There are many legendary figures who emerged from the American Wild West. In this all new episode we explore the life of the lesser known, though no less incredible, Mary Fields, who has come to be known as Stagecoach Mary.

Born enslaved, Mary was emancipated around the age of 33 after the American Civil War. Eventually she moved west to the Montana Territory. There she worked alongside the Ursuline nuns and Jesuits at St. Peter’s mission until she was dismissed for an incident involving drawn firearms.

Mary was a mold breaker and was unafraid to push against the expectations of others. She drank, smoke cigars, carried firearms, and sometimes wore men’s clothing. She was also someone of great generosity and won the admiration of many people in Cascade, Montana.

She was an unstoppable force, and at the age of 63, became history’s first African American Star Route Carrier for the US Postal Service. This was a dangerous job, but despite the threat of predators, bandits, rugged terrain, and harsh winters, Mary and her mule Moses never missed a day in her eight year tenure as a Star Route Carrier. If the whether became impassable for her stagecoach, Mary would deliver the mail by snowshoe, carrying the sacks over her shoulders.

Mary became a legend in her own time as stories of this gun carrying, cigar smoking, hard liquor drinking woman who seemed to break down every barrier thrown her way, earned Mary her place in history.

Come hear how the life of Mary Fields become the legend of Stagecoach Mary.

A mythical holiday legend grew from the life of Hans von Trotha, a medieval knight who served in both the German Palatinate and the French court of Louis XII. His life had some tumultuous twists and turns: excommunication, exile, and a row with a Benedictine abbot over Berwartstein Castle that nearly destroyed the town of Weissenburg.

After his death, history was transformed into lore, and this chevalier d’or, “knight of gold,” became a monster whose tale is still told in several regions of France and Germany.

Come learn how myth turned the medieval knight Hans von Trotha into Hans Trapp, the Christmas scarecrow.

The 1904 Olympic marathon is remembered as history’s most bizarre race. Running in tandem with the St. Louis World’s Fair, or the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, the 1904 Olympics were the first games hosted by the US. Given the disorganization, poor international turnout, and competition with the World Fair’s 20 million visitors, the 1904 games were perhaps doomed before they started. But no single event would ever compare with the absurd chaos of the marathon. From wild dogs to a professional clown on performance enhancing drugs, this race had it all.

We also delve into the history of the ancient Olympic games and explore how an ancient festival honoring Zeus became a worldwide modern event.

Come hear the unbelievable true story of the 1904 St. Louis Olympic marathon.

48.5 tons of meteoric material falls onto our planet every day, which has made for some stellar history. Today we explore history that has fallen from the sky. We begin in Egypt by examining the meteorite dagger of Tutankhamun, then we travel to Sylacauga, Alabama in the year 1954 when Ann Elizabeth Fowler Hodges became the first documented person in history to be struck by a meteorite. After that we travel 50,000 years back in time to hear the story of the basket meteorite, a special piece of space rock that made its way to Northern Arizona’s Meteor Crater twice thanks to a yard sale and a retired Wisconsin man. Grab your space suit and tune in for an episode that’s truly out of this world.

The Raven

In 1845 Edgar Allen Poe first published his now iconic poem The Raven. Come hear the full reading of this legendary literary tale in this bonus Halloween mini episode.

About 30 miles north of Manhattan lies the town of Sleepy Hollow. Made famous by Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, this nook in the Hudson Valley is home to legends and history alike. A real, lesser known figure in the history of this region is a woman the townsfolk called Hulda of Bohemia.

Ostracized by the larger community, the elderly Hulda crafted herbal medicines for the town, leaving them anonymously on people’s doorsteps and windowsills. Though her gifts were appreciated in secret, Hula was shunned and labeled as a witch.

When the American Revolution came, bringing war to the countryside, Hulda wanted to join the local militia. She was refused. One day in 1777 British Troops began marching towards Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. Not to be turned away this time, Hulda grabbed her musket and joined the fight.

