100 Years Ago This Year

1912 was a very busy year!

On January 1, the longest consecutively run foot race in the world, what is now called the "Bay to Breakers," took place in San Francisco. It was won by a paper boy named Robert J. Vlught who attended St. Mary's College at the time.

Robert was born in Michigan December 2, 1890 to parents William and Jennie (Baker) from Holland. His family came to California and settled in Oakland sometime between 1895 (Robert's brother Leonard was born in MI in 1894) and 1902 (his sister Jettina was born in California in 1902).

At the time of the race, Robert is listed in the City Directories at Ancestry.com as living at 1071 30th (St.) in Oakland, California. Next listed is his father at the same address.

In 1917 Robert lived in San Francisco and was a bookkeeper for Fidelity and Casualty Company, but was also listed at his father's residence as working in insurance.

At some point he married a woman named Mary Elizabeth, and his name was changed from Vlught to Vellou.
He died in San Francisco, California on February 11, 1960 at 69 years of age. Though he is gone, he will be forever in the annals of San Francisco history.

On February 2, Frederick Rodman Law was the first person to jump off of the Statue of Liberty, then later that year he jumped off of the Booklyn Bridge and the Banker's Trust Building on Wall Street. Originally a steeplejack who repaired towers and steeples, F. Rodman Law became one of the first ever stuntmen.

Born in Massachusetts in January 1885, Frederick Rodman Law was the son of Frederick C Law and Sarah B. His younger sister Ruth went on to become a famous aviator, from whose airplane he had jumped.

In 1900, F.R. Law was living with his family in East Haven, Connecticut. By 1907 he was married to a woman named Florence, having a daughter, Kathryn, by 1908. In 1910, F.R. Law lived with his wife and daughter in Brooklyn, New York, where he was working as a structural engineer.

Frederick Rodman Law often going by F.R. Law, or Rodman Law, died in a U.S. Public Health Services Hospital in Greeneville,  South Carolina on October 13, 1919 of Pulmonary Tuberculosis at 34 years of age. His death record states that he was buried in Chicago, Illinois, where it was reported that his sister and other relatives lived. According to a Huntsville newspaper, Law had been in Texas when he became ill and was later transferred to the South Carolina hospital. And the New York times had reported that Rodman had been sick for about 3 months before his death.

In 1920, Rodman's wife, Florence, and his children, Cathryn (12), William (9), and Virginia (3), were living in Brooklyn with the Gaskins family. This leads me to believe that perhaps Rodman was on the outs with his wife at the time of his death.

On March 12, Juliette Gordon Low made the famous phone call to her cousin Nina Pape announcing, "I've got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we're going to start it tonight!" and thus the Girl Scouts began in America.

Juliette Magill Gordon was born on October 31, 1860 in Savannah, Georgia to William Washington Gordon II and Eleanor Lytle Kinzie. She was quickly given the nickname Daisy, which she used throughout her life. Daisy attended schools in Savannah, Virginia, and New York.

 She married William Mackay Low on December 21, 1886 at Christ Church in Savannah. The marriage was childless and unhappy leading to infidelity on William's part and the beginning of a divorce. In 1905, William Low died but left his fortune to his mistress. Daisy had to fight for her widow's share, but prevailed gaining his family's estate in Georgia and more.

In 1911, Daisy met Sir Robert Baden-Powell (later Lord) who had begun the Boy Scouting movement in England a few years earlier. Daisy loved the idea of scouting for girls and began working with Sir Baden-Powell's sister, Agnes. She started troops in London and Scotland before bringing the movement home to the states in 1912.

Daisy was diagnosed with breast cancer by 1923 and died of metastatic cancer of the liver on January 17, 1927. She was buried in her Girl Scout uniform with a telegram from the headquarters of Girl Scouts stating, "You are not only the first Girl Scout, you are the best Girl Scout of them all."

On April 15, the RMS Titanic sinks near Newfoundland. On this ship were friends of Daisy Low. In a letter dated May 9, Daisy writes home to her parents while aboard the RMS Baltic "...The Ryerson family (who Nellie saw [Nellie being her sister]) were wonderfully calm & did not feel cold at [sic] Titanic wreck, & both girls had to row & bail out the boat, because only one able seaman was aboard their lifeboat Susanne, who is as strong as a man, threw off her fur coat & got into the icy water to help boost up one man who was too cold to get in. They saved 19 men & two died after they got them in their lifeboat..."

The Ryerson family was composed of Arthur L. Ryerson and his wife Emily Borie Ryerson and their children John, Susan (Suzette), Emily, Arthur, and Ellen. Only Arthur, his wife, and three of his children were on aboard the Titanic. Son Arthur was not. All but Arthur Senior survived and were aboard life boat number 4.

Arthur Ryerson Senior was a lawyer, who attended Yale University. The family lived mostly in Chicago, Illinois, but had also spent time in Massachusetts and New York.In 1900 they lived at 59 Bellevue Place, Chicago and in 1910,were at Otsego, New York with three servants.

It has been written that the son, John, almost did not make it off of the Titanic due to him being a boy, as women and young children were being shipped off first. His father, however, apparently had words with the ship's officer and John, then 13, was allowed to escape death with his mother and two sisters.

On April 16, the fist American female aviator, Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly across the English Channel, and sadly she died in New Jersey that same year at age 37 years of an airplane accident.

Harriet was born in 1875 to William Crocker and Ursula (Cook) Quimby. Though the exact place of her birth is debated, it is known that she was born somewhere in the state of Michigan. In 1870, her parents lived in Arcadia, Manistee County, and there is a small monument to her near this city, so it's safe to say that region has laid claim to her birth.

 I could not find her in the 1880s census, but the family was in San Francisco, California by October 1890, as her father registered to vote. In 1910, Harriet's parents were living in New York, which is where Harriet began doing some of her work at the time.

Harriet began her career as a journalist, like her father, but became enamored with flight, which led to her becoming the first licensed female aviator in America.

MANY more great things took place in 1912, but I don't have time for all that research right now! Some notable quickies though:

National Genealogical Society published its first Quarterly
The Oreo Coookie was invented (though some people say they stole the idea from Hydrox)
The United States gained two states (New Mexico and Arizona)
Robert Scott made his last journal entry and died in Antarctica
Woodrow Wilson won the Democratic seat for the presidential race.

** aside from my research on Juliette (Daisy) Gordon Low, I do not have source citations for the above information. I have included links and mentions of the information I found, but in general, all info was found doing Google searches and using Ancestry.com.