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Today in Connecticut History

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This Geni project is meant as an unofficial companion piece to the excellent website Today in Connecticut History, which is a project of the Office of the State Historian of Connecticut and CT Humanities.

Each day, the Today in Connecticut History website features a person and/or event important in state history. This Geni project compiles genealogical profiles relevant to those dates.

Calendar

January

  • January 1: In 1908, high-level Soviet agent and "Red Spy Queen" Elizabeth Bentley was born in New Milford
  • January 3: In 2013, Stamford native Joe Lieberman left the United States Senate, ending his 43-year career as an elected official
  • January 4: In 2004, journalist and pioneering female aviator Mary Goodrich Jenson of Wethersfield died in her native Hartford
  • January 7: In 1925, Hiram Bingham III was sworn in as governor in Hartford, then resigned the next morning and was sworn into the United States Senate
  • January 8: In 1790, George Washington delivered the first State of the Union address while wearing clothes made at a Hartford factory owned by Jeremiah Wadsworth
  • January 11: In 1975, the Hartford Whalers -- owned by Howard Baldwin -- played their first game in the city
  • January 12: In 1824, Yale anatomy professor Jonathan Knight was interrogated over his suspected involvement in body-snatching
  • January 15: In 1878, more than a dozen people died in a train wreck in Tariffville after leaving a Dwight Moody sermon in Hartford
  • January 19: In 1886, Anna Louise James -- the first Black woman to be a Connecticut pharmacist -- was born in Hartford
  • January 20: In 1941, pilot Lt. Eugene M. Bradley crashed at the Windsor Locks Army Air Base, now Bradley International Airport
  • January 21: In 1954, First Lady Mamie Eisenhower christened the USS Nautilus -- the world's first nuclear submarine -- in Groton
  • January 22: In 1930, first U.S. National Park System director Stephen Tyng Mather died; he is buried in Darien, which he considered home
  • January 23: In 1871, William Russell Frisbie opened Bridgeport's Frisbie Pie Company, where the pie trays inspired the game and toy of Frisbee
  • January 26: In 1802, segregationist Gideon Granger of Suffield became U.S. Postmaster General
  • January 27: In 1913, Wesleyan professor and Middletown mayor Willard C. Fisher was forced to resign from the university after asking whether churches, not bars, should be closed on Sundays
  • January 28: In 1878, New Haven inventor George Willard Coy launched the world’s first commercial telephone exchange, which was eventually known as the Southern New England Telephone Company
  • January 29: In 1859, world-renowned clockmaker Seth Thomas died in the Plymouth Hollow section of Plymouth; it later became the town of Thomaston
  • January 30: In 1885, America's first celebrity chef and "the Nation's Homemaker" Ida Bailey Allen was born in Danielson
    • ...and in 1945, Bridgeport native Lt. Col. Henry Mucci led the U.S. military's most successful rescue operation ever, the Raid on Cabanatuan

February

  • February 1: In 1825, cartographer, jeweller, counterfeiter, and general Colonial gadfly and mischief-maker Abel Buell died in the New Haven Almshouse
  • February 2: In 1961, the Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance Building (a.k.a. "the Boat Building"), designed by architect Max Abramovitz, opened in Hartford as the world's first two-sided building
  • February 5: In 1918, New Haven's famous canine war hero (and extremely good boy) Stubby, accompanied by human handler Corporal J. Robert Conroy, arrived on the front lines in France
  • February 6: In 1756, acclaimed Revolutionary War painter John Trumbull was born in Lebanon
  • February 7: In 1931, aviator Amelia Earhart married publisher George P. Putnam in Noank
  • February 8: In 1803, Hartford native and Litchfield Law School alumnus Maj. Gen. Elijah Wadsworth became sheriff of Trumbull County, Ohio
  • February 9: In 1953, Connecticut's first Black member of Congress, Gary A. Franks, was born in Waterbury
  • February 10: In 1863, Bridgeport native Charles Sherwood Stratton/"General Tom Thumb" married fellow little person Lavinia Warren
  • February 11: In 1842, thousands of New Haven residents filled the streets to greet a famous visitor, Charles Dickens, who declared the Elm City "a fine town"
  • February 13: In 1976, Greenwich-raised figure skating star Dorothy Hamill won Olympic gold in Innsbruck, Austria
  • February 15: In 1798, Connecticut's Roger Griswold and Vermont's Matthew Lyon (formerly of Woodbury) used a walking stick and fireplace tongs to settle their differences on the floor of Congress
  • February 16: In 1784, Roger Sherman -- who had signed the Declaration of Independence a decade prior -- became the first mayor of New Haven
  • February 17: In 1818, Hawai'ian missionary Henry Opukahaia died of typhoid fever at Cornwall's Foreign Mission School
  • February 18: In 1953, Fairfield father David N. Mullany invented the Wiffle Ball after watching his son play with friends
  • February 19: In 1863, abolitionist Roger Sherman Baldwin died in New Haven, having served as Governor of Connecticut and as a U.S. Senator
  • February 25: In 1836, Samuel Colt of Hartford received a patent for the first revolving chamber percussion pistol
  • February 27: In 1934, consumer advocate and political activist Ralph Nader was born in Winsted
  • February 28: In 1882, Edward Malley's department store in New Haven burned down, for the second time

