Historical Timeline

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1899

Original Old Derby Historical Society organized on April 11th.

1901

Historical Society changes its name to Derby Library and Historical Society on April 24.

1902

The Derby Library and Historical Society disbands after accomplishing it’s goal of establishing a public library in Derby.

1946

Present Derby Historical Society organized on April 18.

1948

The Society sponsors the restoration of Derby’s Uptown Burial Ground.

1951

The new Route 8 bridge opens between Derby and Shelton. The span was named Commodore Hull Bridge after extensive lobbying from the Derby Historical Society. The Society sponsors the plaques erected on either end of the bridge.

1958

The Derby Historical Society is incorporated.

1960

The Rev. Richard Mansfield House on Jewett Street in Ansonia becomes the Derby Historical Society’s first historic property when the Antiquarian Landmarks Association turns it over to the Society. Over the years the Society opens the house for tours, and even at one time ran a thrift shop out of it.

1961

The Gen. David Humphreys House at 37 Elm Street in Ansonia is turned over to the Derby Historical Society as a public trust. Back then the house was painted white.

1962

The Society dedicates a plaque at the site of Commodore Hull’s birthplace in Derby, after the historic Commerce Street home is razed.

1970s

The Derby Historical embarks on an ambitious plan to restore the David Humphreys House back to its mid-eighteenth century appearance. The restoration takes years.

1980

The David Humphreys House completes its restoration and opens to the public. The Day in 1762 Program begins.

1981

The Historical Society sponsors “Echoes of Yorktown Month” in October, culminating in an encampment and reenactment to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle which won American independence. David Humphreys participated in this battle, and is remembered for carrying out General Washington’s order to deliver the surrendered British standards to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia immediately after, as illustrated to the left. 

1986

The Derby Historical Society acquires the John I. House on 213 Caroline Street in Derby. A “Raise the Roof” campaign and restoration in the years to follow sees the tin roof replaced, porches returned to their historic positions, and the exterior restored. The goal of the Society is to convert this historic 1848 structure into a museum commemorating the Valley’s Industrial Era experience.

1988

The Society sponsors the return of the world’s first electric locomotive to Derby on the 100th anniversary of its inaugural run. The locomotive is on permanent display at the Shoreline Trolley Museum in Branford. At left is a photo taken about 1904 when it was on display at the Pine Rock Amusement Park in Shelton.

1994

The Society marks the 50th Anniversary of D-Day with a grand commemoration at Nolan Field in Ansonia

1998

The Society sponsors a special History Festival at the David Humphreys House and Kellogg Environmental Center in Derby to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the building of the Humphreys House.

1999

The Society produces two pictorial history books through Arcadia Publications entitled Images of America – Derby and Images of America – Ansonia.Thousands are sold.

2002

The 250th Anniversary of the birth of David Humphreys is publicly commemorated at his birthplace on July 10. Lt. Governor (now Governor) M. Jodi Rell, speaking at the podium in front of the Humphreys House at right, is among the many dignitaries in attendance. Twelve disease resistant American Liberty elm trees are planted in honor of the occasion – 6 in Derby and 6 in Ansonia.

2004

The Society produces its third book from Arcadia Publishing, entitled Then & Now – Derby and Ansonia.

2005

The Humphreys House and the Day in 1762  is featured on the CBS Early Show.

May 1, 1888 – The First Electric Trolley in New England

On April 30, at 11 o’clock, until one o’clock in the morning of May 1, 1888, the inhabitants of Birmingham and Ansonia were in high feather in consequence of the completion of the electric railroad which has been for the last year or two Derby’s chief lion and the institution the praises of which have sounded throughout the country1.

Last night the prominent citizens and members of the press were given to understand by the superintendent and other officers of the new corporation, the Derby and Ansonia railroad2, that a trial trip would be had and it was hoped that everything would go off in good style. And it did as the readers of the Sentinel will see. It was an unusual circumstance to start the electric road in this age of steam. But the surprised inhabitants of Derby made up their minds that they should give electricity a chance.

About thirty of the citizens of Derby and Ansonia were ready to start the trail trip.

It was a handsome, cream colored four wheeled car, 16 feet in length and handsomely upholstered. The car was lighted by four incandescent lights in the interior and one on the rear end.

The car was under the control of Elmer Morris of Chicago, who has been intimately connected with the construction of the road. Only a little over one-third of the power was put into use and the start was made in very fine style. Trough Derby Avenue a speed of twelve miles and hour was obtained and the trip, all of three and three-fourths miles, was done in about 20 minutes.

Everybody that was awake and present at that time voted the trip an unqualified success. They boys were very proud of the new road and fired firecrackers to show their good will toward the new enterprise.

Those on Trip

Among those who were on the trip were: J. M. Emerson, editor of the Sentinel; Morgan J. Flaherty, also of the Sentinel, and C. L. Case of the New Haven Palladium; Morris Drew, W. B. Blackman, W. W. Blakeman, George B. Clark, B. W. Porter and W. A. Moore of Freeport, Ill; J. G. Redshaw, Samuel Redshaw, Chief of Police Ellis, H. Holton Wood, John P. Wallace, George O. Schneller, James B. Kennedy, superintendent; George Kennedy, foreman; Joel Wheeler, warden and Burgesses Drew and Redshaw, F. M. Drew, treasurer.

The charter of the road was granted three years ago and the cost is about $75,000. There are four motors on the road, three for passenger service and one large and heavy one for freight3.

Electric Sparks

It was a grand surprise to all.

Especially to residents of Derby Avenue.

The trip was commenced April 30th and ended May 1.

The crowd in waiting at the terminus in Derby was small but select.

Those two cannon crackers awoke the west side residents, who wondered what all the fuss was about.

The happiest man around town today is Supt. Kennedy. The trip showed that he did faithful work upon the road bed last summer.

Editorial

The First Electric Car

The first operation of the Electric Street railroad Monday night was a most satisfactory effort. Not only was the application of the power to the movement of the car safely and successfully made, but a rate of speed was developed that indicated that when the machinery is “unlimbered” there will not be the least difficulty in running the cars with a rapidity that will equal the highest expectation. Furthermore the car was passed over with an unexpected smoothness over the rail, bowling along with much friction, it is true, but with little of the jerking, jarring sensation that is attendant upon the first operation of new roads. This part of the trial was a lofty attestation to the thoroughness and permanency with which construction was carried forward last summer and shows that the freezing and thawing of the winter has disturbed the roadbed but little.

This first trial will dispel all doubts as to the practicability of the operation of a street railroad in our midst by electricity. Very soon, also, will it be demonstrated that freight can be moved with equal facility. It is already proven that the grades on the road are easily surmountable, even with the smaller dynamos working under unfavorable conditions in a heavily loaded car. From this success greater possible results can readily be reasoned, and we may now look forward with confidence to the successful use of a new and powerful factor in local development.

The electrical road is purely a local enterprise. It was built with local capital and its owners and managers are residents with us.

Footnotes

1) It was claimed for many years that the Derby-Ansonia system was the first in New England, and only the second in the country, behind Scranton, PA. The first part appears to be true, but it appears there were a few other systems, such as Richmond, VA, that predated Derby-Ansonia.

2) The name of the line was called the Derby Street Railway and Lighting Company, though the sides of the cars were painted “Derby & Ansonia”, or “Ansonia, Birmingham, & Ansonia”.

3) The electric locomotive was the most unique feature of the new trolley line, and is considered the first electric locomotive in US history, and possibly the world. The locomotive is still kept in running condition by the Shoreline Trolley Museum.

Note: This original article was reprinted in the Evening Sentinel on the forty fifth anniversary of the first run, on May 1, 1933, page 6. At the time James D. Kennedy of Derby, his brother George Kennedy of Scranton, PA, and Frederick Drew of Ansonia were still alive.

July 16, 1906 – Growing Fond of Lake Housatonic

Lake Housatonic is getting more popular every year and one sign of the appreciation with which it is regarded is shown by the great number of people who are camping out along the banks and who make almost daily trips as far as Squantuc, Zoar Bridge, Otter Rock, the Log Cabin1, Stevenson, and even further up. Since the first of this month2 hundreds have camped along its banks and a great number of working people, who have heretofore gone to far away pleasure resorts, have passed their vacations on the lake, and have returned regretting they could not spend more time there. At the present time the banks on either side of the water are well populated with pleasure seekers.

Everybody is enthusiastic. Men who have traveled considerably and have been up the Hudson, to the Catskills, to the Adirondacks, and in Main, and out west say they prefer Lake Housatonic as a pleasure resort to any place that they have ever been.

An Old and True Saying

Distance lends enchantment is a true saying, and it is applicable to Lake Housatonic. It is so near Derby, Ansonia, Shelton, and Seymour that the inhabitants of these communities do not realize what a treasure they have lying at their doors. A well known citizen of Derby, whose boyhood was spent in the Adirondacks, says that he always wondered what brought tourists to those mountains, for while he lived there he failed to see their fascination. He said that the people of Derby seemed to have the same unappreciative spirit he had.

The river is a large body of water, deep and broad here, shallow there, the current being swift in one place and slow in another. It flows between rich fields of corn and hay, and fine meadow land, between heavily wooded sections and grassy hills, which rise sometimes gradually and sometimes abruptly. Along either bank are cold, bubbling springs of the finest water that can be found anywhere.

It contains the sportiest of fish, including green, black, and rock bass, which afford the fisherman the best of sport. The river is an ideal body of water for sailing, canoeing, rowing, or for rides in power boats. The scenery is magnificent.

Beauties It Can Offer

The lake has been here for years3, yet until lately its beauties, and the pleasure that it can offer to one and all have gone unrecognized, which is a mystery, for people from this locality have been pouring year after year into the famous resort throughout the country without a thought for Lake Housatonic, which was ready to give them everything that any other like resort could furnish.

It looks, however, as if Derby people were beginning to aware to the joys they have been passing blindly by for so many years. This year the lake has been crowded, camping parties are consistently breaking camp and pitching camp, fishermen are visiting the shores each day and there are more boats being used now than there have been in all the history of the lake. Row, sail, flat bottom and round bottom boats, as well as canoes and launches, are to be seen on the waters in great numbers any day of the week, but they are more numerous Saturday afternoons and Sundays. People even snatch a morning or an afternoon or a night off and go sailing on Lake Housatonic, and they always express themselves as well satisfied with the pleasure that they set out on their trip.

In fact, there is no reason why the lake should not become more popular each succeeding year. A party of campers who spent their first vacation above the Log Cabin said on returning that they would spend any summer vacation on the lake, and a man who had drunk beer all his life and who likes it said that while he had had the magnificent water from the springs near the lake he never thought of beer and would be satisfied to get along without it permanently.

  1. The “Log Cabin” appears to have been on the Shelton side, in the area of today’s Indian Well State Park.
  2. At the time this article was printed, most Valley factories were on summer vacation shutdown.
  3. Lake Housatonic was formed when the Ousatonic Dam was completed between Derby and Shelton in 1870.

September 21, 1906 – Roller Skating Craze Again Seizes Ansonia

The opening of the Ansonia Opera House as a skating rink under the management of Walter V. Fitzsimmons and Frank McNamara, last night, was a far greater success than had been imagined, or prepared for. A large attendance had been expected, but the size of the crowd that presented itself was far ahead of any expectations.

During the first three-quarters of an hour every pair of skates was rented., and during the evening from fifty to seventy-five people were unable to get skates. This morning, the managers telegraphed an order to New York for more skates, and they will meet the demands put upon them hereafter.

Skated to Music

Besides the big number of skaters, there was a large attendance of spectators, the gallery being well filled. Zeigler’s orchestra was present, and furnished excellent music. Music by an orchestra will be a regular feature on Wednesday and Saturday evenings, beginning next week, and there will be music every evening.

Four competent instructors were present, and assisted beginners in the art of managing the rollers. These attendants will be present every evening for the purpose of extending their services to all who may desire them. Perfect order reigned. There was not the slightest disturbance, any attempt at such would have been immediately squelched, as two officers were in attendance. The managers will conduct the rink on the best principles, and will make it a place any lady may visit.

The patronage by ladies last night was especially larger than had been expected. Many of them expressed themselves as highly pleased with the rink, and stated they would be attending as regular patrons.

The size of the rink gives abundant room for the accommodation of large crowds, and the floor is satisfactory. Last night, although it was the first night of the season the skaters reversed as promptly as if the rink had been going for several months, and they were all habituates of the place.

Revival of Sport Here

The great popularity of roller skating at present has not escaped Ansonia, as was manifested last night at the opening of the rink. It is some twenty-five years since the roller skating craze went over the country, and Ansonia at that time had its Bristol’s rink, now the Columbia bowling alleys1. This was patronized by large crowds, as it was evident that the Ansonia rink will be. Since the days of the Bristol rink there has been little roller skating. Ten years ago or more, when High Rock Grove2 was at its height of popularity, there was a fine rink there, and many Ansonians will remember pleasant hours put in gliding over the smooth floor, and listening to the band as it discoursed in a little gallery or pen built over the rink.

The patronage of the rink, last night, was not only of local people, but also from Derby, Shelton, and Seymour. The managers are receiving many congratulations over the success of their enterprise.

  1. Bristol’s rink opened as the Columbia bowling alleys on May 2, 1906. It was located on Mechanic Street.
  2. High Rock Grove was located between Beacon Falls and Naugatuck.

1905

August 14, 1905

  • SEYMOUR – The Seymour Trust Company begins its first day of operations. It is the successor to the Valley National Bank.

August 15

  • Unseasonably cold, wet weather grips the region. People are wearing jackets, and the enclosed trolleys have reappeared – normally “open” trolleys were used in summertime. Area farmers’ crops are suffering.

August 16

  • The daytime high is only 61 degrees. At midnight it was 54 degrees.
  • The new SNET telephone directory reveals there are now a record 900 telephone subscribers in Ansonia, Derby, Shelton, Seymour, and Oxford combined.

August 17

  • The cold wave continues. At 3 AM, the temperature dips to 48 degrees.
  • The Maybrook railroad line in Derby and Shelton is being double tracked so trains can head in both directions at the same time. At this time, workmen are dismantling the Derby-Shelton railroad trestle, so a new, wider one can be built to accommodate the parallel railroad beds. The trestle will be rebuilt in Vermont.
  • ANSONIA – The area around Main Street and Front Street, near Beaver Brook, has lately been nicknamed “New Jerusalem”. The Sentinel says “The houses are not things of beauty, and are evidently intended for those who cannot afford more expensive rents”.

August 19

  • SEYMOUR – Opposition is growing to the number of saloons in town. Currently there are 12, or one for every 73 male residents.

Tuesday, August 22, 1905

  • ANSONIA – A barn on a property which was once a convent on Factory Street, between Central and Colburn Streets, catches fire. Although the barn is destroyed, the two horses inside are saved. The Webster Hose Company’s hand-drawn hose reel is damaged when it is hitched to a horse to get it to the fire faster. The convent was once used by Assumption Church, after being deeded land at Main & Cheever Streets by the Phelps, Dodge & Company in 1866. The property extended east to Factory Street. A former residence, the convent was purchased around 1870 for use as a rectory, though it became a convent in 1886. By 1905 the convent had temporarily moved to First Street as the new church and buildings were being constructed on North Cliff Street.

August 23

  • DERBY – The Sterling Opera House begins its 1905-1906 theatrical season with the 3-act comedy “David Harum”, staring Harry Brown. The season started earlier than previous years, due to the schedules of the traveling theater companies, who are now accommodating the increasingly popular summer theaters along the New Jersey shoreline. The Sentinel reported a large crowd enjoyed the production, despite a tough beginning – “…the play started off rather flatly. The audience looked coldly upon the introductory scene and only a solitary hand clap greeted Mr. brown as he appeared, although his entrance afforded ample opportunity for an enthusiastic greeting…the silence in the house was oppressive. But Mr. Brown had not been before the footlights fifteen minutes before the indifference had vanished…His Lincoln-like saying and his inimitable manner in telling stories were hugely enjoyed”.

August 26

  • Annual powerboat race from the Derby Docks to Stratford’s Washington Bridge and back. 13 boats participated, though another 17 dropped out of the race, apparently many owners thought the course was too long. The winner was a boat named Maud S.

Wednesday, August 30, 1905

  • ANSONIA – Many complaints about the condition of the macadam surface of Central Avenue.
  • SHELTON – The Board of Education will rent the banquet room on at Arcanum Hall on Howe Avenue to handle the overflow from Ferry School.

August 31

  • SEYMOUR – A section named Puddle Hollow is being dismantled. Contain shacks, barns, and a  livery. Also a house where late Gov. Morris once lived, and the Ridder homestead – once one of the nicest homes in town.

September

September 2

  • DERBY – Two men attacked by a wildcat on Derby Hill in East Derby. No serious injuries. The animal escapes.

Tuesday, September 5, 1905 

  • ANSONIA – The old Boston Store, built on the corner of Main and Bridge Streets in the early 1850s, has been demolished. A new three-story block called the Murray Building is being erected in its place. The Murray block would be destroyed by fire in 1987. Today the site is Haddad Park.
  • SHELTON – A construction worker falls to his death while building the new railroad trestle over Housatonic River. This is the first death since the railroad started the project of double-tracking the Maybrook line.

September 7

  • ANSONIA – Complaints about the mud and filth along Jersey Street. The number of deaths in this neighborhood is out of proportion with the rest of the city.

September 10

  • DERBY – First services are held in the new Unitarian Church on the corner of Atwater and Seymour Avenues. This is the Veteran’s Building today.
  • SHELTON – An owl, apparently confused by the light of a trolley near Pine Rock amusement park, flies into the trolley, smashing inside. No one is injured, though all are startled.

Monday, September 11, 1905 

  • ANSONIA – For the first time in Ansonia’s history, the Board of Aldermen overrides a mayor’s veto. Mayor Charters vetoed 2 resolutions to repair lower Main Street, citing concerns about where the money will come from. The Aldermen subsequently overrode his veto by a vote of 10-2.
  • SEYMOUR – Many are picking fresh peaches at the Hale & Coleman orchards on Great Hill.

September 12

  • SEYMOUR – 70 predominately Italian workers of J.J. O’Brien Construction, currently working on railroad improvements in town, return to work, after a one-day strike. Their goals of being paid every two weeks instead of monthly were met.
  • DERBY – The new convent for St. Mary’s Church on the corner of Elizabeth and Cottage Streets is nearing completion.

September 13

  • DERBY – Much work is being done on New Haven Avenue. The road is being paved with macadam from Gilbert Street north. A steep hill has been lowered, and the road has been widened.
  • ANSONIA – 454 Main Street is moving from property owned by the railroad to the corner of Main & Central Streets. Also, the nearby Olderman House, also on railroad property, will move to the New Jerusalem neighborhood, and yet another house will move to lower Main Street.

September 14

  • SHELTON – Many complaints of inadequate fire escapes in residences and factories in town.

September 15

  • DERBY – Locally manufactured Sterling player pianos are very popular in both the USA and England.

September 16

  • SHELTON – A 1757 flintlock is on display at Apothecaries’ Hall, said to have killed the last bear in Huntington at “Bear Lot”, near Leavenworth Hill at Indian Well, and was in Revolutionary War.

Monday, September 18, 1905

  • SEYMOUR – Just over half of the over 200 acres of the Hale & Coleman orchards on Moose Hill is producing peaches. Visitors are encouraged to pick their own, and many come from all over the region to do just that.

September 19

  • Many in the Valley hail a new state law that forbids Connecticut drug stores from selling cocaine.
  • DERBY – Bass has become plentiful in Lake Housatonic. Derby has appointed a game warden to prevent out of season poaching.

September 20

  • DERBY – Division Street is in deplorable condition, as it has not been repaired since being washed out in a rainstorm several weeks ago. Also, Main Street is in bad shape as well, but many are hopeful after the cobblestones between Birmingham National Bank and Elizabeth Street were repaired.

September 22

  • DERBY – A small wooden building where shells are hardened burns to the ground at the US Rapid Fire Gun and Powder Company factory on Housatonic Avenue. 650 shells being manufactured for the military are lost.

September 23

  • The Valley’s Polish Catholics are currently meeting and having masses at Elks Hall on Main Street, Derby. A church will be built next spring. In all there are 900 members from Derby, Shelton, and Ansonia.
  • SHELTON – The High School is organizing a rugby team.

