January 5: Ezra Warner Invents the Can Opener

  In the early 1800s, responding to Napoleon’s request to find a more efficient way to feed his armies in the field, French inventor Nicholas Appert discovered that heating food stored in glass jars would sterilize it, keeping it safe to eat for long periods of time.  Shortly thereafter, Englishman Peter Durand invented a similar…

January 4: Mary Goodrich Jenson, Connecticut’s First Female Pilot

  In the heady days of early American aviation, when tales of plucky pilots and ingenious innovators were a dime a dozen, few pilots stood out from the crowd as much as Mary Goodrich Jenson, the first woman to earn a pilot’s license in the state of Connecticut.  Born in Hartford in 1907, young Mary…

January 3: Senator Joseph Lieberman Bids Farewell to Politics

  Today in 2013, after over forty years of public service to the people of Connecticut and having earned a reputation as a politician that defied conventional political labels, Senator Joseph Lieberman retired from politics after deciding not to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate. Born in Stamford, Connecticut in 1942, Lieberman grew up…

January 2: The Connecticut Turnpike Opens

  January 2nd remains a date in Connecticut history that is bound to provoke strong feelings among the state’s road warriors: On this day in 1958, the Connecticut Turnpike — better known today as Interstate 95 — first opened to the public. The course of the well-traveled highway largely paralleled the path of U.S. Route…

January 1: “The Red Spy Queen” Born in New Milford

  Today in 1908, one of the most high-profile American-born Soviet spies of the 20th century was born in New Milford, Connecticut.  Elizabeth Bentley was born to a middle-class family — a dry-goods sellers and a schoolteacher — and by several accounts was a clever and intellectually bright young women who seemed to have trouble…

December 31: Middletown’s Nathan Starr Arms the Nation

  As a major in the Continental Army, Nathan Starr forged and repaired weapons as part of his service during the Revolutionary War.  After the war was over, Starr returned to his hometown of Middletown, Connecticut, and made a living manufacturing blades of a different sort: mostly agricultural tools like scythes for local farmers. In…

December 30: A Mutiny at “Connecticut’s Valley Forge”

  When Americans think of the hardships faced by starving, shivering Continental Army troops during the harsh winters of the Revolutionary War, the infamous winter encampment of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania of 1777 – 1778 usually comes to mind.  What few realize, however, is that the eastern division of the Continental Army under the command of…

December 29: Preserving America’s Maritime History in Mystic

  The village of Mystic, Connecticut — which is actually not its own town, but a borough straddling the two towns of Groton and Stonington — has been associated with sailing, fishing, and shipbuilding for hundreds of years.  The village’s earliest shipbuilding enterprises date to the late 17th century, when English settlers set up shop…

December 28: When Eastern Pennsylvania Belonged to Connecticut

  While Connecticut stands today as one of the smallest states in the Union in terms of land area, in the 17th and 18th centuries, ambitious Connecticans dreamed of expanding the colony’s control over vast swaths of territory located far to the west.   Connecticut’s Royal Charter of 1662, issued by King Charles II, had originally…

December 27: Hero of the 1955 Floods Receives Medal of Valor

  In August 1955, Connecticut experienced some of the worst flooding in its recorded history after two major hurricanes — Connie and Diane — dumped between 20 and 30 inches of rain across the state in the span of a single week.  All of the state’s major waterways, including the Connecticut, Quinebaug, Farmington, and Housatonic…

December 26: Connecticut’s “Crowbar Governor”

  While the state — and colony — of Connecticut has been helmed by a number of colorful personalities over its long history, few of them can compare to the widely-accomplished Morgan G. Bulkeley: Civil War veteran, financier, insurance executive, baseball enthusiast, and strong-arm politician who earned himself the nickname “the Crowbar Governor” while in…

December 25: Florence Griswold and the Lyme Art Colony

    On this day in 1850, Florence Griswold was born into one of Old Lyme’s most prominent families, the youngest daughter of wealthy ship captain Robert Griswold. Not long after Florence was born, the family’s fortunes began to change, as the onset of the Civil War (and its many naval blockades) and the decline…