1894: Gov. Coffin’s Staff Selected

All But Four of the Officers Already Chosen and Notified.

Middletown, Conn., Dec. 4.–Governor-elect Coffin has practically decided on the personnel of his staff, and the official announcement will be made at the end of this week.

Charles F. Graham, of Middletown, Adjutant General under Gov. Bulkeley, who resigned because of the First Regiment Rink fight, is to be Chief of Staff. Col. Joseph L. Elliott of Middletown, Assistant Adjutant General under Gov. Bulkeley, has been offered the reappointment, and will in all probability accept. Capt. W. E. Disbrow of Bridgeport is to be Quartermaster General; Dr. George Austin Bowen of Woodstock, Surgeon General; Major J. H. Jarman of Hartford, Paymaster General; Capt. W. C. Cheney of Hartford and Lieut. John W. Lowe of New-Haven, Aides de Camp.

There has been some hitch, and, consequently, there are two or three places not yet settled. The Judge Advocate General is to come from Windham County, and the Commissary is yet to be decided upon, as well as two more Aides.

From the New York Times (New York, New York), Wednesday, December 5, 1894.

November 28 – Middletown 366


Presidential Candidates

News.–The following letter containing the important intelligence, that three-fifths of the people of Connecticut are Clintonians, is taken from the New-York Statesman of the 10th inst. This may be set down as news indeed, for we doubt very much whether any of our readers ever before heard of Mr. Clinton’s popularity in Connecticut. The fact is, the people of this State are the firm supporters of the able Administration of Adams. Neither Mr. Clinton nor Gen. Jackson can get three-fifths nor one-fifth of the votes of Connecticut. In this section of the State, where the writer professes to have received his information, the people are, with a very few exceptions, the friends of the present administration, and we have no apprehension that they will abandon Mr. Adams for any other candidate. The author of the letter was most egregiously deceived, when the informant palmed himself upon him as “an Adams man, possessing opportunities of knowing” what is not true, and had he remained a sufficient time in the place, he could have ascertained its falsehood. Here is the letter.

Extract of a letter to the Editors of the Statesman, dated Middletown, Ct. Nov. 10, 1827.

The friends of Mr. Clinton are numerous in Connecticut. A respectable politician, (himself an Adams man and one possessing opportunity of knowing,) told me, that if Mr. Clinton were set up, even in opposition to Mr. Adams, he would receive three-fifths of the votes of Connecticut. The opponents of Mr. Adams would, of course, vote for him in preference to Mr. Jackson. Should they see the necessity of abandoning Mr. Adams New England would go for him almost unanimously, notwithstanding the Editor of the Post has expressed a wish that “he shall hear no more” of this.

From The Evening Post (New York, New York), Thursday, November 29, 1827.


Ending of a Drunken Debauch

Five Persons Burned to Death.

Three Men and Two Women Cremated In a Tobacco Barn at Middletown, Conn., Saturday Night.

By Associated Press.

Middletown, Conn., Nov. 28.–Three men and two women were burned to death here Saturday night in a tobacco barn owned by John Hubbard. The victims were a party of umbrella menders seen near there before the fire. It is supposed that they were drunk and set fire to a small amount of hay, the only contents of the barn. The building was totally destroyed, the fire companies being unable to reach the structure in time.

From the Harrisburg Daily Independent (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), Monday, November 28, 1892.

1885: Stirring Up Middletown Folks Also

Middletown, Conn., Nov. 18.–A representative of the adjutant general met with the selectmen on Monday for the purpose of ascertaining why a larger number of our citizens do not pay a poll tax. He learned that military service exempts an unusually large number, as Middletown has more veterans who served in the late war, in proportion to its population, then either Hartford or New Haven. Also, we have a goodly number of veteran firemen who are exempt on account of long service in the fire department.

From the New Haven Register (New Haven, Connecticut), Wednesday, November 18, 1885.

1868: Lost a Bet

The Middletown Sentinel says considerable amusement was occasioned Thursday afternoon by the payment of a rather comical political wager. Wm. H. Abelle, a clerk at Southmayd & Gardiner’s, made a wager with Mr. Edward Parshley that Connecticut would give its vote for Seymour, the loser agreeing to tote the winner in a wheelbarrow up Main as far as Washington street and back again. At about 3 o’clock, Mr. Abelle paid the bet. Mr. Parshley sat in the wheelbarrow, holding some political streamers, while the two were preceded by a couple of drums, and followed by quite a crowd, which seemed to enjoy the spectacle. The town bell was struck a few times as the singular procession was passing.

From the Norwich Aurora (Norwich, Connecticut), Wednesday, November 11, 1868.

1995: First Woman Mayor of Middletown

Maria HolzbergOn this day, Maria Madsen Holzberg was elected the first woman mayor of Middletown against her opponent, Emanuel “Puddy” Pattavina. During her term, voters approved the funds to build a new police station on Main Street and the renovation of Snow School and the Wadsworth Mansion. After leaving office, she was appointed the first public defender for juveniles for the Middlesex Judicial District.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.

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.

1856: All the ‘Frees’ but Fremont

Every reader of ours has of course heard of the great Black Republican motto, which is inscribed everywhere upon their banners, heralded by their newspapers, and re-echoed with loud accompanying plaudits by their public speakers, “Free Speech, Free Labor, Free Kansas, and Freemont!” This motto had been displayed from a Black Republican banner in Middletown, Conn., and at a meeting of the Buchanan Democracy, held a few days afterwards, the following was displayed on a banner as a response to it. It shows so completely the difference between the Black Republicans and Free-soilers of the North who support Buchanan, that we copy it as exhibited:

All the “FREES” but Fremont.

