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.


1773: The State of Medicine

The original story, from the Connecticut Journal (Middletown, Connecticut), August 31, 1773

A Young woman my neighbor, (18 years old) making an effort to clear her ear of wax with a pin, the pin slipt out of her fingers and lodged in her ear.–Various methods were tried to extract it, but to no purpose. She complained much of pain on the side of her head, extending to her eye. The above accident happened on Friday night, the Tuesday night following, she made great complaint of pain in her ear, &c after a while observed that the pin that had been in her ear, had got into her nose, and desired some of the family to get it out; the pin finally fell from her nose on the floor, and she has been free from all complaints ever since.–The family physician observed on the above case, to this effect; he said, allowing the pin to pass as above, from the ear into the nose, it must pass over the ball of the eye, and enter one of the Paneta Lachrimalia, and made its exit from the nose by the same passage the tears take. Another physical genius asserted it must have passed through the brains into the nose; if so we found have reason to expect some violent spasms, from what physiologists say of the irritability of the brain.–We with some of our physical correspondents would give us a rationale of its route from the ear to the nose.

Your’s, &c.


From the Massachusetts Gazette (Middletown, Connecticut), October 5, 1773.


I observed an article in the papers, dated Middletown, in Connecticut, containing an account of a pin having passed through the ear of a young woman and out at her nose, and likewise some medical observations upon that fact very humiliating to the general Character of the Physicians in that colony; together with a request that some one would explain the route of the pin in its passage from the ear to the nose.

You may therefore assure the Enquirer, that there is a natural passage, called the Tube Eustachiana or meatus auditorius inturnas, leading from the cavity of the ear, to the inside of the nose by the Nares, through which the pin passed and by which surgeons sometimes attempt to syringe the ear in deafness.

I cannot sufficiently express my surprize that any physician should be so ignorant as two of them are in that account represented to be; especially as a pretty tolerable flock of anatomical knowledge may be acquired at so cheap a purchase as that of Cheselden’s anatomy.



From the Connecticut Courant (Hartford, Connecticut), October 26, 1773.

Mr. Watson,

As I have read the Story of the Pin’s Passage from the Ear to the Nose, in your Paper No. 458. Must confess, that it would appear as surprizing to me, as it seems to Anatomicus, that any Mortal should obtain the Name of a “Family Physician,” that appears so grossly ignorant, did I not constantly observe, that a raging Zeal for a Party, will atone for all vices and defects; while a brave, honest Opposition to the same Party, obscures all virtues, destroys all merit, so far as their influence prevails. But can’t think so sensible a Writer as Anatomicus, will, upon a review, judge all the Faculty in Connecticut answerable, or censurable, for the Ignorance of one or two; this seems a little too much like destroying the righteous with the wicked.

Am credibly inform’d that there are a number of learn’d, ingenious, skilful Physicians in the Colony–And I am likewise informed, that neither Dr. Rawson, nor Dr. Dickinson of this Town, was “the Family Physician,” or “Physical Genius,” that asserted, that the Pin “must pass over the Ball of the Eye,” or “through the Brains,”  to get from the Ear to the Nose. But that the Family Physician, or Physician in ordinary, or ordinary Physician, was a young Fellow, that served in the capacity of a private Soldier, in the last War; and it seems to me, that he has, in this instance, acted pretty well up to the Character.

‘Not one looks backward, onward still he goes;

‘Yet none looks farther forward, than his Nose.’

Historicus Verus

Middletown (Connecticut) Oct. 20 1773

P. S. All the Gentlemen Printers that have been so curious as to insert the former Pin Story, are desired to be so fast, kind and generous, as to insert this.

October 18 – Middletown 366

Richard Nixon in 19561956 – Richard Nixon Visit

On this day in 1956, Vice President Richard Nixon came to Middletown on a campaign stop.


Lillian “Reba” Moses

Reba MosesLillian “Reba” Moses was a tireless ray of light in the public health sphere of Middletown. Moses moved to Middletown in the 1940s with her husband and, since then, became a force in the activism world of Middletown. Standing at 4 feet, six inches, Moses was a powerhouse during her time and she was one of the three main founders of the Community Health Center in 1972. She served on the board of the CHC for over thirty years and her contributions to public health care in the Middletown community are irrefutable. Additionally, Moses served as head of community services at the Community Action for Greater Middletown. She worked to fight poverty, to create a sense of community, and to better the community at large.

Moses died at the age of 88 in 2012, leaving behind a legacy of change and hope for the Middletown Community. The Lillian R. Moses Child Guidance Clinic was named in her honor and the clinic serves as a crisis center and preventative clinic for children and adolescents dealing with emotional and mental health problems. Lillian “Reba” Moses believed that health care is a right, not a privilege and she spent her life making sure that the people of Middletown knew that.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.


