, a team which was not yet the bitter rival they would eventually become. The popular mayor of Boston was on hand both to attend the Opening Day festivities and to throw out the “first pitch”, already a baseball tradition. His name was John F. Fitzgerald, a politician of considerable charm and skill, which had earned him the nickname “Honey Fitz”. His grandson, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, would use the name for his yacht while serving as Senator and later as President of the United States half a century later. A seagoing vessel was the subject of discussion among the fans that day and overshadowed the news of the new ballpark on the front pages of Boston’s newspapers.

As Honey Fitz entered the ballpark through the main entrance at 24 Jersey Street (today 4 Yawkey Way) the conversations he overheard were not of excitement over the new baseball season and the Red Sox’s new and modern home. Instead, the topic which dominated conversation and the headlines that day was the tragic sinking of the Titanic, the full scope of which was as yet unknown. Public shock at the death toll and the failure of the ship’s crew to safely evacuate so many of the passengers were already the dominant subject of discussion and seagoing Boston, like so many eastern American cities, was rife with rumor and opinion over what had really happened. Over the decades since that first opening day, Fenway Park and RMS Titanic have both developed legends surrounding their storied existence, with the ballpark into its second century of service, and Titanic eternally on its first voyage.

These 18 Overlapping Events Completely Change Historic Perceptions
Some subspecies of Woolly Mammoth were still extant at the time the Egyptians were building the early pyramids. Wikimedia

5. Woolly Mammoths and Pyramids

There are pyramids in South America, built for the purpose of religious worship according to the archaeologists who discovered them, which date to at least three millennia before the Common Era, making them older than the earliest of the pyramids discovered in Egypt. Before dissolving into the ruins they present today, they exceeded their Egyptian counterparts in volume, and were nearly as tall, in some cases up to 160 feet in height. During the twentieth century, unaware of what the piles of rocks which by then were overcome with jungle growth were, contractors and road builders scavenged them to provide rubble for the building of roads. The location and dispersal of the surviving sites led scientists and archaeologists to estimate that there were once more than one thousand such structures of varying sizes in what is now Brazil, most of them older than those in Egypt.

The Egyptian pyramids, which were built over centuries of elapsed time, were in most cases ancient when they were encountered by the Romans, who regarded them in a manner similar to that which is directed toward Roman ruins today. How ancient are the Egyptian pyramids? Some of the earliest were constructed by the Egyptians at a time when the Woolly Mammoth still roamed the earth. There is no link to the Brazilian pyramids and those of the Egyptians, at least no known link as of this writing, but the South American examples are in some cases centuries older, meaning they too were erected through means unknown at a time when the early great mammals were still alive, though near the extinction they eventually met. Woolly mammoths did not habituate the regions of South America and the Mediterranean where the structures contemporaneous with them were built, so it is likely the pyramid builders were unaware of their existence.

These 18 Overlapping Events Completely Change Historic Perceptions
this 1939 lobby card shows a still of a scene of a musical number which was cut from the final picture. Wikimedia

6. The legend of L. Frank Baum’s coat

During the filming of The Wizard of Oz in 1939, five separate roles were played by veteran Hollywood character actor Frank Morgan (Professor Marvel, the Doorman at Emerald City, the coachman, the Wizard’s palace guard, and the Wizard of Oz). As with most films, the various scenes were shot out of order in deference to the needs of set designers, actor’s schedules, and so forth. Morgan’s scenes as Professor Marvel encountering the runaway Dorothy (and Toto too) were shot near the end of filming which gave Morgan, disgruntled at the costume required of him, time to find something more suitable. The costume designer, director Victor Fleming, Morgan, and others combed second hand clothing stores around Los Angeles in search of the perfect coat, purchasing whole racks of old clothing. One particular coat caught Morgan’s eye and he used it in the film.

