1866 – Laura Foster is murdered

Tom Dula was a North Carolina boy who had a great disregard for two things: the seventh commandment (you know, the one about adultery) and consequences. He had a long term affair with a woman named Ann Foster, and later, with her cousins, Laura and Pauline.

However, after Laura got pregnant by Dula, and – as he believed – infected him with syphilis (it appears that it may have actually been Pauline he caught that from), Tom decided to end his relationship with Laura. It remains unclear who actually killed Laura – it may have been Tom, Ann or Pauline – but it was Tom who was convicted and sent to the gallows for the crime.

Referenced in:

Tom Dooley — The Kingston Trio

428 BCE — Plato is born

Oddly, not the Platonic Ideal of the philosopher (although in fairness, he would have been the first to point that out), Plato is one of the trio of great Greek philosophers who helped to define Western Philosophy and Science for millennia. The other two were his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle (who was himself the teacher of Alexander the Great).

Plato was born in Athens (although the exact date is unknown – the one I have used here is traditional, but not necessarily correct) to a wealthy family, and given the best education money could buy. Even as a child, he was known for his quick mind. As a younger man, he traveled widely in search of knowledge, and returned to Athens at the age of forty to found the Academy, an institution that would last for nine centuries and train many philosophers, scientists and others from all over the ancient world.

He also left behind a considerable body of writing that helped to define the parameters of philosophy and science until virtually the Renaissance. He also wrote on politics, art and religion. Often, his writings were in the form of Socratic Dialogues, in which Socrates would be the one who espoused the ideas that were actually Plato’s.

Referenced in:

Bruces’ Philosophers Song — Monty Python

1828 – Kaspar Hauser first appears in Nuremberg

Kaspar Hauser remains an enigma.

His first recorded appearance was on this day in 1828, on the streets of Nuremberg, Germany. He would barely talk; when a cobbler named Weickmann took the boy to the house of Captain von Wessenig, to whom a letter carried by Hauser was addressed, his only utterances were “I want to be a cavalryman, as my father was,” and “Horse! Horse!” Further attempts to get him to communicate brought forth only crying, or the obstinate proclamation of “Don’t know” from Hauser.

The only identification he carried was the letter to von Wessenig, the captain of the 4th squadron of the 6th cavalry regiment. It was dated “From the Bavarian border / The place is not named / 1828”. The anonymous author said that the boy was given into his custody, as an infant, on the 7th October 1812, and that he had instructed him in reading, writing, and the Christian religion but had never let him “take a single step out of my house”. The letter stated that the boy would now like to be a cavalryman; and that therefore, the captain should take him in or hang him. There was another short letter enclosed, purporting to be from his mother to his prior caretaker, but later discovered to have been written by the same hand as the other one. It stated that he was born on April 30, 1812, and that his father, a cavalryman of the 6th regiment, was dead.

Hauser later became more communicative, but the puzzle of his origin was never solved, and his death, in 1833, was scarcely less mysterious.

Referenced in:

Kaspar – BAP
Kaspar Hauser – Trial
Kaspar – Reinhard Mey
Gaspard – Georges Moustaki
Kaspar Hauser – Dschinghis Khan
Wooden Horse (Caspar Hauser’s Song) – Suzanne Vega

One of those cases where I have categorised the event as Culture, despite its ill-fit there, primarily due to the fact that it seems to fit any other category even less.