1856: All the ‘Frees’ but Fremont

Every reader of ours has of course heard of the great Black Republican motto, which is inscribed everywhere upon their banners, heralded by their newspapers, and re-echoed with loud accompanying plaudits by their public speakers, “Free Speech, Free Labor, Free Kansas, and Freemont!” This motto had been displayed from a Black Republican banner in Middletown, Conn., and at a meeting of the Buchanan Democracy, held a few days afterwards, the following was displayed on a banner as a response to it. It shows so completely the difference between the Black Republicans and Free-soilers of the North who support Buchanan, that we copy it as exhibited:

All the “FREES” but Fremont.

From the Glasgow Weekly Times (Glasgow, Missouri), Thursday, October 30, 1856.

1945: Prof Contends Athletes Have Better Grades

By Lou Black

Middletown, Conn., Oct. 29.–(AP)–Prof. Hugh G. McCurdy of Wesleyan claims today that the stout-hearted lads who do or die on the athletic fields are better students than the boys who confine their exercise to hitting the books.

To prove his point, the professor tosses out the results of an investigation of records of Wesleyan athletes from 1926 through 1940, and by golly he’s convincing.

He sums up his survey by asking two questions:

  1. Do non athletes win more scholastic honors than athletes?
  2. Does intercollegiate sport take so much time and energy that the players do not have enough left to excel scholastically?

His answer to both, of course, is an emphatic “no.”

The be-spectacled, slight McCurdy, associate professor of physical education and coach of soccer, swimming and tennis here, reveals that the knights of the gridiron, hills and dales, and gyms are heroes, too, in general scholarship and Phi Beta Kappa competition.

The best marks are turned in by the cross-country and soccer boys, with golf, swimming, tennis, track, football, baseball, basketball and wrestling not too far behind.

Soccer and golf turn in the best material for Phi Beta Kappa keys with swimming, cross country, track, baseball, football, wrestling, basketball and tennis somewhat off the pace.

The professor, who discloses his results in the current issue of the Wesleyan Alumnus, offers no explanation why cross-country and soccer is so stimulating to the brains.

That’s a fact, and so is it fact that Wesleyan, a member of the “Little Three” with Amherst and Williams, has a fine athletic record.

From the Tucson Daily Citizen (Tucson, Arizona), Monday, October 29, 1945.


1875: American Missions

Middletown, Conn., Oct. 28.–The annual meeting of the American Missionary Association was continued to-day. This morning papers of interest were read by Dr. Leonard Bacon, of New Haven, upon the “Fundamental Reconstruction of the South”; by Rev. E. P. Hawes, of New Haven, upon “Slavery and the Slave Trade as They Now Exist in the World”; by Rev. Mr. Dana, of Norwich, upon “The Evangelization of Africa.” Dr. Bacon took the ground that Federal legislation, or the use of force to enforce legislation, is no longer needed at the South, but the work of the schools and the Church, and especially the work of conciliation. After the reading of the papers, interesting addresses upon the topics presented were made by Rev. Dr. Hamlin, of Constantinople, Rev. Mr. Grant, formerly of South Africa, Dr. Whipple, of New York, and others. In the afternoon session A. B. Meacham, formerly Peace Commissioner with Gen. Canby, gave Capt. Jack’s version of the Modoc trouble, Rev. A. B. Marvin presented the report of the work of the Society among the Chinese in this country, and Rev. Mr. Parsons, of Boston, spoke forcibly on the same subject. The Lord’s Supper was then celebrated. This evening Rev. C. L. Woodruff, of Boston, speaks on “The Duty of the North to the South,” and the services close with miscellaneous addresses. The meetings have been well attended and unusually interesting.

From the Boston Post (Boston, Massachusetts), Friday, October 29, 1875.

1841: Temperance Now!

On October 27, 1841, the steamboat Greenfield transported people from Hartford down the Connecticut River so that they could attend the Temperance Convention taking place in Middletown. The two-day convention included several speeches, as well as an procession that passed through William Street, Broad Street, Washington Street, and Main Street. The marchers included a range of people, including children, Wesleyan faculty and students, and visitors to Middletown. Many temperance songs were sung during the procession.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.

1908: Overdose of Prosperity

Columbia Trust Company of Middletown, Conn., Closed by Bank Commissioners.

Middletown, Conn., Oct. 26–The Columbia Trust company of this city did not open its doors for business today, and the following explanatory notice was posted on the building:

“Upon advice of the bank commissioners, no business will be done for the present at least. Deposits received Saturday will be returned to the depositors. The company will continue to act as trustee for such estates as they have in hand.”

Bank examiners were at work today on the books of the company, and it is expected that a settlement will be made in six months.

From The Salt Lake Herald (Salt Lake City, Utah), Tuesday, October 27, 1908.

1921: Schutte Sentenced to Die, But First Tries Suicide

Cuts Wrist, But Is Haled to Court, Where He Denies Murdering Ball Family

Middletown, Conn., Oct. 25.–Emil Schutte, who was convicted of the murder of three members of the Ball family last week, was sentenced to be hanged on April 10, 1922, at the state prison, by Judge W. M. Maltbie to-day.