From the Glasgow Weekly Times (Glasgow, Missouri), Thursday, October 30, 1856.

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.


1844: 20,000 Whigs in Council!!

Our brother whigs at Hartford had a glorious time last Friday. The whole country around poured forth its sons to contribute to swell the mass. There were without doubt at least 20,000 whigs assembled on that occasion. The day will be long remembered in Hartford County. We learn that as early as Thursday morning they began to assemble and very soon all the hotels and public houses in the city were crowded.

The whigs of this city began to assemble at 7 o’clock near the Central Hotel previous to starting for Hartford. Although at this hour the clouds overspread the horizon and gave tangible indications of their office, nevertheless the purpose of those who had previously concluded to join their friends under the branches of the “Charter Oak,” was unchanged. Carriage after carriage, barouch after barouch came up. Thomas Miner, M.D., assisted by Benj. Douglas, Esq., acted efficiently as marshal. A fine band of music was in requisition who were employed while forming in playing patriotic airs which gave additional enthusiasm to the occasion. At this moment the scene was thrilling. The victorious whigs of Middletown had attached to their coats through the button-holes blue badges with “Middletown” in neat capital letters, in the centre. From the head of every ‘Bucephalis’ was a streamer with ‘Clay and Frelinghuysen’ playing in the breeze. pointerfingerblue_edited-1 In addition it was gratifying to observe several carriages filled with the “beauty” of the city.

The delegation started after giving three cheers which made the ‘welkin ring’ in capital style. 500 were placed to the honor of Middletown, including those who joined from Portland, which is very creditable to the zeal of the whigs in this region. On reaching Hartford the streets were crowded with enthusiastic whigs over whose heads emblems of freedom waived thick to the breeze. At 11 1/2 o’clock the procession was formed and began to march up Main street. If we had room we would enumerate the different delegations in order with their banners; but it is impossible. The mottoes on some of the banners from this city were, ‘The Gibraltar of Locofocoism, defended by the State Central Committee taken by storm Oct. 7th, 1844;” one banner had Polk with a poke on his neck and a sheep by his side, with ‘I am of opinion that wool should be admitted duty free.’ The members of the Juvenile Club were in this glorious procession with a dozen flags and a banner with the motto, ‘The Middletown Junior Clay Club, our Country’s Hope and Father’s Pride;” on one was a stone falling on Polk, with the inscription, ‘Jemmy you’re caught, Texas won’t save you.’ There were some two or three thousand ladies present. The procession moved in one grand and solid mass amid the ringing of bells and shouting of the crowd under the waving of flags suspended across the streets, and of handkerchiefs from the crowded windows and balconies, until they came to the ground near to the Charter Oak. Here, around the Speaker’s Stand to a great distance, nothing was seen but a sea of up-turned faces, eagerly waiting for the commencement of the exercises. About 1 o’clock the Convention was called to order by Charles Chapman, Esq., of Hartford, who announced the appointment of Hon. Joseph Trumbull as President, with 18 Vice Presidents and 4 Secretaries. The President made a short address, after which a song was sung by the Hartford Glee Club, when Charles King, Esq., of New York, was introduced by the President to the meeting. After whom, Hiram Ketchum, Esq., spoke to the congregated thousands. He was followed by Hon. J. W. Huntington.

In the evening the Union and City Halls were crowded at an early hour, and the meetings were addressed by several distinguished gentlemen.

pointerfingerblue_edited-1 The hospitality of the whigs of Hartford was without measure. Not only were public tables spread, but accommodations ample and abundant were made at their dwellings for the comfort of their friends.

From The Constitution (Middletown, Connecticut), Wednesday, October 16, 1844.

September 29 – Middletown 366


Which Stevenson?

It will be remembered that a dispatch from Middletown, Conn. recently was made public setting forth that in 1862 the Savage Arms company of that place shipped 2,000 revolvers to the Knights of the Golden Circle at Columbus, O., and that “Gen.” Stevenson was one of those who stood responsible for the arms and was recognized as the agent of the K. of G. C. in the conduct of the business. The Tribune at the time of this publication suggested to the Democrats the advisability of finding out who this “Gen.” Stevenson is, and if he happens to be their “Gen.” Adlai E. Stevenson, to explain what he as a lawyer wanted of 2,000 revolvers and what he was at as an agent of that disreputable organization known as the Knights of the Golden Circle. Nearly a week has elapsed and no answer has come. The Tribune, therefore, with added emphasis begs the Democrats to investigate this matter. If it were some other Stevenson they certainly should clear Adlai’s skirts, for the suspicion is a damaging one, and silence will be construed as giving consent. Adlai’s Bloomington organ should be especially alert in finding what Stevenson it was; and Adlai himself, if he can spare the time from Howling about the defunct force bill in the land of his forefathers, ought to make a categorical statement about those 2,000 revolvers, either proving that he was not the Stevenson who ordered them, or, if he were, stating why he needed such an intolerable number of revolvers in the pursuit of his duties as a lawyer. It is a serious piece of business, and time presses. Will Adlai, or some one for him, explain?

From the Chicago Daily Tribune, Thursday, September 29, 1892.


No More Rugby

On Account of a Fatality, Middletown, Conn., Boycotts That Game.

Middletown, Conn., Sept. 29.–The Athletic Association of the Middletown High School has passed a resolution that no more football games shall be played this season. Games already scheduled have been cancelled. This action is due to the death of Thomas Kelly, a member of the football team, who died at Meriden Hospital from injuries received in the game with the Meriden High School team on Saturday last. Similar action is expected on the part of the Meriden High School.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri), Sunday, October 1, 1899.