Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ethan Allen is more than a bedding and home furnishings retailer

Ethan Allen

 

Revolutionary Connecticut is what Mary Collins and Sal Lilienthal call their look at Connecticut figures in our nation’s war for independence.

One of those figures was Ethan Allen whose name is mostly associated with Vermont and the capture of Fort Ticonderoga in nearby New York. He led the famed the Green Mountain Boys and later grew into an influential figure in Vermont, but he was a son of Connecticut. Here’s a look

http://www.ctamericanrevolution.com/maps/1_Ethan_Allen_January_2013.pdf

Connecticut Women’s Heritage Trail, both actual and virtual

Prudence CrandallgrassoGladys_Tantaquidgeondorothy-hamill-1976-olympics-e4f9b42da713f069

Prudence Crandall, Gov. Ella T. Grasso, Gladys Tantaquidgeon, Dorothy Hamill

When it comes to honoring prominent women in Connecticut’s past, there are at least 14 places to visit throughout the state to learn about their contributions in a variety of fields.

Some of the stops honor women who are well known to history, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Prudence Crandall among them. Others may not be as well known, but all have important stories to tell.

There are two ways to learn about the historic accomplishments of Connecticut women. First, you can Click here to look at the actual trail.  The other way is to look at the virtual trail by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

History museums and historic sites dot the Connecticut landscape, here are ten the state  office of tourism says are worth a visit

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACT Hist exterior-view-Pequot Museum

L to R: Dinosaur State Park, Rocky Hill–Mashantucket Pequot Museum

 

The Connecticut Office of Tourism has developed a Top 10 Guide to get you started on your tour of historic Connecticut.

They represent a small portion of the many and varied locations where visitors can get a glimpse of the past, but the list is a good starting point as you think about getting outdoors once the snow melts AND IT WILL. In the meantime, start making plans by visiting Here

 

 

 

Few Reminders of Benedict Arnold in His Hometown of Norwich

There’s a new book to remind us of Benedict Arnold and the devastating raid he led on New London and across the river at Fort Griswold.  (Home Grown terror: Benedict Arnold and the Burning of New London, by Eric D. Lehman).

The state maintains an impressive park and museum at Fort Griswold in Groton that focuses on the battle, but 20 miles away in Norwich, where he was born, there are few reminders. Basically, there is a historic marker noting his birth site and a dead-end street bearing his name. There is no parking available there, but the marker outlines the early family history, from his birth in 1741 as the youngest of six children born to Hannah Waterman King and Benedict Arnold III.

If you wish to get a feel for a period house with an Arnold connection, visit the Leffingwell House Museum at 348 Washington Street, a short distance away, where a guide will tell you both Arnold and George Washington were entertained, probably at different times.

 

Benedict Arnold homesite

Historic vessels on display at Mystic Seaport

Mayflower II

When the Mystic Seaport reopens Feb. 14, the Winter Vessel Tours will give visitors a unique look at the past. Guided tours will be available at a pair of ships undergoing restoration at the Seaport’s Henry B. DuPont Preservation shipyard, and the historic whaleship, Charles W. Morgan.

The latest to be restored are:

Mayflower II, the full-scale reproduction of the ship that landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620, and the steamboat Sabino, a unique coal-fired vessel that regularly carries passengers on the Mystic River in the warm weather months. It is the last wooden, coal-fired steamboat remaining in operation.

The  Mayflower II arrived at the Seaport in December from Plimouth Plantation and, courtesy of Mystic Seaport, you can watch it rise out of the water and into the shipyard.

Also part of the tours will be the Charles W.Morgan, the world’s last surviving 19th century whaling ship that made some history of its own last summer when it sailed on an unprecedented voyage after extensive restoration to a number of New England ports.

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Mystic Seaport

75 Greenmanville Ave. Mystic, CT 06355

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Norwich’s history pre-dates the arrival of Europeans

Miantonemo 1Miantonemo 2Indian Leap

 

The eastern Connecticut city we know as Norwich was founded in 1659 by a group of English settlers, 69 founding families, who came there from Old Saybrook and bought land from the Mohegan Tribe.  As important as that date is to Norwich, its significant and varied history hardly begins there.

Sixteen years before the English arrived, Mohegan warriors, led by Uncas repulsed an attack by a numerically superior force of Narragansetts led by Miantonemo. It has been called The Battle of The Great Plain , an area we know today as the East Great Plains section of Norwich.

The Mohegans, who learned of the approaching army, quickly prepared for battle. In short order, they routed the invaders and tracked down their leader whom they later killed where he was captured, but only after Uncas got the green light from the English.

The battle that helped the English Puritan settlers consolidate their hold on southern New England, is largely forgotten, but visitors interested in early Connecticut history can visit two battle-related sites.

