On May 22, 1849 a patent was granted for a process that allowed boats to be lifted over shoals without unloading them. As exciting as this invention would be for the steamboat captain that saved hours of work, the more interesting part is that it was a patent granted to one of our presidents. Who is the only United States president to have a patent for his invention?
Answer: Abraham Lincoln was granted patent number 6469. This was while he was serving as a Congressman representing Illinois.
Winner: Matt & Kris Parker
Over the course of the holidays I love to re-watch some of the old cartoons that remind me of my childhood. The Peanuts is one of my favorites! One of the lesser known characters is a girl that likes to remind others of her “naturally curly hair.” What is her name?
Winner: Kim Moore
On December 1, 1990, England connected to mainland Europe as engineers broke through the last rock layer in the tunnel being dug under the English Channel. The dirt removed during the project added 90 acres to England’s size. The Chunnel is recognized as one of the “Seven Wonders of the Modern World,” took six years to complete and cost £4.65 billion (80% more than budgeted). In its first full year of operation, 7.3 million people travel the 23.5 miles under the seabed. How many people traveled in the record-breaking year of 2014?
Answer: In 2014 a record 21 million passengers were transported between Britain and France using the tunnel - up from 7.3 million in 1995, its first full year in operation.
King Tut was virtually unknown until archaeologist Howard Carter entered the inner chamber of his tomb on November 26, 1922. The intact room provided countless treasures over the following 17 years as it was excavated. The most famous was probably his sarcophagus of 3 coffins, the inner one gold. Tutankhamen became a sensation not only for the knowledge and treasures gained, but for the rumors of the “mummy’s curse.” Decades later Tut became popular again when some of the collection toured the country. Which Saturday Night Live actor sang about the legendary boy king?
Answer: The King Tut craze reached such a fever pitch that comedian Steve Martin mocked it on SNL in his 1978 song “King Tut.” Watch the video here.
Winner: Pete Ward
“Tokyo Rose”, was born Iva Toguri in LA to Japanese-American parents. She graduated in 1941 from UCLA with plans to be a doctor. As a graduation present she was sent to visit her aunt in Japan and became stuck there after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In time, she took a job at an English speaking newspaper that led to her hosting a radio program the Japanese government intended to be used to demoralize American soldiers. Although she refused to disperse this propaganda, she was still convicted of treason and on October 6, 1949 sentenced to 10 years in prison. She was later pardoned by what president?
Answer: In 1976, President Gerald Ford wrote an executive pardon for Iva Toguri. She died on September 26, 2006, as an undisputed American citizen.
London’s police force was established in September of 1829. They wore blue tails and top hats, a uniform chosen to easily differentiate them from the red coat of soldiers. This uniform was required to be worn both on and off duty to alleviate the public’s concern of spying. Each constable was also given a wooden baton, pair of handcuffs and a rattle to raise an alarm. Today we know these men and women as Bobbies. How did they get that nickname?
Answer: The London police force was established by Sir Robert Peel, Home Secretary in Lord Liverpool’s Tory Cabinet. They were originally called Peelers, but later became more commonly known as Bobbies. Both nicknames were references to Sir Robert Peel.
Winner: Jonathan Obrecht
You may know that on August 9, 1836 Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the Summer Olympics in Berlin, but did you know that he was a sickly child? In addition to bouts with pneumonia he developed large boils on his chest and legs. Unable to afford a doctor to treat them, his mother used a sterilized kitchen knife to remove them while Jesse’s father held him down. Owens suffered a great loss of blood but survived. Jesse isn’t even his real name! What is this famous runner’s correct first name?
Answer: Born James Cleveland Owens, the track star was called “J.C.” by his family. On his first day at Bolton Elementary School after moving to Cleveland at age 9, the teacher misheard his Alabama drawl and thought he said his name was “Jesse” instead of “J.C.” Owens was too shy to correct his new teacher in front of his new classmates, and he was called “Jesse” for the rest of his life.
Winner: Ryan Lerman
Louis Pasteur is probably best known for his food preparing process, pasteurization. However, he also made medical history on July 6, 1885 when a young boy was brought by his mother to the Paris hospital in which Pasteur practiced. She was so concerned her son would not survive his ailment that she was willing to risk an untested, newly developed vaccine. Given an almost certainty of death for the boy, the doctor agreed. What virus were they concerned about?
Answer: Pasteur had developed a vaccine for Rabies. Only 10 people have been known to survive the virus once symptoms are present. Prior to the injection given to Joseph Meister it had only been tested on dogs.
June 14 is celebrated in the U.S. as Flag Day. In 1777 a resolution was introduced before Congress mandating a United States flag, stating, "...that the flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation." Who brought this resolution?
Answer: John Adams introduced before Congress the resolution mandating a United States flag on June 14, 1777.
Winner: Kim Moore
Nellie Bly, born May 5, 1864, was challenged to do an expose on the mentally ill institutionalized in New York. Her undercover journalism brought light to the conditions faced by patients and encouraged change. It also pioneered a form of “stunt reporting.” At the peak of Nellie’s fame, she attempted a trip aimed at beating the fictional Phileas Fogg from Around the World in Eighty Days. How long did her trip take her?
Answer: Perhaps the peak of Nellie Bly's fame came when she took a whirlwind trip around the world in 1889 to beat Phileas Fogg, the fictional hero of Jules Verne's "Around the World in Eighty Days." Traveling by ship, train and burro, she returned back to New York in 72 days, 6 hours and 11 minutes as a celebrity, cheered by crowds of men as well as women.
