August 16: Mary Hall, Connecticut’s First Female Lawyer

  Today in 1843, Mary Hall was born in Marlborough, Connecticut. Growing up on a farm in antebellum America, when high Victorian culture placed an increasingly stringent emphasis on female domesticity, made her perhaps one of the most unlikely candidates to defy gender norms and become the first woman in Connecticut to be admitted to…

August 11: First Forester and Founding Father of Conservation Gifford Pinchot

  The next time you hear someone talking about the sustainable use of our environmental resources, you might want to give thanks to forester and founding father of the modern conservation movement Gifford Pinchot (pronounced “pin-show”), who was born in Simsbury today in 1865. Son of a wealthy merchant family, Pinchot’s passionate early interest in…

August 10: The First Union General to Die in the Civil War

  Today in 1861, Eastford’s Nathaniel Lyon – a little-known figure the day before – instantly became one of the most celebrated figures in the United States when he was shot in the chest at Wilson’s Creek, Missouri, making him the first Union General to die in the Civil War. Lyon’s death came as the…

August 9: The Worst Tornado in Connecticut History

  On the afternoon of August 9, 1878, the worst tornado to ever hit the state of Connecticut roared through Wallingford, wreaking unimaginable destruction throughout the entire town. In the late 19th century, most Connecticans lived under the impression that the monster tornadoes that annually devastated the Great Plains could never happen in New England;…

August 8: The Shoe Box Murder of 1886

  Today in 1886, three men on a logging road near Wallingford noticed a large wooden shoe box nestled under some bushes, unwittingly breaking open one of the strangest and most gruesome murder mysteries in Connecticut history. Joseph Samson, Edward Terrill and Joseph Terrill first noticed the box, about 30 inches long and a foot…

August 5: The Statue of Liberty’s Connecticut Cornerstone

  While scores of Connecticut men and women have left an indelible mark on American history, sometimes it’s easy to forget that objects from Connecticut can have their own stories of national significance, too. In fact, some of the most monumental objects in Connecticut history can be traced to a single point of origin: a…

August 2: The Last Public Hanging in Connecticut

  In 2012, Connecticut became the 17th state to outlaw the death penalty. For the first 200 years of Connecticut’s recorded history, however, public executions were viewed as an effective deterrent of serious crimes. They were also major community events, attracting hundreds if not thousands of onlookers to watch the morbid spectacle. Speeches and moralizing…

August 1: “Base Ball” in 19th Century Hartford

  The Charter Oak Base Ball Club, founded in the summer of 1862, was the first baseball team to be formed in Hartford. Their stated mission was to “establish on a scientific basis the health-giving and scientific game of Base Ball, and to promote good fellowship among its players.” In the age before national professional…

July 26: The “Wide Awakes” Rally for Abraham Lincoln in Hartford

  1860 proved to be one of the most intense election years in American history, with political tensions over slavery and secession reaching a breaking point. Connecticut’s hotly-contested race for the governor’s seat, pitting Democrat Thomas Seymour against Republican William Buckingham, was viewed as a bellwether for the national presidential election that would take place…

July 19: The American Impressionist Movement Blooms in Ridgefield

  Located in Ridgefield, Connecticut, the Weir Farm National Historic Site memorializes the life and historic contributions of J. Alden Weir, one of the most iconic painters of the American Impressionist movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born in 1852 to a prosperous family, Weir showed artistic promise at an early age…

July 14: A Tale of Two Tape Measures

  On July 14, 1868, Alvin Fellows of New Haven, Connecticut received a patent for his unique spring-loaded, locking tape measure design. While Fellows certainly wasn’t the first to conceive of using demarcated strips of metal tape as a measuring tool, his unique design featured significant improvements over previous tape measures and was the first…