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!

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.

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.

1798: To the Inhabitants of Middletown

A number of us have agreed to devote the Evenings of Tuesday’s and Friday’s in each week, and sometimes the evening of Sunday, to acquire knowledge and perfection in Psalmody. A general invitation is given to persons of both sexes, and of all persuasions to join with us in the object expressed. No expense will arise; our association is voluntary, and the services of those acquainted with the art of singing will be free, happy in uniting their endeavors, to cultivate the taste and perfect the practice of their fellow citizens in the attainment of an object; both pleasing and important. It may not be useless to mention that a building for public worship will soon be completed, and that this ought to animate us in our exertions, for the acquisition of some degree of perfection in Psalmody,–a most beautiful and interesting part of divine service.

It is expected that the Ladies and Gentlemen of this place, will not only give a countenance to our object, but will personally join us, with their talents, on this occasion. Nothing will so effectually assist our endeavors, as the patronage of those persons of both sexes, whose example will lead to imitation, and this can alone be done efficaciously, by their punctual attendance on our Evening Schools.–Those, whose ears are deaf to the charms of music, it is charitably hoped, will not cast any impediments in our way, by soliciting or occasioning the absence of any who would otherwise attend with us.

The singing Schools generally will be shut against spectators,–at least, until some proficiency is made in the attainment of skill and power to entertain them.–When any considerable advances are made to this point, their attendance will be admitted.

Particularly we would solicit parents, and those who have the government of families, to advise such of their children or friends as have talents for music, to join the proposed school.

As an inducement to persons in general, to begin with us, on the Evening of Tuesday, December 4th, when the school will open, they are informed, that some attention to the rules of music will be given, previous to much practice.

Inhabitants of Middletown.

From the Middlesex Gazette (Middletown, Connecticut), Friday, November 30, 1798.

1919: 50 Cents Gets His Gold Out of Collection Basket

Young Man Who Gave Coin in Mistake For Penny Settles With Church Treasurer.

Middletown, Conn., Nov. 4.–When the treasurer of the First Baptist church was counting the offering after the evening service yesterday a young man approached him considerably perturbed and explained that he had intended to put a penny into the contribution but had dropped a $5 gold piece in by mistake instead. He asked if he might not have it back. The treasurer demurred.

“I need the money,” urged the young man.

“So does the church,” answered the young man.

Finally the young man offered the treasurer 50 cents in exchange for the gold piece, and the church official reluctantly made the exchange.

From the Salisbury Evening Post (Salisbury, North Carolina), Wednesday, November 5, 1919.

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.

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.

October 10 – Middletown 366


Vision at St. John’s Church

On October 10, 1928 an article titled, “Tale of Vision in Middletown Attracts 1,500” appeared on the first page of The Hartford Courant. The article explained that Saint John’s Church had been “crowded after children report seeing form of Blessed Virgin at Altar.”  The author reported that Reverend Dennis F. Baker, Pastor of Saint John’s, had “ridiculed the rumor.” Pastor Baker told the press that it was, “a figment of childish imagination, accentuated by the fact that the sanctuary light caused one of the prongs holding the light to make a blur and form an apparent vision.”[1]

[1] Harry T. Clew, “Tale of Vision in Middletown Attracts 1,500,” Hartford Courant, October 10, 1928, 1.

Story contributed by Jennifer Schloat.


75,000 Welcome Connell Home

Commander Art J. Connell returned home to a parade on Main Street, Middletown. Police Chief John Pomfret estimated 75,000 came out to welcome him.Commander Connell welcomed home



1908: Pastor Weds Catholic Bride

Middletown, Conn., Minister Brushes Aside All Opposition

New York, Oct. 8.–An event that has been at once a romance and a cause for sharp criticism in church circles culminated yesterday in the marriage of the Rev. Henry Boardman Vanderbogart, curate of the Holy Trinity church, at Middletown, Conn., and Miss Elizabeth Irene Tierney, of New Haven. Mr. Vanderbogart has been one of the most zealous and prayerful pastors of the diocese. He had neither wife nor family and, with a bishopric or rich vestry in the immediate future, was regarded as eligible for the hand of any spinster in Connecticut.

It is true he never had had much opportunity for the cultivation of the social amenities, but about eighteen months ago he was taken ill with typhoid fever. Miss Tierney nursed him back to life and health. Between them a bond of love was woven, but ever was the gulf of religious difference. He was an Episcopalian and she a Roman Catholic. He was a broad churchman–one of those that leaned towards the liberal teaching of the later days of Oxford. She was more rigid in the tenets which she held.

One of her brothers is the pastor of St. Mary’s Star of the Sea parish in New London, another is in a seminary, two sisters are nuns, and have been ever since the time they felt that Elizabeth was able to make her own way in the world. They are Catholics and Irish–Irish from the County Leitrim–and they felt it both a personal and a religious affront that their sister should marry a clergyman of opposing faith. They tried to break up the marriage, but without effect. They even enlisted the aid of the bishop, but without avail. The couple were married yesterday in this city and, while dining in the Manhattan, sent a wire to New Haven apprising their friends of the happy culmination of their romance.

It is believed here that the marriage may result in some dissatisfaction in the church of which the Rev. Mr. Vanderbogart is pastor and may subject his newly wedded wife to some criticism, but Mr. Vanderbogart is not dependent upon his vicarage for a living and, it is believed is entirely able to take up a new pastorate if such a proceeding on his part should seem to be advisable. When the church wardens today heard of his marriage and thought over the possibility of his going elsewhere they raised his salary $200 a year. Grace church, Broadway, by special permission of the Rev. Dr. Huntington, was used for the ceremony, which was performed by the Rev. C. Campion Acheson, rector of the Church of Holy Trinity, in Middletown.

From the York Daily (York, Pennsylvania), Friday, October 9, 1908.

September 8 – Middletown 366


Middletown, Sept. 8, A. D. 1789, in the 45th Year of his Age, departed this Life, Deacon SETH DOOLITTLE, who left a Widow and three Children, with Brothers, Sisters, and Acquaintance to mourn the Loss of a dear Friend; one who wore a delectable Aspect, a generous Deportment, and an affable Genius to all Mankind, who was the same at Home as abroad, slow of Judgment in Disputes, and a Peace-Maker where called in Contentions, who was a Moses in Speech, a Simeon for Meekness, a Solomon in Wisdom, a Job in Afflictions, and a Philip in the House of his God; and every other Accomplishment to render him serviceable in the World, and was found in Obedience thereto; and a Completion for Death, so with the Apostle, for him to live in Christ, but to die is Gain.’

From the Middlesex Gazette (Middletown, Connecticut), Saturday, September 19, 1789.


Bride on Exhibition

Friends of Girl, Secretly Married, Inflict Novel Penalty

Special to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the New York World.

Middletown, Conn., Sept. 8.–When her fellow employes at Meech & Stoddard, Inc., learned today that Miss Angie Scory of Higganum was secretly married to Elliott Dittman on Labor Day, they bound her hand and foot and put her on exhibition in the show window with a wreath on her head and bouquet in her hands.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), Friday, September 9, 1927.