Winner: Patti Vine
April 3, 1860 saw the launch of the Pony Express. The company promised, and delivered, an astounding 1840 mile journey from St Joseph, MO to San Francisco, CA in a mere 10 days. Generally, this route was expected to take 24 days or more. Riders road for 75-100 miles at a time, changing horses every 10-15 miles. What was the cost for sending a one ounce letter?
Answer: A one ounce letter delivered by the Pony Express was originally $5, the equivalent of hundreds of dollars today. This cost was far beyond the everyday person and even after it was reduced to $1 an ounce was more than most could afford.
Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879. His theory of relativity led to new ways of thinking about time, space, matter and energy. He received a Nobel Prize in 1921 and emigrated to the U.S. in 1933 where he was an outspoken critic of Nazi Germany. Believing the Nazis might develop an atomic bomb, he warned President Roosevelt and urged the development of the U.S. Atomic bomb. He also had a passion for classical music. What instrument did he play?
Answer: Einstein learned to play the violin as a child, a skill that stayed with him into his later years.
Are you still writing 2016 on your checks? Feeling like time is going by too quickly? How would you like to have 10 days taken from you? On February 24, 2582, it was announced that following October 4, would be October 15. Who made this proclamation?
Answer: Pope Gregory XIII corrected mistakes on the Julian calendar by dropping 10 days and directing that the day after October 4, 1582 would be October 15th. The Gregorian, or New Style calendar, was then adopted by Catholic countries, followed gradually by Protestant and other nations.
Immigration is a hot topic right now, and January 1 is an important day is history for American immigration. On this day in 1892 Ellis Island officially opened. Ellis Island was the entry point for approximately 12 million people entering the United States. About 40% of all Americans can trace at least one ancestor back to this island. How many people were processed through Ellis Island on its busiest day?
Answer: On April 17, 1907, Ellis Island officials processed 11,747 immigrants.
The weather is colder, decorations are up all around us, and holiday music is playing in all the stores. What Christmas song was originally written as a Thanksgiving song?
Answer: The most popular Christmas song in America, Jingle Bells has not always been associated with Christmas. Written in the 1850's by James Lord Pierpont, an uncle of the famously wealthy financier John Pierpont Morgan, it pays homage to the youthful fun of the then popular winter sleigh races.
Early British American colonies tended to hug the Atlantic Ocean, but as the population of the colonies grew, westward migration began. In search of inexpensive land and opportunity, American pioneers moved westward by the thousands. Pioneers traveling west across hundreds and thousands of miles needed supplies, guides and protection to help them make the often treacherous journey. Wagon trains were formed to allow groups to reduce the dangers associated with the long journey west. The first wagon train arrived in California on November 4th of what year?
Answer: The first wagon train arrived in California on November 4, 1841. They started their journey in Independence, Missouri on May 1, 1841.
Seeing the president on television is the norm for most of us. In fact, with elections a short month away, many of us are seeing too much of the candidates. The first presidential telecast address from the White House took place in October. What year and which president made this historic presentation?
Answer: On October 5, 1947, President Harry Truman (1884-1972) makes the first-ever televised presidential address from the White House, asking Americans to cut back on their use of grain in order to help starving Europeans. He asked farmers and distillers to reduce grain use and requested that the public voluntarily forgo meat on Tuesdays, eggs and poultry on Thursdays and save a slice of bread each day. The food program was short-lived, as ultimately the Marshall Plan succeeded in helping to spur economic revitalization and growth in Europe.
Native American Day is celebrated the 4th Friday of September. In honor of our Indigenous Americans, how many tribes are there in the United States?
Answer: There are 562 federally recognized Indian tribes, bands, nations, pueblos, rancherias, communities and Native villages in the United States. Approximately 229 of these are located in Alaska; the rest are located in 33 other states. Tribes are ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse.
August 3, 1492, Christopher Columbus started his first voyage across the Atlantic. If he hadn’t, Colorado wouldn’t have become the 38th state on August 1, 1876! August 3rd is also National Watermelon Day. Thomas Edison invented what item on August 12, 1877?
Answer: Thomas Edison invented the phonograph on August 12, 1877.
Americans began observing the Fourth of July as early as 1777, when the first-ever major celebration in Philadelphia included a parade, a thirteen-shot cannon salute, and fireworks. When did Independence Day become an official holiday?
Answer: Congress didn’t officially make Fourth of July a holiday until 1870, when it was part of a bill passed to recognize major state holidays at a federal level—like Independence Day, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The Fourth did not become a paid legal holiday until 1938, as part of a bill that granted holiday leave to employees of the federal government.
What cartoon character made his film debut on June 9, 1934? Bonus if you know this character’s middle name.
Answer: Donald Fauntleroy Duck made his first film appearance on this day in "The Wise Little Hen", a cartoon by Walt Disney.
In May 1964, the FBI concluded its investigation to determine if this song’s lyrics violated laws against the interstate transportation of obscene material.
Answer: Louie, Louie by the Kingmen was part of an investigation by the FBI to determine if it’s lyrics violated laws against interstate transportation of obscene material. The FBI could not determine if the song was obscene.
Did you know that April and July always start on the same day of the week? So do March and November. What two months never start on the same day of the week as any other month?
Answer: May and June never start on the same day of the week as any other month for that year.
It used to be that March was the beginning of the year. At that time there were only ten months in the calendar, March through December. Given that, September through December make more sense linguistically when looking at their Latin roots. So, when did January 1 become the first day of the New Year?
Answer: January 1st was first celebrated as the New Year in 45 B.C. when Julius Caesar reformed the traditional Roman calendar. However, this fell out of practice in the middle ages and wasn’t reestablished until the Gregorian calendar was implemented in 1582.