December 9: Jim Morrison Arrested in New Haven

  On this night in 1967, The Doors, a psychedelic rock band, were scheduled to headline a show at the New Haven Arena. What should have been an ordinary night of music and revelry turned into something more memorable for everyone who attended, thanks to the antics of Doors lead singer and frontman Jim Morrison….

November 18: Samuel Colt’s Murderous Brother John Cheats the Hangman

  Today in 1842, hours after he had married his beautiful mistress and moments before he was to be hanged for murder, gunmaker Samuel Colt’s brother John took his own life with  a six-inch-long Bowie knife in a New York City prison cell. In doing so, he cheated the “sweating, swearing mob” of  400 invited…

November 10: The Tong Wars Come to Connecticut

  In the late 19th century and early 20th century, as Chinese immigrants flocked to American shores in increasing numbers, insular Chinese-American communities known as “Chinatowns” sprang up in large coastal cities like San Francisco and New York. Here, recent immigrants could more freely speak their native language and observe Chinese customs while adapting to…

October 18: Abolitionist John Brown Captured at Harper’s Ferry

  Connecticut-born radical abolitionist John Brown was already a nationally polarizing figure by the time he staged his infamous raid on the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia in 1859. Born in Torrington in 1800, Brown’s adult life was characterized by failed business ventures, repeated moves across the country, and an increasingly fanatical devotion to…

September 18: Twain Becomes a Mark for Local Thieves

  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 famous novel Innocents Abroad, Twain soon renamed his new home…

August 8: The Shoe Box Murder of 1886

  Today in 1886, three men on a logging road near Wallingford noticed a large wooden shoe box nestled under some bushes, unwittingly breaking open one of the strangest and most gruesome murder mysteries in Connecticut history. Joseph Samson, Edward Terrill and Joseph Terrill first noticed the box, about 30 inches long and a foot…

August 2: The Last Public Hanging in Connecticut

  In 2012, Connecticut became the 17th state to outlaw the death penalty. For the first 200 years of Connecticut’s recorded history, however, public executions were viewed as an effective deterrent of serious crimes. They were also major community events, attracting hundreds if not thousands of onlookers to watch the morbid spectacle. Speeches and moralizing…

July 20: Leader of the “Moonies” Reports to Danbury Prison.

  Sun Myung Moon, the late 20th century Korean evangelist whose Unification Church once claimed over 3 million members worldwide, was a figure dogged by controversy throughout his entire 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, so…

July 1: State Department of Corrections Created

  Today in 1968, the Connecticut General Assembly voted in favor of consolidating the state’s prisons into a single organization, creating the State Department of Corrections. Previously, every prison in the state had been independently managed, with its own Board of Directors, administrative staff, and policies for inmate behavior and rehabilitation. This sweeping reform of…

June 21: Governor John Rowland Resigns

  “I acknowledge that my poor judgment brought us here,” said John Rowland to a sea of reporters, standing on the back lawn of the Connecticut Governor’s Mansion in Hartford. The date was June 21, 2004, and Rowland was announcing his resignation amid a federal corruption investigation and impeachment inquiry. His Lieutenant Governor, M. Jodi…

June 17: Windsor’s “Murder Factory” Story Kills at the Box Office

  Today in Connecticut history, the Broadway comedy “Arsenic and Old Lace,” based on one of Connecticut’s most infamous true crime tales, wrapped up its wildly successful New York run after over 1,400 shows. The unlikely inspiration for “Arsenic and Old Lace,” written by Joseph Kesserling in 1939, was the story of Amy Archer-Gilligan, a…