1904 St. Louis Olympics

Army Rangers Take Pointe-du-Hoc on D-Day: June 6, 1944

1904 St. Louis Summer Olympics
In the summer of 1904, St. Louis, Missouri, hosted the Olympics—the third Olympics of the modern era and the first to be held in an American city. The games were held July 1 to November 23, with the main focus on events between August 29 and September 3.

The St. Louis Olympics were held in conjunction with (and took a backseat to) the St. Louis World’s Fair, which occurred simultaneously. This meant that many of the Fair’s sporting events were called “Olympic,” even when they didn’t meet Olympic standards, but it’s estimated that 91 events actually fit the Olympic criteria, with participants from 12 countries.

One of the most memorable sporting events of the St. Louis Olympics was the marathon. Run on August 30, a hot, dusty day, the marathon was full of unusual circumstances. For one, American Fred Lorz, the man who crossed the finish line first, was not actually the winner, as he had hitched a ride through the middle part of the course and then got out to run the last leg as a joke. The actual winner, American Tom Hicks, crossed the finish line practically carried by two support crew, having received small doses of strychnine (commonly used as a rat poison) to stimulate him enough to be able to run the course.

Fred Lorz rides for part of 1904 Olympic marathon

Another notable Olympic contestant was German-American George Eyser, who won three gold medals (and six medals total) in gymnastic events despite having an artificial leg. Also noteworthy was another German-American, Frank Kungler, who medaled in three different sports (tug-of-war, weightlifting, wrestling), making him the only one to do so in the same Olympics.

A controversial aspect of the games—condemned even at the time—was an “anthropological” meet, held in mid-August. Though only associated with the Olympics and not technically part of it, the meet claimed to compare the sports skills and physical prowess of various native peoples (who were part of the World’s Fair) against those of white competitors. The native competitors, including Pygmies, Patagonians, Filipinos, Native American Indian tribes, Japanese Ainus, and others, had the rules explained to them without translators and were not allowed to practice, so they were unable beat the white competitors’ records in the vast majority of events.

1904 Olympic Games Continue to Show American Supremacy
America won the most events by far at the Olympics, as the country provided more than three-fourths of the 630 athletes. America medaled 233 times, while the next highest scoring country, Germany, won only 12 medals.

Has any of your family competed in the Olympics? Tell us about it! Or learn more about the St. Louis Olympics by searching or browsing on Newspapers.com.

Le Tour de France

The Tour de France is an internationally-known competition that draws out the best and boldest in bicycle racing, but it wasn’t always so. In fact, its existence is a prime example of that old adage, “necessity is the mother of invention.”

In the years leading up to the turn of the century France had one sports paper, Le Vélo. But in 1899 a new rival popped up on the scene. This newspaper was called L’Auto, and in its early years it really struggled to compete with the more established competing paper.

What’s a struggling paper to do? Create an intense bicycle race to sell more copies, of course.First Race

The new race circled the country, leading to the name “Le Tour de France.” It took an already popular sport and magnified it to a larger scale than had ever been attempted. So large, in fact, that only 15 people entered, undeterred by the missed days of work and small reward. L’Auto‘s editor, Henri Desgrange, decided to change things up a bit; the race would be fewer days, each competitor would get a daily stipend that equaled pay for a day’s work, and the reward for those who placed would be significant. The number of race entrants tripled.

First Tour de France

The race was brutal, and not just because of the length and terrain: there were reports of cheating by the competitors. But at the end of the race, the first Tour de France had a clear winner: Maurice Garin. He won three of the four legs of the race and came in first hours ahead of the runner-up, the largest margin of victory the race has ever had.

Newspaper reproduction of 1903 tour de France winner Maurice Garin

Since 1903 the Tour de France has occurred every year, halting only for the years of the two World Wars. It has garnered a lot of positive attention and called to the most competitive of cyclists, but according to one article, not everybody loved the existence of this particular competition.

Aversion to the tour de France bicycle race

Yikes.

Oh, and that other paper, Le Vélo? It went out of business in 1904, a year after the first Tour de France. Meanwhile, L’Auto‘s successor, L’Equipe, is still going strong today.

Find more articles on the Tour de France and other similar events on Newspapers.com.

Queen Victoria

On this day in 1838, 18-year-old Alexandrina Victoria was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. She became known as Queen Victoria and reigned for 63 years, a span of time we now call the Victorian Era after her majesty.

Coronation took place on the day appointed

Queen Victoria, Coronation

The Young Queen, as she was frequently called, moved into Buckingham Palace and adopted her responsibilities with vigor. She was frugal, involved herself in her country’s politics, and loved her dogs. One story from her coronation day is summarized in the clipping below:

Queen Victoria

And take a look at this clipping—a nice round-up of facts about Victoria:

Queen Victoria in a nutshell

Aside from the years following her husband’s death, Victoria remained a popular and beloved queen to her people. She acquired a maternal presence during her later years on the throne, with a strong focus on morality and family that endeared her to many.

