January 24
1848: The California Gold
Rush began when James W.
Marshall found gold at
Sutter’s Mill near Sacramento.
1908: The Boy Scouts
movement began in England
with the publication of the
first installment of Robert
Baden-Powell’s Scouting for

1916: In Brushaber v.
Union Pacific Railroad Co.,
the U.S. Supreme Court declared
the federal income tax

1935: The first canned
beer, Kreuger’s, was test
marketed in Richmond, Va.
1961: A U.S. B-52 bomber
carrying two H-bombs broke
up in mid-air over Goldsboro,
N.C. (The uranium core of
one bomb was never found.)
1972: Japanese Sgt.
Shoichi Yokoi (1915-1997)
was found hiding in a Guam
jungle where he had been
since the end of World War II
in 1945.

1989: Confessed serial
murderer Theodore ‘Ted’
Bundy, 42, was executed in
the Florida electric chair.
2003: The U.S. Department
of Homeland Security
officially began operation.
January 25

1881: Thomas Edison
and Alexander Graham Bell
formed the Oriental Telephone
Company to sell telephone
systems in Asia, Eastern
Europe and South Africa.

1915: Alexander Graham
Bell inaugurated U.S. transcontinental
telephone service,
speaking from New
York to Thomas Watson in
San Francisco.

1924: The first Winter
Olympics opened at Chamonix
in the French Alps.
1937: The Guiding Light
debuted on NBC radio from
Chicago. (In 1952 it moved to
CBS television, where it remained
until Sept. 18, 2009.
It remains the longestrunning
drama in U.S. TV
history, the longest-running
soap opera ever, and the fifth
-longest-running program in
world broadcast history.)

1947: Thomas Goldsmith
Jr. (1910-2009) filed a patent
for a “Cathode Ray Tube
Amusement Device,” the first
ever electronic game.
1962: Montana Gov. Donald
Nutter, two aides and
three National Guard crewmen
were killed when their
plane crashed near Wolf
Creek, en route to Cut Bank.
1979: Robert Williams, a
worker at a Ford Motor Co.
plant, was the first known
human to be killed by a robot
after the arm of a one-ton
factory robot hit him in the

1996: Billy Bailey (born
1947) became the last person
to be hanged in the USA,
in Delaware.
January 26

1788: The British First
Fleet, led by Arthur Phillip,
sailed into Port Jackson (now
Sydney Harbour) to establish
Sydney, the first permanent
European settlement on the
Australian continent. (Now
commemorated as Australia

1838: Tennessee enacted
the first prohibition law in
the United States.

1905: The world’s largest
diamond ever, the Cullinan,
weighing 3,106.75 carats
(1.37 pounds), was found at
the Premier Mine near Pretoria
in South Africa.

1911: Glenn H. Curtiss
flew the first successful U.S.

1915: Rocky Mountain
National Park was established
by an act of the U.S.

1920: The Lincoln Motor
Car Co. was founded. (It was
bought out two years later by
Ford Motor Co.)
1950: The Indian constitution
took effect, making the
Republic of India the most
populous democracy in the

1961: President John F.
Kennedy appointed Janet G.
Travell to be his physician,
the first time a woman held
the appointment of Physician
to the President.

2004: A dead whale exploded
in the town of Tainan,
Taiwan. A build-up of gas in
the decomposing sperm
whale is suspected of causing
the explosion.

January 27
1785: The University of
Georgia was founded, the
first public university in the
United States.
1825: U.S. Congress approved
Indian Territory
(now in present-day Oklahoma),
clearing the way for
forced relocation of the Eastern
Indians on the infamous
“Trail of Tears.”
1880: Thomas Edison
(1847-1931) received the
patent for his incandescent

1888: The National Geographic
Society was founded
in Washington, D.C.
1926: John Logie Baird, a
Scottish inventor, gave the
first public demonstration of
a true television system in
London, England.
1967: A launch pad fire
during Apollo program tests
at Cape Canaveral, Florida,
killed astronauts Virgil “Gus”
Grissom, Edward H. White II,
and Roger B. Chafee. An investigation
showed that a
faulty electrical wire inside
the Apollo 1 module was the
probable cause. The United
States, United Kingdom, and
Soviet Union signed the Outer
Space Treaty in Washington,
D.C., banning deployment
of nuclear weapons in
space, and limiting use of the
Moon and other celestial
bodies to peaceful purposes.
1973: The Vietnam War
officially ended with the signing
of The Paris Peace Accords.
Colonel William Nolde
was killed in action to become
the last recorded
American combat casualty of
that war.
1996: Germany observed
International Holocaust Remembrance
Day for the first

