May 24: The First Steam-Powered Ship to Cross the Atlantic

  On this day in 1819, yet another chapter in Connecticut innovation was launched when Moses and Stevens Rogers of New London set sail on what would become the first steam-powered ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Steam-powered technology was still in its infancy in 1818, when sea captain and entrepreneur Moses Rogers convinced investors…

May 23: New Polio Vaccine Distributed Across Connecticut

  On this day in 1955, hundreds of schoolchildren in the town of Stafford Springs lined up to be inoculated against polio, as part of a statewide effort to vaccinate young Connecticans against the deadly childhood disease. Polio was the most feared childhood disease of the early 20th century.  An untreatable virus which spread quickly…

May 22: Washington & Rochambeau Plan Yorktown Campaign in Wethersfield

  This day in Connecticut history marked the beginning of the end of the Revolutionary War, as General George Washington of the Continental Army and Comte de Rochambeau of the French Army met in Wethersfield, Connecticut to plan the Yorktown Campaign of 1781. Wethersfield was a logical choice for such a crucial meeting: it was…

May 21: First Speed Limit Law in the U.S.

  Today in 1901, Connecticut became the first state in America to pass a law governing the speed of automobiles.  According to the new law, cars were not to exceed 12 miles per hour within city limits and 15 miles per hour on rural or suburban roads, and were required to slow down whenever they…

May 20: Catharine Beecher Opens Hartford Female Seminary

  Today in 1823, the first classes were held at the Hartford Female Seminary, a revolutionary new school for girls founded by author and education pioneer Catharine Beecher. Born into the wealthy and influential Beecher family in 1800, Catharine Beecher wholly devoted herself to advancing the education and betterment of young women after her fiancé…

May 19: America’s World War I Flying Ace Killed In Action

  Today in 1918, one of America’s greatest and most colorful World War I flying aces was killed in action after being shot down over France by a German triplane.  Raoul Lufbery, a proud Franco-American who had lived in Connecticut before joining the Allied war effort, was only 33 years old at the time. Born…

May 18: Composer Leroy Anderson dies in Woodbury

  On this day, American composer and longtime Connecticut resident Leroy Anderson passed away in his Woodbury home.  Famous for whimsical and catchy orchestral pieces like “The Syncopated Clock,” “Blue Tango” and the perennial Christmastime favorite “Sleigh Ride,” Anderson’s compositions helped define popular music of mid-20th century America.  Fellow composer and Boston Pops conductor John…

May 17: Connecticut Vietnam Memorial Unveiled in Coventry

  On this day in 2008, hundreds gathered at Patriot’s Park in Coventry, Connecticut to attend the unveiling of the first monument to honor all 612 Connecticans who lost their lives during the Vietnam War. The movement to establish the handsome, black-granite monument began as part of a classroom project undertaken by students at Coventry’s…

May 16 – Largest Earthquake in Connecticut History

  On this day in 1791, Connecticans were rattled by the largest earthquake ever recorded in Connecticut history.  Two powerful tremors, occurring within minutes of each other, terrified residents and damaged homes throughout the central part of the state.  Reports from as far away as Boston and New York City confirmed the presence of seismic…

May 15 – Billionaire Leona Helmsley Sent to Prison for Tax Evasion

  Leona Helmsley was one of the most infamous celebrity billionaires of late 20th century New York, a hotel and real estate magnate who gained national notoriety for her reportedly tyrannical treatment of her staff.   The wife of hotelier Harry Helmsley, Leona became the face of a marketing campaign that cast her as a “queen”…

May 14: Timothy Dwight IV Born

  Today in 1752, Timothy Dwight IV, scholar, minister, and one of a group of early American poets and writers known as the Hartford Wits, was born.   The eldest of 13 children born into an influential family in Massachusetts, Dwight graduated from Yale College in 1769 and shortly thereafter decided to dedicate his life to…

May 13: Pope Manufacturing Co. Debuts Electric Automobile in 1897

  On this date in 1897, outside his factory in Hartford, successful bicycle manufacturer Albert Augustus Pope unveiled what he considered to be the future of the automobile industry: the battery-powered Columbia Motor Carriage.  It was the first demonstration of a mass-produced electric car in American history. Weighing in at 1800 pounds and reaching a…