1874: Fire Alarm

There was an alarm of fire last Thursday, which called out the fire department. The fire proved to be in the engine room of Ward’s Lock factory on Spring street, but was extinguished before the firemen arrived, and caused but slight damage. Had it not been discovered in time, a disastrous fire would have been the result. In the dwelling-house close to the burning building, was a family of five children, who were unceremoniously carried into the street, some of them fast asleep.

Returning home the members of the Hook & Ladder company had a race with one of the hose companies, and came off victors which caused them to bring out several bantam roosters. And they had reason to crow, for after all that has been said about the unfitness of their truck, they showed that they can turn corners with it and outrun any of our more modern machines, even if they do have smaller wheels. Good for the Hook and Ladder boys!

From The Constitution (Middletown, Connecticut), Wednesday, October 21, 1874.

1773: The State of Medicine

The original story, from the Connecticut Journal (Middletown, Connecticut), August 31, 1773

A Young woman my neighbor, (18 years old) making an effort to clear her ear of wax with a pin, the pin slipt out of her fingers and lodged in her ear.–Various methods were tried to extract it, but to no purpose. She complained much of pain on the side of her head, extending to her eye. The above accident happened on Friday night, the Tuesday night following, she made great complaint of pain in her ear, &c after a while observed that the pin that had been in her ear, had got into her nose, and desired some of the family to get it out; the pin finally fell from her nose on the floor, and she has been free from all complaints ever since.–The family physician observed on the above case, to this effect; he said, allowing the pin to pass as above, from the ear into the nose, it must pass over the ball of the eye, and enter one of the Paneta Lachrimalia, and made its exit from the nose by the same passage the tears take. Another physical genius asserted it must have passed through the brains into the nose; if so we found have reason to expect some violent spasms, from what physiologists say of the irritability of the brain.–We with some of our physical correspondents would give us a rationale of its route from the ear to the nose.

Your’s, &c.


From the Massachusetts Gazette (Middletown, Connecticut), October 5, 1773.


I observed an article in the papers, dated Middletown, in Connecticut, containing an account of a pin having passed through the ear of a young woman and out at her nose, and likewise some medical observations upon that fact very humiliating to the general Character of the Physicians in that colony; together with a request that some one would explain the route of the pin in its passage from the ear to the nose.

You may therefore assure the Enquirer, that there is a natural passage, called the Tube Eustachiana or meatus auditorius inturnas, leading from the cavity of the ear, to the inside of the nose by the Nares, through which the pin passed and by which surgeons sometimes attempt to syringe the ear in deafness.

I cannot sufficiently express my surprize that any physician should be so ignorant as two of them are in that account represented to be; especially as a pretty tolerable flock of anatomical knowledge may be acquired at so cheap a purchase as that of Cheselden’s anatomy.



From the Connecticut Courant (Hartford, Connecticut), October 26, 1773.

Mr. Watson,

As I have read the Story of the Pin’s Passage from the Ear to the Nose, in your Paper No. 458. Must confess, that it would appear as surprizing to me, as it seems to Anatomicus, that any Mortal should obtain the Name of a “Family Physician,” that appears so grossly ignorant, did I not constantly observe, that a raging Zeal for a Party, will atone for all vices and defects; while a brave, honest Opposition to the same Party, obscures all virtues, destroys all merit, so far as their influence prevails. But can’t think so sensible a Writer as Anatomicus, will, upon a review, judge all the Faculty in Connecticut answerable, or censurable, for the Ignorance of one or two; this seems a little too much like destroying the righteous with the wicked.

Am credibly inform’d that there are a number of learn’d, ingenious, skilful Physicians in the Colony–And I am likewise informed, that neither Dr. Rawson, nor Dr. Dickinson of this Town, was “the Family Physician,” or “Physical Genius,” that asserted, that the Pin “must pass over the Ball of the Eye,” or “through the Brains,”  to get from the Ear to the Nose. But that the Family Physician, or Physician in ordinary, or ordinary Physician, was a young Fellow, that served in the capacity of a private Soldier, in the last War; and it seems to me, that he has, in this instance, acted pretty well up to the Character.

‘Not one looks backward, onward still he goes;

‘Yet none looks farther forward, than his Nose.’

Historicus Verus

Middletown (Connecticut) Oct. 20 1773

P. S. All the Gentlemen Printers that have been so curious as to insert the former Pin Story, are desired to be so fast, kind and generous, as to insert this.

1789: George Washington Visit

George Washington, by Gilbert Stuart.
George Washington, by Gilbert Stuart.

On this day, George Washington visited Middletown while traveling through New England.  The president noted in his diary: “At one we arrived in Middletown, on the Connecticut River, being met 2… or 3 miles from it by the respectable citizens of the place and escorted by them.  While dinner was getting ready I took a walk around the town from the heights of which the prospect if beautiful.  Belonging to this place, I was informed (by General Sage) that there were about 20 sea vessels….The country hereabouts is beautiful and lands good….”  Though his visit lasted just about two hours, it made a great impression on Middletown citizens.  Shortly thereafter, the city changed the name of “Boston Road” to “Washington Street” to honor the first president and mark his visit here.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.