March

  • March 1: In 1781, Scotland native Samuel Huntington technically became the "first President of the United States"
  • March 3: In 1871, President Grant named Connecticut politician and veteran Joseph Hawley leader of the centennial World's Fair
  • March 4: In 1978, New York Times puzzle editor Will Shortz hosted the inaugural American Crossword Puzzle Tournament at the Stamford Marriott; Eleanor Cassidy of Fairfield placed 2nd
  • March 5: In 1860, a little-known Illinois politician named Abraham Lincoln spoke at Hartford City Hall, saying "This contrivance of a middle ground is such that he who occupies it is neither a dead or a living man"
  • March 6: In 1836, 53-year-old Windham native Gordon Cartwright Jennings died in Texas as the oldest defender of the Alamo
  • March 7: In 1661, two of King Charles I's fugitive regicides, Edward Whalley and William Goffe, arrived in New Haven, where Puritans hid them for three years
  • March 9: In 1798, Derby native Isaac Hull -- who would later become a hero in the War of 1812 -- accepted his commission as a fourth lieutenant in the U.S. Navy
  • March 10: In 1903, Connecticut's first female member of Congress, Clare Boothe Luce, was born in New York
  • March 11: In 1941, the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation was established in Hartford, pouring millions into community organizations
  • March 13: In 1970, Bobby Seale arrived in New Haven to be tried as part of the New Haven Black Panther trials; the charges were later dismissed
  • March 14: In 1794, New Haven resident Eli Whitney received a patent for the cotton gin, an invention that revolutionized society (and inadvertently accelerated slavery)
  • March 15: In 1928, U.S. Secretary of War Dwight Davis declined to decide a dispute between Connecticut and Massachusetts over the Connecticut River
  • March 16: In 1978, at the urging of former governor Thomas Meskill of New Britain, the Connecticut General Assembly selected "Yankee Doodle" as the official state song
  • March 18: In 2003, Bridgeport mayor Joseph Ganim was convicted on federal charges of corruption, including bribery, racketeering, extortion, and mail fraud
  • March 20: In 1914, Theresa Weld won the first-ever U.S. Figure Skating Championships, in New Haven
  • March 21: In 2009, the Connecticut Working Families Party led a creative protest against Wilton-based financial giant AIG
  • March 22: In 1816, renowned landscape painter John Frederick Kensett was born in Cheshire
  • March 23: In 1950, Joseph "Mad Dog" Taborsky committed his first murder, in West Hartford
  • March 24: In 1754, the poet, public intellectual, and diplomat Joel Barlow was born in Redding
  • March 25: In 1783, in Woodbury, Samuel Seabury became the first Episcopal bishop of the U.S.
  • March 26: In 2014, thanks to Gov. Dan Malloy, Connecticut became the first state with a $10 minimum wage
  • March 27: In 1877, the Staffordville Dam burst, causing destruction throughout the Willimantic River Valley
  • March 28: In 1951, the research vessel Shang Wheeler, named for Milford oysterman Charles "Shang" Wheeler, set sail
  • March 29: In 1882, the Knights of Columbus was founded by Father Michael J. McGivney in New Haven
  • March 30: In 1919, Stratford's great helicopter inventor Igor Sikorsky arrived in the U.S.
  • March 31: In 1933, at the urging of Gov. Wilbur L. Cross, Connecticut became the first state to conduct an aerial photography survey

