February 3: The First Mass Homicide in U.S. History

  One of the darkest days in Connecticut history occurred today in 1780, as 19-year-old Revolutionary War deserter Barnett Davenport brutally murdered his employer and his entire family in what many historians recognize as the first documented mass murder in American history. Born in New Milford in 1760, young Barnett was a troubled youth who,…

February 1: Revolutionary Head Count: Three Censuses in Seven Years.

  Since 1790, people in the United States have participated in a census of the population once every 10 years. During the American Revolution, however, Connecticut conducted three censuses in only seven years, each in response to different demands created by the revolutionary struggle. The third and final count was conducted today in 1782, and…

January 9: Connecticut Joins the United States

  Today in 1788, the delegates at the Connecticut state convention ratified the United States Constitution by a vote of 128 to 40, making Connecticut the fifth state to join the Union.   While certain states, most notably New York and Virginia, remained skeptical of the new Constitution and required lots of convincing in order to…

January 6: A Wartime Departure From an Ancient Tradition

  Long known as “the Land of Steady Habits,” Connecticut is home to scores of political and cultural traditions that span generations, including many that stretch back into the colonial era. One such tradition has been the Inaugural Ball, a ceremony filled with plenty of pomp and circumstance thrown for newly elected governors by the…

December 31: Cutting-Edge Teamwork Turns A Starr Into A Star

  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…

December 30: 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, they usually remember the infamous winter encampment at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania in 1777–1778. What few realize, however, is that the eastern division of the Continental Army under the command of General Israel Putnam…

December 28: When Eastern Pennsylvania Belonged to Connecticut

  Connecticut stands today as one of the smallest states in the Union in terms of land area. But during the 17th and 18th centuries, ambitious Connecticans dreamed of expanding the colony’s control over vast swaths of territory located far to the west. Connecticut’s Royal Charter of 1662, issued by King Charles II, had originally…

December 22: Newgate Prison Jails Its First Inmate. But Not For Long.

  Today in 1773, Newgate Prison, the first penal institution to open in Connecticut, received its very first prisoner: 20-year-old John Hinson, who had been convicted of burglary and sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment. Newgate Prison was built on the site of a former copper mine in East Granby which had opened in 1705…

September 16: A Hero Dies at the Battle of Harlem Heights

  Today in 1776, one of Connecticut’s most valiant heroes of the Revolutionary War, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Knowlton, died while commanding his men at the Battle of Harlem Heights in New York City. Born in Massachusetts but raised in Ashford, Connecticut since early childhood, Knowlton was a seasoned veteran who had served under fellow Connectican…