October 16


1860: Grace Bedell, 11, of Westfield, New York, wrote a letter to presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln suggesting that he could improve his appearance if he grew a beard.

1972: House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, D-La., and U.S. Rep. Nick Begich, D-Alaska, were presumed killed when their Cessna 310 disappeared during a flight from Anchorage to Juneau. Also on board were Begich’s aide, Russell Brown, and the pilot, Don Jonz. The four were heading to a campaign fundraiser for Begich. No wreckage or remains have ever been found.


October 17

1771: The opera Ascanio in Alba, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, age 15,  premiered in Milan, Italy.

1907: Guglielmo Marconi’s company began operating the first commercial transatlantic wireless communication service between Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada, and Clifden, Ireland.

October 18

1767: The Mason-Dixon line, the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania, was established.

1851: Herman Melville’s ponderous ‘classic’ novel Moby-Dick was first published as The Whale by Richard Bentley of London.

1922: The British Broadcasting Company (later Corporation, or BBC) was founded in London. 1967: The Soviet space probe Venera 4 reached Venus and became the first spacecraft to measure the atmosphere of another planet.

October 19


1386: The University of Heidelberg, Germany, was established.

1917: Love Field, an airport in Dallas, Texas, opened for business.

1943: Streptomycin, the first antibiotic treatment for tuberculosis, was isolated by researchers at Rutgers University in Newark, N.J.

1991: Fire swept through the Oakland (Calif.) Hills, destroying thousands of homes and killing 25 people.


October 20

1968: Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy married Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis.

1973: After 15 years of construction, the Sydney Opera House was dedicated by Queen Elizabeth II; the $80 million structure, designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon and funded by the profits of the Opera House Lotteries, was built on Bennelong Point, in Sydney, Australia.

October 21

1824: Joseph Aspdin patented Portland cement in England.

1921: The silent movie The Sheik, starring Rudolph Valentino, premiered in New York.

1983: The 17th General Conference on Weights and Measures in Sèvres, France, defined the meter as the distance light travels in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458 of a second.


October 22

1797: André-Jacques Garnerin (1769-1823) performed the first parachute jump from a hot air balloon, 3,200 feet above Paris, France.

1836: Sam Houston (1793-1863) was inaugurated as the first president of the Republic of Texas.

1914: Congress enacted the first U.S. income tax.

1936: The first Volkswagen was publicly driven in Germany.

1966: The Supremes became the first all-female music group to attain a No. 1 selling album (The Supremes A-Go-Go).