4th March 1913 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY, in Senatobia, Mississippi – Willie Johnson, electric blues guitarist and principal guitarist in Howlin’ Wolf’s band  between 1948 and 1953.

World Affairs: Woodrow Wilson inaugurated as the 28th US President, replacing President William Taft.

Arms Race: The USS Arizona is ordered. She will launch in June 1915 and see active service for over 26 years before being sunk at Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941.

In response to growing concerns by the Dutch government that it is no longer properly equipped to protect its Empire, the shipbuilder Germaniawerft, based in Kiel, Germany, submits a proposal for a revised battleship design to the Dutch Navy.

Animal rights: The Weeks-McLean Act prohibits the spring hunting and marketing of migratory birds in the USA.


28th February 1913 (Friday)

BORN TODAY, in the Bronx, New York City – Victoria Hamilton Adair, American Poet.

DIED TODAY – shot in Possession Bay, South Georgia, Antartica – the largest ever recorded elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) measuring 6.85 meters (22.5 ft) long and estimated to weigh 5,000 kilograms (11,000 lb).

Disasters & accidents: In Omaha, Nebraska, a fire a the Dewey Hotel kills 20 people.

Arms Race: At Portland Harbour in Dorset (UK) an airship is seen by a postman, a government official and a nurse. It is using a strong searchlight and clearly unconcerned about being observed by casual passers-by.

Science and technology: In Sydney, NSW, the “Royal Hall of Industries” opens with a range of modern and forward looking exhibits including motorbikes, insecticides and photographic equipment.

Empire, shipping, labour and migration: The SS Ganges – a 3475 ton steam ship launched in Glasgow in 1906 – leaves Fiji bound for India. On board are 807 Indian indentured laborers who have completed their contract in Fiji. 681 are heading home to Calcutta (modern Kolkata) and 126 to Madras (modern Chennai). Between 1879 and 1916 tens of thousands of Indians migrated to Fiji to find work – mostly on sugar plantations. Repatriation began in 1892 and will continue (eventually using aeroplanes) until 1956.

21st February 1913 (Friday)

BORN TODAY, in Ohio, USA – Ross Rocklin (aka Ross Rocklynne), sci-fi author in the so called “Golden Age” of Science Fiction (1938 to 1946).

Human Rights: the State of Arkansas abolishes the practice of convict leasing. It will remain legal in Alabama until 1928 and will not be completely eradicated until World War 2. Matthew Mancini described this vicious labour system in his book “One Dies, Get Another – Convict Leasing in the American South, 1866-1928”.

Society and culture: In Choctaw County, Oklahoma, the “Fort Towson Enterprise” reports on the improving conditions after the recent smallpox epidemic in Hugo:

“There has been a great and decided change for the better in the smallpox situation, not only to Hugo but all over the county, the past week. Very few new cases have developed, and very few cases of varloloid, which would indicate that all cases are successfully quarantined and there is no chance, practically, for exposures. This is glad and welcome news to the people of the county. There has been a terrible fear, and justly, by the people of the county to visit Hugo the past few weeks, but the official report below given evidence of the disappearance of the dread malady”.

The official report then summarizes that only 33 deaths have occurred in Hugo in the last week, 14 white patients and 19 negroes.

Science & Technology: Meanwhile the “Athens Banner” from Atlanta, Georgia, reports on the innovative use of electric heating to bring forward the season for successfully hatching “electric hatched chicks”.

17th February 1913 (Monday)

BORN TODAY, in Sarajevo (then) in the Austro-Hungarian Empire – Oskar Danon, Bosnian Jewish conductor and composer, Professor at the Belgrade music academy and president of the Association of Musical Arts of Serbia. Died in Belgrade in 2009, aged 96.

World Affairs: The US President provides assurances to President Madero of Mexico that the US has no plans to interfere in the Mexican Revolution except to protect the lives of US citizens. Meanwhile, south of the border US Ambassador Wilson communicates that General Huerta has communicated that President Madero will be removed from power imminently.

Science and Technology: In Columbus Ohio, a speed test is held by the city’s fire department between four of the best horse drawn fire engines and a new motor driven apparatus. In a three mile race the new technology proves to be around twice as fast, and the city places early orders for the new machines.

The US Army tests its first “automatic pilot” device which is called a gyrostabiliser by its inventor, Lawrence Sperry.

Labour Relations: The State of Oregon becomes the first ever US State to introduce a minimum wage law.

Society & Culture: At the 69th Regiment Armory in New York CIty, the “International Exhibition of Modern Art” provides US Citizens with a first major viewing of hundreds of avant garde paintings and sculptures etc. This exhibition (“the Armory Show”) wil come to be seen as the introduction of modern art to America.

11th February 1913 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY, in Budapest, twin capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – Eva Gabor, US Actress, star of sixties sit-com “Green acres”, and sister of Zsa Zsa.

World Affairs:

In Tokyo, Prime Minister Katsura and his cabinet resign after yesterday’s protest riots.

In Mexico City: On the third of the “Ten Tragic Days” government forces begin their bombardment of the rebel held armory, which provokes a heavy response causing significant damage in the City. Despite government reinforcements arriving, the US Ambassador to Mexico tells visitors and his own government in Washington that the Mexican government is close to collapse.

In Austria: Franz Schuhmeier, a socialist member of the Austrian parliament is assassinated at Vienna railway station.

Society and culture: The menace of children with hoops (a letter of complaint sent today to the London “Times”):


A serious and growing danger now attends riding in Hyde Park – that is, hooptrundling alongside and across the Row. An erratic hoop evades its small owner, dives under the railing into the Row, and falls under the feet of some unsuspecting pony, usually that of some child riding for security’s sake near the railing. With the best-mannered pony in the world, entanglement in a stout wooden or iron hoop means disaster.

On Saturday forenoon I saw two children, assisted by a governess, playing at rolling their hoops through a gap in the Row rails. They got them through at last, right under the legs of a small girl’s pony, almost bringing it down. On Saturday afternoon, another pony did not escape. My small daughter, aged 5, when galloping had her pony’s feet entangled in a hoop. There was a bad smash. She was carried home seriously injured.

The danger is recognised; there have been many complaints, but nothing is done. It is the old story of divided responsibility. The police and the Office of Works have overlapping jurisdiction. What is clear is that the Office of Works could deal with the matter by “a rule of the park” under the Parks Regulation Act, 1872, and if such a rule were made, the police could enforce it.

I am,
Yours faithfully,

19th January 1913 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY – Rudolf Walter Wanderone, Jr., in New York City. As “Minnesota Fats”, a nickname he adopted from a film character allegedly based on him (from “The Hustler”, 1961), Rudy entered the American Billiard Congress Hall of Fame.

Antarctic Exploration: The five surviving mules from the Scott and Oates expedition are shot, after the rescue party reaches the Terra Nova (rescue ship). “The mules had played a vital historical role in the expedition for without them the world may never have known about the fate of Scott and his companions” [British Mule Society  Journal, Spring, 2004].

Another quiet Sunday, unless you happened to be Fats Minnesota’s mum or an unlucky mule in Antarctica…