13 Historical "Facts" You Thought You Knew

Created on Sep 15, 2016 by Kathy Pinna
The truth about Daniel Boone's hat, a Vice Presidential candidate who pardoned a witch, living descendants of a pre-Civil War President, the last Civil War widow died in 2003. . . what we consider as historical facts often isn't true. Which of the following did you know and what surprises you? Did you know that toilets that flush date back to the 26th century BCE, but pre-sliced bread is less than a hundred years old?

13 Historical "Facts" You Thought You Knew

General Grant owned slaves, General Lee did not

General Grant inherited one slave, who he freed. His wife owned 4 slaves.
General Ulysses S. Grant

When the American Civil War started, Confederate General Robert E. Lee owned no slaves. Union General U.S. Grant (and future President) did. Sort of. The dates are confused but both men had inherited slaves through their wives and continued to own them through various times of the Civil War.

General Robert E. Lee did own his father-in-law's slaves until 1862 when they were emancipated per his father-in-law's will.
General Robert E. Lee

1840's President John Tyler has 2 living grandsons

John Tyler

Our 10th President (1841–45), John Tyler, has 2 living grandsons as of 2016 (both were born in the 1920's) . He had a son at age 63 and that son had his sons in his 70's. That is one fertile family!


Daniel Boone never wore a coonskin cap

Daniel Boone

Not only did Daniel not wear a coonskin cap, he detested them according to his son, Nathan. Instead, Boone wore a felt cap. But the image of Daniel Boone in a coonskin cap persists.

Pre-sliced bread is not even 100 years old

Slicing bread at bakery. San Angelo, Texas

Otto Rohwedder invented pre-sliced bread in 1927. He made the first machine to slice and wrap bread and won a patent for the process. After only six years, more sliced bread was sold than unsliced. Flushing toilets were first used in the Indus Valley Civilization around the 26th century BCE but it took a few millennia more to think of pre-sliced bread!

The Last Civil War widow died in 2003

Gertrude (Grubb) Janeway

The last widow of a (Union) Civil War veteran died in 2003. Her name was Gertrude Grubb and she married John Janeway in 1927, when she was 18 and he was 81. She received a $70 pension check every two months until her death in 2003.

One woman stopped the Equal Rights Amendment

Phyllis Schlafly campaigned against equal rights for women and won.
Phyllis Schlafly

By 1973, only thirty states had ratified the ERA - the amendment needed 8 more states for ratification. One woman, Phyllis Schlafly, organized a campaign to defeat it. She said that it would repeal such protections as alimony, exclusion of women from the draft, and mothers getting preferential child custody. While five additional states eventually ratified the amendment, Schlafly’s campaign was successful in three more states not taking action. Women still do not have equal protection under the law.


Over 200 women have run for President

Bella Abzug
Bella Abzug

While Hillary Clinton is the first woman to be nominated for President by a major Party, over 200 women have run for President in the past. From Victoria Woodhull in 1872 (almost 50 years before women could even vote) to the Green Party's Jill Stein this year - women haven't given up!

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