They could not be more different. One, Indian Leap, is at Yantic Falls, not far from where the deadly enemies squared off. Even today almost 400 years later it is visually striking. A foot bridge spanning the raging waters below affords visitors a direct view of the place where fleeing Narragansetts leapt to their deaths from a high escarpment in a desperate attempt to elude the pursuing Mohegans.

Across town in the city’s Greenville section, visitors can walk the site where Miantonemo was captured and later killed. By comparison, it is more modest, even mundane in appearance, but it is, arguably, the more significant location of the two. The capture and subsequent execution of Miantonemo removed an opponent, not only of the Mohegan tribe, but the English. He was trying to reverse the tide of English conquest by uniting the indigenous peoples who stood in their way.  It was a dispute with Uncas who favored cooperation with the English that would lead to the fateful encounter in Norwich. (Ironically, the two bitter enemies were briefly united with the English only six years earlier in the Pequot War.)

A small cut-granite monument erected two hundred years after Miantonemo’s death is perched atop a natural rock outcropping at the Greenville capture site. An information tablet outlines the significance of what took place there.  The location on a dead-end street in a residential neighborhood offers an opportunity to reflect on a part of the long and sometimes bloody march to Connecticut we know today.

Although Miantonemo lost the battle and shortly thereafter his life, he has been remembered in a number of ways. These include a large public park in Newport, Rhode Island that bears his name, Miantonomi Memorial Park.  Located on a hilltop that was later used a lookout spot during the Revolutionary War, it was the Narragansett leader’s sea of power until it was purchased by English colonists in 1637.

Although the spelling of his named varied, the U.S. Navy would name four ships after the respected Narragansett leader, including one, the USS Miantonomoh, that assisted in the D-Day landings at Normandy in World War II, and would be sunk by enemy action three months later off the coast of France.

Uncas certainly has not been forgotten, either. In 2008, the Mohegan Tribe dedicated a memorial at a traditional burial site in Norwich that had been desecrated in centuries past. Located at the intersection of Washington and Sachem streets, not far from the Indian Leap, the park is at the edge of the Royal Mohegan Burial Ground, where it is believe Uncas himself was laid to rest.

In 1833, a cornerstone to Uncas set there attracted national figures, including President Andrew Jackson and his Secretary of War, Lewis Cass. In 1840 money was raised to erect a stone obelisk at the site in memory of Uncas and in 1906 Buffalo Bill visited to honor the famed Mohegan leader. Two years later President William Howard Taft visited the Uncas Monument.

The park created in recent years by the modern Mohegan Tribe after a long struggle is a place of peace and reflection, a fitting remembrance of those who once lived and sometimes fought near there.

Directions to the Royal Mohegan Burial Ground and Indian Leap:

Take I-395 to exit 81E (state routes 2/32). At the end, turn right and follow Rts 2/32, Washington Street, to the intersection of Sachem Street, location of the burial ground. Afterwards, drive down Sachem Street for about 1/4 mile. Make a left onto Yantic Street. Indian Leap and the Yantic Falls are on the right. There is parking and the site is open year round.

 

Directions to the Miantonemo Monument:

Take I-395 to exit 81E and go to the end of the divided highway. Once there, go straight Instead of turning right as you would for the Indian Leap site and the Royal Mohegan Burial Ground. This will put you on Harland Road (Route 169). Drive until you reach Hunters Road, where you will take a right. Stay on that until the intersection of Norwich Road (Route 12), where you turn right. The monument is on Elijah Street, a left turn opposition St. Joseph’s Cemetery.

Remembering the Civil War in Connecticut

The Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch in Hartford’s Bushnell Park commemorates the service of the more than 4,000 Hartford men who served in the Union Arrmy during the Civil War, or as an inscription on the towering monument describes it “The National Cause”.  Nearly ten percent of those who served died in the conflict.

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The Civil War was fought far from Connecticut, but this state played a critical role on the front lines and on the home front to defeat forces of the southern Confederacy.

More than 55,000 Connecticut men served in the Union Army, 47 percent of the state’s male population between 15 and 50, the historian Matthew Warshauer has written. A significant number, ten percent, were killed and many more wounded, some horribly. Connecticut women were active in caring for the many who were wounded and engaging in other war-related tasks. Those included attending funerals for those were killed in battle, or died afterwards of their wounds. The state’s manufacturers provided a significant amount of arms and munitions, ships for the navy and everything from brass buttons and the military uniforms on which they were attached.

Professor Warshauer reminds us in an article that the state has a complicated history when it came to the slave trade and its efforts to grant its black residents a measure of equality. But, it is clear, Connecticut was committed to preserving the union.

Today, reminders of that commitment  are located throughout the state, with more than 130 memorials, including the prominent Soldier’s & Sailors Arch in Hartford and the more modest Kensington Monument in Berlin, which is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places as the country’s oldest, permanent Civil War monument.

The New England Civil War Museum in Rockville provides an interesting look at the war and those who fought in it and worth a visit.

