The first Hispanic woman to serve in the Connecticut General Assembly was elected by Hartford voters in 1988. Who was she? You’ll find the answer on HartfordHistory.net’s Trivia page.
This Veterans Day, I’d like to draw attention to the Revolutionary War veterans buried in the Old South Burial Ground off Maple Avenue, next to the Fox Elementary School. They include Thomas Y. Seymour, who helped the Americans win two game-changing battles near Saratoga, N.Y., in 1777. Seymour, then a lieutenant, led a regiment that included some of the only American cavalry of the war. Afterward, he was given the sensitive task of escorting to Boston the captured leader of the British troops, Gen. John Burgoyne.
Today, you’d never guess that men and women like Seymour are buried in Old South. The place is a shambles–just as it was when I wrote about it for the New York Times in 2000 and when the Hartford Courant followed in 2012. Some very dedicated volunteers have tried repeatedly over the years to get the cemetery’s owner–the City of Hartford–to take better care of it. But you can see which way things have gone in these photos, taken in early September. Even the chain-link fence the city erected as a half-measure to protect the tombstones has been knocked down.
Click on the side arrows to advance or reverse the slides.
Saturday, July 26, 1941, marked the end of an era that had lasted more than 50 years in Hartford. What happened?
You’ll find the answer to this question–and many others–here.
One of Hartford’s most-travelled streets was known as Hubbard Street until 1873, when it received its current name. What is that street? You’ll find the answer at the top of the Trivia page.
The Fall 2019 issue of Connecticut Explored magazine includes an article from me on the history of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hartford, which was a launch pad for the national B&G Clubs movement. You’ll need a subscription to read it … so subscribe!
Other Hartford-related articles in the issue include:
- “Unburying Hartford’s Native and African-American Histories,” Katherine A. Hermes’ overview of the effort to tell the stories of an estimated 300-plus people of color who are buried in the Ancient Burying Ground, the city’s earliest extent graveyard. (It also the subject of an episode of “Grating the Nutmeg,” the podcast associated with Connecticut Explored. You can listen here: https://gratingthenutmeg.libsyn.com/.)
- “The LeWitts Raise a World-Class Artist,” an adaptation of Larry Bloom’s new biography, “Sol LeWitt: A Life of Ideas.” LeWitt, who became one of the most important artists of the 20th Century though his pioneering work in minimalism and conceptualism, spent the first six years of his life in Hartford. He and his parents lived in a spacious house on the north end of Main Street, not far from the hospital that his father, a surgeon, co-founded: Mount Sinai. But when Sol’s father died of a heart attack in 1934, amid financial troubles brought on by the Great Depression, the boy and his mother moved to an apartment in New Britain. LeWitt’s connection to Hartford didn’t end there, however. He took art classes at the Wadsworth Atheneum, which would later display his work, though the LeWitt-Hartford relationship was usually, the Hartford Courant notes, contentious.
A famous Hartford restaurant opened in the basement of the United States Hotel on State Street in 1845. Name it.
Give up? Here’s the answer.
Campfield Avenue is named after a military encampment created during which of these wars:
A) King Philip’s War;
B) the Revolutionary War; or
C) the Civil War.
Here’s the answer: https://www.hartfordhistory.net/trivia.html
Dillon Stadium, which recently underwent a complete renovation, opened in 1935 as Municipal Stadium but was renamed in 1956 to honor James H. Dillon. Who was he?
Hermann P. Kopplemann (1880-1957) rose from the immigrant neighborhood of Hartford’s East Side to found H.P. Kopplemann and Co., which eventually became Connecticut’s leading distributor of newspapers and magazines. But it was in the political realm where Kopplemann did his most important work, achieving several “firsts” in the process. What were they?
The answer is here: https://www.hartfordhistory.net/trivia.html.
A longtime Hartford business was the setting for one of painter Norman Rockwell’s more famous covers for the Saturday Evening Post, appearing in the May 19, 1956 issue. Which business was it? The answer is here.
Grace Fifield, a 47-year-old woman visiting Wethersfield from Newport, Vermont went to the Ringling Brothers Circus in Hartford’s North End on July 6, 1944 and never came home. Her family has assumed all these years that she was among the 168 people killed in the fire that swept through the big top that day. But because none of the bodies recovered that day were identified as hers, it could never be more than an assumption.
That may change as a result of a request Chief State Medical Examiner James Gill submitted last week to Hartford State’s Attorney Gail Hardy. According to the Hartford Courant, Gill wants a judge’s permission to exhume two of the five bodies that were never identified. He hopes technological advances made over the past 75 years will help him identify one of them–both female–as Fifield’s.
The newspaper says the move stems from its own investigation:
[Gill] started researching exhuming the bodies after the Courant began asking questions whether it would be possible, given the advances in DNA science, specifically genetic testing, to identify the unidentified circus fire victims. Rather than dig up all five unidentified bodies, Gill has targeted the two that could match the DNA of a surviving relative of a missing fire victim that the Courant located.
Fifield had brought two of her children with her to the circus; both of them survived.
The five unidentified bodies lie under numbered grave markers in Northwood Cemetery, on the Hartford-Windsor line.
The Courant has supplemented its article with a sidebar summarizing the fire, the worst disaster in Hartford history and one of the worst fires in American history. Here is HartfordHistory.net’s page on the fire.