1802: Couple Drowned

Middletown, Aug. 23.

One Wednesday last about 8 o’clock in the evening, Capt. Moses Dickinson and Wife, of Wethersfield, Parish of Rocky Hill, were drowned in attempting to come ashore from a vessel lying in the river opposite this City. They were part of a company going to Long Island. The circumstances of the disaster are said to be these. Capt. Dickinson stepped into a small boat and was receiving his Wife into his arms from the vessel, when the motion of the boat or the weight of Mrs. Dickinson, made him totter and fall into the river with her, and they both immediately sunk. Only one person was on deck and spectator of the scene, the rest of the company being below at supper. Information was immediately given to the company and to the people on shore, and every exertion made to afford relief, but the body of Capt. Dickinson was not found until he had been in the water two hours; and all efforts to find Mrs. Dickinson proved ineffectual until Saturday morning, when she was found floating down the river, about two miles below the city, by some people who were coming up in a boat. We are informed that they were about 30 years of age, and have left two children to lament their untimely fate.

From the Norwich Courier (Norwich, Connecticut), Wednesday, September 1, 1802.

August 22 – Middletown 366


Simeon North Dies

North Pistol Factory
North Pistol Factory

Arms manufacturer Simeon North passed away on this day at the age of 87. North’s factory was on the West River and there he pioneered the use of interchangeable parts and developed what was possibly the first milling machine. For 53 years, he provided pistols, rifles, and other armaments to the War Department, making as many as 10,000 pistols a year for use by soldiers in the War of 1812.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.


Pilot Pinned in Wreckage, Rescued After 6 Long Days

Middletown, Conn. (AP)– For six days, injured John T. Emmanuel, sat pinned in his seat in a wrecked plane.

Trucks sped by on Interstate 91, only a short distance away. Search planes buzzed overhead, their pilots unable to see the wreckage under the trees.

Beside Emmanuel, 39, lay the body of his friend, Richard C. Grimaldi, 32, who had been piloting the single-engine plane back to Hartford after a weekend holiday at Block Island, R. I.

A week ago this morning, the Cessna went down, bounced off the rocky face of Mt. Higby and fell into the woods at the bottom of the cliff.

As the days passed, Emmanuel sat trapped in the crumpled cockpit.

An air-sea search for the plane was pressed by the Federal Aviation Agency and the Coast Guard. They abandoned the search Thursday, but a number of private pilots and Connecticut authorities continued the hunt.

There was no clue to the whereabouts of the four-seater plane, state police said, until authorities received a report from truck driver John Faulkner. He told them he had seen a flash of something at the foot of the mountain in the rear view mirror of his truck while he was driving south on Interstate 91 last Monday morning.

After hearing days later about the lost plane, Faulkner gave searchers information which enabled them to pinpoint the spot where the plane might have gone down.

On Sunday, a State Aeronautics Department helicopter flew low and spotted the wreck beneath the heavy foliage at the foot of the cliff.

Searchers hiked through the wooded Mt. Higby area to the plane, where they found Emmanuel alive.

“We did not give up hope,” said Emmanuel’s mother, Mrs. Thomas H. Emmanuel of Hartford. “We knew we’d find him alive.”

The survivor was suffering from malnutrition, exposure, and shock. He was in serious condition, but conscious and able to speak.

Emmanuel was brought out with some difficulty. The small helicopter that found him couldn’t manage it. A bigger helicopter from Suffolk (N.Y.) Air Force Base finally managed the job after making three passes at the site.

The body of the pilot, a Newington resident, was to be removed today.

From The Hope Star (Hope, Arkansas), Monday, August 22, 1966.



1920: Four Auto Bandits Hold Up Two Banks

Middletown, Conn., is Scene of Daring Robberies–Gunman “Covers” Cashier and Pal Gathers Up Cash.

Middletown, Conn., Aug. 21.–Four armed bandits held up and robbed two banks here this morning and escaped toward Glastonbury in a car without any markers.

The banks robbed were the First National and the Freestone Savings Bank. In each case the cashier was held up by [a] gunman while a second robber entered the vault and gathered in all the cash in sight. The two banks are in the same building and were looted at 10:20 a.m., with many people passing along the streets ignorant of the holdup.

A woman employee of the Freestone Bank gave an alarm to the police but the robbers had made their escape before the officers could arrive.

