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15 Historical Facts That Sound Made Up But Are Totally True

By Jake Beardslee · March 26, 2024

1.

In Ancient Rome, a vomitorium was not a place for vomiting as many assume, but rather the entranceway of an amphitheater or stadium.  Walid Mahfoudh/Wikimedia

2.

In 1894, a dog was elected mayor of the town of Sunol, California. He won by a landslide, getting over 4,000 votes. His name was Bosco.  Alfred Lee/Unsplash

3.

In the 1880s, a baboon worked as a signalman for nine years on a South African railroad. He was paid in bottles of beer and never made a mistake.  PD-US/Wikimedia

4.

In the 1830s, ketchup was sold as medicine to cure upset stomachs by Dr. John Cook. It didn't become popular as a condiment until the late 1800s.  Eric Johnson/Wikimedia

5.

In the 1950s, the CIA conducted Operation Acoustic Kitty, which attempted to turn cats into cyborg spies by implanting microphones in their ears and antenna in their tails.  Manja Vitolic/Unsplash

6.

Roman Emperor Caligula declared war on the god Neptune and ordered his soldiers to throw spears into the water.  Zemanta/Wikimedia

7.

Cleopatra lived closer in time to the building of the first Pizza Hut than to the construction of the pyramids.  Siednji Leon/Wikimedia

8.

In 1955, a Soviet dog named Laika became the first animal to orbit Earth. However, she died due to overheating shortly after reaching orbit.  Siednji Leon/Wikimedia

9.

Medieval chastity belts are now thought to be a myth. Most examples created were done in the 18th and 19th centuries as jokes.  Miscellaneous Items in High Demand, PPOC, Library of Congress/Wikimedia

10.

In 1907, a Rhode Island woman named Mary Mallon was identified as the first healthy carrier of typhoid fever in the U.S. She became known as "Typhoid Mary" and was forcibly quarantined for life.  PD-US/Wikimedia

11.

President Calvin Coolidge liked to press all the buttons in the Oval Office, then hide and watch his staff run in.  Harris & Ewing, photographer/Wikimedia

12.

Napoleon Bonaparte was attacked by rabbits during a hunt he had arranged. The bunnies charged at Bonaparte and his men.  Poro amara/Wikimedia

13.

Cleopatra was actually Greek, not Egyptian. She was a descendant of Alexander the Great's general Ptolemy.  Frederick Arthur Bridgman/Wikimedia

14.

Neil Armstrong's astronaut application arrived a week past the deadline in 1962, but a friend slipped the late form into the pile so it would be considered anyway. Armstrong was accepted into the astronaut program and became the first person to walk on the Moon.  NASA Photo ID: S69-31741 - Program: Apollo XI/Wikimedia

15.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826 - exactly 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Their last words were allegedly "Thomas Jefferson survives." and "Thomas Jefferson still survives." Neither knew the other had died earlier that day.  J. Amill Santiago/Unsplash