In the jail at Haddam this morning Schutte attempted to kill himself by cutting his left wrist with a piece of tin. Surgical attention prevented loss of much blood, and he was taken to court. Judge Maltbie did not rule on the motion to set aside the verdict on the ground of insufficiency of evidence, saying that he would further consider the motion.

Schutte when placed at the bar said: “I have been robbed of my lands, my money, my bonds, worth $50,000, and my family. I swear by God Almighty that I did not burn the Ball family. I am absolutely innocent.”

Sentence was imposed and Schutte was taken immediately to state prison. His counsel expects to carry the case to the Supreme Court of Errors. Counsel claimed that aside from testimony of Julius Schutte, a son, there was no direct evidence to connect Schutte with the crime.

From the New-York Tribune (New York, New York), Wednesday, October 26, 1921.


1893: To Boycott the Girls

Wesleyan University Boys Object to the Fair Sex as Students.

Middletown, Conn., Oct. 24.–When Wesleyan university first opened its doors to young ladies there was no opposition among the young men. The young ladies, however, have so increased in numbers that the boys begin to feel their influence in college affairs, one effect of which is the decline of football, as the girls are not experts at kicking.

Twenty-five percent of the freshmen class this year is of the fair sex, and the ratio in the whole body of students is as one to five. The first evidence of the feeling of the boys was the name “quail,” which signifies a female student at Wesleyan. Webb Hall, the dormitory of the young ladies, is known as “Quail Roost.”

But this is not all. The boys have organized the “P. D. Q.” society, the object of which is to put down the “quails.” The society is secret, and has now only about 100 members, but every young man in college is expected to join.

The method adopted by the “P. D. Q.” society is similar to the boycott. The college girls will not be invited by the college boys to any entertainments. Any college boy seen in the company of a “quail” will be summarily treated. The “quails” are to receive no consideration whatever.

From The Reidsville Review (Reidsville, North Caroline), Friday, October 27, 1893.

1740: Evangelist George Whitefield Preaches In Middletown

Rev. George WhitefieldIn the 1730s and 1740s, the religious revival known as “The Great Awakening” swept through the colonies, disrupting the life of congregations up and down the Atlantic seaboard. As a result, many towns found themselves with two congregational churches – one that continued to embrace the pre-Great Awakening traditions and anpther that embraced the importance of the “new birth” professed by Whitefield and others. The founding of South Church in Middletown was a direct result of the Great Awakening.

The anticipation of George Whitefield’s arrival in Middletown and the sermon he preached outdoors are described in the journal of Nathan Cole:

“ …about 8 or 9 o’clock there came a messenger and said Mr. Whitefield preached at Hartford and Weathersfield yesterday and is to preach at Middletown this morning [October 23, 1740] at ten of the Clock. I was in my field at Work. I dropt my tool that I had in my hand and ran home and run through my house and bade my wife get ready quick to go and hear Mr. Whitefield preach at Middletown, and run to my pasture for my horse with all my might fearing that I should be too late to hear him. I brought my horse home and soon mounted and took my wife up and went forward as fast as I thought the horse could bear, and when my horse began to be out of breath, I would get down and put my wife on the Saddle and bid her ride as fast as she could …

“When I saw Mr. Whitefield come upon the Scaffold he looked almost angelical, a young, slim slender youth before some thousands of people with a bold undaunted countenance, and my hearing how God was with him every where as he came along it solumnized my mind, and put me into a trembling fear before he began to preach; for he looked as if he was Cloathed with authority from the Great God, and a sweet solemn solemnity sat upon his brow. And my hearing him preach gave me a heart wound; by Gods blessing my old foundation was broken up, and I saw that my righteousness would not save me; then I was convinced of the doctrine of Election and went right to quarrelling with God about it, because all that I could do would not save me; and he had decreed from Eternity who should be saved and who not.”

Source: George Leon Walker, Some Aspects of the Religious Life of New England (New York: Silver, Burnett, and Company, 1897), 89–92.

Story contributed by John Hall.

1936: President Franklin Roosevelt Visits Middletown

White House Surprised at Middletown Complaint on Change in Presidential Party Route, by Arthur C. Wimer.

“… Stephen Early, secretary to President Roosevelt insisted today that the White House was not responsible for any last minute changes which might have been made in the route followed by the President’s party through Middletown.

Mr. Early appeared surprised at reports that thousands of persons, many of them school children, had failed to see the President in Middletown because his automobile party had failed to move along High and Upper Washington streets as originally announced. He appeared surprised also at reports the trip down those two streets had been abandoned out of fear that Wesleyan University students might stage a Landon demonstration.

Mr. Early said if any change had been made on the [route] through Middletown it had been made by state or local officials and not by or at the instruction of White House staff. …” From the Hartford Courant, Oct. 25, 1936.

FDR visit