1895: Good Business Ahead in Middletown, Ct.

Middletown, Conn., June 23.–The prospect for a good season at the local factories is excellent. Wilcox, Crittenden & Co. have orders enough to keep twice their force at work all summer. The Russell Manufacturing Company will keep its present force at work all summer. The Middlesex Rubber Company reports business better than last year. The Rockfall Woollen Company, W. E. B. Douglass, Rogers & Hubbard and I. E. Palmer will run full time all summer, and they feel confident of a marked improvement in the market.

From The Boston Post (Boston, Massachusetts), Monday, June 24, 1895.

1853: Disturbance in the Quarries

During the last week considerable disturbance has been made in two of the Portland quarries in consequence of a strike on the part of the Irishmen for higher wages. Most of them have refused to work, and threatened those who did work. Indignation meetings were held, inflammatory and threatening bills posted, and high words used. But the contracts having been made for the season, the owners would not yield. We understand that above a hundred have left the quarries, and that work was suspended for a time.

From The Constitution (Middletown, Conn.), Wednesday, June 22, 1853.

June 7 – Middletown 366


Women Strikers Claw and Bite Police; Troops Called

Middletown (Conn.) Officers Forced to Use Clubs in Subduing Foreign Industrial Workers

Middletown, Conn., June 7.–A clash of 350 striking operatives of the Russell Manufacturing Company with police and deputies, at the mills in South Farms today, brought here later a platoon of cavalrymen from Troop A, Connecticut national guard, to assist the police until the trouble is over.

Practically all the strikers are foreigners, the greater number being women who have joined the Industrial Workers of the World, and under encouragement of the organizers they demanded increased wages and improved working conditions. The strike followed the company’s refusal to recognize the labor organization.

Today’s clash was brought about by the strikers trying to stop others from going into the mills. The women fought the police with finger nails and teeth while showers of stones, bricks and other missiles were thrown by the men. The police finally used their clubs and dispersed the mob after several arrests had been made.

From The Indianapolis Star, June 8, 1912.


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Speaks at Wesleyan University

On this date in 1964, the Rev. Dr, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the baccalaureate address at Wesleyan University, and the University conferred on him an honorary degree of doctor of divinity.  It was one of several visits Dr. King made to Wesleyan in the 1960s–Wesleyan Professor of Religion John Maguire was a close friend of his going  back to their student days.

Dr. King’s speech in 1964 was a powerful call to action–urging graduates to act according to their conscience.  His last visit to Wesleyan was in 1966.

Story contributed by Joyce Kirkpatrick; Kimberly Singh.

1940: Elmira May Get Typewriter Work

Buffalo, N. Y., May 29.–(UP)–Remington-Rand, Inc., announced today that the working force in its Middletown, Conn., plant will be reduced at once, and it was reported reliably that the plant operations would be transferred to other plants at Elmira and Illion, N. Y.

Some of the approximately 1,000 Middletown employees will be transferred to the Elmira and Illion plants, it was said. Additional local employment may result at those two cities, a spokesman said.

The Middletown plant has been production center for noiseless typewriters.

From The Evening Times (Sayre, Pennsylvania), Wednesday, May 29, 1940.

May 18 – Middletown 366


Nathan Starr and the 2,000 Cutlasses

Nathan Starr of Middletown became the nation’s first sword manufacturer when he entered a contract with the United States government on May 18, 1808. The contract was negotiated by Navy Agent John Hull of New London and Nathan Starr provided 2,000 cutlasses. With the War of 1812 on the horizon, soldiers were in need of weaponry.

The contract required Starr to produce a regulation Navy cutlass for $2.50 and a pike for $0.75 in a four month period. The cutlass was a straight single-edged 30-inch bad and was perfectly designed for the small, crowded vessels where soldiers were stationed.

Starr provided another 1,000 cutlasses at $3.00 each for another contract signed on January 15, 1816. The blade on these cutlasses were 25-inches long rather than 30.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.


Seventeen-Year Locust

For the Constitution.

