100 Years Ago Today

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

Archive for the month “September, 2012”

First Enlisted Man Dies In An Airplane In Maryland

US Army Lt. Thomas Selfridge of San Francisco, California was transferred to the Aeronautical Division of the US Signal Corps in August 1907 days after it’s formation. His job was to observe the new marvel of Flight for the US Army by working with the leading proponents of the technology in the US, the Wright Brothers and Glenn Curtiss. The Wrights set up demonstrations for the US Army at Fort Meyer, Virginia in September 1908. Wilbur took a flight with Lt. Selfridge as a passenger and official observer. A propeller split and shattered at an altitude of about 100 feet and the airplane crashed. Selfridge suffered a fractured skull and died, becoming the first airplane crash fatality in history.

Corporal Frank S Scott

That same year Corporal Frank S Scott joined the US Signal Corps.In 1911 an illness left him “unfit for duty” and he was assigned to the Army’s College Park Flying Field in Maryland, a meteorological station of the pioneer Army Aeronautical Division. Scott had a talent for mechanics and became chief mechanic of one of the Wright Type-B biplanes. Though not a pilot, he had hoped to fly in one of the Army’s aircraft.

2nd Lt Lewis Rockwell

On September 28, 1912 2nd Lt Lewis G Rockwell flew a solo flight. He landed and picked up Corporal Scott. The two men took off and after reaching an altitude of 150 feet leveled off and soared for about 10 minutes. Coming in for a landing, the airplane nosed downward, hitting the ground at full speed. Corporal Scott was dead and Lieutenant Rockwell was rushed to Washington’s Walter Reed Hospital, but died on the operating table. More than 300 people witnessed the crash. It was the first airplane crash that resulted in death for two or more US military personnel. Corporal Scott is the first enlisted man to die in an airplane accident.

The crash scene at College Park Flying Field in Maryland
September 28, 1912

“The Memphis Blues” Is Published In Tennessee

The term “blues” originated in 1798 with the introduction of the George Colman’s one-act farce “Blue Devils.” The term associated “the blues” with melancholy and sadness. In March 1912 Hart A Wand, an American fiddler and bandleader from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma published the “Dallas Blues” but did not copyright it so the exact date cannot be confirmed. Although the opening bars of the earlier “Oh, You Beautiful Doll” is in blues structure, “Dallas Blues” is the first published twelve-bar blues song. In Summer 1912 highly popular southern African-American pianist H Franklin “Baby” Seals composed “Baby Seals Blues” as part of his vaudeville act with Miss Floyd Fisher. Because it has a publication date, this is considered by some to be the first “blues” song.

W C Handy

William Christopher Handy was born in Florence, Alabama in November 1873. He grew up a hard-working young man and being the father and grandson of preachers, a regular church-goer. He had to hide his musical talents from his parents who thought it was sinful. He worked odd jobs while pursuing music. At various times he was first tenor in a minstrel show, worked as a band director, choral director, coronet and trumpet player. During this time he took from the musical influences in the African-American community and began developing the blues” style. He played cornet in the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and by 1896 became band master of Mahara’s Colored Minstrels. He toured the country but eventually married and settle down taking a job as a music teacher at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes in Normal, Alabama in 1900. In 1903 he quit teaching and became the director of a black band organized by the Knights of Pythias, located in Clarksdale, Mississippi. While there he studied the music of the rural poor and discovered the “slide” guitar style of playing.

Edward H Crump
“Mister Crump”

In 1909 Handy and his band moved to Memphis,Tennessee where they started playing at clubs on Beale Street. Edward Crump was a political boss and mayoral candidate in Memphis. Handy was hired to write a campaign song “Mr Crump” which started with a true 12 bar blues strain, followed by a 16 bar section, and ended with another 12 bar phrase. Handy jettisoned the campaign lyrics worked on the song. Although his band plays rags and marches they start playing the new song. People who hear it like it.

