Our school history classes might have taught us a lot but there are things that were left out. While our teachers made us focus on names, dates and places, there were many interesting historical facts that we missed out on. How many of us know that Lincoln was a champion wrestler? Like this lesser known fact, we have collected some tidbits from the past that you probably didn’t learn in school. Some of them will astonish you, some will puzzle you and some will entertain you.
1. Peter Freuchen once made a knife out of his own feces to escape from death.
Peter Freuchen was a one of a kind man. The Danish explorer, author, journalist and anthropologist played a key role in the Arctic explorations. In 1906, when he was only 20 years old, he embraced his adventurous spirit and sailed north, traveling more than 7,000 miles by dogsled. In 1926, during an expedition, Freuchen was trapped under an avalanche and faced certain death. With no tools in sight, he used what he could to build a makeshift shiv. Freuchen made a shiv using his own feces and dug his way out. He also amputated his frostbitten toes himself without anesthesia.
2. Willis Meadows, the man who coughed up a bullet 58 years after the Civil War.
Willis Meadows was shot through the eye during the Battle of Vicksburg. He survived and went on to live a normal life with the bullet still lodged inside him. On morning, 58 years after being shot, Meadows was sitting at his kitchen table when he started choking. The 78-year old couldn’t breathe and thought it was his time to die. Suddenly, something came flying out of his mouth, bounced on the wooden kitchen table and tumbled to a stop. It was the Civil War bullet, a one-ounce slug, that had taken out the Confederate Veterans right eye when he was just a boy.
3. In ancient Egypt, servants were smeared with honey to attract flies away from the pharaoh.
A pharaoh was a monarch of ancient Egypt. After a pharaoh had ruled for 30 years, he had to prove his fitness by running around a fixed course. There was one particular pharaoh who disliked flies so much that he came up with a unique solution. Pepi II always had some of his slaves smeared with honey so that the flies buzzed around the slaves instead of flying around him.
4. Conservationists discovered bodies in Ben Franklin’s basement.
For nearly two decades leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin lived in London in a house at 36 Craven Street. In 1776, Franklin left his home and came to America. 200 years after his death, conservationists who were doing repairs stumbled upon 15 bodies in a windowless basement.
So, was our founding father a serial killer?
Not really, according to The Guardian. Franklin shared the space with his friend and protege William Hewson, who ran an anatomy school.
Franklin was probably aware of the illegal studies going on in his building, says the Benjamin Franklin House, but it’s doubtful that he was involved himself.
5. Abraham Lincoln was a champion wrestler.
Believe it or not, the 16th President of the United States was a skilled wrestler. Before becoming a politician, the champion had more than 300 bouts under his belt. He is only known to have lost one match in his entire life and in 1992, he was honored with an award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
6. Frank Hayes, the dead man who won a horse race.
In 1923, jockey Frank Hayes won a race at Belmont Park in New York despite being dead. He suffered a heart attack mid-race, but his body stayed in the saddle until his horse crossed the line for a 20-1 outsider victory. No one expected the 35-year-old jockey to take the first spot that day while riding a 20-1 outsider named Sweet Kiss.
7. Animals were also often put on trial and given death sentences during the medieval ages.
On September 5, 1379, two herds of pigs at a French monastery were agitated and killed a man named Perrinot Muet. The pigs were caught and put on trial for the heinous crime. Even the pigs who were simply standing there and only witnessed the killing were charged with the crime. The monastery, however, couldn’t bear the economic loss of all the pigs so they wrote to the Duke of Burgundy, asking him to pardon the pigs that were only witnesses. The Duke ordered all of the pigs to be put to death. It was aldo common in Medieval Europe to punish animals who were blamed for plagues.
8. During America’s Dust Bowl (in the early 30’s), sewing flour sacks into clothing was quite popular.
During the Great Depression, life was miserable. In order to survive, people were scrimping and saving and reusing everything possible. In those difficult times, if women wanted to provide for their families, they had to get creative — especially when it came to clothing. Women noticed that one of their food staples — flour — came in cotton sacks. They were so desperate that they often emptied the sacks and used the fabric to make clothing for their children. When manufacturers learned of the new trend, they decided to contribute by selling flour in decorative bags that were intended for future repurposing into clothing.
9. Pope Gregory IX believed that cats embodied the devil himself.
Pope Gregory IX, who held the papacy from 1227 to 1241, surely lost a lot of followers after he declared that the devil was half-cat. Gregory based his theory on “evidence” from Conrad of Marburg, a papal inquisitor. On June 13, 1233, Gregory issued the Vox in Rama, an official papal decree declaring his beliefs. It’s been suggested that the small black cat population in Europe today is a direct result of this decision and of course the Bubonic Plague also motivated many since they believed that cat germs contributed to the plague.
10. President Einstein was almost a thing.
Yes. In 1952, Israel’s first president, Chaim Weizmann, asked his friend Albert Einstein if he would be willing to lead the young nation. The Israelis assured him that he would receive complete facility and freedom to pursue his scientific work but Einstein turned down the offer.
11. The shortest war in history lasted for approximately 40 minutes.
he Anglo-Zanzibar War, between the United Kingdom and Zanzibar on 27 August 1896, lasted approximately 40 minutes. The ultimatum expired at 09:00 on August 27 , 1896, and the war started at 09:02. The fire ceased at 09:40 and the Sultan’s forces sustained roughly 500 casualties, while only one British sailor was injured.
12. Tsutomu Yamaguchi survived both atomic bombs and lived to be 93.
Tsutomu Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima when the first atom bomb was dropped. He then traveled home to Nagasaki the day before the second atom bomb was dropped. He survived both and lived to be 93.
Bonus: The town of Salem, New Jersey once held a trial against tomatoes.`
The town of Salem, New Jersey once held a trial against tomatoes in 1820 because of the widespread belief they were poisonous. The case ended after Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson ate a basket of tomatoes in front of a courthouse. Johnson ate the tomatoes in order to prove they weren’t poisonous. The crowd waited for him to die. He didn’t and the trial ended.