John Godwin's Collection of Fun and Bizarre Trivia Part 3

A collection of random facts and fun trivia from oddity hunter John Godwin including the Lady Bluebeard and a two-many army.

THEIR BEST--A POLL OF LEADING ODDITY HUNTERS

John Godwin's 7 Best Oddities

6. Lady Bluebeard. Belle Brynhilde Pulsatter Sorenson Gunness--to give her full name--was the greatest female mass murderer in history, as well as the most mysterious. Born in Norway, she settled on a farm in LaPorte, Ind., in 1901. A hulking, immensely strong widow of 40, Belle Gunness began to run ads in various matrimonial journals, enticing more than a dozen suitors to her homestead--none of whom was ever seen again. "I don't know what it is," she frequently complained. "Men just won't stay with me." In April, 1908, her farm suddenly burned down. In the ashes and buried in the yard, rescuers found the remains or skeletons of seven men, four children, and a woman, plus scattered bones from two more persons. The sole woman (minus her head) was at first presumed to be Mrs. Gunness, but examination revealed that it was another, much lighter and shorter, female. The children were Belle's own and a young lodger. Her former farmhand, a dim-witted Canadian named Lamphere, was convicted of setting the fire. But Belle Gunness had disappeared without a trace--and none was ever found. No one had suspected her of anything. There was no conceivable reason for her to kill her own children and fade into the oblivion that surrounds her to this day.

7. The Two-Man Army That Fought a Nation. The smallest army on record was formed on New Year's Eve, 1914, and fell to the last man the following day. It consisted of a butcher and an ice cream vendor, possessed two rifles, and traveled on an ice cream cart. The two men were Gool Mahomet and Mullah Abdullah, both Turkish citizens residing in the little Australian mining town of Broken Hill. In October, 1914, the sultan of Turkey declared jihad (holy war) against the British Empire. The two lone Turks in Broken Hill didn't hear of this until New Year's Eve. They decided that the call to arms included them as well. They made a Turkish flag from a tablecloth, loaded Mahomet's one-horse cart with ammunition, and went to war next morning. Two miles out of town the two graybeards ambushed a local train carrying miners' families to a picnic. They opened fire, slaughtering eight children and two adults with their first salvo. Police and militia units rushed up and surrounded their stone barricade, marked with the Turkish flag. The two men rejected all calls to surrender and fought for six hours in the broiling sun, chanting patriotic songs until the heat dried out their throats. They kept firing until they were shot to ribbons. The brightly painted wheels of the ice cream cart, two rusty rifles, and the tablecloth flag are still on view at the New South Wales Police Museum--mementos of the undoubtedly craziest war ever fought.

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