From The Evening Review (East Liverpool, Ohio), Saturday, August 21, 1920.

1893: Large Sales and Easy Collections

Middletown, Conn., Aug. 20.–While several of the large manufacturing establishments in this city are temporarily closed, there is no destitution. Many merchants report large cash sales and easier collections than during any previous August. The quarrymen at the Portland, Cromwell and Maromas quarries are the most affected, as money for the sale of stone is not easily obtained.

The Goodyear Rubber Company is running full time, with no reduction in pay, and with cash payments to the help. The Wilcox-Crittendon Company, ship chandlery hardware, expect to resume work with full force on the 28th. W. G. Douglas’s employes will work five days a week. L. D. Brown & Sons’ Company will work three days a week for the rest of the month. The Hatch Cutlery Company is putting on more men. The Rockwell Woollen Company is working full hours, with plenty of work, and paying the help in cash.

The Rogers & Hubbard Company, bone and ivory goods, is hiring hands. The William Wilcox Company is running full time. The Schuyler Electric Company is not going to abandon the plant here. The Middletown Blast Company is working on short time. The temporary closing of the Bissell & Schuyler Company has thrown 1,400 hands out of employment, many being boys and girls. There is no sign of a panic here. The general feeling is that when Congress repeals the silver purchase clause, every factory will be working overtime in order to fill orders now on hand.

From the New-York Tribune (New York, New York), Monday, August 21, 1893.

1955: Devastating Flood

The combination of Hurricane Connie and Hurricane Diane in a five-day period left the Connecticut area devastated. The rainfall from both storms caused the river levels higher than they had been in hundreds of years. Connie and Diane called eight days of rainfall in total. Entire neighborhoods, as well as businesses and family homes, were washed away and destroyed in the floods following the storms.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.

1866: New Town of Middlefield


(From Our Regular Correspondent.)

August 18, 1866.

Thursday last was a great day for the new town of Middlefield, and at sunrise the immense hosts commenced assembling from every nook and corner. From every hill and valley, from highways and by-ways, from Meriden and Durham, from cellars and garrets, poured the living tide of humanity until the splendid streets of that ancient spot were crowded to their utmost capacity. The sweet strains of music floated upon the air and fell sweetly upon the ear. The cannon boomed out its thunder tones of joy; the bells run out their merry peals, while the chimes on the Congregational church chanted out many a gay and festive air. The throats of stalwart men and the puny voices of infants mingled in many a grand hurrah, and “all went merry as the marriage bell.”

You will doubtless wonder by this time what was the cause of all this great commotion. A few words will tell you. It was the crowning of King David and the consecration of Bishop George, and a great time it was, too. The exercises commenced by a national salute. The several military companies, together with the citizens, formed a procession and marched through the principal streets of the city, headed by the Wallingford brass band, to the grove near the conference house, where a bounteous repast had been prepared, and to which the hungry crowd fell at with a will. After the edibles had been dispatched, the ceremony of crowning and consecration commenced. A reverend gentleman offered up a solemn and impressive prayer, and then speeches were the order of the day. King David opened the ball, by reciting the wrongs and barbarities which the Middletowners had been heaping upon them; told how no roads to M. could be got; how they couldn’t fence the burying-ground where fathers’, mother’ and children’d bodies lay entombed, because the hard-hearted Middletowners would object to paying for it, and they should have to pay the expense themselves. In short, all the wrongs of ages had conspired to cause a deep feeling of disgust at the conduct of outside barbarians living in other portions of the town. He went on to say that they wished to keep it a “moral town,” as it always had been, but could not continue so unless they were separated from the corruptions of the city. He alluded feelingly to what the expense had been, and to the hundreds of wringers sent to various members of the legislature, attorneys and others. He closed with a grand peroration on the union of States, but particularly the union of Middlefield as ill-treated by the Republicans taking all the important offices but the second selectman, which was a sop offered to Bishop George.

Bishop George was the next speaker, or at least he essayed to be, and as far as he usually did when a small portion of this town, and that was Mr. President. At this juncture the vast crowd was visibly and audibly affected, and all were taken with a severe fit of coughing, during which the speaker subsided.

Some excellent remarks were made by our good-natured and genial friend, Dr. Hatch, of Meriden. He showed the importance of trading with Meriden and leaving this town out in the cold, and really made a sensible speech. Speeches were also made by a Mr. Davis and others. James Inglis recited a humorous poem which brought down the house by its wit and hits at men and things. Time will not permit me to say more. It was s day ever to be remembered in the annals of Middlefield–ye ancient town.

