100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Harry Truman Courts Bess Wallace

Harry S Truman was born in May 1884, in Lamar, Missouri, the son of a farmer and livestock dealer. When Truman was six, his parents moved to Independence. He got up at five every morning to practice the piano, which he studied twice a week. Truman was a page at the 1900 Democratic National Convention at Convention Hall in Kansas City, due to his father having many friends who were active in the Democratic Party. After graduating from Independence High School in 1901, Truman worked as a timekeeper on the Santa Fe Railroad. He worked at a series of clerical jobs, and was employed briefly in the mail room of the Kansas City Star. He returned to the Grandview farm in 1906.

Truman has been courting Bess Wallace since 1910 and proposed to her in 1911. She turned him down. She wants Truman to make something of himself. Truman continued to woo her.

On January 26, 1915 Harry s Truman writes Bess Wallace from Grandview, Missouri.

Grandview Jan. 26, 1915

Dear Bess:

I am going to try and send you a Wednesday letter. I have been chasing to town every day on account of Uncle Harry. He has been almost on the point of cashing in. I can’t get him to come home. I took Mamma in yesterday and she couldn’t even get him to come. I took her to the Orpheum in the afternoon. She sure enjoyed it. It is a fairly good bill, but if Martin Beck pays Lina Abarbanell two thousand dollars a week he’d better save his money and buy booze. She claims to be the Bernhardt of song. She has the movement all right but not the voice.

You don’t know how sorry I am to hear you are confined to your couch. I am very sure you’d rather be in most any other place. I had our tickets exchanged for next Saturday evening. If you’re not well enough to go then I’ll trade them off again etc. ad lib. until you can go.

Your letter has never come yet. I suppose Uncle Samuel is reading it at Washington or some other wayside station. I had purchased a foot warmer and had two more side curtains put on so that Old Lizzie was as warm as a church. I think she was right disappointed at not getting herself tired out. I am going to have to take her back to the factory though as she is suffering from a worse knock than before she was fixed. I have an idea that the “expert” who worked on her jimmied her innards a little to get her brought back. He wanted to put on a new piece and I wouldn’t let him. If I can make Stafford believe he fixed it wrong, I can get it fixed over for nothing.

I am going to send you a Life for last week. The cover is very good if the insides are not.

I am hoping to see you soon.

Will split this letter and write another the end of the week.

Most sincerely, Harry


Australia Day Celebrated

Australia Day is the official national day of Australia celebrated on January 26 marking the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales and raising of the Flag of Great Britain at that site by Governor Arthur Phillip. It wasn’t until 1818 that the Governor recognized it as a holiday and it was called “Foundation Day”. In 1838, the 50th anniversary, the day was recognized as Australia’s first public holiday.

On January 25, 1915 in Eldorado, Victoria, Australia, an Australia Day parade took place. Men stand behind a field gun while women and children watch.1aab1

Publicity Event Marks “The First” Transcontinental Phone Call

The Panama–Pacific International Exposition is a world’s fair that will be held in San Francisco between February 20 and December 4 in 1915. It will celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal and will be held in conjunction with the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego. Already events have taken place that highlight this upcoming world’s fair. Columbia Records have recorded songs to be sold for the Red Cross in Europe at the fair as souvenirs and movies have been released commemorating the celebration in San Francisco and San Diego.



The original long distance telephone network actually started in 1885, in New York City. By 1892 this line reached Chicago. After introducing loading coils in 1899, the long distance line continued west, and by 1911 it reached Denver, Colorado. In June 1914, after affixing 4,750 miles of telephone line, workers raised the final pole at Wendover, Utah, actually on the border between Nevada and Utah state lines. Then, Theodore Vail, the president of AT&T, succeeded in transmitting his voice across the continental U.S. in July 1914. This was actually the first transcontinental telephone call.

On January 25, 1915, in an elaborate publicity stunt designed by The American Telegraph and Telephone Company to benefit the Panama-Pacific Exposition and encourage the use of it’s new long distance service, early telephone pioneer Alexander Graham Bell, in New York City, repeated his famous statement “Mr. Watson, come here. I want you,” into an exact duplicate of the telephone made for him by Thomas A Watson in 1875. On the other end is his former assisatnt Mr. Watson at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition fair site in San Francisco, for a long distance call of 3,400 miles. Watson replied, “It will take me five days to get there now!” The call also included U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, in the White House, and the president of AT&T, Theodore Vail in Georgia. Although not actually “the first trans-continental phone call”, the event was heralded in the press and commemorated in song.

Bell's assistant, Thomas Watson, in San Francisco during the phone call on January 25, 1915. The seals of AT&T, the City of San Francisco and the Panama-Pacific International Exposition are displayed.

Bell’s assistant, Thomas Watson, in San Francisco during the phone call on January 25, 1915. The seals of AT&T, the City of San Francisco and the Panama-Pacific International Exposition are displayed.

