February 28: Edward Malley’s Department Store Disaster

  February 1882 was not a very good month for New Haven businessman Edward Malley.  The ambitious son of Irish immigrants, Malley had worked his way up from selling assorted dry goods to Elm City denizens out of his aunt’s front parlor to purchasing a modest storefront of his own on Chapel Street in 1852,…

February 27: Before Him, Some Cars Were Unsafe At Any Speed.

  Today in 1934, consumer advocate, author, and political activist Ralph Nader was born in Winsted, Connecticut.  The son of Lebanese immigrants who operated a popular restaurant in the moderately-sized Connecticut factory town, Nader displayed an insatiable appetite for reading and an incredible ability to retain information at an early age — traits that  helped…

February 26: The Rise and Fall of Manchester’s Silk Industry

  Of all the many factories and diverse industries that sprang up across Connecticut during the Industrial Revolution of the early 19th century, one of the longest-lasting was the silk-spinning industry, which coalesced around the Cheney Brothers silk mills in the town of Manchester. Opening their first silk-processing mill in 1838, the Cheney brothers sought…

February 25: Samuel Colt Gets a Patent.

  Today in 1836, Hartford inventor Samuel Colt received a U.S. patent for his first revolving chamber percussion pistol — a new type of firearm which would revolutionize the settlement of the American West and make Connecticut a world leader in arms manufacturing. Colt’s revolver had its roots in young Samuel’s inability to stay focused…

February 23: Connecticut Openly Defies President Jefferson’s National Embargo

  In the early 19th century, Thomas Jefferson, who was elected to two consecutive terms as President of the United States, proved to be a constant thorn in the side of Connecticut’s political leaders.  Virtually all the members of Connecticut’s political “Standing Order” were staunch Federalists who vehemently disagreed with Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican political agenda and…

February 22: The Great Ice Storm of 1898

  February 22, 1898 marked the third and final day of one of the worst ice storms ever seen in Connecticut, a storm for the ages that decimated the northwest corner of the state not even ten years after its long and slow recovery from the infamous Blizzard of 1888.  While the storm brought rain…

February 21: The World’s First “Phone Book”

  Thanks to Connecticut inventor and innovator George Coy, the city of New Haven can lay claim to a number of “firsts” related to the early development and adaptation of the telephone.  Not even two years after Alexander Graham Bell first patented the revolutionary communication device, Coy and his company had implemented a number of…

February 20: The Connecticut Daughters of the American Revolution

  In the late 19th century, following the centennial of American Independence in 1876, numerous civic organizations and heritage societies sprang up across the United States in response to increased national interest in early American history.  In many cases, however, civically-inclined women met with frustration when they were barred from joining prominent clubs founded by…

February 19: Roger Sherman Baldwin, Governor and Abolitionist

On this day in 1863, in the midst of a bloody Civil War that pitted Americans against each other over questions of slavery and freedom, scores of Connecticans mourned the passing of Roger Sherman Baldwin, one of Connecticut’s most ardent abolitionist lawyers and accomplished politicians. Baldwin was born in 1793 to a well-to-do Connecticut family,…

February 18: The Wiffle Ball Takes Flight

  One summer evening in 1953, David N. Mullany, a father, former college baseball player, and recently laid off salesman, was watching his son attempt to play baseball with his friends in the backyard of their Fairfield, Connecticut home when a curious idea came to him.  The boys were playing with a broomstick and tennis…

February 16: A National Statesman and the First Mayor of New Haven

  In the midst of the American Revolution, one of the most chaotic and turbulent times in the nation’s history, it seems fitting that one of the most even-tempered and widely trusted statesmen would hail from the Land of Steady Habits.  That statesman was Roger Sherman, and even though he was a reluctant public speaker,…