Find more articles from Victoria’s coronation and the years of her reign on Newspapers.com.

The Roswell Report

Roswell strong center for Ufologists

One summer’s day in Rosewell, New Mexico, a ranch foreman found pieces of shiny metal scattered across his land. Air Force officials were contacted and soon announced that the metal pieces were wreckage from a downed “flying disk.” Suddenly, the relatively unknown town leaped into headlines. But it didn’t take long for the Air Force to take it all back, saying instead that the wreckage was actually a downed weather balloon.

50 years after that incident, UFO enthusiasts maintained that the weather balloon explanation was a cover up. And so on June 24, 1997, just a week before the 50th anniversary of the Roswell incident, the Air Force issued a 231-page report called The Roswell Report: Case Closed.

Report inspires X-Files

Most found the report to be confirmation of what they already knew: Roswell’s “flying saucer” had been nothing of the sort. But for those who believed that a UFO really had crashed in Roswell in 1947, the report fell on deaf ears.

Opinions about Roswell flying saucer and Roswell Report

Ever wondered why an alien aircraft would come tumbling down to Earth in the first place? Check out these theories:

Theory on 1947 UFO crash

Theory on 1947 UFO crash

More theories on 1947 UFO crash in Roswell

For UFOlogists, The Roswell Report would be filed away as just another comical attempt to cover up the truth.

Roswell Report not convincing for some

Find more on the Roswell incident and The Roswell Report with a search on Newspapers.com.

Welcome, Lady Liberty

Statue of Liberty arrives

On this day in 1885, the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York harbor. The statue was transported in several hundred pieces that were reassembled into the towering lady we recognize today, a symbol of the success of the American Revolution and of friendship between the United States and France.

Statue of Liberty

The statue was designed by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, who fashioned the statue after his own mother’s image. In its early days atop the pedestal, the 450,000-pound, 305-foot tall statue was a penny-colored copper. It has since naturally oxidized into the familiar dusty blue-green we see now.

There is scarcely an American who has not heard

June 17th is also the anniversary of another event: the Battle of Bunker hill. This intersection of important United States history was noted even then:

Statue of Liberty arrives on the anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill

For more on both the Statue of Liberty and the Battle of Bunker Hill, try a search on Newspapers.com.

The Arizona Republic

Content Update

Sample Arizona Republic front page
Do you have ancestors from out west? Look for them in the Arizona Republic on Newspapers.com ! With a Newspapers.com Basic subscription, you can see issues from 1890 through 1922; or, with a Publisher Extra subscription, access the years previously listed and additional issues from 1923 to April 2016.

The Arizona Republic began publishing in Phoenix on May 19, 1890, under the name the Arizona Republican, a title it maintained until 1930. When the paper began publishing, Arizona was not yet a state, and though Phoenix had recently become the territorial capital, it had a population of only about 3,100, with another 3,400 in surrounding areas. The young city was still relatively undeveloped, and at the time, the economy of the Phoenix depended on the Five C’s: cotton, citrus, cattle, climate, and copper.

The Republic was initially created as a partisan paper to support the administration of the unpopular Republican territorial governor, Lewis Wolfley, though he resigned from his position not long after the paper began publication. There were already two papers in Phoenix in 1890, and the Republic struggled financially at first, but by 1915 it had become the largest paper in the state. The Republic boasted full coverage of the Associated Press wires, as well as coverage of news from the rest of Arizona and the city itself.

First page of the Arizona Republic Centennial Edition

One memorable moment from the Republic’s early years was an attempt on the editor’s life in the paper’s office by some disgruntled citizens in 1892, an incident which not only sparked articles in the paper, but also a short poem. Also memorable was the paper’s trend-setting decision in 1913 to purge from its pages all ads for patent medicines, which it considered “offensive to all decent readers.”

The Republic was there for all of Phoenix’s big moments, such as the Salt River Valley flood of 1891, the range war between the Tewksbury and Graham families (which finally ended in 1892), Arizona’s admission as the 48th state in 1912, the 1917 Bisbee Deportation (which resulted in the illegal deportation from the state of more than a thousand striking miners), the dedication of the Hoover Dam in 1935, the escape of two dozen German POWS from a Phoenix-area camp in 1944, and the first college football Fiesta Bowl in 1971.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Arizona Republic, check out its 100-page 1990 centennial issue, which covers a wide range of topics related to the paper’s history. Otherwise, get searching or browsing the paper here.

Flag Day

Flag Day

On June 14th each year, we celebrate Flag Day. This day was set aside in the early 20th century as a day to recognize the flag of the United States and all that it stands for.

