Thursday, January 1, 1931

  • New Year’s passes relatively quietly. Many attend Watch Night services at churches, or go to parties. Few cars are on the street. Both the Shelton Theater and Derby’s Commodore Hull Theater have midnight shows.
  • ANSONIA – African-Americans from Ansonia and beyond meet at Macedonia Baptist Church to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Rev Murphey of the AME Zion Church provides one of the evening’s highlights with a speech entitled “Are we free yet?”
  • SEYMOUR – A local barber is held up on Cedar Street near Castle Rock school, of $10.

January 2

  • SHELTON – Lumar The Mental Wizard, actually Shelton resident named Elmer Lumis, appears at the Shelton Theater, where he performs many tricks, including his signature stunt of driving a car in noonday traffic on Howe Avenue to Myrtle Street and back while blindfolded. Lumar is endorsed by a number of auto dealers.
  • DERBY – The curtailment of trolley service on the Housatonic Avenue branch line after 7 PM has Derby Neck residents at arms at a Board of Aldermen meeting. Mayor Riordan says he’ll try to resolve the situation with the trolley company.

January 3

  • ANSONIA – The Boston Store holds its First Annual Carriage Parade. The parade features local little girls displaying their gaily decorated baby carriages in the Man and Bridge Street department store. Prizes are awarded.

January 5

  • ANSONIA – The Colored Political Club reorganizes to form the Negro Independent Political Club. The club’s goal is to ensure every Ansonia African-American resident knows importance of his vote, and is kept informed in the affairs of the city.
  • SHELTON – Mayor Frank V. Crofut is sworn in by the man he defeated, Dr. Francis Nettleton, who praises the new mayor and his campaign to unseat him.

January 7

  • ANSONIA – Warcholik Hall, on 158-160 Broad Street, is sold by Anna J. Warcholik, widow to Polish immigrant Joseph Warcholik who gave the building its name, to Joseph Comcowich. The building is one of the largest on west side, featuring 3 stores on the ground floor, a large hall in the rear, and a number of tenants. The building would be destroyed in a fire just before the 1955 Flood, with the ruins pushed down right after the disaster.

Thursday, January 8, 1931

  • DERBY – For the first time in Derby’s history, the key to the city is given. Mayor Riordan awards it to James E. West, chief executive of the Boy Scouts of America, at the annual meeting of the Housatonic Council.
  • DERBY – A 23 year old man suffers a fatal heart attack while playing hockey on Pickett’s Pond.
  • SEYMOUR – Ice skating is very popular – over 500 are seen on Hoadley’s Pond.

January 9

  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia Police Department charity ball at the Armory is called the most largely attended social event ever held in the Lower Naugatuck Valley. Over 3,000 attend. The dance floor is filled until the final number. The event was supposed to be over by 2 AM the next day, but many stayed past 3.

January 10

  • DERBY – Lumar the Mental Wizard drives through traffic while blindfolded  on Elizabeth and Main Streets, just as he did last week in Shelton. He lived for 17 years on Caroline Street before moving to Shelton.
  • DERBY – The most common name in the Derby section of the new local directory is Smith, with 28 names. The McCarthy family is gaining with 23 names.
  • SEYMOUR – There have now been several holdups in town this year. The criminals are using a getaway car. The police are investigating.
  • SHELTON – About a dozen permits to cut wood at Indian Well State Park have been given to unemployed residents by the State of Connecticut.

January 11

  • ANSONIA – Local Jewish residents meet at the Sons of Jacob synagogue on Factory Street to start a fund to raise money for the starving Hebrew population in Europe.
  • DERBY – About a thousand skaters are at Pickett’s Pond over the weekend.
  • OXFORD – A bright meteor lights up the sky over town.

January 12

  • DERBY – A fire breaks out in the basement of Sally’s Hat Shoppe in the Commodore Hull Theater building on Elizabeth Street. 11 firemen are temporarily overcome by smoke – one walks right through a front plate glass window. The two hour long fire destroyed the shop.
  • ANSONIA – Irving Eisengart, manager of the Spero jewelry store, will open his own jewelry store in the Ansonia Opera House block, since Spero’s will soon be closing.
  • SEYMOUR – The Seymour Ice Company begins harvesting ice on reservoir off South Main Street – the ice is 10″ thick. Harvesting is occurring at Silver Lake, too. Many unemployed men apply for the work.
  • SHELTON – The First National Store on Howe Avenue and Kneen Street held up. The Evening Sentinel publicly questions why the Police Department withheld giving out the news that there were armed and dangerous men in the area for much of the day.

January 13

  • The great ice skating that has been occurring all over the Valley this week is ruined by a rain and snowstorm.

January 14

  • DERBY – About 150 families have been aided in last few weeks by new the Mayor’s Relief Committee.

Thursday, January 15, 1931

  • ANSONIA – George Gardella will turn his 46 Main Street business over to his 3 sons, when he retires soon. It will be called the George Gardella Company. He came from Italy in 1882, opened fruit and confectionary on Maple Street 1883, moved to Main Street in 1910.
  • DERBY – Repair work begins on fire damaged Sons of Israel synagogue on Anson Street.
  • SHELTON – Grocery and meat market owned by Louis Bogen at 137 Oak Avenue robbed of $170 at gunpoint.

January 16

  • Freezing weather continues. The only ones happy are ice dealers and coal dealers.

January 17

  • ANSONIA – The City’s Grand List reveals 2,401 houses, 1,366 barns or garages, 1,813 house lots, 435 store buildings 73 mills or factories, 40 horses, 133 cows, and 2,856 automobiles are on the tax rolls.

January 18

  • ANSONIA – 60 unemployed men from Ansonia, Derby, and Shelton get temporary work from the Southern New England Ice Company. They are harvesting ice at Quillian’s reservoir off Beaver Street.

January 20

  • OXFORD – The town’s last Civil War veteran dies. Franklin Nichols, 88 years old, lived on Christian Street in Oxford Center. He was in 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery until wounded.
  • SHELTON – The City’s Grand List reveals 1,617 dwellings, 1,178 barns or garages, 2,663 house lots, 93 stores, 44 mills or factories, 185 horses, 990 cows, 60 chicks, 65 wagons, and 1,755 automobiles are on the tax rolls.

January 21

  • ANSONIA – Frank T. Terry, proprietor of the Ansonia Furniture Company, dies at the same home he was born, at 40 State Street, at the age of 69. One of Ansonia’s best known and progressive businessmen, his death is widely regretted. He entered his father’s hardware and plumbing establishment in 1879, and became a member of the firm in 1885. He took over after his father’s death, erecting the Terry Block on Main Street in 1897, and continued in the plumbing and hardware business until 1926, when it was sold to Harry Mark. In 1905 he obtained a controlling interest in the Ansonia Furniture Company.  In 1924, Mr. Frank Terry constructed another new three story brick block on Main Street to serve as a showroom for the Furniture Company, called Terry Block #2. Both blocks still exist on Main Street today. He was also active in public welfare, and served as President to both the Ansonia, Derby, and Shelton Businessmen’s Association and the State Hardware Association. As a side note, Mr. Terry’s grandfather was induced into starting a business which became the Ansonia Clock Company by Anson Phelps, the City’s founder and namesake. He later built a clock shop with PT Barnum as a partner in Bridgeport, and another in Terryville.
  • ANSONIA – Acting on a tip, State and local police discover a trap door off Platt Street, leading to a sub cellar with large quantities of illegal liquor. No arrests are made.

Thursday, January 22, 1931

  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia Water Company has given out 160 permits for unemployed men to cut wood on their property. But the company now complains that some are cutting trees not earmarked for cutting, while others cutting without permits.
  • ANSONIA – A New Haven County Court official visits Ansonia Police Headquarters, where he destroys much of the illegal liquor, stills, and grain alcohol that was being stored there from previous raids. In the process of doing so, he clears the space where the contraband was being stored, which was the women’s jail cell and the Chief’s office.
  • DERBY – Derby receives a similar visit from the same Court official as Ansonia above.

January 23

  • DERBY – George W. Russell, also known as “AE”, a distinguished Irish Poet, economist, and mystic, addresses the Woman’s Club at the Derby Methodist Church auditorium.

January 27

  • DERBY – Three coal cars derail at old Naugatuck railroad depot area on Front Street. The Sentinel later says it is distressed that 300 adults watched the wreckers putting car back on tracks on a Tuesday – indicative of the acute local unemployment situation.
  • SEYMOUR – Pliskin’s department store, on 47-49 Bank Street, files for bankruptcy.
  • SHELTON – The Shelton Realty Company is organized with Vincent Tisi and Saul Steinman as the incorporators, and a starting capital of $23,000.

January 28

  • DERBY – 180 loaves of free bread being given out daily to the unemployed.
  • OXFORD – Many children, and some adults, are sick from a measles epidemic.

Thursday, January 29, 1931

  • DERBY – The Board of Apportionment & Taxation is considering liability insurance for drivers of volunteer fire apparatus.
  • SHELTON – The city’s representative to the State General Assembly, Mrs. Alice Russ, introduces a bill to build a “Merritt highway”, which will take 2 years and $4,000,000 to build.

January 30

  • A snowstorm blankets the area.
  • ANSONIA – A Meadow Street man dies shoveling snow.
  • DERBY – The police begin a campaign against “open air garages”, which we would today call long term on-street parking. Hawkins Street is said to be the worst example.