Monday, September 25, 1905

  • OXFORD – “The first real frost that visited the Valley this fall came Monday night. All day there had been a very cold wind from the north, which was very cutting. This died down somewhat as the sun went down. Thermometers as far as heard from registered 32 degrees Tuesday morning. At Mrs. Bronson’s near Towantic Brook, ice formed. While the frost did some nipping, it does not seem to have been generally a killing frost, such usually occurs in this valley often earlier in the month than this date”.

September 26

  • DERBY – The drapes, chairs, & cushions of the Sterling Opera House have been “perfumed”, courtesy of the local Purdy Drug Company. The scent is called “Thelma”. The Sentinel describes, “Upon entering the opera house one’s first thought was that of a flower garden, so delightfully sweet and delicate was the odor”.

September 27

  • DERBY – The City fires a supernumery police officer for neglect of duty. Twice he was ordered to issue a warrant for a saloon that was selling liquor on Sundays. Both times instead of serving the warrant, he instead decided to enjoy drinks at the saloon.
  • SEYMOUR – “Great Hill – The farmers are busy harvesting the potato and apple crops. Loads of the latter, as well as grain go daily down Squantuc hill to the cider & grain mill of Liewellyn Andrews”.
  • SHELTON – A woman who boarded the trolley in Bridgeport goes into labor in the Oronoque section of Stratford, and gives birth somewhere between that place and Shelton. There were only four others on the trolley, and they were of little assistance due to the fact the woman only spoke Italian. After giving birth she wrapped the baby in the folds of her skirt, paid her fare, and got off at her stop in Derby.

September 30

  • DERBY – “Whatever caused people to turn out (downtown), whether it was the drum corps…or whether it was the perfect night… the fact remains that the streets were alive with a hurrying, jostling, good humored crowd”.

October

October 1

  • SHELTON – The Shelton police raids a camp near Huntington’s Trap Falls Reservoir selling liquor on this Sunday evening. “Sunday selling” is illegal. Although deep in the woods, the officers could hear the levity from a half-mile away. Pandemonium ensues when the officers enter the camp. Although there are not enough police officers to prevent many from escaping, 16 are arrested, including the liquor supplier. As the officers lead the arrested away, an estimated 200-300 men, many of which are Water Company employees, menace them, but keep their distance because the officers are visibly well armed.

Monday, October 2, 1905

  • A special election on two constitutional amendments in termed a “farce” by the Evening Sentinel. Only 179 out of 2600 voters bother to cast a ballot in Ansonia. In Derby only 169 out of 2300 voted
  • SHELTON – Republicans fare well in local elections, though Socialists do well, also.
  • SEYMOUR – The entire Republican ticket wins local elections
  • OXFORD – Democrats  win most local elections

October 5

  • SHELTON – 520 tickets sold on this date for a special train leaving from Shelton’s passenger station to the Danbury Fair today. A total of 740 tickets have been sold this week. Although many have a good time, some say they actually miss the “humbugs”, or con artists that have been banned from the fair this year.

October 6

  • ANSONIA – A Jersey Street landlord is arrested for breach of peace, intoxication, and resisting arrest. Having failed to evict a tenant he no longer wished to rent to, the landlord caused a sensation in the neighborhood when he started removing the windowpanes from the building.
  • ANSONIA – A young deer is pursued by a crowd of people and a barking dog up Main Street. Panicking, it crashes into a window of the SO&C factory, and causes more damage as it thrashes around the building. It is finally captured, and released at the corner of Woodbridge Avenue and Beaver Street.

October 7

  • ANSONIA – A sheriff serves warrant for a bride’s brother at her wedding party at Warcholik’s Hall on Jersey Street. Needless to say, this breaks up the party. Most of the guests follow the police to the station, where the suspect is released on bond.
  • DERBY – The Derby High School football team defeats the Shelton Juniors 10-5 in their season opener at Derby Meadows.

October 8

  • DERBY – The pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church states he wants to see entertainments closed on Sundays, including the Sterling Opera House.

Monday, October 9, 1905

  • ANSONIA – 4 of the best players from the Ansonia High School football team are suspended for academic problems.

October 11

  • There are numerous complaints about bad, rutted roads in Derby, Ansonia, and Shelton. The rising popularity of the automobile is blamed.
  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia High School football team plays Bridgeport, and loses. 5 additional players go on “strike”, to protest the four that have been suspended.
  • OXFORD – The Sentinel reports “The foliage on the hillsides is wearing the gay garb of fall, and the scene is one of much beauty. The travel of pleasure teams (referring to horse-drawn carriages) on the road through the Centre is almost continuous during the day”.
  • DERBY – Another Derby Police Officer is fired over the saloon affair (see September 27, 1905)
  • SHELTON – The conditions at Coram School, a one-room schoolhouse on the corner of Petremont and River Roads, is described as very bad. It is nicknamed the chicken coop, due to the exterior resemblance.

October 12

  • SEYMOUR – An automobile drawn by two gray horses draws attention as it is pulled into town. It broke down in the countryside, and was coming into Seymour for repairs.

October 13

  • DERBY – In the wake of two officer being fired, the Sentinel reports many are saying the Police Department need a “shaking up”…
  • ANSONIA – …And the high school football team could have used some shaking up as well. The members walk off the field over a disputed call in the second half, causing the Naugatuck High School to win by forfeit.

October 14

  • Children are warned about the dangers of the increasing popularity of slingshots.
  • ANSONIA – The growing scarcity of shade trees is causing some to talk about a general city-wide planting.

October 15

  • ANSONIA – Hundreds visit the new Church of the Assumption edifice on North Cliff Street. The new church, still under construction, was open for public inspection for the first time.
  • DERBY – The Unitarian Church is dedicated on 2 Atwater Street. Today this is the Veteran’s Memorial Building.

Monday, October 16, 1905

  • SHELTON – The newly organized Brown & Hubbell Corset Company will occupy top floor of the Bassett Bolt factory on Bridge Street. It is hoped the firm can take the place of the now-closed Birmingham Corset Company, which also occupied the building at one time. This is the 5 story building which in October 2005 is being converted into housing.

October 18

  • SHELTON – The first train crosses over the new double-tracked trestle over the Housatonic. The new railroad bridge took 10 months to build. A temporary bridge was built parallel to the new bridge while it was under construction, to continue traffic. The old, single-tracked trestle, was dismantled and sold to a Vermont railroad.
  • SHELTON – Tame deer are a common sight in Huntington Center, only running away when one closely approaches.

October 19

  • DERBY – A new signal tower has been installed at Derby Junction. Painted green, it will operate the trolley signals electronically. Derby Junction was the corner of Derby Avenue and Main Street, and it was one of the few places were trolleys could be hailed to New Haven, Waterbury, and Bridgeport.

October 20

  • ANSONIA – A cow being led down Central Street breaks free. The entire neighborhood tries to help catch it, resulting in the cow leading them up and down street. It starts making its way, though backyards, for Factory Street, but turns around and is caught by its owner. The commotion does not end there, however, as the cow drags her owner around for several minutes before she calms down.
  • SEYMOUR – The roof of a shed housing an engine for the ongoing double-tracking construction along the railroad burns off. Its contents are saved, however.
  • SHELTON – The Sentinel recalls the Derby Reclaiming Company, which ran “the Rubber Mill” along Canal Street until it moved to Buffalo. Many are excited that the old rubber mill has been  purchased by a new company, organized by Derby Reclaiming’s old managers, who will operate the old business under the old name.

October 21

  • ANSONIA – The Bridgeport High School football team defeats Ansonia High 11-6.

Monday, October 23, 1905

  • ANSONIA – The Police Department reports 334 arrests over the past 12 months. This is a rise of 116 more for the previous year.
  • SEYMOUR – Work commences moving the old Rider homestead from Puddle Hollow, a neighborhood which is being torn down, to a lot near the Broad Street Bridge.

October 24

  • ANSONIA – A Hebrew School will study the language, as well as doctrines of the Jewish religion, in the Gardella Building on the corner of Main and Maple Streets. 70 are already enrolled – desks and seats were supplied by the Board of Education, though donations will support rest of school.
  • DERBY – Patrick Walsh, of 47 Hawkins Street, dies. He was a police officer for 37 years, retiring only recently. He served as Chief of Police in the old Borough of Birmingham under Warden S. H. Bassett. He was born in County Cavan, Ireland, in 1844, and immigrated as a young boy. He also was the custodian of Derby City Hall, a position he held from the time the facility opened under the Sterling Opera House in 1889 to the time of his death.
  • SEYMOUR – The new site the Rider homestead is being moved to is occupied by the Randal Building. While tearing it down, workmen in the rafters were observed stuffing their pockets with paper money. The former owners state they have reason to believe a considerable amount of money was hidden in the Randal Building.

October 25

  • SEYMOUR – Efforts are now being made to recover any additional building hidden in the doomed Randall Building. A hidden vault covered by an iron door discovered in cellar. The building’s late owner and namesake, Hiram Randal, was a successful merchant, and served as town treasurer at a time when there were no banks in Seymour.
  • SEYMOUR – Two laborers working on double tracking the railroad at Mahoney’s Cut, just below Seymour, are buried in a landslide. A passing train caused soft rock to crash over a 50′ cliff onto them. They are dug out by frenzied fellow workmen, though there are fears there may be others buried in the pile. One workman is seriously injured. Many in Seymour rush to the accident scene.

October 26

  • DERBY – Complaints all over town of dogs barking at night.
  • DERBY – The Sentinel is concerned about the spoiling of the Housatonic River, from Derby north to the Massachusetts line. Trees being recklessly harvested along the river bank for railroad ties and utility poles, while trap rock crushers are destroying cliff sides for macadam used on roadways.

October 27

  • ANSONIA – The Olderman house is moving from the railroad’s property down Main Street to New Jerusalem. But moving the house takes longer than expected, and by dusk the house is still in the middle of Main Street, blocking it entirely. Trolley passengers have to transfer around it.
  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Derby shuts out South Norwalk 30-0. Ansonia defeated by Naugatuck, 17-0, in an away game. The game was marred when a Naugatuck referee was caught in the middle of a play. When he grabbed an Ansonia halfback, possible for support, he was punched in the face. The referee demands the Naugatuck Chief of Police, who was in attendance, arrest the youth. But the principal of Naugatuck High School intercedes, and convinces everyone it was a mistake. No arrests are made. 

October 28

  • ANSONIA – Public open house of the new Holbrook Street School. The school features 4 rooms on each of the 2 floors, designed to hold 40 pupils per room. The rooms are connected by telephones. The second floor is unfinished, though the first floor is scheduled to open October 30.
  • ANSONIA – Paint shop on 98 Grove Street destroyed by fire.

Monday, October 30, 1905

  • ANSONIA – The new Holbrook Street School opens 125 pupils from grades 1, 4, and 6 are transferred from the Grove Street School. Remaining grades will be transferred when the second floor classrooms are finished.

October 31

  • Cider apples are high, at 30 cents per 100 pounds.
  • OXFORD – Good Templar’s Hall in Quaker Farms is destroyed in a late night fire. The residents powerless to stop the fierce blaze – there is no fire department. The hall was a local landmark, and was used quite frequently for all kinds of events by Quaker Farms residents. Many are upset, as boys were heard running through the hall just before the fire, and its unclear if this was an accident or a Halloween prank gone wrong. Back in those days, public places such as this often had no locks, so the boys would have had easy access.
  • HALLOWEEN – Or Hallowe’en as it was spelled then. There are parties in all towns, and children wandering around in costumes until the late hours. It is noted that there is an increasing number of girls dressed as boys outside, too. Most don’t mind the children wandering around – in some cases bonfires are lit to ward off the cold. What residents do mind, however, is the noise and noisemakers that continue well into the night, as well as the pranks and vandalism. In some neighborhoods it really gets out of hand. Among the pranks, fences are torn down, and gates are hung on telephone poles. There are others that probably shouldn’t be mentioned here. The newspaper makes no mention of “trick or treating”, the only way sweet tooths can get candy is apparently by going to parties. Bowing to residents’ demands, Seymour puts extra officers on duty, making that town slightly quieter than the other Valley towns. 

November

November 1

  • Milk prices rise uniformly from 6 cents to 7 cents per quart.
  • SEYMOUR – One of the two railroad workmen buried in the landslide at Mahoney’s Cut, just below town, dies of his injuries. Like many others employed for “doubletracking” the railroad, he was an Italian immigrant.
  • OXFORD – The Sentinel reports “The cider mills are working overtime now taking care of the apples which are daily carted in to be made into cider. There does not seem to be a dearth of the beverage in the town, this winter, and in consequence the average man smiles”.

November 2

  • ANSONIA – A man wanted for a July burglary is nabbed by Police Chief Ellis after a chase from a Liberty Street saloon. Once caught, the man struggles with the chief, but the criminal is subdued with the aid by a passerby. The chief’s brand new uniform pants, which he has only worn a couple times, is torn and  ruined.

November 3

  • Automobile owners would like to see a road from Derby to Zoar Bridge in Stevenson, and another good road from there to Shelton, making a loop. The idea has many hurdles, many farmers along the route would be opposed due to the frequency of automobiles striking poultry and other livestock. The route is less for convenience – automobiles are still considered a novelty, and “motoring” is a popular sport. Right now the most popular “good road” for motoring is from Derby to Seymour, but enthusiasts consider it too short.
  • DERBY – The Derby Board of Education holds a long session on where to house Grade 1 pupils from the overflowing Irving and Franklin schools. After much debate, the first floor of the Alling Building, at the corner of Olivia and Third Streets, is chosen.
  • SEYMOUR – Old silver coins found in the Randall Building, where banknotes were found on October 24. The Sentinel indicates the building is apparently now going to be moved, rather than demolished.

November 4

  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Derby beats Shelton 27-0 at the Derby Meadows off Division Street.
  • ANSONIA – Alderman Donohue resigns his position as Superintendent of Streets in Ansonia, saying he was “tired of being held responsible for everything”. He denies he was asked to resign, but rumors are flying since a mayoral election, pitting Democratic Mayor Stephen Charters, a union leader, against Republican Alton Farrel, a prominent industrialist.
  • SHELTON – A Coram Avenue resident may bill the Borough of Shelton for damages to his long fence fronting the street on Halloween. He claims there was not enough police officers on duty despite the fact everyone knew there would be trouble.
  • SHELTON – Hill Street residents are up in arms over Derby man being moved to quarantine here with a mild case of scarlet fever. It is explained he used to live in Shelton before moving to a boarding house in Derby. He is returning to the care of his family, who live on Hill Street.

Tuesday, November 7, 1905

  • It is noted that walking is becoming popular again. It had generally fallen into disfavor when the trolley lines opened.
  • ANSONIA – Election day. Republican Alton Farrel beats Democrat Mayor Stephen Charters 1334-1049. Republicans also take control of the Board of Aldermen, with 11 seats compared to Democrats’ 4. The streets are crowded at 8 PM when Sentinel puts out an extra with the returns. Three bonfires are lit along Main Street. Farrel Foundry & other factory bells peal upon receiving the news. Drum corps & hundreds march to State Street home of Alton Farrel, where he greets well-wishers.
  • ANSONIA – A Waterbury delicatessen man will open a restaurant and store at the Stillson block on High Street.

November 8

  • OXFORD – Quaker Farms has its second fire in a week when Robert Hawkins’ barn is burned with all its contents.

November 9

  • DERBY – It is announced that Polish Roman Catholics of Derby and Shelton will build their new church on the Bushnell property, next to the East Derby Hotel. The pastor will live in the Bushnell house itself, while the church will be to the rear of it, facing Bank Street. Construction will not begin until next Spring. Until then, services will continue in the Elk Building.
  • ANSONIA – Thieves enter Warcholik saloon on Jersey Street. Failing to open the safe, they take a box of 10 cent cigars. A guard dog is lured away, and is later found tied up some distance away. This building would be destroyed in a fire on in April 1955, and the ruins would be torn down after the flood on August 27, 1955.

November 10

  • ANSONIA – In the fallout after the mayoral election, apparent tensions surface between the Police Chief and Police Commissioner. The Commissioner asks the Chief if he plans to resign, due to past comments he made saying he would do so if a Republican mayor were ever elected. The Chief denies he’ll resign.

November 11

  • Spearheaded by the local Jewish community, a relief fund is set up in Derby and Ansonia for Russian Jews, who are currently suffering a pogrom that is bringing death and persecution in that country.
  • Temperatures fall below freezing overnight. Ice is half inch thick in some places.

November 12

  • DERBY – A Sunday raid on a notorious saloon results in the bartender and 5 men arrested, while 2 escape.
  • DERBY – Sunday football is banned in Derby. Apparently teams from all over play at the fields at Derby Meadows off Division Street, and make a great racket. A Shelton vs. Stratford game is moved to Sunnyside in Shelton – Derby Police turn hundreds away.

Monday, November 13, 1905

  • ANSONIA – Two trolleys collide at the intersection of Main Street and Bridge Street. A passenger is thrown onto the street. He is cut in face but is treated by a physician and released.
  • SHELTON – Howe Avenue’s Flaherty Block is to be made into a hotel by Samuel Merritt of Derby. The upper floors will be called the Central Hotel, while the first floor will be a café. This will be the first hotel in Shelton.
  • SHELTON – Oscar Hubbell’s Barn near Indian Well destroyed by fire. It was filled with recently cut hay, and he had little insurance and does not know how he’ll feed his livestock. Two tramps were seen leaving the barn just before the fire.

November 14

  • SHELTON – The Huntington Center cemetery is an eyesore, overrun with weeds, and gravestones falling “in an otherwise tidy suburb”. The Old Home Association plans to clean it up.

November 16

  • ANSONIA – Fire destroys an empty 2 story house at 37 Spring Street. Nearby Webster Hose Company is powerless to stop it as the nearest hydrant is 500′ away at Elm Street School. An old fashioned “bucket brigade” is employed to protect the surrounding property. The lack of water pressure in this section of town causes much talk for many days after.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – Derby and Shelton factories are working at almost all at full capacity, with shifts staying as late as 9 to 10 PM, due to Christmas orders.
  • SHELTON – A major addition is planned for the RN Bassett factory on Bridge Street. A one story section will be raised to the 4-story height of the rest of it, doubling floor space. Building will be 300×42′ in size. A 35×60′ building will also be on the riverbank. It will be one of the largest factories in the Valley when completed. A corset factory, the RN Bassett building would be known as the Botti Building 100 years later, and in the process of being made into apartments.

November 18

  • Railroad freight traffic is very heavy in the entire Valley at this time in  history. Ten 25-car trains pass in each direction each day on the Naugatuck line in Derby, Ansonia, and Seymour, and 4-5 in each direction daily over Bershire line along the Housatonic River in Derby and Shelton.
  • DERBY – Derby High School football team beats New Milford High 6-5.
  • SHELTON – Workers at the U.S. Box, Board, & Paper Company are informed the mills will close indefinitely starting tonight. Rumors are flying they may reopen under new management.

November 19

  • ANSONIA – A Sunday police raid on a Star Street saloon results in the arrest of the bartender for Sunday selling. About 16-20 in the bar hide, then successfully flee at an opportune moment.

Monday, November 20, 1905

  • BEACON FALLS – The town’s new electric lights are turned on for first time. Previously all nighttime streetlights were lit by kerosene.

November 21

  • ANSONIA – Thieves again break into the Worcholik saloon on Jersey Street for the second time this month, before being chased away. They steal a silver watch that Joseph Warcholik brought from Poland 19 years ago, and 5 boxes of cigars, the later of which are dropped outside as they flee. The safe was overturned.
  • ANSONIA – The outgoing Board of Aldermen make one of their most popular decisions in years when they forbid a resident from cutting down a large Elm tree at the corner of Main Street and Central Streets.
  • ANSONIA – Archbishiop Tikhon, Archbishop of the Russian Orthodox Church in America, visits the Ansonia Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church. The Sentinel notes there are currently only 65 Russian Orthodox churches in the United States, with another 30 in Alaska.

November 22

  • SEYMOUR – Main Street is completely blocked overnight by the Randall Building, which is being moved to a new location.

