100 Years Ago Today

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

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

The First Gangster Film Is Released

In 1908 in order to to bring stability to the patent wars and litigation the Edison Film Manufacturing Company, the Biograph company, and the 7 other east coast motion picture studios ended their competitive feuding in favor of a cooperative system that provided industry domination and formed the Motion Picture Patents Company known as The Film Trust. By pooling their interests, the member companies legally monopolized the business, and demanded licensing fees from all film producers, distributors, and exhibitors for cameras and projectors, which were all made by Edison. Either you did what the Film Trust wanted or you could build your own cameras, developers, and projectors. The General Film Company was formed by the Motion Picture Patents Company in an attempt to monopolize distribution. In 1909, the General Film Company tried to seize the equipment of independent distribution companies to discourage their activities. Using their control over several film patents, the General Film Company and Motion Picture Patents Company tried to force independent distribution companies to sell out or lose their patent licenses.

The rebel film studios started looking elsewhere to avoid the Film Trust and have moved all the way across the country to California (where the nice weather allows a longer filming season) and opened studios is small southern California towns like Edendale and Hollywood.
On October 31, 1912 the General Film Company released THE MUSKETEERS OF PIG ALLEY through Biograph. It is considered the first gangster film in history. Directed by D W Griffith and written by Griffith and Anita Loos, the film deals with a family trapped and victimized by criminals. Loos, who just started writing for Griffith at Biograph, had an upbringing by her alcoholic father that exposed her to the shadier side of life. The film stars Lillian Gish.

Election Halloween

The US presidential election is 6 days away. THE PHILADELPHIA ENQUIRER published this political cartoon showing the 3 candidates dressed as their party’s symbols : Teddy Roosevelt as a Progressive Bullmoose, William Howard Taft as a Republican elephant and Woodrow Wilson as a Democratic donkey.

October 31, 1912

Issued October 31, 1912

Michael Augustine Power was born in Ireland in January 1877. Upon the death of his father, his mother married and he took the name O’Malley in honor of his much loved stepfather. The family moved to Dublin where he studied at The Metropolitan School of Art. He emigrated to New York at the turn of the 20th century and did book illustrations and covers for Life, The Literary Digest, Harper’s and Puck.

On October 31, 1912 LIFE magazine issued The Indian Summer Number which feature O’Malley cover art depicting a  Pilgrim couple kiss as Native American watch from a secluded spot.

“One Touch Of Nature” by Power O’Malley
LIFE magazine
Indian Summer Number
October 31, 1912

US Vice President Sherman Dies In Office

James Schoolcraft Sherman was born in Utica, New York in October 1855. He graduated from Hamilton College in 1878 and studyied law in the offices of Beardsley, Cookinham and Burdick He was admitted to the bar in 1880 and became active in Republican politics as a delegate to state and national conventions, campaign speaker, and chairman of committees. He was mayor of Utica in 1884 and a member of Congress from 1886 until 1908. He was known as “Sunny Jim” because of his charming disposition and was also fondly called “Four Eyes” by Native Americans because he wore spectacles and was chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs for 14 years. The Republican National Convention of 1908 nominated Mr. Taft for president and Sherman for vice-president. During his term as vice president his name was given to the legislation that fought corporate monopolies – the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

James S Sherman

In August 1912 Sherman was given the official nomination as vice-presidential candidate for the Republican party at his home in Oneida, New York. But Sherman suffered from Bright’s disease, a kidney ailment and had given his acceptance speech against medical advice.

On October 30, 1912 six days before the presidential election Sherman, 57 years old, passed away at his home in Utica, New York. With the election so close, no new candidate will likely be announced.

First Pilot Killed By Anti-Aircraft Fire

In October 1911 war broke out between Italy and the Ottoman Empire when Italy claim territory in Norther Africa. The first wartime use of a plane took place in Libya that month when Captain Carlo Piazza made the first reconnaissance flight in the history of war near Benghazi.


The same conflict saw the first pilot killed during wartime.


War between the Ottoman Empire and four Balkan states called the Balkan League has broken out.


Two weeks ago, the first bombing reconnaissance took place in the Balkan War.


On October 30, 1912 a Russian volunteer in the Bulgarian army air force became the first airplane pilot to ever be killed by anti-aircraft fire. The airplane flown by M Popov and was hit by Turkish shells while Popov was flying over Adrianople.

Bulgarian military airplane

Hygienic Drinking Water Made Into Federal Law

The theory of germs transmitting disease is still a concept that many people have a hard time accepting. It is still a popular custom to use of a single cup or dipper for a pail of water or water cooler at public conveniences.

“It not infrequently happens that the same persons who complain loudly and rightly enough, perhaps, of dirty streets, and are quick to blame public officials for their laxity in this respect will, nevertheless, at fountains, in railway trains or in theaters, apply their own lips to public drinking-cups which a few minutes before have been touched by the lips of strangers, possibly suffering from infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis or diphtheria.” – 1902

Doctors are very aware of the problem but people and corporations are slow to act in making changes.

On October 30, 1912 the federal government established the very first national drinking water regulation that banned the use of the common cup aboard interstate train carriers.

The Common Drinking Cup

Immigrants Arrive In America

From 1836 to 1914, over 30 million Europeans migrated to the United States. The peak year of European immigration was in 1907 when 1,285,349 persons entered the country. By 1912, 14 million immigrants were living in the United States. Ellis Island in Upper New York Bay has been the nation’s busiest immigrant inspection station since 1892. In 1911 637,003 immigrants came to the US from Italian, Jewish, Polish, German, English, Scandinavian and Irish backgrounds. 1912 rates are slightly lower but people from all over the world seek to become US citizens and escape poverty and oppression in the home countries.

Arrival of new Americans
New York City, New York
October 30, 1912

On October 30, 1912 this photograph of a group of immigrants waiting to be transferred to Ellis Island for processing was taken.

Postmarked October 30, 1912

A Halloween Morning

Postmarked October 30, 1912
Battle Creek, Michigan

When owls begin to hoot!
Quickly don your mummer’s suit,
Steal softly, out, and don’t be late,
For Hallowe’e’n decides your fate

New Studio Releases Film

Mack Sennett first made films for the Biograph Company of New York before forming his own Keystone Studios in California.


On October 28, 1912 Keystone released A GROCERY CLERK’S ROMANCE directed by Mack Sennett.

Cast : Ford Sterling (Grocery Clerk), James C. Morton (Brown, the Husband), Gus Pixley (Brown’s Pal), Lincoln Plumer (Constable)

directed by Mack Sennett
Keystone Studios
released October 28, 1912

School Photo


Trade school on South Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
October 28, 1912

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