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John’s Believe It Or Not… March 16th

John standing at the front of his classroom.

It’s Therapeutic Thursday! Did you know…

* 1649 – More than 1000 Iroquois Warriors invade Huronia; kill Jesuit priest Jean de Brébeuf. (War party of more than 1000 Iroquois invades Huronia, capturing St-Ignace before sunrise; they will destroy all the villages and Jesuit missions in the area, and only 8 soldiers, 22 donnés and seven servants escape; the Jesuits will abandon Ste-Marie June 14. Huronia, Ontario. Jesuit priests Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalement are tortured by Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) invaders at St-Louis; Brebeuf dies at 4 pm, his flesh stripped to the bone and his body burned with pitch and boiling water; Lalement, the nephew of Jesuit superior Jerôme Lalement, dies the following day of burns; Brébeuf’s skull is preserved in a golden reliquary in the Hotel Dieu at Quebec; the two will be canonized in 1930.)

Drawing depicting the massacre at Huronia.

* 1802 U.S. Military Academy established. (The United States Military Academy–the first military school in the United States–is founded by Congress for the purpose of educating and training young men in the theory and practice of military science. Located at West Point, New York, the U.S. Military Academy is often simply known as West Point. Located on the high west bank of New York’s Hudson River, West Point was the site of a Revolutionary-era fort built to protect the Hudson River Valley from British attack. In 1780, Patriot General Benedict Arnold, the commander of the fort, agreed to surrender West Point to the British in exchange for 6,000 pounds. However, the plot was uncovered before it fell into British hands, and Arnold fled to the British for protection.)

Congress formally authorized the establishment and funding of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. on 16 March 1802.
Congress formally authorised the establishment and funding of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. on 16 March 1802.

* 1881 A virtuous woman turns murderous. (Francisco “Chico” Forster is shot to death on downtown Los Angeles street by his jilted lover, eighteen-year-old Lastania Abarta. The forty-year-old Forster was the son of wealthy Los Angeles land developer and considered one of the city’s most eligible bachelors despite his reputation for womanising and poorly treating women. Apparently, the couple made love after Forster promised to marry Abarta. But when Forster disappeared and didn’t return with a ring or priest to perform the ceremony, Abarta and her sister Hortensia started to comb the city in search of him. They finally found him at a race track gambling and dragged him to their carriage for a trip to the church. But Forster got out of the cab on the way, the women closely following behind until Abarta suddenly pulled out a gun and shot him through the eye. Outraged by his son’s untimely death, Forster’s father hired a special prosecutor to make sure that Abarta was properly punished. However, the most important testimony came from Dr Joseph Kurtz who received applause from the spectators in the courtroom when he stated that “Any virtuous woman when deprived of her virtue would go mad, undoubtedly.” The jury, all men, of course, took just twenty minutes to acquit Abarta, who left town and disappeared out of sight.

Portrait of Abarta

Portrait of Forster







* 1978 Supertanker wrecks off the French coast. (One of the world’s worst supertanker disasters takes places when the Amoco Cadiz wrecks off the coast of Portsall, France, on this day in 1978. Although the 68 million gallons of oil that spilt from the Cadiz has since been exceeded by other spills, this remains the largest shipwreck in history. The best estimate is that over $250 million in damages were incurred to the fishing and tourism industries in the area of the oil spill. Today, the Cadiz remains sunk in the seabed. The wreck is largely covered by sea weed. As some of the water bombs used to empty the ship of oil failed to detonate and remain near the ship, diving near or exploring the wreck is prohibited.)Photo of the ship breaking in two and sinking.

* 1968 My Lai massacre takes place in Vietnam. (On this day in 1968, a platoon of American soldiers brutally kill between 200 and 500 unarmed civilians at My Lai, one of a cluster of small villages located near the northern coast of South Vietnam. The events at My Lai were covered up by high-ranking army officers until the following March, when one soldier, Ron Ridenhour, heard of the incident secondhand and wrote about it in a letter to President Richard Nixon, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and various congressmen. The letter was largely ignored until later that year when investigative journalist Seymour Hersh interviewed Calley and broke the story. Soon, My Lai was front-page news and an international scandal. In March 1970, an official U.S. Army inquiry board charged 14 officers, including Calley and his company commander, Captain Ernest Medina, of crimes relating to My Lai. Of that number, only Calley was convicted. Found guilty of personally killing 22 people, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Upon appeal, his sentence was reduced to 20 years, and eventually to 10. Seen by many as a scapegoat, Calley was paroled in 1974 after serving just one-third of his sentence.)Photo of the bodies of the massacred civilians.

Look who was born on this date!

Portrait of James Madison* James Madison in 1751. (4th US President: Known as the “Father of the Constitution” for being involved in the drafting of the US Constitution and author of the US Bill of Rights.)




Head shot of Jerry Lewis* Jerry Lewis in 1926. (American Comedian: Lewis came to fame as half of a comedy act with Dean Martin in the 1940s in nightclubs, then tv, radio and film. They split in 1956 and Lewis went on to have a successful solo film career (‘The Nutty Professor’). During the 1960s he appeared in 3 different tv programmes. Since the 1950s he has championed the cause of muscular dystrophy, hosting successful telethons until 2011. Hugely popular in France in was awarded the Légion d’honneur in 2006.)

Head shot of Ginsburg* Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1933. (American Associate Justice of the Supreme Court:  Appointed to the Supreme Court by Bill Clinton in August 1993, she is the first Jewish female justice and the second female justice.)

Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

4 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… March 16th”

    1. Thanks very much, John. I didn’t include the interesting description of the insanity plea her lawyers used – something to do with becoming distraught and unbalanced at the loss of her virtue. The lawyer got seven or eight doctors to give expert testimony to support the plea. The perfect murder!

      Liked by 1 person

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