Offbeat

10 Most Remarkable Coincidences in History

Coincidence has been a term used by many indicating fluke, luck or chance. But, when you look to the heart of it, you’ll see there is more to it than you think. Has something strange ever happened to you where you ended up brushing it off as coincidence? For example, you think about a friend and later that day he or she calls you. Or, you are in dire need of money but really don’t know where it’s going to come from; then the very next day you find some money on the ground or a friend gives you a cheque for money he or she borrowed ages ago. Most of the time they don’t mean much, but every once in awhile there is a coincidence that’s outright spooky, or one that has a major impact on world events.

When these coincidences are positive in nature, we call them synchronicity or even serendipity; when they are not, however, we call them catastrophes. So here is the list of the ten most astonishing, remarkable, or just plain eerie coincidences in history and how they impacted the world—or, at very least, left people wondering.

10. Two Finnish Brothers

This one is strange no matter what way one looks at it. In 2002 a pair of 70-year-old identical twin brothers from Raahe, Finland were hit and killed by trucks while riding their bicycles in a snowstorm. They were killed in separate accidents on the same day along the same stretch of road only about a mile apart. Additionally, as the second accident occurred just two hours after the first, the second brother hadn’t even learned that his brother had been killed earlier and making this truly one for the record books. Of course, unusual coincidences between identical twins are not unheard of; there are dozens of cases on record of twins separated at birth reuniting years later to discover they possess similar mannerisms, food preferences, work at similar jobs, etc. and, in one case, even married and divorced spouses with the same name, and then remarried another person also with the same name! So why not die the same way, on the same day, on the same road?

9. The Kennedy-Lincoln Link

A number of amazing coincidences can be found between the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. For example, both men were elected 100 years apart (Lincoln in 1860, Kennedy in 1960); they were both succeeded by Southerners named Johnson, and the two Johnsons were born 100 years apart (Andrew in 1808, Lyndon in 1908). Both assassins were born 100 years apart (Booth in 1839 and Oswald in 1939) and both died before they could be brought to trial. Lincoln was killed in Ford’s Theater. Kennedy met his death while riding in a Lincoln convertible made by the Ford Motor Company. Both men were succeeded by vice-presidents named Johnson who were southern Democrats and former senators. Andrew Johnson was born in 1808. Lyndon Johnson was born in 1908, exactly one hundred years later. Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln (Evelyn Lincoln) while Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy. So what are we to make all this? How do we account for all this coincidences, no matter how superficial they may be, why do so many people find this so compelling? It is uncertain if such coincidences have any meaning, but they certainly are strange.

8. Gavrilo Princip and the Archduke

It’s unlikely the twenty-year old Bosnian peasant realized that his actions would set the course for the rest of the twentieth century, but that’s exactly what it did when the man took out his pistol and shot twice at the motorcade carrying Austro-Hungarian leader Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, one beautiful June day in 1914. Killing both of them, their deaths set off a chain of events that would plunge the world into one of the bloodiest wars in history and sow the seeds for the advent of Communism and Nazism over the next few decades. And the sad thing is, it need never had happened except for a single, remarkable coincidence; Princip, it turns out, was part of a band of conspirators intent on killing the Archduke that day, but he had largely given up once the days earlier attempt to kill the man with a bomb failed. Princip was standing near Moritz Schiller’s cafe, having apparently given up, when he spotted Franz Ferdinand’s car as it drove past, having taken the wrong turn. After realizing the mistake, the driver put his foot on the brake, and began to back up. In the process of backing up the engine of the car stalled and the gears locked, leaving the Archduke and his wife sitting ducks. Thinking quickly, Princip stepped forward, drew his FN Model 1910 pistol, pistol-whipped a nearby pedestrian, and at a distance of about five feet, fired twice into the car. Franz Ferdinand was hit in the neck and Sophie (who instinctively covered Franz’s body with her own after the first shot) in the abdomen, and they both died before 11 a.m.

7. Double Homicide – 157 Years Apart

Two women who had the same birthday Barbara Forrest and Mary Ashford were both killed in the similar way in Erdington village in Birmingham, England. Both twenty-year olds—had been raped and strangled, their bodies were found 300 yards apart, and both had been found on the same day—May 27th—157 years apart (1817 and 1974). Both girls had visited their best friend on the evening of the Whit Monday to change into a new dress for a local dance party. After each murder a suspect was arrested whose name was Thornton, and in both instances, this Mr Thornton was charged with murder but subsequently acquitted. Days before each victim was murdered, they made prophetic remarks about their impending fate. The week before Mary Ashford was murdered, she told Hannah Cox’s mother that she had ‘bad feelings about the week to come’, but was unable to elaborate on her unfounded sense of dread, and ten days before Barbara Forrest was raped and then strangled to death, she told a colleague at work of a strange premonition. Barbara’s words had been: ‘This is going to be my unlucky month. I just know it. Don’t ask me why.’ Reincarnation? Coincidence? Who knows?