January 31

  • OXFORD – The town’s First Selectman, William H. Hubbell of Quaker Farms, dies at age 50.
  • DERBY – Lt. Anthony Urbano celebrates 25 years with the Derby Police Department. He is credited with solving a number of cases, including a number of murders. One of his favorite tactics is to pose a common drunk in the police department lockup, and overhear suspects implicate themselves when they converse with each other or visitors.


Tuesday, February 2, 1931

  • Local groundhogs, do not see their shadows, predict an early spring.

February 3

  • ANSONIA – Highly regarded Ansonia retired baker William Wilhemy dies at age 73. A German immigrant, he came to Ansonia 1894, and quickly established a bakery on lower Main Street. Destroyed by fire 1899, he rebuilt, before moving to Hull Street & Wakelee Avenue in 1905. He retired in 1928. Mr. Wilhemy was very active in local activities.
  • OXFORD – The Oxford Hotel is being moved back 43 feet from the road. Built in the 1790s, it was owned by William A. Gabler for the last 29 years. It is known as an excellent restaurant throughout the area, and is popular with Yale. Today the facility is known as the Oxford House.
  • SEYMOUR – The Seymour Water Company reports it has completed installing new, larger water mains from the Beacon Falls reservoir.

Thursday, February 5, 1931

  • ANSONIA – The police, while searching a Tremont Street for sugar stolen from a Canal Street storehouse, instead find a 10 gallon still, 5 gallons of liquor, and 20 barrels of mash. One man is arrested.
  • ANSONIA – A proposed amendment to the City Charter removes the right of the Mayor and Police Commissioner to remove any member of the police department without cause.

February 6

  • ANSONIA – The American Brass Company, which maintains the Ansonia Canal behind Main Street, is negotiating with the remaining two companies that still have water rights to it. ABC wants to fill the canal in, from Tremont Street to Main & State Streets, and give a strip of it to Ansonia to build a new street. The Canal is barely used anymore, and reclaiming this space will reduce traffic congestion, and remove the factories’ loading docks, as well as improve parking.

February 7

  • Snow, ice, and slush fall this Saturday night into Sunday
  • SEYMOUR – Five homeless men are given shelter at the lockup – a common practice in those days – due to an overnight snowstorm. Because no one is currently jailed in the lockup, they are left unguarded. It turns out that they hid illegal alcohol in their clothing, and they spend the night drinking. This leads to a major fight among them – neighbors summon the police, who now have to quell a riot in their lockup. The homeless men remain in the lockup – as prisoners behind locked doors.
  • ANSONIA – The New Haven Railroad reports unacceptable quantities of coal is being stolen from the freight yard.

February 10

  • OXFORD – About 60 measles cases in town, mostly students of Center School.

February 11

  • OXFORD – The library is closed, and Boy Scout & Girl Scout meetings are cancelled by the health officer due to the measles epidemic.

Thursday, February 12, 1931

  • ANSONIA – Oil, or possibly other industrial chemicals, catches fire under the Maple Street Bridge, on the Naugatuck River. Apparently this is not an unusual occurrence, as it is left unattended for an hour, until the flames reach the bottom of the bridge and the steel starts turning red from the heat. The Eagle Hose H&L Company is called, and firemen battle the flames for two hours, as 200 people watch from the shore.

February 13

  • ANSONIA – 50 State police, 9 Ansonia police officers, and 2 Federal prohibition officers simultaneously raid 23 speakeasies. 16 are arrested. Rumors of undercover men casing the city for a big raid have been circulating for some time – this Friday the 13th was the day it proved true. By the end of the day the police station is full of confiscated stills, alcohol, slot machines, and suspects.

February 14

  • DERBY – Derby Gas & Electric Company has an open house for its new four-story Elizabeth Street headquarters. 1300 people attend. The most dramatic moment comes when the mayors of Derby, Ansonia, and Shelton simultaneously push 3 buttons in front of the darkened structure – illuminating entire building at once.
  • SHELTON – The First National Store on 439 Coram Avenue held up by two gunmen. This is the third holdup in Shelton in a month.

February 16

  • ANSONIA – It is revealed that a side effect of several months of aggressive raids to put bootleggers out of business has resulted in about 100 people who had engaged in the illegal practice added to the City’s indigent list.

February 17

  • DERBY – The Derby Fish Market files for bankruptcy
  • DERBY – A house on Silver Hill Road is completely destroyed by fire. The Storm Engine Company was unable to reach the home in time due to the muddy condition of the unpaved road.
  • ANSONIA – Clifton Avenue is completely closed, including the trolley, after a rock slide blocks it. A similar event occurred last spring.
  • SHELTON – The recent string of holdups has people asking for additional police protection. Currently, there are only two beat policemen on duty at night – neither one of which has a patrol car. It is noted both Derby and Ansonia patrol their streets at night with police cars.

February 18

  • ANSONIA – A truck loaded with flour overturns on Crescent Street, dumping its contents into the road.

Saturday, February 21, 1931

  • SEYMOUR – A 15-year old newsboy on a bicycle is killed when he is struck by a truck on Bank Street, near the covered bridge over the Naugatuck River.
  • ANSONIA – Two men are killed, and a 9-year old boy seriously hurt, when their car collides with a trolley on Clifton Avenue. The force of the collision was so great it tore off front vestibule of the trolley, and it’s motorman had to run to the back of it (the trolleys were all double-ended back then) to stop. The victims were all Spanish, and that community is immediately plunged into mourning.
  • DERBY – A third tragedy on this sad day is narrowly avoided when two young boys tumble into the flooded Derby Meadows. They are rescued by a Caroline Street man just in the nick of time.
  • DERBY – It is announced that the Derby branch of Singer Sewing Machine, on 37 Elizabeth Street, is to be closed and consolidated with the Ansonia branch on 287 Main Street in that city.

February 23

  • ANSONIA – The Housatonic Council, Boy Scouts of America, hold their 2nd annual jamboree at the Ansonia Armory. Many visit.

February 24

  • DERBY – Announced the D. H, Kelley plumbing concern, which served the area since 1881 until death of Mr. Kelley last October, will be succeeded by the D. H. Kelley Company, Inc. The firm will continue to be located on 36 Elizabeth Street.
  • OXFORD – The town’s school enumeration is 405.

February 25

  • SHELTON – Weavers from the Sidney Blumenthal Company meet at Clark’s Hall. They are upset over a recent company decision that makes them run two looms, with a 45% decrease in wages and no bonuses, in order to stay competitive during the Great Depression. After debating for several hours, they vote 190-6 to go on strike, beginning at 10 PM on the following day. This is a major development, as the “Shelton Looms” as the company is also known, is one of the major employers in the area, and they have admitted that they are in trouble from the Depression. A strike which ran from 1912 to 1913 at this firm turned very unpleasant.
  • SEYMOUR – 3 men hold up a grocery store on West Street, and get away with $127.
  • DERBY – State and local police raid two establishments, one on Hawkins Street, the other on New Haven Avenue. 1 person is arrested at each location for liquor violations.

Thursday, February 26

  • ANSONIA – The 10th Annual Automobile Dealers Association of Ansonia, Derby, and Shelton opens at the Ansonia Armory. 16 dealers are on hand showing 56 car models. Other modern items like refrigerators, telephones, radios are on display too. The show lasts for several days, and is very well attended.
  • SHELTON – The weavers at the Sidney Blumenthal Company on Canal Street go on strike. At the appointed time, 10 PM, the weavers shut down their looms and wait for their spokesmen, who were in last minute negotiations. At 11 PM, they are told the negotiations had broke down, and 300 walk. The night shift does not report in. This is very serious – the firm is one of the area’s largest employers. See the previous day’s entry in the archives for the strike’s reasons.

February 28

  • Solid sunshine for the past week. Temperatures between 45 and 50.
  • ANSONIA – Every seat in the Capitol Theater is occupied this evening. Two movies are being shown, along with a three-act play by Ansonia High School called The Ferguson Family.
  • DERBY – Only two Civil War widows left in Derby – Mrs. Rachel Dwinell, and Mrs. Clara Carson. Both of their husbands served in other states’ regiments.


Monday, March 2, 1931

  • SHELTON – Labor and management meet at Sidney Blumenthal Company. Since neither side is ready to compromise, the strike continues. The Company takes out a large ad in the Sentinel explaining its position. The strikers, for their part, meet again at Clark’s Hall. They say they cooperated with management, and accepted a 13% cut in their wages before Christmas. Although they rejected the 2 loom system from start, they agreed to 3 week trial. Outside, representatives of the Industrial Workers of the World, the IWW, try to meet with the strikers, but they refuse to meet with “agitators”. It should be noted the strikers are not affiliated with a labor union at this time, and a 1912 Blumenthal strike with IWW involvement turned very ugly. The IWW is linked to the American Communist Party. The City charities department is worried about the sudden spike of unemployed men.

March 3

  • SHELTON – The striking weavers allow a man who claims he represents the United Textile Workers, a branch of the American Federation of Labor, to meet with them at Clark’s Hall. They will later discover next week he’s not who he claims to be.

March 4

  • SEYMOUR – A Bank Street fruit store is held up by 3 men. $45 taken.