October 18 – Middletown 366

Richard Nixon in 19561956 – Richard Nixon Visit

On this day in 1956, Vice President Richard Nixon came to Middletown on a campaign stop.


Lillian “Reba” Moses

Reba MosesLillian “Reba” Moses was a tireless ray of light in the public health sphere of Middletown. Moses moved to Middletown in the 1940s with her husband and, since then, became a force in the activism world of Middletown. Standing at 4 feet, six inches, Moses was a powerhouse during her time and she was one of the three main founders of the Community Health Center in 1972. She served on the board of the CHC for over thirty years and her contributions to public health care in the Middletown community are irrefutable. Additionally, Moses served as head of community services at the Community Action for Greater Middletown. She worked to fight poverty, to create a sense of community, and to better the community at large.

Moses died at the age of 88 in 2012, leaving behind a legacy of change and hope for the Middletown Community. The Lillian R. Moses Child Guidance Clinic was named in her honor and the clinic serves as a crisis center and preventative clinic for children and adolescents dealing with emotional and mental health problems. Lillian “Reba” Moses believed that health care is a right, not a privilege and she spent her life making sure that the people of Middletown knew that.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.


1885: Chapel Dedicated

Exercises at the Middletown Industrial School To-Day.

Middletown, Conn., Oct. 17.–This afternoon took place the formal dedication of the new chapel of the Industrial school, a large number of ladies and gentlemen from different parts of the state being present. The exercises were of a very interesting character.

In 1866, several petitions were presented to the general assembly asking the state to create an institution in which girls whose surroundings were likely to lead them to vicious or criminal lives could be cared for and educated. In response to these petitions the legislature appointed a commission consisting of the Rev. Thomas K. Fessenden of Farmington, Professor D. C. Gilman of New Haven and Dr. J. P. Whitcomb of Brooklyn, to investigate the subject and report the next year. These gentlemen made a favorable report, but no action was taken in 1867. In that year was subscribed for the school by the citizens of Hartford, and about the same amount by residents of New Haven. In other towns numerous persons donated various sums, all showing that the benevolent people of the state were much interested in the enterprise, which was chartered in 1868 as the “Connecticut Industrial School for Girls.” The state appropriated $3 per week for the board and clothing of each girl sentenced to the school, and also made a conditional appropriation for the establishment. The towns of Winsted, Farmington and Middletown, asked that the school be located within their borders. The trustees selected Middletown, which, at a cost of $11,500, purchased nearly fifty acres of land and presented the same to the school. The first two buildings erected were named the “Pratt Home” and “Street Home,” in honor of Miss Esther Pratt of Hartford, and Mrs. Street of New Haven, each of whom had given $5,000 to the institution. In 1874 the third building was raised and named the “Allyn Home,” in recognition of a $10,000 donation from ex-Mayor Allyn of Hartford. The fourth building was named the “Rogers Home,” in honor of Mrs. Martha Rogers of Middletown, who gave $5,000 toward the cost of it. In 1881 the legislature appropriated $10,000 to the institution, and the fifth building was erected and named the “Russell Home,” a legacy of $5,000 having been received from Mrs. Samuel J. Russell of Middletown. The state also appropriated $10,000 for a water supply, which cost $10,419. In 1884 the state appropriated $15,000 for the erection of a building to contain a chapel hall and school room. This is the building which was dedicated this afternoon. The school has more than 200 pupils.

From The New Haven Register, Saturday, October 17, 1885.

1844: 20,000 Whigs in Council!!

Our brother whigs at Hartford had a glorious time last Friday. The whole country around poured forth its sons to contribute to swell the mass. There were without doubt at least 20,000 whigs assembled on that occasion. The day will be long remembered in Hartford County. We learn that as early as Thursday morning they began to assemble and very soon all the hotels and public houses in the city were crowded.

The whigs of this city began to assemble at 7 o’clock near the Central Hotel previous to starting for Hartford. Although at this hour the clouds overspread the horizon and gave tangible indications of their office, nevertheless the purpose of those who had previously concluded to join their friends under the branches of the “Charter Oak,” was unchanged. Carriage after carriage, barouch after barouch came up. Thomas Miner, M.D., assisted by Benj. Douglas, Esq., acted efficiently as marshal. A fine band of music was in requisition who were employed while forming in playing patriotic airs which gave additional enthusiasm to the occasion. At this moment the scene was thrilling. The victorious whigs of Middletown had attached to their coats through the button-holes blue badges with “Middletown” in neat capital letters, in the centre. From the head of every ‘Bucephalis’ was a streamer with ‘Clay and Frelinghuysen’ playing in the breeze. pointerfingerblue_edited-1 In addition it was gratifying to observe several carriages filled with the “beauty” of the city.

