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.

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.

1906: Engineer Easton on Trial

Claims He Had Been on Duty Nearly 24 Hours When Yalesville Wreck Occurred.

The trial of Harry W. Easton, 28 years old, of Middletown, an engineer, charged with manslaughter in causing the wreck on the Consolidated road on November 29, which resulted in the death of Conductor William A. Leahy of West Springfield, was begun in the police court at Meriden, Ct., yesterday morning. Easton pleaded not guilty. The hearing will last two days. Easton was running two locomotives coupled together and going backward from New Haven to Springfield with rush orders, and crashed into the tail end of a regular freight train coming to Springfield from Harlem river. The state charges Easton with running by a banjo signal set against him.

The defense claims that the young engineer had been on duty for nearly 24 hours; that the engines had the right of way over second-class trains; that the Harlem river train was an hour late and should have been on a branch switch at Hartford instead of near Yalesville; that the engineer was necessarily on the wrong side of the engine to see banjo signals; that he could not see ahead of him because of a strong wind blowing coal from the tender in his eyes and it was bitter cold; that the freight train was slowed down to six miles an hour and no flag or torpedo signals were given. Weather Observer L. M. Tarr of New Haven was called as a witness.

From the Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), Tuesday, December 11, 1906.

November 28 – Middletown 366


Presidential Candidates

News.–The following letter containing the important intelligence, that three-fifths of the people of Connecticut are Clintonians, is taken from the New-York Statesman of the 10th inst. This may be set down as news indeed, for we doubt very much whether any of our readers ever before heard of Mr. Clinton’s popularity in Connecticut. The fact is, the people of this State are the firm supporters of the able Administration of Adams. Neither Mr. Clinton nor Gen. Jackson can get three-fifths nor one-fifth of the votes of Connecticut. In this section of the State, where the writer professes to have received his information, the people are, with a very few exceptions, the friends of the present administration, and we have no apprehension that they will abandon Mr. Adams for any other candidate. The author of the letter was most egregiously deceived, when the informant palmed himself upon him as “an Adams man, possessing opportunities of knowing” what is not true, and had he remained a sufficient time in the place, he could have ascertained its falsehood. Here is the letter.

Extract of a letter to the Editors of the Statesman, dated Middletown, Ct. Nov. 10, 1827.

The friends of Mr. Clinton are numerous in Connecticut. A respectable politician, (himself an Adams man and one possessing opportunity of knowing,) told me, that if Mr. Clinton were set up, even in opposition to Mr. Adams, he would receive three-fifths of the votes of Connecticut. The opponents of Mr. Adams would, of course, vote for him in preference to Mr. Jackson. Should they see the necessity of abandoning Mr. Adams New England would go for him almost unanimously, notwithstanding the Editor of the Post has expressed a wish that “he shall hear no more” of this.

From The Evening Post (New York, New York), Thursday, November 29, 1827.


Ending of a Drunken Debauch

Five Persons Burned to Death.

Three Men and Two Women Cremated In a Tobacco Barn at Middletown, Conn., Saturday Night.

By Associated Press.

Middletown, Conn., Nov. 28.–Three men and two women were burned to death here Saturday night in a tobacco barn owned by John Hubbard. The victims were a party of umbrella menders seen near there before the fire. It is supposed that they were drunk and set fire to a small amount of hay, the only contents of the barn. The building was totally destroyed, the fire companies being unable to reach the structure in time.

From the Harrisburg Daily Independent (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), Monday, November 28, 1892.

1931: Two Slightly Injured in Plane Crack-Up

Springfield Pilot Makes Forced Landing in Ct. as Motor Fails.

[Special Dispatch to The Herald]

Middletown, Ct., Nov. 22–Edward H. Spooner, pilot for the Axtman Spooner Flying Service, of Springfield, Mass., made a forced landing here today when the motor of his plane stopped at 200 feet. Spooner and four passengers escaped serious injuries when the plane turned over after the wheels struck soft earth. The lower wing and propeller were broken.