November 23

  • Western turkeys cost 25-28 cents per pound, while native turkeys are running at 33-35 cents a pound.
  • Contractors are very busy building due to the business boom associated with the area’s good industrial outlook.
  • SHELTON – A runaway trolley leaves the tracks on Howe Avenue between Myrtle Street and Hill Street. It crosses the street and sidewalk, and hits a retaining wall. All 6 on board are tossed and bruised, but there are no serious injuries. Complaints follow that the trolleys run too fast.

November 24

  • DERBY – A trolley cable breaks over a Shelton-bound trolley on the Derby side of the Huntington Bridge, causing a flash and quick fire. The bridge was crowded with traffic at the time. The car drags the wire 100 feet, but the crew immediately secures area from live wire. A big repair job is in store for the trolley company.

November 25

  • SEYMOUR – A sealed fruit jar is found in a Humphreys Street home containing water from a June 23, 1875 hailstorm. Old New Englanders believed the pure water, such as that from hailstorms, was good for the eyes. Another jar containing water from a June 1904 hailstorm is also labeled. The 1875 jar is on display at W. L. Smith’s store.
  • DERBY – Derby High School ends its football season undefeated, with a score of 6-0 against New Milford at Derby Meadows.
  • DERBY – In what may what be Derby’s first “hit and run” car accident, an automobile with 5 people in it swerves to avoid a crowd of women on Main and Elizabeth Streets, and strikes a carriage containing one person. The car then speeds off toward Shelton. Many onlookers who witnessed the crash are upset he did not sound his horn, as the law states, and that the car fled the scene without even checking to see if the carriage driver was injured. The carriage was smashed. The license number is published in the Sentinel.

Monday, November 27, 1905

  • ANSONIA – A trolley jumps off the tracks at Howard Avenue and Jackson Street, and crosses the street into the sidewalk. The car was crowded, but no serious injuries other than bumps and bruises.

November 28

  • DERBY – Number of complaints are being made about noisy milkmen carrying on a racket while they make their rounds at 4-5 in the morning.
  • DERBY – An automobile strikes a grocery wagon on Elizabeth Street. The horse runs away, dragging the grocer dragged 40′ before he lets go of reigns to avoid being run over by another team. The horse continues to run away, pulling the wagon, striking and knocking over a pedestrian at Main and Elizabeth Streets.

November 29

  • OXFORD – “It seems to be pretty well assured that a new hall will be built to replace the one that was burned”, referring to Good Templar’s Hall which burned on Halloween night in Quaker Farms. The building was insured for $430, and local resident think the rest can be raised.
  • SEYMOUR – Whooping cough prevalent at Bell School on Great Hill.
  • DERBY – Storm Engine Company’s 55th ball at Gould Armory a great success.
  • SHELTON – House destroyed by fire in Huntington Center, owned by Daniel Nichols and occupied by the five member Malahan family, while they were out. The very old house burned to ground, by the time it was discovered nothing could be saved.

November 30 THANKSGIVING DAY

  • The holiday is quieter than usual, due to high wind and low temperatures.

December

December 1

  • ANSONIA – Alton Farrel sworn in as mayor of Ansonia. Outgoing Mayor Charters could not attend because he suddenly became very ill, and reportedly threatened with pneumonia.
  • ANSONIA – The entire fire department is called to extinguish a basement fire at The Hub clothing store on Main Street near City Hall. The fire is extinguished after a pitched battle in the dense smoke.
  • OXFORD – Quaker Farms residents hold a town meeting about raising funds to replace Good Templar’s Hall.

December 2

  • ANSONIA – Fire completely destroys a small 2 story house on Kimberly Lane.
  • ANSONIA – A brawl on Bridge Street between 3 men continues for an hour and a half before the police arrives. This is the last straw for many, particularly the merchants. The Sentinel reports the affair “disgraceful”, and says brawls and drunken panhandlers are frequent on Bridge Street, and demands better police protection.

December 3

  • Heavy rain inundates the area with 2.53″, overwhelming many drains. Some Ansonia streets and sidewalks are under several feet of water.

Monday, December 4, 1905

  • ANSONIA – At 4 PM, all residents of the Jewish faith stop whatever they were doing and go to Synagogue Benai Israel on Colburn Street, in memory of those recently massacred in Odessa and other parts of Russia. Many remark at the solidarity and the fact that not a single person did not participate.

December 5

  • ANSONIA – There are 3,595 school age children in Ansonia. 128 of them are enrolled in private schools, and 673 do not attending school at all..
  • DERBY – The Paugassett Hose Company is agitating for a new hose house. The firemen are in temporary quarters in East Derby now, and are forced to dry their hose by laying it on the roof.
  • DERBY – Only 194 Derby voters participate in a referendum to provide free text books and school supplies. The proposal is rejected 165 – 28.
  • SHELTON – A barn owned by Mr. George Bush burns down on Rocky Rest Road. He and his sons were into boating, one motor launch and another boat under construction were destroyed.

December 6

  • OXFORD – A cold epidemic sweeping through town. Many complain of sore throats and no energy.

December 7

  • DERBY – Excitement on Caroline Street, between Third and Fourth, when a man fires 3 shots at his wife fleeing down the street. She is not hurt, and he is arrested.

December 8

  • DERBY – There is an ongoing debate over all night street lighting. Right now the electric streetlights go off at 1 AM, and the streets become quite dangerous afterwards.
  • SHELTON – Terrible tragedy when a 12 year old boy falls through the ice while skating on the new reservoir Shelton Avenue and Meadow Street after school and drowns. The tragedy is compounded by the fact his teacher at at nearby French’s District School warned earlier in day against skating there, and said she’d punish anyone who did so.

December 9

  • Up to this time it has been a very mild winter. The Housatonic is still open to navigation – ice has not been a factor on the river as of yet. Later that evening the first real snow of the year falls – 3″ overnight. The snow was unexpected, and cuts into church attendance the following morning, which was a Sunday. People who owned horses, particularly trucking companies, were lined up in front of the local blacksmiths early Monday morning, to have calk put between the horses’ hooves and horseshoes.

Monday, December 11, 1905

  • Penny slot machines are becoming popular with children. Many merchants are putting them in stores.
  • ANSONIA – Stock, machinery, and property of Phelps & Bartholomew Clock Company on Main Street, Ansonia sold at auction. It all went to the Ansonia Novelty Company, who will move in shortly.

December 12

  • ANSONIA – Today is Slaughter Day at the Town Farm in Ansonia. 4 hogs totaling 1,629 pounds become pork. 2 are sold, the rest will sustain the farm through the winter. The Town Farm, located about where today’s Route 8 Northbound Exit 19 off ramp is today, housed Ansonia’s poor and homeless.

December 13

  • SEYMOUR – In dismantling Puddle Hollow to make room for railroad development, an underground secret passageway was found into the rear of a foundation of what had been a saloon. Its origin is a mystery – it probably predated the saloon. However, few believe that it was not utilized by saloon patrons as a way of sneaking inside on Sundays.
  • OXFORD – Ground is broken for a new hall in Quaker Farms. It will be one story, 25×40 of floor space, with a basement kitchen, and will replace Good Templar Hall, which burned down on October 31.

December 14

  • DERBY & SHELTON – The Huntington Bridge, a steel span where today’s Derby-Shelton Bridge is today, is being replanked. It has many holes from much use. Old timers say the covered bridge it replaced in 1891 was never this bad. The steel bridge was very unpopular, and replaced with the current bridge in 1919.
  • SHELTON – Anonymous donor will add the bell tower to Good Shepherd Church, completing the edifice as designed. Construction will begin next spring.
  • DERBY – Complaints about advertisements being placed illegally on telephone poles, telegraph poles, and shade trees along the streets.

December 15

  • SHELTON – The ladders on the Echo Hose Hook & Ladder truck are dangerous, and need replacing. The entire truck, purchased in 1883, should be replaced, but seeing as how the Borough of Shelton is heavily in debt, firemen would be happy just with new ladders. 

December 16

  • ANSONIA – The Boston Store reopens for the first time in the new building that replaced its old one on the corner of Main and Bridge Streets – the three story Murray Building. The Boston Store was Ansonia’s premier department store at this time.
  • DERBY – Derby school enumeration: 1770 children, 94 less than last year. Of these, 1294 are attending school.
  • DERBY – Lake Housatonic, above the Ousatonic Dam, is frozen over. However, it is still not safe for skating.
  • DERBY – Lack of street signs in Derby causes much confusion with visitors.

Monday, December 18, 1905

  • SEYMOUR – Burglars break into Seymour Lumber and Hardware Company and steal $160 worth of goods. Police have no suspects.

December 19

  • The famed wanderer “Johnny o’ the Woods” passes through Derby, Ansonia, and Seymour. He has a regular “circuit” through New York and lower New England, including the Valley, and survives off the kindness of strangers. He says little, and not much is known about his past or why he wanders so. Not long ago some local boys were arrested for harassing him – Johnny is an old man and considered harmless.

December 21

  • Torrential rain falls, canceling school in Ansonia and interferes with Christmas shopping. Then, as now, many are saying they are “glad it was not snow”.
  • ANSONIA & DERBY – There is a movement in Ansonia to close stores all day on Christmas. Previously they had been open for first part of the day to make last minute sales. Most Derby stores have already decided to do so, though grocery and meat dealers are unsure – recall this is 1905, and the corner grocery was an essential part of urban living back then.

December 22

  • Very mild day brings out songbirds not normally seen this season. There are concerns that this weather will aggravate severe colds.

Monday, December 25, 1905 – Christmas Day

  • Ten arrested in various incidents in Ansonia – mostly intoxicated people acting foolish. It should be noted that at this time, one of the peaks of the Industrial Revolution, there was a large population of unmarried men with no families who came to the Valley to work. Because of this, the saloons are quite busy, and some get carried away. A riot nearly starts at a Chinese laundry on Main Street when forty demand their clothes be washed at once – the Ansonia Police was called to restore order before things got out of hand. Another five are arrested in Derby. Trolley conductors report they received many good tips. Merchants note people seem to have more money this year, and spent it.
  • ANSONIA – Archbishop Tikhon dedicates the new Russian Orthodox Church on Howard Avenue in a very impressive 10 AM ceremony.
  • DERBY – The City’s Mayor, Benjamin Hubbell, injures tendons in his foot after he accidentally falls in his Third Street stable.
  • OXFORD – “The Centre School closed for the fall term…with exercises suitable for the season, and a Christmas tree which was well laded with fruit, the distribution of which made the children very happy”. Back then old colonial town “centers” like Huntington and Oxford were spelled “centre”. 

December 26

  • DERBY – The oldest motorman in the State resigns from the trolley company, Connecticut Railway and Lighting. Patrick Harlow of Derby worked on the very first trolley car in Derby, and by extension the State of Connecticut since Derby and Ansonia had the first system, as a coachman 14 years ago.
  • DERBY – A young Ansonia girl falls through the ice at Pickett’s Pond. One rescuer falls into 10′ deep water trying to reach her. Both are rescued when others extend a tree limb to them.

December 27

  • The weather continues to be unseasonably mild and spring like. The Housatonic River is still open to navigation for lack of ice, which is rare for this time of year.
  • OXFORD – The Sentinel‘s Oxford correspondent writes “Still this marvelously beautiful weather is with us and adds pleasure to the enjoyment of this season of peace and good will. It is not warm enough to tempt people to be careless, so the danger of great sickness as a consequence is very much lessened”.
  • DERBY – Hotchkiss Hose Company No. 1 becomes the first fire company in the area to install a telephone. The phone was paid for at the members expense, and the number is 476-5.

December 28

  • The Sentinel reports today’s temperature reaches a high of 61 degrees. Last year it was 27 on this date. Later in the day, 1.29″ of rain turns the streets into “a sea of mud”.
  • DERBY – Main Street merchants complain their businesses are suffering from people shopping out of town via the trolley.
  • SHELTON – A young people’s society in Shelton Methodist Church remembers the town’s shut-ins by sending them baskets or other gifts.

December 29

  • The spring like weather continues as a thunderstorm sweeps through the area.
  • DERBY – The Sterling Piano Company, then one of Derby’s largest employers, reports 1905 was the most prosperous years in its history.
  • ANSONIA – Stephen Charters, who until last month had been Mayor of Ansonia, has returned to his former profession as a carpenter and labor leader. Ironically, he finds himself employed at the new Lincoln School, which is still under construction. He discretely pencils his name, the date, and notes he is a carpenter behind a wall about to be installed. The signature remains undiscovered until it is uncovered by workmen remodeling Lincoln School, on July 13, 1955.

December 30

  • ANSONIA – It is noted that the large mud hole that appears every time it rains near the railroad passenger station, and the dilapidated town post (sign board) nearby leave visitors with bad first impressions of Ansonia.

December 31

  • Several churches hold Watch Night celebrations, including Ansonia’s Immanuel and the Methodist Church. New Year’s Eve passes quietly – few people on the streets.

1906

January

Monday, January 1, 1906

  • The Evening Sentinel sold a record 1,536,680 copies in 1905. The average daily circulation is 5,022. For many years the Sentinel had the largest per capita subscription rate in the United States.

January 2

  • DERBY – The board of Apportionment & Taxation is being petitioned to widen and improve Water Street.
  • DERBY – The Sentinel reports that famous multi-millionaire Andrew Carnegie will donate the last $625 needed to purchase an organ for the new Unitarian Church at Seymour and Atwater Avenues.
  • SHELTON – A boy skating on the canal falls through the ice. He sinks under the water twice. Fortunately his plight is witnessed by a women, who calls the police. The Borough’s only two permanent policemen respond. Officer Barnes jumps into the frigid waters, grabs the boy, and hands him to Chief Robbins.

January 3

  • A heavy evening rainfall turns everything into ice.
  • SEYMOUR – The 150 acre James Farm on Mountain Road in the Bungay district is sold to J.H. Hale of Glastonbury, the largest peach grower in the world. The farm also touches Great Hill Road, across which is the Hale & Coleman peach orchard – the largest in Connecticut.
  • SEYMOUR – The road through Puddle Hollow, a neighborhood being eradicated for railroad expansion and to relocate South Main Street, is  officially closed.
  • OXFORD – Whooping Cough epidemic in Oxford Center.

January 4

  • DERBY – The Russian Relief Committee has raised $153.55 for victims of a Jewish pogrom that occurred there.

January 5

  • ANSONIA – Another house is moved from the Railroad Property to New Jerusalem, off lower Main Street.
  • ANSONIA – Big problem with dogs killing chickens on Kankwood Hill. 
  • ANSONIA – The State is dissatisfied with Ansonia’s recent school enumeration, and orders the City to perform it again – for the third time in a year.
  • SEYMOUR – The defunct Valley National Bank pays its last dividend.
  • SEYMOUR – The road on west side of the river to Ansonia, through the woods near Kinneytown Flats, is covered with stones that rolled down the nearby hill – causing a dangerous condition.

January 6

  • Coal dealers report slack business due to mild the winter temperatures. Caterpillars, snakes, and lady bugs are appearing.
  • DERBY – Attorney Albert Sherwood’s first ever article appears in the Evening Sentinel, entitled “Historic Trees of Derby, Part I”. A Waterbury resident, Mr. Sherwood was born in Derby in the 1840s, and is from one of the “old” families. Many more articles would appear. In 1924, the same year of his death, many of them would be put together in a book still read today called Memories of Old Derby.

Monday, January 8, 1906

  • The unseasonably high temperatures are broken a bit today by a light snowfall. Prior to that mosquitoes were appearing in the unusually mild weather. People are anxious about high ice prices later this year, as ponds where it is harvested are not frozen. Ice was used for refrigeration in 1906.
  • ANSONIA – A “murderous” assault at Henry Gross’ saloon on Water Street leaves a bartender with a fractured skull from a pool cue. The assailant at large, and being vigorously tracked down by the police.

January 9

  • ANSONIA – The bartender who was assaulted at Henry Gross’s salon dies. The assailant has been arrested, and is charged with murder.
  • OXFORD – Foundation laid for a new public hall in Quaker Farms, to replace the Good Templar Hall destroyed by fire last Halloween.
  • SHELTON – The factory of the United Folding Box & Paper company is to be leased to the Bleached Fibre Company of New York, where it will manufacture high grade paper stock.

January 10

  • Temperatures near zero.
  • SEYMOUR – Many complaints about the Seymour Electric Company’s streetlights. They are so dim they are virtually useless at night.

January 11

  • Roller skates are becoming popular again, as they were a number of years ago.
  • DERBY – It is announced that the Derby Automobile Company will open on March 1 in a new building on Atwater Avenue. It is run by Curtiss & Tomlinson of Ansonia, who are converting their carriage manufacturer business to sell automobiles.
  • DERBY – John Lombardi is putting a big addition onto his Minerva Street machine shop, that will serve as a salesroom for up to 50 automobiles. An old wood shed is being torn down for new 2-story brick building.

January 13

  • DERBY – Burglars are discovered by a laundryman in Judge William Sidney Downs’ home on Elizabeth Street. He chases one of them across the Derby Public Library grounds. The suspect then jumps over the ravine at Caroline Street. Both burglars escape. The upper floor of the Judge’s home is found ransacked.
  • OXFORD – Rabies scare when a dog is discovered with the disease. 
  • SEYMOUR – There is a Scarlet Fever epidemic on Great Hill.

January 14

  • There is so much ice after an ice storm that some children are actually ice skating along the sidewalks.

Monday, January 15, 1906

  • Rain washes away yesterday’s snow, ruining the sleighing and coating sidewalks with ice.
  • DERBY – The new electrical control switch is now in operation at the rail yards at  Derby Junction in East Derby.
  • SHELTON – Residents of the Kneen Street area are upset when a local doctor fails to report a case of diphtheria. This results in many children being exposed to the disease at Ferry School, resulting in an uproar among the parents, too. The school room is fumigated. The Borough Health Officer, Dr. Gould Shelton, is investigating.

January 16

  • SEYMOUR – The Sentinel editorializes that Seymour will become a trolley center now that contracts have  been awarded for a new line between that town and Naugatuck. The Naugatuck line goes to Waterbury, connecting that city to Bridgeport via the Lower Naugatuck Valley lines.

January 17

  • A rabies scare affecting other parts of the area reaches the Valley. Dogs believed infected are found on Division Street, Ansonia, and on Derby Avenue in Seymour. Stores are seeing a run on muzzles. People are killing dogs suspected of carrying rabies.
  • ANSONIA – The police department seizes a nickel slot machine in the Hotel Dayton. After that the numerous other gambling machines that appeared in Ansonia in the last six months “disappear as if by magic” in Ansonia. 
  • DERBY – George Clark of Milford will lease the Bassett barn on Fourth Street, for the sale of carriages, buggies, and heavy wagons. Mr. Clark sold a considerable quantity of these last year.
  • January 18
  • DERBY – Many are pleased with the new concrete bridge on Main Street over the Naugatuck River. They think the Huntington Bridge, a steel bridge constructed in 1891 at the site of today’s Derby-Shelton Bridge should be replaced next. (It would be replaced by the current concrete structure in 1919).

January 19

  • DERBY – The George W. Cheeseman property on Minerva Street is purchased for a new Derby High School. The Elks were negotiating for some time for the property, and were reportedly surprised by the announcement.
  • DERBY – Another burglary occurs in the Derby Public Library neighborhood when the H. D. Sawyer house on Seymour Avenue is broken into. Some silverware is taken.
  • SEYMOUR – Few dogs wandering in Seymour today, as most are chained due to the rabies scare.
  • SHELTON – Unlike other parts of the area, large amounts of harvestable ice for refrigeration can be found in Huntington. Two icemen have harvested 115 tons from the millpond off the Huntington Street bridge, while in White Hills Philip Jones has also filled his big house.

January 20

  • SHELTON – In a shocking development, warrants are issued for the arrest of 14 local merchants, mostly along Howe Avenue, for conducting business on Sunday. Apparently a petition was signed by members of a group with religious ties. After the initial shock and indignation from the first merchants who were served the warrants, the arrests take on a carnival atmosphere as people learn a visit from the police is imminent, and so many others are also being arrested. The police are reportedly reluctant to make the arrests, but their hands are tied. This is the major local news story in the Sentinel for quite some time, and touches off a debate over whether state ordinances prohibiting business on Sunday are a religious duty, or merely a Connecticut “Blue Law”.
  • ANSONIA – The proprietor of the Hotel Dayton pleads guilty to keeping an illegal slot machine and is fined $50, which is considered quite steep. Later he is charged for exposing minors to the machine. Its widely believed that this case is intended as a warning to the other slot machine vendors who have been installing the machines for the last six months.
  • SEYMOUR – A police officer kills another mad dog suspected of carrying rabies.

