Weird History
360 voters

Facts About Historical Figures We Just Learned This Month That Made Us Say 'Really?'

December 2, 2020 2.6k votes 360 voters 7.6k views12 items

List RulesVote up the facts about historical figures you find most interesting.

Not everything we want to know about some of the most famous figures in history was taught to us through teachers and textbooks. Thankfully, there are so many other ways we can learn all of the facts we wished we'd learned ages ago. The Reddit thread r/todayilearned is full of fun facts about historical figures - like Elizabeth II, Abraham Lincoln, and more - that we can't believe we never knew before. It makes learning new facts so easy. Vote up the ones you think are the most awesome!

  • Photo: NBC Television / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    From Redditor u/StarSixtyniner:

    TIL that the voice of Tigger from Winnie the Pooh, Paul Winchell, was one of the original inventors of an artificial heart, an automobile that runs on battery power, a method for breeding tilapia, and many other inventions that are still around today.

    Context: Paul Winchell had a very fulfilling career on camera as both a ventriloquist and a voice actor after being picked up at the age of 14 for his talents on stage. He's probably most well-known for being the voice of the beloved tiger Tigger in the Winnie the Pooh stories. However, he was also very skilled in the medical field, studying pre-med at Columbia University, and he even developed over 30 patents. One of those patents was for the first artificial heart. Winchell then donated his patent art to the University of Utah which gave them the rights to develop the apparatus.

    Awesome fact?
  • 2

    Richard Rowland Kirkland Caused A Ceasefire While He Helped All Injured Soldiers

    From Redditor u/AsianInvasian93:

    TIL about Richard Rowland Kirkland, a Confederate soldier who risked his life to tend to wounded soldiers from both sides of the Civil War in the middle of battle at Fredericksburg. Both sides held their fire as they watched him help every wounded soldier regardless of allegiance.

    Context: At the end of the Battle of Fredericksburg, Confederate soldier Richard Rowland Kirkland heard many Union soldiers laying wounded and dying, asking for water. The young soldier couldn't handle it, so he told his General he needed to step in and bring them water. His General conceded, and Kirkland gathered up canteens and walked onto the battlefield. However, the surviving Union soldiers thought he was out to hurt their fallen soldiers and began shooting. When they realized he was only trying to help, they ceased fire, and Kirkland was seen as a hero on both sides.

    Awesome fact?
  • From a former Redditor:

    TIL that after Beethoven went deaf, he found he could affix a metal rod to his piano and bite down on it while he played, enabling him to hear perfectly through vibrations in his jawbone. The process is called bone conduction.

    Context: Beethoven was almost entirely deaf for pretty much the last decade of his life, but he had noticed his hearing difficulties in his 20s. To continue playing piano and hearing the way his music sounded, he relied on vibrations. He replicated "hearing" using vibrations by attaching a small rod to the piano and biting down on it while he played. Because our eardrums vibrate from sound, the vibration on Beethoven's jaw imitated hearing while he was hearing impaired. This experiment was the start to the official alternate hearing method called bone conduction.

    Awesome fact?
  • 4

    Bob Fletcher Cared For Three Farms In California When The Japanese-American Owners Were Detained During WWII

    From Redditor u/Moose_InThe_Room:

    TIL of Bob Fletcher, a man who took care of the farms of three Japanese American families while they were interned during World War 2. By keeping their farms running and paying their taxes and mortgages, he ensured the families didn't lose everything. He was even shot at for supporting them.

    Context: Bob Fletcher was a Californian farmer who was a county agricultural inspector and got to know many of the farmers in his area because of it. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, a few Japanese farmers approached him and asked if he could take care of their farms while they were away (at internment camps) including the mortgages and taxes, along with the actual care and upkeep. Fletcher agreed, quit his job and took over the farms of three families equaling about 90 acres. Fletcher didn't even take all of the profits for himself as had been offered to him, and instead left half of them for each family so they could start over when they returned.

    Awesome fact?