Life has a funny way of throwing curveballs at us, especially when it comes to coincidences. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on reality, along comes a series of events that leave you scratching your head. The universe definitely has a sense of humor. This list explores ten extraordinary coincidences that will leave you questioning the very fabric of reality. Get ready to have your skepticism challenged!
Related: 10 Coincidences and Connections in the World of True Crime
10 Mark Twain and the Comet
Mark Twain had a fascination with Halley’s Comet throughout his life. He was born on the night of November 30, 1835, when the comet was visible in the sky over his hometown of Florida, Missouri. Twain believed that he was destined to die when the comet returned.
He famously said, “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835; it’s coming again next year [in 1910], and I expect to go out with it. It would be a great disappointment in my life if I don’t. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.’”
Twain died of a heart attack on April 21, 1910, one day after the comet’s closest approach to Earth. one day after Halley’s Comet appeared at its brightest
9 Independence Day Deaths
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were political adversaries who became friends later in life. They both died on July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
Adams had been in comparatively robust health until just a few months earlier when he became ill. Adams died at his home in Quincy, Massachusetts, at about five in the late afternoon, at the age of 90. He collapsed in his reading chair and lapsed in and out of consciousness for the next few hours before succumbing. According to newspaper reports, Adams’s last words were, “Jefferson still lives.”
However, Jefferson actually died first, just after noon that same day, at his mansion, Monticello. Jefferson had been ill for an extended period and fell into a coma on July 3, 1826, after suffering from a long intestinal illness. He was 83. In the course of a few days, news of Jefferson’s death arrived from Virginia. After the deaths were announced, eulogies were pronounced across the country, and commemorations were printed in newspapers.
After years of estrangement, they resumed writing to each other in their retirement years. They wrote to each other about many topics, personal and political, including the growing division in the country. “I look back with rapture on those golden days when Virginia and Massachusetts lived and acted together like a band of brothers,” Adams wrote Jefferson in 1825.
Their deaths on the same day, despite their political differences, have become a symbol of the unity and shared values of the early American republic.
8 Breaking the Lincoln Curse
Was Abraham Lincoln cursed? He himself witnessed three assassinations during his presidency. The first was the assassination of Elmer Ellsworth, a Union Army colonel, who was shot by a hotel owner in Alexandria, Virginia, in May 1861. The second was the assassination of Union Army General James B. McPherson, who was shot during the Battle of Atlanta in July 1864. The third and most famous was Lincoln’s own assassination at the Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 1865, by John Wilkes Booth.
But perhaps it was Booth’s own family that could break the curse. Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln, was saved by Edwin Booth, the brother of John Wilkes Booth, who would later assassinate Abraham Lincoln. This incident occurred on a train platform in Jersey City in 1864 when Robert Todd Lincoln was traveling to Washington, D.C., to meet his father.
Edwin Booth, who was a famous actor at the time, saw Robert Todd Lincoln fall between the platform and the train and quickly pulled him to safety. Robert Todd Lincoln later recounted the incident, saying, “I was indebted to him for my life. It was a debt I could never repay.”
The best part? Booth had no idea who he was when he saved him. Pretty coincidental, huh?
7 Bookend Deaths of WWI
Did you know that the first and last soldiers killed in WWI are buried next to each other?
John Parr and George Ellison were the first and last British soldiers to die in combat during World War I. They are buried next to each other in the St Symphorien military cemetery in Belgium, just southeast of Mons.
The cemetery is the final resting place of over 500 Commonwealth and German soldiers. The graves of Parr and Ellison are separated by just 15 feet (4.5 meters) of grass—facing each other. Private Parr was killed on August 21, 1914, at the age of 16, just 17 days after Britain declared war.
Private Ellison was killed on November 11, 1918, at the age of 40, just 90 minutes before the armistice ceasefire at 11 am. The proximity of their graves is said to be a coincidence, as their “first” and “last” status was unknown when they were buried. The graves of Parr and Ellison are a poignant reminder of the human cost of the war and the sacrifice made by so many soldiers from both sides.
6 Flight 666: The Doomed Plane
This is one plane that skirted some seriously bad juju. Flight 666, operated by Finnair, flew into HEL on Friday, October 13, 2017.
It’s a regularly scheduled flight from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Helsinki, Finland. Finnair is a Finnish airline, and the destination airport was Helsinki Airport, whose IATA code is HEL.
Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day in Western superstition, and the number 666 is often associated with the devil or evil in popular culture.
