1943: 150 V-12 Navy Men Finish Physicals

Middletown, Conn., July 17--Physical testing of the 150 V-12 navy men stationed at Wesleyan University has been completed by Chief Specialist Andrew P. Fisher and the “hardening down” period has begun.

The Navy College Training Unit physical education program is divided into three parts. Thorough entrance tests determine the students’ physical condition and following these tests an eight weeks’ hardening program is carried out. Special emphasis is placed on swimming during this period, and all students take an hour of physical education each day and twenty minutes of calisthenics at 6 each morning.

Eligible for Sports

At the end of the eight weeks the students will be tested again and the top two-thirds will engage in intramural sports and will be eligible to participate in any intercollegiate sports which are held. The lower third will take the hardening course for a second time.

Chief Specialist Fisher, who will have direct charge of the physical education program, was graduated from Holy Cross in 1930. He received his M.A. degree at Columbia University. He will work under the directions of Lt. (jg) Henry C. Herge, former supervising principal of the public schools of Bellmore. Lt. Herge was graduated from New York University in 1929 and received his M.A. degree in 1931 and his Ph.D. in literature in 1942.

From The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York), Sunday, July 18, 1943.


May 24 – Middletown 366


Colonel Meig’s Raid

On this day, Middletown resident Col. Return Jonathan Meigs staged a raid on British forces stationed at Sag Harbor, Long Island. Meigs commanded 13 whaleboats with 220 men. Crossing Long Island Sound, they surprised the enemy at night, burned 12 British ships, and captured 90 prisoners without a loss of American life. Earlier in the war, he had been captured in Benedict Arnold’s raid on Canada, but was paroled and returned to service. After the war, he was one of the founders of Ohio and a federal agent to the Native Americans in Tennessee.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.


Joseph Thomas Logano is Born

Joseph Thomas “Joey” Logano was born in Middletown, CT on May 24, 1990 to Deborah and Thomas Logano. He began his racing career at age six in the quarter midget race in Connecticut in 1996. Logano is now a professional stock car racing driver. He became the youngest driver to win a NASCAR Nationwide Series when at 18 years old, 21 months, he won the Meijer 300 at the Kentucky Speedway in the 2008 Nationwide Series. This was just his third start. Logano also became the youngest winner in the Sprint Cup Series in its history. He won the 2009 Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway at 19 years, 35 days old.

Currently, Logano is the youngest winner in two of three of NASCAR’s top divisions.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.

May 16 – Middletown 366



It appears by various papers from the southern and eastern states, that they felt the shock of the Earthquake we experienced here, the 16th ult. The eastern papers suppose its course run from West to East.

In Albany, the shock was smart for a few seconds, at 23 minutes past 10 o’clock–and but one shock.

In the East, it appears, they felt two distinct shocks.

Among all the phenomena in nature, this and the attraction of the needle, has puzzled philosophers the most; the cause remains as yet buried beyond the reach of human scan. Priestl[e]y attempts to familiarize the cause of earthquakes; but his experiments only serve to convince the world, that he was out of his depth. Franklin indeed found means to rob the clouds of their thunder and avert its effects. Some suppose earthquakes precede hot weather.

From the Middlesex Gazette (Middletown, Conn.), Thursday, June 18, 1818.


Fiasco Fights at Middletown

Bouts at the Sampson A. C. Prove a Failure.

Middletown, Conn., May 16.–The boxing bouts before the Sampson Athletic Club last night proved a complete fizzle. Patsy Corrigan of Brooklyn refused to go on for his twenty round match with Billy Moore of St. Louis and Kid Lamar of Chicago was substituted. Lamar lasted but two rounds.

In the preliminary Billy Trueman of Brooklyn failed to appear for a go with Chick Tucker of New York, and Jack Fitzgerald of New Britain went in. The police stopped the bout in the third to prevent the latter from a knockout.

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York), Thursday, May 16, 1901.

