This Day In History, August 8th

What happened on this day in history: England's "Great Train Robbery" takes place, Richard Nixon resigns from the presidency, and more from this date.

1844: Brigham Young Is Chosen To Lead The Mormon Church

Brigham Young becomes the leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after founder Joseph Smith is murdered by an angry mob. During his time as the Church’s leader, Young led 148 Mormon pioneers from Illinois to the Salt Lake Valley, where he founded Salt Lake City. He then established what is now known as Brigham Young University.

1883: Emiliano Zapata Is Born

Emiliano Zapata

Public DomainEmiliano Zapata in 1914.

Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata Salazar is born in the Mexican state of Morelos to a peasant family. He got his start as a revolutionary at the age of 18 when he was arrested for protesting with other peasants in his village against a large estate that had taken over their lands. Zapata fought for land to be redistributed to peasants during and after the Mexican Revolution but was shot to death by enemy soldiers in 1919 at the age of just 39.

1963: England’s “Great Train Robbery”

The “South West Gang” pulls off the largest train robbery in British history, stealing 2.6 million pounds sterling — the equivalent of over $70 million in today’s dollars. Bruce Reynolds, Gordon Goody, Ronald Edwards, and Charlie Wilson joined forces with a dozen other criminals known as the “South Coast Raiders” to board the train, beat the conductor, and get away with the massive loot in what would be one of the biggest heists in history.

1974: Richard Nixon Resigns

This Day In History August 8

FlickrRichard Nixon leaves the White House after his resignation.

U.S. President Richard Nixon announces his intention to resign after his involvement in the Watergate scandal. Facing impeachment, Nixon stepped down from the presidency to “start the process of healing” in America. He famously flashed two “victory” peace signs while boarding a helicopter to leave the White House the following day. His vice president, Gerald Ford, was sworn in and later pardoned Nixon for any crimes he may have committed while in office.

2003: Serial Killer Shelly Knotek Is Arrested

Serial killer and mom Shelly Knotek is arrested in Washington. Known as a selfless family, the Knoteks would always open their home to strangers. Unfortunately, those that stayed in the Knotek home rarely made it out.

After suffering abuse themselves at the hands of their own mother, Knotek’s daughters turned her in to the police. They claimed that their mother had not only abused them, but tortured and murdered the guests that stayed in their home. Police searched the Knotek home and found copious evidence of her crimes. Shelly Knotek, along with her husband, were arrested. Shelly Knotek received 20 years in prison and was released on November 8, 2022.