The Year Was 1913

The year was 1913 and there was turbulence in the Balkans. Following a coup in the Ottoman Empire, the first Balkan War continued with allied Balkan states defeating the Ottoman Empire. The peace treaty, signed in London on May 30, redrew the map lines of southeastern Europe. In June, Bulgaria, unhappy with the new boundaries, attacked Greece and Serbia in a short-lived effort to gain control over Macedonia. The Treaty of Bucharest ended the second Balkan War giving control of Macedonia to the Greek and Serbian allies. 

Tragedy struck on October 14 in Senghenydd, Wales, when an explosion ripped through a coal mine killing 439 men and boys in the worst coal mining disaster in Welsh history. The explosion left 205 widows and 542 children without a father.  Postcards commemorating the disaster can be found online through the National Library of Wales. Wikipedia also lists the names of those killed in the disaster. The Coal Mining History Resource Center maintains a national database of mining deaths and injuries in the UK.

The following month, across the Atlantic a powerful storm dubbed the “Great Lakes White Hurricane” took 235 lives and caused up to forty shipwrecks. Most of the casualties came from large freighters wrecked on Lake Huron. The NOAA website includes accounts describing thirty-five foot waves in succession, of the grisly sight of sailors washing up on Canadian shores following the storm, and in one interesting story where one of the “victims” walked in on his own funeral.

Earlier that year in March, a catastrophic flood had brought disaster to Dayton and other cities in the Miami River valley. The flood took more than 300 lives and caused more than 100 million dollars in damage. Photographs accompany the story of the flood and aftermath in Dayton in this article from the Dayton Metro Library.

In 1913, Thomas Woodrow Wilson succeeded William Howard Taft in the presidency of the United States. During that first year in office, one of the most significant pieces of legislation passed was the Sixteenth Amendment, which provided for the creation of an income tax. 

Crossword puzzles first came to fame in 1913 with the first publication of a puzzle by Arthur Wynne in the “New York World” on 21 December. They grew in popularity in the 1920s as they began appearing in other U.S. newspapers, eventually spreading across the ocean where they first appeared in the British “Pearson’s Magazine” in February 1922. 

Another innovation that year was the zipper, patented by Swedish immigrant, Gideon Sundback.  Originally patented for use on galoshes, it later spread to clothing items.

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5 thoughts on “The Year Was 1913

  1. I wanted to comment on the article about “The Year was 1913”. I found it to be very interesting. My mother, Pauline Burrows celebrated her 93rd birthday on December 17th, and she was born in the year 1913 as was our now deceased former President, Gerald Ford.

    Thank you for the informative articles that you write for ancestry.

    Be blessed in the New Year.


  2. My grandmother, Lena Ruth Manning Hollingsworth, also celebrated her 93rd in August 2006. She thought it funny that she’s as old as zippers and crosswords!

    I love the articles & tips I find here.


  3. I am so delighted that the Year 1913 was chosen. I realized with President Ford’s death — my father would have been his age had he lived. And now to read about the year of 1913 — what fun that will be for me and to add to my family tree. I really appreciated everything tthat President Ford did for this country through that terrible time. My father died in 1977— he missed so much– probably for the best.

  4. I was researching for information about “century farms” when I happened upon your Website and saw the link to “The Year was 1913”. My father was born on June 10, 1913, in Georgetown County, South Carolina. He died September 10, 1963; having just reached the age of 50. He was a wonderful father and until I read your article, I realized that I knew nothing about the year 1913 except that it was my father’s birth year. How nice to read about actual facts that happened in the same year. Thank you.

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