This Day In History, May 26th

What happened on this day in history: Nicholas II becomes czar of Russia, John Wayne is born, and more important events from May 26th.

1637: The Pequot Massacres Begin

Destruction Of The Pequots

Wikimedia CommonsEnglish colonists slaughter the Pequots and destroy their fort near Stonington, Connecticut on May 26, 1637.

The Pequot massacres, some of the bloodiest in American history, begin in present-day Connecticut. Following a number of clashes between Pequot Native Americans and Puritans, Captain John Mason led a force of Puritans and their Native American allies to attack a Pequot camp. They massacred almost everyone there, launching a series of attacks that eventually killed some 500 women, men, and children.

1896: Nicholas II Is Crowned Czar

Today In History

Public DomainNicholas II and his family, all of whom were eventually executed after the Russian Revolution.

Nicholas II becomes the czar of Russia, a position he would hold for more than 20 years until his dramatic abdication. The last Russian czar, Nicholas was unpopular among many Russians for his resistance to reform and his ineffectual rule along with suspicions about the influence of Rasputin. In November 1917, Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized power, and Nicholas and his family were executed less than a year later.

1897: Dracula Is Published

Bram Stroker’s vampire novel Dracula goes on sale in London.

1907: John Wayne Is Born

John Wayne

Public DomainJohn Wayne with Jimmy Stewart in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).

Marion Robert Morrison, later known as John Wayne, is born in Winterset, Iowa. Wayne went on to become one of the biggest movie stars of his day, appearing in over 250 films including The Searchers (1956) and True Grit (1969). He died in 1979 after a long battle with cancer.

1940: The Evacuation Of Dunkirk Begins

During World War II, the British launch the biggest evacuation in military history, extracting 338,000 soldiers from Dunkirk and across the English channel.

1957: Mary Bell Is Born

Soon to be known as England’s infamous ten-year-old murderer, Mary Bell is born in Corbridge, England. Unwanted and abused by her mother, Bell endured years of trauma before killing two young boys in Scotswood in 1968. She was given an indefinite sentence and released in 1980 at the age of 23.

2014: Broaddus Family Receives Their First Letter From The Watcher

The Broaddus Family receives their first letter from The Watcher at their 657 Boulevard home in Westfield, New Jersey. Before the family could move into their new home, they started receiving ominous letters from someone named “The Watcher.” The letters contained disturbing comments about the children in the family.

The story of “The Watcher” gathered popular attention, and rumors ran wild. Many believed that “The Watcher” was simply a fictional character invented by the Broaddus’s to help them get out of house they couldn’t afford. Others believe that “The Watcher” is real, and that whoever he or she is posed a threat to the family.