Her acts on the battlefield were so impactful, that she’s still remembered today. Find out what happened, and discover the woman who is known, for better or worse, as the witch of Sleepy Hollow.

We’ve been putting animals on trial probably as long as we’ve been putting one another on trial. In this episode we examine several animal trials spanning nearly a 600-year period. We cover six trials extending over three continents: A monkey in Hartlepool accused of espionage, a murderous pig in Savigny, a group of slugs who just wouldn’t listen, a circus elephant in Tennessee we should never forget, a bear who served time with good behavior in Kazakhstan, and a rooster (or basilisk depending on whom you ask) in Basel, Switzerland, burned at the stake for laying an egg. Grab you gavels and get ready to travel on this sometimes whimsical, sometimes sad, and constantly strange episode exploring the history of animals put on trial.

It was believed the Coelacanth went extinct along with the dinosaurs around 66 million years ago when the Chicxulub impactor smashed into planet Earth…that was until Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, curator of the East London Museum, found one in a pile of fish on a dock in South Africa in 1938. This ancient fish surprised the scientific world when the first living specimen was pulled up by Captain Hendrik Goosen while he was trawling for fish near the mouth of the Chalumna River. The Coelacanth was dubbed a “living fossil” though it was eventually discovered that it has evolved over the last 400 million years. Come hear the story of how the determined Marjorie saved the world’s first extant Coelacanth specimen, and what exactly makes this strange, ancient species so special.

The Monte Vista Hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona is a place where history and lore are inseparably intertwined. Built in 1927, this 73-room hotel and cocktail bar has seen prohibition, a speakeasy, mysterious underground tunnels, historic radio broadcasts, Hollywood, and some swear a ghost or two. Come explore the fascinating story of this famous, and some say infamous, hotel nestled in the Arizona mountains.

Over 5,200 years ago a king rose to power in Upper Egypt. His name was Scorpion. Yes, there was a real Scorpion king, and we can piece together a fragmentary picture of his life through the archaeological evidence left behind. Though the details of his life are debated, it’s clear he was an important part of Egyptian history. Come join me as we time travel back to predynastic Egypt and meet the legendary Scorpion King.

In 1928 Glen and Bessie Hyde struck out to make history. They wanted to raft down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon at a time when only 45 people in recorded history had dared to make that journey. If successful, they would set a new speed record, and Bessie would be the first woman in recorded history to make the voyage.

Their scow was found snagged in the river at mile 232, all their belongings still intact, but the young couple had vanished. Their disappearance sparked a mystery still told around canyon camp fires and has made them an inseparable piece of Grand Canyon lore. A diary, a skeleton with a bullet hole in the skull, and a campfire confession all stoked the flames of a century of mystery. Come hear their story.

It’s incredibly unlikely you’ll ever be involved in a plane crash. Its also incredibly unlikely you’ll ever be struck by lightning. Both of those things happened to Juliane Koepcke at the same time. In 1971, she and her mother were making their way from Lima to Pucallpa, Peru, when their plane broke apart at 10,000 feet. Julianna fell almost two miles out of the sky and into the Peruvian jungle. The the only survivor, she was injured, alone, and lost in the Amazon rainforest. What followed is an incredible account of survival, will, and the relentless tenacity of human endurance. Come hear her story.

In 1879 the Victorian world was shocked by one of the most sensational murders it would ever see. When Kate Webster killed, dismembered, and boiled her employer Julia Martha Thomas, she went down in history as one of the most notorious killers of the 19th century. Find out all the gory details and just what David Attenborough had to do with it 131 years later. Yes, that David Attenborough. 

This is the story of Shackleton and the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1916 as presented at this year’s 2021 Intelligent Speech Conference. The theme this year was escape and in the last expedition of the Heroic Age of Arctic Exploration, Shackleton and his crew pulled off the greatest escape of all time, against all odds, at the brink of human endurance as they spent nearly two years lost, adrift on the pack ice of the Weddell sea, setting foot onto some of the last uncharted places in the world. This is the cliff notes version of the expedition. For a much more detailed history check out last year’s five-part series. 