On September 28, 1912 W C Handy self-published “The Memphis Blues – A Southern Rag” as an instrumental and arranged distribution through a Memphis music store. It is sub-titled “Mister Crump.” A national distributor has expressed interest as well.

“The Memphis Blues – Mister Crump”
original sheet music

Issued September 28, 1912

HARPER’S WEEKLY – September 28, 1912

The US voters look disappointed as they judge the candidates for president Taft, Roosevelt and Wilson as if they were agricultural exhibits at a county fair.

“Class 3 Judging Pumpkins
September 28, 1912

September 28, 1912
“Schoolma’am Island – An Education In Adventure”

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN – September 28, 1912

Besson’s Nephometer – a new instrument for measuring the cloudiness of the sky, the Comb Nephoscope by which a scientist can measure the altitude, direction, and velocity of clouds by staring intently into a mirrored ball reflecting the clouds.

September 28, 1912
“Besson’s Comb Nephoscope”

Louis Fancher was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1884. He studied with various artists and is an illustrator in San Francisco as well as in New York.

Louis Fancher was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1884. He studied with various artists and is an illustrator in San Francisco as well as in New York.

September 28, 1912
cover art by Louis Fancher

School Photo

Hardison School – Muhlenberg, Kentucky
September 27, 1912

Notice the girl in the lower left with the date written on a blackboard and how no children are smiling except for the one girl in the upper left who is looking askance at the photographer.

Muhlenberg County Genealogy page – schools :http://muhlenberg.genealogenie.net/schools.htm

Hardison School
Muhlenberg, Kentucky
September 27, 1912

Postmarked September 27, 1912

Even before postage stamps, letter delivered came with requests for quick mailing such as DELIVER IMMEDIATELY, RUSH TO STAGE COACH and DOUBLE QUICK. By 1869, Joseph Story Fay, associated with the Smithsonian Institution, working at their Woods Hole, Massachusetts facility wrote to his congressman and requested that the post office establish a special mail service for prompt delivery of letters for an additional fee. The Universal Postal Union, an organization dedicated to improving and unifying postal standards worldwide, met in March 1885 in Lisbon, Portugal, and established such a special service for an additional fee. The US immediately jumped on the idea In October 1885 the first Special Delivery stamps were issued.

First US Special Delivery stamp

Only 555 first class offices of the 4000 post offices could actually deliver these special letters. These letters and packages did NOT receive special treatment along the route from the mailing but once they reached the applicable post office in the City, they were sent out by a specially appointed messenger, generally boys 13 to 16 years old, whose sole salary was 8 cents of the 10 cents of each letter they delivered.This is pictured on the stamp. In addition to the special delivery stamp, a first class 2 cent stamp had to be added. They could not be sent to foreign countries.

By 1912 Bicycles were used to deliver Special Delivery as pictured on the current stamps.

Special Delivery from Cavendish, Vermont to Chester Depot, Vermont
postmarked September 27, 1912


French Aviation Pioneer Dies In Car Crash

Although the Wright Brothers first flew an airplane in 1903, the event was barely reported. The feat was never widely acknowledge and only followed by other aviation pioneers. France was one of the earliest leaders in the new technology of aviation. Gabriel Voison had collaborated with Louis Blériot in 1905. Voisin bought out Louis Blériot and along with his brother Charles started a company called Flying Machines of Voisin Brothers in November 1906. This was the first commercial aircraft factory in Europe. One of their first customers was pioneer pilot Henri Farman who won on of the first air races, the “Grand Prix de l’aviation” for the first closed-circuit flight of over a kilometer. The Wright Brothers had not been recognized yet and this was seen as a major breakthrough in the conquest of the air. The Voisin brothers got many orders for similar aircraf. In 1908 the Wright Brothers came to France and gave some very public flight demonstrations that were widely received by the public and press. The fame that had eluded them in the US finally was found in France. Flight was taken as a practical reality and the Voison brothers were at the forefront.

