September 2019 features a variety of History related special event stations. August’s theme of Manifest Destiny, or westward expansion, carries over with a special event station in memory of William Becknell, the father of the Santa Fe Trail. There are special event stations in memory of several important or colorful figures in U.S. History: Hiram Percy Maxim, a figure important in the history of Amateur Radio, businessman, showman, and politician P.T. Barnum, Puritan minister Roger Williams, and Apache Warrior Geronimo. There is also a special event station for one of our nation’s symbols, the Liberty Bell.
Hiram Percy Maxim
From 31 August 2019 at 1600 UTC to 2 September 2019 at 2200 UTC, The Antietam Radio Association in Hagerstown, MD will be operating special event station W3HPM in honor and memory of Hiram Percy Maxim. They’ll be operating on our near 14.245, 7.245, and 3.850. QSL with a SASE for a Special Event QSL card.
From 2 September 2019 at 1200 UTC to 3 September 2019 at 0000 UTC, Nick Szydlek in Pittsboro, NC will be operating special event station K4M in honor and memory of Hiram Percy Maxim. He’ll be operating on or near 14.265, 14.035, 7.265, and 7.035. QSL via Nick Szydlek, KA1HPM, 165 Foxcroft Drive, Pittsboro, NC 27312.
The ARRL is also sponsoring an operating event from 31 August at 0000 UTC to 8 September at 2359 UTC during which W1AW and ARRL members may append “/150” to their callsigns. This will be a scored contest and more information can be found on the ARRL’s website.
Hiram Percy Maxim (1869 – 1936) has been described as a “Diverse Mind,” and that’s not an inaccurate description. An engineer, inventor, scientist, and avid hobbyist, Maxim worked in the automotive and firearms industries, accumulating patents for both automobile technology and the firearms silencer. Maxim also applied the concept of the firearms silencer to internal combustion engines to develop the muffler. Maxim more than dabbled in two hobbies – aviation and radio. He was a glider enthusiast and helped form the Aero Club of Hartford in Hartford, CT and served as Chairman of Hartford’s Aviation Commission. In that position, he was responsible for Hartford’s first municipal airport, Brainard Field, which may be the United States’ first municipal airport. What we’re most interested in for the purposes of this blog post, however, is his deep interest in radio.
Hiram Percy Maxim played a key role in the development of the Amateur Radio Hobby. An early radio amateur, first licensed in 1911, Maxim held the callsigns SNY, 1WH, 1ZM, 1AW, and W1AW during his lifetime. In 1914, he helped form the Radio Club of Hartford which was the seed from which the ARRL was to form. Maxim realized that a national organization to set standards and procedures and organize the relaying of messages across the country was needed. He and others formed the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) through the Radio Club of Hartford in April 1914; due to disagreements Maxim and others would leave, taking the ARRL independent in February 2015. In addition to having success in organizing the effective relay of messages across the country, Maxim was able to use the backing of the ARRL and its membership to improve relations between radio amateurs and the government. Hiram Percy Maxim would serve as the president of the ARRL from its inception in 1914 through his death in 1936. He was also one of the founders of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) to accomplish the same across the globe. He was the first president of the IARU and would also hold that office until his death in 1936. The New York Times wrote in his obituary on 18 February 1936 that “Repeatedly Mr. Maxim declared as President of the International Amateur Radio Union and of the Amateur Radio Relay League that the amateurs were a precious part of the intelligent assets of the country. He secured official recognition for them in 1922 when the Federal Government asserted its right to control wave lengths.” It can be argued that amateur radio may not be what is today without the work of Hiram Percy Maxim.
William Becknell/Santa Fe Trail
From 7 September 2019 at 1400 UTC to 8 September 2019 at 2200 UTC, the William Becknell Heritage Days Amateur Radio Club in Overland Park and Merriam, KS will be operating special event station WB0SFT to honor William Becknell and the Santa Fe Trail. They’ll be operating on or near 21.365, 14.265, 7.265, 3.865, and 1.830. See their website for QSL information.
