25 Of The Craziest Historical Coincidences You’ve Ever Heard

Posted by , Updated on January 27, 2017

Before we get started, these coincidences are not necessarily historically accurate. Their absurdity lends itself to storytelling and exaggeration even if the original story was very much true. In fact, you could even get well reputed historians to argue about the details in many of these cases. But keep in mind, this list isn’t about what actually happened. It’s about what people say actually happened (isn’t all of history anecdotal? Something to think about…). And that can be hard to separate sometimes (just consider how often you’ve disagreed with your friends about things you had all seen with your own two eyes!) But we digress, these are 25 of the of the craziest historical coincidences you’ve ever heard!

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25

The Blockade Bummer

SMS Cap TrafalgarSource: wikipedia, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sinking_Cap_Trafalgar.jpg

During World War I, the German ship SMS Cap Trafalgar was meant to bust through an allied blockade by disguising itself as a British ship called the HMS Carmania. The first ship it came in contact was…get ready for it…the HMS Carmania.

Historical Accuracy: confirmed

24

Sister Act

Jennifer BrickerSource: dailymail, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jennifer_Bricker-.jpg#mw-jump-to-license

Jennifer Bricker is an American gymnast who was put up for adoption at birth because she didn’t have any legs. She grew up and developed a love for gymnastics, thanks to her hero, Dominique Moceanu. One day, while Jennifer’s parents were rifling through her adoption papers, they discovered that Jennifer was actually Dominique’s sister (further reading in Dominique’s memoir, Off Balance)

Historical Accuracy: confirmed

23

Like father, like son

hoover damSource: wikipedia, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hoover_Dam_at_Night.JPG

Of the 112 men that died working on the Hoover Dam, the first was J. G. Tierney on 12/10/1922. Exactly 13 years later on 12/10/1935 the last man died. It was his son, Patrick Tierney. A quick note here: There is some debate as to who died first. This is because the dam’s actual construction started in 1931. In 1922, J.G. Tierney was involved in surveying in order to decide where to build the dam and was not involved in the physical construction of it.

Historical Accuracy: anecdotal

22

Squanto and his perfect English

first thanksgivingSource: wikipedia, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_First_Thanksgiving_cph.3g04961.jpg

Tisquantum, also known as Squanto, was a Patuxet man that helped the Pilgrims grow crops in the new world. The reason for this is that he spoke fluent English as well as some Spanish due to having been a slave in both England and Spanish North Africa (he had bought his way back to America). Imagine landing in the new world as a Pilgrim and the first person you see speaks your language perfectly.

Historical Accuracy: confirmed (keep in mind, however, that historians can only confirm things based on what people wrote or said)

21

Ghost Pre-Con

tankSource: wikipedia, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:South_Ossetia_war_58_army.jpg

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon is set during the 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia. The crazy part? The game was released in 2001.

Historical Accuracy: confirmed


20

Lightning never strikes twice...or something like that

lightningSource: scientificamerican, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dinosaur_lightning.JPG

Walter Summerford was struck by lightning in 1918, 1924, and 1930. He died in 1932 and then his gravestone was struck in 1936. He was hit 4 times and each time was 6 years apart.

Historical Accuracy: anecdotal

19

Seriously Joe? Stop walking under that window!

falling childSource: Time, Monday, Oct. 17, 1938, Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mricon/1836841

According to Time Magazine, In 1937 Joseph Figlock (a local street sweeper in Detroit, Michigan) was struck by a baby that fell from a 4th story window. Though slightly injured, the baby and Mr. Figlock were not killed. One year later another baby fell out of a window, striking Figlock once again. Though slightly injured, both the baby and Figlock where not killed.

