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John’s Believe It Or Not… June 10th

In 1650 – Jesuits abandon Île Saint-Joseph. In 1752 Franklin flies kite during a thunderstorm. In 1692 First Salem witch hanging. In 1935 Alcoholics Anonymous founded. In 1979 Paul Newman finishes second in 24 Hours of Le Mans.

John Fioravanti Stands at the front of his classroom in 2006

Yippee! It’s Saturday! Did you know…

* 1650 – Jesuits abandon Île Saint-Joseph, their last mission in Huronia. (The story of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons dates back almost four hundred years. Wendake (“the land apart”) was the ancestral homeland of the Huron Wendat Nation, a branch of the Iroquoian family. The Wendat were a matrilineal society of skilled traders and farmers. Following the trail of French explorer Samuel de Champlain, French Jesuit priests arrived in Wendake (in Ontario) early in the 17th century. An international order, the Jesuits operated like an army, dedicated to spreading Catholicism throughout the world. They believed that the first step in converting a person to Christianity was to educate him. The Jesuits established themselves in Wendake. They traveled from village to village, learning the Wendat language and customs, and preaching to the Native people. Their Superior, Father Jérome Lalemant, dreamed of “building a house apart, remote from the vicinity of the villages, that would serve among other things for the retreat and meditation of our evangelistic labourers.” The report written by Father Paul Ragueneau tells us the story of heartbreak and despair that led to the abandonment of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons. In the spring of 1649, attacks by the Iroquois increased. Under growing pressure, the Jesuit missionaries, their helpers, and Wendat followers burned the settlement and abandoned it. They fled to St. Joseph Island (now Christian Island), where they endeavored to establish a new Sainte-Marie. After a terrible winter of starvation and constant attack, the Frenchmen and the Christian Wendat returned to Quebec.)

Reconstructed site: Ste Marie among the Hurons
Reconstructed site: Ste Marie among the Hurons (

* 1752 Franklin flies kite during a thunderstorm. (On this day in 1752, Benjamin Franklin flies a kite during a thunderstorm and collects a charge in a Leyden jar when the kite is struck by lightning, enabling him to demonstrate the electrical nature of lightning. Franklin became interested in electricity in the mid-1740s, a time when much was still unknown on the topic and spent almost a decade conducting electrical experiments. He coined a number of terms used today, including battery, conductor, and electrician. He also invented the lightning rod, used to protect buildings and ships. Most significantly, Franklin was one of the founding fathers of the United States and had a career as a statesman that spanned four decades. He served as a legislator in Pennsylvania as well as a diplomat in England and France. He is the only politician to have signed all four documents fundamental to the creation of the U.S.: the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Treaty of Alliance with France (1778), the Treaty of Paris (1783), which established peace with Great Britain, and the U.S. Constitution (1787).

Franklin flies kite during thunderstorm.
Franklin flies kite during a thunderstorm. (Pinterest)

* 1692 First Salem witch hanging. (In Salem Village in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Bridget Bishop, the first colonist to be tried in the Salem witch trials, is hanged after being found guilty of the practice of witchcraft. Trouble in the small Puritan community began in February 1692, when nine-year-old Elizabeth Parris and 11-year-old Abigail Williams, the daughter and niece, respectively, of the Reverend Samuel Parris, began experiencing fits and other mysterious maladies. A doctor concluded that the children were suffering from the effects of witchcraft, and the young girls corroborated the doctor’s diagnosis. Under compulsion from the doctor and their parents, the girls named those allegedly responsible for their suffering. On March 1, Sarah Goode, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba, an Indian slave from Barbados, became the first Salem residents to be charged with the capital crime of witchcraft. Later that day, Tituba confessed to the crime and subsequently aided the authorities in identifying more Salem witches. With encouragement from adults in the community, the girls, who were soon joined by other “afflicted” Salem residents, accused a widening circle of local residents of witchcraft, mostly middle-aged women but also several men and even one four-year-old child. During the next few months, the afflicted area residents incriminated more than 150 women and men from Salem Village and the surrounding areas of satanic practices. In June 1692, the special Court of Oyer and Terminer [“to hear and to decide”] convened in Salem under Chief Justice William Stoughton to judge the accused. The first to be tried was Bridget Bishop of Salem, who was accused of witchcraft by more individuals than any other defendant. Bishop, known around town for her dubious moral character, frequented taverns, dressed flamboyantly (by Puritan standards), and was married three times. She professed her innocence but was found guilty and executed by hanging on June 10. Thirteen more women and five men from all stations of life followed her to the gallows, and one man, Giles Corey, was executed by crushing. Most of those tried were condemned on the basis of the witnesses’ behavior during the actual proceedings, characterized by fits and hallucinations that were argued to have been caused by the defendants on trial.)