1905: Death in Pretty Girl’s Bite

Savant’s Lecture Sends the Shivers Down Backs of Wesleyan Students.

Middletown, Conn., Oct. 13.–Prof. W. D. Miller, of the University of Berlin, sent shivers down the backs of students at Wesleyan when he announced in his lecture yesterday that the bite of a pretty girl would often bring a quicker and more horrible death than the bite of a serpent.

In a special study of the bacteria of the mouth he said that only a short time ago he experimented on a beautiful girl in Germany and found that an arrow dipped in saliva from her mouth would send its victim in death throes more terrible than one dipped in the venom of the most deadly snake.

Prof. Miller further said that dentists should always be careful when putting their fingers in the mouths of pretty girls that they do not scratch or wound their fingers on jagged teeth, for in most cases it means a horrible death. Neither should mothers and fathers allow babies to chew on their fingers, for fatal results are likely to come from it. The professor was of the opinion that, if this fact became known, the female sex could go about unmolested at all times provided they were not toothless.

From the Reading Times (Reading, Pennsylvania), Saturday, October 14, 1905.

1930: Exodus of Students

Middletown, Conn., Oct. 1 (AP)–An exodus of students from Wesleyan University was under way today as the death toll from infantile paralysis in the state mounted to six.

The latest victim was William Forsythe, assistant professor of daily husbandry at the Connecticut Agricultural College at Storrs. Four infantile paralysis patients were undergoing treatment in Middletown and one in Hartford.

Dr. Stanley H. Osborn, state health commissioner, described the paralysis situation at Middletown as a “distinct outbreak.”

From The Morning Herald (Hagerstown, Maryland), Thursday, October 2, 1930.

1910: Infant Paralysis Closes the Public Schools

Board of Education in Middletown, Conn., Forced to Take Action, Despite Advice of Physicians.


Students Die, and If Those Now Ill of the Disease Recover It Is Feared That They Will Be Cripples For Life.

Middletown, Conn., Sept. 23.–Opposing the action of local physicians, who at a meeting yesterday advised against closing the city schools, the local Board of Education at a special meeting this afternoon voted unanimously to close the schools until further notice. This action was the result of the widespread alarm in the community over the prevalence of infantile paralysis.

Despite the efforts of physicians and others to allay the fears of parents and children, twenty-five per cent of the pupils in the city schools failed to put in an appearance at the school sessions today. Many parents sent their children out of the city.

Officers of the North Congregational Church, who were to hold a big Sunday school rally this week, decided to call off all meetings. The school buildings are to be fumigated and arrangements are being made to [improve] conditions at the Middletown High School, where the pupils have been obliged to use a common towel, drink from a common drinking cup and use unsanitary plumbing arrangements.

Two girls students at the high school, both members of the senior class, died and a child of W. S. McIntyde, assistant principal of the school, was stricken with the disease. Four new patients were reported today. Physicians say that some of the patients, should they recover, will be cripples for life.

In an effort to quiet the fears of residents a statement was issued by the local and county health officers today in which it was said that in the opinion of experts the disease is not contagious.

From the Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Arizona), Saturday, September 24, 1910.



1979: Actor Leaves Hospital

Middletown, Conn. (UPI)–Oscar-winning actor Art Carney, 13-pounds thinner and feeling “great,” left a Middletown hospital today for a month’s rest at his summer home on the Connecticut shoreline.

Carney, 60, best known for his role as the bumbling, caustic Ed Norton in the television series “The Honeymooners,” was released from Middlesex Memorial Hospital following a two-week stay.

Carney checked in after completing work on a new film when his doctor ordered relaxation and a number of tests. He was in intensive care for a few days with elevated blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat.

“I think I’ll watch my diet and stay away from any form of the grape. You know what the grape is–the sauce,” Carney told reporters in a hospital conference room.

He said he checked into Middlesex at 210-pounds and now weighs 197-pounds. He wants to diet down to 185 before beginning work on a new film in Monte Carlo Oct. 15 with Farrah Fawcett-Majors.

Carney, who was steered into the room in a wheelchair, did an impersonation of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (the only role he still wants to play) for a captive audience of reporters and hospital personnel.

He praised his hosts–the hospital–for their food and service.

“The food has been excellent here,” said Carney, though he was restricted to a low cholesterol diet. “The food tasted just like at home. I might get sick next week just to come back.”

“But I wouldn’t call it exactly a honeymoon. There are bed checks you know,” he quipped.

Carney, who was wearing his own blue robe and a hospital issue polka-dot nightshirt and draw-string white pants, said he planned to take it easy at his summer home in Westbrook, exercise more, eat less and generally slow down.

