November 2 – Middletown 366


Middletown Outrage Over Stamp Act

On this day in 1765, the spirit of Revolutionary protest was felt in Middletown over the passage of the Stamp Act by the British. The act required the American colonists to pay a tax on every piece of printed paper they used, and was seen as a direct attempt by the Crown to raise money in the colony without the approval of the colonial legislatures. An account of Nov. 2nd reads:

“Yesterday being the day prefixed to enslave America, by an unrighteous and oppressive ——, some of the principal gentlemen of this place, to shew the sense they had of their native liberty and freedom…. met together, and agreed that the bell should toll all day with the tongue muffled; that minute guns should be discharged, and a pendant hoisted half-staff high… Not less than eight hundred joined in this affair…It would be amiss to omit, that our young children, that can hardly speak, have already learnt this lesson well — Liberty, Property and no Stamps — which they sing along the streets.” War would break out in April ten years later, and over 124 men Middletown would hasten to Boston to join the effort.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.


Dedication of Commodore Thomas Macdonough Tablet

On this day in 1932, the Wadsworth Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution conducted a dedication ceremony for the tablet near Riverside Cemetery.

Dedication of Commodore Macdonough tablet.
Dedication of Commodore Macdonough tablet.

1869: Industrial School For Girls Chartered

The Connecticut Industrial School for Girls was meant to be a place of refuge for girls who were in need of a home, or girls that were deemed to have behavioral issues. This was one of the first reform schools in this area for girls. The girls were referred to as “vicious” at times when describing their behavior. Middletown appropriated fifteen hundred dollars on this day in 1869, in addition to a sum of ten thousand dollars already allocated to the school. Due to this, Middletown secured the location of the Connecticut Industrial School for Girls.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.

From Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
From Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, Nov. 19, 1881.


1878: Middlesex County Orphan’s Home Opens

The Middlesex County Orphan’s Home officially opened on July 15, 1878. The institution was supported completely by voluntary contributions, such as personnel support and monetary donations. Under the management of Mrs. R.S. Bailey and Mrs. M.E. Rockwell, the orphan’s home flourished and they were able to secure permanent support from the state. As a result of the state support, the legislature also passed an act that provided for the establishment of homes for children over the age of two in every county in Connecticut.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.

1877: Middlesex County Orphans’ Home Established

On this day, a meeting called by Mrs. E.W.N Starr and attended by the leading ladies of Middletown was held at the Russell Library to organize the Middlesex County Orphans’ Home.  The move toward a home was instigated by the death of a nine month old child due to neglect and starvation.  Money was raised and the institution was incorporated by the legislature.  As was the procedure in those days, men were listed as the incorporators and the associate incorporators were the women who were actually behind the home.  Forty ladies were elected as the board of managers and the home was formally opened on July 15, 1878.  The home was supported through donations.  In 1883, the legislature passed an act establishing orphans’ homes in every county in the state.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.

April 28 – Middletown 366


Too Revealing?

“They publish the ages of the parties married in a Middletown (Conn.) paper, a procedure not relished by brides of bridegrooms of an uncertain age.”– From The Daily Journal (Wilmington, N. C.), Apr. 28, 1867.


The Rotary Club of Middletown

The Charter Night establishing the Rotary Club of Middletown took place on April 28, 1925, just 20 years after the first Rotary Club was founded in Chicago.  Wesleyan University President James L. McConaughy was instrumental in establishing the Club, having been Rotary District Governor in Southern Illinois before moving to Middletown to become President of Wesleyan in 1924. The 23 charter members of the Club began meeting at the Arrigoni Hotel, and in its early years supported community organizations such as The Boy Scouts, The Middlesex Hospital, The Cromwell Children’s Home, The Connecticut State Hospital, the YMCA, the Community Chest and Long Lane School.

In the 91 years since its founding, the Middletown Rotary Club has continued to support local non-profit organizations addressing issues of illiteracy, hunger and the environment, as well as international service projects. Its members endeavor to live according to the motto, ‘Service Above Self.’

Thanks to Biff Shaw for information in this article.

April 15 – Middletown 366


Great Day at Middletown

Largest Draw Span Bridge in the World Now Bridges the Connecticut River.

1896 bridge dedication

(Special Dispatch to the Transcript.)

Middletown, Conn., April 15.–At exactly 10 o’clock this morning the new Connecticut river bridge between Middletown and Portland, the largest draw span in the world was opened to traffic. Governor Coffin was present and walked across the bridge. Every bell and every whistle on either side the river sounded, and the event was witnessed by 7000 persons.

From the North Adams Transcript (North Adams, Mass.), Wednesday, April 15, 1896.


Blackface Omitted

Middletown, April 15–(UPI) The Rotary club announced today its annual blackface minstrel show next Saturday will be changed to a variety show because of objections raised by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

From The Bridgeport Post (Bridgeport, Connecticut), Saturday, April 15, 1961.


