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…

May 15: “Queen of Mean” Leona Helmsley Checks Into Danbury Prison

  Leona Helmsley was one of the most infamous celebrity billionaires of late 20th century New York, a hotel and real estate magnate who gained national notoriety for her reportedly tyrannical treatment of her staff.   The wife of hotelier Harry Helmsley, Leona became the face of a marketing campaign that cast her as a “queen”…

April 28: Corruption Along Connecticut’s Historic Merritt Parkway

  Connecticut’s historic Merritt Parkway is the oldest scenic parkway in the United States.  One of the first limited-access, divided-lane highways in the United States, its novel use of entrance and exit ramps preceded the Eisenhower interstate system by decades.  Lined with trees, carefully maintained green spaces, and passing underneath dozens of uniquely decorated stone…

March 23: The “Mad Dog” Murders

  As a troubled teen, Hartford’s Joseph Taborsky had already acquired a long rap sheet for stealing, robbery, and other petty offenses by his early twenties.  On March 23, 1950, he decided to “celebrate” his twenty-fifth birthday with a crime-ridden night on the town, together with his younger brother, Albert.  Telling Albert they were going…

March 21: Taxpayer Anger at Bailout Bonuses Hits Home.

  Editor’s Note: This article has been revised after a thoughtful reader argued that we had displayed a distinctive bias against AIG in the original post, and had in places advanced personal opinions as facts. After reading the critique, revisiting our source material, and weighing the reader’s objections, I had to agree with him. The…