October 20: Commemorating Thomas Hooker, Founder of Hartford

  On October 20, 1950, a crowd of several hundred Connecticans gathered in front of the Old State House in Hartford to observe the unveiling of a new, eight-foot-tall statue of Thomas Hooker, the Puritan minister and “founding father” of Connecticut who founded the settlement of Hartford in 1636. Born in England in 1586, Thomas…

October 17: Jupiter Hammon, First Published African-American Writer

  Jupiter Hammon, an enslaved man, poet, and devout Christian who became the first published African-American writer, was born on this day in 1711 on the Lloyd family estate on Long Island. While little is known about the finer details of Hammon’s life, as a boy, young Jupiter was educated alongside the Lloyd family’s children…

October 15: From Connecticut Governor to Russian Ambassador

  Today in 1853, Thomas H. Seymour, one of Connecticut’s most accomplished — and controversial — 19th century politicians, resigned as Governor to accept nomination by President Franklin Pierce as the United States’ minister to Russia. It was the latest in a long list of prestigious accomplishments for Seymour, whose popularity was at its peak….

October 14: Hartford Shuts Down Over Influenza Fears

  Today in 1918, as a deadly and highly contagious strain of influenza spread throughout Connecticut, Hartford city leaders considered drastic action in order to minimize further public exposure. To many Americans, the global Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918 – 1919 was arguably just as — if not more — terrifying than the First World…

October 11: Polar Explorer Richard Byrd Tours Connecticut

  In the 1920s and 1930s, few real-life figures captured the American imagination like Richard E. Byrd, the dashing Navy hero and polar explorer who gained international fame after becoming the first man to fly over the North and South poles. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy and serving with distinction as a Navy…

October 9: The Hindenburg Flies Over Connecticut

  Today, the name “Hindenburg” is most closely associated with the fiery, disastrous crash that destroyed the famous dirigible in 1937. Before its demise, however, the massive, 800-foot-long German airship was considered the pinnacle of modern aerospace engineering and luxury travel, and often attracted crowds of awe-struck spectators wherever it went. Built over a period…

October 8: Completing the World’s Largest Stone Arch Bridge

  For most of the 19th century, travelers passing between Hartford and East Hartford crossed the Connecticut River over a wooden covered bridge, constructed in 1818 and expanded several times to include additional lanes and, eventually, room for trolleys. In 1895, the entire structure burned down in a spectacular fire that, according to newspapers, some…

October 5: A Revolt Against the State Income Tax

  One of the largest protests in Connecticut history took place on this day in 1991, as tens of thousands of Connecticans gathered on the lawn of the State Capitol in Hartford to call for the repeal of the brand-new state income tax. 1991 was a tumultuous year in state politics; during the summer, legislators…

October 2: An Honorable (& Sober) Guard for the Governor

  One of the largest and most effusively celebrated civic holidays in 18th century Connecticut was Election Day, when the freemen of the colony gathered in town centers to cast their votes for local officials.  Many townspeople viewed Election Day as a fine excuse to gather together and socialize under the guise of exercising their…

September 30: Babe Ruth Plays His Last Baseball Game Ever in Hartford

  On this day in 1945, baseball superstar Babe Ruth delighted 2,500 fans in Hartford by participating in an exhibition game between two local semi-pro teams: the Savitt Gems of Hartford and the New Britain Codys. The Gems had been founded by a successful local jeweler, Bill Savitt, who used his money and influence to…

September 26: Connecticut’s First English Settlement

  On this day in 1633, a small band of English settlers from Eastern Massachusetts sailed past an openly hostile Dutch trading fort near modern-day Hartford and defiantly staked their own claim near the shores of the Connecticut River. There, at a site that would soon be known as Windsor, they built a trading post…

September 25: Remembering the Civil War’s “Petersburg Express”

  The Siege of Petersburg was one of the most significant military campaigns of the final year of the Civil War. From June 1864 to March 1865, Union troops continuously besieged and harassed the Confederate railroad hub city of Petersburg, Virginia and surrounding environs in hopes of depleting both the Confederate Army and its nearby…