May 27: The Oldest Volunteer Fire Department in New England

  From the earliest days of Connecticut history, fire posed one of the greatest mortal dangers to Connecticut residents — especially to the English settlers whose homes, barns, fences, and other structures were made of timber and often clustered closely together.  In the 17th and early 18th centuries, before the advent of portable water pumps,…

May 26: A Deadly Attack on the Pequot Fort at Mystic

  Today in 1637, a month after a combined Pequot And Wangunk attack on the small colonial town of Wethersfield that left nine dead and crippled the town’s food security,, a group of 77 English soldiers and hundreds of their Mohegan and Narragansett allies retaliated by attacking and burning a Pequot village at Mystic  Fort,…

May 25: Chester Bowles: Connecticut’s Civil Rights-Era Governor

Chester Bliss Bowles was one of Connecticut’s most accomplished and ambitious politicians of the 20th century.  Born in Massachusetts in 1901, he attended private school in Connecticut and graduated from Yale in 1924.  After college, he worked as a copywriter at an advertising agency in New York City before co-founding his own ad firm which,…

May 24: The First Steam-Powered Ship to Cross the Atlantic

  Today in 1819, yet another chapter in Connecticut innovation was launched when Moses and Stevens Rogers of New London set sail on the first steam-powered ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Steam-powered technology was still in its infancy in 1818, when sea captain and entrepreneur Moses Rogers convinced investors in Georgia to finance his…

May 23: Vaccine to Prevent Polio Distributed Across Connecticut

  On this day in 1955, hundreds of schoolchildren in the town of Stafford Springs lined up to be vaccinated against polio, as part of a massive statewide effort to protect young Connecticans from getting the deadly childhood disease. Polio was the most feared childhood illness of the early 20th century.  An untreatable virus which…

May 22: Washington & Rochambeau Plan Yorktown Campaign in Wethersfield

  This day in Connecticut history marked the beginning of the end of the Revolutionary War, as General George Washington of the Continental Army and Comte de Rochambeau of the French Army met in Wethersfield, Connecticut to plan the Yorktown Campaign of 1781. Wethersfield was a logical choice for such a crucial meeting: it was…

May 21: First Speed Limit Law in the U.S.

  Today in 1901, Connecticut became the first state in America to pass a law governing the speed of automobiles.  According to the new law, cars were not to exceed 12 miles per hour within city limits and 15 miles per hour on rural or suburban roads, and were required to slow down whenever they…

May 20: Catharine Beecher Opens Hartford 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. One of the few extant images of the Hartford Female Seminary’s building on Pratt Street. Born into the wealthy and influential Beecher family in 1800, Catharine Beecher…

May 19: America’s World War I Flying Ace Killed In Action

  Today in 1918, one of America’s greatest and most colorful World War I flying aces was killed in action after being shot down over France by a German triplane.  Raoul Lufbery, a proud Franco-American who had lived in Connecticut before joining the Allied war effort, was only 33 years old at the time. Born…

May 18: Composer Leroy Anderson dies in Woodbury

  On this day, American composer and longtime Connecticut resident Leroy Anderson passed away in his Woodbury home.  Famous for whimsical and catchy orchestral pieces like “The Syncopated Clock,” “Blue Tango” and the perennial Christmastime favorite “Sleigh Ride,” Anderson’s compositions helped define popular music of mid-20th century America.  Fellow composer and Boston Pops conductor John…

May 17: Connecticut Vietnam Memorial Unveiled in Coventry

  On this day in 2008, hundreds gathered at Patriot’s Park in Coventry, Connecticut to attend the unveiling of the first monument to honor all 612 Connecticans who lost their lives during the Vietnam War. The movement to establish the handsome, black-granite monument began as part of a classroom project undertaken by students at Coventry’s…

May 16: The Largest Earthquake in Connecticut History

  On this day in 1791, Connecticans were rattled by the largest earthquake ever recorded in Connecticut history.  Two powerful tremors, occurring within minutes of each other, terrified residents and damaged homes throughout the central part of the state.  Reports from as far away as Boston and New York City confirmed the presence of seismic…