April 14 – Middletown 366


Naval Engagement

Captain Sanford Thompson, the master of the Revolutionary War privateer, the schooner Bunker Hill, and three of his men were wounded in an engagement with the heavily armed British privateer Dolphin.  But two weeks later Thompson pulled into port with a captured British schooner, the Lee, loaded with a rich cargo of sugar, molasses, and rum.  The Bunker Hill owned by Middletown merchant Comfort Sage was one of 16 privateers supplied by Middletown for the war effort.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.


Temperance Society

[For the Liberator.]

Middletown, April 16, 1833.

At a meeting of […] people of the city of Middletown, Conn. in their church, on the evening of the 14th inst. to take into consideration the cause of temperance, and the propriety of forming themselves into a society on the principal of total and entire abstinence from the use of ardent spirits, the following constitution was adopted.

Article 1st. This Society shall be called the Home Temperance Society of Middletown.

Art. 2d. Believing that the use of ardent spirits is unnecessary and injurious to health, and destructive of moral principles in individuals and community; the members of this Society pledge themselves to abstain entirely from its use, except as a medicine, and that they will not furnish it as an article of entertainment for their friends, or for those in their employ.

Art. 3d. Any person may become a member of this Society by subscribing to this constitution.

Art. 4th. The officers of this Society shall consist of a President, two Vice Presidents, a Treasurer and Secretary, and five Directors, who shall be chosen annually by an majority of the members present.

Art. 5th. The Directors shall have power to expel members who transgress the rules of this constitution, and shall open a correspondence with similar societies, and devise and execute such measures as shall promote the cause of temperance.

Art. 6th. The Secretary shall keep a record of the names of those who join this Society, and make a report once in three months of the progress of temperance among the […] people.

Art. 7th. The Treasurer shall hold all funds belonging to this Society, and pay orders drawn on him by order of the Directors.

At the adoption of this constitution, fifty gave in their names to abstain from the use of ardent spirits, and the following gentlemen were chosen officers for the ensuing year:

Rev. Jehiel C. Beman, President; Joseph Gilbert, Asa Jeffreys, Vice Presidents; Matthew M. Strong, Treasurer; L. C. Beman, Samuel Condol, Chas. Brooks, Enoch P. Freeman, Geo. W. Jeffrey, Directors; Amos G. Beman, Secretary.

Please to have the goodness to publish the above in the Liberator.

Yours respectfully,

Amos C. Beman, Secretary.

From The Liberator (Boston, Mass.), Saturday, May 11, 1833.

February 3 – Middletown 366


Exhibits From the World’s Fair

Observatory Hall, Wesleyan UniversityMiddletown, Conn., Feb. 3 (Special).– “The mathematical models which were purchased from the German University exhibit at the World’s Fair have been received. The money for these purchases, about $750, was given by ex-Senator Ebenezer Hill, ’70. The collection, which is the only complete one of its kind in this country, was made by L. Brill, of Darmstadt, Germany. Many of the models were designed by the brother of Herr Brill, who is a mathematical professor in the University of Munich, and some are the work of the more advanced students. The models illustrate all the laws for the projection of lines both in space and infinity. They also show the propagation of light waves and many of the laws of physics. They will be mounted in Professor Van Vleck’s mathematical room in Observatory Hall.”– From The New-York Tribune, Feb. 4, 1894.


Wadsworth DAR Celebrates 25th Anniversary

On February 3rd, 1917 Wadsworth Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution celebrated their 25th anniversary with a gathering at Wedgewood Hall. The Chapter Historian, Sarah W. Terrill, presented the day as follows:

“Mrs. Wm. W. Wilcox Jr, a charter member, was the hostess of the afternoon […] The program consisted chiefly of reminisces by charter members. Mrs. G. Brown Goode’s excellent paper gave an account of the early days of the National Society and told of the difficulties attendant to its formation. The constitution was revised by George Shields Attny General of the United States. Mrs. Goode paid a high tribute to the splendid work of our first Pres. General Mrs. Benjamin Harrison. As Mrs. Goode was unable to be present, her paper was read by Mrs. Karl P. Harrington. Mrs. Frank B Weeks there read a very interesting paper on the making and adoption of the By laws for Wadsworth Chapter. She told of the first [?] of organization, giving unstinted praise to the efforts of Dr. and Mrs. Goode in aiding the little band at that time. It was interesting to learn of the naming of the chapter: that the By-laws were carefully drafted is proved by the fact that few changes have been necessary during the past twenty-five years. Mrs. Jas. H. Bruce’s paper on the earlier labors and leaders of the Wadsworth Chapter followed.  Mrs. Brue treated the subject in her usual impressive manner, bringing out clearly the strong, as well as the amusing points. She praised our early leaders and their labors, the results of which have been so helpful to our growth and prosperity. All the papers were enthusiastically received and it was voted to give them to the Historian for preservation.”


Her reminiscences, as well as the papers in question, are included in the “Volume II, Historian’s Reports, Daughters of the American Revolution, Wadsworth, Collection of Books and Papers,” held by Godfrey Memorial Library ( The Wadsworth Chapter ( is still active and will celebrate its 125th anniversary.

Story contributed by Bryna O’Sullivan.