19 October 1914

The First Battle of Ypres begins.

On October 19, 1914, near the Belgian city of Ypres, Allied and German forces begin the first of what would be three battles to control the city and its advantageous positions on the north coast of Belgium during the First World War.

After the German advance through Belgium and eastern France was curtailed by a decisive Allied victory in the Battle of the Marne in late September 1914, the so-called “Race to the Sea” began, as each army attempted to outflank the other on their way northwards, hastily constructing trench fortifications as they went. The race ended in mid-October at Ypres, the ancient Flemish city with its fortifications guarding the ports of the English Channel and access to the North Sea beyond.

After the Germans captured the Belgian city of Antwerp early in October, Antwerp’s remaining Belgian forces along with troops of the British Expeditionary Force, commanded by Sir John French, withdrew to Ypres, arriving at the city between October 8 and 19 to reinforce the Belgian and French defenses there. Meanwhile, the Germans prepared to launch the first phase of an offensive aimed at breaking the Allied lines and capturing Ypres and other channel ports, thus controlling the outlets to the North Sea.

On October 19, a protracted period of fierce combat began, as the Germans opened their Flanders offensive and the Allies steadfastly resisted, while seeking their own chances to go on the attack wherever possible. Fighting continued, with heavy losses on both sides, until November 22, when the arrival of winter weather forced the battle to a halt. The area between the positions established by both sides during this period—from Ypres on the British side to Menin and Roulers on the German side—became known as the Ypres Salient, a region that over the course of the next several years would see some of the war’s bitterest and most brutal struggles.

1 September 1914

The last known passenger pigeon, Martha, dies in the Cincinnati Zoo.

Martha  1885 – September 1, 1914 was the last known living passenger pigeon; she was named “Martha” in honor of the first First Lady Martha Washington.

The history of the Cincinnati Zoo‘s passenger pigeons has been described by Arlie William Schorger in his monograph on the species as “hopelessly confused,” and he also said that it is “difficult to find a more garbled history” than that of Martha. The generally accepted version is that, by the turn of the 20th century, the last known group of passenger pigeons was kept by Professor Charles Otis Whitmanat the University of Chicago. Whitman originally acquired his passenger pigeons from David Whittaker of Wisconsin, who sent him six birds, two of which later bred and hatched Martha in about 1885. Martha was named in honor of Martha Washington. Whitman kept these pigeons to study their behavior, along with rock doves and Eurasian collared-doves. Whitman and the Cincinnati Zoo, recognizing the decline of the wild populations, attempted to consistently breed the surviving birds, including attempts at making a rock dove foster passenger pigeon eggs. These attempts were unsuccessful, and Whitman sent Martha to the Cincinnati Zoo in 1902.

However, other sources argue that Martha was instead the descendant of three pairs of passenger pigeons purchased by the Cincinnati Zoo in 1877. Another source claimed that when the Cincinnati Zoo opened in 1875, it already had 22 birds in its collection. These sources claim that Martha was hatched at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1885, and that the passenger pigeons were originally kept not because of the rarity of the species, but to enable guests to have a closer look at a native species.

By November 1907, Martha and her two male companions at the Cincinnati Zoo were the only known surviving passenger pigeons after four captive males in Milwaukee died during the winter. One of the Cincinnati males died in April 1909, followed by the remaining male on July 10, 1910. Martha soon became a celebrity due to her status as an endling, and offers of a $1000 reward for finding a mate for Martha brought even more visitors to see her. Several years before her death Martha suffered an apoplectic stroke, leaving her weakened; the zoo built a lower roost for her as she could no longer reach her old one. Martha died at 1 p.m. on September 1, 1914 of old age. Her body was found lifeless on her cage’s floor. Depending on the source, Martha was between 17–29 years old at the time of her death, although 29 is the generally accepted figure.

After her death, Martha was quickly brought to the Cincinnati Ice Company, where she was held by her feet and frozen into a 300-pound block of ice. She was then sent by express train to the Smithsonian, where she arrived on September 4, 1914, and was photographed. She had been molting when she died, and as such she was missing a few feathers, including some of her longer tail feathers. William Palmer skinned Martha while Nelson R. Wood mounted her skin. Her internal parts were dissected by Robert Wilson Shufeldt and are also preserved and kept by the National Museum of Natural History

From the 1920s through the early 1950s she was displayed in the National Museum of Natural History’s Bird Hall, placed on a small branch fastened to a block of Styrofoam and paired with a male passenger pigeon that had been shot in Minnesota in 1873. She was then displayed as part of the Birds of the World exhibit that ran from 1956 to 1999. During this time she left the Smithsonian twice—in 1966 to be displayed at the Zoological Society of San Diego‘s Golden Jubilee Conservation Conference, and in June 1974 to the Cincinnati Zoo for the dedication of the Passenger Pigeon Memorial. When the Smithsonian shut down its Birds of the World exhibit, Martha was removed from display and kept in a special exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo.Martha was back on display in the Smithsonian from June 2014 to September 2015 for the exhibit Once There Were Billions.


