Daniel McCartney

Daniel McCartney never needed a diary — he could remember every day of his life since age 9. On his death in 1887, the Cardington, Ohio, Independent published this account:

That the reader may more clearly understand what has just been written, I will give Mr. McCartney’s answer to a question of my own: ‘Wife and I were married on the 28th day of January, 1836; give the day of the week, the kind of weather, etc.?’ He gave answer in a few seconds. ‘You were married on Thursday, there was snow on the ground, good sleighing and not very cold; father and I were hauling hay; a sole came off the sled, we had to throw the hay off, put a new sole on the sled and load up again before we could go.’

The writer (whose name is not given) met McCartney again a dozen years later and asked the same question. McCartney gave the same details.

“Singular Expedient”

A strange story is that related in a paper on ‘English and Irish Juries,’ in All the Year Round. The president judge in the case, Sir James Dyce, chief justice of the Court of Common Pleas, astonished at the verdict of acquittal in so plain a case, sought an interview with the foreman, who, having previously obtained a promise of secrecy during his lifetime, confessed that he had killed the man in a struggle in self-defence, and said that he had caused himself to be placed on the jury in order to insure his acquittal.

— Charles Bombaugh, Facts and Fancies for the Curious From the Harvest-Fields of Literature, 1905

In Other News

March 15, 1761, Tregoney, in Cornwall. As some tinners were lately employed on a new mine, one of them accidentally struck his pick-axe on a stone. The earth being removed, a coffin was found. On removing the lid they discovered a skeleton of a man of gigantic size, which, on the admission of the air, mouldered into dust. One entire tooth remained whole, which was two inches and a half long, and thick in proportion. The length of the coffin was eleven feet three inches, and depth three feet nine inches.

Annual Register, 1761

Bridge to Nowhere


On Nov. 7, 1940, photographer Leonard Coatsworth was halfway across Washington’s Tacoma Narrows Bridge when he felt it move strangely:

“Just as I drove past the towers, the bridge began to sway violently from side to side. Before I realized it, the tilt became so violent that I lost control of the car. … I jammed on the brakes and got out, only to be thrown onto my face against the curb… Around me I could hear concrete cracking. … The car itself began to slide from side to side of the roadway.”

Gripping the curb, he crawled 500 yards back toward the toll plaza, turned and watched his car plunge into the Narrows. With it went his daughter’s dog, Tubby, who was too terrified to jump out.

The bridge had been competently designed, with supports by Golden Gate designer Leon Moisseiff, but no one had counted on its twisting and buckling in the wind.

A Nautical Mystery


On Jan. 31, 1921, the five-masted commercial schooner Carroll A. Deering was found aground in North Carolina. The ship’s log, navigation equipment and lifeboats were missing, as were the crew’s personal effects. She had last been sighted by a lightship at Cape Lookout, whose captain had spoken with a thin man with reddish hair and a foreign accent — decidedly not the Deering‘s captain. The lightship also noted that the crew seemed to be “milling around” on the Deering‘s foredeck, where they were usually not allowed.

But that’s all anyone knows, really. The crew’s disappearance remains unexplained to this day. Was it piracy? Mutiny? A commandeering by Russian communists? Without evidence, it remains a mystery.

Beats Me


The Wolfsegg Iron is a lump of iron found inside a block of coal at a mine in the Austrian village of Wolfsegg. The scientific journal Nature describes it as “almost a cube” with a “deep incision” running around it. It weighs about 1.7 pounds.

It’s not at all clear where it can have come from. A meteorite would not have such an artificially cubical shape, and prehistoric civilizations should not have had the technology to make such a thing.

After a thorough examination in 1966, researchers at Vienna’s Natural History Museum concluded that the block is simply man-made cast iron, perhaps used as ballast in primitive mining machinery. But no other such blocks have ever been found.

Lost and Found

In 1940, British colonial officer Gerald Gallagher found a human skeleton and a sextant box under a tree on Gardner Island, a coral atoll in the western Pacific. Colonial authorities took detailed measurements, and in 1998 forensic anthropologists judged that the skeleton had belonged to a “tall white female of northern European ancestry.”

It may have been Amelia Earhart.

“Astonishing Natural Phenomenon”

On the 27th of August, 1814, while the Majestic, Capt. Hayes, was cruising off Boston, a strange figure was perceived in the eastern horizon, about two o’clock in the morning; which, as the sun arose, gradually became more distinguishable, and, at length, assumed the perfect appearance of a man, dressed in a short jacket and half boots, with a staff in his hand, at the top of which was a colour hanging over his head, marked with two lines, perpendicularly drawn at equal distances, and strongly resembling the French flag. The figure continued visible as long as the rays of the sun would permit it to be looked at. On the 28th the figure displayed itself in the same posture, but rather broken. On the following morning, it seemed entirely disjointed, and faded into shadow, until, at last, nothing more could be seen than three marks on the sun’s disk. — Captain Hayes, his officers, and about 200 of the crew, witnessed the spectacle, both with the naked eye and through glasses. In superstitious times, such a phenomenon would have been construed into a providential warning or ominous token of some unexpected event; in this enlightened age, however, it may be easily accounted for by the reflective power of the atmosphere, which is well known to be wonderful. Most probably the figure represented was some one ashore, or on the deck of the Majestic.

Courier, June 13, 1815