Historical Accuracy: anecdotal

 

18

The Unsinkable Hugh Williams

waterSource: hoaxorfact.com, Image: https://www.pexels.com/photo/sea-ocean-horizon-water-7321/

On December 5, 1664 a ship sank off the coast of Wales in the Minai Strait and only one man survived. His name was Hugh Williams. On December 5th, 1785, another ship sank in the same strait with one survivor. His name was…you guessed it…Hugh Williams. And then on December 5th, 1820 another ship sank in the exact same strait and once again only one man survived. His name was, for a third time, Hugh Williams. As a note: there is some debate out there. Some say the last sinking occurred on Aug. 5th, not Dec 5th. Furthermore, it’s believed Hugh Williams had a nephew named…Hugh Williams.

Historical Accuracy: anecdotal

17

Third time's a charm?

MongolsSource: wikipedia, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bataille_entre_mongols_%26_chinois_(1211).jpeg

The Mongols tried capturing Japan twice within 7 years and during both attempts they were pushed back by a typhoon.

Historical Accuracy: confirmed (keep in mind, however, that historians can only confirm things based on what people wrote or said)

16

The unfortunate inventor

Thomas Midgley JuniorSource: wikipedia, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thomas_Midgley_Jr.jpg

Thomas Midgley Junior is known as one of the most unfortunate inventors of history. He was one of the main proponents of adding lead to gasoline (to reduce engine knocking), he was basically the forefather of CFCs (chemicals that caused the ozone hole), and when he became disabled later in life he developed a series of pulleys that would assist him in getting out of bed. Topping off his misfortune, it strangled him.

Historical Accuracy: confirmed

15

The Jim twins

twinsSource: livescience.com, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Monoamniotic_twins_at_15_weeks.jpg

Jim Springer and Jim Lewis were twins separated at birth and then reunited years later. They were both named Jim by their adoptive parents. Both had childhood dogs named Toy. Both had married women named Linda, divorced, and then remarried women named Betty. Both were sheriffs in different counties in Ohio. Their story is often cited in psychology textbooks concerning nature versus nurture.

Historical Accuracy: anecdotal

14

Family drama

LincolnSource: wikipedia, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Assassination_of_President_Lincoln.jpg

Robert Lincoln, the son of Abraham Lincoln, was saved from being hit by a train. The man who saved him was Edwin Booth, the brother of John Wilkes Booth, the man who would kill Robert’s father.

Historical Accuracy: confirmed (keep in mind, however, that historians can only confirm things based on what people wrote or said)

13

King Umberto's double

King UmbertoSource: Ripley’s Believe It Or Not

There are some variations to this story but as it is told, King Umberto of Italy was eating at a restaurant when he noticed his own physical resemblance to that of the owner. Upon further inquiry, he found that he had been born on the same day as the owner (March 14th, 1844), both had married women named Margherita. Also, the restaurant had opened for business the day that Umberto was crowned king. On 29th July 1900, King Umberto was notified that the restaurant owner had died in a shooting accident. Only a few moments later, the king was assassinated.

Historical Accuracy: anecdotal

12

The ultimate survivor

nuclear bombSource: wikipedia, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Atomic_bombing_of_Japan.jpg

Tsutomu Yamaguchi, a resident of Nagasaki, was in Hiroshima when it was bombed. He survived and made his way back to Nagasaki. Three days later Nagasaki was bombed. He survived again.

Historical Accuracy: confirmed

11

What?

whataburgerSource: chron.com, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Whataburger-Frisco.jpg

Whattaburger and What-A-Burger were founded in two different states at the same time but neither was aware of the existence of the other

Historical Accuracy: confirmed

10

Titanic, the prequel

titanicSource: wikipedia, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RMS_Titanic_3.jpg

In 1898 Morgan Robertson released his book called Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan. It was about an ocean liner called the Titan. In the book the Titan is considered unsinkable. It then hits an iceberg in the north Atlantic and sinks. Fourteen years later the RMS Titanic, considered unsinkable by many people, hit an iceberg in the north Atlantic and sank.

Historical Accuracy: confirmed

9

The Lone Gunmen

9/11Source: wikipedia, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WTC_smoking_on_9-11.jpeg

In March 2001 the first episode of a TV show called The Lone Gunmen aired. It was about flying an airplane into the Twin Towers as part of a false flag operation.

