1861: C. A. Pelton and the 1st Battle of Bull Run

On this day, Charles A. Pelton fought in the First Battle of Bull Run. Prompted by the patriotic fervor that arose after the shelling of Fort Sumter in Charleston by Confederate troops, he enlisted for 90 days, the initial call-up by President Lincoln. After his enlistment expired, he returned home to Middletown and became a pharmacist. His pharmacy stood on Main Street until 2004. Pelton lived to the age of 91 and was the next to last of Middletown’s Civil War veterans to pass away.

Charles Abner Pelton

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro. 

1876: Local Items

There is no improvement in the condition of Sheriff Lewis.

Mrs. Hayden, relict of the late John O. Hayden, of this city, died at her residence on Main street this morning.

Prof. J. Johnston received a note from Prof. Prentice, this morning, saying that his wife was failing, and would not probably live many days.

The weather to-day has been about as hot as ever, the thermometer indicating 95 in the shade.

It is predicted that the present heated term is to end with the most terrific thunder storm the country has ever witnessed. Lightning rod men are cheerful and hopeful.

Officer Wilcox has the governor of York Island under lock and key at the jail, but thinks that he is temporarily insane, and needs treatment at the hospital, where he will probably be sent.

The Hook and Ladder boys weighed their new truck again, last evening and found that its weight had not diminished any during the hot weather, but that 4200 pounds was just its weight. The purchasing committee have held correspondence with the builder of the truck, and he claims that it should not weigh more than 2800 pounds, and gives the weight of every portion of the truck. He is expected in the city at an early day, and will probably make everything all right.

Newspapers in the large cities, are talking up the supply of ice. Messrs. Perkins and Neale in this city think that they have more than enough for our residents, through the season, and that they shall not supply outside parties to the detriment of their customers.

From The Daily Constitution (Middletown, Conn.), Thursday, July 20, 1876.

1848: The New Jail

Is finished and in operation. It is situated in front of the Alms House–built of Portland freestone–provided with two rows of cells, seven on the ground tier and five above, including two spacious and not unpleasant rooms designed for a “lock up.” The aspect of the building from without is somewhat gloomy and forbidding, as becomes its purpose. The prevailing feature is strength. Within the eye is pleased by the white hard walls of the outer space, and a feeling of security creeps over one, as he looks at the strong locks of the iron doors. The jail was built by Mr. B. D. Sage, of this city and it affords a most convincing proof of the solidity of his masonry.

The Commissioners, Linus Parmelee, Files Blague, and David Evarts, Esqs., to whom was committed the business of erection, have acquitted themselves to the satisfaction of all concerned.

Note: There is some defect in the joinery given by the Commissioners to I. W. Baldwin, which we hope to see radically remedied.
From The Constitution (Middletown, Connecticut), Wednesday, July 19, 1848.

1927: Auto Warns Owner His Garage is Ablaze

Middletown, Conn., July 18 (AP)–Samuel Bridge was warned by his automobile that something was amiss in his garage, but the warning came too late. Sam was in the arms of morpheus when the long and continued blowing of the horn on his car awakened him and drew his attention to his garage which was ablaze. The flames had short-circuited the wires on the horn and thus the warning, but although firemen saved part of the garage, the faithful car was destroyed.

From The Brooklyn Eagle (Brooklyn, New York), Monday, July 18, 1927.

1943: 150 V-12 Navy Men Finish Physicals

Middletown, Conn., July 17--Physical testing of the 150 V-12 navy men stationed at Wesleyan University has been completed by Chief Specialist Andrew P. Fisher and the “hardening down” period has begun.

The Navy College Training Unit physical education program is divided into three parts. Thorough entrance tests determine the students’ physical condition and following these tests an eight weeks’ hardening program is carried out. Special emphasis is placed on swimming during this period, and all students take an hour of physical education each day and twenty minutes of calisthenics at 6 each morning.

Eligible for Sports

At the end of the eight weeks the students will be tested again and the top two-thirds will engage in intramural sports and will be eligible to participate in any intercollegiate sports which are held. The lower third will take the hardening course for a second time.