During filming it was discovered that the coat bore the name of L. Frank Baum (author of the Oz stories) stitched into the lining of one of the pockets. Though dismissed immediately as a publicity stunt by the newspapers, a curious Morgan confirmed the coat’s ownership by contacting the tailor who made it, providing photographs. The tailor confirmed that the coat had been made for the author of the Oz books, who relocated to Southern California in the early twentieth century. Baum died in 1919, and after his death his books were dissected for political and moral meanings, though in his lifetime he always insisted that they were meant only to please children. His coat, if the story be true, can be seen on the back of Professor Marvel with each televised showing of the film, an event still looked forward to by fans old and new of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Also Read: Hidden Symbolic Messages in The Wizard of Oz You May Have Missed.

These 18 Overlapping Events Completely Change Historic Perceptions
Months before the Wright brothers’ first flight Aida de Acosta became the first woman to pilot a powered aircraft. Wikimedia

7. A woman flew a motorized aircraft before the Wright brothers

On June 27, 1903, Aida de Acosta, a 19 year old American socialite and veteran of three lessons flying dirigibles, became the first woman to fly a powered flight vehicle solo. She piloted the dirigible “Number 9” from Paris to the Chateau de Bagatelle escorted by the vessel’s owner, who rode along on a bicycle a few hundred feet below. Certain that her daring had ruined her eligibility for marriage, as no respectable young man would consider wedlock with such an independent minded woman, her parents undertook to squash the story. Nonetheless the story came out, and despite her parents’ fears Acosta eventually married, had two children, divorced, remarried and divorced again. She eventually became the director of the first eye bank in the United States, a victim of glaucoma herself.

In December of the same year a pair of brothers from Dayton, Ohio, culminated years of experimentation by flying a heavier than air vehicle of their own design, the first Wright Flyer. After a burst of press coverage, much of which was cynical, the brothers retreated to a prairie near Dayton to develop both their airplane and the skills required of a pilot, in effect learning to fly. The combination of Aida’s parent’s hushing up her story and the Wright’s use of the press to develop interest in their work for commercial purposes led to Acosta’s story being largely lost to history. Nonetheless it is true that an American woman flew a powered aircraft nearly six months before the Wright Brothers took to the air at Kitty Hawk, an event forgotten by history but easily verified in the historical record.

These 18 Overlapping Events Completely Change Historic Perceptions
A 1930s vintage advertisement for Campbell’s Tomato soup which appeared in the Saturday Evening Post. Wikimedia

8. The grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup

Although toasted cheese in various forms was a popular dining alternative during antiquity and continuously since, the modern version as we know it now is considerably younger. Evidence exists that it evolved in the 1920s and expanded greatly in popularity during the early years of the Great Depression. To save money and expand available stocks of bread, soup kitchens often created an open-faced grilled cheese sandwich during the Depression, which became known as a cheese dream. They were usually served with the cup or bowl of soup offered by charitable organizations to those who waited in long lines during the darkest days of the depression. The soup served with the grilled cheese sandwich was most often tomato soup, made from concentrate, an inexpensive but warming meal.

Joseph Campbell’s Campbell Soup Company employed a chemist named John Dorrance, who in 1897 developed a means of condensing soup by reducing the amount of water content by about half before canning the resulting concentrate. To prepare the soup – which was fully cooked – for serving one merely had to add water and reheat. Campbell’s Tomato Soup and a grilled cheese sandwich became the ultimate comfort food for hungry men and their families unable to afford another meal, and the combination retains its reputation as a comfort food today, especially during the chill days of late fall and winter. The linking of the two was fortuitous and perhaps economically inevitable, but ever since they have remained inseparable, with hundreds of modifications to sophisticate the simple combination of flavors which go together so well.

These 18 Overlapping Events Completely Change Historic Perceptions
The Lee-Custis mansion – now known as Arlington House – overlooks Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Wikimedia

9. The creation of Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia

Of all the monuments, memorials, and national symbols which appear in Washington DC and its surrounding environs in Maryland and Virginia none are more somber than the National Cemetery at Arlington. The cemetery contains the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, the graves of John, Robert and Ted Kennedy, several other memorials such as the USS Maine memorial; Cross of Sacrifice; the Challenger Memorial, and others. Arlington National Cemetery stands on ground which before the American Civil War was part of Arlington Plantation, the home of Robert E. Lee. The Lee-Custis House still stands on the bluff overlooking the graves of the Kennedy’s, across the cemetery to the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Capitol, and the Jefferson Memorial on the Tidal Basin.