The Lebanon Historical Society museum has an excellent Civil War exhibit that remains there until September, 2015, and the Connecticut State Library is a repository of Civil War-related information, including the names of those who served in Connecticut units.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Civil War was fought far from Connecticut, but this state played a critical role on the front lines and on the home front to defeat forces of the southern Confederacy.

More than 55,000 Connecticut men served in the Union Army, 47 percent of the state’s male population between 15 and 50, the historian Matthew Warshauer has written, with ten percent killed and many more wounded. Connecticut women were active in caring for the many who were wounded and engaging in other war-related tasks. Those included attending funerals for those were killed in battle, or died afterwards of their wounds. The state’s manufacturers provided a significant amount of arms and munitions, ships for the navy and everything from brass buttons and the military uniforms on which they were attached.

Professor Warshauer reminds us in an article for Connecticuthistory.org, the state had a complicated history when it came to the slave trade and its efforts to grant its black residents a measure of equality. But, it is clear, Connecticut was committed to preserving the union

http://connecticuthistory.org/connecticut-and-the-civil-war/

 

Today, reminders of that turbulent time in our nation’s history are scattered throughout the state, with more than 130 memorials, including the prominent Bushnell Arch in Hartford and the more modest Kensington Monument in Berlin, which is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places as the country’s oldest, permanent Civil War monument.

The New England Civil War Museum in Rockville provides an interesting look at the war and those who fought in it and worth a visit.

 

The Lebanon Historical Society museum has an excellent Civil War exhibit that remains there until September, 2015, and the Connecticut State Library is a repository of Civil War-related information, including the names of those who served in Connecticut units.

 

http://www.historyoflebanon.org/index.htm

 

http://www.newenglandcivilwarmuseum.com/visitingus.htm

 

http://www.ctstatelibrary.org/subjectguides/pages/civil-war/2151/0/page

 

 

Connecticut in World War I

In World War I, Connecticut demonstrated its manufacturing prowess once again, as it had for virtually every war since our nation’s founding. Factories across the state produced a wide range of provisions for the troops heading into battle.

Approximately 63,000 Connecticut residents served in the war, including America’s first air ace, a French-born resident of Wallingford, Major Gervais Raoul Lufbery who would die in the skies over his native land, but not before his reputation as a great hero was cemented in the nation’s consciousness.

To learn more about this important time in our state’s history, you can visit www.ctinworldwar1.org, established by the Connecticut State Library and a site maintained by CtHumanities,  http://connecticuthistory.org/topics-page/world-war-i/

Henry Whitfield’s House has withstood the test of time

 

P1090006

 

The Henry Whitfield State Museum in Guilford is chock full of 17th-19th century furnishings and artifacts, starting with the stone structure itself, set in the middle of eight acres of nicely manicured grounds. Its historical pedigree is further confirmed in that it is the oldest house in Connecticut, and the oldest stone house in New England. It was also the first state-run museum, opened in 1899.
It was once the home of the Rev. Whitfield, one of Guilford’s original settlers who came here with a group of fellow Puritans 375 years ago this year seeking refuge from religious persecution in England.
The stone fortress-like structure contains a dazzling array of historical items, starting with a pair of chairs. Yes, chairs.
Museum curator Michael McBride feels one of them is the most important item in the collection. It belonged to William Leete, an original Guilford settler who later served as governor of both the New Haven and Connecticut colonies before they merged in 1643. “His chair is one of the few surviving artifacts associated with Connecticut’s 17th century governors,” he said.
The other chair once belonged to John Hart, the first graduate of Yale College in 1703. As interesting as that is, the Leete chair goes back to the formation of Connecticut itself.
Walking through the house visitors can see many representations of the past, and with a little imagination begin to feel what it must have been like to live in a dark, probably smoky house in considerably less space than they might be used to today.
Its collection ranges from hats to hatchets, clocks and candlesticks, and a powder horn given as a gift by soldiers to Benedict Arnold when he was first Captain of the Governor’s Foot Guard in New Haven in 1771, well before he betrayed his struggling country.
The exhibits also include an 18th century Dutch flintlock musket, Circa 1750, an exhibit on the Pequot War and a French naval sword owned by Capt. Frederick Lee, a hero in the Revenue Cutter Service that would become today’s United States Coast Guard.
Those who know the story of the Mayflower might be lucky enough to time their visit to see a small piece of that famed vessel that brought the Puritans to Plymouth Rock. It is not always on exhibit, but is in the rotation to be displayed soon.

The house is one of three buildings on the site. A visitor center contains a range of information, a gift shop and changing exhibits in two galleries. You may also make an appointment to use the research library.

Connecticut Public Television has featured the house as one of Connecticut’s cultural treasure. Before you visit, you might take a quick glimpse, courtesy of CPTV.

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Henry Whitfield State Museum
248 Old Whitfield St. Guilford, CT 06437
1-203-453-2457
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