Coincidences happen because the laws of probability are fickle mistresses. And they sometimes become overly attached, leading to situations way weirder than normal. Some of the stories cannot be verified because this is the internet, but that’s just the way they go. So the next time you fall victim to coincidence, remember these ones:
Robert Fallon’s Successor
One day in 1858, some fine gentlemen were playing a game of poker in a San Francisco saloon. One of them, a British man going by the name of Robert Fallon had just won a $600 hand. Naturally, the rest of the table accused him of cheating and proceeded to shoot him dead. Superstitious as they were, they decided on not taking the money won by cheating.
Instead, they invited the first guy passing the saloon. They seated him in Fallon’s chair and by the end of the game, the new guy had raked in $2000. The cops eventually arrived and demanded that the $600 be passed on to Fallon’s next of kin. The money remained in the mystery player’s pocket because he turned out to be Fallon’s estranged son.
Beginning And End Of The Civil War
Sometimes things have a weird way of coming around. On July 21, 1861, the engagement of what would escalate to the American Civil War took place on Wilmer McLean’s farm, Yorkshire Plantation in Manassas, Virginia. A retired major in the Virginia militia, McLean was 47 at the time and too old to return to active duty. The presence of the Union army made his trade as a grocer hard, so he moved 120 miles (200 km) south, to Appomattox County.
He must have had quite a surprise when a messenger arrived on April 9, 1865, requesting a place for the signing of the peace treaty. Lee surrendered to Grant in McLean’s house and he is supposed to have later said that “the war began in my front yard and ended in my front parlor.”
In 1898, Morgan Robertson published a novella called Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan. It features the sinking of an ocean liner in the North Atlantic.
It was called the Titan and at 75.000 tons and 800 feet (244 meters) in length it was considered the pinnacle of ship engineering. It sailed from Southampton, England and was heading across the Atlantic on its maiden journey to America. On an April night, while moving at 25 knots, it struck an iceberg on the starboard side and sank, 400 nautical miles from Newfoundland. It carried only 24 lifeboats, the minimum number required by law and more than half of its 2500 passengers died.
If this story sounds familiar, it’s because fourteen years later, the RMS Titanic sank after an iceberg ripped through its starboard side. It was 400 nautical miles off Newfoundland and traveling at 22½ knots. Because it was carrying only 20 lifeboats, more than half of its 2200 passengers died.
We can dismiss this whole deal as simply coincidental but let’s make things stranger. In 1914, the same Morgan Robertson wrote a short story called Beyond the Spectrum. It depicts a future war between the United States and Japan. It was caused by a sneak attack launched by Japan against American commercial and military vessels just outside of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack was followed by an attempted submarine invasion on San Francisco.
The really weird part is that after bombing Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Japanese really did plan an invasion of the West Coast through San Francisco.
Big deal, Morgan Robertson just got some lucky guesses. Maybe, but he wasn’t the only writer to do so.
Edgar Allan Poe wrote only one novel. It was called The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym and was published in 1938. It revolves around the misadventures of Arthur Gordon Pym, a stowaway aboard a whaling ship called Grampus. One mutiny and a storm later, four men are facing starvation and thirst aboard the adrift vessel. Following the Custom of the Sea, they draw straws and one man, called Richard Parker ends up on the bad end of cannibalism. One of the remaining three men dies and the other two are later rescued by a passing ship.
On July 5, 1884, a leisure yacht called Mignonette was sailing east of Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, some 700 miles (1100 km) away from the nearest land. A storm hit it and caused it to sink. The crew saved themselves aboard the lifeboat and were lost at sea for 24 days. Among them was a 17-year-old cabin boy called Richard Parker. Drinking seawater, he fell into a coma. The other three men decided to kill and eat him in order to save themselves. By the time they were picked up by a ship on July 29, they had eaten most of his body.
Figlock the Baby Catcher
In 1937, a street sweeper from Detroit, Michigan was naturally, sweeping the streets. Blissfully unaware of the danger from above, Joseph Figlock was struck in the head by a falling baby. Lower motherhood standards enabled the toddler to leave its 4th story apartment by air. Thankfully, they both survived.
The following year, Joseph was sweeping another alley when a baby struck him again. The Great Baby Attractor saved two-year-old David Thomas’ life at the expense of his own neck and shoulders. Parents, please keep your babies safe!