She has one of the most recognizable smiles in the world, but why is the Mona Lisa so famous? She is undoubtedly a masterpiece, but didn’t become a worldwide sensation until 1911 when Vincenzo Peruggia stole her from the Louvre museum in Paris. It has been dubbed by some as the greatest art theft of the 20th century. Find out how he pulled it off and how the Mona Lisa, known as La Joconde in France and La Gioconda in Italy, made her way back to France to become the world’s most visited painting. 

Decades before the movie phenomenon of Jaws, our fear of sharks was ignited by a series of real shark attacks that all occurred within a 12-day period in the summer of 1916. Before these attacks along the New Jersey shore, many believed sharks were not capable of killing or attacking humans. This week we sift through the lore to find the real history surrounding the five attacks-and four deaths-that kindled our fascination with these animals. We also discuss how the shark mania that spread out from the 1916 attacks and the sensational film Jaws, has given sharks a reputation as blood thirsty killers, and how that mentality is shifting the more we learn about these incredible animals. Let’s jump into the water with some of history’s most famous sharks.

The turn of the 20th century was an incredible time for aviation and in 1892, eleven years before the Wright Brothers’ famous flight, a pilot was born. Bessie Coleman, known as Queen Bess, was the first African American and the first Indigenous American to receive an international pilot’s license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, two years before Amelia Earhart. Bared from American flight schools because of her sex and unable to find a pilot to give her lessons in the US due to her race, she left for flight school in France. Upon her return, she had an exciting career barnstorming, or stunt flying, wowing audiences with tailspins, parachute jumps, and walking along the wing of her plane while it was in flight. Her tragic death in 1926 came too soon, but her legacy still lives on. Come hear the inspirational life story of the unstoppable Queen Bess.

In Part 2 of the Historical Oddities series, we uncover two strange pieces of history. In the 1970’s when the crew of the Six Million Dollar Man was shooting an episode inside a funhouse in Long Beach, California, they accidentally stumbled upon something unexpected…the dead, mummified body of the outlaw Elmer McCurdy. Elmer had been shot dead by a Sherriff’s posse the better part of a century before, so what was his corpse doing hanging from the rafters of a funhouse? Today we examine his incredible true story.

Next, we go across the pond and back again to find out how just what the London Bridge is doing in the Arizona desert. Built after the London Bridge of nursery rhyme fame was demolished and before the bridge that now stands over the Thames, this 19th century granite London Bridge was headed for the junkyard until the city of London auctioned it off to an eccentric American millionaire. Tune in to hear how this iconic English landmark became the world's most expensive souvenir. 

History is weird sometimes. In this first episode of a two-part series, we discuss historical oddities, and highlight some of the most curious events and people history has to offer. Today we begin with Frank Hayes, an unstoppable jockey, and Sweet Kiss, a bay mare no one was betting on. She and her jockey would make history with one race—but not because of their victory. Then we skip across the pond to find the unsinkable Violet Jessop, a woman who survived three of the 20th century’s most harrowing shipwrecks. South Africa is our last stop where we find Jack the Baboon who was better at his job working for the Cape Town Port Elizabeth Railway service than most of us are today. Plug in and get weird!

Bundle up, grab some nog, and get ready for a 117-year-old ghost story. We don’t tend to think of ghost stories when we think of the glitz and glamour of the holidays, but the tradition of gathering around the fire to tell dark tales and call upon the lore of ages long since passed goes back generations. Today, we discuss this tradition and hear M.R. James’s tale “Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad,” first published in 1904.