Chief Specialist Fisher, who will have direct charge of the physical education program, was graduated from Holy Cross in 1930. He received his M.A. degree at Columbia University. He will work under the directions of Lt. (jg) Henry C. Herge, former supervising principal of the public schools of Bellmore. Lt. Herge was graduated from New York University in 1929 and received his M.A. degree in 1931 and his Ph.D. in literature in 1942.

From The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York), Sunday, July 18, 1943.


1791: Local News

Middletown, July 16

Thursday last the old Meeting-house, in this City, was struck by lightning, but not much damaged.


New, Fresh and Cheap.

The Subscribers, at the Store formerly improved by Chauncey Bulkley, Esq., have a general Assortment of European and West-India GOODS, suitable for the present Season,

among which are:

A Large, elegant and beautiful variety of Chinzes, Callicoes and Shawls–superfine, middling and coarse Broadcloths–elastick Cloths, Sattinets–Lashings–Jeans–Fustians–Shalloons–Callimancoes–Tammies–Durants–Moreens–Irish Linens and Sheeting–silk and Cotton Hose–Rib’d Cotton and Hemp Hose–Cambricks–Lawns–Muslins and Muslinetts–Muslin Apron Patterns–Handkerchiefs and Cravats–Lawn Handkerchiefs and Aprons–Silk, Cotton and Linen Handkerchiefs–Sattins–Modes–Sarsnets Tiffany–White and black Gauzes–Leno Lawns–Variety of Ribbons and Laces–Mens Leather Gloves–Ladies do.–Silk and worsted Mitts–Ladies and Gentlemens fashionable Beaver Hatts–common Castor Hatts for Men and Boys–Felt do.–Silk and Twists of various colours–Womens Fans of various kinds–Writing Paper, Ink-Powder, Bibles, Spelling-Books, and Primers–Large assortment of Shoe-Buckles–Knee Buckles–Coat and Vest Buttons–Imperial Mohair Buttons–variety of Knives and Forks–Penknives & Cutteaus–Raisors–Shears and Scissors–Looking Glasses–plain and figur’d Oil-Cloths–Ivory and Horn Combs–Door Trimmings–Snuff and Tobacco Boxes–Table and Tea Spoons–Double and single spring Chest Locks–Padlock–Carpenters Rules and Compasses–Needles and Pins–Awls and Tacks–10d and 8d Nails–Gimblets–Wool and Cotton Cards–Curry Combs–Stock Locks–Good assortment of Files–Draw and Desk Trimmings–Sickles–Iron Shovels–Hand Saws–Brass Kettles–German and blistered Steel–Large Assortment of Crockery–Corn Fans–W. I. & N. E. Rum–Molasses–Tea–Coffee–Chocolate–Pepper–Allspice–Ginger Allum–Coperas–Tobacco–Snuff–together with a number of Articles useful and ornamental.

The above Articles will be sold for Cash, Country Produce, and good Credit, as cheap as can be purchased in any Store in the State.


From The Middlesex Gazette (Middletown, Conn.), Saturday, July 16, 1791.

1878: Middlesex County Orphan’s Home Opens

The Middlesex County Orphan’s Home officially opened on July 15, 1878. The institution was supported completely by voluntary contributions, such as personnel support and monetary donations. Under the management of Mrs. R.S. Bailey and Mrs. M.E. Rockwell, the orphan’s home flourished and they were able to secure permanent support from the state. As a result of the state support, the legislature also passed an act that provided for the establishment of homes for children over the age of two in every county in Connecticut.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.

1877: Miss E. J. Ellis of Wesleyan University, …

… Middletown, Conn., who declined the position of class poet because of the objections of the male members of the class, has just been awarded the prize of $100 for the best English essay. She has accepted a position as instructor in the female college at Wellesley, Mass., with a salary of $800 and board.”– From the Pittsburgh Daily Post, July 14, 1877.

1939: Attorneys Help Meet Plaintiff’s Demands

Middletown, Conn.–(U.P.)–Thomas Frissell wanted to settle an automobile accident damage suit for $22.50, all the money he had, but Rudolph Klare, plaintiff, insisted he would accept not a penny less than $25.

Attorneys for the two young men argued in vain for a compromise and finally, in desperation, dug into their own pockets and produced $1.25 each to pay Klare in full.

From The Times (Hammond, Indiana), Wednesday, July 12, 1939.