Hidden Histories

An antiquated custom, which at one time was popular both in Europe and the United States, was the search for individuals who had drowned by using 'quicksilver,' an archaic term for the element mercury.
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A few years ago, while standing at a bus stop, during a blustery, cloudy, dark and misty morning, one of four other individuals waiting with me, suddenly raised both fists in the air and exclaimed in a loud voice: "Come on Lord, come on you @*$!, Send your lightnin'! I don't care. Let's have it out!" Then he laughed maniacally.
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Growing up in rural and small town Kentucky, I had the opportunity of having many pets during my formative years, from which I gained an appreciation for the 'animal kingdom.' One of the saddest memories of my childhood was the futile attempt of my sister and I to save with minature baby bottles, the lives of a number of newly born, hairless 'flying squirrels' who'd fallen from their nest, and were thus left to die by their parents who were unable to care for them on the ground.
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Events in history can often be both bizarre and macabre. Such is the case of a widow of Kings County, New York, who purportedly "sold the head of her husband" to doctors, "between the period of his death and burial" in 1845. 
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It has been a common practice within many families, to pass down heirlooms through the generations. Generally, these venerated ancestral artifacts are normally items of jewelry, furniture, paintings, silverware, china, etc. However, such is not always the case.
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Exotic animals within the United States are a fact taken for granted, especially when one visits the multiple 'zoological gardens' or zoos, scattered throughout the country. Many circuses as well have been renown for their non-human participants, the first circus having been held in Philadelphia on April 3, 1793, by John Bill Rickets.
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In modern times, we often take for granted the lack of severity in Western countries of various punishments attached to crime, whereas it is still quite common in such places as Saudi Arabia, to be stoned to death for adultery, or to have one's hands cut off for thievery, designed as a deterrent to would-be law breakers. However, at one time, other barbaric customs were a part of United States history as well.
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Stereotypically, when one thinks of Philadelphia during the 19th century, an image comes to mind of a sophisticated urban area, filled with scientific, educational & cultural institutions, legacies derived in part from the preceding century, when such enlightened events as the signing of the 'Declaration of Independence' and the 'Constitutional Convention' transpired, a city which at at one time served as the capital of our nation, a metropolis blessed with famed citizens like Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Benjamin Rush.
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One of the earliest Colonial families in the Philadelphia area was the Bonsall family, deriving from Richard Bonsall & his wife Mary, who immigrated from Derbyshire, England (ca. 1683) to what is now Upper Darby. Many of their descendants became prominent citizens in Chester, Delaware, and Philadelphia counties.
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The subject of undiscovered aquatic, subterranean or terrestrial animal life throughout the world is a topic receiving an increasing amount of attention by scientists and the lay public alike. New species are constantly being discovered from remote areas in such familiar places as Vietnam, to the depths of the Amazon River in South America, resulting in the verification of local legends, oral traditions and myths of various indigenous peoples.
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