Mr. Editor.–It has probably occurred to many of your readers that this is the year for the appearance of that strange insect, the seventeen-year locust (Cicada Septendeeim) in our vicinity. Their last appearance was in 1843; and their several appearances before that were in the years 1826, 1809 and 1792, the exact period of 17 years returning each time. I cannot find that there is any record of their having been seen here at an earlier period than the date last mentioned, nor any reliable tradition of such an occurrence, but there can be no doubt of the fact! Going back 17 year from 1792 brings us of course to 1776 as the period of their return. Probably they came above ground that year about the time of the battle of Bunker Hill!

They may be expected about the middle of next month on the rocky ledge of land mostly occupied for pastures a little this side of the village of Westfield. Should the season prove specially favorable they may be looked for very early in June.

It will be recollected by many, that, at the time of their last appearance they were very abundant; and on pleasant evenings their perpetual din could be heard in the city, especially in High street, though they must have been three miles distant in a straight line!

Though their usual period is 17 years, it seems that circumstances may sometimes hasten or retard their appearance. Thus, in Morton’s memorial, they are said to have appeared at Plymouth, Mass., in the Spring of 1633, but it is known that several appearances at that place in later times have been in the years 1804, 1821, &c.; consequently a year must have been lost in the period between 1633 and 1804. It is of course possible that Morton may have made a mistake of one year, as he did not write until thirty or more years after 1633.

The times of their appearing in other parts of the country do not correspond with their times here; but the period of their absence is the same. Thus in Maryland, S. Carolina, Georgia, a part of Massachusetts and a part of Ohio, they appeared in 1831 and 1851; but in Western Pennsylvania, a part of Ohio, and other places their appearance was in 1829 and 1846, while in this State and in a part of New Jersey, their last appearance was in 1843, and they are expected again the present year. In other places their periods of return are still different; and probably every year witnesses their return in some locality of our richly extended country.


From The Constitution (Middletown, Conn.), May 18, 1860.


Francesco Lentini born, “The Three-Legged Wonder”

On May 18, 1889 Francesco A. Lentini was born in Rosolini, Sicily as one of thirteen children. However, unlike his twelve siblings, Francesco Lentini was born with three legs and an extra foot. The extra leg and appendage were part of two siblings who had never fully developed in the womb.

As a young man, Lentini joined the Barnum and Bailey Circus and was known as the “Three-Legged Wonder.” He also toured with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and other circuses and carnivals. He eventually settled in Middletown, Connecticut.

Lentini never saw his extra leg and foot as disability. He went on to marry and have four children who did not inherit his condition.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.

May 14 – Middletown 366


A Woman Commands a Coal Barge

Middletown, Conn., May 14.–The barge Edith McDermott is at the dock here and is discharging a cargo of coal. This barge does not differ from the others that ply between this city and the coal ports, only that it is owned and captained by a woman, whose husband died about six years ago and left her with two children. Her husband formerly commanded the barge, and when he died she continued in the trade, and has managed her business affairs with great success. Besides the barge of which she takes charge, she owns three others that are engaged in the same trade. Her two children are with her. She is as full of business as any man engaged in the same vocation. She carries two mules aboard the boat for furnishing power to hoist the coal out of the hold.

From The Sun (New York, N.Y.), May 15, 1892.


Moves for Indictment of Mrs. Johanna Tell

Middletown, Conn., May 14–By order of Judge A. F. Ells, a Grand Jury has been summoned in the Superior Court here tomorrow to consider indictment of Mrs. Johanna Tell, who confessed the murder of her employer, Charles Blair, at Killingworth and was later extradited from New York City. Should a true bill be returned State’s Attorney Ernest A. Inglis said trial of Mrs. Tell would begin in the Superior Court May 20.

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, N. Y.), Wednesday, May 14, 1924.


May 11 – Middletown 366


Wesleyan Baseball


On the back of the photograph: Andrus Field (behind N. College). Brown v. Wesleyan. 1889. Kidd at the bat. Score 8-8.

Note the Old Laboratory, torn down in 1907.



Pounded the Boy Who Wouldn’t Strike

Middletown, Conn., May 11.–Eighteen boy quillers in Starr Mills of the Russell Manufacturing Company struck today for a raise in wages from $3 to $3.50 per week and went out. The one boy who would not go was pounded until he did. The weavers were forced to pay off, as no quills were ready. It is thought that all will be at work Monday, as the strike is not upheld by the boys’ parents.