Soldier and politician William Becknell (1787 or 1788 – 1865) is credited with as the father of the Santa Fe Trail, which led from Franklin, MO to Santa Fe, NM between 1821 and 1880, establishing trade between the American West and Mexico, which gained its independence from Spain in September 1821. After serving in the US Army during the War of 1812, Becknell faced imprisonment for debt in 1821; Attempting to earn the money to pay off his debts, he made his first trading trip to Santa Fe along trails first used by Native Americans and Spanish and French explorers. Becknell arrived in November 1821, just months after Mexico had gained its independence and were free from a Spanish ban on trading with outsiders. On that first trip, Becknell took $300 in goods with horses and mules and returned to Mexico with $6000. What he did next is what made him the father of the Santa Fe trail; on his second trip along the trail, he used wagons, adjusting the route of the trail so that it could be navigated by the wagons. With wagons on his second trip, Becknell took $3,000 in goods and returned with $91,000. This wagon route, which passed through the current day states of Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma or Colorado depending upon the exact route, and New Mexico. Later in his life, Becknell would serve as a Justice of the Peace, as a Missouri and Texas state legislator, serve in the Blackhawk War and the War of Texas Independence, and as a Texas Ranger.
From 7 September 2019 at 1330 UTC to 8 September 2019 at 2100 UTC, the Greater Bridgeport Amateur Radio Club in Bridgeport, CT will be operating special event station K1B to celebrate the life and legacy of P.T. Barnum. They’ll be operating on 20, 40, and 80 Meters using SSB, CW, and FT8. QSL via Ken Johnson, NE1CU, P.O. Box 421, Stratford, CT 06615.
Phineas Taylor “P.T.” Barnum (1810 – 1891) was a businessman, showman, and politician who founded the Barnum & Bailey Circus with James A. Bailey. Business-wise, he operated a general store, book auction, a lottery, and speculated in real estate before buying an elderly, blind, and paralyzed slave from someone who had been touring her as George Washington’s former nurse, claiming she was 161 years old; Barnum continued the hoax in his own touring show. Later, he would buy a New York museum, move his touring show along with static displays and live acts of animals, curiosities, and performers into it and turn it into Barnum’s American Museum. He also promoted theaters and worked to give the theater a positive image in the United States. After bouncing back from bankruptcy that was caused by a bad business investment, Barnum formed what would become the Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1870; a “three-ring” show of a circus, animals, and “freaks.” Barnum’s skill was promotion and advertising; in addition to being known as “The Greatest Showman,” he was also known as “The Shakespeare of Advertising.” Barnum was indeed an interesting figure; he had no qualms about promoting hoaxes and once owned slaves, yet he turned anti-slavery, became a teetotaler (one of the ways he came back from bankruptcy was profiting from being a temperance speaker), and worked as a politician for the public good as a four-term representative in the Connecticut state legislature and the mayor of Bridgeport, CT. As Mayor of Bridgeport, he was a key player in improvements to the city’s water system and streetlights and helped found the Bridgeport Hospital.
Providence Emergency Management Agency RACES in Providence, RI will be operating special event station KK1PMA in memory of Roger Williams on 14 September 2019 from 1300 UTC to 1600 UTC. They’ll be operating on or near 53.02, 14.275, and 7.275. QSL for certificate via Barry S. Noel, P.O. Box 28091, Providence, RI 02908-0091.
Roger Williams is a fascinating figure in US History. A Puritan minister, Williams came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony from England in 1630. Before long, his beliefs in religious freedom and separation of Church and State and his dealings with Native Americans brought him into conflict with the Colony’s leadership. First, he believed that individuals should be able to follow their own path when it comes to religion and that they should not be coerced into following a particular church; in his mind, a state religion was a religion forced upon the people. Second, he believed that it was not the place of civil authorities to enforce religious laws such as those found in the first five of the Ten Commandments: idolatry (Thou shalt have no other God before me/Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image), blasphemy (Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain), and the breaking of the Sabbath (Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy). These arguments were the antithesis of most of his contemporaries but they would influence our Founding Fathers and the direction our government would take. Also contrary to most of his contemporaries in the Colony was how he dealt with Native Americans; Williams believed in fair dealings with Native Americans. He came to question colonial charters that didn’t reimburse Native Americans for land taken to form those colonies. It was because of those beliefs that Roger Williams was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. After his banishment, he eventually founded Providence Plantation, which eventually became the colony of and then the state of Rhode Island It’s also worth mentioning that Williams was opposed to slavery and attempted to prevent its legalization in Rhode Island. Unfortunately, it was an admirable but unsuccessful attempt.
