WHAT HAPPENED ON - 19 February

February 19 1847 – The Donner Party is reached by the first group of rescuers

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February 19 1847 – The Donner Party is reached by the first group of rescuers
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On February 19, 1847, the first team of rescuers reached surviving members of the Donner Party. The Donner Party was a group of emigrants headed to California that lost most of its members due to starvation and extreme weather conditions.

By 1846, emigration to the American west had become the watchword and thousands of pioneers across the United States prepared to travel across the Sierra Nevada Mountains. One such group, popularly known as the Donner Party, consisting of 89 people in all, set off from Springfield in Illinois in a nine-wagon train. The Donner party included 31 members of the Donner and Reed families. The group, led by George Donner, set out on April 15, 1846, and moved from Illinois to Independence in Missouri, and then embarking on the California Trail. By June 27, the Donner Party completed the first leg of its travel coming over 650 miles to Fort Laramie in Wyoming.

In 1842, Lord Hastings, one of the earliest pioneers went over to California, and decided to promote the passage to the west. In his book “The Emigrants’ Guide to Oregon and California”, he described a route called the Hastings Cutoff. Lord Hastings, however, had made the passage through this route only in 1846, and that too without any wagons to accompany him. The route would take a pioneer across the Sierra Nevada range for over 100 miles. The trail was a tricky one and needed to be timed right for a safe passage. …(Read more)

February 19 1473 – Nicolaus Copernicus is Born in Torun, Poland

February 19 1473 – Nicolaus Copernicus is Born in Torun, Poland
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Deep in the heart of Polish territory, a man who would fundamentally change the world’s understanding of how the solar system worked was born on February 19, 1473. Nicolaus Copernicus, an astronomer and mathematician among many other things, proposed theories at the center of an ideological controversy in the Catholic Church long after his death in 1543.

Named after his father, Copernicus was the last of four children born into a merchant family in the town of Torun, on the banks of the Vistula River some 250 miles to the north of the Polish capital, Krakow. Nestled in the heart of the Kingdom of Poland, the city flourished due to its location on the only major waterway winding through the center of the nation, a factor in Copernicus’ father achieving solid sales of copper in Danzig (modern Gdansk).

Much of the responsibility for raising the young Copernicus fell on his uncle, Lucas Watzenrode the Younger, who took the boy under his wing after the senior Nicolaus’ death. Watzenrode, a well-educated graduate of the University of Krakow, saw to it Copernicus was exposed to some of the best teachers in Poland. When ready, Copernicus entered his uncle’s alma mater in pursuit of a mathematics degree, a course of study which would inevitably tie into astronomy due to the close relationship between the two fields at the university. …(Read more)

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