January 26: The Talented — and Quite Regrettable — Postmaster General

  Today in 1802, Gideon Granger of Suffield took office as the nation’s fourth postmaster general, ushering in a new era for the U.S. postal service — for better and for worse. A Yale graduate, Granger practiced law in his hometown of Suffield and served in the Connecticut General Assembly beginning in 1792. Following an…

January 15: Bound For Glory, They Got On the Wrong Train

  Today in 1878, right after hearing the famed evangelist Dwight Moody preach that “repentance is grabbing your bag and coat and getting out of the wrong train and onto the right one,” a group of revival-attending passengers in Hartford boarded a specially ordered train that took them to one of Connecticut’s deadliest train disasters….

January 14: Four Explosion Tragedy at the Hazardville Gunpowder Mill

  The community of Hazardville, Connecticut unintentionally lived up to its name today in 1913, when an errant spark of unknown origin caused a deadly chain reaction of four massive explosions at the Hazard Powder Company. Situated on the banks of the Scantic River in the southern half of the town of Enfield, the Hazard…

January 12: Yale Body Snatching Triggers Week of Rioting in New Haven

  Early Monday morning, January 12, 1824, Dr. Jonathan Knight, the first Professor of Anatomy and Physiology at the not-yet-fifteen-year-old Yale School of Medicine, was visited at his home by two men: a prominent local attorney and the village constable of West Haven. They had come on official business, armed with a search warrant, to…

January 10: Legendary Arms Maker Samuel Colt Dies at 47

  Today in 1862, Samuel Colt, a man who had endured years of failed business ventures before finding both fame and fortune in Hartford, died suddenly at age 47, one of the richest men in the United States.. In just 15 years, Colt had created a record of innovation in marketing and manufacturing whose impact…

January 8: Eli Whitney’s Best Idea Comes Home

  Eli Whitney, who died today in 1825, is best known for his invention of the cotton gin. But Whitney also left a lasting legacy on American manufacturing and society through his creation of the first “manufacturing community” in America, the factory village in southeast Hamden still known as Whitneyville. Whitney’s manufactory was designed not…

January 5: Ezra Warner Invents the Can Opener

  In the early 1800s, responding to Napoleon’s request to find a more efficient way to feed his armies in the field, French inventor Nicholas Appert discovered that heating food stored in glass jars would sterilize it, keeping it safe to eat for long periods of time. Shortly thereafter, Englishman Peter Durand invented a similar…

December 31: Cutting-Edge Teamwork Turns A Starr Into A Star

  As a major in the Continental Army, Nathan Starr forged and repaired weapons as part of his service during the Revolutionary War. After the war was over, Starr returned to his hometown of Middletown, Connecticut, and made a living manufacturing blades of a different sort: mostly agricultural tools like scythes for local farmers. In…

December 26: The Governor Who Refused to Leave Office

  One of Connecticut’s most accomplished citizens — and governors — also had one of the state’s most unusual nicknames. Morgan G. Bulkeley — Civil War veteran, financier, insurance executive, first president of baseball’s National League, and strong-arm politician — earned himself the nickname “the Crowbar Governor,” while serving in that office in 1891.” Bulkeley…

December 25: On Christmas Morning, Mark Twain Is Worried About Vaccinations

  December 25th, 1871 found Samuel Clemens – better known as Mark Twain – far from home, lonely for his wife and son, ruminating on Christmas, and deeply concerned about  a pandemic. The 36-year-old author and humorist was in Chicago, in the middle of a grueling four-and-a half-month, 76-performance lecture tour that would prove one…

December 23: Bridgeport Benefactor Beardsley Brutally Beaten in Break-in

  In 1812, James Walker Beardsley was born to a prominent cattle-farming family in Monroe, Connecticut, and remained a farmer for his entire life, splitting his time between his family’s Monroe farm and a second residence in the then-bustling city of Bridgeport. In addition to farming, Beardsley also dabbled in speculation and trading cattle futures,…