June 30 – Middletown 366


Industrial School For Girls Opens

On this day, the Connecticut Industrial School for Girls, later known as the Long Lane School, was opened with two buildings, the Pratt and the Street Homes in honor of the ladies who donated $5000 each to the school.  The purpose of the school was to house and educate girls between the ages of 8 and 16 “whose surroundings were likely to lead them to vicious or criminal lives.” (Beers History of Middlesex County, 1635-1885) The farm contained 46 acres with 20 acres suitable for the buildings.  A later building was named after a local benefactor, Mrs. Samuel M. Russell.  The class of girls admitted included “the stubborn and unruly; truants, vagrants, and beggars; those in danger of falling into vicious habits; and those who have been guilty of punishable offenses but who are not deemed incorrigible.”

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.


Victor Butterfield steps down as Wesleyan’s President

Born on February 7, 1904, Victor L. Butterfield always planned to be a teacher. He graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. He later received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. After teaching at Deerfield Academy, the Riverdale School, and Lawrence College, he went onto Wesleyan University. He served as director of admissions, dean of freshman, philosophy professor, associate dean, and finally president of the university. Victor L. Butterfield left a legacy of friendliness, eloquence, and hard work during his tenure as president at Wesleyan University. He was elected in 1943 and understood incoming classes would be different from past classes due to wartime circumstances. He also developed the College of Letters and the College of Social Studies. Before leaving his position, Butterfield also added the Davison Art Center, Foss Hill Dorms, and new graduate programs in several disciplines.

Butterfield resigned on June 30, 1967 from his presidency at Wesleyan University. During his time at Wesleyan, he sought to “develop the freedom, the autonomy and the responsibility of the human mind and spirit.” He passed away on November 19, 1975.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.

1868: General Assembly Creates Connecticut Hospital For the Insane

The General Assembly of the State of Connecticut adopted on this day, “Act to create a Hospital for the Insane in the State of Connecticut.” Previously in the year, a commission which had been appointed by the legislature reported that there were 706 insane persons in the state most of whom could not afford care.  Thus was born the Connecticut Hospital for the Insane, now known as Connecticut Valley Hospital.  Land bordering on the Connecticut River in Middletown was chosen as the site for the new hospital.  It was easily accessible by water and land and included full control of Butler’s Creek, which was used as a source of water.  In October, 1866 Dr. Abram Shew was appointed the first superintendent.  The first patients, 12 men, were received on April 30, 1868.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.

1968: Author Hands Gun to Police

Middletown, Conn. (UPI)–Author William Manchester walked into police headquarters and laid a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol on the desk. He glanced up at the officer on duty.

“I lost two friends by assassination in the past five years,” he said.

Manchester, author of “Death of a President,” is a close friend of the Kennedy family.

The pistol, a war memento which Manchester lost after he was wounded in Okinawa, was returned to him in 1945 by a Marine captain on his way home from the war.

“I feel strongly about this,” he told detective Warren Leary. “I want to do anything I can to encourage people to turn in their guns.”

The Delta Democrat-Times (Greenville, Miss.), Friday, June 28, 1968.

1969: Racial Tensions Erupt Into Violence

The summer of 1969 was full of high racial tensions in Middletown, Connecticut. In the mid-sixties, there was a rise of what were considered militant Black activist groups. The white Middletown community followed in the steps of much of the United States and reacted with fear. On the night of June 27th, these tensions began to culminate. Three white men assaulted a young black man as they were driving through an East Main Street neighborhood. This was followed by an incident at the Middletown Shopping Plaza on Washington Street, in which a white youth was stabbed. Violence escalated through the following two nights.

From The Bridgeport Post, Friday, June 27, 1969:

Big Disturbance in Middletown

Middletown, Conn. (AP)–Three persons were arrested in what police termed a “large disturbance” on South Main Street Thursday night.

One person was stabbed and another suffered a broken elbow before the crowd was dispersed.

Police broke up a crowd of black and white youths at a shopping plaza on Washington Street, but the black youngsters reassembled at the south end of Main Street, about a mile away. Several store windows on Main Street were smashed.

An emergency was declared by Police Chief Vincent Marino, and all off-duty officers were recalled to duty. The disturbance was over before midnight.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.