April

May

  • May 2: In 1903, influential pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock was born in New Haven
  • May 3: In 1783, two Connecticut soldiers -- Elijah Churchill of Enfield and William Brown of Stamford -- were awarded the first two Badges of Military Merit, the precursor to the Purple Heart
  • May 4: In 1826, iconic landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church was born in Hartford
  • May 5: In 1809, inventor Mary Dixon Kies of South Killingly became the first woman in the U.S. to receive a patent
  • May 7: In 1909, inventor and Polaroid co-founder Edwin Land was born in Bridgeport
  • May 8: In 2012, acclaimed children's author and illustrator Maurice Sendak died in Danbury
  • May 9: In 1800, revolutionary abolitionist John Brown was born in Torrington
  • May 11: In 1796, the Charles Bulfinch-designed Old State House opened in Hartford
  • May 12: In 1907, acclaimed actor Katharine Hepburn was born to a prominent Hartford family
  • May 15: In 1992, socialite and convicted tax fraud Leona Helmsley entered the federal women's prison in Danbury
  • May 20: In 1823, Guilford native Catharine Beecher opened the Hartford Female Seminary, offering an education level previously reserved for boys
  • May 25: In 1986, former Connecticut governor, Congressperson, and ambassador to multiple countries Chester Bowles died in Essex
  • May 26: In 1647, Alse Young of Windsor became the first victim hanged for witchcraft in the Thirteen Colonies

June

  • June 19: In 1916, Connecticut governor and New Hartford native Marcus H. Holcomb mobilized the newly-formed Connecticut National Guard for the first time, for service in Nogales, Mexico
  • June 20: In 1961, Easton resident Helen Keller received a birthday greeting from U.S. president and former Canterbury and Choate student John F. Kennedy
  • June 21: In 2005, Connecticut governor, former U.S. Congressmember, and future federal inmate John G. Rowland resigned due to a federal corruption investigation and impeachment inquiry
  • June 22: In 1839, Cherokee leader and alumnus of Cornwall's Foreign Mission School Elias Boudinot / Gallegina Uwati was assassinated
  • June 23: In 2005, New London resident Susette Kelo lost her "Little Pink House" case at the U.S. Supreme Court and had her home taken by eminent domain
  • June 24: In 1813, famed preacher, orator, and abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher was born in Litchfield
  • June 25: In 1956, international media swarmed Roxbury, trying to get photographs of soon-to-marry residents Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller
  • June 26: In 1767, Sarah Pierce was born in Litchfield, 25 years before she would open the Litchfield Female Academy
  • June 27: In 1833, Canterbury schoolteacher Prudence Crandall -- who would later become Connecticut State Heroine -- was arrested after refusing to close her school for Black girls
  • June 29: In 1943, Gov. Raymond E. Baldwin signed a bill requiring Connecticut students to learn history and government

July

  • July 10: In 1989, the worst tornado outbreak in Connecticut history struck, leading Greenwich-raised Yale alumnus George H. W. Bush to declare a state of emergency
  • July 29: In 2017, Hamden resident and long-time New Haven minister Bishop William M. Philpot died
  • July 30: In 1970, 30,000 attendees showed up for "the greatest concert that never was," when Middlefield's "Powder Ridge Festival" -- featuring headliners including Janis Joplin, Chuck Berry, and James Taylor, amongst many others -- was cancelled at the last minute

