Congratulations to Connecticut Humanities for its launch of ConnTours, an app that lets you use your mobile device to tour Connecticut historic sites based on theme or municipality.
The app is a work in progress, but the themes so far include the Architectural Wonders Trail, the Leisure Trail, the Literary Trail, the Revolutionary Trail, the War of 1812 Trail, and the Women’s Heritage Trail. Hartford has stops on each of these trails (except, strangely, the Revolutionary Trail.) The municipality section so far has only three towns or cities, but thankfully Hartford is one of them. Overall, the project shows a lot of promise.
The Journal Inquirer newspaper of Manchester had a great article over the weekend on the “theme” tours being held at beautiful Cedar Hill Cemetery, the final resting place of such notables as actress Katharine Hepburn, gun maker Samuel Colt, poet Wallace Stevens, robber baron J.P. Morgan, and anesthesia pioneer Horace Wells.
Writer Tom Breen took the “What a Way to Go” tour, which–you guessed it–focused on the gruesome deaths suffered by some of the famous and not-so-famous residents. Among the former was Horace Wells, who “eventually became addicted to one of the chemicals he was experimenting with and cut his own throat after throwing acid at two prostitutes,” Breen wrote. Also on the tour was Walter Treadway Huntington, a Harvard junior who left his family’s home in Windsor one night in 1929 to buy a pack of cigarettes and never came home. Mysteriously, his body was found the next morning “with a gunshot wound to the head, his pockets stuffed with bloody handkerchiefs and Chesterfield Kings stubbed out around his body.”
Breen reports that upcoming tours include:
“Angels Among Us,” an examination of the allegorical figures that decorate tombs, on July 24;
“Sunset Notables,” a tour on the evening of Aug. 9 that looks at some of the famous residents of the cemetery; and
“Arts & Letters” on Sept. 25, which focuses on writers, painters, actors, and other artists.
Speaking of Horace Wells, his sad story is told in the August issue of Connecticut magazine by Erik Ofgang, under the headline, “How the Hartford Dentist Who Pioneered Anesthesia in Medicine Was Driven Mad.”
The Providence Journal had a nice article recently on Hartford’s historical attractions. Sure, it’s a got a chamber-of-commerce bent, but we’ll take it. Besides, it’s nice to be reminded every once in while of all the attractions we locals take for granted. If you’re coming to the city for the first time and want to know what there is to see, this isn’t a bad place to start. The line about Aetna moving its headquarters to New York City might be premature, however.