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Video Review - How We Got Here: Denim Defeats Communism (AHC)

Great historical video series titled "How We Got Here" from American History Channel that focuses on some important turning points in our history. This particular video highlights the making of Levi's denim pants.

If tradesman Jacob Davis doesn't survive the California Gold Rush, he will never meet Levi Strauss and the idea for the copper rivet will not be born. The saga of Levis Strauss and the triumph of blue jeans is the incredible story of HOW WE GOT HERE. Starring: Josh Fapp, Benjamin Horatio Garvis Runtime: 23 minutes Original air date: January 27, 2015


Levi Sraus was born 1829 in Germany, the youngest of seven. His two older brothers went to New York around 1845.

1847 - Levi goes to New York to learn the dry goods business

1848 - Gold is discovered in California

At this time, San Francisco had 34 dry goods stores but mostly lacking any real goods (since they didn't have reliable shipments).

Levi wants to set up shop so his brother sends a ship full of dry goods including cloth. At first he plans to make tents, but then realizes the miners are in short supply of long-lasting clothes, especially pants with strong knees.

Jacob Davis is a taylor and he figures out that copper rivets at stress points make the pants more durable. These stronger pants become very popular. Levi offers to become his partner so they can mass-produce these pants.

1872 - At first, the pants are made of a brownish canvas, but then they invest in twill cotton fabric dyed indigo. They patent their product.

1886 - They put a leather patch on the back of the pants

1890 - Their patent expires

1902 - Levi dies

Early 1900s - Buffalo Bill Show features denim-wearing cowboys to Easterners, opening a new area of demand

Video Review - 10 Things You Don't Know about the OK Corral with Henry Rollins

The H2 (History 2) channel has been airing this wonderful series with host Henry Rollings called "10 Things You Don't Know About..." on a variety of interesting topics. Fabulous series that spotlights little-known facts. Today, I'll highlight episode #5 in season 1 that focuses on the famous gunfight at the OK Corral.

"10 Things You Don't Know About the OK Corral with Henry Rollins"


The OK Corral was the site of the world's most famous Wild West gunfight. But the shootout didn't actually happen at the OK Corral, Wyatt Earp was more of a pimp than a lawman, and Doc Holliday didn't die with his boots on. Historian David Eisenbach heads straight to the scene of the crime to unearth what you don't know about the gunfight at the OK Corral.


The famous gun battle took place behind the OK Corral in a vacant lot on October 26, 1881

Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, Virgil Earp, and Morgan Earp versus Bill Clanton, Ike Clanton, Frank McLaury, and Tom McLaury

Wyatt Earp worked in Tombstone as a guard for Wells Fargo

July 1880, 6 U.S. Army mules were stolen and found on the McLaury ranch. This was considered a Federal Offense.

The gunfight only took 30 seconds.

Billy Clanton and Tom McLaury died. Frank McLaury was shot. Morgan Earp was shot in the shoulder.

December 28, 1881 - the cowboys took revenge and shot Virgil Earp.

March 18, 1882 - Morgan Earp was shot dead while playing pool

Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday flee to Colorado.

Book Review - Telegram! by Linda Rosenkrantz

"Telegram!: Modern History as Told Through More than 400 Witty, Poignant, and Revealing Telegrams" by Linda Rosenkrantz

Description: There was a time when the sight of a Western Union delivery boy coming up the walk filled Americans with a sense of excitement or trepidation. Between its invention in the mid-nineteenth century and its post-1960s relegation to money transfer and congratulations, the telegraph served as the primary medium for urgent messages. Telegram! collects the most poignant and revealing examples of this earliest form of instant communication.

Organized into categories such as "Parents and Children," "Hooray for Hollywood," and "Lincoln in the Telegraph Office," the telegrams range from such moving personal notes as W.C. Fields's wire to his dying friend John Barrymore, "You can't do this to me," to political advice, such as one voter's telegraphed suggestion to President Herbert Hoover: "Vote for Roosevelt and make it unanimous."

The communication compiled here also provides a novel and engaging perspective on modern history. Abraham Lincoln virtually conducted the Civil War over the telegraph wires, financial nabobs used them to discuss (and fail to predict) the stock market crash that precipitated the Great Depression, and Japanese diplomats in Washington sent a flurry of encoded telegrams to Tokyo in the weeks leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

This handsome volume blends history, sociology, wit, and creativity as captured and dispatched by the telegram in its golden age.

Highlights: The telegraph worked by sending electric pulses along the telegraph wire. The operator opened and closed a switch which transmitted the electric pulses to a pen on the receiving side. The pen marked a strip of paper with dots and dashes. The receiving operator translated the marks into letters and words.

Western Union was originally known as the New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company. They built the first transcontinental telegraph line in 1861.

Bank robbers cut telegraph wires to prevent news (of thefts) from spreading to lawmen.

1774 - the first functioning telegraph is demonstrated in Geneva, Switzerland by George Louis Lesage.

1832 - Samuel Finley Breese Morse transmits signals by opening and closing an electrical circuit.

1960 - Western Union sends its last Morse code telegram

Book Review - The Rush: America's Fevered Quest for Fortune, 1848-1853 by Edward Dolnick

The Rush: America's Fevered Quest for Fortune, 1848-1853 by Edward Dolnick

Description: In the spring of 1848, rumors began to spread that gold had been discovered in a remote spot in the Sacramento Valley. A year later, newspaper headlines declared "Gold Fever!" as hundreds of thousands of men and women borrowed money, quit their jobs, and allowed themselves- for the first time ever-to imagine a future of ease and splendor. In THE RUSH, Edward Dolnick brilliantly recounts their treacherous westward journeys by wagon and on foot, and takes us to the frenzied gold fields and the rowdy cities that sprang from nothing to jam-packed chaos. With an enthralling cast of characters and scenes of unimaginable wealth and desperate ruin, THE RUSH is a fascinating-and rollicking-account of the greatest treasure hunt the world has ever seen.

1848 - San Francisco population is about 812
1851 - San Francisco population is now 30,000

In 1840s, New York is the largest city in the US. Already Wall Street, Broadway, and Fifth Avenue are well-known.

Before gold was discovered in California, gold was mined from Siberia by prisoners who worked 14 hour days. This is why the Calfornia gold rush was even more popular - because people could actually mine/claim their own gold (and not just labor for the mine owner).

In 1848, gold miners could earn up to $150/day. Children panned for gold up to $25/day.

The book highlights some funny gimmicky contraptions that people sold to help miners "find gold".

Gold mining is an ancient labor. There are depictions even in ancient Egypt of slaves mining for gold.