December 10: Horace Wells “Discovers” Anesthesia

  On December 10, 1844, Hartford residents were treated to a special performance of famous showman and former medical student Gardner Colton’s “Laughing Gas Entertainment.” Colton had first encountered “laughing gas,” or nitrous oxide, while in medical school and soon found he could make quite a bit of money traveling the country demonstrating its hilarity-inducing…

December 8: “The Learned Blacksmith”

  Elihu Burritt, a self-educated lecturer who was arguably the most famous pacifist of the 19th century, was born in New Britain, Connecticut on this day in 1810.  As the tenth child of a shoemaker, young Elihu (rhymes with “Tell-a-few”) was unable to devote much time to schooling; as a teenager, he apprenticed himself to…

December 7: Civil War Veteran, Governor, and Baseball Hall of Famer

  Morgan Gardner Bulkeley, long-time Connecticut politician and successful businessman, was undoubtedly one of the most accomplished men to ever hold the office of state governor.  However, while many Connecticans are familiar with Bulkeley’s many namesakes in the Hartford area (including a school, a street, and the long, stone-arch bridge that carries Interstate 84 over…

December 5: America’s First Law School’s First Hire

  As a professor at the first law school established in the United States, Connecticut legal luminary James Gould helped educate some of the most important legal minds in early 19th century America.  Born in Branford, Connecticut on this date in 1770, Gould’s parents initially doubted his promise as a scholar on account of his…

December 4: The Great East Thompson Train Wreck

  Today in 1891, one of the largest train disasters in American history — and the only one to involve four different trains — occurred outside of the small town of East Thompson.  Located in the extreme northeast corner of the state, nestled right against the Massachusetts and Rhode Island borders, the tracks in East…

December 3: The Barkhamsted “Lighthouse”

  The Connecticut shoreline is home to many beautiful, historic lighthouses that have steered ships in Long Island Sound to safety for hundreds of years.  One of the state’s most historically significant “lighthouses,” however, is located over sixty miles inland — and refers not to a navigational structure, but to a unique settlement established on…

November 28: The Portland Gale Leaves Connecticut Buried

  Today in 1898, after two relentless days of wind and snow,  a massive storm that became known as The Portland Gale finally moved off the Connecticut shoreline, but not before bringing the state to a stand-still. The storm had formed on November 26th, when two large storms intersected over New York state, then marched…

November 23: Connecticut’s First African-American Civil War Regiment

  In late May of 1863, nearly six months after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation declared that all black men and women in slave-holding Confederate states were free, the Federal government created the Bureau of Colored Troops, effectively authorizing the use of black troops throughout the Union Army. While some Northern states quickly raised their…

November 22: The National Society of Colonial Dames

  Among the many hereditary societies that formed in the later decades of the nineteenth century, the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA), founded in 1892, distinguishes itself as one of the most active and successful groups to pursue a mission of historic preservation.  This invitation-only, all-female society, composed of descendants of…

November 20: Great American Mastodon on Display in Hartford Saloon

  Today in 1845, awestruck visitors gathered at Gilman’s Saloon in Hartford to view the skeleton of an extinct  great American mastodon recently unearthed at a marl pit near Newburgh, New York.  At a time before the discovery of the great dinosaurs, when ideas about the world’s origins conflicted with deeply held theological views of…

November 19: The International Silver Company Founded in Meriden

  On this day 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…

November 18: Nathaniel Palmer Discovers Antarctica

  Born in Stonington, Connecticut in 1799, Nathaniel Brown Palmer, like so many other young men from Stonington, first set sail at an early age, working as a teenage deckhand on American ships running through the British naval blockade during the War of 1812.  After the war, Palmer joined scores of Connecticut sailors who sought…