1825: Antediluvian Remains

We are informed, that a few days since, while digging for marle some labourers found fifteen or twenty teeth of an unusual size, some of them being several inches in circumference. Other singular bones in a decayed state were met with. This subject merits the attention of the curious naturalist, and we hope will meet with proper investigation. These remains were discovered after removing the earth two or three feet from the bottom of a small pond, which had become dry during the late drought. The pond is situated in the highway, a few rods north of the house of Mr. George Blake, two miles south of this city.

From The Middletown Gazette (Middletown, Conn.), Wednesday, August 31, 1825.

1799: Slaughterhouse on Main Street

A Slaughter-House is soon to be built in the city of Middletown, on the main Street, between the Church and the Meeting-house. Materials for the purpose are now on the ground.

Where is the most improper place for such a building?–Where the citizens live the thickest–where the ground is low–where filth, through want of running water, adheres and putrifies in covered ways–That is the place contemplated.

When, from the universal silence, the person who thinks to build, imagines himself to have the approbation of the public : When, at great expense, he shall have completed the building, will it not be unjust to deny him the use of it.

Oppressed with sickness, Hartford casts her eye on Slaughter-Houses, as among the causes of her calamity. Blessed with health, Middletown, regardless of consequences, supinely permits her citizens to build them.

From the Middlesex Gazette (Middletown, Conn.), Friday, August 30, 1799.

1941: Fire on Main St.!


The worst fire in the history of Middletown swept through Main Street on August 29, 1941. Nineteen business firms suffered large losses due to the blaze. State police, as well as the State Guard, were called to help put out the fire. Five men were hurt; none were seriously injured.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.

1911: Wreckers Ditched Train

One Victim of Maromas, Conn., Smash Dies in Hospital.

Middletown, Conn., Aug. 28.–Abram P. Brown, of Hartford, who suffered an injury of the spine last night in the wreck of the evening train over the Valley line of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, died here today.

The sixty or more other passengers who were injured are all doing well.

Supt. Woodward, of the Shore Line division, who went to the scene of the disaster at Maromas, notified the police here that he found upon close inspection that the train had been purposely wrecked. He says:

“All the spikes of one rail were pulled out and were lying around the track. They were not damaged a bit by the wreck, which would have been the natural result if they had been in their proper place at the time of the accident. Not one was twisted or bent.”

A reward of $2,500 for information leading to the conviction of the person or persons who caused the wreck is offered by the railway.

From The Washington Post (Washington, D. C.), Tuesday, August 29, 1911.

August 27 – Middletown 366


Sixty Persons Hurt

Middletown, Conn., Aug. 27.–Sixty persons were injured tonight, eight of them seriously, when an express train on the Valley division of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad was wrecked by spreading of the rails. The train runs Sundays to various resorts and returns at night. The train consisted of the engine, two baggage and eight passenger coaches. The engine was thrown on its side into a sand bank; the two baggage cars went down a 35-foot embankment and the first passenger coach ran into the tender of the engine and was badly splintered.

It was in this car that most of the injured were found. The engineer was caught in the cab of his engine and had to  be chopped out but escaped with a dislocated hip and bruises.

From the Chatham Record (Pittsboro, North Carolina), Wednesday, August 30, 1911.


Cheering on the Boys


On August 27, 1918, Middletown cheers their local soldiers who have returned from the war.

1789: Birth of Samuel Russell

Samuel Russell was the eldest son of Captain John Russell and Abigail Russell. He founded the Russell Manufacturing Company and became its first president. Russell traveled extensively throughout his lifetime.

On return from his trip in China in 1837, he made arrangements for construction of a mansion on the corner of Washington Street and High Street. The house, which would later be called Russell House, was erected under the supervisor of Hon. Samuel D. Hubbard. The Russell House represents a revival in Greek architecture in the United States and has become an essential part of Middletown aesthetics.

After his death in 1862, his wife Frances purchased a vacant church at the corner of Broad and Court Streets and had it converted into Middletown’s first free public library. It was named the Russell Library in memory of her husband Samuel.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.

1899: A Remarkable Lake

It Rises or Falls Many Feet at Various Times.

(From the Middletown (Conn.) Press.)

Job’s Pond, the remarkable lake in this town which has since early history puzzled scientific men by its phenomenal actions, is again furnishing material for curious speculation. It has no outlet, and in some places is from forty to sixty feet deep. Dr. Field in his history says it rises and falls as much as fifteen feet, but not from such causes as affect other ponds. It is often the highest in dry seasons, and lowest in the wet season of the year.

When it begins to rise it rises regularly for six or twelve months, and then falls for about the same period. Those, however, who are most capable of judging, think there is nothing mysterious about it. It is probably fed by some very deep springs that are not affected by the rainfall until after a considerable time. This beautiful sheet of water, deeply set between the hills, was once known as Waroona Lake. This appropriate name is the Australian word for solitude.

The pond for several years past has given no cause for comment and by some had almost been forgotten. It has now again presented its claims for notoriety in a manner which is certainly as astonishing as had ever been credited to it before. The water has been continually rising for several days, and has reached a mark over its natural heights, and is still reaching out in an effort to cover more territory. The pond is higher, it is reported by residents in the vicinity, than it has been since 1870.

The most peculiar feature connected with the present conditions existing there is the fact that farming land located at a great distance from the lake has been affected. John Strickland, who resides near the Center church, recently ploughed a field located two and a quarter miles from the pond on which he intended to raise a crop of potatoes. He had also completed a large shed on the lot for the reception of the crop when it was harvested. The soil is sandy, but Mr. Strickland had always considered it the most valuable of all his farming land and it has never given him reason to think otherwise. On Wednesday he had occasion to do some work on the lot with an ox team, and great was his surprise to find the soil wet and unfit for working. He drove his team some distance on the field, where one of the oxen sank down to its body in the earth and was with much difficulty extracted from his position.

From The Raleigh Times (Raleigh, North Carolina), Thursday, August 24, 1899.

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.