1825: Fire!

Middletown, Dec. 21, 1825.

Fire.--Early on Monday evening last, our citizens were aroused by the appalling cry of Fire!–which proved to be in the Soap and Candle Manufactory of Mr. Calvin Riley, a worthy and industrious young man, near Sumner’s Creek, which, together with the barn and sheds attached, were wholly destroyed. So rapid were the flames, and so far had the fire extended, before discovered, that but few things were removed from the buildings; fortunately, however, the wind blew towards the creek, otherwise it would have been difficult to have saved his dwelling-house, and a barn on the opposite side of the street. We understand that Mr. Riley had taken the largest part of his account books to his house a few days previous, and they had not been carried back to the shop.

It is not known how the fire originated. The buildings, stock, and tools, were insured at the Ætna Insurance Office, Hartford, to the amount of $1,600, which although it will not fully cover his loss, yet by being thus secured, it will be trifling to what it would have been without insurance.–Sentinel.

From the American Mercury (Hartford, Massachusetts), Tuesday, December 27, 1825.

1947: Students Sell Blood to Defray Expenses of Injured Grid Star

Middletown, Ct., Dec. 20–(UP)–Coming to the aid of an injured football player, Wesleyan students today are ready to sell their blood to meet the mounting hospital expenses of Stavros Demopoulos.

Laid up in Hartford Hospital with a spinal injury, Demopoulos is faced with at least six more months of treatments, with an expected medical bill of at least $9000.

Ten students a week are pledged to sell a pint apiece, bringing in a total of $250. A college spokesman said that since most of the 1000 students show “a great enthusiasm for the move,” and since each can donate every two months, Demopoulos is assured of more than enough to pay his hospital bill.

From The Boston Traveler (Boston, Massachusetts), Saturday, December 20, 1947.

1898: Jernegan Makes Peace Offering

Middletown, Conn., Dec. 19.–It is stated on the authority of a member of the committee appointed to make an investigation of the so called Jernegan process of extracting gold from sea water that Rev. P. F. Jernegan, formerly of this city, who is now in Brussels, has actually sent to the directors of the Electrolytic Marine Salts company $75,000 in cash as a sort of peace offering preliminary to his return to the United States with his family. Jernegan converted all his stock and securities into cash previous to going abroad, and it is nearly one-third of the proceeds that he has returned of his own free will and without promises or inducements of any kind.

From the Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey), Monday, December 19, 1898.

1883: Valuable Fossil Discoveries

[By Telegraph to the Tribune.]

Middletown, Conn., Dec. 18.–A large deposit of fossil remains was uncovered by a blast at Portland quarries, which are situated near here, yesterday. Three large blocks of freestone were taken out three hundred feet below the surface, which are quite soft, having not yet become hardened from exposure to the air. On the upper surface of two of the blocks are visible plainly indented–some of them a half an inch deep and sharply cut–the footprints of birds of a past age. Some are large and some are small. The third block has the fossilized remains of a creature that in shape resembles a turtle. It is about one foot and six inches wide, octagonal in shape and oval like the back of a turtle. It is firmly attached to the rock, and there are no traces of legs. A number of scientists from Yale and Harvard Colleges will visit the quarries this week to search for other fossils.

From the New-York Tribune (New York, New York), Wednesday, December 19, 1883.

1896: Ten Inches of Snow in Connecticut

Middletown, Conn., Dec. 17.–Steam railroad traffic is greatly delayed by the record breaking storm which now prevails, and the trolley lines are badly crippled. The snow is 10 inches on the level, and it is drifted four and five feet deep. All country roads leading into the city are blocked.

From the Austin Daily Herald (Austin, Minnesota), Thursday, December 17, 1896.

