1929: Autos Are Death to New England Railroad

Middletown, Conn., Oct. 15.–(INS)–The “Valley road,” a subsidiary of the New Haven Railroad that dates from 1871, is passing. Once the railroad ran from Hartford down the Connecticut river valley to Saybrook Point, on Long Island Sound, and did a thriving business. Now it has been reduced to a line from Hartford to Middletown, and this month the single passenger train each day in each direction is supplanted by a jogging freight train with a passenger car attached. Before long, it is expected even that will go, though the New Haven may hold its franchise by an occasional train. Broad highways along the river made the train trip less desirable than an auto trip and railroad lost its paying passengers.

From The Daily Notes (Canonsburg, Pennsylvania), Tuesday, October 15, 1929.


1955: New Safety Belt


Pictured above is something new in the fast-growing field of automobile safety belts. Devised by a Middletown, Conn., manufacturer of aircraft belts, it employs a unique principle of securing the wearer’s entire torso to the car seat. Two six-foot belts are used, both bolted in orthodox fashion to the car frame at points below the seat back. The other end is safely secured, without mechanical fastening devices by the weight of the wearer sitting on the belts’ free end. Inset shows how two passengers can each use one of the belts.

From The Jacksonville Daily Journal (Jacksonville, Illinois), Friday, October 7, 1955.

1892: Powerful Search-Light

Middletown, Conn., Sept. 12.–The Schuyler Electric Co. here have just received an order from the Government for the largest and most powerful search-light in the world. It is destined for the statue of Liberty in New York harbor, and will be visible for 100 miles and capable of transmitting messages that distance. It will be 50,000 candle-power, and will cost about $4,000.

From the Vancouver Daily World (Vancouver, British Columbia), Monday, September 12, 1892.

1933: Funeral Services Held For Russell Boardman

By United Press.

Middletown, Conn., July 6.–Russell Boardman, who flew the Atlantic Ocean and became one of the country’s famous aviators, today was buried in the cemetery at Westfield, the village where he was born.

His widow and his brother, Earl Boardman, who flew the body to Hartford from Indianapolis Sunday, stood at the grave. Boardman was injured fatally Saturday when his little racing plane crashed in the cross-country dash for the Bendix trophy.

From The Evening News (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), Thursday, July 6, 1933.


1925: Rice, Scientist, Will Aid Scopes Defense

William North Rice

Middletown, Conn., July 5 (AP)–Prof. William North Rice of Wesleyan University, geologist and churchman, has accepted an invitation of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is arranging for the defense of John Scopes in the evolution trial in Tennessee, to be a witness for the defense.

From The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), Monday, July 6, 1925.

1824: Steam Boats


To the Editors of the Sentinel–

I perceive that since the late most destructive accident in the Steam Boat Ætna you have, contrary to the practice of most of the editors in the country, wholly refrained from cautioning the public against exposing their lives in boats propelled by high pressure engines. I have no doubt that this omission on your part has been wholly inadvertent: for through design I am persuaded you would not desist from so humane a caution. The danger of high pressure engines, compared with low may be estimated by this simple fact; that in a high pressure engine, there is a pressure of 200 pounds weight on every square superficial inch of the boiler. So that in a boiler like that of the Ætna, 20 feet in length, by 3 feet in diameter the boiler is pressed on the inside by a weight of 248,832,000 pounds! whereas in a low pressure engine a boiler of the same dimensions has only a pressure of 872,631 pounds weight.

Humanity requires that an unsuspecting public should be set right on this subject. In accordance with the foregoing fact when a low pressure boiler breaks, it merely lets the water out, as if it run from a little spout, and only scalds the feet perhaps of those who are very near–but when a high pressure boiler bursts, it is like the explosion of a powder-mill. Justice requires us to say that the Oliver Ellsworth is propelled on low pressure principles.

I propose to examine this subject more at large hereafter, and hope in the mean time that the public will reflect on this matter with that deliberation which so important a subject demands.



[The writer is mistaken in saying that we have published no warning upon the subject. If he will look at the Sentinel a few weeks ago, he will there find a communication taken from the Hartford papers, in reference to the Steam-Boat Oliver Ellsworth, and the Ætna, which we believe explained it. However, our columns are open to “Fulton.”]

From The American Sentinel (Middletown, Conn.), June 9, 1824.

1901: Keating Motorcycle Patent Issued

Keating2On this day in 1901, Robert M. Keating received a patent on a new form of motorized transportation: the motorcycle.

In 1897 Keating moved his bicycle manufacturing company to Middletown, forming “The Keating Wheel Company” on Johnson Street. His innovations and patents led him to develop motorized transportation in  the form of electric wagons and motorized cars and trucks.

In the spring of 1901 Middletown residents were witness to the birth of the motorcycle.  In that year Keating began producing one of the first commercially available motorcycles in the United States. Several months after Keating’s motorcycle began production, another model was reported on test runs around the city. This motorcycle was designed by Oscar Hedstrom and would serve as the prototype for the “Indian” motorcycle later produced in Springfield Massachusetts.

Robert M. Keating sued both Indian and Harley Davidson for using patents registered to Keating without his permission. Neither company could have produced such commercially successful motorcycles without Keating’s innovations and patents. Keating won both suits.