August

September

October

  • October 2: In 1771, Hartford's Col. Samuel Wyllys led the creation of the Governor’s Foot Guards, today the oldest continuously-operated U.S. military unit
  • October 5: In 1991, an estimated 40,000 people protested in Hartford following the approval of a permanent state income tax by Gov. Lowell Weicker
  • October 6: In 1944, William C. Colepaugh of Niantic set voyage from Germany, returning to the U.S. to spy for the Nazis
  • October 7: In 1801, the Danbury Baptists Association began its famed correspondence with Thomas Jefferson opposing state religion
  • October 8: In 1908, a new bridge -- later renamed in honor of Gov. Morgan Bulkeley -- crossing the Connecticut River opened, connecting Hartford and East Hartford
  • October 10: In 1770, Benjamin Wright -- the "Father of American Civil Engineering" -- was born in Wethersfield
  • October 11: In 1930, famed polar explorer Richard E. Byrd spoke to a crowd of 2,600 at the Waterbury State Armory
  • October 12: In 1818, Gov. Oliver Wolcott, Jr. proclaimed the new state constitution effective
  • October 15: In 1853, Hartford native Thomas H. Seymour resigned as the state's governor in order to serve as ambassador to Russia
  • October 16: In 1833, Free Black and Pequot diplomat, educator, and abolitionist Ebenezer D. Bassett was born near Litchfield
  • October 20: In 1950, a statue of the Rev. Thomas Hooker was dedicated at the Old State House in Hartford
  • October 22: In 1822, railroad magnate Collis Potter Huntington was born in the Poverty Hollow section of Harwinton
  • October 23: In 1819, Goshen minister Hiram Bingham and his newly-wedded wife, Sybil Moseley, set sail for decades of missionary work in Hawai'i
  • October 24: In 1972, baseball legend and longtime North Stamford resident Jackie Robinson died at his home
  • October 28: In 1869, Litchfield native Isabella Beecher Hooker led the formal founding of the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association in Hartford
  • October 29: In 1764, New London native Thomas Green published the first issue of the Connecticut Courant -- now known as the Hartford Courant, the oldest continuously-published newspaper in the U.S.
  • October 30: In 1852, educator and pioneering Asian-American Yung Wing, a Yale alumnus and longtime Hartford resident, was naturalized as a U.S. citizen
  • October 31: In 1687, Hartford's Joseph Wadsworth rescued Connecticut's colonial charter from a meeting where Sir Edmund Andros tried to revoke it, hiding the charter in what became known as the Charter Oak

November

  • November 1: In 1949, Torrington native and lieutenant governor William T. Carroll opened the Wilbur Cross Parkway, named for the Mansfield native and popular governor who had died the year before
  • November 2: In 1902, Fairfield resident and former race car driver Andrew L. Riker drove a luxury car into New York City that his Locomobile Company designed and built in Bridgeport
  • November 3: In 1758, New London native and prolific diarist Joshua Hempstead wrote the last entry in his more than 47-year diary, one of Colonial America's most comprehensive
  • November 4: In 1631, scientist and explorer John Winthrop, Jr. arrived in New England, where he would become the first governor of Saybrook Colony and the sixth of Connecticut Colony
  • November 5: In 1974, Windsor Locks native Ella T. Grasso became the first U.S. female governor elected in her own right
  • November 6: In 1960, John F. Kennedy and more than 40,000 Nutmeggers attended what he called "the greatest rally we have had in this entire campaign," at the Roger Smith Hotel in Waterbury
  • November 13: In 1913, British suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst delivered her famous "Freedom or Death" speech in Hartford
  • November 14: In 1939, Paul Sperry of New Haven received a patent for his iconic top-sider boat shoes
  • November 15: In 1918, Meriden native Rosa Ponselle made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera
  • November 16: In 1669, Connecticut's first native-born governor, Joseph Talcott, was born in Hartford
  • November 17: In 1797, Plymouth resident Eli Terry received the first clock-making patent in the U.S.
  • November 18: In 1842, John Colt -- convicted in a scandalous Hartford murder -- died by suicide before his scheduled execution
  • November 19: In 1898, Meriden's International Silver Company was founded -- in part by buying Rogers Brothers, which had been co-founded by Hartford silversmiths William, Asa, and Simeon Rogers
  • November 20: In 1887, Bridgeport's Christina Gilligan fought off a lion that had escaped from Barnum & Bailey's winter quarters and eaten one of her cows
  • November 22: In 1893, Old Saybrook native and "First Lady of Hartford" Elizabeth Jarvis Colt founded the Connecticut Society of the Colonial Dames of America
  • November 23: In 1862, Lebanon native Gov. William Alfred Buckingham signed a bill establishing the 29th Regiment of the Connecticut Infantry, which was entirely African-American
  • November 24: In 2007, Connecticut's longest-serving governor, East Hampton resident William A. O'Neill, died from complications of emphysema
  • November 28: In 1900, North Granby native George Seymour Godard was appointed Connecticut State Librarian, becoming a borderline celebrity in the state in his era
  • November 29: In 1982, the first presidential portrait painted by Hartford native and Warren resident Herbert E. Abrams was delivered to the White House; Jimmy Carter was his first subject
  • November 30: In 1940, television megastars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz married at the Byram River Beagle Club in Greenwich

