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.

1948: “Shot” Cat Returns; Nine Lives Intact

Shows Only Scars of Battle With Late Parrot.

Middletown, Conn., Aug. 12. (AP)–The cat came back, minus bullet holes and with all of its nine lives intact. And Charles Nixon, who already has paid a fine for supposedly killing the feline, says he won’t shoot at it again.

The cat, called Ruffles, killed Nixon’s 36-year-old parrot, Texas, last week. To avenge his pet, Nixon shot at the cat and saw it drop as if dead.

Nixon was brought into court, paid a $5 find and asserted it was “well worth it.”

Last night, however, Ruffles returned home. Numerous scars on his body told of his fracas with the late Texas. But there was nary a bullet hole.

“He must have been playing possum,” commented the examining veterinarian.

From The North Adams Transcript (North Adams, Massachusetts), Thursday, August 12, 1948.