The delegation started after giving three cheers which made the ‘welkin ring’ in capital style. 500 were placed to the honor of Middletown, including those who joined from Portland, which is very creditable to the zeal of the whigs in this region. On reaching Hartford the streets were crowded with enthusiastic whigs over whose heads emblems of freedom waived thick to the breeze. At 11 1/2 o’clock the procession was formed and began to march up Main street. If we had room we would enumerate the different delegations in order with their banners; but it is impossible. The mottoes on some of the banners from this city were, ‘The Gibraltar of Locofocoism, defended by the State Central Committee taken by storm Oct. 7th, 1844;” one banner had Polk with a poke on his neck and a sheep by his side, with ‘I am of opinion that wool should be admitted duty free.’ The members of the Juvenile Club were in this glorious procession with a dozen flags and a banner with the motto, ‘The Middletown Junior Clay Club, our Country’s Hope and Father’s Pride;” on one was a stone falling on Polk, with the inscription, ‘Jemmy you’re caught, Texas won’t save you.’ There were some two or three thousand ladies present. The procession moved in one grand and solid mass amid the ringing of bells and shouting of the crowd under the waving of flags suspended across the streets, and of handkerchiefs from the crowded windows and balconies, until they came to the ground near to the Charter Oak. Here, around the Speaker’s Stand to a great distance, nothing was seen but a sea of up-turned faces, eagerly waiting for the commencement of the exercises. About 1 o’clock the Convention was called to order by Charles Chapman, Esq., of Hartford, who announced the appointment of Hon. Joseph Trumbull as President, with 18 Vice Presidents and 4 Secretaries. The President made a short address, after which a song was sung by the Hartford Glee Club, when Charles King, Esq., of New York, was introduced by the President to the meeting. After whom, Hiram Ketchum, Esq., spoke to the congregated thousands. He was followed by Hon. J. W. Huntington.

In the evening the Union and City Halls were crowded at an early hour, and the meetings were addressed by several distinguished gentlemen.

pointerfingerblue_edited-1 The hospitality of the whigs of Hartford was without measure. Not only were public tables spread, but accommodations ample and abundant were made at their dwellings for the comfort of their friends.

From The Constitution (Middletown, Connecticut), Wednesday, October 16, 1844.

1929: Autos Are Death to New England Railroad

Middletown, Conn., Oct. 15.–(INS)–The “Valley road,” a subsidiary of the New Haven Railroad that dates from 1871, is passing. Once the railroad ran from Hartford down the Connecticut river valley to Saybrook Point, on Long Island Sound, and did a thriving business. Now it has been reduced to a line from Hartford to Middletown, and this month the single passenger train each day in each direction is supplanted by a jogging freight train with a passenger car attached. Before long, it is expected even that will go, though the New Haven may hold its franchise by an occasional train. Broad highways along the river made the train trip less desirable than an auto trip and railroad lost its paying passengers.

From The Daily Notes (Canonsburg, Pennsylvania), Tuesday, October 15, 1929.


1909: Oldest College Janitor Resigns

doc-raymondMiddletown, Conn., Oct. 14.–The oldest college janitor in this country, Harlow Raymond, aged eighty-eight, who has been caretaker of the Wesleyan university buildings for forty-five years, has resigned to take effect next March.

From The Free Lance (Fredericksburg, Virginia), Saturday, October 16, 1909.

Harlow “Doc” Raymond was born on November 14, 1829 in western Massachusetts, and moved to Middletown in 1865 to become superintendent of buildings and grounds at Wesleyan University. After his retirement he moved to Longmeadow, Mass., where he died at the age of 90 on June 1, 1920.

1905: Death in Pretty Girl’s Bite

Savant’s Lecture Sends the Shivers Down Backs of Wesleyan Students.

Middletown, Conn., Oct. 13.–Prof. W. D. Miller, of the University of Berlin, sent shivers down the backs of students at Wesleyan when he announced in his lecture yesterday that the bite of a pretty girl would often bring a quicker and more horrible death than the bite of a serpent.

In a special study of the bacteria of the mouth he said that only a short time ago he experimented on a beautiful girl in Germany and found that an arrow dipped in saliva from her mouth would send its victim in death throes more terrible than one dipped in the venom of the most deadly snake.

Prof. Miller further said that dentists should always be careful when putting their fingers in the mouths of pretty girls that they do not scratch or wound their fingers on jagged teeth, for in most cases it means a horrible death. Neither should mothers and fathers allow babies to chew on their fingers, for fatal results are likely to come from it. The professor was of the opinion that, if this fact became known, the female sex could go about unmolested at all times provided they were not toothless.

From the Reading Times (Reading, Pennsylvania), Saturday, October 14, 1905.

1896: Failure of a Publisher

Middletown, Conn., Oct. 12.–Owing to the objection of New York creditors to E. F. Bigelow, of Portland, continuing in business, the Portland and Middletown Tribune offices were closed to-day. This kills the Middletown Tribune, the only Republican daily in this county; the Middlesex County Record, a weekly; the Colchester Advocate, a weekly; the Wesleyan College Argus and several other church and college papers, including the Observer. Fifty hands are deprived of employment. The failure was caused by inability to make collections.

From the Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York), Tuesday, October 13, 1896.