Thursday, March 5, 1931

  • ANSONIA – The American Brass Company will build a new wire mill adjoining it’s present one on Canal Street below Bridge Street. The new plant will extend fromTremont Street to Colburn Street, and will be 2 stories high. One of Ansonia’s major industries, American Brass Company seems to be weathering the Great Depression well so far, and is in the midst of a major modernization and expansion program. Because of ABC’s success, the Depression is not felt as keenly here as at other places. This wire mill was part of the Latex Foam Products complex, which burned down May 14, 2001.

March 6

  • SHELTON – The strike at the Sidney Blumenthal Company takes a weird turn. It is revealed that the speaker at the striking weavers’ March 3 meeting at Clark’s Hall, who said he was from United Textile Workers, American Federation of Labor, was actually from National Textile Workers union, which is affiliated with the American Communist Party. The speaker himself is a known Communist. This sets off alarm bells all over the Valley, as the last major Blumenthal strike in 1912-1913 turned violent, when the Industrial Workers of the World, another radical group, infiltrated the strike. The textile workers never did organize after that, even now they are striking under the auspices of the “Weaver’s Social Club”, and they also appear to be shocked at the revelation. The Sidney Blumenthal Company isn’t too happy either, and says it will not under any circumstances deal with Communists.

March 8

  • A severe storm brings gale force winds and 2″ of rain. Both the Housatonic and Naugatuck rivers rise, though there is no major flooding. Roads wash out all over the area.
  • ANSONIA – More of the Clifton Avenue rock ledge falls onto the road. Another rock ledge partially collapses near the Ansonia Armory onto North Main Street. Both due to the storm.

March 9

  • DERBY – Yale varsity crews begin rowing practice on the Housatonic River.

March 10

  • ANSONIA – A porter who works at Griffin Hospital is mugged by two men on Division Street. Mayor Michael Cook, who lives nearby, happens upon the scene while returning from a neighborhood store. The sight of the Mayor apparently frightens the muggers, who flee without getting any money.
  • SHELTON – The Highland Golf Club will soon build a new wing on north end of its clubhouse. Founding member Frank Gates of Derby announces he will donate a new south wing to accompany the north wing, to give the clubhouse “balance”. 

March 11

  • DERBY – The U.S. Government ends months of speculation on the location of Derby’s new Post Office by announcing it has selected the Baldwin lot, on the corner of Olivia and Fourth Street, for its new facility.

Thursday, March 12, 1931

  • DERBY – Combating the Great Depression, the John Collins Post of the American Legion has given away 17,000 free loaves of bread since November.
  • DERBY – One of Derby’s oldest factory buildings, the old Bassett Corset Shop at 44 Caroline Street, is being repaired and updated.
  • SHELTON – Miss Anna Wienstock of US Department of Labor confirms she has been working for several days to resolve the strike at the Sidney Blumenthal Company, now in its second full week, though some strikers have mistaken her as a labor organizer.
  • SHELTON – One of Shelton’s last surviving Civil War veterans, Samuel Miller, dies in his daughter’s Orchard Street home. Born in 1845, he was a member of the 1st Connecticut Cavalry. Wounded and captured Ashland, VA, on June 1, 1864, he was held at Libby Prison.

March 13

  • DERBY – Superintendent of Schools Frank J. Buckley has accepted a position to head the Tuckahoe, NY school system. Derby has been having a hard time retaining superintendents of schools – there have been 10 since 1912.
  • ANSONIA – St. Paul Lutheran Church begins its 40th anniversary celebrations.
  • SHELTON – The Commercial Shirt factory has ceased operations in the Sudella Building on Center Street, and will move to Fall River, MA.
  • SHELTON – The Sheehy Trucking & Coal Company has filed for bankruptcy protection.

March 14

  • ANSONIA – Miss Alice Drozdewski wins 1st place in a typing contest in Hartford run by the State Business Educators Association. This is the third year in a row an Ansonia High School student won this contest. She typed 60 words a minute, for 15 minutes, on unfamiliar copy.

March 16

  • ANSONIA – Mr. Pasquale Gardella dies in Pittsfield. He was the Italian resident in Ansonia’s history. Mr. Gardella ran peanut stand at the Maple Street bridge, until the stand burned down about 1896. After that he rented a store, and was known for his honesty.
  • ANSONIA – Paul Johnson of will get the Army’sDistinguished Service cross for heroism in World War I. His unit, composed mostly of Valley soldiers, came under fire while stringing telephone lines just as the American Expeditionary Forces were arriving in the trenches. He stayed with the mortally wounded Pvt. Sutter (the same man for whom the Shelton American Legion was later named) while under fire as he lay dying under fire on February 28, 1918.
  • SHELTON – The Sidney Blumenthal Company ups the ante when it publishes a large ad in the Sentinel, saying it presented its final offer to the strikers in a meeting on March 13. The Company will restart operations tomorrow. Weavers who cross the picket line will not have to pass through the Employment Office, and will be protected from violence. The Company also warns that not all looms will be restarted – and it will not be able to rehire all weavers currently on strike.

March 17

  • OXFORD – Because of the overabundance of eggs in town, they are now selling for only $1 for 4 dozen.
  • SHELTON – The Sidney Blumenthal Company reopens, under heavy guard both from extra plant security and the Shelton Police Department. The Company says about 30 weavers returned to work, while the Weavers’ Social Club reports only a few floor men have crossed the picket line. There is no violence.

March 18

  • SEYMOUR – There will be three hotels at Squantuck this year – all in spring cleaning now. The construction on the Squantuck Hotel construction has been restarted after no activity for over a year. Many summer boarders are expected. 
  • SEYMOUR – After the trolley company cut back the number of operators on local trolleys to one, the problem of boys jumping on the rear-facing bumpers of the trolleys has become a more acute problem. In Seymour the boys are particularly bold, doing so in full view of many on Main Street.

Thursday, March 19, 1931

  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia High School Marching Band makes its first ever appearance, at a joint Ansonia High – Pine High assembly at the Capitol Theater.
  • DERBY – New Haven Avenue has been in good shape for years, but after this winter it is starting to get bad again, and needs maintenance.

March 20

The Sidney Blumenthal Company strike is in its fourth week, and on this date spills beyond Shelton and becomes very serious. Because of this, it will be treated as a separate entry from this point on.


  • 6:30 AM – A Bank Street, Derby woman throws a handful of sand and small stones at a Blumenthal guard escorting workers who were crossing the picket line to work. The guard grabs the woman and shakes her violently. Another woman, trying to save her, throws more sand and stones at the guard. She, in turn, is knocked down by a second guard, kicked, and punched. A melee breaks out as strikers and neighbors rush to assist. The police respond to the disturbance, but when they arrived they found the crowd disbursing. The police only learn the truth of what happened the following evening, when the woman who was knocked down complains to the police. The police promise to investigate.
  • 5:30 PM – A Derby police car follows two other cars carrying workers and men guarding them to Bank Street. Several hundred men, women, and children surround the cars. The guards leap out of the car and begin to threaten using their nightsticks. The four Derby police officers order the guards back into their cars or face arrest. They comply, and drive away. A rock strikes one of the cars as it heads toward Gilbert Street. The police officers confront the man who threw the rock, and threaten to arrest him if he does so again. They also warn the crowd they will not tolerate any violence.
  • Theodore M. Terry, commander of Ansonia’s William Gordon Post of the American Legion, denies widespread rumors that the Post sent members to act as guards in the strike.

March 21

  • DERBY – The Epstein & Company, wholesale dealers of fish in New York City, has a 5 year contract with the State of Connecticut to fish in the Housatonic River. They are employing drag nets around Pink House Cove, and have caught over a ton of fish. Carp, eel, and suckers are kept, while game fish like bass and pickerel are thrown back.
  • SEYMOUR – The Bank Street covered bridge is only 17 feet, or one one lane wide, and the scene of a recent fatality. The town wants it replaced, but now has captured the attention of the Covered Bridge Preservation Association. The association has many Seymour members who want to preserve the bridge.


  • Derby Police keep an eye on Bank Street. Crowds gather as guards escort picket line crossers to and from work, but no violence ensues.

March 22

  • SEYMOUR – Six men are arrested. They are suspects in the recent string of hold-ups.

March 23

  • SEYMOUR – A woman encounters a man emptying the cash box at her Main Street restaurant, across from the New Haven Copper Company. She screams, and some men playing cards in the back of the establishment rush in. He flees – she throws sugar bowl at him – to a getaway car.


  • A meeting is arranged by Shelton Mayor Frank V. Crofut and Rev. Andrew J. Plunkett of St. Joseph’s Church at the Blumenthal plant between labor and management. Both sides seem willing to budge on some issues – the weavers state they will take a pay cut in return for not having to manage two looms at once. Unfortunately, neither side gives ground on the key issues, and the meeting ends in a deadlock.
  • The Company announces it will begin hiring out of town workers to replace the strikers. It also states that there are only 180 weaver positions available. Three weeks ago there were about 260.
  • The chairman of the loom-fixers committee announces that they are not on strike, and are anxious to see the weavers settle, as they cannot return to work until then.

