Graveyard Shift

21 Historical Facts You Will Instantly Regret Learning 

Erin Maxwell
3.1k votes 560 voters 16k views 21 items

List Rules Vote up the historical facts that are fairly upsetting.

History is filled with gruesome tales of depravity, horrible figures of humanity, and odd disturbing facts that will keep most people up at night. From undetonated bombs in North Carolina to swindlers going to extremes to carry off a con job, here are an assortment of historical facts that you will instantly regret learning. 

Mary Toft is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 21 Historical Facts You Will Instantly Regret Learning
Photo: John Laguerre/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
Mary Toft

Posted by Redditor /u/KotFedot666:

In September 1726, an Englishwoman named Mary Toft gave birth to something that looked like cat intestines. And when local obstetrician John Howard arrived at her home, he helped Toft deliver several cat legs and nine dead baby rabbits. Baffled, Howard wrote to medical experts in London. Soon, word of the miraculous births made their way to King George I himself. Curious, the king sent Nathaniel St. Andrew, his personal surgeon-anatomist, to investigate. And on the day he showed up, Mary Toft gave birth to Rabbit #15.

Shockingly, both St. Andre and John Howard really thought Toft was delivering rabbits. They believed she'd been startled by a rabbit while pregnant, and that's why she was giving birth to baby bunnies. This insane theory was called "maternal impression," (or, as we call it today, "wrong"), but not everyone bought into it. It was determined the rabbits' lungs couldn't have developed inside Toft's womb. Plus, one physician found droppings inside a dead bunny that contained hay and straw. Crazier still, after Toft delivered half a rabbit, someone noticed the animal had been cut in two with a knife.

Still, St. Andre was convinced Toft was a baby-bunny-mama, and he brought her to London for closer examination. Upon her arrival, Toft became the talk of the town. People flocked to see the legendary mother, and her story was covered in major newspapers. But once she was in London, Toft … stopped giving birth. As if that weren't suspicious enough, a servant was caught sneaking a rabbit into her room. After one doctor threatened to perform surgery on her, Toft confessed it was all a hoax. Hoping to earn money in freak shows ( and scam a few prominent doctors on the side ), Toft had been shoving the rabbits inside her and then pushing them out.

Octavia Hatcher

Posted by Redditor /u/chipmunksyndrome:

There was a local girl named Octavia Hatcher that lost her 10 year old son, became depressed, and fell ill with a sickness that resulted in a coma and her being pronounced dead. Embalming wasn’t common practice yet so she was buried quickly to prevent the stench. Well, in the next few days more local people fell ill with the same sort of illness, brought on by some type of bug bite, only to recover. Octavia had been buried alive. Her coffin was exhumed but it was too late. She had woken up and attempted to claw her way out of the coffin before dying of oxygen deprivation. There’s a life sized monument above her grave now.

Minnie Dean is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 21 Historical Facts You Will Instantly Regret Learning
Photo: Unknown/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Posted by Redditor /u/xavierdc:

There is some dark history in New Zealand that an old lady used to look after babies virtually out of the cot. This individual (Minnie Dean) used to slay the babies and thus get money for looking after them, she would apparently claim they were sick and perished. Eventually, after a police investigation it was found she had terminated them and placed them in hat boxes. She was later found guilty on all counts and sentenced to death by hanging, despite pleading innocence. She later got the name of the "baby farmer" in New Zealand history.

Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster

Posted by Redditor /u/FallenShadow1000:

Engineers advised NASA to postpone the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger, due to concerns about the O-rings in the solid rocket boosters at low tempatures. They were over ruled, largely because the next launch window wasn't on a school day, and having students watch the first teacher launch to space was big PR goal.

As everyone knows, that launch failed because an O-ring in one of the SRBs failed.