Dec. 7, 1865: Signs and portents

Biela's comet and the end of the world

A couple of small items were all I found of real interest in the Dec. 7 Cape Girardeau Argus. First, the local Grand Jury was instructed to enforce the Iron-clad Oath in the new state constitution, even against ministers. Second, an item refers to the approach of “Bela’s comet” — undoubtedly Biela’s comet — which actually broke up in 1852, and was not seen in 1865. This comet’s orbit intersected that of the earth, though it never came close to collision. It was apparently responsible for periodic meteor showers for some time after its demise.

The Grand Jury

At a the meeting of the Circuit Court on Monday the Grand Jury were instructed to indict all persons guilty of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and all school marms who had not taken the oath.


Bela’s comet — one of the largest and brightest known — is approaching the earth. It is now only six hundred millions of miles distant, and will continue its advance movement until February.

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