1902: Roaring Bill Kennedy at Large

New York, Nov. 20.–A man shouted that he was “Roaring Bill” Kennedy, the terror of Middletown, Connecticut, fired three shots at the elevated railroad structure in front of No. 10 Bowery, today, and was about the fire again when he was arrested.

When arrested and taken before Sergt. Murtha, he lost his blustering manner, and said in a weak voice:

“I’m nothing but a poor steamfitter, from Middletown, Conn. You can telephone up there and get my character.”

He was locked up.

From the Stamford Advocate (Stamford, Connecticut), Thursday, November 20, 1902.

1894: Fell Through the Trestle

Edward Fitzgerald of New York Killed at Middletown Yesterday.

Middletown, Conn., Nov. 19.–The body of Edward Fitzgerald, aged 55, of New York, was found beneath a trestle on the Valley road near Washington street early this morning. Death had been caused by a fracture of the skull. Fitzgerald came to Middletown from New York Saturday evening to visit his aunt, Mrs. Catherine Cull, who is ill. Last evening he left home to catch the “ghost” train which left at 6:29 o’clock for New York. He started to walk to the station on the railroad track and it is supposed fell through the trestle. When found there was a roll of bills containing $225 and a gold watch and chain in his pockets, indicating that death was the result of an accident rather than of foul play. He lived at 407 West Fifteenth street, New York, and owned a cab line.

From the New Haven Register (New Haven, Connecticut), Monday, November 19, 1894.

1885: Stirring Up Middletown Folks Also

Middletown, Conn., Nov. 18.–A representative of the adjutant general met with the selectmen on Monday for the purpose of ascertaining why a larger number of our citizens do not pay a poll tax. He learned that military service exempts an unusually large number, as Middletown has more veterans who served in the late war, in proportion to its population, then either Hartford or New Haven. Also, we have a goodly number of veteran firemen who are exempt on account of long service in the fire department.

From the New Haven Register (New Haven, Connecticut), Wednesday, November 18, 1885.

November 17 – Middletown 366


Russell Library is Dedicated

On this day, Russell Library was dedicated.  The building located at Opening Programthe corner of Broad and Court Streets was originally Christ Church and the first classes of Middletown High School, the first permanent high school in Connecticut, were held in its basement in 1840.  After the Episcopalian congregation built its new church, Church of the Holy Trinity, on Main Street, the building was purchased by Frances Russell and transformed into a library in memory of her husband Samuel Russell, the China trader and founder of Russell Manufacturing Company.

Although the building was dedicated and opened as a hall in November 1875, the library collection was not open to the public until the following April.

As the town grew, so did Russell Library, which now hosts almost 1000 patrons a day.  In addition to lending books, the library has kept up with the times, allowing patrons to borrow movies and DVD’s, use computers free of charge, attend workshops, classes, and lectures, and enjoy plays and musical performances.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.


18821117GAR flyer

Flyer for the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic), Mansfield Guard Post, Fair in 1882. The G.A.R. was the organization for Union veterans of the Civil War, and was a political force until the early 1900s.

November 16 – Middletown 366


From the ‘Casual List’

Middletown (Connecticut) Nov. 16. Last Thursday, Miss Lucy Gill, of this city, fell into the river, where it is supposed she lay 15 or 20 minutes before she was discovered; when she was taken up, apparently a corpse, but, happily, soon recovered.

From the Salem Mercury (Salem, Massachusetts), Tuesday, December 2, 1788.


Sells Wife and Sues Buyer for $100,000

Aged Husband Says It Was All a Joke, But Purchaser Has Bill-of-Sale.

Middletown, Conn., Nov. 16.–(A.P.)–A 74-year-old man, who signed away his young wife for $10,000, was in court today and told Judge Alyn L. Brown and a jury it was a “joke.”

The document was offered in evidence. Josiah B. Stocking, Rocky Hill, is suing William Suda, Essex, for $100,000, the value of Mrs. Stocking’s affection as set in the papers alleging alienation of this affection.

The document was as follows:

“I promise to give up all claims on my wife, Mabel P. Stocking, to William Suda for the sum of $10,000.”

Stocking signed the document on October 23, 1925.

A previous suit was settled when Stocking received an automobile from Suda several months ago.

In 1926 Stocking advertised in a matrimonial agency paper for a wife while he was yet married, but he claims his wife knew all about it.

From the Scranton Republican (Scranton, Pennsylvania), Thursday, November 17, 1927.


Brownies to Play Middletown Eleven

Agawam, Nov. 16.–The Agawam Brownies will seek their fifth victory Sunday afternoon when they play the Middletown Sons of Italy at Middletown, Conn. The game is scheduled at Municipal Field at 2.

Agawam has won four, lost two and tied one this year. It is pointing for its Nov. 25 game with the Greenfield Lions at Greenfield.

From the Springfield Union (Springfield, Massachusetts), Saturday, November 17, 1951.

1896: Trinity Beaten By Wesleyan

A Game That Was Witnessed By More Than a Thousand

Middletown, Conn., Nov. 15.–Over 1,000 persons witnessed the Wesleyan-Trinity game yesterday. Wesleyan scored the first touch-down in three minutes on long runs around the ends and double pass plays. Henry of Wesleyan and Langford of Trinity were put off for slugging, and Yale and Stirling substituted. Wilson kicked both goals. Trinity, by successive short runs, secured two touch-downs and goals in this half.