December

  • December 1: In 2011, the PEZ Visitor Center, celebrating the candy invented by Eduard Haas, opened at the company's headquarters in Orange
  • December 2: In 1982, the artificial heart invented by Stamford-raised Robert Jarvik was implanted into a patient for the first time
  • December 3: In 2008, the "Barkhamsted Lighthouse" -- a racially- and socioeconomically-diverse community established by James Chaughum and Mary Barber in the 18th C. -- was designated a state archeological preserve
  • December 5: In 1770, legal luminary and longtime leader of the Litchfield Law School James Gould was born in Branford
  • December 6: In 1937, teacher and founder of the Lyme Art Colony Florence Griswold died in her home, now the Florence Griswold Museum
  • December 8: In 1810, pacifist, abolitionist, and lecturer Elihu Burritt was born in New Britain
  • December 9: In 1967, Jim Morrison of The Doors was arrested while performing on stage at the New Haven Arena
  • December 10: In 1844, Hartford dentist Horace Wells attended a local performance of a comedy show that used laughing gas, giving him the idea for modern anaesthesia
  • December 11: In 1951, the world's first jet engine-powered helicopter, invented by aerospace engineer Charles H. Kaman, took flight over Bloomfield for its first test
  • December 12: In 1930, Hartford's "Battling Battalino" scored arguably the biggest win of his boxing career, versus Kid Chocolate at Madison Square Garden
  • December 14: In 1807, Fairfield County was struck by the first recorded meteorite strike in the U.S., as confirmed by Yale professors Benjamin Silliman and James Luce Kingsley
  • December 15: In 1814, delegations from each New England state convened in Hartford to discuss their grievances against the James Madison administration...and to possibly secede (they didn't)
  • December 16: In 1961, Connecticut's first stretch of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Interstate Highway System opened, with 15 miles of I-84 passing through Danbury, Bethel, Brookfield, and Newtown
  • December 17: In 1948, future U.S. president Jimmy Carter graduated from the Naval Submarine School at Groton's Naval Submarine Base New London
  • December 18: In 1981, Brookfield resident Arne Cheyenne Johnson, convicted of killing Alan Bono in an act he said was due to demonic possession, was sentenced in Danbury
  • December 19: In 1854, Watertown resident Allen B. Wilson received a patent for an automatically-fed "four-motion cloth-feeding sewing machine," the design of which is largely unchanged today
  • December 20: In 1786, 12-year-old Pequot girl Hannah Ocuish was hanged for the murder of 6-year-old Eunice Bolles of New London
  • December 22: In 1773, Capt. John Viets, the first overseer of East Granby's Newgate Prison, received his first prisoner, burglar (and soon-to-be prison escapee) John Hinson
  • December 23: In 1892, Monroe native James Walker Beardsley was mortally injured during a home invasion in Bridgeport; the murder was never solved
  • December 24: In 1884, journalist and Sterling native Charles Dow, co-founder of Dow Jones & Company and the Wall Street Journal, joined the New York Stock Exchange
  • December 25: In 1871, Hartford's favorite resident Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens wrote home from Chicago, urging his wife Olivia Langdon Clemens to vaccinate herself and 1-year-old son Langdon Clemens during a smallpox epidemic
  • December 26: In 1837, future "Crowbar Governor," Baseball Hall of Famer, and bridge namesake Gov. Morgan Bulkeley was born in East Haddam
  • December 27: In 1957, Master Sergeant Albert Pensiero received the first Connecticut Medal of Valor for his life-saving actions during the 1955 floods
  • December 29: In 1929, Carl C. Cutler, Edward E. Bradley, and Dr. Charles K. Stillman founded the Marine Historical Association, now known as Mystic Seaport
  • December 30: In 1778, an inspiring speech by Pomfret's military hero Maj. Gen. Israel Putnam stopped a mutiny of starving Revolutionary War troops in Redding
  • December 31: In 1798, Middletown arms manufacturer Maj. Nathan Starr, Sr. received $2,000 from the federal government in exchange for 2,000 sabres

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