The cemetery came about because the casualties of the American Civil War quickly overwhelmed the capacity of the cemeteries used by the military, at Soldier’s Home and at Alexandria, Virginia. Burials at Arlington began in 1864, and the government acquired the property via a tax sale, after first refusing an attempt by Mrs. Lee to pay through an agent the taxes owed on the property. Essentially the government confiscated the property from the Lees, but did so under a thin veneer of legality. Robert E. Lee never returned to the property, and made no attempt to recover the financial losses he suffered. Because the Lee-Custis House had once been the property of the Custis family – Martha Custis had been married to George Washington – the entire history of the United States can be traced within the cemetery grounds.

These 18 Overlapping Events Completely Change Historic Perceptions
This satellite image is cropped to depict the extent of the Ottoman circa 1900. NASA

10. The Roman/Byzantine/Ottoman Empire lasted from before Christ to Prohibition

The Roman Empire is generally agreed among historians to have lasted from 27 BCE until it split into the Eastern and Western Empires in 395 CE. Following the division, the Eastern Empire existed until 1453, when its capital of Constantinople was captured by the Ottoman Empire. For six hundred years communication by the nations of the west with the Orient was through the Ottoman Empire, giving it power and influence which dominated European politics regarding trade, and was in part incentive for finding another route to the spice islands of the east, which motivated Columbus to undertake his voyages of discovery. As the New World grew the influence of the Ottoman Empire, often called the Turk by the people of Europe and America, remained strong.

The Ottoman Empire remained a powerful influence throughout the Renaissance, the Napoleonic Age, and the growth of the global British Empire. During its existence the United States was born and grew into the 48 contiguous states, steam replaced sail as motive power for ships at sea, and horses on land. Einstein published his theories of matter, gravity, and relativity while the remnants of the ancient empire of the Romans continued to thrive. Women’s rights became an international issue, as did temperance. The entire history of the western world, the plague, the European wars of succession and empire, the growth of industry, trade, and political theory, indeed all of what we now call western civilization, developed under the eye of the remnants of the empire which originated with the Caesars. It continued to exist until 1923.

These 18 Overlapping Events Completely Change Historic Perceptions
Construction of the London District Railway and Underground began in the 1860s and has never really ceased since. Wikimedia

11. The London Underground was built before public hangings were abolished

The modern convenience of a subterranean railway system is for many a part of their daily life, and in cities which rely on them for public transportation they are an indispensable part of the infrastructure. When the earliest systems were built they were hailed as a significant step in the civilization of cities and a sign of the advancement of humanity, though the earliest subways predated the theories of Darwin regarding evolution and the general belief of the equality of all races. London’s subway system, officially called the London Underground and known with varying degrees of affection or disdain as the tube, began with experimental railways in 1863, and has been under improvement and expansion ever since.

In England in the 1860s, execution of criminals by hanging were still conducted in public, with the condemned subjected to the humiliation of being jeered and taunted as he or she prepared to meet their end on the gallows. It was possible in London of 1863 and beyond to use the proof of civilization called the Underground to sojourn to a public hanging and express contempt for the condemned in their last moments, along with fellow citizens. In 1866 a Royal Commission recommended that execution by hanging remain in effect for prescribed crimes, but that public hangings should be – ahem – suspended. The last public hanging in the UK occurred in 1868. That the subway system existed – at least in its earliest form – before the end of public executions in the United Kingdom is a surprising example of modern thinking being merged with the habits and practices of the past.

