January 30: The Most Successful Rescue Operation in U.S. Military History

  Today  in 1945, Bridgeport native Lt. Col. Henry Mucci led a coalition of U.S. Rangers and Filipino allies in a daring raid deep into heavily occupied enemy territory to rescue over 500 Allied prisoners of war from a Japanese concentration camp. The mission, known as the Raid on Cabanatuan or simply “The Great Raid,”…

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. He later built a large factory on the city’s east side to accommodate the growing demand for his pastries. Little did this simple but successful pieman know that one day, several…

December 23: Benefactor Beardsley Brutally Beaten in Bridgeport Break-in

  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 futures,…

December 19: A Stitch in Time Pays Off

  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: Introducing the “Best Built Car in America”

  Today in 1902,  former race car driver Andrew Riker, personally drove the first production model of the luxury $4000,  four-cylinder, gasoline-powered car he had designed, engineered and manufactured in Bridgeport  into New York City to present it to its new owner. Since its founding in 1899, the Locomobile Company, whose headquarters and main factory…

August 14: Gustave Whitehead Flies, Making Two Wrights Wrong

  Today in 1901, one of the most controversial events in aviation history took place in Fairfield, Connecticut.  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 famous flight at…

August 12: Gidget Born in Bridgeport

  Today 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 of three….

August 7: Connecticut Grinds to an Angry 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…

July 20: Mass-Marriage-Minded “Moonies” Minister Moves Into Danbury Prison.

  Sun Myung Moon, the late 20th century Korean evangelist whose Unification Church once claimed over three million members worldwide, was a figure dogged by controversy throughout his life. Born in occupied North Korea in 1920, Moon developed strong anti-Communist views as an adult and founded the Unification Church in Seoul, South Korea. The church’s…

July 17: Bridgeport Baseball Team Arrested. . . Again

  Today in 1913, arrest warrants were issued in Bridgeport for players on the Bridgeport Mechanics minor league baseball team. It was not the first time members of the Bridgeport nine had faced justice. They had, in fact, been arrested, tried, and convicted twice previously during the preceding two months. Their crime? Playing baseball on…

July 14: Bridgeport Throws Express Train 172 a Deadly Curve

  Whenever a train approached Bridgeport’s “Jenkins Curve,” the sharpest curve of the New Haven Railroad system, safety regulations required the engineer to slow down to 30 mph. At 3:42 in the morning of July 14, 1955, however, the driver of New Haven Railroad’s express train 172, from New York City to Boston, inexplicably continued…

July 13: P. T. Barnum’s Greatest Performance Wasn’t on a Stage

  Today in 1865, Connecticut’s Greatest Showman Phineas Taylor “P T” Barnum was as busy as ever – but not on a stage or in a tent. Rather, he was giving an impassioned speech in the Connecticut legislature, where he was serving his first of several terms as a state representative. The seasoned showbiz veteran…