1869: Industrial School For Girls Chartered

The Connecticut Industrial School for Girls was meant to be a place of refuge for girls who were in need of a home, or girls that were deemed to have behavioral issues. This was one of the first reform schools in this area for girls. The girls were referred to as “vicious” at times when describing their behavior. Middletown appropriated fifteen hundred dollars on this day in 1869, in addition to a sum of ten thousand dollars already allocated to the school. Due to this, Middletown secured the location of the Connecticut Industrial School for Girls.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.

From Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
From Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, Nov. 19, 1881.


1897: Dam Burst

Workmen Forced to Flee For Their Lives.

Middletown, Conn., July 30.–At 8 o’clock this morning a dam 40 feet wide and containing water from which the three factories get power, burst, letting down a tremendous volume of water. The huge stones of which the dam was built, crashed into the factory of William Wilcox’s lockshop and the power floors of the factory were flooded. Forty workmen were compelled to flee for their lives. Much damage was done.

From The Wichita Beacon (Wichita, Kansas), Friday, July 30, 1897.

1922: Man, 96, Gets Auto License

Middletown, Conn., July 29.–(Special)–Benjamin F. Range, aged 96, who lives with his daughter, Mrs. Emina Norton of Haddam, has bought an automobile and has taken out a driver’s license. The license was obtained in Bath, Stephen county [Pennsylvania]. When he went to be examined he was told that he is the oldest man who had ever applied for a license.

Mr. Range is a veteran of the Civil War. He served in Company I, One Hundred and Eighty-eighth New York Volunteers, and saw service at Hatches Run, Saw Dust Fork, Gravel River and Five Forks.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), Sunday, July 30, 1922.

1886: Not a Trace Left

Frederick D. Gardner, a young fruit dealer in Middletown, Conn., left that place on July 28 for this city to collect bills and make purchases for his establishment. Mr. Gardner spent several days in reaching the city, as he stopped at many small places on his way to collect small bills owed to him. Arriving in New-York he went to stay at the Bancroft House, making purchasing tours each day. Last Wednesday morning he went out as usual, and from the time he left the hotel none of his friends know what has become of him. His disappearance is as complete as it is mysterious. He had only about $150 with him at the time he went out, and it is known that he did not obtain any more money. His accounts are all straight. Everything he bought he paid for in checks, which have all been fully met, and his books at Middletown, having been carefully examined, are found to be correct. He has a wife, who lives in Middletown, and who, with her father-in-law, Ira Gardner, a Middletown merchant, is anxiously looking for her husband.

From The New York Times (New York, New York), Tuesday, August 10, 1886.

1914: Survivor of Titanic Drowns

Middletown, Conn., July 27–Adam Segmart, who was a passenger on the Titanic and was saved by a lifeboat, was drowned while bathing in Besek lake. He was unable to swim and sank after stepping off into a deep hole before aid could reach him. He is survived by a wife and four children.

From the San Bernardino News (San Bernardino, California), Monday, July 27, 1914.

1911: Strange Recovery of Ring

Lost Years Ago in a Garden and Found Again Today.

(By the Associated Press)

Middletown, Conn., July 26.–A valuable engagement ring which was lost by Mrs. Henry Hinmann of this city years ago, has just been recovered to her. The ring was dug up in the garden in the rear of her former home by the present tenants. The garden has been plowed and cultivated each year since the ring disappeared.

From The Iola Register (Iola, Kansas), Wednesday, July 26, 1911.

1984: Kids Are Not All That Excited About Being President

Associated Press

Middletown, Conn.–Boys are more interested than girls in becoming president of the United States, but few students of either sex say they would want the job, according to a Weekly Reader survey.

The publication’s first citizenship survey, conducted at the end of January, also found that children believe government’s most important job is to prevent war.

The responses from about 625,000 children across the country from second grade through junior high show students have a “positive but realistic” view of government, said Lynell Johnson, editorial director of the periodical published by Xerox Education Publications.

“They don’t see government as a monster or as repressive, but they also don’t see it as a paragon of virtue,” he said. “The survey also gives an indication that kids take their responsibility as citizens and their right to free speech quite seriously.”

Among junior high students, 9 percent of the boys said they wanted to become president “a lot” and 65 percent said they weren’t interested, while 7 percent of the girls said they wanted to become president and 65 percent said they didn’t.

From the Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York), Wednesday, July 25, 1984.

1918: Herbert Eckersley Dies in France

Herbert Eckersley was born in Bolton, England on September 16, 1894. He came to this country as an infant with his parents, Thomas and Mary Eckersley. He initially enlisted in Company C of the 102nd U.S. Infantry as a bugler on March 15, 1912. At the time of his enlistment, he was variously reported as working at Russell Manufacturing Company or Middlesex Machine Works. Company C originated in Middletown as the Mansfield Guards in 1847. Eckersley saw duty on the Mexican border in 1916 defending a border dispute during Mexico’s civil war. He rose to become the orderly to Major George J. Rau of Hartford, whom he called the “best officer in the American line and a true gentleman” in his last letter home from France. Word was received by his parents that he died on July 24, 1918. Both Eckersley and Rau met their deaths at Chateau Thierry during the Aisne-Marne offensive, and the body of Herbert Eckersley was returned to Middletown in July 1921. Eckersley was buried in Pine Grove Cemetery with full military honors, after a service at his parents’ home across from the school that would later bear his name.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.

Portion of A. B. McCutcheon mural at Eckersley Hall, now Middletown Senior Center
Portion of A. B. McCutcheon mural at Eckersley Hall, now Middletown Senior Center.

1932: Bright Spots in Business

(By the United Press)

Middletown, Conn., July 23.–After being closed for two months the Goodyear Rubber company will re-open August 1, employing between 150 and 200 persons.

Company officials said opening was due to receipt of “substantial orders” from several jobbing concerns, and indicated in the event of a sustained business pick up, additional help would be employed besides the old force of workers which will be recalled.

From the Abilene Reporter-News (Abilene, Texas), Sunday, July 24, 1932.


July 22 – Middletown 366


Pest Control

To destroy Bed-Bugs.–Make a decoction of sassafras bark or root, not so strong as to stain the furniture, and scald the wainscoting of your rooms, once a year, and I will engage that a bug will never enter it. This I know from experience.  An Old Man.

To keep off Fleas.–Keep in or about your bed a sprig of Pennyroyal or put on your bed clothes a few drops of the essence. The smell of the Pennyroyal will keep off the fleas. This I know from experience.  Another Old Man.

From the Middlesex Gazette (Middletown, Conn.), Thursday, July 22, 1819.


George Carson Out on Bail

Hartford, Conn., July 22.–George Carson, who was arrested in New-York several months ago for complicity in the Middletown (Conn.) Savings Bank robbery, has been released from the Middletown County Jail under a $3,000 bail. His trial comes off in September.

From the New York Times (New York, New York), Saturday, July 23, 1881.