April 5: P.T. Barnum Elected Mayor of Bridgeport – Not His Greatest Show

Today in 1875, Phineas T. Barnum was elected Mayor of Bridgeport at the age of 64.  Though internationally acclaimed as an entertainment impresario and well respected as a politician at the state level, Barnum’s short mayoral tenure  was not the greatest showing for a man still remembered as one of America’s most successful entertainers, entrepreneurs,…

April 3: The Sewing Machine Patent Wars

  Inventor and longtime Connecticut resident Elias Howe Jr. may not have invented the first sewing machine, but he was the first person to obtain a U.S. patent for one in 1846.  Howe’s success in patenting his novel “lockstitch” sewing machine, which was the first to feature the automatic thread feed that remains a crucial…

March 19: A Fallen Star Rises Again

  When 32-year-old Joseph Ganim became mayor of Bridgeport in 1991, he had the distinction of being the youngest mayor in the city’s history.  At the time, there were few politicians who even wanted the job, as Connecticut’s largest city had just filed for bankruptcy and was the only municipality in the state to have…

February 10: “General Tom Thumb” Marries “The Queen of Beauty”

  Born in 1838 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, legendary entertainer Charles Sherwood Stratton, a.k.a. “Tom Thumb,” began touring with the internationally famous showman and fellow Connectican P. T. Barnum at the tender age of five.  Stratton had first attracted Barnum’s attention because of his unusually small size — Stratton was a dwarf who never grew taller…

January 23: A Pie in the Sky Idea Takes Off.

In 1871, a Civil War veteran and baker by the name of William Russell Frisbie opened the Frisbie Pie Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut, later building a large factory on the city’s east side to accommodate the growing demand for his pastries.  Little did he know that one day, several decades in the future, his name…

December 23: Bridgeport Patron James Beardsley Mortally Wounded

  In 1812, James Walker Beardsley was born to a prominent cattle farming family in Monroe, Connecticut, and remained a farmer for his entire life, splitting his time between his family’s Monroe farm and a second residence in the then-bustling city of Bridgeport. In addition to farming, Beardsley also dabbled in speculation and trading cattle…

December 19: A Stitch in Time Pays Off for Connecticut Inventor

  While the Industrial Revolution forever changed the way Americans manufactured, bought, and sold everyday goods, fewer inventions had a larger impact on home life for American families than the sewing machine.  While there had been several experimental and industrial models of sewing machines in existence since the earliest years of the 19th century, smaller…

November 2: The “Best Built Car in America” Hits the Road

  On this day in 1902, the Locomobile Company of America delivered its first four-cylinder, gasoline-powered car, designed by engineer and former racecar driver Andrew Riker, who personally drove the $4,000 car from Bridgeport, Connecticut to New York City to present it to its new owner. The Locomobile Company, whose headquarters and main factory were…

August 14: Aviation Pioneer Gustave Whitehead Flies Into History

  One of the most controversial events in aviation history took place in Fairfield, Connecticut on this day in 1901, as inventor Gustave Whitehead executed a half-mile-long flight in his Flying Machine No. 21 at a height of 50 feet off the ground — over two years before the Wright Brothers made their much more…

August 12: Actress Deborah Walley born in Bridgeport

  On this day in Connecticut history, actress Deborah Walley was born in Bridgeport in 1941.  With nationally famous ice skaters and choreographers Edith and Nathan Walley as her parents, young Deborah caught the show business bug at an early age, performing on the ice with her parents for the first time at the age…

August 7: Statewide Strikes Bring Connecticut to a Halt

  Today in 1919, Connecticut companies throughout the state were effectively shuttered as thousands of workers across a multitude of different industries joined in a massive regional strike that, within the course of a week, spread from Maine to New York and brought New England commerce to a screeching halt. Connecticut, like many other states…