Historical Accuracy: confirmed

8

Curse of Tamarlane

tamarlaneSource: wikipedia, Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/adam_jones/7494257644

When Soviet archeologists opened Tamarlane’s tomb they found an inscription that read “Whomsoever opens my tomb shall unleash an invader more terrible than I”. Not long afterwards, the Germans invaded the Soviet Union.

Historical Accuracy: anecdotal

7

November 9th

berlin wallSource: wikipedia, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Berlin_Wall_Potsdamer_Platz_November_1975_looking_east_crop.jpg

On November 9th, 1918 the German Monarchy ended. On November 9th, 1923 the Beer Hall Putsch occurred. On November 9th 1938 KristallNacht was carried out by the German SS. On November 9th, 1989 the Berlin Wall came down.

Historical Accuracy: confirmed

6

Violet Jessop

Violet JessopSource: wikipedia, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Violet_jessop_titanic.jpg

Violet Jessop survived the collision of the RMS Olympic on September 20th, 1911. She then survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 14th, 1912. Finally, she survived the sinking of the HMHS Brittanic on November 21st, 1916

Historical Accuracy: confirmed (keep in mind, however, that historians can only confirm things based on what people wrote or said)

5

Lincoln/Kennedy

Lincoln/KennedySource: wikipedia, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_F._Kennedy,_White_House_photo_portrait,_looking_up.jpg, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Abraham_Lincoln_head_on_shoulders_photo_portrait.jpg

Although there are many false or blatantly wrong Lincoln/Kennedy comparisons out there, here are some similarities that they actually did share: Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946. Lincoln became President in 1860, Kennedy in 1960. Both were assassinated on a Friday and both were sitting next to their wives when it happened.. Both were succeeded after their assassinations by a Vice President Johnson. Andrew Johnson was born in 1808 while Lyndon Johnson was born in 1908.

Historical Accuracy: confirmed

4

A revolutionary neighborhood

viennaSource: bbc, Image: https://pixabay.com/en/vienna-roofs-building-city-818059/

Adolf Hitler, Sigmund Freud, Marshal Tito, Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin all lived in Vienna within walking distance of each other…at the same time!

Note: in case you’re wondering, the year was 1913

Historical Accuracy: confirmed

3

Mark Twain

Mark TwainSource: wikipedia, Image: https://pixabay.com/en/mark-twain-vintage-author-humorist-391120/

Mark Twain was born in 1835 on the same day as the appearance of Halley’s Comet. He died the same day as it next appeared in 1910. In fact, he even predicted it with these words: “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year (1910), and I expect to go out with it.”

Historical Accuracy: anecdotal

2

Adams & Jefferson

Adams & JeffersonSource: wikipedia, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Declaration_independence.jpg

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4th, 1826. This was the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. John Adams’ last words were “Thomas Jefferson still lives”. He didn’t know that Thomas had died only a few hours earlier.

Historical Accuracy: anecdotal

 

1

How a Syrian immigrant led to the creation of iPhones

Steve JobsSource: wikipedia, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Steve_Jobs_Headshot_2010.JPG

Later in life Steve Jobs decided to try finding his biological family (he was put up for adoption at birth). He eventually found his mother (Joanne) and sister (Mona). His sister eventually went on to find their father (Abdulfattah). He was a Syrian immigrant who managed a restaurant in California. Although Steve had told his sister not to mention anything about him to their father, Abdulfattah told Mona during their meeting that many famous people would come into his restaurant…including Steve Jobs. After being told this by his sister, Steve recalled meeting the restaurant owner on several occasions although neither one of them knew they were related. Unfortunately, Steve and his father never met in spite of the fact that they now knew of each other’s existence.

Historical Accuracy: confirmed

SEE ALSO: 25 Harry Potter Facts That Will Knock You Off Your Broomstick »

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