1862: The Battle of Fredericksburg

On this day, Elijah Gibbons was mortally wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg in Virginia. He had been a foreman at the Douglas Pump Company and was a fervent abolitionist, having lost his job as sexton at the First Baptist Church when he decided to ring the steeple bell at the moment the abolitionist John Brown was hung. At the outbreak of the war, he raised a company of Middletown men to join the fight. He led his men, Company B of the 14th Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry through the Battle of Antietam in September, 1862 only to lose his life at Fredericksburg. He is buried in Mortimer Cemetery and descendants still live in the area.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.

Elijah Gibbons

1905: Relics on Display

Middletown People See Mementos of Garrison, John Brown and Others.

Middletown, Conn., December 12.–The one hundredth anniversary of the birth of William Lloyd Garrison was observed at the Cross street Zion church on Sunday evening. The principal address was made by Rev. William North Rice, D. D., a professor at Wesleyan University. His father was an old-time Massachusetts Abolitionist and voted for James G. Birney. The address was interesting and instructive. Two bound volumes of the “Massachusetts Abolition” were on exhibition, also a steel engraving of William Lloyd Garrison, made in 1834, inclosed in an old-fashioned 6 x 9 gilt frame; a copy of Lydia M. Child’s “Appeal” (1833); a copy of Boume’s “Picture of Slavery,” published in Middletown in 1834; “Some Recollections of the Anti-Slavery Conflict,” by Rev. Samuel J. May; a copy of The Colored American, New York, 1841, containing an account of the trial of the Amistad captives; and a cane carried by Rev. Jehiel C. Beman while in Boston in 1840 acting as agent of the Anti-Slavery party and publisher of their organ; and a cane and piece of the rafter from the home of John Brown, in this State.

From The New York Age (New York, New York), Thursday, December 14, 1905.

1888: Serious Charge Against a Coroner

Middletown, Conn., Dec. 11.–County Coroner Lovell Hall was arrested this morning, charged with assaulting Mrs. Josephine Browne, a niece of Senator Allison. Hall was adjudged guilty in the city court and appealed to the superior court, furnishing bonds for his appearance.

From The Plain Speaker (Hazleton, Pennsylvania), Wednesday, December 12, 1888.

1844: Hartford and Middletown Express

We are much pleased to see that an Express has been established between this place and Middletown, for the transaction of business of every kind. Cases, bundles and packages of goods, forwarded. Notes, drafts and bills collected with promptness and despatch, and at the lowest possible rates. We were about going to Middletown a few days since on business, when a thought struck us. “Send by Express”–we went over to the office, and our business was done up, and money saved. We would advise all having business there, to “go and do likewise.”–Hartford Jour.

From the Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), Tuesday, December 10, 1844.

1968: Stolen Stocks Found in Middletown Pond

Middletown, Conn. (AP)–Three boys found a tin box in a pond Sunday and police say it contained jewelry and stock certificates worth about $50,000.

West Hartford police said today that stocks and jewelry were taken in a Nov. 5 break at the home of John Lupo, 8 Woodmont Road, West Hartford. Middletown police said some of the stock certificates found in the box bore Lupo’s name.

The three boys, Wayne Hammen, 10, Bruce Swanson, 12, and Bruce’s brother Clinton, 11, had spotted what appeared to be a box beneath the water in Pameacha Pond about three weeks ago. The water level apparently had dropped because a corner of the two-foot square box was exposed Sunday when the boys retrieved it.

From the Bridgeport Post (Bridgeport, Connecticut), Monday, December 9, 1968.

1956: Two Escapees Caught

Thompsonville, Conn., Dec. 5.–Enfield police today apprehended two 15-year-old girls who escaped Sunday night from the Long Lane Farm, Middletown.

The arrests were made by Policewoman Margaret Arietti. One of the girls was a former A. D. Higgins School pupil. Officers from the Long Lane Farm returned the girls to that institution.

From the Springfield Union (Springfield, Massachusetts), Thursday, December 6, 1956.

1976: Good Selection

Middletown, Conn. (AP)–“Please, Santa, give me a winner for Christmas,” read the plea found in one of the mailboxes placed around the city for mail to Santa Claus.

It was written on a Connecticut off-track betting sheet.

“I hope he’ll think of us if Santa comes through,” said Bernard O’Rourke, head of the city department that installed the mailboxes.

From the Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio), Wednesday, December 8, 1976.

1828: Daring Robbery

Middletown, Conn., Dec. 6.–A most daring robbery, together with an attempt to murder, was perpetrated in Durham, on Monday night last. The store of Messrs. Coe & Wadsworth was broken open by two villains, and considerable property carried off. A son of Mr. Wadsworth slept in a room over the store, accompanied by a large dog. He was aroused by the noise of the robbers, and seizing a musket at his bedside, pointed it out of the window, and fired at them. One of the robbers shot at him with a pistol at the same time; neither shot took effect. The pistol ball, however, struck within a short distance of Mr. Wadsworth’s head. He then descended the stairs with the dog, and on reaching the door, one of the villains knocked him down. A brief struggle ensued, during which the dog exerted his teeth and strength with great skill and some effect, when the robbers made their escape.

From the Commercial Advertiser (New York, NY), Thursday, December 11, 1828.

1971: Vivien Renews Battle With IRS

By Al Aumuller, World-Telegram staff photographer - Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection. 3c25123 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c25123, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1267147
Vivien Kellums, 1941, by Al Aumuller, World-Telegram staff photographer – Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Middletown, Conn. (AP)–Vivien Kellems fought another round in her long-standing battle with the Internal Revenue Service today, and emerged saying that the IRS is “a gestapo–it is the police force of this country.”

The 75-year-old spinster was summoned to the IRS office here to produce her latest records.

She refused, saying the IRS was violating her 4th and 5th amendment rights and that she would rather go to court rather than turn over records without a specific list of what the IRS wanted.

Miss Kellems said the IRS owes her $83,000 because it has taxed her at a higher rate than it levies on married persons.

She said she had refused to pay taxes since 1969 as part [of] her battle to get regulations changed so they tax married people at the same rate as single persons.

She said the IRS doesn’t have a figure on how much it says she owes the government.

“They can’t tell what I owe them because I haven’t paid anything since 1969,” Miss Kellems said. “The federal government owes me a great deal of money,” she told two young IRS agents in a meeting which was tape recorded for waiting newsmen to hear.

“I am not going to pour good money after bad,” she said.

From the Bridgeport Post (Bridgeport, Conn.), Monday, December 6, 1971.