1894: Death of Benjamin Douglas

Benjamin DouglasOn this day, the city mourned the passing of one of its most prominent citizens, Benjamin Douglas. Douglas came to Middletown in 1839 at the age of 23 to work in his brother William’s foundry and machine shop. Renamed the W & B. Douglas Company, the brothers invented a new type of revolving stand pump for use in factories and on farms. These pumps were sold around the world. Benjamin made a lasting contribution to the city as a co-founder of the Middletown Anti-Slavery Society and as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. As mayor of Middletown from 1850 to 1856 he declared that he would not enforce the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. He went on to become the lieutenant governor of Connecticut in 1861.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.

June 25 – Middletown 366


Nathaniel Ray Greene

Nathaniel Ray Greene, the last surviving son of Major General Greene, of the Revolution, died at his residence at Middletown, Conn., last Saturday, aged 79 years.

From The Tiffin Tribune (Tiffin, Ohio), Friday, July 1, 1859.


Sacrilegious Traffic Signs Removed When Ministers Protest

(By United Press.)

GreekcrossMiddletown, Conn., June 25.–Edward R. Dunn of the police department conceived the novel idea of painting Greek crosses on curbstones at points where pedestrians were supposed to cross the street.

Clergymen protested the practice was sacrilegious and police Chief Charles A. Anderson ordered the signs removed. In their place was painted the word “cross.”

From The Decatur Herald (Decatur, Illinois), Saturday, June 25, 1927.


1913: Pastor Fixes Rules in Dancing Pavilion

Middletown, Conn., June 24.–Hoping to stem the tide of the popularity of the “turkey trot” and other modern dances, the Rev. George B. Gilbert, rector of the Maromas Episcopal Church, has leased the dancing pavilion at Lakeview Park, a popular resort here, and will conduct it as a model dance hall during the summer.

Leading society women from the city are expected to chaperon the dances. Prominently posted about the hall are lists of 10 commandments for the dancers which Mr. Gilbert has prepared. Among them is one which provides that partners must dance with at least six inches of space between them.

From the Pawtucket Times (Pawtucket, Rhode Island), Tuesday, June 24, 1913.


1895: Good Business Ahead in Middletown, Ct.

Middletown, Conn., June 23.–The prospect for a good season at the local factories is excellent. Wilcox, Crittenden & Co. have orders enough to keep twice their force at work all summer. The Russell Manufacturing Company will keep its present force at work all summer. The Middlesex Rubber Company reports business better than last year. The Rockfall Woollen Company, W. E. B. Douglass, Rogers & Hubbard and I. E. Palmer will run full time all summer, and they feel confident of a marked improvement in the market.

From The Boston Post (Boston, Massachusetts), Monday, June 24, 1895.

1853: Disturbance in the Quarries

During the last week considerable disturbance has been made in two of the Portland quarries in consequence of a strike on the part of the Irishmen for higher wages. Most of them have refused to work, and threatened those who did work. Indignation meetings were held, inflammatory and threatening bills posted, and high words used. But the contracts having been made for the season, the owners would not yield. We understand that above a hundred have left the quarries, and that work was suspended for a time.

From The Constitution (Middletown, Conn.), Wednesday, June 22, 1853.

1843: Revolutionary Soldiers

For The Constitution.

Mr. Editor–It is rumored that the Revolutionary soldiers of this town and Portland, are to be our Guests at the celebration on the 4th. This is right–it makes our heart glad to clasp their hands, on such an occasion; in fact, we never looked upon the venerable heads and furrowed faces of the war worn veterans, without feeling that honor and gratitude are due to the old heroes of ’76. Time and disease are fast thinning their ranks, many who met us around the festive board, five years ago, have retired from the scenes of mortal warfare, and gone to join the long list of patriots and heroes who were their associates in the struggle for Independence.

A coincidence occurred in 1826, without a parallel in the records of man; on the fourth day of July, two of these patriarchs of the Revolution who were the principal agents in securing the Independence of the country, Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration, and John Adams, the able and celebrated advocate of that celebrated paper, both died within an hour, on the fiftieth Anniversary of our American Independence, exclaiming with the excess of their patriotic enthusiasm, with their dying breath, “Independence now and forever.”

We feel the deepest veneration for all those who have shared in the toil and dangers of honorable service–many of them are men of private worth, and we can meet them but a few times more on a similar occasion, we say let them be invited and such attentions shown as shall convince them that we fully appreciate their valuable boon, transmitted to our hands.

From The Constitution (Middletown, Conn.), June 21, 1843.