January 21

  • Temperatures rise to 60 degrees with high humidity

Monday, January 22, 1906

  • OXFORD – The walls of the new Good Templar Hall are raised in Quaker Farms.

January 23

  • DERBY – The Elks Club votes to buy the Cheeseman property on Minerva Street for the amount agreed upon some time ago. This is a problem, because the Board of Education has already put $100 down on the property for use as a new High School.
  • DERBY – Local residents who return from an automobile show in New York City are very enthusiastic about the new machine’s future prospects. Among the new innovations introduced is a device intended to help cars ride easier called a shock absorber. At this time, many still think automobiles are dangerous, largely because of their speed.

January 24

  • SEYMOUR – Complaint of a large number of underage foreign boys working in local factories.

January 25

  • DERBY – Word reaches town that General Joseph Wheeler is gravely ill, suffering from pneumonia in New York City. This leads to a number of reminisces about the man’s boyhood in Derby. He lived in the Commodore Hull House on Commerce Street. Later, he would move South, and he would become a leader in the Confederate Army. After the Civil War, he worked toward Reconstruction, and became a general in the US Army, serving in the Spanish American War. Later in the day, it was announced that he passed away.
  • SEYMOUR – The Mad Dog scare continues. A dog is killed after it attacks a woman on horseback on Great Hill. In another part of town, people are worried about a resident that was bit by a dog owned by the principal of Seymour High School, though the victim does not appear to be suffering from rabies. 

January 28

  • DERBY – Four arrested in a Sunday raid on a Housatonic Avenue saloon.
  • OXFORD – The Sentinel’s Oxford correspondent writes: “The traveling on Sunday was very hard and few cared to ride for pleasure that day. A cold wave followed that night, which while not excessive is good wholesome winter weather”.

Monday, January 29, 1906

  • DERBY – A suspect in the burglary of the Sawyer residence on Seymour Avenue in Derby earlier this month is arrested – an Ansonia man. This came after another man arrested for stealing Dr. Ambrose Beardsley’s carriage implicated him. Both are accused of several break-ins involving silver.
  • DERBY – It is formally announced that the Cheeseman property on Minerva Street will be used for a new Derby High School.
  • DERBY – The Board of Apportionment & Taxation is considering opening a “Town Farm”, which will care for the poor by providing them a working environment. The reason for this is charity expenses are rapidly increasing, and Ansonia seems to have had success with a similar venture.

January 30

  • Icemen are giving up hope of a successful local harvest due to the mild winter. They have reportedly resorted to listening to the region’s old inhabitants telling them the number of times the Housatonic River, the largest source of refrigeration ice, froze in February enough to make ice.

January 31

  • ANSONIA – One of Ansonia’s oldest residents, Mrs. Charlotte D. Clark, dies at the age of 82. She was born in Seymour, but moved to Woodbridge Street, Ansonia in 1830, where she lived in the same house for the rest of her life. When she moved to Ansonia, Main Street was mostly composed of potato patches. The nearest store was on Main & Division Streets, and the nearest Naugatuck River bridge crossing was at Division Street.
  • ANSONIA – Because of the mild weather, Ansonia merchants are complaining they have very large stocks of winter goods.
  • OXFORD – Hope Chapel in Quaker Farms given a new stove, a gift from a new town resident.
  • DERBY – Residents are requesting a new streetlight on the corner of Minerva Street and Cottage Street.

February

Thursday, February 1, 1906

  • Today is Ansonia Day in New Haven. The Elm City’s merchants there gave free inducements to Ansonia and Derby women to come to New Haven to shop. These inducements include free train fare, free meals, and sales for Valley residents only. Special, gaily decorated trains are sent to the Valley. Thousands attend.
  • There is a problem on the Huntington Bridge, of boys handing out handbills to passerby. The pedestrians tend to glance at the handbills, often advertising sales or shows at places such as Sterling Opera House, then throw them onto street. This practice is illegal in both Derby and Shelton, but the boys tend to run over the bridge, outside the jurisdiction of each town’s police, when pursued. Now that Derby and Shelton are cooperating on this, they are positioning themselves directly in the middle of the bridge, and its unclear which department has jurisdiction.
  • SEYMOUR – The Tomlinson Place on River Road in Seymour is purchased by a new owner for a low price. The reason the price was low is the house is said to be haunted. Several families who lived there said a ghost rearranges furniture at night. The ghost is thought to be the original owner, who committed suicide. The house’s former owner did not occupy the house.

February 2

  • Local groundhogs see their shadows, predicting six more weeks of winter. That evening, the temperatures fall below zero, causing the Housatonic to freeze, and making the nervous icemen very happy.

February 4

  • ANSONIA – An Elm Street milkman loses control of his wagon going down that street’s hill. The wagon bumps horses that are pulling it, causing them to go wild. The wagon overturns near Vose Street, dumping 400 quarts of milk into the street. One horse is injured, and the wagon is smashed.

Monday, February 5, 1906

  • The Ansonia-Derby Ice Company is making preparations to harvest ice in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, due to the very mild winter.
  • ANSONIA – 5 local boys, about 17 years old, have run away. It is rumored that they have decided to join the Navy.
  • SEYMOUR – A dump cart, and the horse that was pulling it, fall into the Naugatuck River off upper Main Street. The horse had to be cut free of its harness to be saved.

February 6

  • ANSONIA – Ansonia Board of Apportionment and Taxation approves a 12 mill tax on all residents. This proves very unpopular, and at least one grassroots group forms to find ways to avoid paying the tax.
  • ANSONIA – The Board of Health votes to ask the Board of Aldermen to make spitting on sidewalks illegal.
  • DERBY – Following Ansonia’s lead, the Police Chief warns shop owners to remove all slot machines.

February 8

  • Snowstorm and lunar eclipse overnight.
  • DERBY – The Derby Neck Library board votes to remove all books by Jack London from the shelves, after the author announces he is an anarchist and denounces the United States government.
  • SHELTON – The first teacher’s institute ever held by the Town of Huntington opens at Shelton High School, under the State Board of Education. At least 150 Connecticut teachers attend.

February 9

  • SEYMOUR – A carriage containing an Ansonia couple is struck by a train on South Main Street, after the horse became spooked and ran into it head on. The husband is badly injured. The wife dies the following day.
  • ANSONIA – Fountain Hose Company holds their 30th annual Firemen’s Ball at German Hall. Many attend.

February 10

  • DERBY – The action of the Derby Neck Library board two days before catches the attention of the New York Times, which ridicules the board and states banning Jack London’s books is “good advertising for the author”.

February 11

  • A snowstorm brings the first opportunity of the winter season to use horse drawn sleighs.
  • SHELTON – In the wake of arrest, and eventual clearing of charges, of all merchants open on Sunday, all downtown merchants remain closed this Sunday, including fruit dealers who tested the law last week. This does not stop the Fairfield County sheriffs from raiding the Donovan saloon on Center Street – arriving from Bridgeport in a horse drawn sleigh. After breaking down the door and busting windows, it becomes clear that the saloon was indeed closed for the day, in accordance with the law. A rough crowd gathers outside and taunts the sheriffs, but no violence or arrests result.

Monday, February 12, 1906

  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia-Derby Ice Company starts cutting 8 acres of 10″ thick ice on Quillian’s pond in Ansonia. Because of the scarcity of ice this year, due to the warm temperatures, arc lights are set up so the cutting can go on both day and night. Ice was the primary means of refrigeration back then. 
  • DERBY – In the wake of last week’s controversy, involving the Derby Neck Library pulling all books by Jack London off the shelves after he denounces the US Government and declares he is an anarchist, Derby and Shelton Socialists are now trying to get Mr. London to speak at Sterling Opera House.
  • DERBY – The police department informs local boys they can no longer play on the Green, due to damage they have caused to the grass.

February 13

  • ANSONIA – 50 at work at Qullian’s Pond for Ansonia-Derby Ice Company. Warm evening weather causes mass melting of both snow and ice, forcing the harvesting to stop.
  • ANSONIA – Ansonia, Derby, Shelton, Seymour residents meet here to form the Naugatuck Valley Motor Boat Club. Twenty attend the meeting, and officers are elected. A boathouse will be constructed on Shelton side of Housatonic River.
  • SHELTON – A dozen employees of the Derby Manufacturing Company on Canal Street strike after the machine room foreman is discharged.

February 14

  • OXFORD – Ice harvesting has also been occurring here at a frenzied pace, in an effort to get enough ice in the little time allowed. F. S. Sanford’s ice house is only half full.
  • SEYMOUR – Mrs. Julia French withdraws offer to build a public library in memory of her late husband. Her lawyer states the reasons include the fact she is now in ill health and is not pleased with the progress of obtaining land for the library.

February 15

  • ANSONIA – Cold weather returns, ice harvesting begins again on Quillian’s Pond.
  • DERBY – The Ansonia-Derby Ice Company is now harvesting on Lake Housatonic, above the Ousatonic Dam. However, the ice is of poor quality, and only 7″ thick.
  • DERBY – The mayor appoints two members of the Board of Apportionment and Taxation to purchase a Town Farm for local poor residents.
  • DERBY – Mrs. Gilbert Wheeler, born August 5, 1817,, dies in the same house she was born at 323 Hawthorne Avenue. She was the daughter of Sheldon and Grace Smith. 

February 16

  • DERBY – In a further sign of the unseasonably mild weather, a Washington Street resident spots a robin and 2 bluebirds.

February 17

  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia-Derby Ice Company is having a hard time finding people to harvest ice on Quillian’s Pond on short notice. High school boys are now being employed.
  • SEYMOUR – The “mad dog” rabies scare is over for the most part, though complaints persist of unattended dogs.

February 18

  • All but giving up on the local ice harvest, the Ansonia-Derby Ice Company begins harvesting on a leased pond in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The ice blocks will be floated down the Housatonic River.

Monday, February 19, 1906

  • ANSONIA – Mayor Farrel and members of Board of Education have been inspecting city schools. They had to enter and leave Elm Street School through back fence because of a 6″ layer of mud everywhere else in the schoolyard. Steps are being taken to solve problem.

February 20

  • DERBY – Housatonic Avenue is in “deplorable” shape. It is described as “one long mudhole”. The sidewalks have many holes and are also muddy.
  • DERBY & ANSONIA – Spring like weather once again halts ice harvesting on Quillian’s Reservoir and Lake Housatonic.

February 21

  • ANSONIA – 200 attend a Washington’s Birthday ball at Ansonia Opera House.
  • ANSONIA – Riot between Poles and Slavs in a Jersey Street saloon. Six are arrested, though it is unclear exactly what happened due to language barriers.
  • SHELTON – The first coal barge of the year arrives at Shelton Docks, for the J. A. Birge Company. This is quite early in the year for coal barges, normally the river is iced over at this point. The mild weather, while it may be driving the cost of ice up, is also contributing to lowering the cost of coal.

February 22

  • By this time, the Ansonia-Derby Ice Company has only harvested 4000 tons of ice – much of it poor quality, due to the mild winter. This leads to widespread fears that the price of ice, vital to refrigeration, will be high this year.

February 23

  • SEYMOUR – A 22 year old Italian railroad laborer is struck and killed by a freight train at Mahoney’s Cut, below South Main Street.
  • ANSONIA – Ansonia Opera House packed beyond capacity by Webster Hose H&L Company’s ball. Four hundred are in the Grand March alone.

February 24

  • ANSONIA – Owner of the Jersey Street saloon where the riot broke out February 21 is arrested for serving minors. He is fined $25.

February 25

  • ANSONIA – A farmer walking with a lantern at dusk brings a train to a screeching halt. The train’s engineer saw him swinging the lantern in distance, and became afraid that it was a signal that the tracks were washed out ahead. A quick investigation leads to no charges being filed, as the farmer had no idea his lantern caused the train to stop when questioned.

Monday, February 26, 1906

  • Ice field on Lake Housatonic breaks up and floats down the river. In previous years, the “ice going out” led to destructive freshets along the riverbank, but because of the mild winter the ice was so thin it causes no damage.
  • OXFORD – The new social hall built to replace Good Templar Hall dedicated in Quaker Farms with a dance held by the Choral Club. The hall is a big improvement over the last one, and the gathering is the biggest assembly in recent memory in Quaker Farms. A formal opening is proposed after Lent.
  • SHELTON – The work of removing machinery of the National Folding Box and Paper Company on Canal Street to New Haven is well underway. The factory is for sale.

February 27

  • ANSONIA – The annual American Brass Company meeting is held in Waterbury. Charles Brooker of Ansonia is reelected president of the ABC. The firm’s capitol stock is raised from $10 million to $12.5 million.
  • ANSONIA – A public hearing is held about the trolley company, Connecticut Railway & Lighting’s, petition to double track the belt line. The proposal has met vigorous opposition in Ansonia, where residents are afraid there would be no room for horse teams on Main Street if more tracks are added. This ongoing debate lasts for weeks.
  • SEYMOUR – Messrs. Sanford & Hitch move their steam powered sawmill from Governor’s Hill, Oxford, to a woodland tract they recently purchased on Great Hill.

February 28

  • ANSONIA – A mysterious “Miss Dandro” leaves a note in the mail that she admired a man from afar, and wanted to meet him at McQuade’s Corner Drug Store. The problem was, about 100 men from Ansonia and Derby got the same note, and many showed up looking for the secret admirer all at once, including some who were married. Many entered the store, some hung out in the area, while some walked past a number of times. Later it was discovered that the letter was a clever ploy for a new hair tonic from the company that made it, being sold at McQuade’s, called Dandro.
  • DERBY – The Derby Choral Club stages Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah at Sterling Opera House, before one of the largest audiences ever in the playhouse. The Derby Fire Department had men in uniform – which calmed nervous people down (deadly theater fires were a real problem in America then). While the Sentinelenjoys the presentation, it complains that the main exit was blocked with chairs for additional seating, as well as people getting up and leaving before the last number ended.
  • SEYMOUR – A new 4-room schoolhouse being built next to Central School is almost finished. It will be for primary grades – the children who will go there are now at Central and the Second Street School.
  • SHELTON – For only the third time in 15 years, ice on the bottom of the Shelton Canal rose to the surface and blocked the waterwheels of the mills along Canal Street which draw power from it. Some factories close, others are on limited production. Rock salt and long handled rakes are employed with limited success.

March

Thursday, March 1, 1906

  • ANSONIA – The John R. Murray Company changes its name to R. Q. Walsh Company. Robert Q. Walsh was a junior partner in the firm for many years, until Mr. Muray recently retired. The company runs the Boston Store, and the building will continue to be called the Murray Block.

March 3

  • Three inches of rain falls today, the heaviest rainfall total since August.
  • ANSONIA – Streets and crosswalks flooded. The Naugatuck rises to highest level in a year – rising to a few inches below the track timbers of the railroad trestle.
  • SEYMOUR – Street flooding occurs when the Naugatuck River overflows. The floodwaters carried away several yards of temporary railroad tracks where double-tracking is occurring. Several large gravel banks related to the construction project are completely washed away upstream. A big steam shovel near the riverbank is almost undermined.
  • SHELTON – The Naugatuck Valley Motor Boat Club will lease 100′ of river frontage from Captain George W. Briggs off the South End. The riverfront location is ideal as it is in a sort of ravine along the riverbank, offering protection from freshets.

March 4

  • The Naugatuck River continues to rise due to the heavy rainfall the day before. The floodwater begin to recede at noon, and by evening the river level has dropped 3 feet.
  • DERBY – A big beam floats down Naugatuck River and strikes a pier of the Old Town Bridge on Division Street, causing the bridge to settle and lean onto one side. Both rivers rise in Derby, but the damage is slight because there is no ice.
  • SHELTON – The Church of the Good Shepherd is shaken by the news that Rev. F. H. Masthison has been stricken by “partial paralysis of the vocal cords”.

Wednesday, March 7, 1906

  • ANSONIA – An old carpenter shop on The Flats off Maple street is torn down. Several tenement buildings will be erected there. Many Seymour residents, most of whom are foreign born and displaced by the railroad improvements that eradicated the Puddle Hollow neighborhood and other places in that town, have migrated to Ansonia in the six months.
  • SEYMOUR – The Town’s Grand List totals $2,991,986, and increase of $15,000 over last year.
  • SEYMOUR – SNET completes running a phone cable from Ansonia to the corner of Main and Bank Streets. It contains 104 wires – which should accommodate Seymour’s expanding telephone needs for the next few years.
  • SHELTON – The Ousatonic Water Company is building a suburb called Parkview north of downtown Shelton. While a number of lots will be sold, the company itself will build at least 6 model cottages – containing 6 rooms each and moderately priced.

March 9

  • DERBY – 15 pupils of Franklin School are ordered home by the principal, because they have whooping cough. The school system is trying to prevent an outbreak.
  • SHELTON – The “mad dog” rabies scare has spread into White Hills. A berserk mastiff was scared out of a pig pen, then ran away and attacked 2 other dogs, killing one before being shot and killed itself . Three days later the entire town orders all dogs must be muzzled for a month, and police may shot dogs that are not compliant.

March 10

  • ANSONIA – Armstrong Bargain House will throw 5,000 marbles into the street at 2 PM as an advertising stunt. This is the second year in a row Armstrong’s has done so. At this time in history, marbles is a popular children’s game.

Monday, March 12, 1906

  • DERBY – Two cast members from the troupe performing Uncle Tom’s Cabin at the Sterling Opera House get married on stage – for real. Theatergoers initially thought it was part of the production, but it was an actual marriage, performed by Rev. A. J. Talbot, of Ansonia’s AME Zion Church.

March 13

  • SEYMOUR – A Derby mason working on the double tracking project gets caught on the railroad trestle over the Naugatuck River as a train approaches. He narrowly escapes, and has to jump 20′ into the water to save his life.

March 14

  • SEYMOUR – Telephone lines are being extended into Great Hill.
  • ANSONIA – The controversy over the dwindling number of shade trees downtown resurfaces when two nice old trees are cut down on the corner of Main and Chestnut Streets. There is talk of enacting an ordinance to preserve the remaining shade trees left.

March 15

  • A snowstorm drops up to six inches of snow. This is only the second storm of the year in which enough snow has fallen for horse drawn sleighs.

March 17

  • ANSONIA – A mule that until recently belonged to Farrel Foundry is sold to a coal dealer. Shortly afterward, it stops in its tracks on Main Street, just as the Farrel gong sounds for quitting work. The mule absolutely will not budge, and even holds up the trolley. It takes awhile for people to realize that the Farrel gong signified it could stop work, along with the foundry’s human employees. The mule finally moves when it becomes convinced that it is about to be served dinner – part of its routine at Farrel’s.
  • SEYMOUR – The rabies scare appears to have passed – the 60 day muzzle law on all dogs is allowed to expire today.

Monday, March 19, 1906

  • The worst snowstorm of the year brings high winds and deep, wet snow. A train derails in heavy snow between Seymour and Beacon Falls.
  • ANSONIA – The Board of Education votes to open new Garden Street School on April 9. The Factory Street School will be shuttered, while three 8th grade classes from Hill School will be transferred to Garden Street.

March 20

  • ANSONIA – School enumerations completed, again. A total of 3,742 school age children are counted, 148 more than last December’s count. 196 of them are in private schools, and 2781 are in public schools. 16 children between the ages of 14 & 16 are not in school, while another 16 over the age of 16 are still in school.
  • ANSONIA – The Police Chief gets a telephone call from Woodbridge about a man who stole an overcoat and jewels from a home there. A companion of the suspect shortly afterward shows up at the police station for lodging (lockups commonly doubled as homeless shelters back then), and tells the Chief the suspect’s location. He’s arrested at train station. The new modern marvel, the telephone, is credited for allowing the Chief to move quickly before the suspect caught a train for Boston.
  • SEYMOUR – A Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) Chapter is organized at the Seymour Congregational Church.
  • SHELTON – The Sidney Blumenthal Company will lease part of the former Birmingham Brass Company on Bridge Street and install 60 looms. The company’s growth is termed “phenomenal”.