On September 26, 1912 Charles Voison, master of the air, was killed in an auto accident. Woman aviator Baroness de Laroche was injured in the same accident.

Gabriel (L) and Charles (R) Voison

Air Mail In Illinois

Frederick J Wiseman of Santa Rosa, California, was the first person in the US to carry a letter sanctioned by a postal official. In February 1911 Wiseman made a flight from Petaluma to Santa Rosa and brought along 50 newspapers, a sack of coffee for a grocer and three letters from the local postmaster. He had engine trouble and it wasn’t until the next day he completed his 14 mile flight. It would have been faster if he had walked.

The first airmail in the United Kingdom took place in September 1911 when Gustav Hamel of the Grahame-White flying school flew 19 miles in 10 minutes to a meadow on the royal farm at Windsor in Berkshire with a bag containing messages for King George V and other members of the British royal family.

The first “official US airmail” took place in September 1911 when Earle L Ovington was appointed by US Postmaster General Frank H Hitchcock to fly mail for the United States Post Office at the Nassau Island Long Island Aviation Meet. The 500 foot drop split the bag open scattering mail everywhere. Demonstrations of airmail began to take place at Air Shows where patrons would pay for the novelty of having a letter or postcard flown a short distance.

On September 26, 1912 the Postmaster of McLeansboro, Illinois established a postal sub-station at the Fair Grounds at McLeansboro where the Aviation and Street Circus was taking place. Aviator Horace Kearney flew from the fair grounds about one mile to a point close to the McLeansboro post office where the mail pouch was dropped from the plane. The mail was then retrieved and brought to the post office. Earle L Ovington was present and signed postcards as the “first” airmail pilot.

“Mail like the cost of living had certainly been high today”

Wedding Photo

On September 26, 1912 Alma Caroline De Beaulieu married Dr William C Vollstedt at Holy Cross (Kreuz Kirche) German Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa. The Rev Henry P Greif officiated.

“The dress was made of white crepe de chine made over white silk, and draped in one-sided scarf effect, with princess lace that was edged with shirrings of the crepe. The wedding veil of lace and tulle fell from a wreath of green and white and the bridal bouquet was of bride’s roses and ferns.”

Primary Selections from Special Collections – Myths and Mysteries, Hysterical Histories, and Tree-Kickin’ Genealogy :http://blogs.davenportlibrary.com/sc/2012/07/02/one-hundred-years-ago-vollstedt-de-beaulieu-wedding/

Alma Caroline De Beaulieu Vollstedt
married September 26, 1912

First Radio Transmission From Antarctica

The Australasian Antarctic Expedition was an Australasian scientific team that set out to explore part of Antarctica led by the Australian geologist Douglas Mawson, a veteran of other Antarctic voyages. The expedition departed for Macquarie Island in December 1911 aboard the Newfoundland sealing vessel Aurora.

On September 25, 1912 the first radio transmissions from Antarctica were made from a station on Macquarie Island set up by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition.

Australasian Antarctic Expedition – 1912

The 5th Woman To Receive A Piliot’s License In America

Bernetta Miller was born in Canton, Ohio in January 1884. She moved to New York where she became interested in aviation. John Moisant had learrned to fly in France from French pioneer aviator Louis Bleirot. John Moisant died in a crash in 1910 but his brother Alfred opened the Moisant aviation school in Mineola, Long Island. The school had six Bleriot monoplanes. Alfred taught Harriet Quimby, the first American woman to receive a pilot’s license. Quimby became a celebrity and died in a crash in July 1912.


Moisant also taught his sister, Matilde E Moisant, the second woman to obtain to obtain a pilot’s license in the US.

Quimby and Mathilde Moisant in their pilot’s gear

On September 25, 1912 Bernetta Miller became the fifth woman in the US to hold a pilot’s license. She holds Aero Club of America license # 173. The Moisant company plans to use her as a demonstration pilot for the Blériot monoplanes that they are building under license.

Bernetta Miller in a Moisant aeroplane


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