10 Weird Historical Facts That Will Surprise You

They say history repeats itself, and while we may have evidence of it in our time we keep hoping that it doesn’t.

While that may be true on a larger basis, how odd would it be to have certain weird historical facts (like the ones we’re about to reveal) come to life again in the 21st century?

These odd facts will not only surprise you, some of them will even make you giggle. Let’s take a look at the 10 weirdest historical facts that will surprise you.

1) Winning Gold At The Death Threat Games

It might be easy to say that Fidel Castro was not a popular man.

Loved in his native Cuba, he was deemed so unpopular around the world that he once famously stated that he would have won an Olympic gold has surviving assassinations been a sport.

More than 600 attempts were made on the dictator’s life is statements from a Cuban secret service office are to be believed. The assassination attempts were said to come from those countries most opposed to his regime in Cuba.

All forms of assassination attempts were made including, poison, bombs and even sending in a Femme Fatale who according to Castro “lost her nerve at the last minute”. This is one “medal” we’d like to keep away from.

2) Building Your Home One Rock At A Time

Simeon Ellerton of North Yorkshire took the phrase “building a home one brick at a time” quite literally. His work would routinely take him all across the UK.

He walked everywhere and every time he returned from one of his job he would carry home the perfect rock he could find.

Each rock he brought home with him went into the construction of his house.

Even after his home was finished and he did not need to carry the rocks on his head any longer, he still did so out of habit. If he was ever questioned why he was carrying a rock on his head he would reply he needed it to keep his hat on.

3) It Took One Leg To Get The Escalators Going

When the first escalator system was built in Earls Court in 1911 people were nervous to use them. Since these contraptions are not as popular as they are now, you can imagine the apprehensiveness.

William ‘Bumper’ Harris had had his leg amputated a few years ago. He was an employee of the metro system. He stepped up and demonstrated the safety of the escalators by riding them up and down.

4) Death By Molasses

On January 25th, 1919, a tank exploded sending a tsunami of thick, sticky, “wall of molasses” towards an unsuspecting public.

Rising several feet above the ground and moving at speeds upwards of 30 miles an hour, nothing that stood in its path had a chance.

It engulfed almost the entire town, covering vehicles, horses, building, and killing 21 people and injuring more than 150 others.

Those that survived were rushed to the nearest hospitals looking like “toffee-apples” (according to eyewitnesses).

It took several weeks for the cleanup, and on humid summer days, the residents can still smell the lingering aroma of molasses.

5) Secret Age Of The Best Selling Author

Many believe that the book ‘The Young Visiters’ was authored by JM Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan.
However, only the preface of the book was written by JM Barrie while the novel was actually written by a girl named Daisy Ashford who was 9 when she wrote it.

It was only 28 years later when she was returning home due to the death of her mother that she found the book in her belongings. The manuscript passed hands before it found its way to a publisher and became a major hit.

6) How Gullible Are You?

If I told you that a magician would be visiting a venue near you and the magician would fit his entire body in a soda bottle would you believe me? Well, the public of London surely fell for it.

Montague’s Duke had a bet with his friend that he could surely have the public attend such an event and when the act was advertised, the public came in droves.

When they were told the magician would not be appearing, they were furious. They got their refund Montague’s Duke won his bet.

7) Fined For Being Medieval

Henri Littiere’s wife was doing all she could to be faithful to him, but she just couldn’t help herself.

3 affairs in 3 months pushed Henri over the brink, but he loved his wife, so instead of getting violent, he found a different solution.

He has a chastity belt designed for her. We wish we were making this up. It fit well and was velvet covered and comfortable.

When one of Mme Littiere’s lovers found her wearing the contraption he took Mr. Henri to court on the grounds of human cruelty.

I’m not sure who was crueler in the situation, Mme Littiere who couldn’t help but cheat, her lover who took her husband to court or the judge who fined Mr. Littiere 50 francs and a 3 month suspended sentence. What do you guys think?

8) Women Were Not Allowed To Smoke (In Public)

Smoking was considered to be immoral and coming under pressure from the Christian anti-smoking lobby Andrew Sullivan passed a city law that forbade women from using tobacco products in public places.

Katie Mulcahey was prosecuted for her crime and fined 5 dollars for claiming to have equal right to smoke as men. Luckily the city mayor overturned the decision and scrapped the law after two weeks.

9) Who Did Really Write About Mary?

We’re of course talking about Mary Sawyer and her lamb upon whom the famous poem is based on. While a copy of the poem dating back to 1823 was signed by a Mrs. Sarah Hale, Mary actually credited the author to be John Roulstone.

Henry Ford who had bought Mary’s school set up a team of researchers to get to the bottom of the problem.

As per his findings and as can be seen on the commemorative plaque in the school the first three verses of the poem are credited to John Roulstone. Only the last verse was added by Mrs. Hale in 1823.

10) Paying Homage To A Corpse

In a tale of love, betrayal, and revenge this historical fact is surely the weirdest.

Don Pedro the son of King Afonso of Portugal was in love with a girl named Ines Piras de Castro. However, the king did not approve of the match and had Ines confined to a monastery where she was murdered by 3 men.

Upon King Afonso’s death when Don Pedro, who was later known as Peter the First, took over as king he had the body of Ines exhumed. Her corpse was made to sit beside him on the throne and the nobility was made to kiss her ring as a sign of tribute.

11) Breaking It Down In 40 seconds

William Shanks spent his entire life trying to get to the furthest value of the decimal point of Pi he could. He could only get to 700 in his lifetime and we now know that 180 of the last digits were incorrect.

The first IBM computer calculated what William Shanks took an entire life to do, in 40 seconds.

12) John Wilkins, Oliver Cromwell’s brother-in-law, was the first to talk about space travel

Oliver Cromwell’s brother John Wilkins was the first to talk about space travel.

In the 1650’s, they actually believed that if they could pass the 20-mile barrier in the sky they would be free to fly into space.

Which of these did you find the strangest?

Do you have any more strange historical facts that you’d like to share with us, let us know in the comments below and we’ll publish them in our next edition of weird historical facts.