1841: Temperance Now!

On October 27, 1841, the steamboat Greenfield transported people from Hartford down the Connecticut River so that they could attend the Temperance Convention taking place in Middletown. The two-day convention included several speeches, as well as an procession that passed through William Street, Broad Street, Washington Street, and Main Street. The marchers included a range of people, including children, Wesleyan faculty and students, and visitors to Middletown. Many temperance songs were sung during the procession.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.

1908: Overdose of Prosperity

Columbia Trust Company of Middletown, Conn., Closed by Bank Commissioners.

Middletown, Conn., Oct. 26–The Columbia Trust company of this city did not open its doors for business today, and the following explanatory notice was posted on the building:

“Upon advice of the bank commissioners, no business will be done for the present at least. Deposits received Saturday will be returned to the depositors. The company will continue to act as trustee for such estates as they have in hand.”

Bank examiners were at work today on the books of the company, and it is expected that a settlement will be made in six months.

From The Salt Lake Herald (Salt Lake City, Utah), Tuesday, October 27, 1908.

1921: Schutte Sentenced to Die, But First Tries Suicide

Cuts Wrist, But Is Haled to Court, Where He Denies Murdering Ball Family

Middletown, Conn., Oct. 25.–Emil Schutte, who was convicted of the murder of three members of the Ball family last week, was sentenced to be hanged on April 10, 1922, at the state prison, by Judge W. M. Maltbie to-day.

In the jail at Haddam this morning Schutte attempted to kill himself by cutting his left wrist with a piece of tin. Surgical attention prevented loss of much blood, and he was taken to court. Judge Maltbie did not rule on the motion to set aside the verdict on the ground of insufficiency of evidence, saying that he would further consider the motion.

Schutte when placed at the bar said: “I have been robbed of my lands, my money, my bonds, worth $50,000, and my family. I swear by God Almighty that I did not burn the Ball family. I am absolutely innocent.”

Sentence was imposed and Schutte was taken immediately to state prison. His counsel expects to carry the case to the Supreme Court of Errors. Counsel claimed that aside from testimony of Julius Schutte, a son, there was no direct evidence to connect Schutte with the crime.

From the New-York Tribune (New York, New York), Wednesday, October 26, 1921.


1893: To Boycott the Girls

Wesleyan University Boys Object to the Fair Sex as Students.

Middletown, Conn., Oct. 24.–When Wesleyan university first opened its doors to young ladies there was no opposition among the young men. The young ladies, however, have so increased in numbers that the boys begin to feel their influence in college affairs, one effect of which is the decline of football, as the girls are not experts at kicking.

Twenty-five percent of the freshmen class this year is of the fair sex, and the ratio in the whole body of students is as one to five. The first evidence of the feeling of the boys was the name “quail,” which signifies a female student at Wesleyan. Webb Hall, the dormitory of the young ladies, is known as “Quail Roost.”

But this is not all. The boys have organized the “P. D. Q.” society, the object of which is to put down the “quails.” The society is secret, and has now only about 100 members, but every young man in college is expected to join.

The method adopted by the “P. D. Q.” society is similar to the boycott. The college girls will not be invited by the college boys to any entertainments. Any college boy seen in the company of a “quail” will be summarily treated. The “quails” are to receive no consideration whatever.

From The Reidsville Review (Reidsville, North Caroline), Friday, October 27, 1893.

1740: Evangelist George Whitefield Preaches In Middletown

Rev. George WhitefieldIn the 1730s and 1740s, the religious revival known as “The Great Awakening” swept through the colonies, disrupting the life of congregations up and down the Atlantic seaboard. As a result, many towns found themselves with two congregational churches – one that continued to embrace the pre-Great Awakening traditions and anpther that embraced the importance of the “new birth” professed by Whitefield and others. The founding of South Church in Middletown was a direct result of the Great Awakening.