March 24

  • DERBY – Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna of Russia is guest speaker at the Women’s Club at the Methodist Church auditorium. She talks about her life, the Russian royal family, and the USSR. The audience is riveted 


  • A 24 year old Shelton resident is found dead early this morning in his garage, with the motor of his car running. He was employed at Saltex in Bridgeport. Saltex was a main rival of Blumenthals, until they were bought out about two years prior to eliminate the competition. When the Blumenthal strike began, many Saltex workers, including this resident, joined in a “sympathy strike”. His death is ruled suicide.
  • The Weavers Social Club meets at Clark’s Hall. Over 180 vote to continue the strike.
  • In a blow to the strikers, Saltex is reported back to full capacity – all sympathy strikers have either returned to work or have been replaced.

March 25

  • ANSONIA – The Police Department rounds up another group of juvenile delinquents engaging in petty theft and vandalism, and is working with the parents to set them straight.


  • Evening – Derby police attempt to break up a mob numbering about one thousand at Mansion House Corner and Derby Avenue, after automobiles containing workers crossing the picket line and men guarding them are showered with rocks and bottles. One striker, a Shelton man, is arrested for breach of peace. The cars escape. Once things seem on the verge of quieting down, four men walking down Derby Avenue toward the crowd are recognized as Blumenthal guards. The crowd starts rushing toward them, and rocks and bottles start flying again. The police are forced to discharge a “gas gun” on the crowd, which quickly retreats. A number of them try using a Connecticut Company bus as a shield from the gas, and traffic on both Derby Avenue and New Haven Avenue is halted by the unrest. Meanwhile, the guards flee over the railroad trestle to Island Park, where a car meets them to rush them into the relative (for now) safely of Shelton.

Thursday, March 26, 1931

  • ANSONIA – Sam’s Restaurant opens at 232 Main Street. The proprietor is Samuel Impellitteri, and it is billed as one of finest restaurants in the Valley. Almost everything in the restaurant is electric, even the cash register. Mayor Cook attends the opening.
  • ANSONIA & DERBY – Probably taking advantage of the strike-related disturbances (see below), two gunmen hold up a meat market at 58 Central Street, Ansonia, and get $106. Later, the same two rob a Derby Avenue meat market in Derby, and get $12.


  • 6:00 AM – The strike violence reaches the Blumenthal plant itself, in Shelton. About 25 factory guards were about to enter the main plant, when suddenly they hear a hissing sound. A car then blocked Hill Street, behind them, as rocks and bottles showered them. Outraged, several guards charged the car blocking the street, swinging their nightsticks. More strikers entered the melee, but as more of them were clubbed, and their casualties mounted, they began running up the steep incline of Hill Street. The chase went as far as Division Avenue, with many guards and strikers emerging bruised and bloodied. 
  • As the battle progressed up Hill Street, other guards got into their cars and started heading to Derby to pick up people who had crossed the picket lines. As the cars were crossing the Viaduct Bridge on Shelton’s Bridge Street they were met by a crowd of 100 people throwing rocks and bottles. The guards met the attack by emerging from their cars and swinging their nightsticks at whomever they could reach. Here, however, they were met by strikers armed with pieces of gas pipes. The battle continues almost into Derby, but the cars get away.
  • 7:00 AM – As the automobiles taking weavers who crossed the picket lines return to Shelton, they are met by a crowd of 500-600 people at the corner of Main and Bridge Streets in Derby. The cars are pelted with rocks, breaking some windshields. Factory guards attack the crowd with clubs. The Police had been guarding Bank Street, where they had to use tear gas the evening before, and by the time they arrived on the scene, the cars had escaped, and the crowd was dissipating.
  • Shelton’s Police Chief Donovan warns the strikers to stop their attacks or else “drastic action” will be taken.
  • Complaints about the factory guards are mounting. Several people with no connection to the strike complain to Derby Police that they have been harassed, or even attacked, by them. Shelton’s Chief Donovan is besieged by 75 women and daughters of strikers, begging him to protect them and the male members of their families from the guards.
  • 10:00 AM – The weavers have an emergency meeting at Clark’s Hall in Shelton. The press is barred from the meeting.
  • Afternoon – A conference is held at Shelton Police Headquarters, between the Mayor, the Police Chief, the head of the Factory Guards, the City’s Corporate Counsel, and the Chief Prosecuting Attorney. What was discussed is kept secret, though it is noted it lasted over an hour. Later, a guard from Newark, New Jersey, is arrested for assaulting a man on Cornell Street. The man he assaulted, ironically, is the same striker who was arrested in the riot on Bank Street, Derby, several days ago.
  • 5:00 PM – Thousands of people are on the streets of Derby, awaiting the automobiles from Blumenthals. Most are just spectators. When the cars do appear, however, they are escorted by Derby Police, instead of the hated out-of-town factory guards. No trouble ensues.
  • 5:30 PM – The strike violence reaches Ansonia. Two automobiles bearing weavers who crossed the picket line and their guards, returning home from work, are pelted by stones and scrap iron on Broad Street. The cars do not stop, but instead speed through the crowd of about 500. A windshield is broken, as is a plate glass window of a nearby grocery store. By the time Ansonia Police arrive the cars were gone. Fearing further violence, the residents of a tenement that houses one of the weavers crossing the line ask the landlord to evict him.

March 27

  • DERBY – The fire-damaged Congregation Sons of Israel synagogue on Anson Street being quickly fixed up, in the hopes it will be ready for Passover April 1.
  • SEYMOUR – A house at 160 North Street is destroyed by fire.


  • 7:00 AM – There is no trouble in Derby, as long as the police escort the cars containing the factory workers and the guards stay in Shelton. As a sign of trust, the police are now riding their motorcycles on escort duty. Likewise in Shelton, police cordoned off the route the cars would take, from Hill Street to the bridge, and encountered no problems.
  • Afternoon – The manager of the Blumenthal plant meets with Ansonia’s Mayor Cook and Chief Mahoney, asking for police officers to escort workers’ convoys to and from work, as Shelton and Derby are already doing. The request is declined, neither official feel it is necessary – the police are prepared to quell any disturbance. They also warn the manager that speeding cars and guards walking the streets with nightsticks will not be tolerated.
  • 5:30 PM – A big crowd gathers on Main and Central Streets in Ansonia, but nothing happens when the cars being workers appear.
  • 6:00 PM – A car returning from dropping weavers off in Ansonia is struck by a rock at Elizabeth and Third Streets in Derby. A window is shattered.
  • The strikers hold a public mass meeting at Clark’s Hall this evening. 700 attend. The Company’s recent tactics are deplored, and the guards are called “a reign of terror”.

March 28


  • A “tag day” fundraiser is held in Ansonia, Derby, and Shelton to raise fund for striking weavers.

March 29

  • SEYMOUR – Noted African-American tenor Curtis Saulsbury holds a concert at the Seymour Methodist Church. The audience is very impressed with his range and skill.
  • SEYMOUR – A barn is destroyed by fire on First Street, thought the blaze is prevented from spreading to other nearby buildings.

March 30


  • The Shelton weaver arrested in the Derby riot on March 24 receives a 30 day, suspended, jail sentence.

March 31

  • SHELTON – Connecticut’s Labor community is shaken when Charles J. Moore, 37, President of the Connecticut Federation of Labor, is killed in an automobile accident on Bridgeport Avenue. He was not in Shelton due to the Blumenthal strike, he was returning to his home in Torrington from Bridgeport. The accident makes State and National headlines.
  • DERBY – 1,000 people crowd into the Methodist Church to see noted preacher Billy Sunday.
  • SEYMOUR – Fire destroys an empty garage on North Street.


April 1

  • Bakers busy this week making thousands of hot cross buns for Good Friday, which is this week. Jewish bakers are also busy, as Passover falls on same day, making matzoth, or unleavened bread.


  • A representative of the US Department of Labor confers with the Weavers’ Committee about ending the strike. At this time, 75 have crossed the picket line and returned to work. The Company has cut down the number of guards, and stopped transporting workers to and from work.

Thursday, April 2, 1931

  • DERBY – An Atwater Avenue man has a 1904 Franklin automobile in working condition.
  • SHELTON – The Polish Political Club has changed its name to the Kasimir Pulaski Polish Political Club. It now has 50 members.
  • ANSONIA – A man at 3-story apartment building at 63 Canal Street lets an elderly homeless man (commonly called “tramps” back then) sleep in his basement during a nighttime downpour. He leaves without saying goodbye in the morning. Not long after a fire breaks out in the basement. It is later determined the fire originated in the tramp’s cot, probably from smoking. The bed was probably smoldering when he left.

April 3

  • DERBY – The gangster film “The Last Parade” opens at the Commodore Hull Theater. All Valley mayors, first selectmen, and police chiefs attend the opening night. The film arrived at the theater “guarded” by 2 Derby motorcycle cops.

April 4

  • SEYMOUR – The town is expected to get $17,700 of a $3 million state bill which is intended to improve dirt roads and bridges.
  • ANSONIA – A raid on two Division Street apartments nets a still and moonshine in each of them.
  • SHELTON – The High School desperately needs an addition. At this time the four 8th grade classes are only getting a 4-hour afternoon session per day due to overcrowding.

April 5 

  • EASTER SUNDAY – Churches are full.
  • SHELTON – The Methodist Church sponsors a sunrise service at Highland golf course.

April 6

  • ANSONIA – The local Board of Health will handle cases of radios being played too loud. There are at least 6 known cases across the city of radios being played full blast 24 hours a day, and no doubt more will be discovered as the weather improves. The Board considers this unhealthful to neighbors.
  • SEYMOUR – Cottage owners along the Housatonic are getting their buildings ready for the summer.