May 2 – Middletown 366


Middletown Mansfields Play Ball

Mansfields Score card
A Middletown Mansfield scorecard

On this day, the Middletown Mansfields, Connecticut’s first professional baseball team, won its home opener against the Brooklyn Atlantics, 8-2. The club, first organized in 1866 by Benjamin Douglas, Jr. of the Douglas Pump Company family, paid its $10 fee in 1872 to join the professional ranks of the National Association, the forerunner of the National League. It was named after General Joseph Mansfield who was killed at the Battle of Antietam and was the great uncle of Ben Douglas. One of the stars of the team was James “Orator Jim” O’Rourke, a Bridgeport native, who went on to fame with the Boston Red Stockings of the National Association and the New York Giants of the National League and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1945. Although the team folded in August of its inaugural season in the major league due to financial difficulties, it was revived by the Middlesex County Historical Society which sponsored the vintage team to the cheers of modern day fanatics.

In the picture Benjamin Douglas, Jr. is in the doorway, fifth from the right, next to his father with the long beard.

Douglas Pump employees

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.


Students Demand Divestment

Police arrested around 110 students from Wesleyan University on May 2, 1988. This was the fifteenth day of protest again Wesleyan’s investment in 12 companies doing business with South Africa. This divestment would include over $10.6 million in stocks or four percent of Wesleyan’s endowment. More than 2,600 students were involved in the protests against investment in South Africa, where apartheid was still taking place.

Sit-ins had been conducted since April 18th, but May 2nd was the first day in which protesters disturbed the daily work of the administrative buildings and blockaded the entrance to South College. Dean Edgar Beckham presented protesters with a letter barring them from the building three hours before their arrest.

Once every person was processed at the police station, a policeman stated, “We’ve got three busloads of students.” Many of these students were part of a group called Divest Now.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.

1921: To Hold Track Meet by Wire

(By the Associated Press.)

Middletown, Conn., April 8.–A novel plan for holding a dual track meet by telegraph has been agreed to by the authorities governing athletics at Wesleyan university and Amherst college, it was announced here today.

The meet will be held during the latter part of this month or early in June, so as not to interfere with examinations. A pre-arranged program of track and field events will be run off simultaneously at Amherst and Wesleyan at the time agreed upon. Bulletin boards will be erected on the respective fields, and the results by telegraph will be announced. Of course there is the possibility of differences in weather and track conditions but the promoters hope the innovation may help to broaden interest and participation in athletics.

From The Huntington Press (Huntington, Ind.), Saturday, April 9, 1921.

March 13 – Middletown 366


Bill Eliminating Hubbard From One of Posts Passed

Middletown Democrat Must Quit Trusteeships or Board of Finance.

Opposition Baffled.

Trumbull Amendment Confuses Legislators, and Wadhams is Saved.

(By Telegram Staff Correspondent)

Hartford, March 13.–The Republican state organization baffled all potential opposition in the Senate today, on the “ripper” bill framed to remove E. Kent Hubbard, Middletown Democrat, from either the State Board of Finance or from his positions as trustee of the Connecticut Agricultural college and as director of the State Reformatory at Cheshire. An amendment to the bill as originally passed by the House, was offered by Senator John H. Trumbull, and was interpreted by those who had been planning to oppose the measure as removing the discrimination contained in the original language of the bill, saving John M. Wadhams, chairman of the board, but eliminating Hubbard.

Senators Confused.

Under this interpretation, the bill was passed by the Senate with Senator John N. Brooks, and Senator Ralph L. French as the only dissenters. It was only after the bill had been passed, that senators discovered the wording of the amendment did not affect Wadhams, but only eliminated Hubbard. When the bill reached the House, for concurrent action as amended, House Leader Buckley said: “This amendment wipes out the exceptions in the bill,” and said that the Judiciary committee had no objection to its passage. The amendment and the bill were passed without a dissenting voice even on the part of the Democrats.

Had Row With Clark.