The second half was characterized by sharp tackling by Wesleyan, and Rymer’s series of gains through Trinity’s end. Wesleyan secured two goals, and, by sharp work, Trinity prevented her gaining two more goals when the ball was on the one-yard line. Rich of Trinity was injured, and Beecroft substituted. The line-up:

Trinity. Position. Wesleyan.
Rich, Beecroft Right end Young
Langford, Capt. Right tackle Williams
Ingalis Right guard Sibley
Lord Centre Wade
Cogswell Left guard Hayes
Sutton Left tackle Henry
Ellis Left end Young
Clasebrook Quarter back Wilson (Capt.)
Little Right half back Raymond
Woodle Left half back Rymer
Burchard Full back Wing

Score–Wesleyan, 24; Trinity, 12. Umpire–Judd of Yale. Referee–Dr. Farrand of Wesleyan. Timekeepers–Grodon and Hubbard.

From the New York Times (New York, New York), Monday, November 16, 1896.

1822: Stealing Handsomely

Relative to the fire in Glastonbury, the editors of the Times say, “for the information of the editor of the Middlesex Gazette, we will state that Glastonbury lies in a direction N. N. E. from Middletown instead of Hartford.”–Now that is no information to the editor of the Gazette–he knew it well before.–But the editor of the Gazette would be very sorry to see in the next Map of the State of Connecticut, Glastonbury placed up in East-Windsor, and East-Windsor placed the Lord knows where–all owing to a blundering printer, who did not know how to steal a paragraph handsomely.

From the Middlesex Gazette (Middletown, Connecticut), Thursday, November 14, 1822.

1892: Connecticut Snake Story

A Farm Hand Makes a Discovery at the Bottom of a Well.

Middletown, Conn., November 13.–The long drought in the Connecticut valley has greatly delayed the advent of winter, and wild flowers, fruit trees and strawberry blossoms, snakes and other things are still current. The drought has also dried all the small streams and wells, and it was on account of the drought, too, that Farmer Alexander Penfield’s hired man, a Pole, had a unique and startling experience today. Like all his neighbors, Penfield had been getting his drinking water in a hogshead for his household and his barn stock from the distant river, and he was tired of the job. He determined to clean out an old well on the premises. It was a deep and capacious one, and it had been unused for several years.

The two men found that the well had been partly filled with brush, stones and other debris, but Penfield quickly rigged up a rope and bucket and sent the Pole to the bottom of it in the bucket. The Pole had not labored long before he was disturbed by a singular buzzing sound like the humming of a swarm of bees, and a moment later he began to see snakes. From every crevice in the stone curb of the well serpents thrust forth their heads, hissing loudly, then advanced their bodies, little by little, into the well, which were followed instantly by more snakes, all crowding on the frightened workman and tumbling on each other into the bottom of the dimly lighted shaft.

There were black snakes, water snakes, striped snakes and adders. For awhile the Pole waged a desperate battle against the serpents with his shovel, simply to protect himself from their attack, but in a few moments he was completely invested with a hissing, writhing, squirming, tossing tangle of serpents in the bottom of the pit, while a shower of snakes was continually falling upon him from the walls above his head.

Finally the Pole became terror-stricken and shouted to Mr. Penfield to haul him out of the engulfing torrent of reptiles. Mr. Penfield pulled vigorously on the bucket rope and soon had his man out of danger. After an hour or so the serpents returned to their retreat behind the well walls. Then Farmer Penfield lowered his man into the well again. He found the bodies of thirty-four snakes which the Pole had killed with his shovel. Mr. Penfield has abandoned his project of using the well and is still getting his water from the Connecticut river.

From the Altoona Tribune (Altoona, Pennsylvania), Monday, November 14, 1892.


1909: President Taft Day in Middletown

November 12, 1909 saw the first visit by a president since Andrew Jackson came in 1832.  The purpose of Taft’s visit was to be the speaker at the inauguration of Wesleyan University President William Shanklin. Accompanying Taft in a car driven by F, L. Caulkins was Stephen H. Olin, representing Wesleyan alumni.  In the following car were Vice-President Sherman, Governor Frank B. Weeks of Middletown, and Middletown’s mayor, T. Macdonough Russell. They passed by 2500 school children and the parade was composed of bands and fraternal organizations, with the town’s Civil War veterans immediately surrounding the car as a military escort. The Penny Press headline declared that it was “One of the Greatest Parades Witnessed Here.”

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.

President Taft Visit

1868: Lost a Bet

The Middletown Sentinel says considerable amusement was occasioned Thursday afternoon by the payment of a rather comical political wager. Wm. H. Abelle, a clerk at Southmayd & Gardiner’s, made a wager with Mr. Edward Parshley that Connecticut would give its vote for Seymour, the loser agreeing to tote the winner in a wheelbarrow up Main as far as Washington street and back again. At about 3 o’clock, Mr. Abelle paid the bet. Mr. Parshley sat in the wheelbarrow, holding some political streamers, while the two were preceded by a couple of drums, and followed by quite a crowd, which seemed to enjoy the spectacle. The town bell was struck a few times as the singular procession was passing.

From the Norwich Aurora (Norwich, Connecticut), Wednesday, November 11, 1868.