1946: Navy Trainer Bid of $1 Promptly Rejected

Middletown, Conn., June 8.–(UP)–The Exchange club had a navy biplane trainer on its hands today and an impression that Middletown was lacking in air-minded citizens who knew a bargain when they saw one.

Wesleyan university had owned the plane for use in its navy V-5 program and gave it to the club to auction off to raise money for a Boy Scout camp fund.

The highest bid was one dollar. It was promptly rejected.

CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=130220
CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=130220
From the Dunkirk Evening Observer (Dunkirk, New York), Saturday, June 8, 1946.

June 7 – Middletown 366


Women Strikers Claw and Bite Police; Troops Called

Middletown (Conn.) Officers Forced to Use Clubs in Subduing Foreign Industrial Workers

Middletown, Conn., June 7.–A clash of 350 striking operatives of the Russell Manufacturing Company with police and deputies, at the mills in South Farms today, brought here later a platoon of cavalrymen from Troop A, Connecticut national guard, to assist the police until the trouble is over.

Practically all the strikers are foreigners, the greater number being women who have joined the Industrial Workers of the World, and under encouragement of the organizers they demanded increased wages and improved working conditions. The strike followed the company’s refusal to recognize the labor organization.

Today’s clash was brought about by the strikers trying to stop others from going into the mills. The women fought the police with finger nails and teeth while showers of stones, bricks and other missiles were thrown by the men. The police finally used their clubs and dispersed the mob after several arrests had been made.

From The Indianapolis Star, June 8, 1912.


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Speaks at Wesleyan University

On this date in 1964, the Rev. Dr, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the baccalaureate address at Wesleyan University, and the University conferred on him an honorary degree of doctor of divinity.  It was one of several visits Dr. King made to Wesleyan in the 1960s–Wesleyan Professor of Religion John Maguire was a close friend of his going  back to their student days.

Dr. King’s speech in 1964 was a powerful call to action–urging graduates to act according to their conscience.  His last visit to Wesleyan was in 1966.

Story contributed by Joyce Kirkpatrick; Kimberly Singh.

1912: Wesleyan Co-Eds Turn Tables and Give Men Snub

Middletown, Conn., June 5.–Indignant at the snubs which they say their sisters have received from male students, Wesleyan’s last class of co-eds have decided not to accept the invitation to sit with the men on class day and accordingly will hold their exercises by themselves.

For twenty years or more the women have been boycotted socially at Wesleyan as a protest against the continuance of co-education. Accordingly, in 1909, the trustees voted to make Wesleyan strictly a men’s college commencing with September, 1912.

The men in the present senior class decided to lift the ban a few weeks ago and invited the fair ones to unite with them in their commencement exercises.

From the Santa Anna Register (Santa Anna, California), Wednesday, June 5, 1912.

1911: Cannon Balls

Were Rolled Down Incline on Sidewalk By Wesleyan Freshies.

Special Dispatch to the Enquirer.

Middletown, Conn., May 28.–Eight Wesleyan freshmen returning from their annual class banquet were arrested to-day and kept in the city lockup with a number of “common drunks” for almost 10 hours, as the result of an escapade in which 60 of their class participated.

On arriving in town the students entered the grounds of the Russell Library, where a large stack of Revolutionary cannon balls are kept. Each student seized a cannon ball and climbing to the top of College street hill, rolled them down the incline on the sidewalk.

They will appear in the City Court, tomorrow to answer to the charge of a breach of the peace.

From the Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio), Monday, May 29, 1911.

1941: Colleges Urged to Serve More

James L. McConaughy
James L. McConaughy

Middletown, Conn., May 23–The federal government is bound to play a larger part than ever before in education, believes Dr. James L. McConaughy, president of Wesleyan university.

He warned that if colleges do not do more to provide educational opportunities for boys in the lower income classes the government may assert its right to the college properties.

McConaughy said that whatever the result of the war, colleges are certain to be tremendously affected. Those with no state aid or control are going to be tested as never before. Many sources of their income, he went on, will dry up; and gifts to colleges will shrink. The state no longer will give freedom from taxation unless citizens are convinced that these independent institutions are serving the public welfare.

Dr. McConaughy said that a majority of American families have incomes of less than $2,000 a year; a child in such a home has one chance in 10 of going to college, despite the fact that he may show as great intellectual promise as a child in a wealthy home.

Said McConaughy:

“We must to more in the way of providing an educational opportunity for boys from these lower income groups, from those homes where no member has previously attended college. If we do not the state may assert its right to our property, perhaps through confiscatory taxation, in order that higher education in America may be truly democratic and educational opportunities be equalized.

“If that happens, the independent school and college will vanish. … America would lose much thereby.”

