The Year Was 1897

The year was 1897 and in March, William McKinley took the Oath of Office, succeeding Grover Cleveland as President of the United States.

There were notable events in several U.S. cities in 1897. On 1 January Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island merged, forming a consolidated New York City. In September, the Boston subway opened–the first in the United States–and more than 100,000 people used it on its first day. And in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the state capitol was destroyed by fire.

The smaller municipality of Aurora, Texas, remembers the year as the year when “an alien airship” struck a windmill and an alien casualty was removed and buried in the local cemetery. (This editor is convinced it is one of the ancestors she’s been unable to find.)

Small tent towns began springing up in Seattle following the arrival of prospectors whose tales of gold from the Yukon Territory ignited the Klondike Gold Rush. Gold seekers would face a long and dangerous trek through some of the most difficult terrain and weather conditions, only to find that most of the most valuable gold field claims had already been staked. Writer Jack London was among those who sailed to join the rush and it was his experiences in the Klondike that fueled books that helped him make his fortune through writing.

Another writer made a big mark in 1897, as Bram Stoker published his most famous book, Dracula.  The character of Count Dracula has grown into a phenomenon that has spawned countless stories–some true, and some false.

In Greenbrier County, West Virginia, on 23 January, Elva Zona Heaster was found dead in her home by a local boy sent on an errand by her husband. Her ghost purportedly helped to solve the case and her husband was sentenced to life in prison for her murder.

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4 thoughts on “The Year Was 1897

  1. Interesting addition to my family book and properly credited, of course. My late parents were born within 8 days and less than 20 miles of each other in July 1897. hank you, David Smith

  2. I have just finished reading the Harrisburgh history found by clicking on to the one sentence note that a fire destroyed the State Capitol in HARRISON, PA. Nowhere in the article is there the name HARRISON used in place of HARRISBURG. I am curious about how the city name became HARRISON in this article.

  3. This is the first time I have seen Jan 1, 1897 listed as the date of consolidation of the current New York City. The Encyclopedia shows the date as Jan 1, 1898. In addition, the US Postal service issued an airmail stamp commemorating the 50th anniversary in 1948.

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