September 18: Mark Twain Is Robbed in Redding

  In the later years of his life, famous American author and satirist Samuel Langhorne Clemens — better known as Mark Twain — savored the tranquil days spent at his Italianate mansion in Redding, Connecticut. Initially named “Innocents at Home” as an homage to his  novel Innocents Abroad, Twain soon renamed his new home “Stormfield.”This…

July 22: Mohegan Minister Samson Occom Preaches Up An Ivy League College

  Samson Occom, one of the Mohegan tribe’s most famous members and a direct descendant of the great 17th-century tribal leader Uncas, was born in 1723 in southeastern Connecticut. As a teenager, he converted to Christianity after attending one of the many revivals held throughout Connecticut as part of the first Great Awakening. When he…

July 8: One of History’s Most Effective — and Terrifying — Sermons.

  In the early 1740s, New England was in the midst of a sweeping religious revival now known as the Great Awakening. Charismatic evangelical ministers traveled from town to town on a mission to invigorate congregations with a renewed sense of Christian piety based on fear of damnation. They were inspired by the internationally famous…

June 25: Marilyn Monroe Takes Connecticut By Storm

  Today in 1956, the small, rural, western Connecticut town of Roxbury was swarmed by reporters who had learned that the internationally famous starlet Marilyn Monroe was there visiting her fiancée, Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Arthur Miller. The couple had been dating for months, and they had announced their plans to marry the week before. Miller,…

June 24: Born to Fame, and Scandal — Celebrity Minister Henry Ward Beecher

  Henry Ward Beecher, one of the most famous and influential — but also controversial — preachers and orators of 19th-century America, was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, today in 1813. Henry was one of several literary giants of the extended Beecher family: his father Lyman was also a notable preacher; his sister Harriet found international…

May 20: A “Man’s Education” at a Female Seminary

  Today in 1823, the first classes were held at the Hartford Female Seminary, a revolutionary new school for girls founded by author and education pioneer Catharine Beecher. Born into the wealthy and influential Beecher family in 1800, Catharine Beecher wholly devoted herself to advancing the education and betterment of young women after her fiancé died…

May 14: A Very Busy — and Unusually Talented — Minister

  What didn’t he do? Today in 1752, Timothy Dwight IV, minister, scholar, theologian, war chaplain, songwriter, political leader, travel writer, college president, and one of a group of early American poets and writers known as the Hartford Wits, was born. The eldest of 13 children born into an influential family in Massachusetts, Dwight graduated…

May 8: The Man Who Made “Happily Ever After” Get Real

Today in 2012, longtime Connecticut resident Maurice Sendak died in Danbury from complications following a stroke. Sendak was a prolific children’s book creator who wrote and illustrated dozens of books during a more than half-century career. His path-breaking approach to reflecting the psychology of children in his work transformed the field of children’s literature. The…

May 2: Baby-ing by the Book

  Most people reading this story were either raised, or raised their own children, following advice they found written in a book by pediatrician Benjamin Spock, who was born in New Haven today in 1903. The most influential doctor of the Baby Boomer generation and a graduate of Yale University and Columbia University’s College of…

April 22: Noah Webster Foresees Life-Changing Environmental Crisis — in 1817!

  Today in 1817, Noah Webster’s visionary essay on environmental sustainability, which he modestly titled “Domestic Consumption,” was published on the front page of the Connecticut Courant. Born in what is now West Hartford, and a graduate of Yale, Webster is best known to history as the creator of the first American dictionary in 1806….