Friday, January 14, 2011

Today -100: January 14, 1911: Of foreign banks, foreign spies, socialists & supes, and wills

A “foreign bank” in Pittsburg goes bankrupt and the owner blows his brains out. But depositors, described by the Times as “Gypsies, Poles, and Slavs, a number of them women, in fantastic headgear,” gathered in front of the closed bank demanding to see the body to ensure that he hadn’t faked his death and absconded.

The House is working on a bill to outlaw spies. In 1911, it seems, spying for a foreign nation was only a crime if the US was actually at war, in which case it fell under the treason laws. The timing is probably related to several recent incidents in Europe, such as British “hikers” being arrested in Germany making sketches of fortifications, but also to the activities of Japanese spies who got hold of blueprints to fortresses along the Pacific Coast and in the Philippines.

Teddy Roosevelt is to go hunting with a group of his Rough Rider pals in Mexico. Did no one tell him there’s a revolution going on there?

Taft goes to the top of the Washington Monument for the first time.

Eugene Debs calls for socialists to rise up in revolt, the nature of which he fails to specify, against the Supreme Court. On Lincoln’s Birthday. Debs particularly objects to the 6-month sentence given to an editor for posting a reward for the return of the fugitive ex-governor of Kentucky (which I’ve mentioned before), given that union leaders Moyer, Haywood and Pettibone were infamously kidnapped in Colorado by Idaho police and brought forcibly to Idaho in 1906.

In Brooklyn, Surrogate (like a judge) Ketcham rejects the will of millionaire Robert Thompson. 4 months before his death, the 70-year-old Thompson married a 27-year-old stenographer at his paper company. His relatives were not best pleased, including his dead first wife, “Muzzie,” whose displeasure from beyond the grave was made known through spiritual messages helpfully relayed by Thompson’s granddaughter, Marion A. Funk. The dead wife also said that if he did marry, he should cut the second wife from his will in favor of his grandchildren, and this he did. The surrogate ruled that the will was the product of fraud.

Carrie Nation collapses!

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