January 24: A. C. Gilbert, the Greatest Generation’s Toymaker

  Today in 1961, A. C. “A. Co.” Gilbert, the man whose hands-on-learning toys were the foundation of the American toy industry during the first half of the twentieth-century, died at age 76. A gifted athlete and pole-vaulting gold-medalist at the 1908 London Olympics, Gilbert was also a talented illusionist who financed his Yale medical…

November 28: State Librarian Rewrites the Book.

  Today in 1900, Granby native George Seymour Godard was appointed Connecticut’s third State Librarian. The hand-picked choice of his predecessor Charles J. Hoadley, who had died the month before, Godard served as State Librarian for 35 years.  He radically expanded the mission of the state library system, making  it a nationally and internationally acclaimed…

November 19: The International Silver Company Founded in Meriden

  Today in 1898, the International Silver Company, one of Connecticut’s most famous and globally-recognized brands, was formally incorporated in Meriden. The central Connecticut city had already established a national reputation as a leading producer of silver and silver-plated goods by the late 19th century, earning it the nickname “the Silver City.” By 1898, over…

November 18: Samuel Colt’s Murderous Brother John Cheats the Hangman

  Today in 1842, hours after he had married his beautiful mistress and moments before he was to be hanged for murder, gunmaker Samuel Colt’s brother John took his own life with  a six-inch-long Bowie knife in a New York City prison cell. In doing so, he cheated the “sweating, swearing mob” of  400 invited…

November 17: The First Clock Patent in United States History

  Today in 1797, inventor and famous clock manufacturer Eli Terry of Plymouth received the first clock-making patent ever issued in the United States, launching an incredible career in manufacturing that helped make Connecticut the epicenter of quality clock manufacturing for the duration of the 19th century. Born in the eastern division of Windsor in…

November 15: From a Meriden Movie House to Musical Greatness.

  Born to Italian immigrants living in Meriden, Connecticut in 1897, Rosa Ponselle (born Rosa Ponzillo) displayed a natural talent for both singing and instrumental music at an early age. Ponselle, who was destined to become a musical celebrity and one of the most famous opera singers in American history, began her musical career as…

November 14: Paul Sperry Invents the Boat Shoe

  Today in 1939, New Haven-born sailor-turned-shoemaker Paul Sperry received a patent for one of the most famous and enduring pieces of American footwear: the Sperry Top-Sider, or “boat shoe.” Born in 1895, Sperry’s life revolved around the sea; growing up along the Connecticut coast, he developed a lifelong love for sailing at an early…

November 12: A Presidential Celebration Draws a Huge Crowd in Middletown

  November 12, 1909 was a momentous day for the city of Middletown, as thousands of cheering, flag-waving residents lined the streets to enjoy a day full of pomp and circumstance and an evening full of dancing and fireworks. The Hartford Courant covered every detail of the day’s festivities in a breathless, three-page spread under…