April 7

  • ANSONIA – The Postal Telegraph announces a new service which will allow people to order gifts of fruit or nuts to anyone in the USA.
  • SEYMOUR – A Bridgeport man is found dead of a gunshot wound in a car on Great Hill Road. It is believed he was murdered.
  • SEYMOUR – 300 baby chicks perish when their Pearl Street coop catches fire.


  • St. Joseph pastor Father Plunkett arranges for a meeting between company management and the weavers strike committee. Afterwards, the eavers vote unanimously to end the strike after 6 weeks ,and accept management’s terms from 2 weeks ago. The number of weaver positions will be reduced. The day shift reports for work the following morning.

April 8

  • OXFORD – The forest fire watch tower opens for the season.

Thursday, April 9, 1931

  • ANSONIA – Seccombe Bros. completes a granite tablet that will serve as a World War I memorial for Mount Dora, Florida.
  • ANSONIA – A Liberty Street liquor raid nets a still and moonshine. 1 arrested.
  • SHELTON – The Sidney Blumenthal Company guard arrested for assault and breach of peace during the March 26 strike riot is given a 30 day suspended sentence.

April 10

  • SEYMOUR – A band of gypsies, packed into 9 touring cars with their tents, blankets, etc, stops on Main Street. When merchants become concerned as some of them start to enter their stores, the town’s Assistant Prosecutor warns them they cannot stop here. They pack into their cars and leave.

April 11

  • ANSONIA – A Broad Street liquor raid nets one arrest.
  • SEYMOUR – The Strand Theater starts showing first run Paramount movies.

April 13

  • ANSONIA – Preliminary work begins on the new American Brass Company wire mill on Canal Street near Bridge Street.
  • SHELTON – Whooping cough epidemic at White Hills School.

April 15

  • SEYMOUR – A barn catches fire on the Tingue Mill manufacturing complex on DeForest Street and First Street. It is put out quickly, but caused considerable concern because so many buildings are close to it.

Saturday, April 18, 1931

  • DERBY – The Housatonic rowing season begins with a junior regatta between Yale, Kent, and Browne & Nichols School of Boston. Yale wins.
  • SHELTON – A major political scandal occurs when Fairfield County Commissioner John H. Hill, of Bridgeport Avenue, is arrested on the charge of embezzling $17,000 from Shelton when he was the City’s tax collector. He is freed on bonds, and the incident continues to make statewide news through the week.

April 19

  • SEYMOUR – A forest fire burns 75 acres on Great Hill.

April 20

  • DERBY – Lee Brothers furniture store on Elizabeth Street reports that sometime over the weekend someone broke into its vault and took nearly $1,000 in cash and checks.

April 21

  • DERBY – Derby will install it’s first Electromatic traffic light on Seymour Avenue and Atwater Avenue. This traffic light, resembling the ones we know today, was invented by Derby native Harry Haugh.

April 22

  • ANSONIA – One of the largest real estate deals in some time in Ansonia occurs when Frank Gregory, proprietor of Gregory Motor Car on Maple Street, buys 26, 28, 30, & 32 Maple Street. The properties include five 10-room houses split into 5 room duplex tenements. He states the purchase is for investment.

Thursday, April 23, 1931

  • The day’s steady rain is welcomed to quell the many brush fires plaguing the area.
  • DERBY – Richard T. Tobin is voted as Derby’s new superintendent of schools. He will also be the principal of Irving School. Mr. Tobin has served as Ansonia’s school superintendent for 13 years.
  • DERBY – Samuel Kusner’s store on Main and Caroline Streets is broken into. Merchandise valued between $300 to $500 is reported stolen.
  • ANSONIA – A wood building that housed the tinning room of American Brass Company on Canal Street near Bridge Street is torn down to make way for the new wire mill. As soon as the building comes down, women and children run all over the ruins, scavenging the wood. They’re later shooed away, as ABC wants to sell the wood to its employees at low cost.

April 25

  • ANSONIA – Superintendent of Schools Richard Tobin states he is undecided if he will resign, despite the fact he has accepted a position as Derby’s Superintendent of Schools.
  • DERBY – Hotel Clark has a new neon-lit sign.

April 27

  • OXFORD – Murder-suicide involving a husband and wife in Southford.

April 29

  • ANSONIA – Superintendent of Schools Richard Tobin announces his resignation to become Derby’s new Superintendent.

Thursday, April 30, 1931

  • DERBY – In the past year, the Derby Public Library has loaned 128,944 books in a 12 month period, which is a record.
  • DERBY – The first annual dinner of the Derby-Shelton girl scout council and Community Club held at Hotel Clark. Over 200 attend, including local representative Alice Russ and former state senator Mrs. Joseph Merritt.
  • SHELTON – Fairfield County Commissioner John Hill, in the midst of a scandal in which he was arrested for allegedly embezzling $17,000 from the City of Shelton while he served as Tax Collector, resigns his position.


Friday, May 1, 1931

  • On this date, the Derby-Ansonia-Shelton telephone exchange turns 50 years old. Currently it has 5,395 customers, and is headquartered on Elizabeth Street, Derby.
  • ANSONIA – On-site assembling of a dredging machine nearing is completion near the American Brass Company fine wire mill in the north end. Operations will start in about 10 days, designed to push the course of the Naugatuck River 20′ west, to reclaim land for expansion.

May 4

  • ANSONIA – John J. Stevens, Principal of the High School for many years, is elected Ansonia Superintendent of Schools. The election turns a bit controversial, however after a prominent Republican makes a speech resulting in 4 blank votes being cast. The Republicans get upset when the Democrats declare the abstentions do not count as a yes or a no vote, therefore Mr. Stevens was elected unanimously.
  • ANSONIA – The western approaches the Bridge Street Bridge entrance at Clifton Avenue and Bridge Street will be widened. It’s a sharp turn, now.

May 5

  • SEYMOUR – While returning from an Elks lodge meeting in Ansonia, Seymour First Selectman Raymond Gilyard’ claims his car was fired upon along Old Ansonia Road by three men, who fled into the woods. The incident is not reported in the press until the following week. However, Mr. Gilyard states privately that he becoming increasingly concerned, claiming he recently received a threatening letter stating people were “going to get him” for his role in the arrest of six men in a robbery spree that plagued the town over the winter. The Seymour Police Chief later confirms he spoke with Mr. Gilyard on this matter.

May 6

  • SHELTON – A delegation of 10 taxpayers surprise a Board of Education meeting when they state that the 11 female married teachers should be ousted, in favor of single teachers. No action is taken.

Thursday, May 7, 1931

SEYMOUR – First Selectman Raymond Gilyard claims to the Police Chief that he has received another threatening letter, with a Derby postmark, that people are “out to get him”. This is in the wake of an incident in which he alleges his car was shot at on Old Ansonia Road.

May 8

SEYMOUR – Paramount announces they are unhappy with receipts at Strand Theater, and will stop showing their first run movies there tomorrow.

May 11

  • ANSONIA – An abandoned 3-story apartment building on the corner of Powe Street and Front Street catches fire for the fourth recent time. Firefighters are warned not to enter, and the building is gutted.

May 12

  • ANSONIA – Fire destroys a ban behind 176 Beaver Street, but is prevented from spreading to nearby buildings.
  • ANSONIA – Dr. Scott Baker dies at his home 23 Johnson Street at the age of 79. He was the oldest practicing physician in Ansonia. He was born in Derby, in 1852 Derby, and received his medical degree from Yale in 1879. He was on the Ansonia Board of Charities since 1903. 
  • SEYMOUR – A local telephone operator receives a call from First Selectman Raymond Gilyard from his Town Hall office, saying he had just been shot by three African American men. The line then goes dead. She calls the police and a local doctor. A short time later, the line is picked up again, but no one speaks. The operator assures Mr. Gilyard that “help is on the way”. When the police arrive, they find Mr. Gilyard dead from a gunshot wound to the chest. It appears he died from a bullet wound from his own gun he kept for protection, while two smaller caliber shots were fired from a second weapon which was found on the scene.  A big crowd gathers on Second Street in front of the Town Hall. Seymour Police are visibly upset, but they secure the scene. Policemen and detectives from Ansonia, New Haven, and the State rush to Seymour to assist, and a major dragnet begins. A car matching the description of the subjects was spotted by a highway flagman heading toward Ansonia. It should be noted here, that this story would unfold much more in the days and weeks to follow, and although the Sentinel screamed on page 1 that evening that Mr. Gilyard was murdered by 3 African-American men, events would later prove this was false. State and national media descend upon Seymour, as well as Ansonia City Hall and the Evening Sentinel’s offices next door, which are serving as information center for the event. A statewide APB is issued, and within 24 hours 5 men are being held in the Ansonia lockup, and 3 women in Derby – all what we would call today African-American or Hispanic. Arrests are made as far away as New London. It is thought that friends of men who were recently incarcerated for a series of Seymour holdups may be responsible.

May 13

  • SEYMOUR – A general gloom has fallen over town over the apparent murder of First Selectman Gilyard. Some local police officers have been working for 24 hours straight, and are starting to show signs of stress. The investigation continues.

