1799: Singing Meeting

To the Inhabitants of Middletown.

This evening at 7 o’clock precisely there will be a Singing Meeting at the Court-House. The Singers are requested to bring their books and candles. An universal invitation is given to Married to Single. We are about determining, whether singing is to progress or expire.

A Citizen.
From The Middlesex Gazette (Middletown, Connecticut), Friday, August 9, 1799.

1913: Pastor Fixes Rules in Dancing Pavilion

Middletown, Conn., June 24.–Hoping to stem the tide of the popularity of the “turkey trot” and other modern dances, the Rev. George B. Gilbert, rector of the Maromas Episcopal Church, has leased the dancing pavilion at Lakeview Park, a popular resort here, and will conduct it as a model dance hall during the summer.

Leading society women from the city are expected to chaperon the dances. Prominently posted about the hall are lists of 10 commandments for the dancers which Mr. Gilbert has prepared. Among them is one which provides that partners must dance with at least six inches of space between them.

From the Pawtucket Times (Pawtucket, Rhode Island), Tuesday, June 24, 1913.


1822: A Medicinal Spring in Middletown

The subscriber informs the public that he has fitted up a building for the purpose of Bathing and Showering with the water of a Mineral Spring, the medicinal qualities of which are the same as those of Ballstown and Saratoga Springs; it being strongly impregnated with iron sulphur, and other minerals. Many persons in Middletown and its vicinity can testify that they have received great benefit from the use of this water.–It was been ascertained to be almost an infallible cure for all cutaneous complaints. The spring is about three miles north of the City of Middletown, on the Hartford Turnpike. Board can be procured near the spring.


June 13


HADDAM June 3, 1822.

On Friday last, the friends of the missionary cause of this town, devoted themselves to preparing a house frame for the Sandwich Island Mission. The necessary timber being generously given by a few individuals, a number of farmers and carpenters, after uniting early in prayer and a missionary hymn, engaged in the work with great cheerfulness and vigour, and by night almost completed the important undertaking. Such scenes are peculiarly pleasing to the Christian, wishing for the extension of the Redeemer’s kingdom, and very useful to those who are engaged in them. It is hoped that the religious public will be deeply interested in the reinforcement to this mission, and be more active in preparing every thing necessary for their support and comfort.

From The Middlesex Gazette (Middletown, Conn.), June 13, 1822.

May 17 – Middletown 366


Who Killed Mrs. Murphy?

Middletown, Conn., May 17.–“It is rumored that the defense in the case of Clarence Murphy, charged with murder of his mother, expects to show at the hearing Wednesday, that another man left the house at midnight. They claim he may have murdered Mrs. Murphy while attempting an assault. The person they suspect is an old man who has always been considered harmless.”– From the Boston Post, May 18, 1896.


Apparition at St. Sebastian Church

St. Sebastian ChurchOn this date an occurrence at Saint Sebastian’s Church attracted a “crowd of several thousand” spectators.[1] The Blessed Virgin Mary was said to have appeared outside as a “white shadowy figure standing forth prominently in the middle arch of the belfry at Saint Sebastian’s Catholic Church.”  The report in The Hartford Courant continued,

Some of the spectators said it was a shadow caused by a reflection of the street light but the greater part of the crowd was apparently content to believe it was an apparition and not a mere shadow. Cars lined Washington Street for a considerable distance and even after midnight there were new arrivals of persons curious to see the figure. Women came and saw and returned home to bring their children back to view the figure and the crowd seemed unwilling to depart.

The following day, The Hartford Courant reported that the Connecticut Power Company turned off two street lights in front of the church causing both the apparition and the crowd of several thousand people to depart.[3]

[1] “New of Apparition at St. Sebastian’s Stirs Middletown,” Hartford Courant, May 17, 1935, 1

[3] “Apparition’ Disappears In Middletown When Lights Are Turned Off, “Hartford Courant, May 18, 1935.

Story contributed by Jennifer Schloat.


April 6 – Middletown 366


Birth of Kate Campbell Hurd-Mead

Kate Campbell Hurd-Mead was born in Canada and, once in Connecticut, rose to become a respected physician and healthcare pioneer for the Middletown community. In 1893, she married William Edward Mead, a professor at Wesleyan University. Hurd-Mead was a feminist force not to be ignored and she was one of the original founders of the Middlesex County Hospital in 1907. She remained the consulting gynecologists at Middlesex County Hospital until her retirement in 1925.

