1940: Firm Reports on Survey on How Employes Spend

Pay in Silver Dollars to Trace Travels of Money in Weekly Payrolls

Middletown, Conn., Sept. 2.–(AP)–The Russell Manufacturing Company, which recently paid off in silver dollars to learn more about its employes’ spending habits, reported that merchandise took 69.8 per cent of the $35,000 weekly payroll.

Insofar as the company was able to learn from figures checked in the Middletown area, 14.2 per cent of the weekly payroll went into savings accounts, 4.6 per cent was used to pay utility companies for their respective services and .014 per cent was devoted to amusements.

This totaled 88.614 per cent leaving 11.386 per cent unaccounted for, the company officials said, but they believe this was spent in other communities, perhaps in summer theaters and in stores.

George M. Williams, president of the company, which makes automotive equipment and has been filling Government orders, said the survey “went beyond expectations.”

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), Tuesday, September 3, 1940.



1799: Slaughterhouse on Main Street

A Slaughter-House is soon to be built in the city of Middletown, on the main Street, between the Church and the Meeting-house. Materials for the purpose are now on the ground.

Where is the most improper place for such a building?–Where the citizens live the thickest–where the ground is low–where filth, through want of running water, adheres and putrifies in covered ways–That is the place contemplated.

When, from the universal silence, the person who thinks to build, imagines himself to have the approbation of the public : When, at great expense, he shall have completed the building, will it not be unjust to deny him the use of it.

Oppressed with sickness, Hartford casts her eye on Slaughter-Houses, as among the causes of her calamity. Blessed with health, Middletown, regardless of consequences, supinely permits her citizens to build them.

From the Middlesex Gazette (Middletown, Conn.), Friday, August 30, 1799.

1789: Birth of Samuel Russell

Samuel Russell was the eldest son of Captain John Russell and Abigail Russell. He founded the Russell Manufacturing Company and became its first president. Russell traveled extensively throughout his lifetime.

On return from his trip in China in 1837, he made arrangements for construction of a mansion on the corner of Washington Street and High Street. The house, which would later be called Russell House, was erected under the supervisor of Hon. Samuel D. Hubbard. The Russell House represents a revival in Greek architecture in the United States and has become an essential part of Middletown aesthetics.

After his death in 1862, his wife Frances purchased a vacant church at the corner of Broad and Court Streets and had it converted into Middletown’s first free public library. It was named the Russell Library in memory of her husband Samuel.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.

August 22 – Middletown 366


Simeon North Dies

North Pistol Factory
North Pistol Factory

Arms manufacturer Simeon North passed away on this day at the age of 87. North’s factory was on the West River and there he pioneered the use of interchangeable parts and developed what was possibly the first milling machine. For 53 years, he provided pistols, rifles, and other armaments to the War Department, making as many as 10,000 pistols a year for use by soldiers in the War of 1812.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.


Pilot Pinned in Wreckage, Rescued After 6 Long Days

Middletown, Conn. (AP)– For six days, injured John T. Emmanuel, sat pinned in his seat in a wrecked plane.

Trucks sped by on Interstate 91, only a short distance away. Search planes buzzed overhead, their pilots unable to see the wreckage under the trees.

Beside Emmanuel, 39, lay the body of his friend, Richard C. Grimaldi, 32, who had been piloting the single-engine plane back to Hartford after a weekend holiday at Block Island, R. I.

A week ago this morning, the Cessna went down, bounced off the rocky face of Mt. Higby and fell into the woods at the bottom of the cliff.

As the days passed, Emmanuel sat trapped in the crumpled cockpit.

An air-sea search for the plane was pressed by the Federal Aviation Agency and the Coast Guard. They abandoned the search Thursday, but a number of private pilots and Connecticut authorities continued the hunt.

There was no clue to the whereabouts of the four-seater plane, state police said, until authorities received a report from truck driver John Faulkner. He told them he had seen a flash of something at the foot of the mountain in the rear view mirror of his truck while he was driving south on Interstate 91 last Monday morning.

After hearing days later about the lost plane, Faulkner gave searchers information which enabled them to pinpoint the spot where the plane might have gone down.

On Sunday, a State Aeronautics Department helicopter flew low and spotted the wreck beneath the heavy foliage at the foot of the cliff.

Searchers hiked through the wooded Mt. Higby area to the plane, where they found Emmanuel alive.

“We did not give up hope,” said Emmanuel’s mother, Mrs. Thomas H. Emmanuel of Hartford. “We knew we’d find him alive.”

The survivor was suffering from malnutrition, exposure, and shock. He was in serious condition, but conscious and able to speak.

Emmanuel was brought out with some difficulty. The small helicopter that found him couldn’t manage it. A bigger helicopter from Suffolk (N.Y.) Air Force Base finally managed the job after making three passes at the site.

The body of the pilot, a Newington resident, was to be removed today.

From The Hope Star (Hope, Arkansas), Monday, August 22, 1966.



1893: Large Sales and Easy Collections

Middletown, Conn., Aug. 20.–While several of the large manufacturing establishments in this city are temporarily closed, there is no destitution. Many merchants report large cash sales and easier collections than during any previous August. The quarrymen at the Portland, Cromwell and Maromas quarries are the most affected, as money for the sale of stone is not easily obtained.

The Goodyear Rubber Company is running full time, with no reduction in pay, and with cash payments to the help. The Wilcox-Crittendon Company, ship chandlery hardware, expect to resume work with full force on the 28th. W. G. Douglas’s employes will work five days a week. L. D. Brown & Sons’ Company will work three days a week for the rest of the month. The Hatch Cutlery Company is putting on more men. The Rockwell Woollen Company is working full hours, with plenty of work, and paying the help in cash.

