Author and storyteller Rachel Dunstan Muller combs the dusty corners of history in pursuit of some of the world's most fascinating true stories. A WWII POW crafts a violin out of bed slats. A single mother spends years in the Klondike searching for her missing son. A doctor on the edge of suicide finds a way to conquer crippling phobias - then helps thousands do the same. Check back every second Friday for more stories of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. Learn more at https://www.racheldunstanmuller.com
Matthew Henson was just 12 years old when he walked from Washington D.C. to Baltimore, and into a position as a cabin boy on a merchant ship. But his greatest trek would come three decades later and take him to the very top of the world. Some scholars even believe he was the first man to reach the North Pole.
On December 23 of the first year of the Siege of Sarajevo, an American war correspondent arranged a ride in an armoured Land Rover, bribed his way through a Serbian checkpoint, and entered the besieged city. He was caught off guard by what he found.
More than 5,000 men - and a few brave women - applied to be part of Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic expedition in 1914. The 27 men chosen to accompany him on the Endurance would experience the adventure of a lifetime - and one of the greatest survival stories of all time.
Ada Annie Rae-Arthur was a force to be reckoned with. Nothing could stand in the way of her dream for a garden on the west coast of Vancouver Island - not the dense rainforest, not the four husbands she outlived, and certainly not the cougars that threatened her goats and hens.
This Hintertale was written and performed by Margaret Murphy.
Felice Benuzzi caught his first glimpse of Mount Kenya from behind barbed wire at Camp 354, a British POW Camp near Nanyuki, Kenya. It was love at first sight. Over the course of eight months, Benuzzi convinced two other Italian POW’s to join him in preparing for the adventure of a lifetime: to escape from prison camp with the sole purpose of climbing the second highest peak in Africa.
The daughter of illiterate sharecroppers, Bessie Coleman dreamed of a life above the clouds. Her ambition led her to an aviation school in France, where she became the first black woman in the world to earn an international pilot's license. Her courage and determination remain a testament to anyone faced with seemingly impassable obstacles.
Gordon Wilson had every right to hate the terrorists who killed his youngest daughter at a Remembrance Day ceremony in Northern Ireland. Instead he prayed for them and campaigned tirelessly for peace.
The child of illiterate immigrant parents and a resident of the Tewksbury Almshouse, at age 14 Anne Sullivan couldn't even read or write her own name. By the time she died, she was one of the most respected teachers in the world.
Without the devotion and sacrifice of Anne Sullivan, there would be no Helen Keller as the world knew her. But though Anne chose to live in the shadow of her famous student, her own life story was as extraordinary as Helen's - at least that's what Helen herself believed.
Historians estimate that hundreds of women secretly enlisted on both sides of the American Civil War - most remaining undiscovered until they were wounded, captured, or killed.
This Canadian woman had her own reasons for joining the Union Army.
During a season of violence and terror in Sarajevo, a handful of brave musicians responded to brutality with beauty, risking their lives to feed the spirits of their fellow citizens.
Maurice and Maralyn Bailey were an ordinary couple with a big dream: to sail from their home in England to a new life in New Zealand. Everything was going smoothly - until disaster struck 6 days out of Panama.
It would be difficult to imagine a bleaker place than Triple Island: three jagged rocks jutting up from the sea, 26 miles from Prince Rupert off the north coast of British Columbia. And yet that's where Tom Moran accepted a post as lightkeeper in October 1929 - along with his wife Sophie and their 2 month-old son. Conditions in the claustrophobic lightstation were challenging at the best of times, but when disaster struck, th...
Robert and Lillian Booth had a special relationship - one that inspired an entire community. Robert was blind as the result of a childhood injury, and Lillian had impaired hearing as the result of whooping cough, but as a team they were able to keep the pianos of central Vancouver Island in tune for almost half a century. Their legacy lives on, thanks to the efforts of their proud daughter.
On paper Dr. Howard Liebgold had an exceptionally successful life, but secretly he struggled with fears that nearly cost him everything. He was on the brink of suicide, when a "chance" story on the 10 o'clock news gave him reason to hope there might be another way.
I first discovered Dr. Liebgold's dramatic story in his book "Freedom from Fear: Overcoming Anxiety, Phobias and Panic. Dr. Liebgold is...
23 year-old Belinda Mulrooney arrived in the Klondike with just 25 cents to her name. She threw her quarter into the Yukon River - it wouldn't buy anything in Dawson - and vowed to start clean. Within a month she was building her first hotel.
Anna was 53, a widow recovering from multiple tragedies, when her 23 year-old son went missing in 1892. Not even a badly broken leg could stop her from packing her sewing machine and heading north when she learned that he might be in Alaska. The adventures that followed would have brought many men to their knees, but Anna was an unstoppable force.
American B-24 bomber pilot Lieutenant Clair Cline was shot down over occupied Holland in February 1944. Half a year into his internment, he found himself struggling with despair, praying for something constructive to do. But the answer that came to him seemed preposterous. Make a violin? Cline didn't have the skills, the materials, or the tools. He was an inmate of a prison camp!
I first encountered a passing refere...
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