October 12, 1492 -- Christopher Columbus sighted land, believing that he had found Asia while attempting to find a Western ocean route to India. That day he claimed the land for Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain.
October 12, 1810 -- Oktoberfest begins.
October 12, 1860 -- Inventor Elmer Sperry was born on this day. He held patents on more than 400 inventions.
October 12, 1870 -- Confederate General Robert E. Lee died at his home in Lexington, VA.
October 12, 1892 -- In celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Columbus landing the original version of the Pledge of Allegiance was recited in public schools.
October 12, 1895 -- In Newport, RI, the first amateur golf tournament was held.
October 12, 1915 -- British nurse Edith Cavell was executed by a German firing squad for helping Allied soldiers escape from Belgium during World War I.
October 12, 1920 -- Construction of the Holland Tunnel began. It opened on November 13, 1927.
October 12, 1933 -- John Dillinger, bank robber, escaped from a jail in Allen County, OH. The sheriff was killed by his gang as they helped Dillinger escape.
October 12, 1933 -- The US Department of Justice acquired Alcatraz Island from the US Army.
October 12, 1940 -- Silent film star Tom Mix killed in freak auto accident in Arizona.
October 12, 1945 -- Private First Class Desmond T. Doss was presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor for outstanding bravery as a medical corpsman. He was the first conscientious objector in American history to win the award.
October 12, 1961 -- The first video memoirs by a US president were made. Walter Cronkite interviewd Dwight D. Eisenhower.
October 12, 1972 -- During the Vietnam War, a racial brawl broke out aboard the US aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. Nearly 50 sailors were injured.
October 12, 1989 -- The US House of Representatives approved a statutory federal ban on the destruction of the American flag.
October 12, 1997 -- John Denver was killed when the plane he was piloting crashed into Monterey Bay, CA. He was 53 years old.
October 12, 2000 -- In Denver, CO, the US District Court denied Timothy McVeigh's request for a new trial.
October 12, 2001 -- A special episode of America's Most Wanted was aired that focused on 22 wanted terrorists. The show was specifically requested by President George W. Bush.