What happened on this day in history: Legendary comic book writer Stan Lee is born, Ronald Gene Simmons is arrested after killing 16 people, and more.
1065: The Original Westminster Abbey Is Consecrated
Westminster Abbey, England’s most famous church, is consecrated in London. Construction had begun in 1042 after Edward the Confessor, one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings, ordered its construction. He died just a week after its consecration and was buried there. In 1066, the coronation of William the Conqueror took place in the Abbey. Finally, in the 13th century, the original structure was redesigned into the Gothic masterpiece known the world over today.
1734: Rob Roy MacGregor Dies
Scottish outlaw and folk hero Rob Roy MacGregor dies in Perthshire, Scotland. He’s remembered as a Scottish Robin Hood, though that reputation was exaggerated by Sir Walter Scott in his 1818 novel Rob Roy.
The outlaw likely stole cattle in his younger years before moving on to robbery and plundering in the early 18th century. He was arrested in 1722 and imprisoned in London’s Newgate Prison, but he was pardoned in 1727 and lived out the final years of his life in relative peace.
1908: Messina Earthquake
At 5:20 AM, a 7.1 earthquake struck the Strait of Messina, the narrow body of water that separates Sicily and Calabria in the Mediterranean. It would be one of the most destructive natural disasters in history, as the powerful earthquake almost entirely leveled the cities of Messina and Reggio Calabria and left over 75,000 people dead.
1922: Stan Lee Is Born
Comic book writer, editor, and producer Stan Lee is born Stanley Martin Lieber in New York City. He started his career at Timely Comics, which would eventually become Marvel Comics. There, he filled inkwells, proofread text, and erased pencil marks from drawings.
The first comic he wrote himself was “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge,” under the pseudonym Stan Lee — which he eventually adopted as his legal name. From there, he became the most widely-known creator in the history of American comics before dying in 2018 at the age of 95.
1973: President Nixon Signs The Endangered Species Act
U.S. President Richard Nixon signs the Endangered Species Act (ESA). After declaring conservation efforts inadequate, Nixon asked Congress to write new legislation that would protect the United States’ most vulnerable plants and animals. The act prevented humans from killing, harming, or harassing endangered species. The ESA is monitored and enforced by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
1987: Ronald Gene Simmons Is Arrested
Ronald Gene Simmons is arrested after a week-long killing spree that left 16 people dead in Dover and Russellville, Arkansas.
Simmons murdered his wife, children, and grandchildren — allegedly because he thought his wife was going to divorce him. He then killed a woman who may have previously rejected him as well as a complete stranger, wounded several others, and quietly handed over his gun and surrendered himself to police when they arrived.