The anticipation of George Whitefield’s arrival in Middletown and the sermon he preached outdoors are described in the journal of Nathan Cole:

“ …about 8 or 9 o’clock there came a messenger and said Mr. Whitefield preached at Hartford and Weathersfield yesterday and is to preach at Middletown this morning [October 23, 1740] at ten of the Clock. I was in my field at Work. I dropt my tool that I had in my hand and ran home and run through my house and bade my wife get ready quick to go and hear Mr. Whitefield preach at Middletown, and run to my pasture for my horse with all my might fearing that I should be too late to hear him. I brought my horse home and soon mounted and took my wife up and went forward as fast as I thought the horse could bear, and when my horse began to be out of breath, I would get down and put my wife on the Saddle and bid her ride as fast as she could …

“When I saw Mr. Whitefield come upon the Scaffold he looked almost angelical, a young, slim slender youth before some thousands of people with a bold undaunted countenance, and my hearing how God was with him every where as he came along it solumnized my mind, and put me into a trembling fear before he began to preach; for he looked as if he was Cloathed with authority from the Great God, and a sweet solemn solemnity sat upon his brow. And my hearing him preach gave me a heart wound; by Gods blessing my old foundation was broken up, and I saw that my righteousness would not save me; then I was convinced of the doctrine of Election and went right to quarrelling with God about it, because all that I could do would not save me; and he had decreed from Eternity who should be saved and who not.”

Source: George Leon Walker, Some Aspects of the Religious Life of New England (New York: Silver, Burnett, and Company, 1897), 89–92.

Story contributed by John Hall.

1936: President Franklin Roosevelt Visits Middletown

White House Surprised at Middletown Complaint on Change in Presidential Party Route, by Arthur C. Wimer.

“… Stephen Early, secretary to President Roosevelt insisted today that the White House was not responsible for any last minute changes which might have been made in the route followed by the President’s party through Middletown.

Mr. Early appeared surprised at reports that thousands of persons, many of them school children, had failed to see the President in Middletown because his automobile party had failed to move along High and Upper Washington streets as originally announced. He appeared surprised also at reports the trip down those two streets had been abandoned out of fear that Wesleyan University students might stage a Landon demonstration.

Mr. Early said if any change had been made on the [route] through Middletown it had been made by state or local officials and not by or at the instruction of White House staff. …” From the Hartford Courant, Oct. 25, 1936.

FDR visit


1874: Fire Alarm

There was an alarm of fire last Thursday, which called out the fire department. The fire proved to be in the engine room of Ward’s Lock factory on Spring street, but was extinguished before the firemen arrived, and caused but slight damage. Had it not been discovered in time, a disastrous fire would have been the result. In the dwelling-house close to the burning building, was a family of five children, who were unceremoniously carried into the street, some of them fast asleep.

Returning home the members of the Hook & Ladder company had a race with one of the hose companies, and came off victors which caused them to bring out several bantam roosters. And they had reason to crow, for after all that has been said about the unfitness of their truck, they showed that they can turn corners with it and outrun any of our more modern machines, even if they do have smaller wheels. Good for the Hook and Ladder boys!

From The Constitution (Middletown, Connecticut), Wednesday, October 21, 1874.

1773: The State of Medicine

The original story, from the Connecticut Journal (Middletown, Connecticut), August 31, 1773

A Young woman my neighbor, (18 years old) making an effort to clear her ear of wax with a pin, the pin slipt out of her fingers and lodged in her ear.–Various methods were tried to extract it, but to no purpose. She complained much of pain on the side of her head, extending to her eye. The above accident happened on Friday night, the Tuesday night following, she made great complaint of pain in her ear, &c after a while observed that the pin that had been in her ear, had got into her nose, and desired some of the family to get it out; the pin finally fell from her nose on the floor, and she has been free from all complaints ever since.–The family physician observed on the above case, to this effect; he said, allowing the pin to pass as above, from the ear into the nose, it must pass over the ball of the eye, and enter one of the Paneta Lachrimalia, and made its exit from the nose by the same passage the tears take. Another physical genius asserted it must have passed through the brains into the nose; if so we found have reason to expect some violent spasms, from what physiologists say of the irritability of the brain.–We with some of our physical correspondents would give us a rationale of its route from the ear to the nose.

Your’s, &c.


From the Massachusetts Gazette (Middletown, Connecticut), October 5, 1773.


I observed an article in the papers, dated Middletown, in Connecticut, containing an account of a pin having passed through the ear of a young woman and out at her nose, and likewise some medical observations upon that fact very humiliating to the general Character of the Physicians in that colony; together with a request that some one would explain the route of the pin in its passage from the ear to the nose.