The passage of the bill, under the terms of which Mr. Hubbard must either decline reappointment to the State Board of Finance, or withdraw from his trusteeship in the Connecticut Agricultural college and his directorship in the Cheshire reformatory, was accompanied by a report in capitol corridors that the move against Hubbard had its inception originally in a row between Charles Hopkins Clark, editor of the Hartford Courant, an “elder statesman” of the Republican state machine, and Mr. Hubbard. Both are directors of the Cheshire reformatory, and it is said that the disagreement arose over the superintendency of the institution, on which the two disagreed violently.

The bill passed is as follows:

‘No person shall hold office as an appointive member of the State Board of Finance while such person is an appointee by the Governor as a trustee, director, commissioner or member of the board of managers of any state institution or any institution receiving aid from the State by specific appropriation by the General Assembly.”

From the Bridgeport Telegram (Bridgeport, Conn.), March 14, 1923.


Middletown High Wins State Championship!

Led by Cornelius “Corny” Thompson, the Middletown High School basketball team won the Class M State Championship, defeating Ellington High School by a score of 63 to 38.  The team, coached by Thomas LaBella, himself a member of the 1964 championship team, went on to win the 1977 and 1978 state championships.  Thompson went to the University of Connecticut and led the team in scoring for all 4 of his years there (1978-1982) with 1,810 points and 1,017 rebounds.  He was drafted into the NBA and played for the Dallas Mavericks and for top teams in Italy and Spain.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.

1898: Old Ball Player Dead

Middletown, Conn., Jan. 24.–“Mark S. Burns is dead at the Connecticut Hospital For the Insane of heart disease, aged 46 years. Formerly Burns was one of the best known baseball players in the country and at one time was a star pitcher on the old Mutuals of New York.”– From the Middletown Daily Argus (Middletown, N. Y.), Jan. 24, 1898.

1916: 83, He Cuts Figure Eights

Connecticut Man’s Tippet and Mitts Interest Middletown Skaters.

Middletown, Conn., Jan. 20.–The cold weather which was predicted by Uncle Horace Johnson, the 92-year-old Middle Haddam weather prophet, has brought such fine skating to this section that Albert J. Hotchkiss, who will be 83 years old on his next birthday, appeared upon the ice on Pameacha pond this week, cutting as fine figure eights as any of the boys.

He wore an old-fashioned tippet and mitts. Mr. Hotchkiss vows he will have more skating this winter if the weather lasts. — From the York (Pa.) Daily, Jan. 21, 1916.

Ice skating on the Pameacha

January 19 – Middletown 366


“Hartford, Jan. 18:–Crowded far past its capacity is the Connecticut State Hospital for the Insane at Middletown, and this condition is viewed with considerable alarm by Dr. Roy L. Leek, superintendent in his biennial report to the governor.

So crowded is the hospital, Dr. Leek pointed out, that it is necessary to mix the criminal insane with the civil insane, a condition which is fraught with grave consequences.” –From the Bridgeport Telegram, Jan. 19, 1923.


On this day in 1974, the Sawmill Brook Racetrack proposal went to the Planning and Zoning Commission of Middletown, what would become one of the most controversial local issues in Middletown history. Ronald H. Mooney of New York sought to build a $50 million horse race track on 480 acres of prime industrial land in the Westfield section of Middletown. The public hearing that began on March 13 brought heated emotions for and against the track, and would last over 17 hours in total. Eventually approved in April, Sawmill Brook would suffer from financial trouble from the start, and after years of fabrication and disappointment, Mooney eventually lost his option on the land, as well as his gaming license. The track died for good. A brief from the Middletown Press in 1978 reads: “Arab money, Los Angeles money. It is time for Ron Mooney to put up and show the State Gaming Commission he can build his $55 mil. race track and he can’t.”

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.

1936: Speed Girls Triumph!

Speed Girls, 1936On this day in 1936, the Middletown Speed Girls triumphed over the Nutmeggers of Tulsa Business College, the national champions of the previous two years. The Speed Girls of Middletown were a semiprofessional basketball team that played during the Great Depression and into the 1940’s. Their center, ‘Pat Wotszsk, scored 20 points that day in the Speed Girls’ 28 to 15 victory, which the Hartford Courant exclaimed, “shifted the national capital of girls basketball from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Middletown, Connecticut.”

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.