Thursday, May 14, 1931

  • DERBY – Cornell team and boats arrive in Derby for Carnegie Cup regatta.
  • GILYARD MYSTERY – The New Haven County coroner releases all people being held in connection with the untimely death of Seymour First Selectmen Gilyard. This includes 5 men in Ansonia, and 3 women in Derby. Those being held are all African American or Hispanic, and all reside in Ansonia. The Sentinel notes the women are “very indignant” when they depart.
  • ANSONIA – Automobile statistics for 1930 – 2,986 registered, 122 accidents, 74 had licenses suspended.
  • DERBY – Automobile statistics for 1930 – 1699 cars, 119 accidents, 45 licenses suspended.

May 16

  • YALE REGATTA – The Hotel Clark is packed with Ivy League rowing teams and their supporters for the Carnegie Cup today. The entire Derby and Shelton police departments are on duty. A 37 car observation train follows the race on the Shelton side, though it is noted it is poorly attended. 5 extra telegraphs are installed to accommodate the national press at the Western Union office in Derby. Riverview Park is packed in Shelton. There are no reports of accidents, despite thousands of extra people in Derby and Shelton.

May 18

  • ANSONIA – The 20 millionth Ford produced by the Ford Motor Company stops in Ansonia, accompanied by a number of other Fords and Lincolns, on a national tour.
  • ANSONIA – John Predergast is unanimously elected principal of the High School.

May 19

  • SEYMOUR – The Stand Theater reopens under new management.
  • SHELTON – Pete Canfield takes off for the first time in his home made biplane near his family’s home on Isinglass Road. The airplane crashed when he attempted last week and damaged the propeller.

May 20

  • The River Road through Oxford, Seymour, and Derby has been much improved.

Thursday, May 21, 1931

  • DERBY & SHELTON – Cottages along River Road in Derby and Camp Irving in Shelton are getting ready for summer.

May 22

  • DERBY – An intoxicated Shelton man picked up on Third Street, and dies while being transported to the Derby Police Station. He was last seen at a Fourth Streetspeakeasy, which is promptly raided. 3 are arrested.

May 23

  • DERBY – Heavy rain causes debris to wash onto trolley tracks, causing a jumbo trolley car to derail near the old brewery on Derby Avenue. No injuries.
  • SHELTON – 2 Shelton men – Frederick L. Cameron and Otto L. Hemming, have invented a device called a “Cameron Gasifier” that they claim allows gasoline engines to burn lower grade fuel, and do so much more efficiently. The device is patented, will be manufacture at the old Holmes Manufacturing Company building on Myrtle Street.

May 24

  • Large number of war planes pass over the Valley on their way to Army war games to the north. At one point 50 were in sky at one time, all flying in a “V” formation.
  • ANSONIA – Memorial Service at packed Immanuel Episcopal Church. Rev. Shannon gives an address proclaiming that selfishness is the cause of war.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – Union Memorial Day Services given at Shelton High School, sponsored by the Derby-Shelton Memorial Day Committee.
  • SHELTON – Annual Memorial Day excersises at Huntington Green. Service at St. Paul’s Church conducted jointly by Huntington Congregational Church minister and the Good Shepherd Church rector, who is filling in for St. Paul’s Rev. Hilton, who is sick. Veterans’ graves are decorated.

May 25

  • SEYMOUR – State concludes removing old pavement and putting down new pavement on Main Street and Bank Street. Both are very much improved.
  • SHELTON – Rector of St Paul’s Church in Huntington, Rev. George Hilton, dies after a brief illness. He was also rector of Trinity Church in Nichols.

May 26

  • OXFORD – Special town meeting, to debate how to spend $17,750 in road appropriation. It is agreed the money will go improvement of Maple hill, Park Road, Chestnut Tree Hill, Riggs Street, Hawley Road, Christian Street, and Barry Road.
  • SEYMOUR – Waterbury bound trolley held up at 10:20 PM near Rimmon Pond . Only motorman and a railroad policeman are on board. They are robbed a total of $46.58. The 2 gunmen described “very professional” and “not rough”.
  • SHELTON – Fairfield County Association of Churches and Ministers are holding their 222nd annual convention at Huntington Congregational Church.

May 27

  • SEYMOUR – The State Coroner says he is very busy, which is why there is a delay in releasing the report concerning the shooting death of First Selectman Raymond Gilyard.
  • ANSONIA – 150 Elks from Ansonia and Seymour meet at the Elk’s lodge for a memorial service for Seymour First Selectman Raymond Gilyard. He was past exalted ruler of the lodge.
  • SHELTON – Former Fairfield County Commissioner John Hill pleads guilty to embezzlement of $17,000 from the City of Shelton while he was its tax collector. He is remanded to jail before sentencing. Both friends and opponents hope his sentencing is lenient.

Thursday, May 28, 1931

  • ANSONIA – The Lear Drugstore, at 201 Wakelee Avenue, is robbed $65 in a holdup.

May 29

  • ANSONIA – Only 2 Civil War vets remain in Ansonia. They are George Lyon, who is head of the City’s Memorial Day Association, and Daniel Hazen.

May 30

  • Thousands watch the parades in Seymour, Ansonia, and Derby-Shelton, despite the high heat.
  • DERBY – A horrible accident occurs as the Derby-Shelton Memorial Day parade is winding down. Three are killed when a speeding car carrying an Italian family from Waterbury collides head on with trolley at Seymour Avenue and Atwater Avenue. 2 others in the car are critically injured, including a 12 year old boy. Two on trolley injured.
  • DERBY – John Byrne, whose parents live on Olivia Street, will be ordained a priest today. 
  • SHELTON – Daniel Nash Morgan, United States Treasurer during President Grover Cleveland’s second term from 1893 to 1897, dies of complications from being struck by an automobile in Bridgeport earlier this year, in the Park City. Mr. Morgan’s summer home was at “Bonniebrook” in Huntington Center for decades, and his death comes a shock to his many friends here.

May 31

  • DERBY – Father Byrne gives his first mass at St. Mary’s Church.


Tuesday, June 2, 1931

  • ANSONIA – Ansonia Tire and Repair Store on 481 Main Street is held up for $60.
  • DERBY – The Hotel Clark is leased to a Bridgeport man.

Thursday, June 4, 1931

  • Local contractors are informed by the Bricklayers, Masons, and Plasterers Union of the Valley that they will adhere to 5 day week at $12 a day. This translates into an hourly increase from $1.50 to $1.65 under reduced hours.

June 5

  • ANSONIA – Big thunderstorm drops a half inch of rain, and blows down main tent of Seeley’s circus on the Railroad Property below Central Street.
  • SHELTON – Six local young men arrested for riding freight cars. Had been complaints for some time.

June 6

  • DERBY – Entire interior of the Derby train station has been painted white, new light fixtures have been installed, the fireplace renovated, and the floors re-polished.
  • SEYMOUR – The New Haven County coroner rules Seymour First Selectman Raymond Gilyard’s death a suicide. Apparently he was living beyond his means, and on the day he faked his own murder he was scheduled to meet with a bill collector.

June 7

  • OXFORD – A large chicken coop burns down on Chestnut Tree Hill. 50 chicks incinerated.

June 8

  • ANSONIA – While investigating an early morning stabbing on Liberty Street, police note a suspicious man walking on North Main Street. Based on his information, a Star Street residence is raided, and 15 gallons of moonshine is found. A second residence on North Main Street is also raided, where 2 large stills and 100 gallons found.
  • SHELTON – A 20-year old Shelton boy and a 17-year old Ansonia girl are found in his parents’ garage suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning on Hillside Avenue. It appears they took shelter from a storm in the car with a motor running. The doors of the garage were blown shut. They both died shortly after.

June 9

  • DERBY – Work begins on installing new Electromatic traffic signal on Seymour Avenue and Atwater Avenue. The device was reportedly invented by Derby native Harry Haugh. The signal lights activate when cars trip a sensor in the pavement.

June 10

  • DERBY – Debate on where to put the Ensign Memorial Fountain on the corner of Seymour Avenue and Atwater Avenue. Some residents are opposed to moving it, saying it slows down traffic, which is a good thing.
  • OXFORD – The town’s nine public schools hold closing exercises at Grange Hall. 26 graduated into high school.

Sunday, June 14, 1931

  • DERBY – The City is shocked when Supernumerary Police Officer William H. Stier dies at his Park Avenue home. He was attending a baseball game when he went home feeling ill. Shortly thereafter there was a report of a drowning in progress above the Ousatonic Dam. In those days, the Derby Gas & Electric Company had the only inhalator in the city. Officer Stier was employed by DG&E, along with two other men who responded including former Mayor George Sullivan. Proceeding by police car, they realized the drowning was actually on the Newtown side of Lake Zoar. By the time they arrived it was too late for the 17-year old Bridgeport male who drowned in a canoe incident. Officer Stier continued to complain he was feeling ill, and the trio made two stops at private residences along the way to assist him. He insisted that he return home, and he was dropped off there, after which the other two returned to the ballgame. A short time later, they were contacted by Officer Steir’s family that he was in a very bad way. They rushed to the house and found him unconscious, and despite their efforts with the inhalator, and the assistance of several nurses who lived nearby, they were unable to revive him. Officer Stier had been on the supernumerary force for seventeen years, and was very highly regarded.
  • ANSONIA – A midnight raid yields illegal alcohol, cocaine capsules (rare at that time), and other crimes at a North Main Street address.

