January 19: Connecticut’s First African-American Woman Pharmacist

  Born in Hartford on January 19, 1886, young Anna Louise James was the eighth of 11 children born to Willis James, a former slave who had successfully escaped from a Virginia plantation via the Underground Railroad. As a child, Anna’s family moved from Hartford to Old Saybrook, where she graduated high school and, as…

January 1: The Spy “Queen” Who Triggered the Red Scare of the 1950s

Today in 1908, one of the most high-profile American-born Soviet spies of the 20th century was born in New Milford, Connecticut. Elizabeth Bentley was born to a middle-class family — a dry-goods sellers and a schoolteacher — and by several accounts was a clever and intellectually bright young women who seemed to have trouble making…

December 30: A Mutiny at “Connecticut’s Valley Forge”

  When Americans think of the hardships faced by starving, shivering Continental Army troops during the harsh winters of the Revolutionary War, the infamous winter encampment of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania of 1777–1778 usually comes to mind. What few realize, however, is that the eastern division of the Continental Army under the command of General Israel…

December 24: Financier Charles Dow Joins the New York Stock Exchange

  Looking at the many hardships he faced during his Connecticut childhood, no one would have ever guessed that young Charles Dow would one day become one of the biggest names in American financial history. Dow was born in 1851 in Stirling to a family of farmers. Because his father and two brothers all died…

December 19: A Stitch in Time Pays Off for Connecticut Inventor

  While the Industrial Revolution forever changed the way Americans manufactured, bought, and sold everyday goods, fewer inventions had a larger impact on home life for American families than the sewing machine. While there had been several experimental and industrial models of sewing machines in existence since the earliest years of the 19th century, smaller…

December 4: The Great East Thompson Train Wreck

  Today in 1891, one of the largest train disasters in American history — and the only one to involve four different trains — occurred outside of the small town of East Thompson. Located in the extreme northeast corner of the state, nestled right against the Massachusetts and Rhode Island borders, the tracks in East…

December 1: PEZ Candy Opens Visitor Center in Orange

  Today, PEZ candy conjures up images of whimsical plastic dispensers full of small, brick-shaped little candies. First invented in Austria in the early 20th century, PEZ candy has quite a storied history — one that visitors can learn for themselves with a visit to the PEZ Visitors Center in Orange, Connecticut, which first opened…

November 30: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Marry in Greenwich

  Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, two of the most famous entertainers in the history of American television, first met in 1940, over a decade before their mega-hit sitcom I Love Lucy first aired. Ball, already well-known as a model and Broadway actress, and Arnaz, a popular Cuban bandleader, met on the set of Too…

September 22: Nathan Hale Hanged as a Spy

  In early September 1776, the Continental Army was enduring some of the darkest days it would ever encounter in the entire Revolutionary War. George Washington and his troops had just been soundly defeated in the Battle of Brooklyn, and had just barely escaped annihilation during their retreat. It looked more and more likely that…

September 11: 9/11 Terrorist Attacks Hit Close to Home

  On this day in Connecticut history, we remember the victims of the worst tragedy to hit American soil in recent memory. On September 11, 2001, the course of United States history was forever altered as terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners, crashing two into the Twin Towers in New York City, one into the Pentagon…

January 22: NYC’s “Mad Bomber” Arrested in Waterbury

  On this day in 1957, millions breathed a collective sigh of relief as detectives arrived at the Waterbury home of George Metesky and arrested the man responsible for terrorizing New York City residents for sixteen years by placing pipe bombs throughout the city. New Yorkers first encountered Metesky’s handiwork in 1940, when an unexploded…