The Liberty Bell
On 14 September from 0000 UTC to 2359 UTC, Frank Gallo in Harleysville, PA, WV2M, will be operating special event station W3L to recognize the saving of the Liberty Bell during the American Revolution. He’ll be operating on or near 14.240, 14.074, 7.240, and 7.074. QSL via Frank Gallo, 106 Tweed Way, Harleysville, PA 19438
The Liberty Bell is a widely known symbol of American independence and freedom. Originally known as the State House Bell, it was ordered from the Whitechapel Foundry in London, England for the Pennsylvania State House (now known as Independence Hall) in 1751. On its first test ring, the bell cracked and had to be recast by Philadelphia metalworkers. Once hung at the State House, it was used to call legislators to session and call the people of Philadelphia together. Legend has it that the Liberty Bell was rung on July 4, 1776 to announce the Declaration of Independence, but no public announcement was made that day, so it was not run for that occasion. It’s quite possible that it was rung on July 8, 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was read publicly, but some believe that the poor condition of the State House’s bell tower may have prevented it from being rung. During the Revolutionary War British occupation of Philadelphia, the bell was hidden under the floorboards of a church in modern-day Allentown, PA. The crack in the bell today didn’t appear until some time in the 1840s; when a repair was attempted, the crack became larger and prevented the bell from being rung.
The Liberty Bell’s inscription reads “Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof” from Leviticus 25:10. Because of this inscription, the bell became a symbol of freedom for the abolition, women’s suffrage, and civil rights movements. It was first called the Liberty Bell by the Anti-Slavery Record, the journal of the Anti-Slavery Record in 1835. From 1886 to 1915, it traveled the country as a symbol of freedom and independence, but after its trip to the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, Philadelphia city officials refused to allow to travel again because the crack was getting worse. In 1948, the bell was transferred from the City of Pennsylvania to the National Park Service. The Liberty Bell was moved from Independence Hall to the nearby Liberty Bell Pavilion in 1976 and in 2003 it was moved to its current display location in the Liberty Bell Center near Independence Hall.
On 21 September 2019, from 1600 UTC to 2100 UTC, the Oro Valley Amateur Radio Club in Tucson, AZ will be operating special event station K7T in memory of Chiricahua Apache Warrior Geronimo. They’ll be operating on or near 14.040, 7.035, 14.250, and 7.200. QSL for certificate via email@example.com.
Many assume Geronimo (1829 – 1909) was a Chief of the Apache tribe, but he wasn’t – he was a leader and medicine man, but not a Chief. He was a skilled leader in raids and warfare and frequently led large numbers of Apaches during fights with both the United States and Mexico. Geronimo participated in particularly violent revenge warfare with Mexico. His fight with Mexico was personal; his mother, wife, and children were killed during a Mexican raid on his village in March 1851. Later, in fighting with the US Army, he and the Apaches following him surrendered and moved on to reservations on three occasions (1878, 1881, and 1885) and subsequently broke out due to disease, lack of rations, and the desire to return to their traditional lives. In September 1886, worn down after being pursued by the Army, Geronimo and his followers surrendered for the final time at Skeleton Canyon in Arizona. They had been one of the last Native American groups to resist in the west. Whether Geronimo’s surrender was conditional or unconditional remains a point of debate; Geronimo always insisted that he and his people were misled, and he surrendered conditionally but the Army contended that he surrendered unconditionally. Geronimo was initially imprisoned at Fort Sill, OK and Fort Pickens (Pensacola), FL while his family was held at Fort Marion (Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine), FL. Eventually, Geronimo would be moved back to Fort Sill. After attending the Trans-Mississippi Exposition in Omaha, NE in 1898, he became a celebrity. Afterward, he would attend a variety of fairs and shows under Army guard. He profited from these shows by selling his coat buttons and hats as well as items that he and his people made. Geronimo petitioned President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 for his people to be released from Prisoner of War status and be allowed to return to Arizona, but his request was refused due to the amount of animosity Arizona still held toward them because the deaths incurred during Geronimo’s raids during the Apache Wars. In February 1909, Geronimo was thrown from his horse and lay on the ground into cold until found the next morning. He would die of pneumonia on 17 February 1909, still a prisoner of war.
There are several other history-related special events that will be worth hunting for during September. K4MIA will be honoring National POW-MIA Recognition Day from 13-22 September 2019; for more information see their QRZ page. National POW-MIA Recognition Day on the third Friday in September each year is an often overlooked day, but it shouldn’t be. POWs, MIAs, and their families should be remembered for their contributions to the nation. On 14-15 September 2019, the Midland Amateur Radio Club will be operating a special event station at the Commemorative Air Force’s AIRSHO 2019; they’ll be operating on or near 14.245 and 7.265, QSL via the Midland Amateur Radio Club, P.O. Box 7532, Midland, TX 79708.
For further reading on Hiram Percy Maxim and the history of Amateur Radio, I highly recommend The World of Ham Radio, 1901-1950: A Social History.