The Rogers & Hubbard Company, bone and ivory goods, is hiring hands. The William Wilcox Company is running full time. The Schuyler Electric Company is not going to abandon the plant here. The Middletown Blast Company is working on short time. The temporary closing of the Bissell & Schuyler Company has thrown 1,400 hands out of employment, many being boys and girls. There is no sign of a panic here. The general feeling is that when Congress repeals the silver purchase clause, every factory will be working overtime in order to fill orders now on hand.

From the New-York Tribune (New York, New York), Monday, August 21, 1893.

1932: Bright Spots in Business

(By the United Press)

Middletown, Conn., July 23.–After being closed for two months the Goodyear Rubber company will re-open August 1, employing between 150 and 200 persons.

Company officials said opening was due to receipt of “substantial orders” from several jobbing concerns, and indicated in the event of a sustained business pick up, additional help would be employed besides the old force of workers which will be recalled.

From the Abilene Reporter-News (Abilene, Texas), Sunday, July 24, 1932.


1861: C. A. Pelton and the 1st Battle of Bull Run

On this day, Charles A. Pelton fought in the First Battle of Bull Run. Prompted by the patriotic fervor that arose after the shelling of Fort Sumter in Charleston by Confederate troops, he enlisted for 90 days, the initial call-up by President Lincoln. After his enlistment expired, he returned home to Middletown and became a pharmacist. His pharmacy stood on Main Street until 2004. Pelton lived to the age of 91 and was the next to last of Middletown’s Civil War veterans to pass away.

Charles Abner Pelton

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro. 

1791: Local News

Middletown, July 16

Thursday last the old Meeting-house, in this City, was struck by lightning, but not much damaged.


New, Fresh and Cheap.

The Subscribers, at the Store formerly improved by Chauncey Bulkley, Esq., have a general Assortment of European and West-India GOODS, suitable for the present Season,

among which are:

A Large, elegant and beautiful variety of Chinzes, Callicoes and Shawls–superfine, middling and coarse Broadcloths–elastick Cloths, Sattinets–Lashings–Jeans–Fustians–Shalloons–Callimancoes–Tammies–Durants–Moreens–Irish Linens and Sheeting–silk and Cotton Hose–Rib’d Cotton and Hemp Hose–Cambricks–Lawns–Muslins and Muslinetts–Muslin Apron Patterns–Handkerchiefs and Cravats–Lawn Handkerchiefs and Aprons–Silk, Cotton and Linen Handkerchiefs–Sattins–Modes–Sarsnets Tiffany–White and black Gauzes–Leno Lawns–Variety of Ribbons and Laces–Mens Leather Gloves–Ladies do.–Silk and worsted Mitts–Ladies and Gentlemens fashionable Beaver Hatts–common Castor Hatts for Men and Boys–Felt do.–Silk and Twists of various colours–Womens Fans of various kinds–Writing Paper, Ink-Powder, Bibles, Spelling-Books, and Primers–Large assortment of Shoe-Buckles–Knee Buckles–Coat and Vest Buttons–Imperial Mohair Buttons–variety of Knives and Forks–Penknives & Cutteaus–Raisors–Shears and Scissors–Looking Glasses–plain and figur’d Oil-Cloths–Ivory and Horn Combs–Door Trimmings–Snuff and Tobacco Boxes–Table and Tea Spoons–Double and single spring Chest Locks–Padlock–Carpenters Rules and Compasses–Needles and Pins–Awls and Tacks–10d and 8d Nails–Gimblets–Wool and Cotton Cards–Curry Combs–Stock Locks–Good assortment of Files–Draw and Desk Trimmings–Sickles–Iron Shovels–Hand Saws–Brass Kettles–German and blistered Steel–Large Assortment of Crockery–Corn Fans–W. I. & N. E. Rum–Molasses–Tea–Coffee–Chocolate–Pepper–Allspice–Ginger Allum–Coperas–Tobacco–Snuff–together with a number of Articles useful and ornamental.

The above Articles will be sold for Cash, Country Produce, and good Credit, as cheap as can be purchased in any Store in the State.


From The Middlesex Gazette (Middletown, Conn.), Saturday, July 16, 1791.

1936: Asks Troops to Protect Workers

Middletown, Conn., Mayor Acts After Strikers Stone Bus, Seriously Injuring Two Men.

Middletown, Conn., July 8.–Mayor Leo B. Santangelo said last night he had appealed to the state government for 50 troopers to protect non-strikers at the Remington-Rand plant here.

Following a conference with Police Chief Charles Anderson, the mayor said no congregations of strikers would be permitted from now on in the plant area.

The mayor’s action came after a mob of 500 strikers stoned a busload of workers leaving the plant, seriously injuring two of the occupants.

The mob also battled with police.

From The Portsmouth Herald (Portsmouth, New Hampshire), Wednesday, July 8, 1936.

1894: Death of Benjamin Douglas

Benjamin DouglasOn this day, the city mourned the passing of one of its most prominent citizens, Benjamin Douglas. Douglas came to Middletown in 1839 at the age of 23 to work in his brother William’s foundry and machine shop. Renamed the W & B. Douglas Company, the brothers invented a new type of revolving stand pump for use in factories and on farms. These pumps were sold around the world. Benjamin made a lasting contribution to the city as a co-founder of the Middletown Anti-Slavery Society and as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. As mayor of Middletown from 1850 to 1856 he declared that he would not enforce the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. He went on to become the lieutenant governor of Connecticut in 1861.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.