January 31: A Double Dam Disaster Devastates Danbury

  In 1860, residents living in Danbury, Connecticut banded together to build a large, earthen dam to create a reservoir that would provide a steady water supply for the town’s steadily-increasing population and burgeoning factories.  A few years later, they built a second dam about a mile downriver, and the structures became known as the…

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

January 22: The Marketing Man Who Sold America on the The National Parks

  Although born in San Francisco and educated at the University of California at Berkeley, Stephen Tyng Mather always considered the 1778 Mather homestead in Darien his home. Built by his great grandfather Deacon Joseph Mather during the American Revolution, Stephen spent summers there as a boy, inherited the house and 22 acres from his…

January 15: The Wallingford Man Who Created the First Mass Communications Network

  Today in 1800, the  farm boy turned inventor, philanthropist, publishing magnate and founder of the nation’s first mass communications network Moses Yale Beach was born in Wallingford. Beach’s entrepreneurial life and achievements exemplified the imaginative, “go An 1836 painting of Moses Beach, two years after he had joined in publishing The Sun. ahead spirit”…

January 12: Bob Dylan’s “Strangest and Longest” Concert Ever

  Today in 1990, in a final warm-up, or perhaps the kick-off,  to a  tour that would see him present multiple concerts in the United States, Brazil, France and England in under 30 days, rock legend and Nobel Prize laureate Bob Dylan played what one reporter called “the strangest and longest show of his career”…

January 12: Lifelong Civil Rights Champion Mary Townsend Seymour

  Born in Hartford in 1873, lifelong civil rights activist Mary Townsend lost both her parents at the age of 15, and was adopted into the family of local black activist and Civil War veteran Lloyd Seymour.  A few years later, she married one of his sons, Frederick Seymour, and the newlyweds settled in the…

January 11: New England Whalers First Game at Hartford Civic Center

  On this day in 1975, Hartford became home to a professional hockey team for the first time in its history as the New England Whalers played their first home game at the brand-new Hartford Civic Center. The Whalers had been organized in 1972 as one of the inaugural teams of the World Hockey Association,…

January 10: A Shocked City Mourns the Death of Samuel Colt at 47

  Today in 1862, gunmaker Samuel Colt died in Hartford. Though he was only 47 years old, Colt died one of the richest men in the United States and left a legacy of manufacturing and innovation that changed the face of Hartford, Connecticut to the Western American frontier and beyond. Internationally recognized for his formative…

January 9: Connecticut Joins the United States

  Today in 1788, the delegates at the Connecticut state convention ratified the United States Constitution by a vote of 128 to 40, making Connecticut the fifth state to join the Union.   While certain states, most notably New York and Virginia, remained skeptical of the new Constitution and required lots of convincing in order to…

January 7: Connecticut’s One-Day-Only Governor

  It would be an understatement to say that Hiram Bingham III, Connecticut’s famous archaeologist, explorer, professor, pilot, politician, and best-selling author who likely was the inspiration for the fictional adventurer Indiana Jones, accomplished much in his lifetime.  It remains an irony, however, that one of Bingham’s most well-known accomplishments was also one of the…

January 3: Hunger Pangs – Glastonbury Grocery Stores Run Out of Food

  Today in 1943, concerned and sometimes panicky homemakers in Glastonbury flocked to area farms seeking potatoes, eggs, poultry and vegetables to feed their families. The food rush came following weeks of increasing food shortages  that had culminated in the sudden closure of several local grocery stores the day before, after  they simply ran out…

January 1: New Year’s Day Gets a Brand New Date

  Today in 1752, Connecticans woke up to the realization that January first was, and henceforward always would be, New Year’s Day.  The year before, and for 597 years before that,  both in Old and New England,  New Year’s Day had  fallen on March 25th. Facing a year that began in mid-winter wasn’t the only…