John Karatkewicz and his daughter, Dolores, received slight cuts and bruises and were treated at the Middlesex Hospital. The other two passengers were Stanley Kolinowski and Theodore Lozinski, neither of whom were hurt.

Spooner came from Springfield yesterday for a week-end of passenger carrying here.

From the Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), Monday, November 23, 1931.

November 9 – Middletown 366


Middletown, Conn., Anxiously Awaiting a Fall of Rain.

Middletown, Conn., Nov. 9. This city has only thirty days’ supply of water in the reservoir, and unless heavy rain soon comes, pond and river water will have to be used. The low water has already caused many cases of malarial and typhoid fever. There is said to be more cases of sickness here now than in any month this year, much of it being intermittent in character. The city has been asked to build a pumping station at Pameacha pond to aid the reservoir, but has postponed action. In the country the complaint is that springs and wells are dry.

From the Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey), Monday, Nov. 9, 1896.


Middletown RR Station – End of an Era

Union Station

The Middletown railroad station at the foot of Rapallo Avenue was closed by the New York, New Haven, & Hartford Railroad. Passenger service had been suspended several years earlier and the station was being used only to sell tickets and make reservations for service in other cities. In days gone by, Middletown had been a railroad transportation hub where the fastest trains between New York and Boston passed on the Airline Railroad which opened its first 50-mile stretch from New Haven to Middleton in August, 1870. The Connecticut Valley Railroad line and the Berlin line also brought passengers and freight to Middletown. Middletown was also a stopping place for the legendary Ghost Train, painted white with gold trimmings. The Airline Limited made the trip between Boston and New York in five hours before it was suspended May 18, 1902.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.


1927: Major Flooding in Middletown

1927 flood

The back of this photograph reads:

“This is Union Street–remember this is where you cross the Bridge to go over to MacKenzies–You can’t even see the rails at the sides.  Nov. 5, 1927.

This man in the Boat brought passengers back and forth for ten cents.”

From the collections of the Middlesex County Historical Society.

1985: Hurricane Gloria

NOAA image of Gloria approaching New England, Sept. 27, 1985.
NOAA image of Gloria approaching New England, Sept. 27, 1985.

Hurricane Gloria was one of the strongest storms to hit Middletown in more than thirty years. It was a Category 2 hurricane when it came ashore in Connecticut, which entails winds ranging from 96 mph to 110 mph and a storm of generally six to eight feet above normal. The people of Middletown went without power for three days following the hurricane. This was also the weekend of the Durham Fair and many Middletown residents went to the fair for food and to generally enjoy the annual festivities.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.

1898: The Boat Was Upset

Three Persons Drowned in the Connecticut River Off Moramus

Middletown, Conn., Sept. 18.–Three persons were drowned in the Connecticut river off Moramus this afternoon, the victims being Patrick Kelly, aged 25; William Kelly, aged 24, and William Gorman, aged 18. Three young men with John Hines rowed up from Moramus this morning to attend services at St. John’s church in this city. They were on their return and had almost reached home, when a sudden squall came up and in the storm the boat was upset. The accident occurred in sight of Gorman’s home and was witnessed by members of the family. As soon as possible a party went out to assist the men, but they had all disappeared except Hines, who was picked up exhausted.

From The Scranton Republican (Scranton, Pennsylvania), Monday, September 19, 1898.

1930: State Officials War on Sewage

Middletown, Conn. (INS)–State officials have ordered the city of Middletown to take immediate steps to stop its practice of emptying sewage into the Connecticut river here. To install a sewage disposal plant will cost the city $1,250,000. The plant here would follow an enormous one at New Haven where several millions are being spent to keep the sewage from a district of 250,000 people from the harbor, and, eventually, from Long Island Sound. Following the work here it is expected other cities will be forced to clean up so that the entire Connecticut shore may be redeemed.

From the Times Herald (Olean, New York), Wednesday, September 10, 1930.