You may therefore assure the Enquirer, that there is a natural passage, called the Tube Eustachiana or meatus auditorius inturnas, leading from the cavity of the ear, to the inside of the nose by the Nares, through which the pin passed and by which surgeons sometimes attempt to syringe the ear in deafness.

I cannot sufficiently express my surprize that any physician should be so ignorant as two of them are in that account represented to be; especially as a pretty tolerable flock of anatomical knowledge may be acquired at so cheap a purchase as that of Cheselden’s anatomy.



From the Connecticut Courant (Hartford, Connecticut), October 26, 1773.

Mr. Watson,

As I have read the Story of the Pin’s Passage from the Ear to the Nose, in your Paper No. 458. Must confess, that it would appear as surprizing to me, as it seems to Anatomicus, that any Mortal should obtain the Name of a “Family Physician,” that appears so grossly ignorant, did I not constantly observe, that a raging Zeal for a Party, will atone for all vices and defects; while a brave, honest Opposition to the same Party, obscures all virtues, destroys all merit, so far as their influence prevails. But can’t think so sensible a Writer as Anatomicus, will, upon a review, judge all the Faculty in Connecticut answerable, or censurable, for the Ignorance of one or two; this seems a little too much like destroying the righteous with the wicked.

Am credibly inform’d that there are a number of learn’d, ingenious, skilful Physicians in the Colony–And I am likewise informed, that neither Dr. Rawson, nor Dr. Dickinson of this Town, was “the Family Physician,” or “Physical Genius,” that asserted, that the Pin “must pass over the Ball of the Eye,” or “through the Brains,”  to get from the Ear to the Nose. But that the Family Physician, or Physician in ordinary, or ordinary Physician, was a young Fellow, that served in the capacity of a private Soldier, in the last War; and it seems to me, that he has, in this instance, acted pretty well up to the Character.

‘Not one looks backward, onward still he goes;

‘Yet none looks farther forward, than his Nose.’

Historicus Verus

Middletown (Connecticut) Oct. 20 1773

P. S. All the Gentlemen Printers that have been so curious as to insert the former Pin Story, are desired to be so fast, kind and generous, as to insert this.

1789: George Washington Visit

George Washington, by Gilbert Stuart.
George Washington, by Gilbert Stuart.

On this day, George Washington visited Middletown while traveling through New England.  The president noted in his diary: “At one we arrived in Middletown, on the Connecticut River, being met 2… or 3 miles from it by the respectable citizens of the place and escorted by them.  While dinner was getting ready I took a walk around the town from the heights of which the prospect if beautiful.  Belonging to this place, I was informed (by General Sage) that there were about 20 sea vessels….The country hereabouts is beautiful and lands good….”  Though his visit lasted just about two hours, it made a great impression on Middletown citizens.  Shortly thereafter, the city changed the name of “Boston Road” to “Washington Street” to honor the first president and mark his visit here.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.

October 18 – Middletown 366

Richard Nixon in 19561956 – Richard Nixon Visit

On this day in 1956, Vice President Richard Nixon came to Middletown on a campaign stop.


Lillian “Reba” Moses

Reba MosesLillian “Reba” Moses was a tireless ray of light in the public health sphere of Middletown. Moses moved to Middletown in the 1940s with her husband and, since then, became a force in the activism world of Middletown. Standing at 4 feet, six inches, Moses was a powerhouse during her time and she was one of the three main founders of the Community Health Center in 1972. She served on the board of the CHC for over thirty years and her contributions to public health care in the Middletown community are irrefutable. Additionally, Moses served as head of community services at the Community Action for Greater Middletown. She worked to fight poverty, to create a sense of community, and to better the community at large.

Moses died at the age of 88 in 2012, leaving behind a legacy of change and hope for the Middletown Community. The Lillian R. Moses Child Guidance Clinic was named in her honor and the clinic serves as a crisis center and preventative clinic for children and adolescents dealing with emotional and mental health problems. Lillian “Reba” Moses believed that health care is a right, not a privilege and she spent her life making sure that the people of Middletown knew that.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.