This Day (Infamous Edition)

On this day in 1710, one of early Virginia’s most infamous rogues, Daniel Parke II, then governor of the Leeward Islands, was dragged from his residence and murdered by an angry mob. True, they left his body to rot in the street for a week, but many might have considered this a certain rough justice. After all, Parke was the sort to literally throw a woman out of church for being in his pew, or to challenge men to duels in front of company (a no-no). He once returned to Virginia after a trip to England with a woman he introduced as his “cousin,” only to openly take her as his mistress. They even had a son, whom Parke named Julius Caesar. Then, when he grew bored with Virginia, he simply abandoned them all—mistress, wife, son, and two daughters. (You might remember Lucy Parke, who, ahem, received her husband with a flourish.)
Anyway … on this day in 1863, the Richmond Enquirer, responding to charges of overcrowding and rampant disease at Libby Prison in Richmond, ran a story proclaiming a holiday feast by which Union prisoners would “celebrate their captivity.” The dinner was paid for with funds from the North, which were in part prompted (you’ll recall) by a graphic recounting, in the New York Times, of conditions at Libby.
Now fast forward ten years, and on this day in 1873 Willa Cather was born in Back Creek Valley, north of Winchester. Although best known for her Nebraska settings, Cather located the action of her final novel, Sapphira and the Slave Girl (1940), at home in Back Creek.
What else? Oh, right. On this day in 1941, a quiet Sunday morning on Oahu, the Japanese bombed the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. It is a day that has continued to live in infamy. Even more than Daniel Parke.
IMAGES: Page one of an extra edition of the Danville Bee (December 8, 1941); Daniel Parke II portrait by John Closterman, ca. 1705 (Virginia Historical Society); Willa Cather’s birthplace in Frederick County


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