From the Belvidere Daily Republican (Belvidere, Illinois), Friday, May 23, 1941.


1958: Bucks Scientist Leaves $100,000 For Scholarships

Trust Set Up For Students of Chemistry

The will of Earl W. Flosdorf, 54, who shot his wife and himself last week, at their home in Forest Grove, provides a scholarship fund for chemistry students.

The wills of Flosdorf and his wife Esther are being probated in the office of Bucks County Register of Wills Frederick E. Ziegler.

Flosdorf was a research scientist who contributed many new inventions and methods for medical science.

Earl Flosdorf Scholarships

The wills name the Philadelphia National Bank as trustee. The scientist’s will sets aside $100,000 in trust to Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn., the income to provide “Earl W. Flosdorf Scholarships” for promising students in chemistry.

For probate purposes Flosdorf’s estate is estimated at $50,000 and upwards in personal property with no real estate. His wife’s estate is estimated at $5,000 or more in personal property and $50,000 in real property. This includes real estate at Forest Grove, Greentown and Palmyra.

The trust also provides an income of $1,000 a year for the parents of the scientist, Mr. and Mrs. William F. Flosdorf. The scientist’s three sons are also heirs to his estate.

From the Bristol Daily Courier (Bristol, Pennsylvania), Tuesday, May 6, 1958.

May 3 – Middletown 366


Wilbur Olin Atwater is born

Wilbur O. Atwater (Public domain photograph via Wikimedia Commons)
Wilbur O. Atwater (Public domain photograph via Wikimedia Commons)

Wilbur Olin Atwater was an American scientist who introduced the concepts of agricultural chemistry and nutrition science. He was considered a pioneer in health science for his work on human metabolism and nutrition. Atwater was born on May 3, 1844 in Johnsburg, New York.

Atwater graduated from Wesleyan and then went onto Yale University’s Sheffield Scientific School. He invented the respiration calorimeter with assistance from fellow Wesleyan scientists Edward Bennett Rosa and Francis Gano Benedict. This device measured the energy provided by food and created the system that measured in units of food calories. It was developed in the Atwater system. Atwater stressed the importance of an inexpensive and efficient diet, which replaced carbohydrates with proteins and vegetables.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.


Photo of Dorothy Arnold Resembles Ingraham Woman

Acquaintance of Missing Woman Struck by Likeness–Family Attorney Again Denies.

(Special to the Eagle.)

Middletown, Conn., May 3.–Four different photographs of the missing Dorothy Arnold were shown to Leon Ingraham of Durham yesterday afternoon and he was asked if they were likenesses of his wife, Doris Ingraham, who ran away about ten days ago after declaring that she was the long missing Arnold girl.

Mr. Ingraham studied each of the photos carefully and then remarked with a shrug of his shoulders, “They are damned like her.”

The same photographs were shown to other people of Durham who are interested in the outcome of the matter. George R. Francis, president of the Merriam Manufacturing Company, was allowed to look at the photographs. Mr. Francis says they are a likeness of Mrs. Ingraham in every particular save one. He says Mrs. Ingraham has a slight tilt to the end of her nose which does not appear in the four photos. Otherwise, Mr. Francis regards the likeness complete.

In spite of the slight difference detected by Mr. Francis he is of the opinion that Mrs. Ingraham is the missing Dorothy Arnold.

He says that Mrs. Ingraham has every appearance of being a woman of 33 or 34 years of age. In spite of the disbelief of the father of the Arnold girl and of his attorney, John S. Keith of New York City, in the theory that Mrs. Ingraham is the long lost girl, Mr. Francis sticks to it that she is. Mr. Ingraham also is of the same opinion.

He is taking no steps to find his wife and has not ever reported the matter to the police of nearly cities. Apparently he does not regret very much her departure. It is said here that he and his wife did not get along well together. One story has it that Ingraham chased his wife up the road with a razor the day she left him.

Mr. Ingraham says he will do nothing to try to establish the identity of his wife. If the father of the missing Arnold girl cannot be persuaded to look into the claims of the Ingraham woman, it looks as if the newspapermen are the ones who must do it. Four were in Durham yesterday afternoon from New York City carrying on an investigation.


Vigorous denial that Mrs. Leon Albert Ingraham is the missing Dorothy Arnold was made yesterday in Hartford, Conn., by John S. Keith, attorney for the Arnold family. Keith based his conclusions on the discrepancies which appear in the description of certain markings on the body of Mrs. Ingraham, as described by her husband.

It is said that the Arnold family has carefully guarded knowledge of certain marks that existed on the body of Dorothy Arnold and has used this knowledge to dissipate the claims of various persons who have appeared and claimed to be Dorothy.

