June 22: The Assassination of Cherokee Leader Elias Boudinot

  The Cherokee leader Elias Boudinot first came to Connecticut in the 1820s to seek a formal western education at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall. Born as Gallegina Uwati into a prominent Cherokee family in 1802, he was sent north with the permission of tribal elders in hopes that his western education would help…

June 1: The Nation’s Oldest Public Art Museum Established

  On this day in 1842, Connecticut governor Chauncey Cleveland signed an act formally incorporating the Wadsworth Atheneum, creating what would become the first and oldest continuously operating public art museum in the United States. Construction immediately began on the iconic, castle-like building that remains the centerpiece and most recognizable feature of the Atheneum campus,…

May 27: The Oldest Volunteer Fire Department in New England

  From the earliest days of Connecticut history, fire posed one of the greatest mortal dangers to Connecticut residents — especially to the English settlers whose homes, barns, fences, and other structures were made of timber and often clustered closely together.  In the 17th and early 18th centuries, before the advent of portable water pumps,…

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

  Today in 1819, yet another chapter in Connecticut innovation was launched when Moses and Stevens Rogers of New London set sail on 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 in Georgia to finance his…

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. One of the few extant images of the Hartford Female Seminary’s building on Pratt Street. Born into the wealthy and influential Beecher family in 1800, Catharine Beecher…

May 14: Author, War Chaplain, & Yale President Timothy Dwight IV

  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: Hartford’s Pope Company 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…

May 11: Connecticut’s Old State House Opens in 1796

  At the historic center of Hartford stands the Old State House, a beautiful federal-era building that served as Connecticut’s capitol for 83 years.  Designed by pioneering American architect Charles Bulfinch, the State House opened for business today in 1796, as the state legislature met insides its spacious chambers for the first time. Built with…

May 9: Radical Abolitionist John Brown Born in Torrington

  On this day in 1800, abolitionist John Brown was born in a humble saltbox house in Torrington, Connecticut. The fourth of eight children, Brown left Torrington at the age of five when his father moved his family to the Western Reserve of Ohio.   As a young man, Brown briefly returned to Connecticut to attend…

May 5: Mary Kies Becomes First Woman to Receive a U.S. Patent

  On this day in 1809, Mary Kies of Killingly, Connecticut became the first woman in American history to obtain a patent.  Kies’ invention was described as “a new and useful improvement in weaving straw with silk or thread.” Little is known about Kies or the specifics of her patent, which was destroyed in 1836…