December 10: A Stage Show Entertainment Leads to the Discovery of 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…

December 8: “The Learned Blacksmith” . . . & Patriotic Pacifist

  Elihu Burritt, a self-educated lecturer who was arguably the most famous pacifist of the 19th century, was born in New Britain, Connecticut today in 1810. As the 10th 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 a local…

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. Gould was born in Branford, Connecticut today in 1770. His parents initially doubted his promise as a scholar because of his exceptionally poor…

December 3: A “Lighthouse” For Outcasts, Far From the Ocean

  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 60 miles inland — and refers not to a navigational structure, but to a unique settlement established on…

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 19: The Silver City Goes International

  Today 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 1898,…

November 18: A Colt Family Murder Story with Two Surprise Endings

  Today in 1842, hours after he had married his beautiful mistress and moments before he was to be hanged for murder, gunmaker Samuel Colt’s brother John took his own life with a six-inch-long Bowie knife in a New York City prison cell. In doing so, he cheated the “sweating, swearing mob” of 400 invited…