Charles Fort: A Fortean Chronology, 1897.

The year of 1897 (MDCCCXCVII) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian Calendar.


  • January 4: A British force is ambushed by Chief Ologbosere, son-in-law of the Oba of Benin. This leads to a punitive expedition against Benin.
  • January 23: Elva Zona Heaster is found dead in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. The resulting murder trial of her husband is perhaps the only case in United States history where the testimony of a ghost helped secure a conviction.



  • February 10: Freedom of religion is proclaimed in Madagascar.
  • February 18: Benin is put to the torch by the Punitive Expedition.
  • February 24: A great explosion was heard over the town of Tombstone, Arizona. (Books503)



  • March 4: William McKinley succeeds Grover Cleveland as President of the United States.



  • April 24: The first ever Challenge Cup final is played at Headingley.
  • April 27: Grant's Tomb is dedicated in New York. 



  • May 1: The Tennessee Centennial Exposition opens in Nashville, for 6 months, illuminated by many electric lights.
  • May 7:  On Upper Broadway, New York, a small number in a crowd present wounds as if viciously jabbed by a hat pin! (Books884) 
  • May 16: The Teatro Massimo is built in Palermo, the largest opera theatre in Italy, the 3rd largest in Europe.
  • May 18: Dracula, a novel by Irish author Bram Stoker, is published.
  • May 19: Oscar Wilde is released from prison.



  • June 1: American miners begin a strike, which successfully establishes the United Mine Workers Union and brings about the 8-hour work day to mines.
  • June 2: Mark Twain, responding to rumors that he is dead, is quoted by the New York Journal as saying, "The report of my death was an exaggeration."
  • June 12: The world's first Fingerprint Bureau opens in Calcutta, India, after the Council of the Governor General approves a committee report that fingerprints should be used for classification of criminal records.
  • June 22: Queen Victoria celebrates her Diamond Jubilee.
  • June 22: The assassination of British colonial officers Rand and Ayerst in Pune, Maharashtra, India on their way back from a Government house party celebrating the diamond jubilee coronation anniversary of Queen Victoria, by the Chaphekar brothers and Ranade, who were later caught and hanged. Considered the first martyrs to the cause of India's freedom from Britain.



  • July 11: S. A. Andrée's Arctic balloon expedition of 1897 begins. The ill-fated expedition to fly over the Arctic results in the death of the entire team within months.
  • July 17: The Klondike Gold Rush begins when the first successful prospectors arrive in Seattle.
  • July 25: Writer Jack London sails to join the Klondike Gold Rush where he will write his first successful stories.
  • July 29: A strange image, like that of "knotted lightning" is taken on a sensitive plate during an eclipse of the sun, St. Mary's, Ohio. (Books495) 
  • July 31: Mount Saint Elias, the second highest peak in the United States and Canada, is first ascended.



  • August 21: The Oldsmobile is founded in Lansing, MI by Ransom E. Olds.
  • August 29: The First Zionist Congress convenes in Basel, Switzerland.



  • September 1: The Boston subway opens, becoming the first underground metro in North America.
  • September 10: The Lattimer Massacre, A sheriff's posse kills more than 19 unarmed immigrant miners in Pennsylvania.
  • September 11: After months of searching, generals of Menelik II of Ethiopia capture Gaki Sherocho, the last king of Kaffa, bringing an end to that ancient kingdom.
  • September 20: Greece and Turkey sign a peace treaty to end the Greco-Turkish War.



  • October 2: The first issue of the radical paper Tocsin is published .
  • October 6: Ethiopia uses the tricolor flag: green is for the land, yellow for peace, and red is symbolic of strength.
  • October 12: The City of Belo Horizonte, Brazil was created. The construction of the first Brazilian Planned City was completed successfully, an immigration of 1,000,000 people was estimated.





  • December 9: The first issue of the feminist newspaper La Fronde is published by Marguerite Durand.
  • December 28: The play Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmond Rostand, premieres in Paris.
  • December 30: Natal annexes Zululand.