March 21

  • Today is the first day of Spring. Snow still covers everything.
  • DERBY – N. L. Blover, an Elizabeth Street automobile dealer, loads five people who missed the trolley into a car. He later passes the same trolley, beating it into Ansonia, despite the snowy conditions. He tied ropes around the wheels for added traction.
  • SHELTON – The International Silver Company on Bridge Street is “unusually busy”. The company needs new machinery to meet its demands, but has no room to install it.

March 22

  • ANSONIA – City factories are extremely busy – most are working until 10:00 PM, instead of the usual 6:00 PM quitting time. The workers are being paid overtime.
  • ANSONIA – A new three-story frame apartment building will soon replace an old house on Jersey Street.
  • SEYMOUR – The Naugatuck News reports that that Sunday selling continues to be brisk in this town. It has also proven hard to catch, because someone is tipping off saloon keepers ahead of raids. Slot machines are also a problem.
  • SHELTON – An otter is shot and killed along the Far Mill River in Wells Hollow. This is the first otter seen here in over 25 years.

March 23

  • DERBY – Pool, or billiards, continues to be popular in this city, despite the fact it is waning elsewhere in favor of bowling and roller skating.
  • SHELTON – Farmers and lumbermen lament that the industrial boom has stripped them of manpower. One farmer is offering a rent-free cottage, fuel, a cow, and $25 a month, and still can’t find workers.

March 24

  • Morning temperatures are 8 degrees.

March 25

  • SEYMOUR – The town is dry this Sunday, due to widespread rumors of a pending raid against illegal alcohol selling. None occurs, however.
  • OXFORD – The price of eggs is down to 18 cents per dozen, due to the overabundance of eggs in town.

Monday, March 26, 1906

  • DERBY – Derby will receive a drinking fountain for both horses and humans on the corner of Atwater and Seymour Avenues – thanks to a successful application by W. E. Andrews of Williams Typewriter Company to National Humane Alliance It will replace an iron drinking tank there many years. This fountain has since been moved to Founder’s Common.

March 27

  • Warm temperatures bring a big thaw to the deep snow cover from the recent storm.
  • ANSONIA – The bowling alleys at the Ansonia YMCA open after being refurbished. They are heavily patronized.
  • DERBY – During a public hearing of Derby Board of Aldermen committee empowered to look into the matter of the CR&L trolley line double-tracking the belt line, the committee votes 16-7 to turn down the petition to double track trolley lines. Ansonia is reported pleased, as it already is on record opposing the plan. 

March 28

  • ANSONIA – The Naugatuck River is 2′ higher than it was yesterday due to the thaw. An island below the Maple Street bridge has shifted east – no one knows why. The Sentinel remarks how resourceful Ansonia’s poor are for their skill in quickly scavenging driftwood washed up along the riverbank for fuel.
  • ANSONIA – A four-day search for two missing children, a 5 year old girl and her 3 and a half year old brother, comes to a tragic end when their bodies are discovered in Biddy Lamb’s Pond. Apparently they fell through the ice in extremely cold weather. At this time of year, the pond covers one acre. The Sentinel calls it one of the saddest tragedies ever to strike Ansonia.

March 29

  • Thanks to the thaw, many roads are covered with mud “half a wheel deep” in some places. 
  • DERBY – People are driving their wagons and carriages along the railroad track paralleling New Haven Avenue to avoid the mud.
  • ANSONIA – Every school in Ansonia now has a telephone, except Garden Street which will shortly.
  • ANSONIA – Farrel Foundry & Machine Company is completing the largest sugar mill it has ever built. It will be shipped to Cuba next week. It was completely assembled, then taken apart for shipping.

March 30

  • There is now a problem hiring servant girls and waitresses, because women are preferring the large number of available factory jobs. The same applies to farm hands, causing some local farmers to go to Ellis Island, in an attempt to employ newly arrived immigrants.

March 31

  • ANSONIA – Joseph Jarvis of Bridgeport has leased the old skating rink on Mechanic Street, which he will convert into an 8-lane bowling alley. He hopes to open May 1.
  • SHELTON – Not a single case came before the Town Court in the month of March. It is attributed to the fact that everyone is working.

April

April 1

  • ANSONIA – Dr. Roselus Y. Downs, Ansonia’s Health Officer, dies at age 45 in his South Cliff Street home. Many are shocked, and believe overwork is the main cause. He came to Ansonia in 1886.
  • ANSONIA – The Factory Street School closes. The school’s female janitor of 19 years turns in her keys.

Monday, April 2, 1906

  • Coal jumps 50 cents a ton, to $7.50, in one day, due to a massive strike in the Pennsylvania coal mines.
  • ANSONIA – A Jersey Street saloon owner gets his second big fine, $100, in six weeks, for serving alcohol to minors.

April 3

  • The price of lobsters is at a near record high, at 30 cents a pound.
  • ANSONIA – Several thousand people from across the Valley attend the opening of the new Boston Store, on the corner of Main Street and Bridge Street.
  • DERBY – The “White Property” house on Derby Avenue is being torn down. It is one of the oldest houses in Derby, and was once a rectory for Christ Episcopal Church when it was located across the street.
  • SHELTON – The town’s 1,200 Roman Catholics are surprised by a morning Associated Press announcement that a new parish is to be established here, with Father D. A. Bailey of Montville the pastor. Currently Shelton’s Catholics worship at St. Mary’s in Derby, although some there have initial doubts of the report’s authenticity, it later is determined true. This is the very beginning of St. Joseph’s parish.

April 4

  • DERBY – The largest automobile ever seen in Derby up to that time passes through. It is over 9 feet long, powered by a 50 horse power engine. Among its amenities are glass windows on the doors, and a leather interior.
  • OXFORD – Linemen are putting extra lines on the new telegraph passing through Quaker Farms between New York and Boston.

April 5

  • SEYMOUR – A laborer in a local factory has built a greenhouse on his Union Street property entirely out of scratch in his spare time. Many are impressed.

April 7

  • The trolley company is putting side bars on the open trolleys used in warm weather, so people can only enter on one side. This increases both safety and ease of boarding.

April 8

  • DERBY – Numerous boats are launched for the season today due to fine weather, including the long anticipated new powerboat My Creation. Built by Mr. Clark, the boat is 26′ long, 7′ wide, powered by a 2 cylinder engine, and painted pure white. The cabin can accommodate about 25 people. It is intended as a fast excursion boat, carrying parties up and down the Housatonic River, and to Long Island.
  • SHELTON – A 3 year old boy drowns in the Shelton Canal near the Paper Mill Block, while his parents are attending St. Michael’s Church services in Derby. He was in the care of older sister, who took her eyes off him for an instant.

Monday, April 9, 1906

  • A rainstorm begins at noon and continues until early the next morning, dropping a total of 3.15″ on the region. Wet snow falls in the afternoon, but does not stick. The storm is accompanied by high winds.
  • DERBY – The Derby Neck Library Association receives $3000 gift from Andrew Carnegie for a new library building, on condition that a lot be secured and the City appropriates $300 a year to the library. The City agrees to the terms of the gift, and a lot is secured from the heirs of late William E Downes, near Derby Neck Schoolhouse.
  • DERBY – Newton J. Peck sells the “Old Homestead Property” on Derby Avenue to St. Michael’s parish, where they will build a new church. The lot adjoins land the church already owns.
  • DERBY – A trolley sets a record of 11 minutes between Yale Field and Derby. The trolley was late in departing, and was carrying only passengers who were on their way to the transfer point at Derby Junction. Since there were no other stops, the trolley was able to travel at full speed the whole way.
  • ANSONIA – Factory Street School pupils gather there first thing in the morning, then are marched by their teachers to new Garden Street School, which opens for the first time. The Eighth grade from Hill School also transfers there.
  • SEYMOUR – The Naugatuck River comes close to overflowing it’s banks due to the heavy rain. No damage.

April 10

  • SEYMOUR – A large mad dog attacks the horses of a wagon belonging to the Seymour Manufacturing Company, then the driver. The driver directs the team into the into mill, and with an assistant fights the dog with pitchforks. The dog bolts, then attacks an assistant mill superintendent, tearing a coat off his back. Finally, the factory’s President, Sen. William Henry Harrison Wooster, observing the scene from his office, decides he’s had enough of this, and dispatches the dog with a shotgun fired from a window.
  • SHELTON – The Derby Gas Company will build a new private coal dock on Nettleton property off Riverdale Avenue. It will be 150 feet long, and made of concrete. It will be an improvement over old dock, and will connect directly with the company’s coal yards – eliminating the need to haul the heavy loads over public streets.
  • SHELTON – The Borough votes to accept the petition of the Star Pin Company and discontinue the portion of Maple Street between Shelton Canal and Housatonic River. The measure passed over the objection of some Derby residents, who believed this would be the best place to build a second bridge between Derby and Shelton in the future.

April 11

  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia Water Company places a water meter on the watering trough located on Main Street and Bridge Street. This surprises some, who had assumed the water used to quench horses’ thirst was free.
  • OXFORD – Diphtheria breaking out in Southford.

April 12

  • Many houses are being repainted, despite the generally rainy weather this week.
  • SEYMOUR – All dogs in Seymour must now be muzzled for 90 days, due to the attack at Seymour Manufacturing two days before. It is feared there may be a rabies outbreak. Many owners are opposed.

April 13

  • On this Good Friday, many bakers are selling hot cross buns. Derby Baker J.N. Wise sells almost 3000 dozen hot cross buns alone, and still has to turn some away. Many are out in the nice weather, the trolleys are filled, and most are wearing Easter or springtime clothes.
  • ANSONIA – A small wood, single story store building is moved from Platt Street to Colburn Street.

April 14

  • SEYMOUR –  Several dogs without muzzles are shot and killed.
  • SHELTON – Many complaints of the trolleys going too fast on the Shelton-Bridgeport line. Several dogs and a horse have been killed recently, particularly along River Road. A petition has been sent to the Huntington Selectmen asking the trolleys to observe the legal speed limit – which is 15 mph.

April 15 – EASTER SUNDAY

  • Heavy rain & high winds in the morning causes some washouts. Despite the bad weather the cemeteries are full of flowers due to so many graves decorated. The churches are poorly attended despite the elaborate musical programs.
  • OXFORD – St. Peter’s Episcopal Church postpones it’s Easter services due to the storm.
  • SHELTON – St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Huntington postpones it’s Easter services due to the storm.

Monday, April 16, 1906

  • DERBY – Polish residents enjoy their old custom of throwing water on each other on Easter Monday. In previous years, other residents usually watched from a respectful distance. Today, however, a group of outsiders got involved, and became very insulting, in Battle Row. A short fight ensued, and one knocked out before the fight was broken up.
  • SHELTON – William H. Wilkins, national organizer of the American Socialist Party, delivers a stirring address at Town Hall on Howe Avenue. The Sentinel calls him an excellent speaker.

April 17

  • Ice prices are not as bad as many feared it would be after the mild winter. Last year it was 40 cents a pound, this year it is 50 cents. Broken ice in 50 pound boxes has risen from 15 cents to 25 cents. Factories and merchants purchasing wholesale, 1,000 pounds and over, are now paying from 18 cents to 25 cents a pound.
  • SHELTON – Pioneer businessman James Henry Beard dies. He constructed the first brick block in Shelton – on the northeast corner of Howe Avenue and Bridge Street (still standing today) and opened the downtown’s first grocery store there.

April 18 The Great San Francisco Earthquake occurred today.

  • ANSONIA – The offices of the Evening Sentinel is inundated with inquires from people anxious about family and friends in San Francisco. At this point, the newspaper has very little information, beyond wild rumors of complete devastation. 
  • SEYMOUR – Lewis A. Camp, retired grocer, and former president of Camp & Rugg Company, dies at age 70. He served as a Seymour Selectman from 1873-78, and also was a justice of the peace and school board member.
  • DERBY – About 200 crocuses and tulip bulbs sent by the parents of Harcourt Wood, namesake of the Derby Public Library, are in bloom all around the building and are quite beautiful.

April 19

  • Initial thoughts that the San Francisco damage was exaggerated are now dashed. Many are concerned about numerous former Valley residents there. The telegraph offices are swamped. A San Francisco piano dealer is visiting the Sterling Piano factory in Derby and is understandably very upset. The superintendent of Derby’s Alling Mills (also called Paugassett Mills), Charles B. Brewster, is traveling west, and was supposed to stop in San Francisco, but it is now unclear if he was present during the earthquake.
  • ANSONIA – The city has seen 100 new immigrants relocate here in the past week. Many of them are Russian or Polish.

April 20

  • ANSONIA – The Board of Aldermen are upset about the building moved from Platt Street to Colburn Street last week. No permit was granted. The wood building was moved into the newly established city fire district without permission.
  • DERBY – Birmingham Iron Foundry will build a 75′ square 3 story building of concrete and steel, between the foundry and machine shop. The first floor will be a cleaning room, the second a carpenter shop, and the third a pattern shop.

April 21

  • Charles B. Brewster telegraphs Derby that he is safe in Alameda. Word trickling in on other former Valley residents – all are safe, so far. One Ansonia father gets word his son is safe when he receives a newspaper about the quake from a Los Angeles newspaper.
  • ANSONIA – Mayor Farrel of Ansonia announces he will take donations for San Francisco relief. Coe Brass donates $1000.
  • ANSONIA & DERBY – Open summer trolleys are making first appearance on the belt line today. Many riders are opting them over the closed cars due to the very warm weather.

April 22

  • SHELTON – The newly organized Roman Catholic parish meets in Arcanum Hall for the first time to celebrate mass. The parish also names itself St. Joseph’s Church.

Monday, April 23, 1906

  • A snowstorm strikes the area. Although the snow melts on contact with the ground, it is the latest snowstorm in the year since 1884. Ice 1/16″ thick forms in spots.
  • SEYMOUR – At a special town meeting, residents vote unanimously to build an addition to the Town Hall to house a new library, at a cost of $750. Back then Town Hall was located on 5 Second Street, near the corner of Raymond Street.
  • SEYMOUR – An Italian laborer living in a group of shacks above the the railroad bridge over the Naugatuck River is shot 3 times, and robbed $300. The victim stumbles to the shacks, and identifies his attacker to other laborers, who is among them, before he dies. The attacker leaves the area, and it is later found he purchased a train ticket to New York City.  

April 24

  • ANSONIA – The San Francisco Earthquake relief fund is now at $1,328. The three major donors are American Brass Company ($1000), Charles Brooker ($200), and  Mayor Alton Farrel ($100).
  • DERBY – A man who worked on constructing the new concrete bridge across the Naugatuck River bridge on Main Street says it may last 100 years, and recommends replacing the steel Huntington Bridge with a similar span, noting that rust has almost eaten through it in places. (The Huntington Bridge was replaced by the concrete Derby-Shelton Bridge in 1919, which still stands today. The Main Street Bridge was heavily damaged in the 1955 Floods and replaced a few years afterward).
  • DERBY – There are numerous complains that immigrants who are spring cleaning their houses dump their garbage on the side of highways, expecting the City to pick it up. The City will, eventually, but in the meantime the appearance is very unsightly.
  • SEYMOUR – A complaint is lodged against a teacher accused of assaulting a 10 year old pupil at Central School, leaving him with visible marks. It is withdrawn the following day when the teacher apologizes.

April 25

  • Now that the dancing season is ending, it is noted that it seems to be declining in popularity. The season began strong last fall, but attendance has been dropping off since.
  • Starting today, for the next couple weeks, a number of letters from Valley friends, family, and residents in and around San Francisco are published in the Evening Sentinel. By the end of the week, however, there are still questions whether certain individuals survived.
  • ANSONIA – The San Francisco Earthquake relief fund has risen to $1,437. 
  • OXFORD – Burning papers and rags found in the doorway of new the hall in Quaker Farms, and is quickly extinguished by pails of water before much damage can be done. Residents are very upset, and are now wondering if the burning of Good Templar Hall last Halloween, which the new one replaced, really was an accident.

April 26

  • ANSONIA – A small cyclone, or whirlwind, forms on Hull Street causing $200 to $300 damage to Mr. Hill’s greenhouses.
  • SEYMOUR – At this time, all steamships leaving New York City are being searched for the man who committed the murder in town three days ago, due to fears he may be trying to flee the country.
  • SHELTON – The Borough wants to refurbish the Fire Department’s old hook & ladder truck, but because it was purchased in 1883 it is so old that replacement parts are hard to come by.
  • SHELTON – OK Tool Company will build new factory, just north of the trolley power station near the Shelton Docks, on Riverdale Avenue near Hull Street.

April 27

  • DERBY – The superintendent of Alling Mills (also called Paugassett Mills), Charles B. Brewster, has arrived home and is safe, though exhausted. He confirms he was in San Francisco during the earthquake.
  • SEYMOUR – The Evening Sentinel publishes its second editorial in a week on the Seymour murder, lamenting the brutality and blaming the increase of violence in the area on outside influences.

April 28

  • The cost of running an automobile is very expensive. A round trip between Derby and Bridgeport costs $3 in gas, or 10 cents a mile. Tires (then called shoes) are $80 each, or $320 a set, and are prone to puncturing on the poor roads. Maintaining an automobile costs an average $20 a week maintenance, and that’s not even including the cost of hiring a driver if you don’t operate the vehicle yourself. (Note: Calculating for today’s inflation, the $3 gas price for the 30 mile round trip between Derby and Bridgeport comes to $61.57 in 2006. The set of tires, incredibly, would cost  a  $6,567.54 a set. Weekly maintenance would average $410.47. Obviously, one had to be very wealthy to own an automobile in 1906).
  • SHELTON – A Coram Avenue woman is struck by a bullet that crashed through her parlor window, suffering only a bruised shoulder. It is thought that the bullet was fired from a long distance, losing most of its energy before accidentally striking her.

April 29

  • “Sunday was a very dusty day and those who went riding or walking found their pleasure spoiled by clouds of dust, which covered everything…. Automobiles that had been out for any length of time were covered thickly with dust, as we their occupants”.
  • SHELTON – A Thanksgiving service is held before a large congregation at the Church of the Good Shepherd, celebrating that the church is now free of debt.
  • OXFORD – A 100 acre forest fire begins on the Crowther farm near old Park Road. Every available man is called upon to extinguish it.

Monday, April 30, 1906

  • ANSONIA – The new bowling alleys will open in the old Bristol skating rink on Mechanic Street next week. It will be called Columbia Bowling Alleys and feature 8 lanes.

May

Tuesday, May 1, 1906

  • DERBY – Complaints of bicycles riding on sidewalks when the street is muddy, which is against City ordinances.
  • ANSONIA – W.N. Clark, and his wife and daughter, arrive at their James Street home after surviving the San Francisco Earthquake. On the morning of the quake, they were at the St. Francis Hotel, which was located on Union Square. The hotel survived, and they had breakfast right afterwards. The spreading fires eventually reached the hotel, which burned that night. The Clark family was forced to evacuate, abandoning all their baggage, joining the other refugees on the streets. They were taken into a home, but that shelter also burned a few hours later. They wandered the streets the rest of the night, eventually escaping to Oakland.

May 2

  • Secretary of War (and soon to be President) William Taft passes through the Valley on a special afternoon train on the way to Torrington. Several Valley VIPs join him for the reception.
  • Ice prices are rising due to the shortage of cold weather last winter. Generally, deliveries are up a dime from where they were a month ago.
  • ANSONIA – Columbia Bowling Alleys open with pomp and ceremony on Mechanic Street.
  • SEYMOUR – The Hale & Coleman peach orchards are in full bloom. The hillside is covered with blossoms ranging from deep pink to white. Many people are taking the open trolley cars from Ansonia to see them. The scent of the peach blossoms is noticeable all over town.

May 3

  • ANSONIA – A New Haven couple becomes the first to be married in the new City Hall today.
  • SHELTON – Already the newly organized St. Joseph’s parish has outgrown Arcanum Hall. Starting Sunday, both masses will be at the larger Clark’s Hall.

May 5

  • SHELTON – The Housatonic Power Boat Club seems all but dead at this point due to lack of activity or interest.