Researchers confirm site of hangings for Salem witch trials | U.S. News | US News
Researchers confirm site of hangings for Salem witch trials | U.S. News | US News

* 1935 Alcoholics Anonymous founded. (In New York City, two recovering alcoholics, one a New York broker and the other an Ohio physician, found Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), a 12-step rehabilitation program that eventually helps countless people cope with alcoholism. Based on psychological techniques that have long been used in suppressing dangerous personality traits, members of the strictly anonymous organization control their addictions through guided group discussion and confession, reliance on a “higher power,” and a gradual return to sobriety. The organization functions through local groups that have no formal rules besides anonymity, no officers, and no dues. Anyone with a drinking problem qualifies for membership. Today, there are more than 80,000 local groups in the United States, with an estimated membership of almost two million people. Other addiction support groups patterned on A.A. include Narcotics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous.)

Bill Wilson co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Happy Co-founders Day - June 1935
Bill Wilson co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Happy Co-founders Day – June 1935 (Pinterest)

* 1979 Paul Newman finishes second in 24 Hours of Le Mans. (Paul Newman, the blue-eyed movie star-turned-race car driver, accomplishes the greatest feat of his racing career on this day in 1979, roaring into second place in the 47th 24 Hours of Le Mans, the famous endurance race held annually in Le Mans, France. Newman emerged as one of Hollywood’s top leading men in the 1960s, with acclaimed performances in such films as “The Hustler” (1961), “Cool Hand Luke” (1967) and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969). Also in 1969, he starred in “Winning” as a struggling race car driver who must redeem his career and win the heart of the woman he loves–played by Newman’s real-life wife, Joanne Woodward–at the Indianapolis 500. To prepare for the movie, Newman attended racing school, and he performed many of the high-speed racing scenes in the movie himself, without a stunt double. In 1972, Newman began his own racing career, winning his first Sports Club Car of America (SCCA) race driving a Lotus Elan. He soon moved up to a series of Datsun racing sedans and won four SCCA national championships from 1979 to 1986. Newman’s high point at the track came in June 1979 at Le Mans, where he raced a Porsche 935 twin-turbo coupe on a three-man team with Dick Barbour and Rolf Stommelen. His team finished second; first place went to two brothers from Florida, Don and Bill Whittington, and their teammate, Klaus Ludwig. Drama ensued during the last two hours of the race when the Whittingtons’ car–also a Porsche 935–was sidelined with fuel-injection problems and it looked like Newman’s team could overtake them to grab the win. In the end, however, they had trouble even clinching second due to a dying engine. The Whittington team covered 2,592.1 miles at an average speed of 107.99 mph, finishing 59 miles ahead of Newman, Barbour, and Stommelen.)

Paul Newman at the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans racing.
Paul Newman at the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans racing. (Pinterest)

Acknowledged Sources:

* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology

* This Day In History – What Happened Today

* Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons           


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.

10 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… June 10th”

  1. Fascinating, John. The story about the witches being hung really caught my attention. One really has to wonder how this was allowed to happen. The word of kids being taken over that of adults just because the adults were single and a bit eccentric. I suppose we need to remember this kind of thing when we criticise our own lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it is a great life lesson, Robbie, that we don’t rush to judgment against those of whom we disapprove. Thanks for sharing your insights.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Unbelievable in a Christian community where people used the witch scare to turn on those they didn’t like. Fear can be a devastating agent in a community. I’m a big Paul Newman fan too! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jennie.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Another amazing post, John. I always learn so much from your blog. I agree with you; the Jesuits were “an army” of sorts. One of my favorite films of years back was The Mission. The scene with De Niro climbing the cliff remains powerfully in my consciousness – just as the contrasts between goodness and evil haunt me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, Gwen, that’s the second De Niro movie reference today that I missed out on! Yes, the Jesuits have always been the Pope’s “A” Team – the elite and learned order of teachers and missionaries. They figure prominently in the history of New France (Quebec) which used to encompass Quebec, Ontario, and the Ohio Valley. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for your kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Enjoyed this edition. i remember going to a race in Sonoma California. There was a sign on Paul Newman’s camper that read, “Yes, Mr. Newman drives his own car. Yes, Mr. Neuman is resting. Yes, the pit crew is gay.” Had to laugh.

    Liked by 2 people

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