Question: Clara Barton, the founder of the Red Cross, was nicknamed "the Angel of the Battle field." Is this a nickname from any particular battle field? When was she born? When was the Red Cross founded? -- A.L., Georgetown, Del.
Answer: Clarissa Harlowe Barton was born Dec. 25, 1821, in North Oxford, Mass. She was working in Washington, D.C., when the Civil War broke out, and she witnessed the influx of wounded into the city. Barton recognized the need for battlefield assistance. After much prodding, she was given permission to bring medical supplies to the scene. Her nickname does not come from one particular battle.
After the war, Barton continued her humanitarian work and helped with the women's suffrage movement. Around 1873, she began a movement to gain recognition of the International Committee of the Red Cross by the U.S. government. During the administration of Chester Arthur, she succeeded. The first meeting of the American Red Cross occurred on May 21, 1881. She remained president of the organization until 1904, when she resigned due to political infighting within the organization. Barton never married; she died in 1912 at age 90.
Q: When the Statue of Liberty was shipped to the United States from France, how many crates were needed? What was the name of the ship? -- P.L., Odessa, Texas
A: In 1885, New York City dockworkers -- including many new immigrants -- unloaded 214 crates containing about 350 pieces. Lady Liberty was shipped to America on the Isere. "Liberty Enlightening the World," the statue's full name, was unveiled Oct. 28, 1886.
Q: It won't be long before iced tea season is over. How long has this summertime refreshment been around? -- V.K., Rockford, Ill.
A: Iced tea has been around for more than 100 years. A vendor at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair was not doing well selling hot tea on a hot day. Out of necessity, the imaginative merchant added ice. It was a hit!
Q: What language is considered the hardest to learn? -- R.T., Cape Coral, Fla.
A: The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) created a list to show the difficulty of learning different languages. The most difficult languages for native English speakers to learn are Arabic, Cantonese (Chinese), Mandarin (Chinese), Japanese and Korean. This ranking is the opinion of the FSI -- students and language experts may disagree.
Q: When peanut butter first appeared, it was made of 100 percent pea nuts. Other ingredients have been added over time. At what point can it no longer be called peanut butter? -- N.N., Jackson, Tenn.
A: According to standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, peanut butter must be made of 95 percent peanuts. If there's less than that, the product is called peanut butter spread. Many grocery stores sell freshly made peanut butter that is 100 percent peanuts.
Q: How many different varieties of cheese are there? -- O.L.M., Flag staff, Ariz.
A: There is no universal method for classifying cheeses, so the number depends on the source. One source I read says there are more than 2,000 varieties, with 400 from France alone.
Q: When was the world-famous auction house Sotheby's founded? Was it by a person named Sotheby? -- B.K., Lompoc, Calif.
A: Samuel Baker founded the London-based auction house on March 11, 1744, when he held the sale of the library of Sir John Stanley. The sale was described as "containing several Hundred scarce and valuable books in all branches of Polite Literature."
When Baker died in 1778, his estate was divided between his nephew, John Sotheby, and his business partner, George Leigh. The Sotheby family took over and extended the role of the company in the art market.
Q: During the cattle drives of the Old West, was there any ratio of heads of cattle to cow boys? -- H.M., Santa Rosa, Calif.
A: The ratios vary greatly, but, in general, there were about 250 head of cattle for each cowboy.
Q: In the movie "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," who was the good, who was the bad and who was the ugly? -- O.U., Medford, Ore.
A: In the 1966 Sergio Leone-directed movie about three drifters in search of treasure, Clint Eastwood was the good; Lee Van Cleef was the bad; and Eli Wallach was the ugly.
Q: On "I Love Lucy," did the character Ethel Mertz, played by Vivian Vance, have a middle name? What about her maiden name? How did she and Fred meet? -- C.J.J., Binghamton, N.Y.
A: Over the years, Mertz's middle name has been reported as being Roberta, Louise and Mae. Most character biographies say she was born Ethel Mae Potter in Albuquerque, N.M. Ethel met Fred, played by William Frawley, in vaudeville, where they had a popular act. When vaudeville died out, the couple bought a New York City brownstone and became best friends with their tenants, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo.
Q: I used to listen to "The Lone Ranger" on radio and watch it on tele vision. How many years was the show on both venues? How many ep isodes were there? -- I.J.L., Hays, Kan.
A: The adventures of the masked man hit the radio airways on Jan. 30, 1933. On Sept. 3, 1954, the last of 2,956 new radio episodes aired, and repeats played for at least two more years. There were 221 TV episodes. The show ran from September 1949 through September 1957.
Q: I've never heard the song "Moonlight in Ver mont," but I recall being told that it is unusual. How so? -- K.I.S.
A: The lyrics to "Moonlight in Vermont," written by John Blackburn and Karl
Suessdorf, don't rhyme.
Q: My father was a 1947 graduate of Harvard University. He said that the actor Jack Lemmon was a classmate. I saw a list of class members and found a John Lemmon. Is this the same person? How old was Jack Lemmon when he died? -- C.F., Dover, Del.
A: John Uhler Lemmon was born in an elevator at a hospital near Boston on Feb. 8, 1925. He graduated from Harvard University in 1947. As a professional actor, Lemmon worked in radio, television and Broadway before moving to Hollywood. He won two Academy Awards in his career. He died of complications from cancer in 2001 at age 76.
Q: Prior to the 2012 opening season football game between Arkansas and Louisiana-Monroe, the Razorbacks were ranked No. 8 in the nation in the AP poll. They were considered to be a contender for the SEC title and maybe even the national title. Then the Warhawks beat them in overtime. When the new polls came out, Arkansas was no longer ranked. I heard it was the second worst plunge in rankings in history. What was the worst? -- E.N.W., Palmyra, Va.
A: In 2007, No. 5 Michigan was bumped out of the poll after an opening season loss to Appalachian State.
Q: A long time ago, you printed a poem about a purple cow and the poet's response to the publicity he received. I'd love to have it for my grandkids. Would you mind printing it again? -- S.J., Carroll, Iowa
A: I don't mind at all! "The Purple Cow" was written in 1895 by Gelett Burgess (1866-1951).
I never saw a purple cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one.
Burgess grew increasingly annoyed by the fact that he was known for "The Purple Cow." He penned a riposte two years later:
Ah, yes, I wrote the "Purple Cow" --
I'm sorry, now, I wrote it!
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'll kill you if you quote it.
Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at AskMrKIA@gmail.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.