The coincidence of the flight number and date, along with the destination airport’s code, made the flight a hot topic on social media and in the news. Luckily, the flight took off and landed without incident, despite the superstitions surrounding the date and flight number. Finnair has since renamed the flight number, but you can still fly from SIN to HEL by hopping a plane from Singapore to Helsinki.
5 The Ultimate Survivor
Violet Jessop was an Argentine woman of Irish heritage who worked as an ocean liner stewardess and nurse in the early 20th century. She is most well known for having survived the sinking of both the RMS Titanic and her sister ship, the HMHS Britannic. Jessop was also onboard the eldest of the three sister ships, the RMS Olympic, when it collided with the British warship HMS Hawke in 1911.
Jessop was working as a stewardess on the Titanic when it struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic on April 14, 1912. She was ordered up on deck to serve as an example of how to behave for the non-English speakers who could not follow the instructions given to them. She watched as the crew loaded the lifeboats and then escaped the ship in lifeboat 16.
On November 21, 1916, Jessop was serving as a WWI nurse on board the Britannic, a hospital ship. When it struck a mine and began to sink, Jessop grabbed onto a spare lifebelt floating by and hung on until one of the Britannic’s motor boats picked her up. Jessop suffered a traumatic head injury—which she survived, of course.
4 Twin Strangers Live the Same Life
James Alan Lewis and James Allan Springer were identical twins who were separated at birth and adopted by different families. They were reunited at the age of 39 in 1979. But here’s the strangest part: They led almost identical lives despite growing up in different households.
The twins were born in 1940 and were both adopted in Ohio by families who named them both James. Both boys went by the nickname Jim. The twins grew up just 45 miles (72.4 kilometers) apart in Ohio and Minnesota. Jim Lewis was aware that he had a twin brother, but Jim Springer’s mother had told him that his twin had died at birth.
But the similarities don’t stop there.
The Jims each married and divorced women named Linda, and both remarried women named Betty. Both had worked in law enforcement and had similar drinking and smoking habits. They had identical childhood pets named Toy, and both had named their firstborn sons James Alan (or Allan).
The twins’ story gained national attention and was featured in news reports and on television shows. The twins participated in studies on separated twins, which aimed to understand the role of genetics and environment in shaping human behavior and development.
3 Trump Card Prediction
In a season 11 episode of The Simpsons titled “Bart to the Future,” which aired on March 19, 2000, the show predicted that Donald Trump would become president of the United States and leave the nation broke. The episode features a vision of the future in which Bart’s sister, Lisa Simpson, is the President of the United States and inherits a budget crisis from her predecessor, President Trump. The episode gained notoriety after Trump was elected president in 2016, as it appeared to have predicted his presidency 16 years earlier.
This is not the only instance of The Simpsons appearing to predict future events. The show has a reputation for making jokes that later come true, including smartwatches, the Ebola virus outbreak, and the discovery of the Higgs boson particle.
2 The Lightning Magnet
They say lightning never strikes the same place twice—and they are wrong. Walter Summerford was a British officer who was struck by lightning four times throughout his life, three times while he was alive and once after he passed away.
Summerford was a major in the British Army during World War I and was first struck by lightning on a battlefield in Belgium in 1918. The strike paralyzed him from the waist down. After retiring to Vancouver, Summerford slowly rehabilitated and regained the ability to walk.
However, six years later, he was struck by lightning again while fishing, which paralyzed the right side of his body. Despite the odds, Summerford survived both strikes and continued to live his life. But then he was struck by lightning a third time in 1930 while walking in a park in Vancouver. This strike left him paralyzed and bedridden until his passing two years later.
You’d think he’d get a break then, right? No. His gravestone was struck by lightning too. Some people have called him the unluckiest man in the world, but the story of Walter Summerford is a remarkable example of the power of nature and the resilience of the human spirit.
1 Bringing the Civil War Full Circle
Wilmer McLean was a Virginia farmer who lived near Manassas, Virginia, during the American Civil War. On July 21, 1861, the first major battle of the Civil War, known as the First Battle of Bull Run or the First Battle of Manassas, was fought near McLean’s farm—practically his front yard.
McLean’s house was used as a headquarters by Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard during the battle. McLean, who was a Union sympathizer, decided to move his family away from the war zone after the battle. He eventually settled in Appomattox Court House, Virginia. But surprise, surprise, that’s where the Civil War ended when Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865.
The surrender actually took place in McLean’s parlor, which led him to famously say that the Civil War began in his front yard and ended in his front parlor.