These 18 Overlapping Events Completely Change Historic Perceptions
The bicycle is younger than the steam engine and has had many variations in its history, including this proposed amphibious version. Wikimedia

12. The bicycle and the steam engine were developed around the same time

In truth, the steam engine is older than the bicycle, but a practical use of steam for the purpose of locomotion began being explored around the same time that the bicycle emerged. Both owe their development in part to the Year Without a Summer 1816, when the eruption of the volcano Tambora the previous year caused global climate change which destroyed crops throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Horses became scarce due to lack of fodder. Both the bicycle and the steam engine as means of propulsion were brought forth, including potentially combining the two. Thus the eruption of Tambora eventually led to the development of railroads and bicycle trails, or at least contributed to the need for both.

The early bicycles, developed in Germany, were essentially a seat between two wheels, driven by the “rider” walking along, pushing the vehicle, which was called a velocipede, with each stride, steering via changing the direction at which the front wheel was aimed. Pedal driven bicycles weren’t developed until 1863, by which time the steam engine was driving rail locomotives around the world. In urban areas, where roads were usually better paved, bicycles in various forms grew in popularity. In rural areas, where the roads were usually little better than wagon trails, rutted and boulder strewn, and frequently a muddy morass, the bicycle was less popular and far more difficult to ride. Eventually the steam engine yielded its dominant position to the internal combustion engine and electrical power sources, while the bicycle continues to enjoy popularity as both a commuting vehicle and as a recreational machine.

These 18 Overlapping Events Completely Change Historic Perceptions
Contrary to popular belief, Joseph-Ignace Guillotin neither invented the guillotine nor died upon it. Wikimedia

13. The guillotine was still in use when Jimmy Carter was President, and Star Wars was in theaters

For centuries the execution of criminals and others condemned to death was performed by separating the head from the body, often in public, and the display of severed heads was a favored means of dissuading miscreant behavior. Execution by beheading could be messy however, as the skill of the executioner was often lacking, and more than one stroke of axe or sword was required to complete the execution. In 1788, German engineer Tobias Schmidt developed a machine to accomplish beheadings with mechanical precision and the following year Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin successfully lobbied the French government to perform all executions using the device, which became known as the guillotine. Despite a long-standing myth, Guillotin did not invent the device, nor die on it. In fact, he opposed capital punishment.

Many thousands did die on the machine, which became a long-standing symbol of the French Revolution. The guillotine was widely used as an execution device in Europe for nearly two centuries, and was a favored method of the Gestapo, who often placed the condemned face up on the machine, so that the blade could be clearly seen before it dropped. It was the official means of execution of condemned criminals in France until capital punishment was abolished there in 1981. It was last used for that purpose on September 10, 1977, when Jimmy Carter was president of the United States, Star Wars was a huge box office hit, and the Atari Video Console System was the newest video game system. That the guillotine was in use in the late twentieth century is another indication that distant ancestors are often not as distant as believed.

Guillotine Fun Facts: The Death-Penalty Abolitionist Who Invented the Guillotine.

These 18 Overlapping Events Completely Change Historic Perceptions
Abraham Lincoln did not created the Secret Service, nor were succeeding presidents under its protection until after the death of William McKinley. Wikimedia

14. Abraham Lincoln and the creation of the Secret Service

It is often erroneously reported that Abraham Lincoln signed the legislation which created the Secret Service as one of his last acts as President on the day he was shot at Ford’s Theater. The legislation was on his desk that evening, but was unsigned, and the succeeding President Johnson created the agency the following July. Nor was the Secret Service created to protect the President and his family. It was instead an agency created to control the rampant counterfeit currency in the American economy, much of it created by agents of the Confederacy (one of the reasons Johnson delayed signing it was the war being over). The Secret Service did not assume the role of protecting the President until after the assassination of William McKinley in 1901.

The link between Lincoln and the Secret Service is thus tenuous at best, though frequently cited as one of the eerie coincidences involved in the Lincoln assassination. Lincoln did actively push for an agency to battle the counterfeit currency during the war, but his protection was from privately hired agents from the Pinkerton Agency and other bodyguards. He was also assigned a detail from the Washington police, from which one guard was absent from his post, drinking in a bar next to the theater, when John Wilkes Booth entered Lincoln’s box. He was never prosecuted nor disciplined for his dereliction of duty. Four American presidents have been assassinated while in office, three of whom were without Secret Service protection. Several attempts have been made on the president’s life since, including on Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, JFK, Gerald Ford (twice) and Ronald Reagan, and untold plots have been thwarted by the agency which Lincoln died before he could authorize.