1829: Methodist College

A committee from the New York and New England Conferences of the Methodist E. Church met at New Haven last week for the purpose of deciding upon a site for the College for said church and people. The committee determined upon Middletown, in this state, in preference to Bridgeport, Troy, or any other place brought into notice. They are to make a report to the different conferences in May next, by whom the report may be confirmed or rejected. But unless some very strong inducements should be held out from other places, it is believed that the conferences will coincide with the committee, and the college be located at Middletown. The people of that place, we believe, made a tender of 20 or 25,000 dollars, together with the buildings erected for Capt. Partridge’s military academy, should the college be located there.

From the Norwich Courier (Norwich, Connecticut), Wednesday, December 16, 1829.

2015: Willard M. McRae awarded Beacon of Philanthropy Award

Willard MacRaeA resident of Middletown all his life, Willard M. McRae is a community leader in every sense of the title. McRae began as a licensed clinical social worker and his philanthropy and care for the community has grown from there. He has served as a positive role model and community advocate for equal opportunity and has made a distinctive effort to better the lives of children in Middletown. He has worked as a child welfare program supervisor, caseworker and district director for the State of Connecticut. McRae also served as the Administrative Director of the Middlesex Hospital Mental Health Clinic.

Furthermore, McRae was the first African American to hold a chair position on the Board of Directors at the Liberty Bank and became the founding director of the Liberty Bank Foundation. The Willard M. McRae Community Diversity Award was created in his honor and is presented to a nominee who demonstrates community leadership and works to build positive relationships among community members. Willard M. McRae has focused his ambition in the direction of his community and service and continues to have a lasting impact in Middletown.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.

 

1947: There’s a Difference

Middletown, Conn., Dec. 14 (AP)–A group of sign painters were working on a billboard here this cold December day because Edward J. Hill, a police traffic sergeant, has an alert eye for incongruities.

The billboard stands at the west end of the Connecticut River bridge, looming above a Highway Department sign cautioning “slow–dangerous curve.”

The billboard legend, extolling a brand of gasoline, said “Get going–fast.”

It doesn’t say that now, however. The gasoline company, at Hill’s suggestion, agreed to change the “get going” to “Start.”

From the Springfield Union (Springfield, Massachusetts), Monday, December 15, 1947.

1862: The Battle of Fredericksburg

On this day, Elijah Gibbons was mortally wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg in Virginia. He had been a foreman at the Douglas Pump Company and was a fervent abolitionist, having lost his job as sexton at the First Baptist Church when he decided to ring the steeple bell at the moment the abolitionist John Brown was hung. At the outbreak of the war, he raised a company of Middletown men to join the fight. He led his men, Company B of the 14th Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry through the Battle of Antietam in September, 1862 only to lose his life at Fredericksburg. He is buried in Mortimer Cemetery and descendants still live in the area.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.

Elijah Gibbons

1905: Relics on Display

Middletown People See Mementos of Garrison, John Brown and Others.

Middletown, Conn., December 12.–The one hundredth anniversary of the birth of William Lloyd Garrison was observed at the Cross street Zion church on Sunday evening. The principal address was made by Rev. William North Rice, D. D., a professor at Wesleyan University. His father was an old-time Massachusetts Abolitionist and voted for James G. Birney. The address was interesting and instructive. Two bound volumes of the “Massachusetts Abolition” were on exhibition, also a steel engraving of William Lloyd Garrison, made in 1834, inclosed in an old-fashioned 6 x 9 gilt frame; a copy of Lydia M. Child’s “Appeal” (1833); a copy of Boume’s “Picture of Slavery,” published in Middletown in 1834; “Some Recollections of the Anti-Slavery Conflict,” by Rev. Samuel J. May; a copy of The Colored American, New York, 1841, containing an account of the trial of the Amistad captives; and a cane carried by Rev. Jehiel C. Beman while in Boston in 1840 acting as agent of the Anti-Slavery party and publisher of their organ; and a cane and piece of the rafter from the home of John Brown, in this State.

From The New York Age (New York, New York), Thursday, December 14, 1905.