Perhaps one of Hurd-Mead’s most meaningful contributions to Middletown was her hand in the organization of the Middletown District Nurses Association, created in 1900. Additionally, she conducted her own extensive research on the presence women in medicine and published Medical Women of America in 1933. In 1938, she published A History of Women in Medicine: From the Earliest of Times to the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century, a truly comprehensive history of women’s role in medicine.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.


Cleveland’s Anti-Indian Jargon Order

Middletown (Conn.), April 6th.–At today’s session of the New York East Methodist Conference resolutions were passed instructing the delegates to ask for the appointment of a committee to consider the matter of the recent order of the Federal Government prohibiting the use of the Indian bible in the Indian mission schools, especially requesting that consideration be given to the question as to whether the Government has the right to prohibit the use of native languages in institutions receiving no pecuniary support from the Government.

From The Record-Union (Sacramento, Calif.), Saturday, April 7, 1888.


Man Joins Navy When Eldest Son Called

WWII card
WWII card

Middletown, Conn., April 6–(AP)–At a dinner here tonight for a group of men from Portland who will join the armed forces next week, William Ackerman Sr., 43, arose and announced that he was among the group because of a promise he had made to himself.

The promise was that he would join if the eldest of his eight children was drafted.

When William Jr., 20, was notified recently to report for examination, Dad went along. Both were accepted by the Navy and will start their training next week at Sampson, N.Y.

It won’t be all new for Ackerman Sr. He served a hitch in the Navy shortly after World War I.

From the Del Rio News Herald (Del Rio, Texas), Friday, April 7, 1944.

1910: M. E. Conference To Try Ministers For Mutiny

Three Young Clergymen Refused to Go to Appointments Given Them.

Church Discipline Affected.

Cases of Rebellion the First in the History of the New York East Conference.

(Special to the Eagle.)

Middletown, Conn., March 31–The dignity of the New York East Conference has been rudely disturbed by rebellion on the part of three young ministers who refused to go to appointments given them by the late Bishop Daniel A. Goodsell. District Superintendent W. W. Bowdish of the New Haven district, announced yesterday morning that the Revs. R. S. Povey, W. E. Slaght and Gustav A. Viets had not gone to Rocky Hill, Woodbury, and North Canton and Washington Hill, to which they had been sent, respectively. According to the Discipline of the church, these rebellious young preachers could be expelled. Although two of the appear to have made satisfactory explanation of their conduct they must be tried, notwithstanding. Mr. Povey has been preaching at Trinity Church, Bridgeport; Mr. Viets at Seventh street, Manhattan, and W. E. Slaght at South Farms, and also as assistant to the Rev. C. W. Flint, pastor of the conference, and the disposition of Mr. Slaght seems to have been satisfactory. But Mr. Viets, according to the district superintendent, did not do anything for some time, nor has he visited Bishop Moore nor District Superintendent Bowdish.

The cases of the young men are in the hands of a strong committee appointed by Bishop Moore, and will be thoroughly investigated, Dr. Bowdish being one of the principal witnesses. The committee is composed of F. W. Hannan, F. B. Upham, W. W. T. Duncan, J. A. MacMillan, E. A. Burnes and Dr. Bowdish. Bishop Moore will, of course, attend the hearing.

In speaking of the case Dr. Bowdish said:

“If ministers refuse to go where they are sent by the bishop, it is rebellion. Members of the conference assume an obligation to go where they are sent by the presiding bishop. This obligation is absolute and binding. The individuals have no more right to rebel than a soldier has. The Methodist Church must maintain the dignity of its discipline, and in this case the conference proposes to do so.”

Cases of rebellion in this direction are rare, and it is the first time, it is said, the New York East Conference has had a case of ministerial mutiny. Dr. Bowdish sent to the places to which the young ministers refused to go the Revs. G. A. Seymour, a graduate of Toronto and Yale universities, who is to be admitted to the conference this year; W. W. Winans and S. H. Bray. The Rev. R. S. Povey is well known in Brooklyn, having been pastor of the Herkimer Street Church and previous to that assistant to the Rev. Dr. A. W. Byrt at the Warren Street Church.

The Rev. Dr. Henry Baker, who resigned the pastorate of the Patchogue Church for a year of recuperation, although much better, will retire this year. He will ask for a superannuated relation. The Rev. Ira W. Henderson, who has served a year at Patchogue, has been invited back. He made a fine record.