“I’ve learned once again to watch out for the danger signals,” he said. “I guess I’m a workaholic. I’ve got to recognize the signals and watch out for them so this thing doesn’t happen again.”

Carney won an Academy Award in 1974 for his performance in the film “Harry and Tonto.”

From the Logansport Pharos-Tribune (Logansport, Indiana), Thursday, September 6, 1979.

September 4 – Middletown 366


Bankers’ Nine Win!

We’re not sure what they won, though …

The Bankers' Nine
The Bankers’ Nine


The Bankers' Nine - back of photograph
The Bankers’ Nine – back of photograph


Poisoned at a Wedding Feast

Middletown, Conn., Sept. 4.–Death may be the result of a wedding feast that was given here yesterday. Twenty-five persons were poisoned, and one, a woman, is still in a critical condition.

It was a social event of importance, the marriage of Harry Fisher and Miss E. Parmlee. The principal people in town were there. After the ceremony a large reception was given at the home of the bride’s parents. There were congratulatory speeches and good things to eat and drink.

It may have been the ice cream caused the trouble. If so the discovery will relieve the affair of all disquieting mystery. Tyro-toxicon, or ice cream poisoning, is an established danger entirely independent of evil intent. Prof. Atwater of Wesleyan college, who is learned in the chemistry of articles of food, has taken the remains of the cream for analysis.

From the Leader-Democrat (Springfield, Missouri), Tuesday, September 5, 1899.

1825: Epidemic in Middletown

Middletown, August 1, 1825.

Mr. Brainard:–

Many incorrect reports having been in circulation concerning the health of this city and town, I will thank you to publish the following statement of facts, as far as they have come to my knowledge. The epidemic that has prevailed, has been the Spotted-Fever or Sinking-Typhus, many cases of which have been extremely malignant; the great majority however have readily yielded to a proper course of treatment, and there have been very few deaths, except among the cases which occurred during the extreme hot weather of last month, when the thermometer stood at upwards of 90 [degrees] several hours for a number of days. It is well known, that the extremes of heat and cold are equally prejudicial to the sick, who are labouring under any febrile disease. From the first of May to the first of August, Dr. Edward S. Cone and the subscriber have had the charge of upwards of a hundred and twenty decided cases of the epidemic, about a hundred of which were in the city. Of the whole number, ten have died, eight in the city, and two in the out-parishes. At present, the fever has very much subsided, not more than one death from it having occurred the past week.

I shall make no other apology for troubling you with this communication, than what is contained in the following extract. “It is however an incontrovertible principle, that the public always has a right to the most explicit and full information, respecting the state of health in any place; and fortunately the impracticability of concealment for a length of time, is as absolute, as the right of the public to the information.”  

Yours respectfully,


P.S. Nor more than four or five deaths in this town from fever, beside the ten cases above specified, have come to my knowledge, within the last three months.  T. M.

The Committee appointed on the 8th inst. by a number of citizens to inquire respecting the health of the city, beg leave to report–That we have attended to the duty assigned to us by addressing a Circular to the several practicing Physicians within the city, a copy of which, and the answers thereto accompany this report. We have also addressed a note to the respective clergymen within the city, requested an account of the number of deaths in their parishes respectively, since the 1st of May, and herewith present their answers so far as received. We have also obtained from the sexton, a certificate as to the number of interments in the city, from the 1st of Jan. 1819, to the end of July last.

The committee find that until within a few years past, the city of Middletown had the reputation of being one of the healthiest places in New England, so much so that it was the resort of strangers from many parts of our country, and although our search has been diligent, we cannot find any satisfactory reason, why that reputation should not have been fully sustained. The report of the sexton shows the annual average burials from 1819 to 1824 inclusive, to be 59, from a population of 3000 in the city, and not less than 600 without the city, who bury within the limits of the city, being about 1 in 60 of the whole population.

The committee believe that few if any places in New England, can exhibit a Bill of Mortality for six successive years, so small in proportion to the number of inhabitants.

John Hinsdale,

Wm. Vandeursen, } Committee.

Chs. Brewer.

From the Middlesex Gazette (Middletown, Connecticut), Wednesday, August 10, 1825.

1942: Shortage of Doctors in Civil Life Seen

Middletown, Conn. (AP)–Dr. Michael M. Davis of the Connecticut State Medical society, forecasting that a total of 58,000 physicians under forty-five would be withdrawn from civilian life for military purposes, has suggested a national pool of medical men and women to serve communities in their absence.

Such a withdrawal, he says, would deprive the civilian population of about half of its physicians. Such action, he adds, “is necessary if we are to use the doctors the army leaves us.”

From the Reno Gazette-Journal (Reno, Nevada), Wednesday, July 1, 1942.