Category Archives: History

The Origins of Easter

Besides the Jesus Part, Of Course

Some sources claim the word Easter is derived from Ēostre, a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility. Other accounts trace Easter to the Latin term hebdomada alba, or white week, an ancient reference to Easter week and the white clothing donned by people who were baptized during that time. Through a translation error, the term later appeared as esostarum in Old High German, which eventually became Easter in English.”


April 16, 1521: Martin Luther arrives at the Diet of Worms.

April 16, 1521: German reformer Martin Luther arrives at the Diet of Worms, convinced he would get the hearing he requested in 1517 to discuss the abuse of indulgences and his “95 Theses.” He was astounded when he discovered it would not be a debate, but rather a judicial hearing to see if he wished to recant his words. In defending himself the next Day , Luther said, “Unless I can be instructed and convinced with evidence from the Holy Scriptures or with open, clear, and distinct grounds of reasoning . . . then I cannot and will not recant, because it is neither safe nor wise to act against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me! Amen!” When negotiations over the next few Day s failed to reach any compromise, Luther was condemned (see issue 34: Luther’s Early Years).

Three hundred and ninety-two years ago — March 2̶5̶ 27?, 1625 — King James dies.



I signed up to get a daily history email from the folks at the magazine Christianity Today.

March 25 is an important date for me. (It’s my birthday.) So, I like to read about it, that particular day, such as who share a birthday with me.

Well, then I learned that King James died on that day in 1625, only to realize that it is probably a mistake. Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica put his death date as March 27.

I was typing away, nearly ready to publish when I discovered this discrepancy.

Three hundred and ninety-two years ago, King James I of England died — on March 25, 1625. Twenty-one years previously, in 1604 at the Hampton Court Conference, he had authorized the translation project that produced the King James translation (KJV) of the Bible.


Summing up politics in America in the 1830s

Henry hates John. John abhors Henry. Andrew can’t stand Henry or John—and neither of them have any use for Andrew.”

The Players
Henry is Henry Clay, Speaker of the House for decades. John is John C. Calhoun, a proud southerner who developed the idea of nullification. And Andrew is Andrew Jackson, war hero and eventual president of the United States.

I discovered this incredible summation of affairs in the book Distory: A Treasury of Historical Insults by a man named Schnakenberg.


Director Scorsese says he is fascinated by history, but fails miserably in his analysis.

At Trinity College in Dublin

Being fascinated by history, I read as much as I can. It just reminds me of the late 20s, the 30s … reading about how these things could have happened at that time. It’s a scary time.”

So is Trump Hitler? Is that what you are claiming, Mr. Scorsese? It’s so unoriginal, that it’s actually boring.

Referring to the rise of global terrorism, Scorsese says that the Iraq invasion “had created thousands and thousands of Travis Bickles.”

This reference to Bickles is much more interesting to me. But. maddeningly, Scorsese does not make it clear what he means.

Bickles, portrayed by Robert De Niro, is the depressed loner who is the focus of his 1976 film Taxi Driver, which I consider vastly overrated. Bickles is drawn to violence in his disgust against the decadence and sleaze around him.

“They say they have nothing to lose.”

Just what is Scorsese getting at?


Never send the original!

The site where Abraham Lincoln’s parents, Thomas and Sarah Bush Lincoln, lived during the 1840s is planning a celebration of his birthday. They lived near some of my ancestors, the Parkers and the Goodells.

I learned something, a historical sidenote, that I did not know.

The original cabin was disassembled and shipped to Chicago for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and was never seen again.”

Why would anyone dismantle and send the cabin to Chicago? Why not just make a replica?

I am convinced that some of my relatives knew Thomas and Sarah and possibly Abraham as well, when he was working as congressman and then a lawyer in Illinois.

And another strange fact is that a great-great grandfather and his family lived in Chicago during the World’s Columbian Exposition.

So don’t forget, everyone is a witness to history— you, me, every single one of us.



Fascinating historical tidbits from yesteryear, including Civil War veteran imposters — in 1867!

Stolen Valor
I’ve watched a few videos on YouTube of people exposing gentlemen who parade around in military uniforms pretending to be active soldiers or veterans, but who are clearly posers. Yet, I never thought about the history of this quest for fake valor and glory.

Despite the fact that scoundrels have been trying to take advantage ever since the dawn of man, it surprised me to read about men parading about among Civil War veterans with the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) back in 1867 in Moline, Illinois.

1867 — 150 years ago: Several men were seen in the GAR parade today wearing badges that were never in United States service. They were bogus soldiers.

Horse & Buggy
I have a few ancestors who had accidents of their own with horse and buggy, including some fatal ones.

1892 — 125 years ago: Considerable damage was caused by two vehicles when the horse and buggy driven by Mrs. Catherine Farrell collided with another buggy.

Agent Holmes
1917 — 100 years ago: Agent Holmes of the Milwaukee Railroad recovered his valuable Irish setter after the dog strayed and was absent several days.

Reading about Agent Holmes made me think of Sherlock. I’ve been a fan of him and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle since being introduced to the stories when I was kid. Then came Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke on television. Brett was the prefect Sherlock Holmes and Hardwicke was terrific as Dr. Watson. Until Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, I did not think anyone could or would match these two.

The Army Air Corps
Before the Air Force, there was the Army Air Corps. A day or so ago, I looked up my favorite Frank Sinatra flick, Von Ryan’s Express. It’s a World War II movie and a classic. Sinatra plays a character who is a pilot with the Air Corps. His plane crashes in Italy and he is captured, becoming a prisoner of war.

1942 — 75 years ago: Lt. A.S. Speed Chandler visited Rock Island to help recruit men for the Army Air Corps.

1967 — 50 years ago: The safest year on record was achieved in 1966 at the International Harvester Co’s Farmall Works in Rock Island, and as result the Farmall Works has been awarded a large trophy as the safest plant in the IHC farm division.

Farmall was a model of farm tractor. The only reason I included this last historical note is because my grandfather, Grandpa Hill, owned and used a few of these Farmall tractors. There is a bright red model H at the Whole Foods nearby.


These historical throwbacks are from the February 3, 2017 edition of the Dispatch Argus, published in Moline, Illinois.