1950: Middletown (Conn.) Church to Mark Its Bicentennial

Middletown, Conn., Dec. 31.–While this Connecticut town is preparing to celebrate its tercentenary in the summer of 1950, the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity will mark the end of its second century of continuous existence as one of the community’s foremost churches.

The parish was organized on Easter Monday, April 16, 1750, and the first church building, known as Christ Church, occupied a site on the town green. In 1834 the church was moved to a brownstone structure which is now the Russell Library, the town’s public library, and soon afterwards the name of the parish was changed to the present Holy Trinity. The present gothic building in Main St. dates from 1874.

The main event in the bicentennial celebration will be an anniversary dinner April 17, at which the principal speakers will be Secretary of State Dean G. Acheson and former Senator Raymond E. Baldwin, both former parishioners and choir boys of the church, Secretary Acheson’s father, the late T. Rev. Edward Campion Acheson, was the rector of the parish from 1892 to 1915, before his election as Bishop-Coadjutor and later Bishop of the Diocese of Connecticut. Rev. Lewis W. Pitt, rector of Grace Church in New York City and also a former member of the parish, will conduct the anniversary service in the church on April 16. Another past parishioner is the Rev. Karl Rolland, rector emeritus of New York’s St. George Church.

Other bicentennial plans call for the raising of a special anniversary fund to furnish a memorial chapel and to provide various other improvements for the church.

Rev. Dr. Clyde D. Wilson has been at the head of the parish since 1937.

From the Springfield Union (Springfield, Massachusetts), Sunday, January 1, 1950.

Happy Holidays!

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1873: Local Items

The weather to-day is clear and cold. Sleighing excellent.

The winter term of the city schools commence next Monday.

Special meeting of Post No. 6, G. A. R., this evening.

The North Congregational church and Sunday school will enjoy a New Year’s festival Thursday evening.

The Winter Evening Social club of Portland, give another of their pleasant sociables at Waverley Hall, New Year’s Eve.

The funeral of F. A. Hart, Esq., was attended this afternoon from his residence on High street.

Remember the dedication reception by the members of Mansfield Guard, at their armory on Friday evening of this week. Good music and a social time may be expected.

The Middletown Savings bank of this city, is one of the strongest in the state. Its deposits at the present time amount to over five million dollars well secured and are increasing every month, in spite of the hard times.

The Middletown Cornet band will give a grand promenade concert and ball at Eagle Hall, (Wednesday) New Year’s Eve. Music by the orchestra of the band. Tickets $1.

Mr. John Fiske, Assistant Librarian, and formerly lecturer on Philosophy at Harvard College, who is now paying England a visit, has in the printer’s hands a work entitled “Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy, based on the Doctrine of Evolution.” It will be published in London as well as in the United States.

The concert last evening by the Camilla Urso troupe, was very fine. Madame Urso was repeatedly encored. The troupe is an unusually good one, all being excellent performers. We trust they will visit us again at an early day.

About forty children connected with the Middletown Band of Hope, will give a Christmas concert in the mission room this evening, commencing at 7 o’clock. The public are invited to attend. A collection will be taken to defray expenses.

Mr. Daniel Hubbard of Guilford, died Saturday night of “lock-jaw.” Last Monday he sawed off, or nearly so, two of his fingers with a circular saw at his mill; he took cold in his hand, was taken with “tetanus” Friday night and died as above stated. He was seventy-four years old, though still hale and vigorous, and a very useful man. He will be much missed in the community.

The Hyer sisters gave a sacred concert at the Opera House in Hartford, Sunday evening, which was well attended and much enjoyed. It is with pleasure that we announce that they will return to this city, and give a concert at McDonough Hall, on Thursday evening, January 15th, at which time they may expect a crowded house.

From the Daily Constitution (Middletown, Connecticut), Tuesday, December 30, 1873.

1897: Sachs Acquitted

Middletown, Conn., Dec. 29.–Herman Sachs, charged with murder in the first degree in the alleged shooting of Bertrand T. Hotchkiss in Killingworth Aug. 27, has been acquitted. The jurors were out exactly three hours.

When the verdict of not guilty was announced, Attorney Calef opened the prisoner’s stand, which permitted Sachs to walk out a free man. His sister at once embraced him, and the liberated man for the first time since his arrest showed symptoms of nervousness.

Four ballots were taken by the jury before it reached a verdict. The first ballot stood seven for acquittal and five for conviction, on the second ballot eight favored acquittal, with four for conviction, and the third ballot showed another gain for acquittal, it standing nine to three. There was not much delay after the third ballot before a verdict was reached.

After the opening of court Tuesday morning, Attorney Chase of New Haven, senior counsel for the prisoner, began the closing argument for the defense.

