October 22: From Yankee Peddler to Railroad Tycoon

  Collis Potter Huntington was born on this day in 1822, the sixth of nine children born to William and Elizabeth Huntington of Harwinton, Connecticut. The Huntington family, owners of a farm in a section of Harwinton fittingly known as “Poverty Hollow,” constantly struggled to make ends meet, forcing Collis to set off on his…

October 21: Connecticans Celebrate 400th Anniversary of Columbus’ Arrival

  At a time when immigrants – many from Italy – were pouring into America in numbers that seriously alarmed the “old stock” descendants of the original Puritan settlers, the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s even-then-disputed “discovery” of America proved an ideal time for Connecticans to assess the contributions of newcomers while expressing a common patriotism….

October 19: The Silver City’s “Perfect” Silver Takes First Place.

  Today in 1876, through the craftsmanship of the silver pieces produced by the Meriden Britannia Company of Meriden, Connecticut found itself in the national spotlight after the New York Times published a glowing write-up of the company’s wares at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Noting the “peculiar excellence” of both the company’s highly detailed…

October 18: Abolitionist John Brown Captured at Harper’s Ferry

  Connecticut-born radical abolitionist John Brown was already a nationally polarizing figure by the time he staged his infamous raid on the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia in 1859. Born in Torrington in 1800, Brown’s adult life was characterized by failed business ventures, repeated moves across the country, and an increasingly fanatical devotion to…

October 16: Ebenezer Bassett, America’s First African-American Diplomat

  On this day in 1833, Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett was born near Litchfield, Connecticut to free black parents who held prominent roles in Connecticut’s free black community. Bassett’s father was a businessman who had served as one of Connecticut’s Black Governors — an honorary leadership role in the state’s black community — and his…

October 15: From Connecticut Governor to Russian Ambassador

  Today in 1853, Thomas H. Seymour, one of Connecticut’s most accomplished — and controversial — 19th century politicians, resigned as Governor to accept nomination by President Franklin Pierce as the United States’ minister to Russia. It was the latest in a long list of prestigious accomplishments for Seymour, whose popularity was at its peak….

October 10: “Father of American Civil Engineering” Born in Wethersfield

  Benjamin Wright, the chief engineer behind some of the most famous civil engineering projects in United States history — including the Erie Canal — was born to Grace and Ebenezer Wright of Wethersfield today in 1770. Ebenezer’s accumulated debts had forced young Benjamin to forego most of his formal schooling to take up odd…

October 4: The Last Run of the State’s Greatest Fair

  Today, when it comes to annual autumn fair traditions, Connecticans have plenty of options to choose from, with dozens of local fairs held within the state and “The Big E” Eastern States Exposition located just over the Massachusetts border in West Springfield.  For over 110 years, however, the Danbury Fair was the biggest agricultural…

September 25: Remembering the Civil War’s “Petersburg Express”

  The Siege of Petersburg was one of the most significant military campaigns of the final year of the Civil War. From June 1864 to March 1865, Union troops continuously besieged and harassed the Confederate railroad hub city of Petersburg, Virginia and surrounding environs in hopes of depleting both the Confederate Army and its nearby…

September 24: Connecticut’s Last Whaling Voyage

  In the 19th century, New London, Connecticut was one of the busiest whaling hubs in the entire world, outranked only by Nantucket and New Bedford, Massachusetts. Whale oil was a crucial and versatile resource that played a huge role in powering the Industrial Revolution, serving as both fuel for lamps and as a lubricant…