6. Booth and Lincoln

In an interesting coincidence, Edwin Booth saved Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert, from serious injury or even death. The incident occurred on a train platform in Jersey City, New Jersey. The exact date of the incident is uncertain, but it is believed to have taken place in late 1864 or early 1865, shortly before Edwin’s brother, John Wilkes Booth, assassinated President Lincoln. Lincoln, was waiting on a narrow, crowded platform for a train in Jersey City, New Jersey when he lost his footing and fell beneath the slowly moving carriage of a departing train. Pulled to safety before any harm befell him, he turned to thank his rescuer and was surprised to see it was the well known actor Edwin Booth, the brother of John Wilkes. In what could only be considered one of the most remarkable coincidences in history, the son of a president was rescued by the brother of that president’s assassin!

5. The Saga of the Mark Chapmans

In 1980, Beatles singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Lennon was shot and killed by an obsessed fan in front of the Dakota Apartment Complex in New York City. His assassin was a man named Mark Chapman, a schizophrenic night security guard and general loser, who has been cooling his heels ever since in Attica Prison in upstate New York.Five years later, NBC decided to make a biography about Lennon and his wife, entitled John and Yoko: A Love Story. Unfortunately, the actor they hired to play Lennon, unbeknownst to them, happened to be named Mark Chapman, making for one of those “you gotta be kidding me” moments Hollywood occasionally suffers from. After realizing the fact, the studio quickly gave the part to someone who was not named Mark Chapman. However, Mark Chapman (not the crazy gunman) got rewards by starring Lennon in a 2007 dud called Chapter 27.

4. The Deaths of Presidents Jefferson and Adams

Although Presidents Jefferson and Adams became rivals in their political careers, they shared their love for the country. As such, both men were instrumental in drafting the Declaration of Independence which, as everyone knows, was first signed on July 4, 1776. Jefferson was Adams Vice-President until he went on to beat his own boss in the election of 1800. After the election battles the two did not speak for many years. Then, they began corresponding by letter. The two became great friends. What most people don’t know, however, is that both men were also to die on the same day, July 4, 1826, exactly fifty years to the day the document was first ratified.

3. Crossword Puzzle Gives Away D-Day Invasion Codewords

In what has to be one of the biggest long-shots in history, in May of 1944 retired school teacher Leonard Dawes, who had been compiling the daily crossword puzzle for London’s Daily Telegraph newspaper for over twenty years, put together a series of puzzles that somehow managed to include the names of two of the landing beaches—Utah and Omaha—along with several other super secret codewords like Overlord, Mulberry, and Juno nobody outside of General Eisenhower’s staff was supposed to know. Assuming Dawes was a German agent, they instantly interrogated the man, only to release him a short time later once they became convinced the words were entirely randomly chosen. While the chances of inadvertently using one of the codewords is not remarkable, Dawes puzzles contained no fewer than five codewords—all over the course of two weeks. The odds for such a thing happening has to be considered close to one-in-a-billion, but I’ll leave that for the mathematicians to figure out.

2. Titanic vs. the Titan

In what has to be considered one of the truly spooky coincidences of all time, in 1898 author Morgan Robertson (1861-1915) wrote a novella entitled Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan in which he outlined the voyage of a British luxury liner, HMS Titan, that hits an iceberg while crossing the northern Atlantic and sinks with a large loss of life—in part, due to the lack of sufficient lifeboats on-board. Fourteen years later, in real life, the Titanic hits an iceberg while crossing the Atlantic and sinks. Both the fictional Titan and the real Titanic were triple-screw luxury ships about 800 feet long that hit an iceberg in the month of April while traveling at around 25 knots, resulting in the death of some 2500 souls. Sometimes strange coincidences do happen but that doesn’t make them paranormal.

1. Lee Harvey Oswald Employed at the Texas School Book Depository

There may be literally thousands of people out there at any given moment who would like to kill the President of the United States. Of these, only a tiny fraction actually possess the means to do so (skilled with a firearm or explosives, etc.) and of these, almost none of them will ever be afforded the opportunity to do so. This is what makes Oswald’s case so remarkable; consider that here is an ex-Marine sniper with Marxist leanings and a desire to make himself famous by killing a world leader, who purchases a high powered rifle through the mail for fifteen bucks, and then somehow gets a job at the one place the President of the United States’ motorcade is going to pass within fifty yards of just a month beforehand. Quite a remarkable coincidence that was to provide Oswald, who already had the means and the motive, with the opportunity to commit one of the most heinous crimes in history, and one that remains controversial to this day. What if he hadn’t gotten the job at the Schoolbook Depository Building on October 16, 1963? Impossible to say for certain, but it’s a near certainty he would not have had nearly the fine perch the City of Dallas was to provide him that sunny November afternoon.

Leave a Comment

  1. oklahomabarry says:

    John Wilkes Booth was born May 10, 1838, not in 1839. Oswald was born October 18, 1939. Not exactly a hundred years, eh?
    Also, Lincoln never had a secretary named Kennedy.