During his remarks he most scathingly denounced Mrs. Hotchkiss, the wife of the murdered man, who was in the courtroom with her mother, asserting that she was a perjurer and claiming that she knew the murder was to be committed. He said the shot that killed Hotchkiss was fired from the bedroom door and not through the window, as claimed by the state. “Who committed the murder?” continued the lawyer. “Who got angry when asked about it? It was Mrs. Hotchkiss, and she finally placed the blame on Sachs because suspicion fell to him.”

From the North Adams Transcript (North Adams, Massachusetts), Wednesday, December 29, 1897.

1856: Woodrow Wilson is Born

In June 1888, future president of the United States Woodrow Wilson leaves Bryn Mawr to accept a professorship at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. This move causes controversy as Wilson must break his contract with Bryn Mawr in order to teach at Wesleyan. Wilson marks the beginning of a new era at the university as its first non-Methodist professor.

During his time there, Wilson joins the History and Political Economy department and publishes his book The State: Elements of Historical and Practical Politics. In addition to his academic life at Wesleyan, he coaches the football team and starts Wesleyan’s debate team.

In 1890, Princeton University offers Wilson a faculty position that pays $500 more than his position at Wesleyan and he leaves to teach at Princeton.

1906: Wedded 74 Years; Dies

Demise of Charles A. Newell Separates Oldest Couple in New England.

Special Dispatch to The Inter Ocean.

Middletown, Conn., Dec. 27.–Death today separated the oldest married couple in New England. Charles A. Newell expired in the Middlesex hospital, aged 92 years. He was married in Portland, Maine, Nov. 25, 1832. His widow survives.

From The Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois), Friday, December 28, 1906.

1846: High School

For The Constitution.

The Mayor, Aldermen and Common Council of the city of Middletown, having by invitation of the Committee of the City School Society visited the High School, and having witnessed the efficiency and ability which appears to characterize the Teachers and Assistants of both the Male and Female Departments thereof, and believing the prosperity of this Institution to be of vast importance to the welfare of our city, we cannot consistently with our duty omit publicly to express our great gratification in witnessing the order the regularity of the School, as well as the proficiency made by the Scholars in their different branches of study. We would also express our entire satisfaction and approbation of the improved system under which the School is at present conducted; and we would award the highest praise to the Committee for their unrewarded and indefatigable exertions in placing the High School in a condition in which its prosperity and usefulness must be firmly established; being convinced that the advantages afforded by this Institution for the easy and rapid acquirements of a solid and useful education, sufficiently advanced for an entrance into our Universities, or for any of the ordinary pursuits of life are equal perhaps to those of any other in the State, therefore,

Resolved, That we do cheerfully recommend the “City High School” to the fostering care of our fellow citizens, as an Institution promising great usefulness to our city, and one in which we should feel a common interest and pride, placing as it does a higher order of education equally within the reach of all, whatever their condition in life, who choose to avail themselves of its benefits.

Resolved, That the foregoing preamble and resolution signed by the Mayor, be published in both papers in this city.

By the order of the Board,

HORACE CLARK, Mayor.

City of Middletown, Dec. 26, 1846.

From the Constitution (Middletown, Connecticut), Wednesday, December 30, 1846.

1906: Missing For 35 Years

Runaway Got Just Twenty-Five Miles From Home.

Funeral Held 32 Years Ago.

Old Man, Whose Relatives Thought He Died at Sea, Shows Up at Middletown, Conn., and Says He Just Went Over to Coventry, Twenty-Five Miles Distant, Bought a Farm, and Settled Down.

Special to The Washington Post.

Middletown, Conn., Dec. 25.– Joseph Grover Southmayd, who disappeared from his home, near here, thirty-five years ago and who was long since given up as dead, returned to-day, to the amusement of such of his relatives as are living.

The old man–for he is an old man now, though he was only twenty-two when he left–stamped into town early this morning, carrying a stick and looking weary. He did not in the least resemble Rip Van Winkle, for he is short, and Rip was tall, and Southmayd wears no beard. He looked about at the signs over the stores, however, until his evident curiosity and uncertainty attracted the attention of every one on the street. Not a soul who saw him recognized him.

Finally the old fellow went into a grocery store and asked where Jim Hatch’s place was.

“Never heard of him,” responded the busy clerk.

“Gosh! Guess you’re a stranger here, ain’t yer?” asked Southmayd.

“Oh, I guess not, not by ten years.” The clerk smiled.

“Do you know Bud Olmstead or Harry Cheney?”

“There’s an old fellow named Cheney runs a blacksmith’s shop,” said the clerk, still smiling. “Maybe that’s your friend.”

Old Friend Didn’t Know Him.

The next seen of Southmayd was at Cheney’s blacksmith shop, a little way from the main portion of the town. He walked in as if he had been there every day of his life.

“Hullo, Harry,” he said to the man at the bellows.

Mr. Cheney did not recognize Southmayd and went on with his work. The other man stood still a moment, and then he said:

“You don’t know me, do you? Well, I’m Joe Southmayd.”