It is asserted that in a detailed description given by Ingraham, he specifically mentioned moles on his wife’s shoulders. These moles, he said, were so close to the shoulder blade as to be visible when his wife wore an evening gown. Dorothy Arnold had no such markings, Keith claims. The claim that Mrs. Ingraham was an accomplished pianist is answered by Keith with the statement that Dorothy Arnold was not a musician and was never musically inclined. Fillings in the teeth of the Ingraham woman do not tally with those of Dorothy Arnold, Keith says.

Keith regards as significant the fact that Ingraham has admitted he has always been greatly interested in the Arnold case and has followed it carefully in the newspapers. The story, briefly, that Ingraham told Keith concerning his wife’s version of the Arnold case, and which he says his wife told him shortly after their marriage when she confessed that she was Dorothy Arnold, is as follows:

Dorothy Arnold was kidnapped by two men who pushed her into a taxicab in 5th ave., where she was drugged. She regained her senses in a rooming house in Chicago. From there she went to Springfield, Ill., working as a servant; then to Boston, back to Chicago, then to Hartford and then to Middletown. The object of the kidnapping or her escape from her captors is not made clear.

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York), Tuesday, May 3, 1921.

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.

April 30 – Middletown 366


Connecticut Hospital For the Insane Opens

On April 30, 1868, after a 13-month construction period, the hospital opened its doors for care of the mentally ill. In its first year of operation, the hospital admitted 268 patients.

The Connecticut legislature voted to make “ample and suitable provision for its insane” (400-500 patients estimated at the time) and established a Board of Directors to research other hospitals and to guide the project. Dorothea Dix, the legendary social reformer and advocate for the indigent mentally ill, was among those consulted, and she attended several of the early board meetings. After 150 acres were “offered gratuitously to the state for the purposes of the hospital,” another 80 acres of flatter land were purchased, deemed to be more suitable for building. A waterway known then as Butler’s Creek (probably present-day Reservoir Brook?) served as a source of fresh water.

Shew Hall
Shew Hall

A groundbreaking ceremony for the first building, still standing and known today as Shew Hall, took place on April 1, 1867.

“The slackness of the demand for labor and stone, incident to winter, and the fact of a ‘natural bridge’ of ice on the river were availed of for cheaply hauling to the site several hundreds of tons of sand and stone to be ready to use in the spring … also for the construction of a wharf very near the site.” (Middletown paid for the wharf.)

The cornerstone was laid on June 20.

Source: Connecticut Valley Hospital Archives, researched by Patricia Guerard.

Story submitted by John Hall.


Old Whaler Dead

Middletown, Conn., April 30.–George Comer, one of the last of the old New England whaling ship masters who accompanied Donald B. MacMillan on many expeditions to the Arctic, died last night. He was 79.

From the Ottawa Journal (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), Friday, April 30, 1937.


3 Wesleyan Buildings Damaged By Separate Blazes in 3 Hours

Middletown, Conn. (AP)–Separate fires, which police say were caused by fire bombs, did damage to three Wesleyan University buildings within three hours this morning.

The first blaze was reported at 3:15 a.m. in a Downey House on the corner of High and Court streets. The building houses a college store and dining hall.

The second was in a vacant house owned by Wesleyan on William Street.

The third was in a building on Willis [sic] Avenue used for offices, opposite the field house.

Firemen returned from the third fire shortly after 6 a.m., but no damage estimate was immediately available. No one was injured.

Although no connection with the fires was known, officials thought the blazes might be tied to a student strike at Wesleyan. The strike, by students sympathizing with the Black Panthers on trial in New Haven for the slaying of a fellow Panther, began Wednesday and was expected to continue today.

The number of students taking part in the strike was hard to estimate, since few classes meet on Wednesday.

The strikers held a rally Wednesday night and plan another for tonight, with either David Dellinger or Jerry Rubin of the Chicago Seven and Doug Miranda, captain of the New Haven Black Panthers, speaking.

From the Bridgeport Post (Bridgeport, Conn.), Thursday, April 30, 1970.

1910: Giddy Students are Canned

Middletown, Conn., April 29.–Fresh from triumphs along the “kerosene circuit,” a musical comedy struck Middletown to display the “shapely chorus” to townspeople and Wesleyan students.

Today three of the college’s leading lights got a year’s suspension because they burned the midnight rum omelet for three of the most shapely. Following the performance, the trio led their conquests to the “leading lobster palace.”

Having left the girls at their hotel, the students wended a devious way toward their dormitory. En route President Shanklin was encountered, discoursing to guests from the New York East Methodist conference on the good behavior of his charges.

The trio were glad to see him, and made it known that “cherries were ripe.” Suspension followed.

From the Spokane Press (Spokane, Washington), Friday, April 29, 1910.