May 6

  • Nearly every boat on the Housatonic River was chartered to carry fishing parties to the shoreline and beyond on this Sunday.

Monday, May 7, 1906

  • Postcard collecting is popular
  • DERBY – N.D. Baldwin, a local liveryman for 39 years, decides to retire. He will hold an auction in 10 days.
  • DERBY – National Socialist organizer M. W. Wilkins gives speech at Gould Armory, defining what Socialism is. The Sentinel reports the crowd was attentive and gave favorable feedback.
  • OXFORD – Two men arrested for theft. Because the town does not have a lockup, the sheriff is in the habit of detaining people by locking handcuffing people to bedposts in the second floor of his house until they can be taken to Seymour. He also removes their clothing, so even if they do escape they won’t go far.
  • SHELTON – Rumors that Pine Rock Park will close are not true. The trolley company announces it will open on Memorial Day.

May 8

  • ANSONIA – In the midst of a “mad dog” scare in this part of Connecticut, city officials are concerned that some are harboring rabid dogs in their basements and other areas, hoping they recover. Several dogs suspected of rabies have been put down, recently.
  • ANSONIA – The Mayor’s San Francisco Earthquake relief fund is now at $1539.75. Some $60.25 was raised through a benefit football game between the Crescent and Ansonia football teams on April 29.

May 9

  • DERBY – The contract to build the new St. Michael’s Church has been awarded to Max Durrschmidt of Shelton. It will cost between $30-35,000.
  • ANSONIA – Max Olderman sells property adjoining the American Brass Company wire mill to ABC. The property lies off Canal Street, on both sides of the railroad tracks, and contains one dwelling house which will be demolished.
  • SEYMOUR – About 40′ of stone retaining wall gives way along the riverbank opposite South Main Street with such force some think it was a small earthquake. This was two days after a small Connecticut earthquake made headlines, and of course, people are quite sensitive due to the destruction of San Francisco after an earthquake less than a month ago.

May 10

  • Heavy frost this evening. Water froze, and vegetation was hurt. Many have colds. The temperature dropped to 24 degrees in Oxford. The damage was not bad at the Great Hill peach orchard.
  • ANSONIA – A 2 AM fire breaks out in one of Olderman buildings in New Jerusalem. The entire fire department is on the scene, which goes to 2 alarms. The building was a 2 story frame with an attic on Main Street & Front Street. The two stores and two apartments the building contained are destroyed. Much sympathy is expressed towards an Italian grocer who had just moved in. The building was moved from the railroad property off Canal Street a year before.
  • SEYMOUR – The Congregational Church cemetery has been cleaned, and fallen monuments have been restored. The area’s appearance is much improved.
  • SHELTON – At this time, a group of girls play baseball on Canal Street every day during lunch hour. They work in the various factories north of the Viaduct Bridge. They are quite good, and a number of men and women watch and cheer the game from the Viaduct.

May 11

  • ANSONIA – The Knights of Columbus hold a benefit mistral show for earthquake relief in San Francisco at the Ansonia Opera House.
  • DERBY – The New Haven Railroad is moving its train scales from New Haven to Derby Junction. All freight trains will have to stop there.

May 12

  • ANSONIA – The Sentinel has a picture of the proposed new passenger train depot on page 1.
  • ANSONIA – A number of people are visiting a gypsy camp near the Seymour line to have their fortunes told.
  • DERBY – William S. Crofut, proprietor of Bassett House for the past decade, says he will close the business and sell the hotel’s furniture and contents at public auction. The house’s owner says it will be thoroughly renovated and reopen again as a hotel. Mr. Crofut claims he was the house’s longest proprietor.

May 13

  • ANSONIA – Rev. Dr. W. F. Markwick announces during his Sunday sermon he will resign as pastor of Ansonia Congregational Church, a position he has held since November 14, 1890.

Monday, May 14, 1906

  • Three huge explosions from Bridgeport are felt all over Connecticut. In Ansonia, dishes rattle and houses shake. In Derby and Shelton, many think it is an earthquake.
  • ANSONIA – The Lower Naugatuck Valley University Club is formed. More than 100 college graduates join.
  • SHELTON – A 14 year old newsboys is killed when he is struck by a passing train near the canal.

May 15

  • DERBY – Construction on the new St. Michael’s Church commences with excavations for the cellar.
  • DERBY – Hand organ grinders are appearing on local streets, “to the delight of children and discomfort of everyone else”.
  • OXFORD – Hawks carrying away young chickens are becoming a problem. Hunting parties have been arranged.
  • SEYMOUR – Windsor Hotel and Tingue Opera House sold to Philip Cohen, who owns a lot of property in lower Ansonia. The Opera House was formerly owned by the Tingue Manufacturing Company.

May 16

  • SHELTON – Newly organized St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic parish has its first fundraiser – a bazaar at Clark’s Hall, which is very heavily attended.

May 17

  • ANSONIA – The Frank A. Robbins circus arrives in Ansonia and pitches tents in The Woodlot, which is located off Maple Street. The circus features many tents, elephants, camels, ponies, and hundreds of employees. At 11 AM the circus parade begins, passing through Derby, Ansonia, Shelton. 7,000 attend on the first day.
  • SHELTON – A little boy who spoke only Polish followed the Robbins Circus parade from all the way from Ansonia and became lost in Shelton. Neither local officials or helpful Polish residents could figure out where he was from until later in the evening. By the time his parents picked him up, he had been thoroughly entertained with books and ice cream.
  • ANSONIA – Philip Cohen buys the Stillson Block, which was on Maple Street, extending from the bridge to High Street. The building is three stories with a 1 story extension, and contains 4 stores on the first floor, with a number of tenements above.

May 18

  • Heat wave that began 2 days ago tops out at 92 degrees today. The unexpected very warm weather causes straw hats to suddenly appear. Mail carriers and icemen are particularly suffering. Since it is too hot to go inside at night, many stay out.
  • ANSONIA – A gypsy from the encampment off Wakelee Avenue is arrested for selling a bad horse to a Derby man, then exchanging it for one that was even worse.
  • ANSONIA – A Liberty Street man missing since May 9 is found in the Ansonia Canal. His death is ruled accidental.
  • DERBY – The McEnerney Building on 14 Main Street will be raised 5′ on a new concrete foundation. The store will be divided between a grocery and drug store. Second floor tenements will be converted into offices. A grocery store has existed in the building since 1850.

May 19

  • Many fruit trees are being damaged by insects.
  • DERBY – The Bassett House closes under Mr. Crofut’s proprietorship. A number of borders who have lived there for years are having hard time finding lodging. The building has been a hotel since 1868 – and this is believed the first time it is closed to public. Many hope it reopens soon.
  • ANSONIA – Excavation of Baldwin lot on corner of Main and Central Streets comes to a halt when Max Olderman files injunction against his partner, Philip Cohen. The matter is taken up by committee of Jewish citizens the following day, and is settled.

May 20

  • The heat wave is shattered when the temperature drops from 93 to 60 in one day.
  • DERBY – St. Mary’s pastor Father Fitzgerald delivers a strong sermon against public profanity and swearing.
  • SHELTON – It is revealed during the masses at Clark’s Hall that St. Joseph Parish’s 2-day inaugural fair netted $1,002, believed to be a Valley record for that type of fundraiser in that amount of time.

Monday, May 21, 1906

  • DERBY – A Housatonic Avenue family has lost 4 out of 5 children to measles in the last 5 weeks. The fourth died today, and the fifth is ailing. Much sympathy is expressed toward the family.

May 22

  • ANSONIA – Care and attention is being given the triangle at the foot of Elm Street. Although it now has thick grass and a tree in the center of it, neighbors plan to build fence, and plant flowers and shrubs. 
  • DERBY – There are fears on Derby Avenue that the proposed double tracking of the trolley tracks could lead to the destruction of the old Town Well. It is very old, and the water there is very highly regarded.
  • DERBY – The new Ensign Memorial Fountain has arrived, but its foundation have yet to be laid on Seymour and Atwater Avenues.

May 23

  • DERBY – 16th Annual reunion of the Connecticut Association of the National League of Women Workers is held at Derby Public Library hall. Over 100 delegates attend.
  • ANSONIA – Mrs. Ellen Hayes dies – widow of James Hayes. Her husband built their North State Street House with only saw, axe, and hammer when Ansonia was a “struggling hamlet”. She was the mother of Ansonia’s first police chief, Daniel Hayes, who was shot on December 23, 1880 while trying to apprehend a suspect on Main Street and died four days later. His daughter, Mary Hayes, went on to become a longtime teacher and principal in the Ansonia school system, and Lincoln School was later renamed Lincoln-Hayes School in her honor.

May 24

  • ANSONIA – A freak accident kills a 23 year old Italian immigrant laborer. He was installing a brick oven in a bakeshop being erected on Canal Street and Colburn Street by Phillip Cohen. The just-completed oven collapsed on him.
  • SEYMOUR – The new gravel road from the W.W. Smith place on Day Street to the Woodbridge town line near Ansonia is nearing completion.

May 25

  • ANSONIA –  The Board of Apportionment charges that 15 homes on Elm Street have connected their sewers to the storm water drains.
  • DERBY – Attorneys rule that City of Derby cannot apportion for the support of St. Mary’s School, due to the fact it is a parochial school, despite the large numbers of students that attend there.
  • DERBY –  The Board of Education votes to go on record as opposing the Cheeseman property for the new Derby High School. It is seen as an empty gesture.
  • DERBY – The remains of the long-burned out Hubbell stables have been cleared, and foundation work begun, on the new St. Michael’s Church. Some of the stone from the foundations of the Old Homestead and Hubbell barn will be used in the church foundation.

May 26

  • ANSONIA – Rabbi Samuel Bernstein of Synagogue Banai Israel on Colburn Street receives news that his wife’s father, mother, and sister were murdered when the Russian village of Gazien was burned in a pogrom. 40-50 were massacred.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – The Naugatuck Valley Motor Boat Club has installed a floating dock 124′ from the shore in a cove just below the Point of Rocks in Shelton. A smaller one placed at Hallock’s Dock in Derby.
  • SEYMOUR – New steam roller being used on new gravel road on Day Street. It weighs 12 tons.

May 27

  • Much rain today, though many attend the Decoration Day (Memorial Day) services at the Ansonia Opera House and the Sterling Opera House.
  • DERBY – Housatonic Avenue saloon raided on this Sunday. The proprietor, bartender, and 13 men are arrested.
  • SHELTON – Members of the Kellogg Post Grand Army of the Republic, their women’s auxiliary, and the Sons of Union Veterans, get a hearty welcome when they arrive in heavy rain to decorate the graves at the the Huntington Center cemeteries. Services at St. Paul’s Church follow.
  • Rain gets into the Echo Hose Hook & Ladder Company parlors and ruins them. The Sentinel blames the Borough of Shelton for neglecting the Borough Building.

Monday, May 28, 1906

  • Today’s heavy rainfall is much needed for the withering crops.

May 29

  • SHELTON – The State approves Shelton’s request to spend entire Good Roads appropriation on Howe Avenue – from Bridge Street to the Borough line, and as far north as the money will permit.

May 30 Memorial Day

  • It is a beautiful day. Many baseball games are played.
  • ANSONIA – Memorial Day parade is held, from the Maple Street bridge to St. Mary’s Cemetery, then Pine Grove Cemetery. Many attend.
  • DERBY –  20,000 ride the Derby-New Haven trolley line – setting a record for ridership. Many are heading to Savin Rock. 
  • DERBY-SHELTON PARADE – The parade starts and ends in Shelton but stops at Oak Cliff Cemetery and Derby Green. A much smaller parade of Polish and Slovakian societies winds through both towns, too.
  • SEYMOUR – The parade starts from First, Second, and Third Streets through town to the war monument for services.

June

Friday, June 1, 1906

  • ANSONIA – Elm Street residents were alarmed several times by the appearance of figure in white walking on street. Some thing it’s a ghost. Its actually proved to be a sleepwalker.
  • DERBY – The Ensign Memorial Fountain turned on for first time on Atwater Avenue and Seymour Avenue in Derby.
  • SHELTON – 9″ shells strike Coram from the American Ordinance Company proving grounds across the Housatonic River, causing a commotion and missing a passing trolley.

June 2

  • Downpours, and hail the size of marbles fall. Streets flood. Trolleys are stopped by burned out motors and sand across tracks.
  • ANSONIA – The Board of Aldermen pass controversial Connecticut Railway and Lighting petition to double-track the trolley lines in the city, on the condition they widen streets at their expense, and pay $500 annually for extra wear on streets. The vote was 8-3.

Monday, June 4, 1906

  • SEYMOUR – Another workman killed after being struck by a train while working on the double tracking project, at the railroad bridge at Seymour. This is the third fatality so far.
  • ANSONIA – The Board of Education votes to remove all old bells from city schools. They cite the nuisance of boys sneaking in the schools to ring the bells at midnight on the Fourth of July. The affected schools are School Street, Elm Street, Grove Street, and Hill Street schools all affected. Many are against it, including the Evening Sentinel.
  • SHELTON – A Town of Huntington meeting votes to rescind an earlier vote from last month to build a new Shelton High School.

June 5

  • ANSONIA – The driveway flooring at the east end of the covered portion of the Bridge Street Bridge gives way, which closes it to teams. Pedestrians and trolleys may still pass. Two iron supports gave way, causing it to sag. The covered portion  was built 45-50 years ago.

June 6

  • ANSONIA – Movement to establish a Memorial Day Association.

June 7

  • ANSONIA – 35 cases of whooping cough are reported in the City.
  • DERBY – A mysterious animal is prowling around Oak Cliff Cemetery, and appears to be attacking cats. A few have seen it, but no one can identify it.
  • DERBY – The Derby Neck Library Association votes to accept the gift of land from the Downes estate and funding from Andrew Carnegie, and appoint a building committee.
  • SEYMOUR – Boys playing baseball at Second Street and Raymond Street near the new library are creating a nuisance. Windows and screen doors have been broken.

June 8

  • ANSONIA – Steps are taken at a meeting at City Hall to form a Memorial Day Association.
  • ANSONIA – Ansonia does not have a town dump, and with the warm weather, garbage heaps are becoming more of a problem. Lack of sewage is also an issue, cesspools are everywhere in thickly populated areas.
  • ANSONIA – H.G. Fosdick transfers to Max Olderman land bound by Beaver Brook & Factory Street. He plans to build factory there.

June 10

  • Heavy rain, hail and a thunderstorm strike the area after a very hot day, when everyone seemed to try to get out of cities to beat the heat. Many launches were steaming up the river when it struck, and reported the water was roughest than it has been in years.

Monday, June 11, 1906

  • DERBY – Fire breaks out in a large rubbish heap at the foot of Factory Street behind the Derby Trucking Company. The entire fire department becomes involved. The hook & ladder truck, formerly operated  by the now defunct R.N. Bassett Hook & Ladder Company, and hits a pole at Elizabeth and Fourth Streets, injuring one. The fire continually rekindles throughout the week.
  • SEYMOUR – The Humphreysville Graveyard Association becomes defunct, and is reorganized as the Union Cemetery Association.

June 14

  • ANSONIA – A new Italian Society is organized with 75 members, called the Italian Brotherhood.

June 15

  • ANSONIA – An Ansonia chapter of the Women’s’ Christian Temperance Union organizes.
  • SEYMOUR – Citizen’s Engine Company holds an open house at its newly renovated Raymond Street firehouse.
  • SEYMOUR – The Seymour High School holds its graduation exercises at the Methodist Church. The graduating class numbers nine.

Monday, June 18, 1906

  • ANSONIA – Motion to reconsider the removal bells from the tops of Ansonia schools fails by a vote of 5-3 at a Board of Education meeting, despite much public sentiment against it.

June 19

  • ANSONIA – Mrs. Frederick G. Ware, of North Fourth Street, saves a woman from drowning in the Ansonia Canal. This is the fifteenth rescue she has made, previous saves have nearly cost her own life. Her house skirts the canal. 
  • SHELTON – Pine Rock Park opens for the season. Roller skating has added for first time, in a former dancing pavilion. Dancing will continue in another area of the park. Old favorites like the shooting gallery, fish pond, merry-go-round, swings, and small zoo return. Many visitors arrive by trolley from Derby and Bridgeport.

June 20

  • DERBY – The Board of Aldermen grant Connecticut Railway & Lighting, which is the trolley company, permission to double-track the beltline running through the City. Although they are following Ansonia’s lead in granting permission, and CR&L did offer many concessions, the move is very controversial, and many feel not enough concessions were gained.
  • DERBY – The Housatonic Power Boat Company disbands. It is expected that members will join the Naugatuck Valley Power Boat Club.
  • SHELTON – Contract awarded to build new the OK Tool factory. When completed the four story structure (still standing today) will be the first concrete building in Shelton.
  • SHELTON – Shelton High School graduates its largest class ever, 16, at Derby’s Sterling Opera House.

June 21

  • ANSONIA – Ansonia High School holds its graduation at the Ansonia Opera House. There are 19 members of the Class of 1906.

June 23

  • SEYMOUR – Many Seymour mills are running until 10 PM. Business is booming. Additions are being made to be made to the James Swan Company and Seymour Manufacturing Company.

June 24

  • ANSONIA – The Dwyer house and store are moved across Main Street, along Central Street, into a new spot. More buildings are to be moved in that area.
  • SEYMOUR – Brixey’s Dam near South Street, southeast of Kerite, springs a leak. Much of the pond behind it drains. Work crews get on boats, and throw dirt into a gate on the bottom of the structure. The gate is supposed to let excess water out, but it is believed to be the source of the leak. The patch job continues into the following day, though progress is made.

Monday, June 25, 1906

  • SEYMOUR – The window of a passing train is shattered by a bullet. It is thought the shot from an area near a gang of workmen, possibly due to carelessness. The police are investigating

June 26

  • SEYMOUR – The Sentinel correspondent for Great Hill weighs in on the debate over continuing school bells in Ansonia: “In regard to the non-bell movement of an adjoining town, we care not for their example. The thought of parting with the bells of our hamlet would certainly be grievous. As tributes of loving donors long may they fulfill their purpose of inspiration to duty at chapel, school, and conflagration”.

June 27

  • ANSONIA – A 5 year old boy drowns in the Birmingham Canal near Division Street.
  • SHELTON – The annual convention of the Fairfield County Women’s Christian Temperance Union is held at the Shelton Congregational Church.

June 28

  • DERBY – 12 students of St. Mary’s High School graduate in St. Mary’s Hall. (This high school only lasted from about 1903 to 1906, after which St. Mary’s School reduced its focus to grades 1 though 8).

June 29

  • DERBY – A report that the new St. Michael’s Church is planning on building a parochial school in East Derby is generating much interest.

June 30

  • Many are pitching tents along both sides of the Housatonic River for the summer camping season. Clusters of camps were utilized, mostly by unmarried men, as a means of beating the heat of the downtowns in the summertime.
  • It is a very hot day, until suddenly the winds start blowing wildly, and it gets very dark. A severe lightning storm that is labeled the worst in years strikes the area. Many are frightened.
  • SEYMOUR – Howard Chatfield’s barn on Skokorat is struck by lightning, and is a total loss with 15 tons of hay and 2 calves. Two horses saved. There was no hydrants in the area for the firefighters to draw water from. 
  • ANSONIA – The storm knocks out the telephones went out. Streets are damaged by, all trolleys are stopped when the line loses power. In some places sand and dirt washes over the tracks.
  • DERBY – Four houses are struck by lightning, though none are seriously damaged.
  • SHELTON – The annual draining of Shelton Canal occurs, giving factories time to make repairs to their gates and flumes. Most of their workers are now on summer vacation until July 5.
  • SHELTON – The White Hills Baptist Church is being renovated, with new interior and exterior paint.

July

Sunday, July 1, 1906

  • SEYMOUR – The Seymour Post Office becomes a second class office, the same level as Ansonia and Derby, due to increased volume.

July 2, 1906

  • More rain continues to fall.
  • ANSONIA – $1000 damage has been caused by washouts to the roads.
  • SHELTON – Two houses struck by lightning in the Wheeler Street area.
  • SHELTON – The new waterwheel at the International Silver Company on Bridge Street is placed in position.