Story and illustrations contributed by Gary Keating.

May 3 – Middletown 366


Wilbur Olin Atwater is born

Wilbur O. Atwater (Public domain photograph via Wikimedia Commons)
Wilbur O. Atwater (Public domain photograph via Wikimedia Commons)

Wilbur Olin Atwater was an American scientist who introduced the concepts of agricultural chemistry and nutrition science. He was considered a pioneer in health science for his work on human metabolism and nutrition. Atwater was born on May 3, 1844 in Johnsburg, New York.

Atwater graduated from Wesleyan and then went onto Yale University’s Sheffield Scientific School. He invented the respiration calorimeter with assistance from fellow Wesleyan scientists Edward Bennett Rosa and Francis Gano Benedict. This device measured the energy provided by food and created the system that measured in units of food calories. It was developed in the Atwater system. Atwater stressed the importance of an inexpensive and efficient diet, which replaced carbohydrates with proteins and vegetables.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.


Photo of Dorothy Arnold Resembles Ingraham Woman

Acquaintance of Missing Woman Struck by Likeness–Family Attorney Again Denies.

(Special to the Eagle.)

Middletown, Conn., May 3.–Four different photographs of the missing Dorothy Arnold were shown to Leon Ingraham of Durham yesterday afternoon and he was asked if they were likenesses of his wife, Doris Ingraham, who ran away about ten days ago after declaring that she was the long missing Arnold girl.

Mr. Ingraham studied each of the photos carefully and then remarked with a shrug of his shoulders, “They are damned like her.”

The same photographs were shown to other people of Durham who are interested in the outcome of the matter. George R. Francis, president of the Merriam Manufacturing Company, was allowed to look at the photographs. Mr. Francis says they are a likeness of Mrs. Ingraham in every particular save one. He says Mrs. Ingraham has a slight tilt to the end of her nose which does not appear in the four photos. Otherwise, Mr. Francis regards the likeness complete.

In spite of the slight difference detected by Mr. Francis he is of the opinion that Mrs. Ingraham is the missing Dorothy Arnold.

He says that Mrs. Ingraham has every appearance of being a woman of 33 or 34 years of age. In spite of the disbelief of the father of the Arnold girl and of his attorney, John S. Keith of New York City, in the theory that Mrs. Ingraham is the long lost girl, Mr. Francis sticks to it that she is. Mr. Ingraham also is of the same opinion.

He is taking no steps to find his wife and has not ever reported the matter to the police of nearly cities. Apparently he does not regret very much her departure. It is said here that he and his wife did not get along well together. One story has it that Ingraham chased his wife up the road with a razor the day she left him.

Mr. Ingraham says he will do nothing to try to establish the identity of his wife. If the father of the missing Arnold girl cannot be persuaded to look into the claims of the Ingraham woman, it looks as if the newspapermen are the ones who must do it. Four were in Durham yesterday afternoon from New York City carrying on an investigation.


Vigorous denial that Mrs. Leon Albert Ingraham is the missing Dorothy Arnold was made yesterday in Hartford, Conn., by John S. Keith, attorney for the Arnold family. Keith based his conclusions on the discrepancies which appear in the description of certain markings on the body of Mrs. Ingraham, as described by her husband.

It is said that the Arnold family has carefully guarded knowledge of certain marks that existed on the body of Dorothy Arnold and has used this knowledge to dissipate the claims of various persons who have appeared and claimed to be Dorothy.

It is asserted that in a detailed description given by Ingraham, he specifically mentioned moles on his wife’s shoulders. These moles, he said, were so close to the shoulder blade as to be visible when his wife wore an evening gown. Dorothy Arnold had no such markings, Keith claims. The claim that Mrs. Ingraham was an accomplished pianist is answered by Keith with the statement that Dorothy Arnold was not a musician and was never musically inclined. Fillings in the teeth of the Ingraham woman do not tally with those of Dorothy Arnold, Keith says.

Keith regards as significant the fact that Ingraham has admitted he has always been greatly interested in the Arnold case and has followed it carefully in the newspapers. The story, briefly, that Ingraham told Keith concerning his wife’s version of the Arnold case, and which he says his wife told him shortly after their marriage when she confessed that she was Dorothy Arnold, is as follows:

Dorothy Arnold was kidnapped by two men who pushed her into a taxicab in 5th ave., where she was drugged. She regained her senses in a rooming house in Chicago. From there she went to Springfield, Ill., working as a servant; then to Boston, back to Chicago, then to Hartford and then to Middletown. The object of the kidnapping or her escape from her captors is not made clear.

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York), Tuesday, May 3, 1921.

1929: Cities in Connecticut Do Away With Trolleys

(By International News Service)

Middletown, Conn., April 22.–Middletown will soon join the rapidly growing list of Connecticut cities that have no trolley cars. The Connecticut Company has asked permission from the public utilities commission to do away with all street cars except those of the interurban line connecting with Hartford and substitute buses. Already buses are used on other interurban lines, and some of the local lines.

From the Amarillo Globe-Times (Amarillo, Texas), Thursday, April 25, 1929.