Also Read: How Killing President William McKinley Changed the Presidency Forever!

These 18 Overlapping Events Completely Change Historic Perceptions
The untimely death of Buddy Holly and others of his party overshadowed a far deadlier airplane crash that same day, February 3, 1959. Wikimedia

15. February 3, 1959: The day the music died

On February 3, 1959 a Lockheed Electra flying from Chicago’s Midway International Airport bound for LaGuardia in New York crashed into the East River. The official cause of the crash was eventually found to be pilot error. Of the 73 passengers and crew aboard the aircraft only eight survived. Beyond New York and Chicago the crash drew little news coverage following the immediate announcements, as it was overcome by another news story which drew national attention for weeks. It was another aviation accident, the crash of a small, privately owned airplane in a remote field in Iowa. In that crash three passengers and the airplane’s pilot were killed. How an accident which killed four displaced the news of an accident which killed 65 on the front pages of the nation’s newspapers is explained by the nature of the passengers in the former.

They were Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and J. P. Richardson, known as the Big Bopper. The deaths of three singers while on their Winter Tour shocked their fans, and all three of the victims (the pilot was also killed) quickly became the stuff of legends. The myths include who was on the plane and why, who should have been, wasn’t and why, and even whether the accident was something more than an accident. The crash became the subject of song, television specials, and films and earned the sobriquet The Day the Music Died in the 1971 hit by Don McLean American Pie. Monuments to the performers were erected on the site of the crash. As for the crash of the Lockheed Electra the same day; the flight number, 320, was not retired as are usually those of fatal crashes. Instead it was assigned to another route, from Dallas to Norfolk and remains in use in 2018.

These 18 Overlapping Events Completely Change Historic Perceptions
A painting of an anonymous woman entitled “Civil War Widow” circa 1863. Dayton Art Institute

16. The last Civil War pensioner died while George W. Bush was in the White House

Maudie Hopkins was not a Civil War widow, nor was she born until many years after the war. She was but 19 (approximately, reports differ) when she married Confederate veteran William Cantrell in 1934. He was a bit older than his new bride, 86 years of age, and although that may look unusual using today’s eyes, it was not at all unusual for the time. She married at least twice more, perhaps three times, and bore three children. A resident of Arkansas, she was not eligible for a Confederate widow’s pension when she first married, but a change to the law enacted in 1937 made her eligible for a small pension from the state as the widow of a veteran of the Confederacy. The amount of the pension was negligible, even by the standards of the day.

Younger women marrying older men became common in many of the former Confederate states for two generations following the Civil War, mainly because there were so few men of marriageable age due to the casualties of the war. By the time of Maudie’s first marriage it was no longer common, but it was also not all that rare. Many of society had begun to frown about the practice, and the tsk-tsk of wagging tongues caused many young women to keep their marriages to aging veterans secret. Maudie may not have been the last Civil War pensioner, but she was the last known when she passed away in a nursing home in August, 2008 at the age of 93. At the time Barack Obama was deep into his campaign to win the Presidency of the United States, an event which would have been considered unheard of in the Arkansas of her youth.

These 18 Overlapping Events Completely Change Historic Perceptions
Napoleon III challenged his empire to create a substitute for butter suitable for consumption by the military and the masses. Wikimedia

17. A Frenchman was responsible for the creation of a substitute for butter

The idea of a Frenchman substituting an ersatz ingredient for butter is anathema, but it is nonetheless true. Napoleon III, disturbed by shortages of the real thing, challenged his chefs, scientists, chemists, and anybody else with an idea to create a substitute for butter which could be fed to the army and to the lower classes, freeing existing dairy supplies to be used by the more deserving upper class. The Emperor offered financial rewards and recognition, and French chemist Hippolyte Mege-Mouries presented a concoction which he called oleomargarine, and which, besides being edible, proved useful for greasing the axles of gun carriages and wagons. Still, its principal ingredient was beef fat, and its manufacture relied on a steady supply of the commodity.

