1888: Mr. Graham Knocked Out

Defeated by Lines of Meriden.

The Fight For the Congressional Nomination Settled on the First Ballot–Hard Work Done by the Ex-Mayor of Meriden and His Friends Brings About the Result.

map1874-2Middletown, Conn., Sept. 26.–It has been a long time since Middletown contained such an army of politicians as marched upon her lunch counters, 110 strong, today. They came from all over the Second Congressional district and they were very hungry. The atmosphere outside was raw and cold; in the corridors of the McDonough house it was hot, stifling and thick with tobacco smoke. The early trains unloaded crowds of delegates, and they had the entire morning to fight it out at the hotel.

Everywhere it was Lines versus Graham and Graham versus Lines. There was, strange as it may seem, Editor Graham, of the Meriden Republican, backing Lines and a rural delegate names Lines backing Graham. Some of the politicians who came up last night to do what they could toward corraling the early worm, found that Middletown is a Lines hotbed. Graham sprouts didn’t flourish here. But when New Haven was heard from it was found that the big city, with its great overpowering democratic majority, favored the man from the little town of Orange. The delegates from New Haven were prepared to wipe the floor with Lines men. Police Commissioner Herbert E. Benton and Judge Rufus S. Pickett, who got here in advance of the main guard, were doing all they could to favor Senator Graham’s candidacy. Julius C. Cable and William P. Niles, the attorneys, also came up to see the fun and drop in a word here and there for the New Haveners’ choice. H. C. Newton was another lawyer who was seen buzzing a good many delegates.

The anti-convention fight was warm. A perfect avalanche of words streamed through the corridors of he McDonough house and ran into little torrents through the barber shop and billiard room. Two delegates would meet, challenge each other for a joint debate, throw down the issues, a crowd would collect around them and wade up to the waist in imaginary gore until they became faint from loss of breath, when they would make a break for the back room and partake of liquid refreshment together. One of the heavy hitters in the whole grant prize ring was M. A. Sullivan of Meriden. Mr. Sullivan is the man who went to New Haven a few days ago to secure the indorsement of the Trades Council for H. Wales Lines. It was charged by a very respectable labor man that Mr. Sullivan brought a powerful argument to bear upon his fellow laboring men. Mr. Sullivan indignantly denies this charge. He told a great many delegates that he had never received a dollar from Mr. Lines or any of his friends, and that he never did anything but sound the sentiment of the organized labor element of New Haven. He went to Naugatuck Valley and he said that everywhere he found that organized labor was in favor of Ex-Mayor Lines. He claimed that Mr. Lines would, if nominated, receive over 1,000 labor votes. He pointed to this week’s Naugatuck Agitator in which H. C. Baldwin comes out strongly in favor of Mr. Lines. He also pointed out the fact that the brick layers of Middletown of whom there are 47, formed recently a republican club for the purpose of booming the candidacy of H. Wales Lines. Forty bricklayers joined the club, and out of these, he said, twenty were democrats. According to Mr. Sullivan there was a popular whirlwind of excitement among the laboring men of the district in favor of his favorite.

On the other hand Commissioner Benton advised that Mr. Graham could poll a big democratic vote in New Haven, and showed facts and figures as he claimed, to back up his assertions. One thing about the discussion was that the Lines men had never heard of this man Graham before and the Graham men wanted to know who in thunder Lines was anyhow. There will have to be a lot of introducing done after the convention.

None of the delegates before the convention cared to risk any assertions as to the strength of their favorite on the first ballot. But it was pretty evident that Lines had done the most work. He had been doing the canvassing, while Graham had been allowing his boom to do its own inflating. Lines has had men in Middlesex county for a week, and has made himself very solid with Mr. Coffin’s friends. He has also scoured the Naugatuck Valley and apparently has captured the labor leaders. His friends claimed some 66 or 67 votes on the first ballot.

The convention met in Armory hall promptly at 12 o’clock. David B. Hamilton, of Waterbury, a member of the congressional committee, called the convention to order. Adjutant General F. P. Camp, of Middletown, was made temporary chairman, W. H. Newton, of Wallingford, being the secretary elected. E. T. Turner, of Waterbury, Edward Douglas, of Middletown, and C. E. Thompson, of Orange, were chosen a committee on credentials. The temporary organization was made permanent.

J. P. Platt of Meriden, E. E. Johnson of East Haddam, H. E. Benton of New Haven, H. G. Newton of Durham and Willard Eddy of Haddam were the committee on resolutions. During the recess while the committee on credentials was out printed tickets as follows were distributed among the delegates:

For Congressman–H. Wales Lines of Meriden.