June 16

  • DERBY – A Dodge automobile, which has traveled over 100,000 miles in every state, every road condition, and in every weather, arrives in Derby on tour.
  • SHELTON – A bus slams into the Viaduct Bridge to avoid hitting a truck. No one hurt.
  • SHELTON – Former Fairfield County Commissioner John Hill of Bridgeport Avenue is sentenced to 3 months in jail for embezzlement while serving as Shelton’s tax collector. The relatively short sentence is due to the fact he is making restitution for his crimes.

June 17

  • SHELTON – The High School graduates it largest class to date, 53, in the school auditorium.

Friday, June 19, 1931

  • Temperatures rise to 93, driving people into their porches and lawns to beat the heat.
  • DERBY – The new Electromatic automatic turn signal, invented by Derby inventor Harry Haugh Jr., vice president of the Automatic Turn Signal Corporation of New Haven, is dedicated at the corner of Seymour Avenue and Atwater Avenue. Triggered by automobiles, the new signal is nicknamed a “mechanical policeman”. The dedication is a big event, accompanied by dignitaries and a band.
  • SEYMOUR – Seymour High School holds its 44th commencement, graduating 41 students at the Strand Theater. The Salutatorian is Martha B. Korin. The Valedictorian is Eva Posypanko.
  • SEYMOUR – Cattle thefts are occurring on outlying pastures in town. The State Police have been alerted.

June 20

  • DERBY – The Recreation Camp opens for the summer. New this year is a 30’x28′ raft with a 13′ metal tower. 250 register for membership. A total of 500 visited on this hot day. It is decided not to charge kids without money because of heat – they asked to return with the money at a later date on the honor system.
  • SHELTON – Camp Irving opens for the summer with its annual camp rally and field day. Shelton’s Troop 2 from the Church of the Good Shepherd and Derby’s Troop 3 from the Second Congregational Church tie for 1st place.

June 21

  • ANSONIA – The new AME Zion Church opens on Central Avenue. The event is attended by Mayor Cook and other city officials.

June 22

  • ANSONIA – Fire starts under the wood planks of Old Town Bridge, which crosses the Naugatuck River on Division Street. The fire is put out out by the Webster Hose Company #3, but the one-lane bridge is closed until repairs can be made.
  • ANSONIA – J. Ralph Emerson, secretary and treasurer of Emerson Bros., Incorporated, publishers of the Evening Sentinel newspaper, dies of a heart attack in his South Cliff Street home. He died shortly after extinguishing a pillow that caught fire in his bedroom from a cigar.

June 23

  • The Evening Sentinel editorial page features black columns in honor of its late secretary and treasurer J. Ralph Emerson.

June 24

  • ANSONIA – Ansonia High School and Pine High School hold joint graduation exercises at the Capitol Theater. 32 of the 163 students are from Pine Manual Technical School, this is their fourth commencement. The valedictorian is Irving Finkelstein, while the salutatorian is Alexandria Stewart.
  • DERBY – Derby High School gradates 64 seniors. Pauline Solomon is the valedictorian, while Elizabeth Ann Popowksi is the salutatorian.
  • DERBY – A truck loaded with 14 kegs of “alleged beer” and 2 sacks of Canadian ale is seized by the State Police at the end of the Derby-Shelton Bridge.
  • SHELTON – The Household Fuel Company is building three reinforced concrete coal storage silos on Riverdale Avenue and Wharf Street..

Thursday, June 25, 1931

  • DERBY – First Annual Union Picnic is held by the Second Congregational, Derby Methodist Episcopal, and St. James churches at Lighthouse Point in New Haven.

June 26

  • SHELTON – Rumor that buses will replace trolleys on Howe Avenue, and the tracks will be pulled up, may be true, according to the local Connecticut Company superintendent.

June 27

  • SHELTON – Unemployment continues to rise. $27,194 of $30,000 appropriated in January for 1931 unemployment relief has already spent. 140 families were on the list on January 1. That number rose to 192 during the recent Sidney Blumenthal Company strike. Now 162 families, 900 people, remain. An additional $8000 more is appropriated.

June 28

  • OXFORD – Special services are held at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church to mark the 165th anniversary of its organization, and the 96th anniversary of the consecration of the present edifice. 200 are in attendance.
  • ANSONIA – Rebuilt basement of Swedish Methodist Church on Arch Street is dedicated.

June 29

  • ANSONIA – Charles Jockmus, founder and president of the Ansonia Manufacturing Company, dies of a heart attack in New Haven.

June 30

  • DERBY – The high heat causes a record to be made at the Recreation Camp – with 800 bathers visiting.
  • ANSONIA – A smallpox scare on Broad Street brings the director of preventable diseases from the State Board of Health to Ansonia. He decides the boy in question is infected with chickenpox. A number of immigrants thought the boy was infected by smallpox.
  • SHELTON – Two-story frame house burns to the ground after a kerosene oil stove explodes on Grove Street.


Wednesday, July 1, 1931

  • ANSONIA – Charles Jockmus’ will is probated. He was worth an estimated value of $3 million, and left number of bequests. Not only is his family well taken care of, but many Ansonia Manufacturing employees, churches, hospitals and fraternal organizations receive very generous bequests. He leaves $1000 to some AMC employees, and at least $500 to every one employed 10 years or more.
  • ANSONIA – Mayor Michael Cook will call special meeting of the Board of Apportionment. $89,000 of $99,000 for allocated for unemployment relief for 1931 has already been spent. It is estimated 1500 people are receiving aid.
  • ANSONIA – Robbins Bros’ four ring railway circus sets up on Division Street. One of the main features is film star Buck Owens with his wonder horse Charley. Hundreds attend. The circus parade through Derby and Ansonia features a steam calliope, 9 elephants, camels, lions and other animals, as well as Native Americans.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – The USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides”, is recommissioned into the United States Navy at Boston. A delegation from Derby and Shelton is invited to attend, due to the connections with her most famous captain, Commodore Isaac Hull. A bronze tablet is dedicated on its mizzen mast, which reads:

Captain Isaac Hull, USN. 
Born in Derby Conn., March 9, 1773. 
Died in Philadelphia, PA February 13, 1843. 
As a lieutenant upon the U.S. Frigate 
Constitution in the French Naval War of 
1798 – 1801 and as Captain of the 
Constitution at the beginning of the 
conflict with Great Britain in 1812, he 
brought glory to his own name and 
honor to his country. The victory of 
the Constitution under Hull’s command 
over the Guerriere at a most critical 
period in the nation’s history, cheered 
and strengthened the hearts of the 
American people, and made possible 
the continuation of the second 
war for independence. 
This memorial is erected by the citizens 
of the two towns where Hull spent the 
days of his boyhood and youth, 
Derby and Shelton, 

Friday, July 3, 1931

  • DERBY – The Board of Aldermen vote to leave the Ensign Fountain in place at Seymour and Atwater Avenues, for now. While some complain it is a traffic hazard, others cite that it actually forces drivers to slow down in this dangerous intersection.
  • DERBY – Many transient unemployed are passing through Derby at this time. A number of restaurants and drug stores are giving them free handouts.


  • ANSONIA – Very quiet holiday – despite having extra patrolmen not a single call is made to the police department. Many are visiting the shore.
  • DERBY – By contrast it is very noisy here. A 9-year old is injured by fireworks, and there are several automobile accidents.
  • SHELTON – Quietest Fourth in years – no fires or arrests.

July 6 

  • Heavy rain drops 1.12″.

July 7

  • DERBY – Girl Scout Camp season starts today on Lake Housatonic, above the Recreation Camp.
  • DERBY – Many drivers are ignoring the new traffic signal at Seymour and Atwater Avenues.
  • SHELTON – Two turtles, weighing a combined total of 75 pounds, are found by “Huntington Lake” near Huntington Street.
  • SHELTON – The police department get their first patrol car. It is a Ford sedan which reads “Shelton Police Department” on its doors.

July 8

  • ANSONIA – Ansonia Public Works meeting, to discuss what to do with $17,500 received from state for dirt road appropriation. They favor extending pavement up Jewett Street from Beaver Street to Elm Street.
  • DERBY – Complaints of young men becoming rowdy at night on Derby Green.
  • SHELTON – Camp Pershing on Lake Housatonic, run by the Naugatuck Boy Scout Council, opens for its 12th season. It is near Camp Irving.

Thursday, July 9, 1931

  • ANSONIA – The City will get $53,000 from the State to extend pavement the entire lengths of Jewett Street and Elm Street, including building a new Jewett Street Bridge over Beaver Brook. Ansonia officials negotiated receiving the next 4 years of the State’s annual allotment in one lump sum in October. 
  • DERBY – Hitchhiking is still widely seen in this City and other places, despite a state law banning the practice taking effect on July 1.
  • SEYMOUR – The Town’s entire State allocation of $17,750 for improving dirt roads will be spent on Great Hill Road.
  • SHELTON – Camp Millcroft opens at the Huntington Street home of Mrs. Alice Russ, for Derby and Shelton Girl Scouts

July 10

  • DERBY – With the very hot weather, attendance records continue to be broken at the Recreation Camp.
  • DERBY – An Ansonia junkman dies when the wheel of his wagon catches on the trolley tracks on Main Street, just east of the Naugatuck River bridge, hurling him to the ground.