July 3

  • Four heavy rainstorms have passed through the area in three days. A total of 1.49″ has fallen.
  • ANSONIA – The Olderman building, on the corner of Main and Colburn Street, is being currently moving to south end of Factory Street. A brick store and tenement will be erected in the Olderman building’s old location. Already the cellar is being dug.
  • SEYMOUR – Ernest D. Hull has been nominated for governor by the Connecticut Socialist party. He lived in Seymour most of his life, until he moved to Naugatuck 9 years ago.

Independence Day

  • Much of the day was a washout, with rain and thunder, though there was some sun in afternoon. 
  • ANSONIA – Bells were rung, bonfires lit, and fireworks were set off everywhere. Churches broken into at midnight to toll their bells, a crazy tradition that ended not long into the 20th century, included the First Baptist, Methodist, Three Saints Russian Orthodox. The rain quieted things down considerably.
  • DERBY – The holiday was mostly quiet due to rain, though it was noted the Chinese who run the laundry on Elizabeth Street had a far superior fireworks display.
  • SEYMOUR – The Congregational Church is broken into at midnight and the bell rung. Many fireworks.
  • SHELTON – Children amuse themselves by putting paper “cap” noisemakers on the tracks for the trolleys to run over.

July 5

  • ANSONIA – Deer sighted on Hill Street. The species was practically wiped out in the late 19th century, but they are starting to make a comeback in the outlying sections of the City.
  • DERBY – Fire completely destroys a blacksmith shop on Derby’s lower Main Street, in alley between trolley car barn (near today’s Route 8 South on-ramp) and the Elk building occupied by St. Michael’s Church. Though the church building is scorched badly, and the blacksmith shop wiped out, many are happy the Derby Fire Department kept the dangerous blaze from spreading.
  • OXFORD – Farmers report a scarcity of field help.

July 6

  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia Memorial Day Association is founded at City Hall. One hundred years later the organization is still runs Ansonia’s Memorial Day services and parade.
  • DERBY – Complaints are raised that young men and boys can be seen bathing nude in the Housatonic River near Camptown off Housatonic Avenue.

July 7

  • ANSONIA – The various departments of the Boston Store are now linked by an internal telephone intercom system.
  • SEYMOUR – Brixley’s dam begins leaking so badly again that Kerite has to close down.
  • SEYMOUR – Dam at the S.Y. Beach Paper Company springs a leak, forcing it to close down. The dam is 50 years old.

July 8

  • SEYMOUR – Hundreds watch a diver at work near gatehouse of Seymour Manufacturing Company.

Monday, July 9, 1906

  • Roller skating is becoming popular once again.
  • ANSONIA – The Board of Aldermen are stunned when they receive a $250 bill relating to the construction of the Eagle Hose, Hook & Ladder Co. #6 firehouse. The firehouse was completed 2 years ago, and all bills were assumed to have been paid a long time ago.

July 10

  • DERBY – At this time, the Ansonia-Derby-Shelton YMCA has a summer camp along the Housatonic, called Camp Otterwa.

July 11

  • ANSONIA – Tragedy strikes when a 9-year old Fifth Street girl drowns in the Ansonia Canal.
  • ANSONIA – Much complaint on the West Side of odors from putrefying vegetables and outhouses from the Jersey Street area.
  • ANSONIA – The Oldermen Building is still in the process of moving to its new location. For a few days, it has been sitting in middle of Factory Street, between Central Street and Colburn Street. Many are asking how long it will stay there. 

July 13

  • ANSONIA – Portions of the Oldermen Building are cut away so it can fit down the narrow sections of Factory Street.
  • SEYMOUR – A large derrick being used by iron workers to build the new railroad bridge near North Main Street, is found at dawn dangerously leaning toward the new bridge. Apparently someone freed the guy ropes overnight, but one cable caught, preventing it from crashing down onto the structure. Had the derrick crashed onto the bridge it would have collapsed it. The derrick is righted, and railroad detectives converge upon Seymour to get to the bottom of this mystery.
  • SHELTON – The steep, rocky, windy, narrow road, from River Road to Pine Rock Park, is for the first time successfully climbed by an automobile.

July 14

  • SEYMOUR – A 7-year old Second Street boy drowns in the Naugatuck River.

Monday, July 16, 1906

  • Lake Housatonic is becoming a popular summer resort. Read the entire article here.
  • ANSONIA – A push to make textbooks free to all public school students fails when the Board of Education reports they do not have enough money to do so.
  • DERBY – Announced that a new Derby-New York City steamboat line will soon begin operations. Ventures like this have been tried before, and Derby residents are skeptical.
  • SHELTON – Proposal to convert Ferry School into a municipal building and build a new public school in its place.

July 18

  • ANSONIA – The Board of Apportionment states that the Board of Education never requested any funding to offer free textbooks for public school students.

July 19

  • Most Valley fire companies attend the State Firemen’s Convention at Savin Rock in West Haven. Ansonia’s Eagle Hose, Hook & Ladder Co #6 captures best appearing company (which is one of the most coveted prizes), while Fountain Hose Co #1 wins best appearing parade carriage. Derby’s  R.M. Bassett Hook & Ladder Co #1, Storm Engine Co #2, and Paugassett Hose Co #4 win in athletic events. The Bassett company also won the truck race, their 16th year in a row. The fire companies left for West Haven with impromptu parades, and were greeted upon their return as champions. Many residents accompanied them to Savin Rock, the Sentinel reporting that Ansonia and Derby in particular seemed empty.
  • DERBY – 11 year old George Fox saves a 10 year old from drowning after he fell off Hallock’s Dock. The boy was pulled out of the unconscious. George nearly drowned himself while saving him, but was fortunately assisted by the captain of a nearby coal boat, who pulled both of them out of the water.
  • SEYMOUR – All water has been drained from pond behind Brixey dam near Kerite. The leaking dam will be extensively repaired. The sudden draining of the pond left a large number of fish flopping around in the muck which were available for the taking. Children and some adults did just that, while a large crowd humorously watched.
  • SEYMOUR – A big retaining wall along east bank of Naugatuck River, which has been under construction for months and will allow the freight yard to expand closer to the riverbank and other development to take place, has been completed.

July 20

  • ANSONIA – The Board of Aldermen and the trolley company finally work out an agreement allowing the trolley line to be double tracked through the City.

July 21

  • SEYMOUR – Work starts in clearing the high embankment between the railroad tracks and Humphreys Street to make way for freight yard expansion.
  • SEYMOUR – A new waterwheel is being installed at the James Swan Company.
  • SHELTON – Traveling carousel opens for first night on Bridge Street and Coram Avenue. The police are on watch for unruly behavior, due to the large number of teenagers from Derby and Shelton on hand. The crowd starts turning ugly at 10 PM when the operator announced he would be closing. Police quickly step in and arrest the ringleader. The ringleader, a boy, starts breaking down while being taken away. Deciding he had been humiliated enough, the police let him go after he publicly apologizes to the carousel operator.
  • SHELTON – The Echo Hose, Hook & Ladder Co #1’s horse drawn ladder truck, purchased in 1883, will be rebuilt.
  • SHELTON – The Huntington Center one room schoolhouse, located on Huntington Green, is struck by lightning. The damage, totaling about $50, is not noticed until 3 days later by painters.

Monday, July 23, 1906

  • DERBY – The Hotel Winthrop closes on Elizabeth Street. Formerly known as the Sterling Hotel, it has about 40 rooms. With the closing of the Bassett House a short time ago, Derby is now left without a hotel around the Green area.
  • SHELTON – With the recent spike in railroad freight traffic, some are having trouble sleeping due to constant locomotive whistles

July 24

  • ANSONIA – Ansonia industrial census – 49 industries, with 2,937 wage earners over age 16 – 433 of which are females. Only 24 people under age 16 work int he factories.
  • SEYMOUR – The railroad detectives are expecting another attack on the new railroad bridge under construction over the Naugatuck River. The bridge was attacked on July 13, and the railroad detectives have concluded it was union men from New Haven. Several were seen in the vicinity before and after the attack, and 7 were warned away today. The bridge is being built by non union labor, and union organizers have been active and vocal in their opposition, including harassment and intimidation. The bridge itself is now under heavy security, including all night watches.

July 25

  • DERBY – The Bassett House is under restoration. Among the improvements, a new bathroom is being installed. Previously there was only one, and it was a ladies room.
  • OXFORD – “The yield of all kinds of berries this season is very heavy. Huckleberries are now on the market, and they are reported as being very plentiful. The promise of a large crop of blackberries is also good”.
  • SEYMOUR – Progress continues on the construction of the new Seymour – Beacon Falls trolley line.

July 27

  • ANSONIA – There are 18-20 soda fountains in Ansonia, which are cutting into saloon business so much during this hot weather that some of the saloons are considering installing their own fountains.
  • DERBY – The former Cheeseman house on Minerva Street is being extensively renovated into the new Derby High School.
  • SHELTON – Deer are making a comeback in White Hills.

Monday, July 30, 1906

  • SHELTON – A 5′ long snake that killed 100 chicks over a period of time is killed at Nell’s Rocks.

July 31

  • People with automobile licenses – Derby – 32, Shelton – 18, Ansonia – 17, Seymour – 9.
  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia Sewer Commission has its very first organizational meeting.
  • SEYMOUR – The Selectmen’s Office, located in the new ell of the Second Street Town Hall, is now occupied.

August

Wednesday, August 1, 1906

  • ANSONIA – The first nine Fire Police in the City’s history are sworn in by the Police Department. Three have been selected from each fire company. Their duties are to maintain order and prevent interference at fire scenes.
  • ANSONIA – Lower Main Street residents are considering asking the Board of Education to reopen the Factory Street School, because the Garden Street School is too far for young children to walk.
  • SEYMOUR – Residents of the Washington Avenue and Humphreys Street area are complaining they cannot get any sleep because of train whistles blowing day and night.

August 2

  • ANSONIA – Local agents estimate that $15,000 is sent to Europe from Ansonia each year. Italians are sending the largest amount abroad.
  • ANSONIA – The railroad now owns most of the land west of Main Street, between Central Street and Beaver Brook. It plans to put freight yards there in the near future.
  • DERBY – The Winthrop Hotel will be moved from Elizabeth Street to a lot behind it facing Olivia Street. Formerly known as the Sterling Hotel, it has about 40 rooms. The owners will build a 1 story brick building with 4 stores in its place, that can be easily added to or removed if prospects improve.
  • OXFORD – “The weather conditions… as bad as it seemed possible to imagine. Dampness was everywhere, and no place was secure from the penetrating fogs which, when it was not raining, were continually prevailing. While the heat on Sunday and Monday was extreme, the sunshine was very welcome to dry out the dampness”.
  • SHELTON – Patrick Cribbins of Riverview Avenue discovers a vein of ochre of excellent quality near the Trap Rock quarry, on Howe Avenue above downtown. It is estimated it could be worth anywhere from $20 to $100 per ton. Ochre was used in paint back then. A survey done a week later revealed good veins of graphite and ochre

August 3

  • DERBY – No word yet on a rumored new Derby-Bridgeport Steamboat line.
  • SEYMOUR – Poisonous copperhead snakes are reportedly numerous along the Housatonic and adjacent farms, as well as Squantuck. Several have been killed.

August 4

  • ANSONIA – A cigarette ignites gasoline in Franklin Farrel’s private garage on North Cliff Street. His auto, and Judge George C. Bryant’s automobile, are badly damaged. Another belonging to Miss Elise Farrel is pulled out before the fire reached it , though the family chauffeur’s hand was badly burned in the process.
  • SEYMOUR – A 75’x25′ addition, which will be one and a half stories high, will be made to the Tingue Manufacturing Company’s mill.

Monday, August 6, 1906

HEAT WAVE 1906 – A major heat wave is affecting the area – it began over the weekend. Factory workers walk off their jobs again throughout the area, as temperatures climb to well above 100 degrees on the factory floors. The extremely hot weather causes ice in iceboxes to melt faster, resulting in much milk and other perishables ruined. A Derby Trucking Company horse drops dead of heat exhaustion on Clinton Avenue and Division Street in Ansonia.

August 7

HEAT WAVE 1906 – It is 93 today, with high humidity. For a second straight day area workers walk off their jobs due to unbearable heat in the factories. No one tries to stop them. Mail carriers in particular are suffering due to their heavy loads. Many flock to public, shaded parks such as Derby Green, or take to the river on boats. Some are riding automobiles, many more are riding open car trolleys, to generate cooling breezes. Tempers and arrests are up – there is virtually nowhere to beat the heat in 1906. The temperature drops dramatically when rain arrives in the afternoon – over an inch falls. 

  • ANSONIA – Franklin Street home struck by lightning before the storm hits, while sun was still shining.
  • DERBY – A single bolt of lightning strikes a house at the corner of Olivia Street and Cottage Street, as well as a house next door on Cottage Street.
  • OXFORD – Houses struck by lightning on Riggs Street, Governor’s Hill, and Five Mile Hill.
  • SEYMOUR – The violent thunderstorm only skirts the edge of town – no damage.
  • SHELTON – A White Hills barn is struck by lightning and moderately damaged. A Birdseye Road house is also struck and slightly damaged.

August 8

  • ANSONIA – Local real estate developer Max Oldermen is nearly killed when a cellar that was being excavated on Front Street caves in, nearly burying him. Other workers quickly dig him out to save him.
  • SEYMOUR – Work begins reconstructing Maple Street.

August 9

  • DERBY – 50 girls who work in the looping room at Alling’s mills (also known as Paugassett Mills) textile factory on First Street go on strike. They are reportedly protesting the training of an American born “Bohemian” girl to do their work, and they are afraid this is the beginning of hiring “foreign” girls. It is also rumored more difficult work on a particularly large order also was a factor. The department is closed.

August 10

  • DERBY – A new saloon opens on Main Street, making a total of 12 saloons on Main, between Foundry Street and Caroline Street, and another 5 between Caroline & Elizabeth Streets. Also one on Water Street, another on Caroline – for a total of 19 in a 4-block area.

August 11

  • SEYMOUR – A total of 1,000 people watch a State League baseball game between the Seymour and Woodbridge town teams. Many leave disgusted, as they think the game was thrown in Woodbridge’s favor, with a score of 10-2. In the days that follow, three players subsequently thrown off the Seymour team over the incident.
  • SHELTON – Vegetable gardens in the suburbs are being frequently robbed at night, prompting neighbors to keep watch with shotguns.

August 12

  • ANSONIA & SEYMOUR – A foreign man is struck by a trolley in Seymour, just above the Ansonia line. He is badly injured but will probably live. He is taken to Ansonia, where he is cared for, but a language barrier prevented much communication, or even his own identification. He is later transfered to New Haven Hospital.
  • SEYMOUR – The new German Lutheran Church parsonage is dedicated.
  • SHELTON – A band concert and balloon ascension, draws many to Pine Rock Park. The balloonist is a returning favorite at the amusement park – he normally jumps out of the balloon when it reaches a certain height, and parachutes to the ground.

Monday, August 13, 1906

  • ANSONIA – Synagogue Benai Israel receives a $400 Torah scroll as a gift in from the parents of Herman Bellin. He suffered 10 years from spinal trouble, but has recovered.
  • DERBY – A conference occurs between the management of First Street’s Alling mills (sometimes called Paugassett Mills) and the female strikers. The conference ends with the situation unchanged – the strikers feel their jobs are threatened by low-paid “foreigners”, while the company feels they can train anyone they want.
  • SEYMOUR – The peach crop at Hale Orchards is not as abundant this year, but the peaches are of much higher quality.

August 15

  • DERBY – Bridgeport’s former major league baseball player James O’Rourke is trying to get Derby to join the State baseball league. Apparently years ago there was quite a baseball rivalry between Derby and Bridgeport.
  • DERBY – A new “Ten Bencher” trolley car arrives in on a railroad freight car, to be used on the local beltline. Many are happy. In the past the trolley company, CR&L, has been accused of dumping old junk trolley cars from other lines with fresh coats of paint.
  • OXFORD – The town is seeing many summer boarders visiting from outside cities.

August 16

  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia Opera House is being renovated. Roller skating may be introduced this fall.
  • DERBY – Housatonic Avenue is being rebuilt by the State. A gravel bank has been found, saving Shelton contractor Bennett N. Beard the expense of having to haul it there.

August 17

  • DERBY – Hallock’s Rock, a landmark which protruded onto New Haven Avenue and has blocked traffic since the trolley line was built, is blasted away by 50 lbs of dynamite. This is part of a general road improvement, to make enough room to double-track the trolley line to New Haven. The blast causes a 500 lb stone to crash into a nearby house, badly damaging it. Prior to the blast, Hallock’s Rock narrowed the roadway for a 60′ long stretch, and was 20′ high in spots.
  • SEYMOUR – Maple Street, near the railroad bridge, is opened to traffic for the first time in several months after extensive improvements to the area.
  • SEYMOUR – The new water turbine at the James Swan Company is turned on for the first time.
  • SHELTON – The R.N. Bassett Company on Bridge Street gets new 20 ton, 175 hp steam boiler, one of the most powerful in the area at the time.

August 18

  • ANSONIA – The bricks paving the Maple Street Bridge are in poor shape. Many are broken and protruding, causing a hazard for horses.
  • SEYMOUR – The town’s State League baseball team beats Bridgeport Consolidated 5-0.

August 19

  • Temperatures are around 90. Many are going to the shore or simply riding the trolleys to catch a breeze.
  • DERBY – The steam launch Minnie strikes a submerged tree stump and sinks in the Housatonic River with 13 people aboard. Another launch manages to rescue all aboard, and they arrive safely at Derby Docks.

Monday, August 20, 1906

  • High temperatures and humidity make it one of the most uncomfortable days of the season. Rain is desperately needed, as the roads have become quite dusty and the brooks are running low. The heat is forcing factories to shut down due to the intolerable conditions inside. The uncomfortable weather lasts until Thursday.

August 21

  • ANSONIA – City baseball fans want Ansonia to join the State League.
  • DERBY – Coal hauled by the Derby Trucking Company to the Sterling Piano Company’s store yard. As the coal pile gets higher, planks are utilized to get the horses and wagons to the top of it. At one point, the horses start to back down the planks when they were only half way up. They lose their footing, and slide down incline right into the Birmingham canal. The Sterling’s superintendent jumps into the canal, cuts the horses’ harnesses, and leads them out before they drown.
  • DERBY – The renovation plans for the Sterling Hotel have changed. Instead of moving the building outright, it will be remodeled. Four stores will be built, attached to the building, extending to Elizabeth Street. Two of these stores will continue into the former hotel itself, making them extra long. The upper floors will become tenements – four on the second floor, and two on the third and fourth floors.

August 22

  • SEYMOUR – Fight on Third Street  results in man slashed by knife. A crowd grabs the assailant and holds him. He begs to be let go, but is held anyway until the town constable arrives. The Sentinel notes all participants were Italian, and contrasts the crowd’s behavior with an incident earlier in the year when Italian railroad workers were accused of allowing an accused murderer to escape.

August 23

  • ANSONIA – Henry Kornblut will construct a 16 room house will be constructed on Jersey Street.
  • DERBY – The Board of Education votes to extend summer vacation one week because the new Derby High School on Minerva Street will not be ready in time.
  • SHELTON – Two problems on the railroad today. A freight train derails at a bend near Indian Well, causing 2 heavily laden cars to roll down an embankment. Later, another train uncouples and goes several miles before it realizes it left half its cars behind, and has to slowly back up to reattach them.

August 24

  • The heat wave finally breaks, as the temperature drops 24 degrees just after midnight.
  • ANSONIA – A 23 year old Austrian man drowns in Naugatuck River. His companion could not rescue him because he could not swim.
  • ANSONIA – The Russians of St. Peter and Paul’s parish have outgrown their little church in the past two years, and will build larger one. They are also contemplating building a school.
  • ANSONIA – The Board of Aldermen recind the permission they gave at an earlier meeting to allow Aaron Olderman to move a building from Central Street and Canal Street to Canal Street, just below Colburn Street, citing that he is moving an old-code wooden building into the fire protection district.
  • DERBY – Sterling Opera House opens for the season with its largest opening night crowd in years. The Production is called “The Queen of the Highlanders”.
  • SHELTON – Rev. Frederick H. Mathison, the rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, dies at his home shortly after receiving an operation.. He was rector for nearly 10 years, and was instrumental in the building of the church. He was sick for several months, and was 35 at the time of his death. His funeral a couple days later was very largely attended.