2006: Western Union
discontinued its telegram
and commercial messaging
services after being in business
since 1851.
January 28
1393: King Charles VI of
France was nearly killed
when several dancers’ costumes
caught fire during a
masquerade ball. (This incident
inspired Edgar Allen
Poe (1809-1849) to write the
horror short story Hop Frog.)
1624: Sir Thomas Warner
founded the first British
colony in the Caribbean, on
the island of Saint Kitts.
1754: The word
“serendipity” (meaning
“pleasant surprise”) was
coined by Horace Walpole
(1717-1797) in a letter to a

1813: Jane Austen’s Pride
and Prejudice was first published
in the United Kingdom.
1820: The continent of
Antarctica was discovered by
a Russian expedition led by
Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen
(1778-1852) and
Mikhail Petrovich Lazarev

1887: The largest reported
snowflake was discovered
by a ranch owner at Fort
Keogh, Mont.; it measured 15
inches across and 8 inches

1902: The Carnegie Institution
of Washington was
founded in Washington, D.C.
with a $10 million gift from
Andrew Carnegie.

1917: City-owned streetcars
began operating in San
Francisco, Calif.

1922: Washington D.C.’s
heaviest snowfall caused the
city’s greatest loss of life
when the roof of the Knickerbocker
Theatre collapsed,
killing 98 people and injuring

1934: The first ski tow in
the United States began operating
in Vermont.

1937: The first Rolls
Royce prototype, known as
the Silver Wraith, was test
driven in England.
1938: The world land
speed record on a public
road was broken by Rudolf
Caracciola in a Mercedes-
Benz W195 with a speed of
268.9 mph.

1958: The Lego company
patented the design of its
Lego bricks, still compatible
with bricks produced today.
1965: The “maple leaf”
design of the Canadian flag
was chosen by an act of Parliament.
1985: The supergroup
USA for Africa (United Support
of Artists for Africa)
recorded the hit single “We
Are the World” to help raise
funds for Ethiopian famine
January 29

1834: President Andrew
Jackson ordered the first use
of federal soldiers to suppress
a labor dispute,
1845: Edgar Allan Poe’s
poem, The Raven, was first
published in the New York
Evening Mirror.

1886: Karl Benz received
a patent for the first successful
gasoline-driven automobile.
1963: The first inductees
into the Pro Football Hall of
Fame were announced.
January 30

1649: King Charles I of
England was beheaded after
being found guilty of tyranny
by the Rump Parliament at
the behest of Oliver Cromwell
1790: The first boat specializing
as a lifeboat was
tested on the River Tyne in
northeast England.
1835: The first assassination
attempt against a president
of the United States
occurred when Richard Lawrence
tried to shoot President
Andrew Jackson outside
the U.S. Capitol; Lawrence
failed and was subdued by a
crowd, including several
congressmen, and Jackson

1847: Yerba Buena, Calif.,
was renamed San Francisco.
1862: The first American
ironclad warship, the USS
Monitor, was launched at
Hampton Roads, Va.
1900: Kentucky Gov.-
elect William Goebel was
shot in the chest by an unknown
assailant while walking
to the Old State Capitol in
Frankfort. He was sworn in
the next day and died on Feb.
3, at age 44.
1933: Adolf Hitler was
sworn in as Chancellor of

1945: During World War
II, the ocean liner Wilhelm
Gustloff, overfilled with German
refugees, sank in the
Baltic Sea after being torpedoed
by a Soviet submarine;
approximately 9,500 people
died in what remains the
deadliest maritime disaster
in history.

1956: Civil rights leader
Martin Luther King Jr.’s home
in Atlanta was bombed in
retaliation for the Montgomery
Bus Boycott.

1969: the Beatles made
their last public performance
in an impromptu concert on
the roof of their London recording
studio. (The event
was broken up by the police.)