November 12: A Presidential Celebration Draws a Huge Crowd in Middletown

  November 12, 1909 was a momentous day for the city of Middletown, as thousands of cheering, flag-waving residents lined the streets to enjoy a day full of pomp and circumstance and an evening full of dancing and fireworks. The Hartford Courant covered every detail of the day’s festivities in a breathless, three-page spread under…

September 2: High-Flying Hijinks Over the Connecticut River

  Silas Markham Brooks, Connecticut’s first documented hot air balloonist, was one of many native Connecticans who pursued a colorful — if unpredictable — career as a consummate showman in the 19th century. Born in Plymouth in 1824, Brooks worked in a local clock-making factory before being hired by P. T. Barnum to help manufacture…

June 8: Civil War Composer Henry Clay Work Dies at 51 in Hartford

  Henry Clay Work, one of the most popular songwriters of the Civil War era, died today in 1884 at age 51, while in Hartford visiting his mother. Work, who composed such still-sung songs as “Marching Through Georgia” and “Kingdom Coming” (you know the tune), was born in Middletown in 1832 into an activist family…

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…

January 27: Never On A Sunday.

  Willard C. Fisher was one of a handful of early 20th century professors at Middletown’s Wesleyan University who gained national recognition — although in his case through controversy, not his economics lectures. Professor Fisher was a strong-willed man who never hesitated to voice his opinions, regardless of whose sensibilities he might offend.  But he…

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…

November 12: A Presidential Celebration Draws a Huge Crowd in Middletown

  November 12, 1909 was a momentous day for the city of Middletown, as thousands of cheering, flag-waving residents lined the streets to enjoy a day full of pomp and circumstance and an evening full of dancing and fireworks.  The Hartford Courant covered every detail of the day’s festivities in a breathless, three-page spread under…

September 2: High-Flying Hijinks Over the Connecticut River

  Silas Markham Brooks, Connecticut’s first documented hot air balloonist, was one of many native Connecticans who pursued a colorful — if unpredictable — career as a consummate showman in the 19th century.  Born in Plymouth in 1824, Brooks worked in a local clock-making factory before being hired by P. T. Barnum to help manufacture…

June 10: Author Robert Ludlum’s Connecticut Connection

  Today in 1951, Robert Ludlum, one of the bestselling authors of all time, graduated from Wesleyan College in Middletown, Connecticut with a B.A. in Drama and high hopes of becoming a world-famous actor. Born in New York City in 1927, Ludlum developed a love for the theater while attending private school in Cheshire, Connecticut,…

June 8: John Adams Writes of Connecticut’s Natural Beauty

  On this day in 1771, thirty-five-year-old lawyer — and future President of the United States — John Adams traveled by horse southward along the Connecticut River, from Windsor through Hartford and Wethersfield to Middletown, as part of a Connecticut sojourn intended to improve his health. Adams, a prolific writer, kept a detailed diary of…