Andrew Jackson

Samuel Houston

QUESTION:  Which of the following states has a city named after Sam Houston?
A)  California
B)  Iowa
C)  West Virginia
D)  Minnesota

Happy December!  To celebrate the beginning of the last month of 2016, the American Treasure Tour blog would like to honor Sam Houston, whose image is displayed near those of Meade and Johnston in our Toy Box.  For the record, we are unaware of any relevance of December 1st to Houston, but hey, why not?  Houston was a pretty remarkable figure who it can be said definitely left his mark on American history.  Born in a Rockbridge County, Virginia log cabin in 1793, his father had fought under the famed rifleman Daniel Morgan during the American Revolutionary War. After his father's death, Houston, his mother, and his seven siblings moved west into Tennessee. He was sixteen the year he ran away and started a new life with the Cherokee, learning their language and their culture. Come the War of 1812, he joined General Andrew Jackson in his fight against the Crow at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, and found an ally whose influence shaped the rest of Houston's life.

Houston became a lawyer in 1818.  Four years later, Tennessee elected him to the House of Representatives.  He quit in 1827 to become Governor of Tennessee, but became disillusioned with how the United States was treating the Cherokee.  This led to a duel, then a beating, then a hasty retreat to Mexican Texas. There, he got caught up in the independence movement, signing the Texas Declaration of Independence, then leading troops to a stunning victory in the eighteen-minute long Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. His fame led to his election as President of the Republic of Texas twice. When Texas was annexed by the United States in 1845, he their first Senator - the only man in American history to be a Senator representing two different states. He was actually the Governor of Texas in 1861 when the state voted to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy, and the only acting southern governor to vote against secession.  He was ousted from power, and retired from public life, dying in Huntsville, Texas in 1863.

ANSWER:  D)  Minnesota.  There is also a Houston in MIssissippi and, of course, Texas.

Sombreros - June 6, 2014

If you have visited the American Treasure Tour, you know how difficult it is to see everything. There is something here for everyone, and that includes people with a fashion sense!  Not only are there Mummers costumes on display, but there are also plenty of sombreros hanging above the route the tram takes.  (Many people neglect to look up as they are driven through the rooms, so they may never even notice them.)

One accoutrement that people have used to protect themselves from harsh weather on the open plains or the desert is hats.  Big hats.  Hats with wide brims that shield their faces from the sun. Flat brims have been most effective for this, and the people of Mexico have used sombreros for centuries.  Of course, Americans call theirs cowboy hats, but they were intended to serve the same function.  It's just that the sombrero has since become ornamental as well.  All of the flourishes on them make them more appealing for mariachi musicians and tourists.

QUESTION:  History finds the earliest traces of wide-brimmed hats used to help shield people from the elements in what part of the world?

a)  Mongolia

b)  Italy

c)  New York City

d)  Texas

Answer Below


If you ever wondered which United States President was the first to ride on a train, wonder no more!  In fact, we will even tell you when it happened!  Today, in 1833, only three years after the Tom Thumb rode thirteen miles along the Baltimore and Ohio track.  It would not be long before the new technology would dominate transportation and surpass canals as the means to move merchandise.  And Andrew Jackson, the nation's seventh president, was there for the start of it.

Another first for Americans happened today exactly one hundred years later.  A lot had changed since 1833, but one of the more important innovations was the development of film.  And to complement that, the creation of the first drive-in movie theater, which opened in Camden, New Jersey.  Built by Richard Hollinshead, Jr, it encouraged families to bring their children - it didn't matter if they were loud, since they could stay in their cars.  Although Hollinshead's theater lasted only three years, his idea took off and many more were built aroung the country.


"I only regret that I have but one life to live for my country."  Those words were famously said by Nathan Hale shortly before the British executed him for spying during the Revolutionary War.  He was born today in 1755 in Coventry, Connecticut and became a teacher upon his graduation from Yale College in 1773.  Two years later, he volunteered to go into enemy-occupied New York City on a fact-finding mission.  Things did not go well there, but Hale will forever be remembered for his heroic efforts.

Levi Stubbs (birthname Stubbles) came into the world in 1936.  Born in Detroit, Michigan, Stubbs was only twenty years old when he and some friends formed a band they named the Four Tops. They did quite well for themselves, selling over fifty million albums during their tenure, and Stubbs became their most famous member.  Despite the fame, he remained loyal to his band mates.  He declined many offers to start his own career.  One of his few forays into solo work was starring as Audrey II in the popular movie musical Little Shop of Horrors.

QUOTE:  Shun all vice, especially card playing. - Nathan Hale

Answer:  a)  Mongolia.  There is evidence to support that Mongolian horsemen wore these hats as early as the 13th century.

Soap Box Derby - May 30, 2014

The American Treasure Tour is a place where you can see virtually everything.  We have made that point for a long time.  People who have taken the tram around the Toy Box know of what we speak.  Well, in a little corner across the tram route from the 1905 Franklin sits a small collection of soap box derby cars.  Today, the blog will discuss some of these tiny transports.

Soap Box derbies can be traced almost as far back as the beginning of the automobile era.  As the fascination with driving hit American adults, so too did it hit children.  Young boys did something about it in 1933.  Led by Dayton, Ohio photographer Myron Scott, a movement was founded for kids to race in cars made out of various scraps and pieces.  Some people make their cars out of orange crates, used tin, saloon bars, and of course, old soap boxes.  They can be made from practically anything, so long as motors are not included.

In 1973, 14 year-old Jimmy Gronen and his uncle fixed a soap box derby by installing electromagnets into his car.  As a direct result of his action, what city has been banned from participating in the All-American Soap Box Derby?

a)  St. Augustine, Florida

b)  Santa Fe, New Mexico

c)  Santa Clara, California

d)  Boulder, Colorado

Answer Below


Here at the ATT blog, we are always happy to offer our readers free advice. Today, we are going to encourage anyone with a time machine to avoid upsetting former U.S. President Andrew Jackson.  On this day in 1806, before he became president, Jackson killed a man in a duel.  Charles Dickinson accused Jackson's wife Rachel of bigamy, which offended Jackson. (Technically, Dickinson was right, but that's neither here nor there.)  Regardless, that was a mistake Dickinson didn't repeat after the duel.  Jackson, meanwhile, carried a bullet in his chest for the rest of his life after that.

And here is some more advice:  it is worth confirming the truth behind a rumor before causing a panic.  On this day in 1883, only six days after it officially opened to the public, a rumor spread that it might collapse under the weight of its traffic.  The sturdy bridge was holding strong, but the panic was still there.  Twelve people were crushed in the ensuing chaos.  The next year, famous promoter P.T. Barnum had 22 elephants walk the bridge to show its safety.  After that, there were no more doubts about it.


The day of May 30th will forever more be known as "May Mel Blanc Day."  The ATT blog LOVES Mr. Blanc. Born Melvin Jerome Blanc today in 1908, he would grow up to have one of the most important voices ever.  He created the now-familiar voices of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and all the other characters from Warner Brothers cartoons, as well as Barney Rubble of The Flintstones and Woody Woodpecker from his show.  Happy birthday, Mel!

Wynnona Judd turns fifty today.  The country singer started singing in her teens, when she and mom Naomi formed The Judds.  By 1991, mom had to retire after contracting hepatitis C; however, Wynnona continues to perform to this day.  And she has plenty of time to continue sharing her talents with the world.

QUOTE:  That's all, folks! - Mel Blanc

Answer:  d)  Gronen's home town of Boulder, Colorado.  One family's crime has made an entire community suffer.