Cheney dropped the bellows handle as if it was a hot coal and walked over to Southmayd. He looked at him long and earnestly.

“By jimps, that’s who you are, all right. How are you, Joe?”

“I’m all right,” said Southmayd, pleased at having found some one who knew him.

“You’ve been gone quite a while,” said Cheney going back to his bellows.

Southmayd seated himself on a box full of old horse shoes and asked questions at a great rate. He learned that fully two-thirds of the people he had known were either dead or had moved. At each bit of information he seemed downcast, but recovered as soon as he thought of another person to ask about. Those who were in the blacksmith’s shop and Mr. Cheney say that he talked for an hour without volunteering any account of his wanderings. Finally he asked about his relatives.

Relatives Held His Funeral.

He was told that when he disappeared a search was instituted in New York city for him, but no trace was discovered. He had always expressed a desire to go to sea, and for a long time his relatives believed that he had shipped aboard some vessel in New York harbor. Three years passed without any tidings from him, and then, in an account of a ship wreck, there was a report of the drowning of a young man who exactly answered his description. His relatives felt convinced that he was the man referred to, and funeral services were held for him here. All hope of his return was abandoned.

Southmayd took the news of the death of many of his relatives very badly, and finally left the shop without saying where he had been. He went at once to the home of the only relatives he had left.

Southmayd this evening looked up two or three other old friends, and with Cheney they got together. The returned wanderer kept asking questions all the time until Cheney broke off the conversation suddenly and asked Southmayd point blank where he had been all the time.

“Kind o’ Fraid to Come Back,” He Says.

“Well,” said Southmayd, “I ain’t been very far. Didn’t have any intentions of going far when I set out. I went over to Coventry and went to work, saved, and bought a little farm. Got a nice place over there now, and a wife and two children.”

Coventry is twenty-five miles from Middletown! Southmayd’s listeners looked at him in astonishment and with some appearance of disgust.

“That’s the honest truth,” went on Southmayd. “Been in Coventry all the time, ‘cept once when I went down to New York for a trip. Made good money over there and liked the place and–”

“Why in thunder didn’t you let your folks know where you was?” asked Cheney.

“Didn’t want to. I just thought at first that I’d stay away a little while and come back. Then I thought it would be fun to meet some of ’em by chance, walking along the street or in a store. Got so after a while that I put off coming back again and I was prosperous and I didn’t see any use in coming back anyhow. When I bought my farm just outside Coventry I thought I’d come over and get the old folks and show them my place, but I met a girl and was pretty busy, and first thing you know I was married. Then I was kind of ‘fraid to come back and tell folks who’d know me, and pretty soon I got in the habit of not thinking about Middletown much.”

Nobody asked any more questions, and the party soon broke up. Southmayd went out to his relatives for the night. He offered to take Cheney and the others over to see his farm, and promised to give them a good dinner, but no one accepted.

From The Washington Post (Washington, D.C.), Wednesday, December 26, 1906.

1813: Bigamy

bigamy18131224frontTranscription:

Burlington, December 24th, 1813

Gentlemen,

Wee received yours in which you informed us that the wife and children of James Stillman whoom you consider as inhabitants of Burlington are the subjects of public support—

Wee would inform you that wee do not consider them as being Inhabitants of Burlington for the following reasons—First wee have been credibly informed he has had a wife in the Southern States and left her.  Secondly that he married another wooman in the State of New york and left her without being separated from her by law and that the last mentioned wooman has sent to our town for assistans—and of coarse the marriage with the wooman in your town is illegal and the town of Burlington not Liable for her support.

The Selectmen of Middletown

Wee are gentlemen, Your humble servants

Jeles Humphrey

Theodore Pittibank           Selectmen of Burlington

Chauncey Brooks

1919: Nine Missing in Fire

Middletown, Conn., Dec. 24.–Nine men who were among the 53 mildly insane patients accommodated in an outlying building of the Connecticut Hospital for the Insane, were missing today, as the result of last night’s fire. Dr. Havilland, superintendent, inclines to the opinion that the fire started from a heap of kindling wood near the heater. The property loss is about $25,000.

From the Pittsburgh Daily Post (Pittsburg, Pa.), Dec. 25, 1919.

1899: May Smith Again Attacked

(Special to The World.)

Middletown, Conn., Dec. 22.–The defense in the Hough murder trial attacked to-day May Smith by producing several witnesses to show that she had acted imprudently in being out night after night for long rides with Hough.

Some witnesses testified to seeing Hough hug her on the street. The testimony substantiated some of Hough’s stories told on the witness stand on Thursday.

Owing to the absence of witnesses for the defense an early adjournment was taken until Tuesday. The defense expects to conclude on Thursday.

From The World (New York, New York), Dec. 23, 1899.