1909: Oldest College Janitor Resigns

doc-raymondMiddletown, Conn., Oct. 14.–The oldest college janitor in this country, Harlow Raymond, aged eighty-eight, who has been caretaker of the Wesleyan university buildings for forty-five years, has resigned to take effect next March.

From The Free Lance (Fredericksburg, Virginia), Saturday, October 16, 1909.

Harlow “Doc” Raymond was born on November 14, 1829 in western Massachusetts, and moved to Middletown in 1865 to become superintendent of buildings and grounds at Wesleyan University. After his retirement he moved to Longmeadow, Mass., where he died at the age of 90 on June 1, 1920.

1905: Death in Pretty Girl’s Bite

Savant’s Lecture Sends the Shivers Down Backs of Wesleyan Students.

Middletown, Conn., Oct. 13.–Prof. W. D. Miller, of the University of Berlin, sent shivers down the backs of students at Wesleyan when he announced in his lecture yesterday that the bite of a pretty girl would often bring a quicker and more horrible death than the bite of a serpent.

In a special study of the bacteria of the mouth he said that only a short time ago he experimented on a beautiful girl in Germany and found that an arrow dipped in saliva from her mouth would send its victim in death throes more terrible than one dipped in the venom of the most deadly snake.

Prof. Miller further said that dentists should always be careful when putting their fingers in the mouths of pretty girls that they do not scratch or wound their fingers on jagged teeth, for in most cases it means a horrible death. Neither should mothers and fathers allow babies to chew on their fingers, for fatal results are likely to come from it. The professor was of the opinion that, if this fact became known, the female sex could go about unmolested at all times provided they were not toothless.

From the Reading Times (Reading, Pennsylvania), Saturday, October 14, 1905.

1930: Exodus of Students

Middletown, Conn., Oct. 1 (AP)–An exodus of students from Wesleyan University was under way today as the death toll from infantile paralysis in the state mounted to six.

The latest victim was William Forsythe, assistant professor of daily husbandry at the Connecticut Agricultural College at Storrs. Four infantile paralysis patients were undergoing treatment in Middletown and one in Hartford.

Dr. Stanley H. Osborn, state health commissioner, described the paralysis situation at Middletown as a “distinct outbreak.”

From The Morning Herald (Hagerstown, Maryland), Thursday, October 2, 1930.

August 15 – Middletown 366


Stephen Olin Passes Away

Wesleyan's Olin Library, named for Olin père et fils
Wesleyan’s Olin Library, named for Olin père et fils.

Stephen Olin was born on March 2, 1797 and was an American educator and minister. He graduated from Middlebury College and was later ordained into the Methodist Episcopal Church. Olin was elected the second president of Wesleyan University. However, he postponed his presidency and served as the third president due to chronic illness. While at Wesleyan, Olin attempted to fix the university’s financial crisis and consolidated the curriculum. Olin died in Middletown on August 16, 1851 as his demanding schedule took a toll on his fragile state of health. His son went on to attend and graduate from Wesleyan University.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.


Captain Miller Found

Discovered in a Field Fearfully Bruised, Almost Naked and Incoherent.

Middletown, Conn., Aug. 15.–Captain Harvey Miller, for whom all Middletown has been searching since last Friday morning, was found at 6 o’clock last night in a pasture field belonging to J. C. Marvin. He was fearfully bruised and scratched and was lying on the grass without raiment, save a shift. He is alive and will probably recover.

When Mr. Marvin approached him he recognized him and asked to be taken home, also for food. Mr. Marvin summoned aid and drove the rescued man to Rockfalls, where medical aid was summoned. Miller is conscious and able at times to talk, but much of his talk is incoherent, and he is entirely unable to give an intelligible account of his wanderings since Thursday night.

From The Evening Journal (Wilmington, Delaware), Monday, August 15, 1892.

1861: C. A. Pelton and the 1st Battle of Bull Run

On this day, Charles A. Pelton fought in the First Battle of Bull Run. Prompted by the patriotic fervor that arose after the shelling of Fort Sumter in Charleston by Confederate troops, he enlisted for 90 days, the initial call-up by President Lincoln. After his enlistment expired, he returned home to Middletown and became a pharmacist. His pharmacy stood on Main Street until 2004. Pelton lived to the age of 91 and was the next to last of Middletown’s Civil War veterans to pass away.

Charles Abner Pelton

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro. 

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.


1877: Miss E. J. Ellis of Wesleyan University, …

… Middletown, Conn., who declined the position of class poet because of the objections of the male members of the class, has just been awarded the prize of $100 for the best English essay. She has accepted a position as instructor in the female college at Wellesley, Mass., with a salary of $800 and board.”– From the Pittsburgh Daily Post, July 14, 1877.

1925: Rice, Scientist, Will Aid Scopes Defense

William North Rice

Middletown, Conn., July 5 (AP)–Prof. William North Rice of Wesleyan University, geologist and churchman, has accepted an invitation of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is arranging for the defense of John Scopes in the evolution trial in Tennessee, to be a witness for the defense.

From The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), Monday, July 6, 1925.

June 30 – Middletown 366


Industrial School For Girls Opens

On this day, the Connecticut Industrial School for Girls, later known as the Long Lane School, was opened with two buildings, the Pratt and the Street Homes in honor of the ladies who donated $5000 each to the school.  The purpose of the school was to house and educate girls between the ages of 8 and 16 “whose surroundings were likely to lead them to vicious or criminal lives.” (Beers History of Middlesex County, 1635-1885) The farm contained 46 acres with 20 acres suitable for the buildings.  A later building was named after a local benefactor, Mrs. Samuel M. Russell.  The class of girls admitted included “the stubborn and unruly; truants, vagrants, and beggars; those in danger of falling into vicious habits; and those who have been guilty of punishable offenses but who are not deemed incorrigible.”

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.


Victor Butterfield steps down as Wesleyan’s President

Born on February 7, 1904, Victor L. Butterfield always planned to be a teacher. He graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. He later received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. After teaching at Deerfield Academy, the Riverdale School, and Lawrence College, he went onto Wesleyan University. He served as director of admissions, dean of freshman, philosophy professor, associate dean, and finally president of the university. Victor L. Butterfield left a legacy of friendliness, eloquence, and hard work during his tenure as president at Wesleyan University. He was elected in 1943 and understood incoming classes would be different from past classes due to wartime circumstances. He also developed the College of Letters and the College of Social Studies. Before leaving his position, Butterfield also added the Davison Art Center, Foss Hill Dorms, and new graduate programs in several disciplines.

Butterfield resigned on June 30, 1967 from his presidency at Wesleyan University. During his time at Wesleyan, he sought to “develop the freedom, the autonomy and the responsibility of the human mind and spirit.” He passed away on November 19, 1975.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.

1923: Outlines Motor Trip to Middletown, Conn.

To alumni and friends of Wesleyan University, who contemplate this week attending the annual commencement at Middletown, Conn., the following automobile route, recommended by Norman Johnstone, secretary of Wyoming Valley Motor Club, at the best, will be of practical interest:

Wilkes-Barre 0
Pocono Summit 37
Stroudsburg 51
Dingham’s Ferry 76
Layton 79.5
Branchville 87.5
Lafayette 92.4
Franklin Furnace 99.7
New foundland 111.6
Prompton 122.6
Suffern 134.6
West Nyack 145.3
Nyack (Cross Ferry) 147.8
Tarrytown 148.9
White Plains 156
Bedford 170
Danbury 193
Waterbury 224
Meriden 239
Middletown 248
From the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, The Evening News (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania), Monday, June 11, 1923.