Editor Graham had half a bushel of them in his pockets.

The report of the committee on credentials was accepted without further reading.

Without further ado James P. Platt of Meriden, a son of Senator Platt, made a short speech, placing in nomination H. Wales Lines of Meriden. The nomination was seconded by D. C. Hamilton of Waterbury.

On behalf of Senator Graham Clarence E. Thompson of Orange placed his name before the convention. Herbert E. Benton seconded the nomination, claiming that his favorite could run well in New Haven, which he termed the […] scab of the district. E. M. Judd of Wallingford let loose another flood of oratory in behalf of Mr. Lines.

The resolutions adopted were:

The representatives of the republican party of the second congressional district in convention assembled earnestly approving of the platform adopted by the national and state conventions of the party and heartily endorsing the candidates named by those conventions and believing that the prosperity and general welfare of the people of the district in common with that of the people of the whole country is to a great degree involved in the political campaign now pending, do hereby resolve:

First. That no man who acknowledges his sympathy with the free trade tendency of the democratic party as exemplified in the President’s message to congress last December, and in the so-called Mills bill and who is not uncompromisingly in favor of the principle of protection to American industries and American labor ought to represent this district in congress.

Second. That the interests of the people of this district and state demand a continuation of tariff protection from the evil effects of competition with the under-paid labor of foreign  countries in harmony with the legislation of our state enacted by the republican legislature of 1880, by which the people of all trades and occupations are protected form ruinous competition with under-paid prison labor.

Third. That the renomination by the democratic party of a candidate for congress at the instigation of the leading federal official of the district, brought about as it was by open and flagrant violations of the principles of civil service reform, demands and should receive emphatic condemnation at the ballot box.

Fourth. That in the person of * * * the voters of this district are presented with a candidate who peculiarly represents the interests of the wage earners, who can be relied on as a faithful and study supporter of the principle of protection to home industry, and whose election will afford an ample guarantee that the interests of the district generally will be ably, honestly and conscientiously cared for in the national house of representatives.

Judge Rufus S. Pickett further urged the convention to nominate Senator Graham. He said that the Irish democratic voters were disgruntled in New Haven and claimed that the six-foot-two free trader of Middlesex county as he called Mr. Wilcox would be defeated if Mr. Graham were nominated. The convention was letting itself loose in floods of oratory. Edward Douglas of Middletown advocated H. Wales Lines. Willis Bonner, the colored delegate from New Haven, brought down that house by saying that while men differed in their tastes, some preferring white bread and some rye bread, he preferred Graham bread every time.

The convention then proceeded to take an informal ballot. The delegates deposited their ballots in a hat at the chairman’s desk, voting as their names were called.

The ballot resulted as follows:

Lines of Meriden …………………….. 53

Graham of Orange ………………….. 43

The nomination of Lines was made unanimous on motion of H. E. Benton.

From the New Haven Register (New Haven, Connecticut), Wednesday, September 26, 1888.

1901: Further Talk of Plots

A Connecticut Lawyer Gives Information to Secret Service Men.

Middletown, Conn., Sept. 21.–Eugene Culver, an attorney of this city, has placed in the hands of the Secret Service officers at Washington, D. C., all the facts that have been given to him regarding a plot to assassinate McKinley here last June had he visited Wesleyan University then, as was planned.

The news leaked out through a drunken man’s talk in a saloon. This man, whose name is Cyzak, or something like it, came here, it is said, from Paterson, N. J., several months ago. He was seen by his fellow-workmen to be very jubilant when news was received of the shooting of the President. He and his companions acknowledge that they are anarchists. What Cyzak said was this:

“I’m glad McKinley is dead. He would have been killed here last June; I know that, for all plans had been made.”

The shooting was to have been done at the parade or at the reception. When asked where plans were made, he replied not here, but elsewhere. Then he seemed to realize that he had said too much and he got out of sight as soon as possible and has not been seen since.

George Coles, a New York school book agent, came here yesterday on business. He notified the prosecuting attorney that a resident of South Farms told him that he had heard a man say he would as soon shoot Roosevelt or any other ruler as he would a skunk. This man was a Pole. Mr. Coles stated that he was positive that the man had made this threat.

From The Washington Times (Washington, D. C.), Sunday, September 22, 1901.

1866: New Town of Middlefield


(From Our Regular Correspondent.)

August 18, 1866.