August 17 – Middletown 366


General Parson’s Fight

Samuel Holden Parsons home in Middletown
Samuel Holden Parsons home in Middletown

On this day, Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons of Middletown commanded more than 2500 men and participated in the fighting against the British commander Lord Sterling at Battle Hill in Brooklyn, New York. He was also credited with being the first Colonial leader to call for a meeting of a Continental Congress of the American colonies. He was a member of the board of officers who tried and sentenced to death Benedict Arnold’s accomplice Major John Andre. At war’s end, he returned to Middletown to resume his law practice and was elected to the General Assembly. Later he moved to Ohio and was appointed the first chief judge of the Northwest Territory.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.


Turtle Story

In 1818 Alfred Hubbard, who lives in Long Hill society, Middletown, Conn., caught a box turtle, marked it with his initials, A. H., 1818, and let it go. It was not seen again until 1846, when his son, S. C. Hubbard, found it and marked it S. C. H., 1846. Another son discovered the turtle in 1851 and marked it F. W. H., 1851. Since that time it has not been seen until recently, when another son found the old veteran in his father’s garden among the strawberry plants. He also marked him E. N. H., 1882, and set him at liberty.

From The Democratic Press (Ravenna, Ohio), August 17, 1882.

1805: Lightning Strike

Middletown, August 16. Last Tuesday afternoon, the house of Mr. William Southmayd of this city was struck by lightning. One part entered the chimney and ran down to a fireplace of the second story–it then entered a small hole at the bottom of the fireplace, and seems to have spent itself, as no effects of it are discoverable afterwards. Another part of it entered a rafter, and ran down, splitting off a piece about two inches square from one end to the other–it then entered a pott and ran down to within about six feet of the lower floor, and from whence no effects are discoverable. Six persons were in the house at the time, but happily received no injury.

The same afternoon, the house of Zelotes Clark, of Saybrook, was struck with lightning, but fortunately none of the family were injured by its effects.

From The Connecticut Journal (New Haven, Connecticut), Thursday, August 22, 1805.

August 15 – Middletown 366


Stephen Olin Passes Away

Wesleyan's Olin Library, named for Olin père et fils
Wesleyan’s Olin Library, named for Olin père et fils.

Stephen Olin was born on March 2, 1797 and was an American educator and minister. He graduated from Middlebury College and was later ordained into the Methodist Episcopal Church. Olin was elected the second president of Wesleyan University. However, he postponed his presidency and served as the third president due to chronic illness. While at Wesleyan, Olin attempted to fix the university’s financial crisis and consolidated the curriculum. Olin died in Middletown on August 16, 1851 as his demanding schedule took a toll on his fragile state of health. His son went on to attend and graduate from Wesleyan University.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.


Captain Miller Found

Discovered in a Field Fearfully Bruised, Almost Naked and Incoherent.

Middletown, Conn., Aug. 15.–Captain Harvey Miller, for whom all Middletown has been searching since last Friday morning, was found at 6 o’clock last night in a pasture field belonging to J. C. Marvin. He was fearfully bruised and scratched and was lying on the grass without raiment, save a shift. He is alive and will probably recover.

When Mr. Marvin approached him he recognized him and asked to be taken home, also for food. Mr. Marvin summoned aid and drove the rescued man to Rockfalls, where medical aid was summoned. Miller is conscious and able at times to talk, but much of his talk is incoherent, and he is entirely unable to give an intelligible account of his wanderings since Thursday night.

From The Evening Journal (Wilmington, Delaware), Monday, August 15, 1892.

1900: Stole For His Nerves

New York, Aug. 14.–In Recorder Stanton’s Court, in Hoboken, Peter Simmering, of Middletown, Conn., was charged with stealing articles worth $39 from his boarding house and pawning them. When questioned he admitted the theft, but said:

“I did not mean to steal, but my nervous disposition is such that I cannot help it. I have been an inmate of an insane asylum and since I have been released I cannot help taking things. I don’t mean to do wrong, but I have an inclination to take things, and unless I do I become nervous. I find that although I am haunted with fear that I shall do wrong, my nerves are better after I have stolen. I cannot explain it at all. It’s my nerves.”

From the Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Arizona), Wednesday, August 15, 1900.