The day chosen to honor the flag is significant—on June 14th, 1777, the Stars and Stripes were adopted as the nation’s flag.
History of Flag Day

Flag day address during the World war

Flag Day

The first observed Flag Day was on this day in 1877, the 100th anniversary of the flag’s creation, and in the following years several states continued to practice the holiday.

Celebration of Flag Day, 1916

The Flag (1936)

In 1949 Congress made Flag Day official, and it is still celebrated today with flags galore on homes and in communities across the country.

For more on Flag Day, try a search on Newspapers.com.

Mr. ZIP

In July, 1963, the 5-digit ZIP code was introduced throughout the United States. It was a slight departure from the system that had existed before, and with the simultaneous introduction of 2-letter state abbreviations (NY rather than New York, for example), the general public took some time to get on board with the change.

ZIP code

To help remind people to use the ZIP codes, and to teach younger generations this new system, a cartoonish mail carrier named Mr. ZIP made his grand debut. He made appearances on posters and in the corners of stamps, and generally helped the idea of ZIP codes really stick in people’s minds.

Better Zip of Santa Will Skip

Mr. Zip's finest hourDo you remember Mr. ZIP and the arrival of ZIP codes? Let us know in the comments! You can also find more on Mr. ZIP and other historical innovations on Newspapers.com.

But One Life to Lose

“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” These are the immortal last words of Nathan Hale, who at 21 was hanged as a spy by British forces during the Revolutionary War. Hale was born on this day in 1755.

Nathan Hale

Nathan Hale's story, as summarized by a child

Though the article above mentions one of Hale’s loyalist relatives as the reason for his capture, there is another story that someone unrelated recognized Hale and tricked him into revealing himself by masquerading as a fellow patriot. There is also some speculation about the exact things he said before his death. The succinct phrase attributed to Hale is thought to be a summarized version of a longer quote he referred to in his final speech. Regardless, all contemporary accounts remember Hale’s final words as eloquent, and most include some version of the quote attributed to him today.

The Alice mentioned below is a sweetheart added to a 1901 play on Hale’s life and sacrifice. She may be invented, but the sentiment in the article is not:

If Nathan Hale were fiction

There’s much more in the newspapers about Nathan Hale, particularly around the turn of the century. Find those articles and more on Newspapers.com.

Army Rangers Take Pointe-du-Hoc on D-Day: June 6, 1944

Army Rangers Take Pointe-du-Hoc on D-Day: June 6, 1944

Normandy landings map
During the Normandy landings of D-Day during World War II, a force of Army Rangers scaled the sheer cliffs of Point-du-Hoc to the west of Omaha Beach and disabled the heavy German artillery there, making them the first American forces to accomplish their mission on D-Day.

In the lead up to D-Day, the Allies were aware of a group of 155mm German cannon positioned on a promontory called Point-du-Hoc, which was located between the planned landing sites of Omaha and Utah beaches. Although the guns could pose a threat to American troops landing on those two beaches, the main worry was the potential damage they could cause to the Allied transport ships offshore during the landings.

With this threat in mind, the Army Rangers were given the mission of disabling the guns at Pointe-du-Hoc early on the morning of D-Day. In preparation, Allied bombers dropped explosives on Pointe-du-Hoc in the months prior to the landings, and the bombings were renewed the morning of D-Day, this time followed by naval bombardment.

Photo of one of the places Rangers scaled Pointe-du-Hoc; taken a couple days after D-Day

Companies D, E, and F of the 2nd Rangers were assigned to ascend the cliffs of Point-du-Hoc, while the remaining Rangers were given other objectives to help with the taking of the promontory. The Rangers faced difficulties the morning of D-Day before they even landed on the beach, which put them about 40 minutes behind schedule.

As Companies D, E, and F neared and then hit the beach, they had to face German fire from above, and the hail of bullets continued as the Rangers attempted with varying levels of success to deploy the equipment necessary to scale the cliffs, including rocket-propelled ropes with grapnels as well as ladders. Each group of Rangers used whatever methods they could to get to the top of the cliff, and once there, they faced the German defenders while trying to find the 155mm guns.

Difficulties of Rangers taking Pointe-du-Hoc
When the Rangers reached the emplacements where the big guns were supposed to be, they found that the guns had been moved and replaced with telegraph poles to fool Allied surveillance. So the Rangers moved on to their next objective of securing a nearby road to prevent German reinforcements from reaching Omaha Beach.

As they worked to achieve this, two groups of rangers discovered the missing guns about a mile from where they were supposed to be and disabled them. This meant the Rangers’ primary objective was achieved by 9 a.m., though their work was far from over, as they were forced to hold Pointe-du-hoc until June 8, when the relief column came to their aid.

Did any of your family members participate in the Normandy landings? Tell us about it! You also can find additional articles about Pointe-du-Hoc and D-Day on Newspapers.com.