Thursday last was a great day for the new town of Middlefield, and at sunrise the immense hosts commenced assembling from every nook and corner. From every hill and valley, from highways and by-ways, from Meriden and Durham, from cellars and garrets, poured the living tide of humanity until the splendid streets of that ancient spot were crowded to their utmost capacity. The sweet strains of music floated upon the air and fell sweetly upon the ear. The cannon boomed out its thunder tones of joy; the bells run out their merry peals, while the chimes on the Congregational church chanted out many a gay and festive air. The throats of stalwart men and the puny voices of infants mingled in many a grand hurrah, and “all went merry as the marriage bell.”

You will doubtless wonder by this time what was the cause of all this great commotion. A few words will tell you. It was the crowning of King David and the consecration of Bishop George, and a great time it was, too. The exercises commenced by a national salute. The several military companies, together with the citizens, formed a procession and marched through the principal streets of the city, headed by the Wallingford brass band, to the grove near the conference house, where a bounteous repast had been prepared, and to which the hungry crowd fell at with a will. After the edibles had been dispatched, the ceremony of crowning and consecration commenced. A reverend gentleman offered up a solemn and impressive prayer, and then speeches were the order of the day. King David opened the ball, by reciting the wrongs and barbarities which the Middletowners had been heaping upon them; told how no roads to M. could be got; how they couldn’t fence the burying-ground where fathers’, mother’ and children’d bodies lay entombed, because the hard-hearted Middletowners would object to paying for it, and they should have to pay the expense themselves. In short, all the wrongs of ages had conspired to cause a deep feeling of disgust at the conduct of outside barbarians living in other portions of the town. He went on to say that they wished to keep it a “moral town,” as it always had been, but could not continue so unless they were separated from the corruptions of the city. He alluded feelingly to what the expense had been, and to the hundreds of wringers sent to various members of the legislature, attorneys and others. He closed with a grand peroration on the union of States, but particularly the union of Middlefield as ill-treated by the Republicans taking all the important offices but the second selectman, which was a sop offered to Bishop George.

Bishop George was the next speaker, or at least he essayed to be, and as far as he usually did when a small portion of this town, and that was Mr. President. At this juncture the vast crowd was visibly and audibly affected, and all were taken with a severe fit of coughing, during which the speaker subsided.

Some excellent remarks were made by our good-natured and genial friend, Dr. Hatch, of Meriden. He showed the importance of trading with Meriden and leaving this town out in the cold, and really made a sensible speech. Speeches were also made by a Mr. Davis and others. James Inglis recited a humorous poem which brought down the house by its wit and hits at men and things. Time will not permit me to say more. It was s day ever to be remembered in the annals of Middlefield–ye ancient town.

1984: Kids Are Not All That Excited About Being President

Associated Press

Middletown, Conn.–Boys are more interested than girls in becoming president of the United States, but few students of either sex say they would want the job, according to a Weekly Reader survey.

The publication’s first citizenship survey, conducted at the end of January, also found that children believe government’s most important job is to prevent war.

The responses from about 625,000 children across the country from second grade through junior high show students have a “positive but realistic” view of government, said Lynell Johnson, editorial director of the periodical published by Xerox Education Publications.

“They don’t see government as a monster or as repressive, but they also don’t see it as a paragon of virtue,” he said. “The survey also gives an indication that kids take their responsibility as citizens and their right to free speech quite seriously.”

Among junior high students, 9 percent of the boys said they wanted to become president “a lot” and 65 percent said they weren’t interested, while 7 percent of the girls said they wanted to become president and 65 percent said they didn’t.

From the Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York), Wednesday, July 25, 1984.

1911: Lettermen 24 Years

Three Civil War Veterans Celebrate Unusual Anniversary

Middletown, Conn., July 11.–When the free delivery of letters was first installed in this city, twenty-four years ago today, three veterans of the civil war, Michael S. Dunn, John Slavin and James Deming, were appointed by the postmaster. These three men, now grey-haired and stoop-shouldered from their quarter century of work carrying their delivery bags, are still covering their routes, and the entire city joined in celebrating their twenty-four years of service.

From The Chanute Daily Tribune (Chanute, Kansas), Tuesday, July 11, 1911.


July 4 – Middletown 366

July 4, 1797.

The anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America was this Day celebrated with great pleasure and harmony by a numerous concourse of the inhabitants of Middletown, North Society–and at Table the following Toasts were drank, accompanied by a Discharge of Artillery, (viz.)

1st. The United States of America–may her Independence never be shaken by foreign machination or civil discord.

