Monthly Archives: February, 2015

“¿Quién es?” Will a Death Certificate Finally Put the Legend of Billy the Kid To Rest?

“He raised quickly his pistol, a self-cocker, within a foot of my breast. Retreating rapidly across the room he cried: ‘Quien es? Quien es?’ (‘Who’s that? Who’s that?’) All this occurred in a moment. Quickly as possible I drew my revolver and fired, threw my body aside, and fired again. The second shot was useless; the Kid fell dead. He never spoke. A struggle or two, a little strangling sound as he gasped for breath, and the Kid was with his many victims.” Pat Garrett, The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid (1882)

This month, Robert J. Stahl arrived at the District Court in Fort Sumner, New Mexico with a request for the New Mexico Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics to issue a death certificate for William Henry McCarty, Jr alias William H. Bonney alias “Billy the Kid.” Continue Reading

Catching Fire: From Fire-Bombings To Hatchet Attacks, the Violent History of Women’s Suffrage in Edwardian England

Suffragette Emily Davison died of injuries four days after rushing the King’s horse, Anmer, during a race at Epsom Downs on 4 June 1913.

In the history of women’s suffrage, few images are more potent that that of suffragette Emily Davison being crushed under the hooves of the King’s horse during a race at Epsom Downs on June 4, 1913. After a century of debate, there’s still some question over what she was trying to accomplish – to attach a ‘Votes for Women’ flag to the horse, to commit suicide, or simply to disrupt the race – but it either failed or succeeded spectacularly. Her death created a martyr to the cause. Thousands of suffragettes dressed in white marched in her funeral procession later that month.

And Davison’s colleagues Kitty Marion and Clara Givens torched the pavilion at the Hurst Park racetrack in Surrey. Continue Reading

How Do You Send The World’s Largest Diamond Halfway Across the Globe? Stick a Stamp On It.

Pretoria, January 26, 1905.

When Frederick Wells saw it, “it suddenly flashed across me that I had gone insane. I knew it could not be a diamond….Some practical joker, thought I, has planted this huge chunk of glass here for me to find it. He thinks I will make a fool of myself by bringing it into the office…”

Major Wells went on instinct. He dug the crystal out with his pocket-knife and carried it to the office. Word went out the following day: the Premier mine had just produced the largest gem-quality diamond ever discovered. Named the in honor of the mine’s owner, Thomas Cullinan, the stone weighed in at 3106.75 carats – a staggering 1.37 pounds.

Turns out the problem with finding the biggest diamond in history is figuring out what to do with it next.  Continue Reading

The Speckled Monster and the Original Vaxxers

Sometime in 1801, Dr. Ezekiel Bissell made a tiny nick in the arm of little Heman Moulton. Days later, a “promising pustule” formed on the baby’s arm. The first phase of the experiment was complete.

Bissell was one of the only physicians in Orange County, Vermont…a distinction that resulted in wearying hours traveling around the communities surrounding his home in Randolph. Still, he made the time to keep up with advances in his field. By 1800, he was reading about a promising new technique to fight smallpox. Continue Reading

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