History has always fascinatingly revealed itself and it never falls short of surprising us. It is full of unbelievable and unexpected events that are sometimes hard for us to digest. These events were treated as normal in those times, but now, they sound completely unacceptable. Following is a list of 10 historical facts and events that are so unique that reading them will leave you amazed
1. During a drought in 1915, the city of San Diego hired a “rainmaker” named Charles Hatfield, who assured the people that he would make it rain using a special chemical concoction for a fee of $10,000. Days later, the city experienced one of the worst floods in recorded history.
Before the event took place, Charles had already gained popularity because of his rain-making technique with which he apparently used to produce rain. He developed it in 1902 by using a secret mixture of 23 chemicals in a large galvanized evaporating tank.
The year 1915 was very dry for the people of San Diego, so the Improvement Club forced the San Diego council to invite Charles to solve the problem of drought. The primary demand was that the Morena Dam reservoir was to be filled by the rain produced.
Hatfield, with his brother, built a tower beside Lake Morena, and the reservoir was indeed filled with water when Charles released his secret 23-chemical mixture into the air from the tower and attracted clouds resulting in rain.
But that event later resulted, on 5 January 1916, in heavy rain that flooded the town and overflowed into the riverbeds. The heavy rain didn’t stop for at least a month and destroyed everything from homes to farms and caused 20 casualties.
While acknowledging his causing the rain to the press on 4 February, Charles denied that he was responsible for the damage and passed it down to the locals saying, “They didn’t take the adequate precautions.”
The council decided not to pay Hatfield until he accepted his liability for damages, which was $3.5 million. Hatfield tried to settle the issue with $4,000 and sued the council.
The case was not settled until 1938 because Charles continued the suit, but ultimately two courts came to the conclusion that the rain was the act of God, which also meant that Charles was not guilty of anything but was also not going to be paid. (1, 2)
2. During the period of The Great Depression of 1930, the infamous gangster, Al Capone, offered three meals a day to 2,200 unemployed people in Chicago every day. The soup kitchen where he fed the people had a sign that said, “Free soup coffee and doughnuts for the unemployed.”
Can someone expect such kind and philanthropic work in the face of one of the most financially critical situations by a gangster? Capone was the gangster who was responsible for the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre when he assassinated seven rivals.
In the early period of November, approximately 75,000 men lined up for the registration, one-third of which needed immediate relief.
When the program was carried out, the organizers of the feast were unknown, but a week later, the Chicago Tribune found out that it was none other than Al Capone.
One of Capone’s associates later mentioned to the Chicago newspaper that it was really difficult for Capone to stand up and see so many people starving, while nobody seemed to be doing anything about it, so he decided to take some steps himself. Even the women working in the soup kitchen were happy to serve.
The costs of the meals were not paid out from Al Capone’s own pocket. He exhorted and bribed businesses to donate goods for the kitchen.
He gained massive popularity among the commoners, but his crimes didn’t restore his public good, and his destiny was to be sentenced to prison. (source)
3. Dying from laughter is actually a recorded cause of death, and one such instance happened in 1975 when Alex Mitchell laughed for 25 minutes from hearing a Goodies T.V. Show’s joke and died because of heart failure.
Many people have died because of laughter from the ancient Greek period to modern times. Alex Mitchell is one such case; he died from laughing continuously at a joke on an “Ecky-Thump” episode on The Goodies Show for 25 minutes straight. The reason for the death is said to be heart failure. Alex’s death was all over the headlines in 1975
Alex’s wife, Nessie, later thanked the stars on the show for making his husband’s last 30 minutes so enjoyable.
Doctors have concluded that it’s a cardiovascular problem that is hereditary in nature based on the facts that Alex’s grandfather had a near-fatal cardinal arrest, and Alex’s daughter, Lisa, also dealt with an internal cardiac defibrillator and showed similar symptoms. (1, 2)
4. There was a time in the 18th century when reading was considered a disease. Novels became famous, and youth spent more and more time reading. As a consequence of this too- much-reading trend, society got concerned and went on to call excessive reading “reading rage,” “reading fever,” “reading mania,” and “reading lust.”
People were enraged and spoke out loud about the threats of reading too much in the media. They considered this to be a disease, an addictive one and named it in different terms. This was not a concern of a country or a two in the 18th century; the reports of an outbreak of the “reading epidemic” were widespread over entire Europe.
People supposed that certain behaviors are consequences of too much reading such as sensation-seeking, becoming morally dissolute, and promiscuous behavior. It does not end here; the behavior of self-destruction was also considered to be associated with reading novels.
One such novel which was blamed for increased suicides and suicidal attempts was The Sorrows of Young Werther, which was written by Goethe. (source)
5. An American 63-year-old school teacher, Annie Edson Taylor, was the first person who survived a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Her motivations were financially driven, and she made some money speaking about her experience, but her manager stole her barrel, and she had to use up her entire savings on hiring private detectives to find the barrel.
Anne’s husband died in the Civil War and she settled in Michigan in 1898. While reading a random article in a newspaper on the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901, she realized the growing popularity of the waterfalls situated on the Canadian-New York border.
For the sake of some fame and cash, Anne decided to take up the high-risk task of going through Niagara Falls in a barrel.
The making of a customized barrel took a considerable amount of time, and one of the reasons for that was that nobody wanted to be a part of a potential suicide attempt. After a few months, the barrel was ready and was made up of oak and iron and was also padded with a mattress.
A couple of days before doing the stunt, Anne sent a domestic cat in that barrel to Horseshoe Falls to test the barrel’s strength. The cat was injured but still survived.
Finally, on Anne’s 63rd birthday, 24 October 1901, she carried out the stunt with her friends. She was rescued by the rescuing team successfully after 20 minutes, and Anne was found alive with minor injuries on her head.
Anne later earned a decent amount of money speaking about her experience but was never able to make huge riches. Her manager, Frank M. Russell, stole her precious barrel and ran away. She spent all of her savings in hiring private detectives to find the barrel, which she did find in Chicago, but it soon disappeared again sometime later again and this time permanently. (1, 2)