“Hello, Frisco!” by Baritone Reinald Werrenrath & Soprano Olive Kline(1915)

German Military Plans Massive Chemical Weapon Attack


Upon signing the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, all nations now involved in the current European war agreed with the prohibition of the use of chemical weapons in warfare. After the First Battle of Ypres (November 1914) ended with a stalemate and entrenchment of troops, the German plan was to maintain the stalemate with the French and British while planning the Second Battle of Ypres. which was hoped to divert attention from offensives in the Eastern Front and defeat Franco-British forces.

The German High Command decided that this was an opportunity to test a new weapon. Tear gas grenades or shells had been used but this attack was going to be different. It was going to be a large scale lethal attack. The gas was chlorine and was contained in cylinders which will be placed in predetermined areas, linked by a simple pipe arrangement with a funnel pointing towards the enemy lines. Some 6,000 cylinders are ready to be placed at various points along the front lines near Ypres.

On 25th January 1915 General von Deimling the commander of the German XV Corps was summoned to GHQ and informed that his area of command had been chosen for an attack using gas.

Murderer Extradited Back To The US From Canada

Harry Kendall Thaw

Harry Kendall Thaw

Harry Kendall Thaw was heir to a multi-million dollar mine and railroad fortune, Thaw had a history of mental instability and was expelled from Harvard for “immoral practices,” and intimidating and threatening fellow students and teachers. He was given three hours to pack up and move out. His membership in the prestigious Union League Club of New York was revoked for “behavior unbefitting a gentleman.” when he rode a horse up the steps into the club’s entrance way.

Evelyn Nesbit Thaw

Evelyn Nesbit Thaw

In 1905, after pursuing her for four years, Thaw married showgirl/model Evelyn Nesbit. Nesbit had been intimate friends with renowned architect Stanford White who had advised her against any relationship with the unstable Thaw. Thaw, who had a paranoid obsession that White was blocking him socially and sending criminals to kill him, went into a drug-fueled rage. In June 1906, on the rooftop of Madison Square Garden, Thaw murdered White by coming up from behind and shooting him in the head.

Stanford White

Stanford White

There a were two trails while Thaw waited in prison, sleeping on a comfortable brass bed and eating meals catered by Delmonico’s. . After one hung jury, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was sent to the Mattewan Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Immediately after his commitment to Matteawan, Thaw marshaled the forces of a legal team charged with the mission of having him declared sane but with no success.

In 1913, Thaw escaped from Mattewan and with his family’s aid, fled to Canada. Extradition was sought and the Sheriff of Quebec seized Thaw and held him under guard until December 1914 when extradition was granted.

On January 25, 1915 Harry Thaw was extradited back to the US, arriving in New York City to waiting law enforcement officers. His lawyers are seeking a new trial to declare him sane.

Harry Kendall Thaw, and Dr. Mc Guire(left), the Tombs physician,  posed in the Tombs prison after Thaw's return to New York - January 25, 1915

Harry Kendall Thaw, and Dr. Mc Guire(left), the Tombs physician, posed in the Tombs prison after Thaw’s return to New York – January 25, 1915

A Letter From The Front

Harold Chapin was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1886. Although born an American citizen, he worked as an actor, director, playwright and stage manager on both sides of the Atlantic When war was declared by England, Chapin felt his patriotic duty was to serve and he enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps of the British Army in September 1914, leaving a wife and five year old son.

On January 23, 1915, Chapin wrote his wife :


Quite well—but oh this God forsaken hole You never saw such a filth spot.

I have quit the Cook House and got a job as Hospital Orderly. Serjeant King who is” Nursing Duties ” having asked for me. A great bit of luck. The Hospital as a Hospital is pretty poor (it is the station waiting room, the orderly rooms being the rooms off it) but as a billet it is the only dry place in the town apparently and, until it fills up (we have 3 patients and 8 beds to date), we orderlies sleep in the beds. No sheets of course, but still beds.

You are not hideous—you are sweetly pretty—if the Cinema makes you look hideous that is only another proof what a failure it is.

I love the bits about Vallie in your letters. More please. Hope for leave to-morrow week.

Heaps of love my dear one.

Lance Corporal Harold Chapin

Lance Corporal Harold Chapin

Released January 23, 1915

Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle

Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle

Roscoe Arbuckle was born in Smith Center, Kansas in 1887 and performed in vaudeville as a child. He found himself working the theater circuit on the West Coast and in July 1909 Arbuckle made his first film with the Selig Polyscope Company. In 1913 Arbuckle moved briefly to Universal Pictures and became a star in producer-director Mack Sennett’s Keystone Cops comedies. His comedic talents quickly propelled him into one of the most popular comedy movie actors often starring with Mabel Normand.

