Here are three stories in the news from the Museum world. Enjoy.


July 30, 2008 – The National Museum of American History, which has been closed for a two year, $85 million renovation, confirmed that it will reopen its doors on November 21, 2008. Highlights in the rejuvenated museum will include a brand new gallery for the almost 200 year old Star-Spangled Banner and will display the White House copy of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

To read the press release, go to:


July 30, 2008 – The Augusta Museum of History has announced a wonderful promotion called Dollar Dog Days of Summer. From August 1 – 31 admission to the museum will cost just $1.00. Since May, the museum has presented the popular exhibit “The Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown”. Recently they opened a second major exhibit entitled “From Ty to Cal: A Century of Baseball in Augusta.”

Dollar Dog Days
Augusta Museum of History
Tue.-Sat., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday 1-5 p.m.
Ezekiel Harris House
Sat., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
By appointment Tue.-Fri.
$1 dollar admission, Aug. 1-31

To read the press release, go to:


Occasionally a story comes out that is both strange and funny at the same time. A small museum called the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in Decatur, Georgia is displaying the “Monkey from Mars”, which was part of a UFO hoax in 1953. According to the story, on July 8, 1953 three guys (two barbers and a butcher) took a monkey (dead I assume), shaved it’s hair and dyed the body green. Oh yes, they also cut off it’s tail. It was left on the side of a Georgia road with torch burn marks around the body.

A preserved monkey is shown on display in the lobby of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab Thursday July 24, 2008. in Decatur, Ga. The shaved monkey was part of a 1953 UFO hoax in rural Cobb County.  (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

A preserved monkey is shown on display in the lobby of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab Thursday July 24, 2008. in Decatur, Ga. The shaved monkey was part of a 1953 UFO hoax in rural Cobb County. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

According to article linked below,

“The barbers, Edward Watters and Tom Wilson, and the butcher, Arnold “Buddy” Payne, told the policeman they came upon a red, saucer-shaped object in the road that night. They said several 2-foot-tall creatures were scurrying about and the trio hit one with their pickup before the other creatures jumped back in the saucer and blasted skyward — leaving the highway scorched.”

The hoax was quickly discovered and poor Mr. Watters (as creative as he had been) was fined $40.00 for obstructing a highway.

In 1953, UFO hysteria was everywhere, so this allowed the hoax to be as believable as it was back then. Funny but true.




1. Did you know … that on April 15, 1865, Abraham Lincoln’s autopsy was performed in the 2nd floor guest room at the front right hand corner (northwest corner) of the White House?

At some point on the day before, April 14, 1865, Lincoln is quoted as saying to his bodyguard, Mr. William H. Crook … “Crook, do you know I believe there are men who want to take my life? And I have no doubt they will do it …. I know no one could do it and escape alive. But if it is to be done, it is impossible to prevent it.”

 2. Did you know … that Major Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris, the couple who attended the play at Ford’s Theatre with the Lincoln’s had a tragic ending. 

 Clara Harris & Major Henry Rathbone

On July 11, 1867, the Rathbone’s were married and began raising a small family. Over time, Major Rathbone became ill with severe mood swings. And then in 1883, while the family was living in Germany, Rathbone finally lost his sanity and attempted unsuccessfully to kill his children. He then shot and stabbed his wife to death. He also tried to kill himself but could not complete the job. After his arrest, he was found insane and sent to an asylum for the rest of his life. Rathbone died in 1911 at age 73.


3. Did you know … that on April 27, 1865 at approximately 2:00am, the worst marine disaster in United States history took place. The steamship SULTANA, blew up, caught fire and sank in the Mississippi River killing over 1700 passengers.

The Sultana had been contracted by the US Government to transport Union soldiers released from Confederate prison camps, up the Mississippi River to Ohio. In the early morning hours of April 27, the boiler(s) exploded destroying part of the ship and engulfing the remainder in flames. There were well over 2000 people on board at the time of the disaster (legally the Sultana was allowed to carry a capacity of 376 people). No confirmed number exists on the casualty and survivor count, however it is estimated that upwards of 1800 people perished in the disaster with another 700-800 surviving.

To put this in perspective, the Titanic disaster had a loss of about 1517 lives.

According to Wikipedia, the accepted cause of the tragedy was “determined to be mismanagement of water levels in the boiler, exacerbated by “careening.” The Sultana was severely overcrowded and top heavy. As she made her way north following the twists and turns of the river, she listed severely to one side then the other. The Sultana’s four boilers were interconnected and mounted side-by-side, so that if the ship tipped sideways, water would tend to run out of the highest boiler. With the fires still going against the empty boiler, this created hot spots. When the ship tipped the other way, water rushing back into the empty boiler would hit the hot spots and flash instantly to steam, creating a sudden surge in pressure. This effect of careening could have been minimized by maintaining high water levels in the boilers. The official inquiry found that Sultana ‘s boilers exploded due to the combined effects of careening, low water level, and a faulty repair to a leaky boiler made a few days previously.”

The reason so few people have ever heard of this disaster is because it happened when so much else was in the news of the day. The Civil War had just ended; Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated just two weeks before; but most prominent in the news was that Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, had been cornered, shot and killed the day before (April 26) in Bowling Green, Virginia.

LINKS to the SULTANA story:




To see the entire series, click here “SUMMARY OF THE “DID YOU KNOW” ABRAHAM LINCOLN SERIES (Parts 1-15)”         



If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, you should read these interviews by three Lincoln experts:


“An Awesometalk With” ROGER NORTON, Webmaster of the ‘Abraham Lincoln Research Site’ (posted on December 30, 2008)


“An Awesometalk With” DR. THOMAS SCHWARTZ, Illinois State Historian (posted on December 08, 2008)


“An Awesometalk With” HAROLD HOLZER, Lincoln Scholar (posted on November 10, 2008)