Learn Our History May 23 - May 29

May 23

Learn Our History Today: On May 23, 1934, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, a.k.a. Bonnie and Clyde, were killed on a rural road in Bienville Parish, Louisiana, by a posse of Texas and Louisiana law officers led by former Texas Ranger Frank Hamer. The two outlaws had come into contact with one another years earlier when Bonnie’s husband was serving time in jail for murder, and they quickly developed a close relationship. When Barrow was later arrested for robbery, Parker came to visit him at every available moment. Later, she even helped smuggle a gun into the jail for him to use in an escape. Unfortunately for Barrow, that escape would prove unsuccessful.

When Barrow was released in 1932, he and Parker teamed with a group of relatives and old friends to form what was collectively known as the Barrow gang. Together this gang robbed a string of banks and stores across the South and Southwest. They were known by the police to be cold blooded killers who wouldn’t hesitate to kill anyone who got in their way, especially law enforcement. In contrast, to the public the Barrow gang’s reputation as dangerous outlaws was infused with a romantic view of the group as Robin Hood-esque heroes of the people. However, as more and more bodies began piling up in the robbers’ wake, the public began to see them for what they really were, criminals. Experienced Texas Ranger Frank Hamer was called out of retirement and tasked with tracking down the outlaws. Hamer used his skills to track Bonnie and Clyde to rural Louisiana, where the relatives of one gang member resided. Hamer and a posse of law officers waited in ambush along a country road where they knew Bonnie and Clyde would pass. They were armed to the teeth with automatic rifles, pistols, and shotguns. They would take no chances.  As the outlaws’ car sped toward them, the lawmen opened up – spraying the duo’s car with more than 150 bullets, killing them both instantly. The two reportedly had as many as fifty bullet holes each.

May 24

Learn Our History Today: On May 24, 1844, before members of Congress, Samuel Morse officially opened the first telegraph line and sent the first ever telegraph message. Morse, an accomplished painter, had learned of the idea for the telegraph in 1832, and for years he devoted himself to coming up with a working telegraphy instrument. In addition, he also with a working telegraphy instrument. In addition, he also set about coming up with a set of signals that could represent words in a telegraph device; an idea that would eventually evolve into the famed Morse code.

Intrigued by the possibilities that would result from being able to communicate very quickly using the telegraph, Congress ordered the first machine to be set up inside the capital with a direct line going to the city of Baltimore. With many members of congress watching, Morse sent the first telegraph message using his Morse code. The message was inspired by a Bible verse and was suggested to him by his daughter. It read, “What hath God Wrought?” It was a very fitting first message for a device which was about to take the United States by storm and have a profound effect on American life. Within ten years, 20,000 miles of telegraph wire stretched across the nation, boosting business conducted across the great expanse of American territory and allowing for a much more coordinated military strategy during the coming Civil War.

Also, on May 24, 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was officially opened, connecting for the first time Brooklyn and New York City. The construction of this bridge over the East River, which separates Long Island from Manhattan, had started fourteen years prior as the brainchild of John Roebling, a German immigrant. John would die before the beginning of construction, but his son Washington Roebling would see the project through to fruition. The construction was difficult and dangerous, requiring years of hard work and unfortunately costing the lives of twenty-seven people. Yet despite many setbacks, the bridge was completed. On May 24, 250,000 people walked across to commemorate the opening, and at the time, the Brooklyn Bridge was the largest suspension bridge in the world