The Rev. Dr. Willey, pastor of St. Mark’s Methodist Episcopal Church, Ocean avenue and Beverley road, Flatbush, has rested his case in the hands of Bishop Moore. Dr. Willey received a call to the First M. E. Church, Baltimore, the home of his boyhood, and an exchange was thought of by bringing the Rev. B. Frank Rall of that church to St. Mark’s. The committee from St. Mark’s went to Baltimore, but decided not to invite Mr. Rall to Brooklyn. At a full meeting of the official board of St. Mark’s Church, Dr. Willey told the members that nothing would induce him to leave St. Mark’s, which, to him, was the best church in Methodism, but the condition of his throat, he having some bronchial trouble. He would return to St. Mark’s notwithstanding, he said, if the bishop did not desire otherwise.

When District Superintendent James S. Chadwick of the Brooklyn North District finished his report and the bishop called the roll, the characters of all the ministers in the district were passed by Dr. Bowdish answering “Nothing against him” as each minister was named. This included the Rev. Dudley O. Osterheld of Ozone Park, against whom his wife brought suit for cruel and inhuman treatment, etc., which was fully published at the time Justice Garrotson rendered a decision in favor of the minister a week or so ago.

A memorial service was held at yesterday afternoon’s session. Bishop Moore presided, while the memoir of Bishop Daniel A. Goodsell was read by the Rev. Dr. George P. Mains of the Methodist Book Concern. Dr. Mains recalled the life of the bishop and said he was not only a large man in point of physique, but large of soul, and then went largely into a biographical sketch.

The Rev. Thomas L. Price of Epworth Church, Brooklyn, presided over the rest of the service. The memoir of the Rev. Dr. Charles H. Buck was read by the Rev. Dr. William V. Kelley, who also read a tribute to the Rev. A. H. Wyatt. The Rev. James A. MacMillan read the memoir of the Rev. George C. Boswell, the Rev. Dr. W. P.  Estes that of the Rev. Lemuel Richardson and the Rev. E. A. Dent that of the Rev. George W. Allen.


March 9 – Middletown 366


A Crazed Young Woman’s Suicide

Middletown, Conn., March 9.–Miss Julia Hall, of New Canaan, daughter of Russell Hall, the banker of that town, committed suicide by throwing herself in front of a locomotive on the Connecticut Valley division of the New York, New Haven and Hartford road. She was instantly killed and her body was frightfully mangled. Miss Hall was recently sent to the insane asylum here from New Canaan, and committed the act while out walking with an attendant, whom she eluded.

From the Harrisburg Star-Independent (Harrisburg, Pa.), March 9, 1893.


Boy Soprano Extinct

Middletown Conn.–(U.P.)–The boy soprano is extinct in this city of 22,000 persons. The church of the Holy Trinity has abandoned its boy choir after more than thirty-five years because of lack of talent.

From the Lincoln Evening Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska), March 9, 1929.



1895: Death of Rev. Dr. Fuller

Middletown, Conn., March 8.–Rev. Samuel Fuller, D. D., emeritus professor at Berkeley Divinity School, died this morning. He was born in Rensselaerville in 1802, and for over seventy years had been connected with the ministry of the Episcopal church. Dr. Fuller graduated from Union College, Schenectady. N. Y., in 1822 and in 1823 was principal of Hudson Academy. He graduated from the General Theological Seminary, New York city, in 1827. In 1859 he was appointed professor of Latin and interpretation of holy scripture at Berkeley Divinity School, and retained his chair until 1883, when he became professor emeritus.

From The Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, N. Y.), March 9, 1895.

1920: Parson Cuts Hair of Flock, Touring Circuit in an Auto

When the Roads Are Blocked With Snow He Does Double Service.

Middletown, Conn., Feb. 26.–In these days when a haircut costs 50 cents, the roads are piled so high with snow that it is hard to get to the barber from the back districts. So the Rev. George B. Gilbert of this city, an Episcopal missionary, has taken to cutting hair, along with preaching.

Mr. Gilbert was brought up on a farm in Vermont and learned to cut hair there, in winter evenings, but he is no mercenary hair-chopper. When his auto is heard chugging past one of the country school houses the teacher hurries to “flag” him, so to speak. Thereupon Mr. Gilbert comes in and cuts the children’s hair without charge.

He says that it is just as important to shear the locks of his flock as it is to preach.

From The Evening World (New York, N. Y.), Feb. 26, 1920.