From the Boston Post (Boston, Massachusetts), Sunday, May 12, 1895.


Baby Party

Middlesex Hospital baby party

May 7 – Middletown 366


Partnership Dissolved

The Copartnership of Bolles, Savage & Co. was this day by mutual agreement dissolved. All persons having open accounts with said Company, are requested to call on Timothy Savage, at Middletown Upperhouses, and adjust the same. All Notes and Accounts due them, if not paid soon, will be left in the hands of an Attorney for collection.

Josiah Savage, jr.,

Timothy Savage,

Matthew Bolles.

Said TIMOTHY SAVAGE has on hand a few Hhds excellent RUM–a few Pipes BRANDY–New.York superfine FLOUR–and a constant supply of all kinds of HARD BREAD.

Middletown, May 7, 1804.

From the American Mercury, May 24, 1804.


Battle of Oswego Falls

Extract from a letter from a U. S. Officer, to his friend in this town, dated

Oswego-Falls, May 7.

“I arrived at this place about sunset last evening, in company with about 200 troops. We escaped from the Fort about 3 P. M. after a very severe contest. Our force was, in all, about 300 men. The enemy’s fleet made its appearance on the morning of the 5th, about 6 o’clock, and consisted of 4 ships and 3 brigs. We had no doubt of their object, and fired alarm guns to collect the militia. About 3 P. M. the fleet formed a line, and commenced embarking their troops in boats. We had only 4 pieces of ordnance to oppose their landing. The cannonading began on our side about 4, and was immediately returned by them. It continued until 6 at which time we saw them take their men on board, and cut 4 of their boats adrift, there being every appearance of a squall. The fleet left us, and came to anchor about 10 miles from the Fort, down the Lake.

“On the morning of the 6th, the fleet again made sail for the Fort. The wind being nearly ahead, it could not form a line until 11. The militia had assembled to the number of 200.–The enemy placed his troops in boats, and the cannonading begun on our side immediately. Our batteries prevented their landing until about half-past one, when they effected their purpose, under cover of a continual stream of grape and cannister shot. The militia at this time thought best to leave us. I do not think they fired a gun. The enemy was met by two companies of our troops at the landing; but his advantage was so great it became impossible to prevent his progress, and our soldiers retreated to the breast work. We now formed one line of defence, and stood our ground about 30 minutes, when the retreat was ordered by Lt. Col. Mitchell, a brave and active officer. We retreated in good order, though exposed to the brisk fire of the enemy. Our loss in killed and wounded, we have not yet ascertained; only one officer, however, was killed, Lt. BLANEY of our corps. He fought in the most gallant manner, until about the commencement of the retreat, when he was shot dead. Lt. Robb, of the Light Artillery, was wounded, but very slightly.

“A deserter has just come in, and states that the enemy landed twelve hundred men at first, and had a reserve of eight hundred ready to land. Thus you see, that although we were compelled to leave our Fort, we did it in such a manner, as we trust will be considered honorable by every person, having contested every inch of ground against a force at least four times our number, assisted by seven large vessels of war.”

From the Connecticut Spectator (Middletown, Conn.)

1894: Captain Murray’s Branch

Middletown, Conn., May 1.–The Providence division of the commonweal army, 14 in number, reached here after a walk of 24 miles from South Manchester, Conn. Commander Murray reports hospitable treatment along the line and seemed pleased with his journey thus far. On arrival here they were given quarters for the night and a good supper. This  morning they started for New Haven after enlisting some new recruits.

From the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, the Evening News (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania), Tuesday, May 1, 1894.

1899: Strike on the New Haven Road

Switching Crew of Nine Men at Middletown Quit Work, Tying Up Freight Traffic.

Middletown, Conn., April 26.–A switching crew of nine men, employed in the freight yards of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad here, struck work today, and as a result no freight has been moved since 8 A. M.

On account of the freshet the water from the Connecticut River flooded the freight yards, and the men say they have been obliged to work sixteen and eighteen hours a day for two weeks, moving the cars through two or three feet of water.

Word has been sent to Hartford for another switching crew.

From The World (New York, N.Y.), Thursday, April 27, 1899.