During the Great Depression and the war which followed beef fat – indeed all fats – were in short supply and subject to rationing. Oleomargarine became manufactured entirely from vegetable oils. The resulting product was then treated with dyes to counter its unappetizing white color, similar to shortening (which is basically what it is) and flavorings to make it taste more like butter. Rationing, aggressive advertising of the product beginning in the 1950s, and concerns over animal fat in the diet all conspired to make margarine more popular than butter. Today’s oleomargarines and vegetable spreads can be traced back to the French Emperor’s desire to ensure there was sufficient butter available for his chefs and those of the upper class, while the lesser lights were provided a substitute sufficient to their presumably less discerning palates.

These 18 Overlapping Events Completely Change Historic Perceptions
Orville Wright, the first human to operate a heavier than air powered aircraft in flight, in a photograph taken two years after the event. Wikimedia

18. Orville Wright lived to see the sound barrier broken

On December 17, 1903 just after 10:30 in the morning, Orville Wright became the first man to achieve flight with a powered heavier than air flying machine when he lifted off the dunes at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina and flew about 120 feet. Three more fights followed that day, another by Orville and two by his brother Wilbur. The final flight covered over eight hundred feet and achieved a speed of around seven miles per hour. Over the next two years the brothers became the first to receive flying lessons, albeit they were self-taught, as they learned the principles of flight and the skills required to control an airplane. Wilbur died of typhoid fever at the Wright home in May, 1912. Orville continued to promote flying for the rest of his life.

Aviation developed quickly, spurred by the innovations of the First World War, the barnstormers and mail pilots of the interwar years, and the development of new technologies in materials, control systems, radars, and engines. After the Second World War the United States and other countries raced to create aircraft which could fly in space, as well as faster than the speed of sound. In 1947 the United States, after several failures, broke the sound barrier in level flight when Chuck Yeager flew the Bell X-1 at a speed measured at 807.2 miles per hour. The date was October 14, 1947, just less than forty-four years after Orville Wright first flew. The first powered flight pilot was still alive to hear of Yeager’s achievement, though he often lamented the use of the airplane as a weapon. “We dared to hope we had invented something that would bring lasting peace to the earth”, he said. “But we were wrong”.


Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“How Sliced Bread Became the ‘Greatest Thing'”. Jennifer Latson, TIME Magazine. July 7, 2015

“Before There Were Home Pregnancy Tests”. Cari Romm, The Atlantic. June 17, 2015

“The Risorgimento and the Unification of Italy”. Derek Beales and Eugenio Biagini. 2003

“Blood Feud: The Red Sox, the Yankees, and the Struggle of Good vs. Evil”. Bill Nowlin and Jim Prime. 2005

“Science: Mini mammoths survived into Egyptian times”. Douglas Palmer, New Scientist. March 27, 1993

“‘The Wizard of Oz’ at 75…did you know?” Todd Leopold, CNN Entertainment. August 25, 2014. Online

“Here Lies the Heart”. Mercedes de Acosta. 1960

“History of Arlington National Cemetery”. Arlington National Cemetery. October 7, 2015. Online

“The Ottoman Empire”. BBC Religions. September 4, 2009. Online

“Capital Punishment in Britain”. Richard Clark. 2009

“Who Invented the Bicycle?” Elizabeth Palermo, Live Science. August 29, 2017

“The Bloody Family History of the Guillotine”. Edward White, The Paris Review. April 6, 2018

“No Counterfeits: The History of the Secret Service”. Erin Blakemore, TIME Magazine. April 14, 2015

“The Last Civil War Widow Has a Successor It Would Seem”. James Barron, The New York Times. June 16, 2004

“The Butter Wars: When Margarine Was Pink”. Rebecca Rupp. National Geographic. August 13, 2914

“The Wright Brothers”. David McCullough. 2016

“10 Unlikely Simultaneous Historical Events”, Khalid Elhassan, History Collection, March 9, 2018