May 14: A Very Busy — and Unusually Talented — Minister

  What didn’t he do? Today in 1752, Timothy Dwight IV, minister, scholar, theologian, war chaplain, songwriter, political leader, travel writer, college president, and one of a group of early American poets and writers known as the Hartford Wits, was born. The eldest of 13 children born into an influential family in Massachusetts, Dwight graduated…

May 4: Landscape Art for an Industrializing America

  Today in 1826, iconic American landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church was born in Hartford. The internationally famed artist’s Connecticut roots ran deep: he was a direct descendant of one of the original English Puritans who settled Hartford with Rev. Thomas Hooker. His father, a prominent silversmith, also became a director of Hartford’s Aetna Insurance…

May 2: The Baby Boomer’s Baby Doctor

  Most people reading this story were either raised, or raised their own children, following advice they found written in a book by pediatrician Benjamin Spock, who was born in New Haven today in 1903. The most influential doctor of the Baby Boomer generation and a graduate of Yale University and Columbia University’s College of…

April 25: Oliver Winchester Aims for Success in The Rifle Industry.

    In early 1857, businessman Oliver Winchester bought controlling interest in a struggling Connecticut firearms company from two inventors named Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson. With access to machine tools, raw materials, and a number of valuable patents — especially rights to the Henry Repeating Rifle, the world’s first multiple-round-firing longarm — Winchester formed…

April 24: New Haven Founded as a “New Jerusalem”

  In the 1630s, John Davenport, like many Puritan ministers preaching in cosmopolitan and decadent London, yearned to create a “New Jerusalem.” This “heavenly city” would be located in a place free from the religious persecution and political pressures Puritans experienced in England. Its settlers would all live pure and godly lives. Arriving in the…

April 4: Saving the Elm City’s Elm Trees – The First Time

  Today in 1909, the last in a series of “campaign documents” aimed at mobilizing citizens to save the trees that had given New Haven its reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful cities was published in the New Haven Sunday Union. Decades before the 1936 arrival of the devastating Dutch elm disease, the “City…

March 29: Catholic Immigrants Unite to Protect & Support Each Other, & Their New Country

  Late-19th century Connecticut was marked by growing hostility toward a massive recent influx of Catholic immigrants from Europe, dangerous working conditions in factories that left many families fatherless, and a marked increase in the formation of fraternal benefit societies. In response to these societal pressures, Father Michael J. McGivney, the 29-year-old Irish immigrant and…

March 20: The First U.S. Figure Skating Championships

  Today in 1914, the first “International Style” Figure Skating Championship competition in the United States was held in New Haven, Connecticut. While amateur ice skating had been a popular American pastime since the colonial days, modern figure skating — an artistic blend of dance moves and other technical feats performed on ice — was…

March 14: Eli Whitney Patents the Machine That Would Lead to Civil War

  Today in 1794, Eli Whitney, one of Connecticut’s most influential inventors, received a patent for the cotton gin, a machine that revolutionized cotton production by optimizing the laborious task of cleaning seeds from raw cotton bolls. Born in Massachusetts in 1765, Eli had exhibited both interest in, and talent at, manufacturing early in life,…

March 12: The “Great White Hurricane” Paralyzes Connecticut

  When snow started falling across the state in the early hours of March 12, 1888, Connecticut residents thought nothing of it. It wasn’t unusual to have light to moderate snowfall in early March, and the forecast for that day called for “fair weather, followed by rain.” Later that morning, amid moderate snowfall, most Connecticans…

March 7: New Haven Hides the Killers of a King

  Soon after the then-separate Connecticut and New Haven colonies were established in the 1630s, their country of origin, England, was thrown into a long and brutal civil war pitting English Puritans against King Charles I. The Parliamentarians, as the king’s enemies called themselves, were ultimately victorious, and, after taking control of the government, they…