29 July 1914

The Cape Cod Canal opened.

Cape Cod, from its “fist” at Provincetown to its “elbow” off Chatham, presents almost 50 miles of coastline directly exposed to the North Atlantic, without a harbor. It has been said that if the hulls of all the vessels wrecked along the Nauset shore were placed end to end they would form a solid bulwark along the entire coast. Off the south coast Pollock Rip, Great Round Shoals, Cross Rip and Nantucket Shoals converge in the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”.

When the pilgrims arrived at Cape Cod, they soon discovered how to avoid the local hazards. The Scusset River flowed into Massachussetts Bay near the “shoulder” of the Cape, and came within a mile of the Manomet River, which flowed into Buzzards Bay. They established a post to trade with the Dutch in New Amsterdam and with local Wampanoag tribal members, and it didn’t take long for the locals to start planning how to expand this portage into an enduring link across the isthmus.

During the Revolutionary War George Washington, looking for ways to give greater security to the American fleet, commissioned Thomas Machin, an Engineer with the Continental Army, to investigate the feasibility of a canal at the Pilgrim’s crossing. His report, recommending that a Canal be built, survives as the first known Cape Cod Canal survey.

Through the nineteenth century, the passage around Cape Cod continued to be an unavoidable peril for those travelling between New England and the Mid-Atlantic States – up to 500 ships a day took the passage. Numerous surveys for a canal were conducted by various individuals and groups. Some were granted charters and a few actually began construction. But, they either ran out of money or were overwhelmed by the enormity of the project. Meanwhile, the toll of shipwrecks along the outer banks continued to mount. By the late 1880s, shipwrecks occurred at the rate of one every two weeks.

In 1904, August Belmont II became interested in the Canal project. He purchased and reorganized the Boston, Cape Cod and New York Canal Company, which had held a charter since 1899, and enlisted the services of Civil Engineer William Barclay Parsons. On June 22, 1909, he ceremoniously lifted the first shovelful of earth at Bournedale, promising “not to desert the task until the last shovelful has been dug”.

Schooners soon arrived from Maine with granite for construction of a breakwater, which they dropped into place on the east end of the Canal. Two dredges in Buzzards Bay began to work on the westerly approach. By 1910 the Canal project was fully underway; a fleet of twenty-six dredges dug from both bays towards the middle. The Buzzards Bay Railroad Bridge was completed in September of 1910, and the old Bourne and Sagamore highway bridges were completed in 1911 and 1913.

With additional dredging equipment now on site, the Canal project progressed steadily. By April 1914, only one dam separated the waters of Cape Cod Bay from Buzzards Bay. To celebrate the progress, Belmont ceremoniously blended bottles of water from both bays before opening the final sluiceway.

On July 29, 1914, the Cape Cod Canal ceremoniously opened as a privately operated toll waterway. A festive Parade of Ships included the excursion steamer ROSE STANDISH, the destroyer MCDOUGALL carrying Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Belmont’s eighty-one foot yacht, the SCOUT.

Mr. Belmont achieved his objective: The Cape Cod Canal opened seventeen days before the Panama Canal.

18 October 1914

The Schoenstatt Movement is founded in Germany.


The Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt is a Roman Catholic Marian Movement founded in Germany in 1914 by Father Joseph Kentenich. Fr. Kentenich saw the movement as being a means of spiritual renewal in the Catholic Church. The movement is named Schoenstatt (which means “beautiful place”), after a small village close to the town of Vallendar near Koblenz in Germany.

The group focuses on education and spiritual formation. According to their website, “We seek to grow as free, dedicated, and active witnesses of Christ in modern life by uniting our faith with our everyday lives. We look to Mary to educate us in this task and to guide us in becoming better followers of Christ.”

The Schoenstatt Movement was founded at Schoenstatt, a minor seminary conducted by the Pallottines for those intending to work as missionaries in Africa. It grew out of a Marian sodality established there in April 1914. The superior offered the sodality use of St. Michael’s Chapel, near the school. Father Kentenich, the seminary’s spiritual director, inspired in part by the success of Bartolo Longo in establishing the Marian shrine to Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompei, felt called to establish a new shrine at Schoenstatt.

Kentenich’s guidance of the religious brotherhood was influenced by the works of St. Louis Grignion de Montfort.
Schoenstatt officially became a movement with its own structure in 1919. On July 18, 1919 the Pallottines assigned Fr. Kentenich to work full-time with the new movement. The first formal gathering was in Hoerde, August 20, 1920, where the first organizational principles were laid. On December 8, 1920, the first women were accepted into the women’s branch of the “Apostolic Federation of Schoenstatt” including Gertraud von Bullion.

Father Kentenich was arrested and sent to the Dachau Concentration Camp in 1941, where he began to spread the message of the Schoenstatt Movement to fellow prisoners.