Welcome to America Comes Alive!, a site I created to share little-known stories of America’s past. These stories are about Americans—people just like you—who have made a difference and changed the course of history. Look around the site and find what inspires you.

Pop culture is as American as apple pie. Enjoy the stories behind favorite hobbies, sports, and collectibles.


Jay Silverheels, Played Tonto in The Lone Ranger

Jay-SilverheelsJay Silverheels (1912-1980) is best-remembered for his role as Tonto in The Lone Ranger, an ABC television program that ran for 221 episodes (1949-1957).

Silverheels was a full-blooded Mohawk Indian born on the Six Nations Indian Reservation in Ontario, Canada. His birth name was Harold Smith, and he was one of 11 children born to George Smith and his wife. His father was Chief of the Six Nations tribe and was also a highly-decorated soldier in the Canadian World War I military forces.

Jay Silverheels achieved initial recognition as a gifted athlete in both lacrosse and boxing.

Continue reading…


"What can one person do?"
Read some of the stories on this site; you'll see that they revolve around single individuals who worked toward change.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead


cigar store Indian
In the 19th century many people could not read, so store owners placed carvings of various symbols in front of their shops so passersby knew what was sold inside. A carving of a wooden Indian indicated a tobacco store; a red, white and blue striped pole… Continue reading »

Old Yeller
Old Yeller, or the dog that played Old Yeller, was a homeless dog found in a shelter in Van Nuys, California.  The dog’s real name was Spike. Spike almost didn’t get the part in the movie about Old Yeller because everyone thought he was too much of a… Continue reading »

Broadway Tails book
The story of how the first dog who played Sandy in Annie is as dramatic and heartwarming as the story of how little orphan Annie found a home with Daddy Warbucks in the musical version of her story. The story begins with the 1976 staging of Annie… Continue reading »

Oscar Micheaux
Oscar Micheaux (1884-1951) had no mentors and no background that prepared him for any of the challenges he undertook, but he successfully amassed land in the West at a time when few African-Americans were homesteading; he published his own novels, one… Continue reading »

color Moms Mabley
Moms was a first; no previous stand-up female comedian preceded Mabley First woman comedian to be featured at the Apollo Theater (1930s); she went on to appear there more times than any other performer. Oldest person to have a song on the Top 40 Billboard chart. Her… Continue reading »

Alice Coachman in action
World-class athlete specializing in the high jump First African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal (1948 in London); paved the way for other young women to follow their dreams She formed the Alice Coachman Track and Field Foundation to support and encourage young athletes as well… Continue reading »

This Day in History

On December 22, 1956, a gorilla was born in captivity for the first time ever.  The place was the Columbus Zoo in Ohio, and Colo, as she was named by the zoo staff, weighed approximately 4 pounds.  She is a western lowland gorilla whose parents were brought from French Cameroon, Africa in 1951.  Colo was raised by zookeepers in a nursery as her mother rejected her. Since that time, zoos have been able to create better environments so that mother gorillas can raise their young. Colo is still alive today and is now a great-grandmother.

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