Category Archives: Notable Women

Kathleen Moore: “A Coast Guard Heroine”

Cutter Kathleen Moore

Kathleen Moore, one of the more remarkable women in Connecticut history, has also been one of its least known figures, despite a heroic career as a lighthouse keeper that began at Black Rock Harbor Lighthouse near Bridgeport when she was 12. It continued until her retirement at 84 in 1878.

In between, she was credited with saving 21 lives, often braving the storm-tossed waters of Long Island Sound in a small craft at great peril to her own safety.

Her story is told at the United States Coast Guard Museum at the service’s academy in New London.  But now that story will be told in an entirely different way. The Coast Guard has named its newest ship The Coast Guard Cutter Kathleen Moore. The 154-foot patrol craft was built by Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, La., and is the ninth Fast Response Cutter delivered to the Coast Guard.

The shipyard that built the Kathleen Moore also provided recognition for this remarkable Connecticut woman in a different way. When she died in 1899 Moore was buried without a marker, but the people at Bollinger Shipyards bought an impressive stone that marks her burial site and notes her role as “A Coast Guard Heroine”.   A ceremony, complete with Coast Guard Color Guard, noted the recent occasion.

Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme: Home of American Impressionism

HassamSummerEvening

(Childe Hassam, Summer Evening, 1886. Florence Griswold Museum: www.flogris.org)

 The comings and goings on Lyme Street today in no way compare to the movement there in 1841 when Captain Robert Griswold bought the imposing, late-Georgian style mansion for his bride.

A lot more than the traffic count has changed since Capt. Griswold acquired the home. After prosperity turned to penury for the Griswolds, the home became first a school and then under his daughter “Miss Florence”, a boarding house, thus beginning a journey that would earn it a place in history.

The home was frequented by artists, including giants in the American Impressionist school of painting. Since 1947 the stately home has welcomed the public as the Florence Griswold Museum. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1993.

Just as the 19th century was to give way to the 20th, the prominent landscape artist Henry Ward Ranger arrived there. With the arrival of Childe Hassam four years later, the focus shifted from Tonalism to Impressionism. Eventually, this idyllic Connecticut location became known as the “American Giverny”.

Woodrow Wilson visited with his artist wife, Ellen Axson Wilson, and family on four occasions, staying in the guesthouse. It was during his 1910 visit that he issued a statement that he would run for governor of New Jersey. Two years later he went on to become the 28th President of the United States and led the nation in WW-I.

Whether visitors come to look at the historic house, view the collection there or in the 10,000 sq. ft. Robert and Nancy Krieble Gallery, or just breathe in the beauty and marvel at the work of art nature created there, it is a journey worth taking.

http://flogris.org/woodrow-wilson/

Prudence Crandall Museum focuses on the struggle for racial equality

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It is has been said that appearances can be deceiving and that is true of the large Federal-style building at the junction of routes 14 and 169 in rural Canterbury. Some 180 years ago for a brief burning moment it was a focus of the growing national abolition movement. A center of opportunity and of danger.

It was here that Prudence Crandall, a young Quaker woman from Rhode Island, in 1833 opened her school for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color, said to be the first integrated school  New England.  The story of Prudence Crandall is also the story of the young African American Sarah Harris whose desire to learn so she, in turn, could become a teacher, led to the founding of the school that would eventually attract students from as far away as Philadelphia.

Both women braved the conventions of the day and the very real threat of injury or death.

Long after Prudence Crandall fled the state because the constant harassment and vandalism led to arson and a fear for the safety of her young students, a more enlightened Connecticut recognized her and her noble experiment for what it was.

Today, she is revered by the state, which has named her its official female hero, and operates her former school as a museum.

The story of this shameful episode in Connecticut history is told simply and powerfully in a way that reminds visitors that what we take for granted today was anything but that in early Connecticut.

You can visit her home/school in season, but before that take a look at her story as told by the  Friends of Prudence Crandall.