July 11

  • SEYMOUR – Many residents, upset with the recent hikes in their water rates, have gone back to drawing water from their wells.

July 12

  • DERBY – The Connecticut Company, which operates the local trolley, announces it will discontinue service up Housatonic Avenue on Sundays. No complaints from citizens.

July 14

  • SHELTON – Complaints that young men at The Maples colony along the Housatonic River, which is becoming an increasingly popular swimming spot, are wearing full bathing suits, but taking off the top and winding it around their waists, exposing their chests.

July 15

  • DERBY – A number of residents are complaining that people are playing their radios to loud after midnight.

Thursday, July 16, 1931

  • SEYMOUR – With so many unemployed due to the Depression, the Town is considering setting up an unemployment bureau.

July 17

  • SHELTON – 22 year old Ansonia man killed when his motorcycle goes over an embankment and slams into a telegraph pole on Bridgeport Avenue opposite Blacks Hill Road.

July 18

  • ANSONIA – Fire starts in a storehouse on William Street and spreads to a garage. 5 firemen are hurt, none seriously. The incident takes place during a driving rainstorm, and the Eagles’ 15-year old ladder truck is unable to get up rain-slicked Foundry Hill because its solid rubber tires are completely worn down almost to the metal rims.
  • ANSONIA – One woman arrested in a High Street liquor raid.

July 20

  • ANSONIA – The Eagle Hose Hook & Ladder Co #6’s ladder truck is taken out of service to be rebuilt by its manufacturer. A total of $800 worth of new ladders will be added, along with pneumatic wheels, and the engine repaired. The total cost will be $5700, saving the cash strapped city $5000 from buying new one. The reserve Hook & Ladder at Fountain Hose is relocated to the Eagles in the interim.
  • SEYMOUR – 6 army planes fly in extremely tight formation over Great Hill. Later, two of them would collide over Newington, killing 2 pilots.

July 21

  • DERBY – James Mongrillo’s private bank, in the former Derby Savings Bank building at the corner of Main and Caroline Streets, is ordered closed due to new rules by the State Banking Commission. There had been a run on the bank July 3, when rumors surfaced it would close, resulting in extensive withdrawals of deposits. Ironically, these rumors wound up becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy, as this is one of the reasons the State orders it closed. The bank’s assets currently total $160,000, and will be placed into the hands of a receiver. There are many regrets – Mr. Mongrillo is quite popular and has a very honest reputation. His private bank has been open since 1912. He has been in the current building, which he now owns, since 1924, when the Derby Savings Bank moved to Main Street near Bridge Street. The Police were on hand to prevent another run, and all deposits were frozen, though later in the day the doors were opened to those wishing to make payments on industrial loans or mortgages. The new laws will eventually put all Connecticut private banks out of business by July 1, 1933.

Thursday, July 23, 1931

  • ANSONIA – Liquor raid at a Liberty Street residence. One is arrested, and pleads guilty in City Court. The liquor was hidden under the sink, and flowed directly out of the faucet.
  • ANSONIA & DERBY – Derby-Shelton Rotary goes on a historic tour of Derby and Ansonia, narrated by Henry Bradley, Jr.
  • SHELTON – White Hills residents are unhappy with the Huntington Telephone Company’s service. They have filed a petition with the State Public Utilities Commission to switch to the S.N.E.T. Derby exchange.

July 24

What is termed the worst thunderstorm of the year thus far hits the area, bringing torrential rain and hail.

  • ANSONIA – A Holbrook Street home is struck by lightning.
  • DERBY – West side hit hard by the thunderstorms. Many trees are down, and washouts occur on many streets. At the height of the storm, Elizabeth Street hill looks like waterfall. 2″ of water washes into the basement of the new Derby Gas & Electric Company building.
  • SEYMOUR – Many trees are down. A Third Street house is struck by lightning.
  • SHELTON – The storm tears a 30′ section of roof off the Star Pin Company, throwing it one hundred feet away. This breaks sprinkler pipes underneath, flooding 3 floors and causing about $1000 damage.

July 25

  • DERBY – A new pulpit will be installed at St. James Church.

July 27

  • OXFORD – There is a big problem with chicken thieves in the outlying sections of town.
  • SHELTON – The three new 60′ concrete coal silos for the Household Fuel Company, completed less than a week ago on Riverdale Avenue and Wharf Street, are scheduled to be filled for the first time today.

July 29

  • The Derby Gas & Electric emergency service crew is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They respond to all fires, and have 3 inhalators in three strategic locations for drowning and carbon monoxide emergencies.
  • Miniature golf is no longer popular, as it was last year.


Saturday, August 1, 1931

  • DERBY – A new “deluxe” diner called the Commodore Grille opens at 56 Elizabeth Street. It measures 14′ by 56′ and seats 65.
  • OXFORD – The old Levi homestead on Oxford Road near Park Street is raided by State Police. A 50 gallon still, 18 gallons of alcohol, and 150 pounds of mash is seized. 2 are arrested. 

August 2

  • SHELTON – 14 freight cars derail at Birchbank. Hundreds of automobiles rush to view the wreck. The police department directs the sightseers to Derby, where they can see the scene from across the river. One track is cleared later in the day, the other the following day.

August 3

August 4

  • The infantile paralysis epidemic has not reached the area yet, but it has popped up in New Haven, Bridgeport, and Milford. Derby’s health officer Dr. Thomas Plunkett advises people to stay away from the shore. Later in the day, the first local infantile paralysis case is diagnosed, a 24 year old Shelton man who lived on Coram Avenue. He is taken to New Haven and placed on a respirator.
  • ANSONIA – North End residents are complaining about roosters crowing at 4 AM. The Health Board is not sure what to do.
  • ANSONIA – Leaded glass windows will replace the 20 wood windows at the Ansonia Methodist Episcopal Church on Main Street. Some have been there since the church was built 65 years ago.
  • OXFORD – One of the men arrested in the liquor raid three days ago is fined, and is ordered to leave town within six weeks or go to jail. He only moved to Oxford 3 months ago.

August 5

  • SEYMOUR – The police department destroys a large quantity of moonshine and stills, which had been collected in raids over the last several months.

The infantile paralysis epidemic continues.

  • DERBY – Visitors under age of 16 are banned from visiting Griffin Hospital due to the epidemic. 
  • SHELTON – The 24 year old infantile paralysis victim from Coram Avenue dies in New Haven Hospital – the first local victim of the epidemic.

August 7

  • Temperatures reach 97 degrees, with humidity. The heat wave continues until August 10
  • ANSONIA – Two North Main Street brothers, one 6 years old, the other 16 months old, are diagnosed with mild cases of infantile paralysis. The house is quarantined. 

August 8

  • DERBY – A 15 year old Mount Pleasant Street girl suspected of carrying infantile paralysis is taken to Bridgeport Hospital, and the house is quarantined.
  • DERBY – 500 attend the annual summer field day and picnic of the Connecticut and New England Holstein-Friesian associations at Osborndale farm, hosted byFrances Osborne Kellogg.
  • DERBY – Warner Bros. announces that the Commodore Hull Theater will be the first in the nation to show pre-release the movie The Messenger Boy, starring Benny Rubin. The studios will be testing it on the Commodore’s audience.
  • DERBY – The state will lay macadam pavement on Cedric Avenue.
  • SHELTON – Housatonic Council officials close Camp Irving to outside groups and visitors due to the infantile paralysis epidemic. Because of these measures, many parents actually feel safer sending their children to the Boy Scout Camp to avoid the epidemic.

August 9

  • OXFORD – Oxford Congregational Church dedicates a new used pipe organ, which used to be at Dwight Hall at Yale University. The church was built in 1795, and the old organ dated to 1871. It is played for the first time in the church at Sunday services.
  • SEYMOUR – An ugly scene occurs when the Shelton Crescents baseball team beats the Seymour Cubs at Park Field. The Shelton team and fans are reportedly stoned while leaving town. Several are injured.

August 10

  • The heat wave finally breaks when rain arrives.
  • ANSONIA – A new type of well, called the Church gravel well, is being dug at American Brass Company. Ansonia Manufacturing Company already has them too. It is supposed to improve the volume of the underground water supply.
  • SHELTON – A 22 year old Beaver Street, Ansonia man drowns in the Housatonic River near The Maples.
  • SHELTON – Dr. William McGrath, a dentist in Shelton since 1910, dies at his Fairmont Place home. He was born and raised in Derby.

August 11

  • SEYMOUR – Responding to the criticism levied by the Shelton Crescents baseball team’s alleged rough handling after winning a game against the Seymour Cubs at Park Field, Seymour supporters claim Shelton fans started throwing stones first. They further allege that the last time the Cubs played in Shelton, the Seymour team and fans had to “sneak off for fear of being killed” after the game.

August 12

  • Heavy rain dumps 1.75″ over the area.

Thursday, August 13, 1931. 

  • ANSONIA – 4 State engineers arrive unexpectedly, and begin surveying Elm Street and Jewett Street. Both dirt roads will soon be paved with bituminous macadam, and the bridge over Beaver Brook at Jewett Street will be replaced as well.
  • ANSONIA – A cellar fire at the Ansonia Tire Store, on 12 Maple Street, causes $3000 to $400 in damage.
  • DERBY – Emmett Avenue Extension, a private road, may be taken over by the City so improvements can be made to it.
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