2d. The illustrious and suffering Patriots who have labored and bled for our freedom and Independence.

3d. The People and government of the United States–may they ever remain inseparable.

4th. Our American Sons of Freedom–may they never want the prudence to avoid giving offence to, nor courage and ability to chastise the insolence of their enemies.

5th. Our American Fair–may they continue to shine as examples of neatness and industry, for which they have been so justly celebrated.

6th. May the American Flag acquire and ever support respectability among all nations.

7th. Our seafaring brothers.

8th. Our absent friends.

9th. Agriculture–may it so be improved here as to make this country the great mart of the world.

10th. Our civil officers of justice–may we ever consider them as the guardians of our peace and domestic happiness.

11th. Our military officers and soldiery–may their courage and skill ever be our national safeguard.

12th. Charity and brotherly love.

13th. The respectable order of clergy.

14th. Our youth–may they be the future supporters of our independence and virtue.

15th. Peace and prosperous commerce with all the world.

16th. The inhabitants of Middletown.

17th. The 4th of July, 1776–may we never forget this birth-day of our Independence nor cease annually to celebrate it.

From the Middlesex Gazette (Middletown, Conn.), Friday, July 7, 1797.



Middletown, Conn., July 4.–(AP)–John S. Roth, tax commissioner, has resigned because he figured his salary was too big.

“I have not the nerve to draw $3,500 for 12 months’ work and only give the city about six months of actual work,” he said. “This job should be a part-time proposition or combined with another job.”

From the Ludington Daily News (Ludington, Michigan), Friday, July 4, 1930.

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.

1924: City Official Outing at Laurel Brook

City official outing 1924
Click for larger image.

From the back of the photograph:

Front row: Oscar Welker, Daton Baldwin, Phil Stueck, Kent Thompson, Phil Anderson, Bill Clew, Eugene Mead, Perry Closon, Joseph Roano, Burt Lane, Sam Mattes, Dr. George E. Bitgood.

Second row: George Tierney, Allen Holmes, Bart Stone, ———, ———, Art McDowell, Charlie Fisk, ———, Elton Clark, ———, John Rogers, ———, Phil Bergren, John Connery, ———.

Back row: Fred Phelps, John Tobin, Phil Brown, Frank Neville, Fred B. Fountain, J. Warren Mylchreest, Bob Spear, ———,  Gordon Baldwin, Al Hughes (?), Joe Kinsella, Al Herd, Assel Packard, ———, Carroll Campbell, ———, Chief of Fire Dept George Pitt, Chief of Police Charles A. Anderson, Sheriff Burt Thompson, Captain of Police Joseph Dunn, Charles Chafee.

June 12 – Middletown 366


Middletown, June 12

Sunday last two brothers by the name of Barns, were taken up on suspicion of being concerned in several burglaries; one of them acknowledged the facts, and turned evidence, from whom it was discovered that they had a cave a few miles from this city, in which were found the goods of Mr. Lemuel Storrs, and a great variety of other articles which had been lately stolen from this and the neighboring towns. They had with them more than 30 keys, which on trial would unlock almost every store in town.

On the above evidence two persons by the name of Osborn were taken in Waterbury, for being accomplices with the Barns’–on examination, Daniel Osborn, Peter Osborn, and Noah Barns, were ordered to be committed to gaol in Haddam, for trial next Superior Court in this County; and David Barns was likewise committed, to secure his testimony against them.

From the Hampshire Chronicle (Springfield, Massachusetts), Wednesday, June 16, 1790.

Middletown, Thursday, June 12, 1817.


James Monroe, by John Vanderlyn [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
James Monroe, by John Vanderlyn [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Notwithstanding the unobtrusive manner in which the President travels, and his known desire to avoid parade, it is announced, in all the cities, that it is in contemplation to treat him with distinguished respect, and to receive him with such salutations as beseem the citizens of a Republic. In this design there appears to be a rivalship in courtesy between the political parties, indicative, not only of the melioration of party asperity, but of the prevalence of a lofty national spirit.

Nat’l Int.


The President departed from this city on Saturday, for the northward, in pursuance of the intention we some time ago announced, to make a tour of observation through the Eastern and Northern States and Territories. Health and happiness attend him! Gen. Swift, Chief of Engineers, who is to accompany him, waits his arrival in Baltimore. On the same day, the President’s family took the road for his seat in Virginia.  Ib.

From The Middlesex Gazette (Middletown, Conn.), Thursday, June 12, 1817.