Every day of the year, something exciting, notable, or just downright strange has happened in Alabama history.
Scroll down and check out what happened THIS week.
January 30, 1772
British cartographer David Taitt started his journey from Pensacola to Charleston through Creek lands in present-day Alabama and Georgia. Traveling along Indian trade paths that later became the Federal Road, Taitt collected information on the Creeks that included customs and rituals, important officials, and the locations of towns, paths, and rivers. His work was recorded in the Stuart-Gage Map of 1773 and his journal, which was published in 1916 as Journey Diary. Taitt soon earned a new appointment as Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs to the Creek Nation, a position he held for seven years from his headquarters near present-day Wetumpka.
January 31, 1958
A modified version of the Huntsville-made Jupiter C rocket named Juno I propelled the first American satellite, Explorer 1, into orbit. A member of the Redstone family of rockets, the Jupiter C was developed by the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) at Redstone Arsenal under the direction of Maj. Gen. John B. Medaris and Wernher von Braun. The ABMA later reconfigured the Jupiter C into the Mercury-Redstone Launch Vehicle, which launched the first two American-manned spaceflights, and the Saturn V rocket that propelled Apollo 11 and its astronauts to the moon.
February 1, 1956
Autherine Lucy became the first African American to enroll at the University of Alabama. First accepted to the university in 1952 before being denied enrollment based on her race, Lucy successfully attended class for the first time on February 3. On February 6, however, a hostile crowd of thousands confronted Lucy and forced her to wait for hours in a classroom before safely escaping in the back of a patrol car. That night, university trustees voted to expel Lucy out of concern for her own safety, an expulsion that was later made permanent after a short legal battle. Lucy’s expulsion was finally overturned in 1988, and she received her master’s degree in education on May 9, 1992.
February 2, 1904
The Commercial Club of Birmingham, now the Birmingham Area Chamber of Commerce, was granted a copyright for Giuseppe Moretti’s design of Vulcan. Designed to showcase Birmingham’s iron industry, the 56-foot, 60-ton statue stands as the largest iron figure ever cast and won a grand prize at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. To help fund the Vulcan, members of the Commercial Club charged ten cents to view the completed statue, sold twelve-inch bronze replicas, and held a “Vulcan Day” when the minor-league Birmingham Barons, who took the name “the Iron Men,” hosted the New York Giants and their pitcher Joe “Iron Man” McGinnity.
February 3, 1842
Writer Sidney Lanier was born in Georgia. Lanier first moved to Alabama in 1865 after serving in the Confederate Army and being imprisoned at a prisoner of war camp in Maryland, where he contracted tuberculosis. Living in Montgomery and nearby Prattville, Lanier published his only novel, Tiger-Lilies, and earned his law degree while working odd jobs as a hotel clerk, organ player, and school principal. Lanier later became a successful poet, flautist and composer, and professor of literature at John Hopkins University before passing away at the age of thirty-nine from complications caused by his tuberculosis.
February 5, 1934
Baseball superstar Hank Aaron was born in Mobile. A right fielder, Aaron played twenty-one seasons of Major League Baseball—nineteen of which for the Braves organization in Milwaukee and Atlanta. Aaron was first drafted in 1954, was selected to his first of twenty-five All-Star Games in 1955, and became the National League’s most valuable player in 1957 as he led the Braves to his only World Series championship. Despite also winning three Gold Glove awards, Aaron is best remembered for breaking Babe Ruth’s career homerun record of 714 by slamming 755 of his own, a record that stood for thirty-three years.