Mabel Norman

Mabel Normand was born Amabel Ethelreid Normand in New Brighton, Staten Island, New York in extreme poverty. She worked as an artist’s model for artists such as Charles Dana Gibson, creator of the Gibson Girl. Normand was working at D W Griffith’s Biograph Company where she met director Mack Sennett. He brought her to Los Angeles, California when he started directing in Edendale for Biograph Studios in 1912. In September 1912 Mabel Normand became the first actress to put on a bathing suit on film when Sennett released his movie featuring himself with Mabel Normand called THE WATER NYMPH filmed at Venice Beach, California.


In conjunction with the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition which is a world’s fair opening soon in San Francisco, the Panama–California Exposition is being held in San Diego, California. The exposition celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal, and was meant to tout San Diego as the first U.S. port of call for ships traveling north after passing westward through the canal. The fair is being held in San Diego’s Balboa Park and opened January 1, 1915. Sennett’s Keystone Pictures sees an opportunity.



On January 23, 1915, FATTY AND MABEL AT THE SAN DIEGO EXPOSITION was released. Keystone had filmed at real-life events before and this gave a chance for their two comedy stars to take advantage of a large fair that was taking place right near their Los Angeles studios.

Watch the entire film here:

Recorded January 23, 1915

Columbia Phonograph Company was named after the District of Columbia where it is headquartered. It controlled all the sales and service of Edison phonographs and phonograph cylinders in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Delaware. By 1891, Columbia produced commercial cylinder recordings of its own, putting out a 10 page catalog. By 1894 it had severed ties with Edison and sold only phonographs and records of its own manufacture on brown or black wax cylinders. In 1901 Columbia began selling disc phonographs and records, recorded only on one side. In 1908 Columbia commenced successful mass production of what they called their “Double-Faced” discs, the 10-inch variety at 78rpm. Today Columbia competes with the Victor Talking Machine Company disc records as one the top two names in American recorded sound.


Yesterday, President Wilson’s daughter Margaret went into Columbia recording studio in the Woolworth Building in New York City and recorded “The Star Spangled Banner” as a benefit for the Red Cross in Europe to be sold at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition which will open soon in San Francisco.


On January 23, 1915 the Columbia Band was in the same studio recording “A Medley of Patriotic Airs” featuring “America” “Yankee Doodle” “Columbia The Gem Of The Ocean” “Marching Through Georgia” and “Dixie” also as a benefit for the Red Cross in Europe to be sold at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition as a souvenir record. The record label features the official seal of the exposition.


Issued January 23, 1915

Scientific American Volume 112 Issue 4

Scientific American Volume 112 Issue 4

“Night attack by German armored motor boats in a flooded section of Flanders.”

“Night attack by German armored motor boats in a flooded section of Flanders.”

Over 600 Killed In Train Wreck in Mexico

Porfirio Diaz had ruled Mexico as president and virtual dictator since 1876. In the presidential elections of 1910 he was challenged by Franciso Madero, lawyer and son of a wealthy landowner. Hoping to control the election, Diaz threw Madero in jail but he escaped the the US where he called for the overthrow of Diaz. Several anti-Diaz forces combined including Pancho Villa in the North and Emiliano Zapata in the South. After several decisive battles, Diaz was forced to step down in May 1911 with Madero declared a president. Madero, a memeber of the ruling class, kept many Diaz appointees and refused to agree to social reforms calling for better working hours, pay and conditions. The rural working class took up arms against Madero in support of Zapata and Villa.

In early 1913 Victoriano Huerta, the commander of the armed forces offered protection to Madero against anti-revolutionary forces. Heurta used this opportunity to seize power and Madero was forced to resign and Heurta took over the presidency. But Huerta was universally hated by revolutionary leaders and resigned the office in July 1914. He was replaced by Venustiano Carranza, head of the Constitutional Army.

Convention at Aquacalietes - 1914

Convention at Aquacalietes – 1914

Carranza called for a “Great Convention of Commanding Military Chiefs and State Governors.” The convention took place October/November 1914 at Aquacalientes and was intended to settle the differences between the “big four” warlords who played the biggest roles in overthrowing Huerta: Pancho Villa, Emiliano Zapata, Venustiano Carranza and Alvaro Obregon. It had just the opposite effect : the convention elected General Eulalio Gutiérrez Ortiz as President of Republic, and appointed Villa commander of the Conventionalist Army, which then took up arms against Carranza’s Constitutionalists. These forces are fighting throughout Mexico. On January 18, 1915 Carranza’s troops captured Guadalajara in southwestern Mexico. He immediately ordered that the families of his troops be transported by train from Colima on the Pacific coast to his newly captured stronghold.


On January 22, 1915 a special train of twenty cars left Colima. It was packed, with people even clinging to the roofs and undercarriages. Somewhere between Colima and Guadalajara the engineer lost control on a long steep descent. As the train gathered speed many people were thrown off as the train negotiated curves. Eventually the entire train plunged off the tracks and into a deep canyon. 600 of 900 people were killed including the entire train crew.

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