It’s a stone with many names--the Stone of Destiny, the Stone of Scone, the Coronation Stone, Lia Fáil-- and there are numerous legends and myths about its origins. For centuries it was used in the coronations of Scottish kings, that is, until it was taken to England by Edward 1st in 1296. From then on it was used in the coronations of English and subsequent British monarchs, symbolizing their rule over Scotland and its incorporation into the United Kingdom. For 700 years after it was taken by the English king, it remained in Westminster Abby under the Coronation Chair, until Christmas day, 1950, when four students from the University of Glasgow--Kay Matheson, Ian Hamilton, Gavin Vernon, and Alan Stuart--decided it was time for Scotland to take it back. This is the true story of one of the most famous and unlikely heists in history. The most remarkable part of this incredible true story isn't that these four students planned on breaking into Westminster Abby to steal back a symbol of Scottish nationalism…it's that they were going to get away with it.

We know that a lot of our communication happens not just through words, but through facial expressions, tone, and body language too. This can cause a researcher to unintentionally influence the person or animal they are examining. There are ways of getting around this-double blind studies are one way-where neither the researcher nor the subject knows if they are in a control or experimental group. But where did our understanding of subtle cues come from? Well, they came from a particularly clever horse. Clever Hans, a horse who took the media by storm in the early 1900s. Clever Hans was wowing the world with his ability to calculate numbers, identify musical tones, and ace any test thrown his way. His trainer, retired school teacher Wilhelm Van Osten, taught this horse as he would have a human child in front of a chalkboard and a counting machine in his backyard for years. Van Osten and the world truly believed Clever Hans was capable of extraordinary things. And he was…it just wasn’t what they had all suspected. Little did they know, they were all being outsmarted by one clever horse. 

The finale of our miniseries comes to a close as we cover several real historical instances of people actually being buried along with a few who had some uncomfortable close calls. We hear about the incredible case of Mathew Wall and find out why on October 2nd for the last 450 years or so, the town of Braughing in Hertfordshire has celebrated “Old Man’s Day.” We learn about the curious cases of Nicephorous Glycas from Lesbos and Anne Green from Oxfordshire who nearly made it to their own funerals and/or dissections. We learn about Alice Blunden and why you should always check twice, maybe even three times, before you bury someone. After that we hear about the unfortunate case of Anna Hockwalt in 19th century Dayton, Ohio, before making a pit stop in France to visit Angelo Hays and find out just what a toilet was doing in a coffin in the 1970’s.

It’s Halloween season, and that means it’s time for some spooky history. And what is spookier than being buried alive? Nothing really, and that’s where this two-part miniseries is headed. Today in Part 1 we cover taphophobia-the fear of being buried alive-and examine some of the ways we’ve dealt with this fear throughout history. Safety coffins, devices built to save the prematurely buried, and the death tests we used to determine if a person was really, completely dead, are showcased. Edgar Allen Poe, Houdini, and some ill-fated escape artists even make an appearance. If you love the macabre, you don’t want to miss this one. Come get your spook on.  

In 1822 on Mackinac Island, French Canadian Fur Trader Alexis St Martin was shot in the side at a distance of less than one meter. The experiments following his miraculous survival just may be the weirdest piece of history ever seen in the Straits of Mackinac.

The bullet wound left a hole in St Martin’s side giving Dr. William Beaumont the first ever access to a living human stomach. The doctor would tie pieces of food to a silk string and dangle them down into St Martin’s stomach in order to better understand the process of digestion. But the experiments didn’t stop there. Nearly 250 experiments were performed over nearly a decade.

Dr. Beaumont’s book on the experiments first published in 1833 entitled “Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice and the Physiology of Digestion” paved the way for our understanding of the human gastric system and earned Beaumont the title of Father of Gastric Physiology.

St Martin lived his entire life with a bullet hole his side, which became a gastric fistula, or “passageway” that never closed. He was buried in a secret location eight feet below ground with two feet of rocks on his coffin to deter grave robbers from stealing his corpse or his stomach, which was highly sought after when he died.

Come hear the true story of Dr. William Beaumont and Alexis St Martin in this extra strange episode of the History Cache Podcast.

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