August 25

  • ANSONIA – One day after losing permission to move his building, Aaron Olderman starts moving it anyway.
  • SHELTON – The Housatonic is covered with boats as the Naugatuck Valley Motor Boat Club holds their first annual regatta.

August 26

  • ANSONIA – Aaron Olderman completes moving his building, despite being told he could not. The Board of Aldermen are unsure what to do.
  • SEYMOUR – Miss Mary Kadeshon, a native Alaskan princess, lectures at the Seymour Methodist Church.

Wednesday, August 29, 1906

  • ANSONIA – In a further development over Aaron Olderman moving a building into the fire district, after the Board of Aldermen rescinded permission for him to do so, the City Building Inspector and Fire Committee send him a letter telling him he must now fireproof the building.
  • OXFORD – Mrs. Elizabeth Tucker, mother of well known local actors Sam Tucker and Ada Valentine, dies in Oxford at 64. Mr. & Mrs. Valentine have had a medicine show tent in Oxford for the past few years.
  • SEYMOUR – Obnoxious advertising billboards are a problem throughout the region. In a new low, billboards are found in the Seymour Congregational Cemetery. They are removed.
  • SHELTON – A man suspected of looting a house a year ago spotted, and chased for over a mile by neighbors. When the homeowner whose house was looted falls over a wall and is hurt, the suspect manages his escape.

August 30

  • ANSONIA – 8-10 Central Street being moved to New Jerusalem by William Olderman. Another tenement building on Canal Street will be moved soon. With so many buildings being moved in Ansonia, it is noted that many them still have their old street numbers still on them, causing much confusion.
  • ANSONIA – The trolley company announces it will shift the tracks on the Bridge Street covered bridge to allow double tracking. It will cost between $300 and $400 to reinforce the bridge. This will also allow “jumbo” sized trolley cars on the belt line.
  • ANSONIA – The SO&C Company is suing the Ansonia Water Company for $25,000, for diverting water from Beaver Brook, causing it to fill up with vegetable matter and filth. This is causing them problems in drawing needed water power for their operations.

August 31

  • ANSONIA – A 7 year old boy drowns when he falls off the Division Street bridge into the Birmingham Canal. His family lived on the canal bank off Division Street.
  • ANSONIA – The moral residents of Ansonia and other Connecticut cities and towns are up in arms over new medicine company billboards that feature a scandalously clad woman draped over a crescent moon, with the slogan “Tonight”.
  • ANSONIA – There have been numerous complaints, and several close calls, due to automobiles speeding on Wakelee Avenue. The State speed limit is 12 miles per hour in city limits, 15 miles per hour outside city limits.
  • SHELTON – The Shelton Trap Rock Company, located above downtown on Howe Avenue, is rebuilding its plant to operate more efficiently. The previous mining operation was very poorly designed.

September

Sunday, September 2, 1906

  • ANSONIA – It is noted that illegal Sunday selling of alcohol is once again becoming more widespread in upper Ansonia.
  • DERBY – An Italian immigrant, apparently trying to break up an argument between two others, is stabbed 3 times and dies at 3 Lafayette Street. One arrest is made. Although there were many witnesses, the police express frustration that no one is cooperating with them.
  • DERBY – The need to fix the fire department’s long broken auxiliary fire alarm becomes very apparent today. A firebox is pulled when a lamp explodes on Minerva Street, and Bassett Hook and Ladder Company firemen respond to their firehouse on the Fourth Street side of the Sterling Opera House. However, the horses they use to pull their ladder truck, which are loaned by Mayor Hubbell’s Third Street livery, fail to appear. When the firemen go to the livery, they find no one there heard the alarm, which has been the issue firemen have been complaining about for months. Angry words are exchanged at the livery, and the bad feelings spread throughout the other fire companies. The fire on Minerva Street was put our prior to the other fire companies’ arrival.

Labor Day Monday, September 3, 1906

  • Rainy Labor Day morning. Many go to Oyster Bay, NY to see the 1906 US Naval Review. Others to other cities, beaches, and amusement parks. Those at home see Washburn & D’Alma’s traveling animal show on the Ansonia Flats, while others visit the Orange Fair.

September 4

  • ANSONIA – Ansonia schools open. The Sentinel reports “It was rather hard on the children to remain cooped up on such a beautiful day after running around in the open for the past ten weeks, and many a little footstep lagged on the way to the study rooms”.
  • SHELTON – Schools open. Ferry School is overcrowded.
  • SHELTON – David Torrance, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Connecticut, and a Derby resident, suffers an attack of angina pectoris while on a drive on Long Hill Avenue. He was accompanied by two women plus his wife. They stop at a home, where he stayed for a few hours until he felt better. An automobile is summoned from Derby to bring him home, driven by his son, James. But the automobile breaks down in Shelton, near the trolley line. The party then boards a trolley for home, by the time they arrive it is after midnight.

September 5

  • DERBY – David Torrance, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Connecticut, suffers another attack of angina pectoris in his Atwater Avenue home early in the morning. Two of the area’s best physicians are summoned. He suffers two more serious attacks, and dies at 11:00 AM. 
            Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1840, Justice Torrance immigrated to the USA with his widowed mother in 1849. He joined the Army during the Civil War, and was a sergeant when he was captured with 500 other men at the second Battle of Winchester on June 15, 1863, and subsequently survived the horrors of Libby Prison before being transferred to Belle Island. After he was liberated, he was promoted to the rank of Captain, and served under Col. William B. Wooster, an attorney who lived on Clifton Avenue in what is now Ansonia, and practiced in Birmingham. After the war, Col. Wooster trained him as an attorney, and after passing the bar they started a highly regarded law firm called Wooster & Torrance in Birmingham. He represented Derby as a State Representative in 1871 & 1872, and was elected that Secretary of the State in 1878. He was appointed a Judge in the Court of Common Pleas of New Haven County in 1881. In 1885 Judge Torrance was appointed to the Connecticut Supreme Court, becoming its Chief Justice in 1901. At the time of his death he was President of the Derby Savings Bank, and on the Board of Directors of the Birmingham Water Company, the Ousatonic Water Company, and the Derby Public Library. He was survived by his wife, Annie (France) Torrance, who he married in 1864, a daughter, and two sons. He was later buried at Oak Cliff Cemetery, most of the Valley downtowns essentially shutting down for his funeral.
  • ANSONIA – Interior renovation of the Ansonia Opera House is almost completed. The former dark blue ceiling and somber walls now have been painted lighter colors with scattered artwork painted upon them.
  • OXFORD – Because of the recent rains, “The roads on the hillsides are very much washed, and small boulders are also very much in evidence, making riding over them very rough”.
  • The Ansonia & Derby Ice Company report the company only has a week’s supply of ice left at its big storehouse in Pittsfield, MA. Rationing measures are now being employed, but there is talk of an “ice famine”, and high prices for the refrigerant, this fall.

September 6

  • SEYMOUR – Much activity at Hale Orchards on Great Hill, both picking and shipping peaches out in large wagons.
  • SHELTON – Many are alarmed when two simultaneous cases of diphtheria are diagnosed in a tenement block containing 27 families on Center Street.

September 7

  • SHELTON – Two more diphtheria cases are diagnosed on Bridge Street.

September 8

  • SEYMOUR – 1,000 baskets of peaches are picked at Hale Orchards. This is matched when 1,400 baskets are filled on September 9 and 10.
  • SHELTON – With the economic times good, many of Shelton’s factories which make what are considered luxury items, such as International Silver and Huntington Piano, are very busy.

Sunday, September 9, 1906

  • ANSONIA – The Board of Aldermen is petitioned by the trolley company to double-track North Main Street, from Fourth Street to the Seymour town line. 
  • ANSONIA – The Board of Aldermen vote unanimously that the Cohen building, which had been moved against their wishes to Colburn Street must be moved out of the fire district by October 1. The building currently houses a meat market.
  • DERBY – The City’s mourning for Chief Justice Torrance winds down with a memorial service at the Second Congregational Church.

September 11

  • DERBY – The City’s high schools open. Derby High School opens for the first time in the former Cheeseman estate on Minerva Street, with its largest enrollment ever, 87 students. An additional 21 students are attending St. Mary’s High School, at St. Mary’s School next to the church.

September 12

  • The region’s drought is broken with one of worst rainstorms in years. 2.75″ fall in one and a half hours.
  • ANSONIA – Foundry Hill is washed out. Main Street under ankle-deep water, causing trolleys to have to use wood planks as bridges to the sidewalk.
  • DERBY – Water shoots a foot above the manhole at the corner of Main Street and Elizabeth Street. The area of Main and Olivia Streets is under water. The Housatonic Avenue trolley is cut off by mud. Lightning blows apart the flagpole on top of Hoffman House.
  • SEYMOUR – The rainstorm is not as bad here.
  • SHELTON – The South End trolley line is struck by lightning, knocking it out of service. The top of the Adams block chimney on is torn out by lightning on the corner of Howe Avenue and Bridge Street. Hill Street is washed out, as is the intersection of Center Street and Oak Avenue.

September 13

  • DERBY – Merchants along Main Street, between Elizabeth Street and Minerva Street, as well as Elizabeth Street between Third Street and Main Street, are very upset that the storm sewers backed up again in yesterday’s storm and flooded out their basements.

September 15

  • ANSONIA – Mr. Cohen apparently ends the debate about Aaron Olderman’s moving his non-fireproofed Cohen building into the fire district on Colburn Street by announcing he will cover the building with tin by October 1, which would qualify it as fireproof.
  • ANSONIA & DERBY – Division Street is called the most dangerous road in either Derby or Ansonia. Neither city cares for it, there isn’t a single electric light upon it. Each city blames the other for its condition.
  • DERBY – The Board of Aldermen finally resolve the longstanding auxiliary fire alarm location debate by voting to position it on top of Storm Engine Company’s firehouse.
  • SEYMOUR – The former Tingue Opera House reopens as the Windsor Rink, for roller skating.

September 16

  • ANSONIA – A “socker” sports association is formed at the Hotel Dayton in Ansonia.
  • SHELTON – A young Center Street girl succumbs to the diphtheria epidemic.
  • SHELTON – The Methodist Episcopal Church on Coram Avenue (across from St. Joseph’s) reopens after a renovation.

Monday, September 17, 1906

  • DERBY – Hargreave’s circus arrives in 7 railroad cars. After parading through Derby it sets up its tents off Housatonic Avenue.

September 18

  • SEYMOUR – People visiting Seymour, particularly those from Oxford, have been in habit of hitching horses inside the covered bridge on Broad Street. The Board of Selectmen says this must stop, as automobiles are becoming more common, and the bridge was not intended to be used as a stable.

September 19

  • ANSONIA – Aaron Olderman summoned to Ansonia City Court – charged with 3 violations of building ordinances for moving the wooden Cohen building into the fire district. . 9/20-2 Phillip Cohen covered entire building in tin. Next to synagogue.
  • OXFORD – There are 20 students attending Oxford Centre School.

September 20

  • ANSONIA – Phillip Cohen has completed covering the Cohen building in tin, which he hopes will end the debate involving Aaron Cohen moving it into the fire district.
  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia Opera House reopens as a roller skating rink to a huge crowd. See the Evening Sentinel article on the opening here.
  • DERBY – The diphtheria epidemic has spread from Shelton to Derby, with cases reported in two families.

September 21

  • DERBY – Derby-Shelton YMCA has secured an option on the Sterling property on Elizabeth Street, next to the Bassett House, and will likely purchase it for its new home.

September 22

  • Cape Cod cranberries hit the market a week ago. Because there is such an abundance, they are selling for 15 cents a quart. Last year, they were the highest since the Civil War due to a shortage.
  • ANSONIA – Hargreave’s circus arrives on train, and parades from the railroad tracks near Bridge Street to Woodlot. At noon, the circus parades down Main Street, and many watch it despite a downpour.
  • SHELTON – Shelton becomes first Connecticut town to hold a legal Socialist caucus under the State Enrollment Law, in which political parties must have 10% or more of the votes from last election in order to compete in a present one. The Socialists make a full town (not city) ticket.

September 23

  • ANSONIA – The new “socker football league” (soccer) completes its formation at Hotel Dayton. The league will have 6 teams, including 2 from Ansonia, 2 from Bridgeport, one each from New Haven and Naugatuck.
  • ANSONIA – Main Street’s Ansonia Methodist Episcopal Church reopens after being closed for 2 months for renovations.
  • DERBY – The cornerstone of the new St. Michael’s Church is laid by Bishop Michael Tierney of Hartford. Between 4000 to 5000 people attend. A time capsule is buried in the cornerstone.

Monday, September 24, 1906

  • ANSONIA – Harry Seccombe, former member of the firm Seccombe Brothers monument works, leaves Ansonia after buying a monument works yard in Kingston, NY. He was an Ansonia resident for 27 years. Seccombe Brothers still exists in Ansonia today.
  • SEYMOUR & OXFORD – Light frost overnight in Oxford and Great Hill causes no major damage to vegetation.

September 25

  • The trolley company inaugurates its winter schedule. Enclosed trolley cars appear for the first time this season.
  • ANSONIA – A number of residents are afflicted with mumps.

September 26

  • SHELTON – The Borough rents two rooms in the Wells Block on the corner of Coram Avenue and Bridge Street to handle school overcrowding.

September 27

  • SHELTON – The Sidney Blumenthal Company on Canal Street will build a large addition consisting of two new buildings. The first will be two stories, 36’x80′, while the second will be a single story measuring 80’x80′. The textile plant began 9 years ago with 50 looms. When the new buildings are completed the firm will operate at total of  250 looms.

September 29

  • ANSONIA – A new blacksmith has bought the blacksmith shop on the corner of Factory Street and Tremont Street. It will reopen under his management.

October

Monday, October 1, 1906

  • OXFORD – Oxford holds its Annual Town Meeting. The finance report shows it has a budget of $8993.05, with total assets of $25,665.57. The townspeople vote to spend $700 to $800 of appropriated state funds to repair Otter Rock Road.
  • SEYMOUR – The entire Republican ticket is elected in the town election.
  • SHELTON – Judge Frederick W. Curtiss dies in his Fairmont Avenue home.
  • SHELTON – The elections for the Town of Huntington are held. Although Republicans sweep nearly every office, the election makes Statewide headlines for the one office they did not win. J. W. Cribbins wins a spot on the Board of Education, and thus becomes the first Socialist Party candidate elected into any office in Connecticut history.

October 2

  • ANSONIA – No one appears in opposition at a hearing concerning the City relinquishing control of Second Street and a strip of land at North Main and Liberty Streets to the Coe Brass Company.

October 3

  • ANSONIA – Ansonia’s Rockland Spring Water is condemned and forbidden to sell when colon bacilli and typhoid are found in it. About 300 Valley families regularly drink bottled water from the spring. Five days later, it is announced that Rockland Spring Water will substitute their water with Indian Spring Water imported from Shelton. Meanwhile, another Ansonia bottler, Beaver Spring Water, is still deemed satisfactory by the Health Officer.

October 4

  • Farmers are at a loss to explain this year’s poor apple crop.

October 5

  • ANSONIA – 400 people attend a reception to welcome the new pastor of the Ansonia Congregational Church, Rev. O. W. Burtner.
  • ANSONIA – Long awaited repairs to the Maple Street Bridge begin. Brick pavement will be replaced by tar concrete, which is a mixture of tar and crushed stone. The bridge is closed to horse teams during the repairs.
  • SHELTON – Hopes that the diphtheria epidemic has ended after a week of no new cases are dashed when 6 new cases appear in the Kneen Street and Coram Avenue area. As is the custom, residences of the victims are quarantined, and marked with a yellow placard to warn the public.

October 6

  • ANSONIA – An addition is being added to a small barn on Blacksmith Hill (Tremont Street) that was recently used as a paint shop. The structure will be converted into a house.
  • ANSONIA – A serious fire breaks out at the Ansonia Novelty Company factory on Main Street. The entire fire department is called out, and the blaze burns out of control for an hour. Much of the factory is burned out, and it will remained closed until further notice. The factory is the former Phelps & Bartholomew Clock Company, the Novelty Company having moved there in December of 1905.

October 7

  • A heavy frost in the early morning hours causes the leaves to fall rapidly from the trees later in the day. This makes hunters happy, as the late foliage was hindering them.

Tuesday, October 9, 1906

  • ANSONIA – William A. Nelson is erecting a 3-story block that will house 6 families on North Main Street. He’s also building four 6-room cottages on Hubbell Avenue.
  • SEYMOUR – After a young boy contracts diphtheria, both his home and nearby Cedar Ridge School are quarantined as a precaution.

October 11

  • The first snowflakes of the winter season fall, though nothing sticks.
  • ANSONIA – City workmen blasting for a new sidewalk on North Cliff Street shower the Fourth Street School with stones, throwing both the staff and children inside into a panic. One window broken. The school is closed, as the blasting continues. Many in the City are upset, as 200 children were located on the side of the school that faced the blast, and it is almost a miracle no one was hurt. 
  • DERBY – The Bassett House Hotel is still closed, though it is under renovation. It is now painted dark green with white trimmings. Prior to that it was yellow with dark red trimmings.
  • DERBY – The new cast iron street signs are erected today, and they attract much attention. Many of the streets have not been marked in years, which was a constant complaint for visitors.

October 12

  • The temperature drops to 28 degrees overnight. In the morning the frost is so thick in place some initially think a light snow had fallen overnight.
  • ANSONIA – The Fourth Street School reopens after it is determined it is now safe from the blasting on North Cliff Street.
  • SEYMOUR – The Board of Selectmen approve the Naugatuck Valley Electric Railway Company’s plan to extend its tracks from Bladen’s brook to the corner of Main and Bank Streets. From there will be able to hook up with the trolleys arriving from Ansonia. Once this new extension is completed, there will be a continuous trolley system through entire Valley reaching all the way to Waterbury.

October 13

  • The second thick frost in two nights effectively kills off any vegetation that was remaining.

October 14

  • SEYMOUR – The young boy with diphtheria near Cedar Ridge School dies of the disease.

Monday, October 15, 1906

  • DERBY – Trolley strikes a coal cart on Derby Avenue. Cart driver severely injured.
  • SEYMOUR – A 5-year old Derby Avenue boy succumbs to the diphtheria epidemic.

October 17

  • ANSONIA – The police department made 363 arrests in the past year ending on October 15. Most were for intoxication, breach of peace, or minor offenses, but also included 1 murder, 1 arson, and 9 burglaries.

October 18

  • ANSONIA – Mayor Alton Farrel announces he will not run for a second term.
  • OXFORD – The town’s only residing physician, Dr. Lewis Barnes, is critically ill with heart problems.

October 19

  • DERBY – Derby, Ansonia, and Shelton veterans who served in the Spanish-American War convene at Gould Armory to form a veteran’s organization. 15 attend, and they agree to form an organization which will merge with the national group.
  • DERBY – The new Derby High School on Minerva Street, in the former Cheeseman estate, is being used, and is nearly completed. The Cheeseman family, now residing in New York, is pleased that their former home is being used as a high school.
  • SEYMOUR – After several weeks of large, disruptive crowds from out of town congregating in a football field near the Ansonia border, First Selectman Divine orders the police to arrest anyone caught playing football on Sundays in town.

October 20

  • Torrential rain falls in the morning, and continues on and off for the next two days. A total of 5″ of rain falls, and the Naugatuck River rises to the highest it has been in months.
  • DERBY – Sunday football games at Derby Meadows are annoying many people in town. The police may be called to break them up.
  • SEYMOUR – There is a growing movement in Seymour to return the town’s name to Humphreysville.

Monday, October 22, 1906

  • Torrential rain has been falling for two days. Naugatuck River is highest than it has been in months.

October 26

  • ANSONIA – Democratic caucus held. Former Mayor Stephen Charters overwhelmingly elected to return to office.
  • DERBY – A dozen neighbors team up to extinguish a chimney fire in a house on Chapel Street in Burtville.
  • DERBY – Early morning wreck of a freight train at Derby Junction. Two rail cars damaged.
  • SEYMOUR – Improvements to the newly extended section of Trinity Cemetery in Seymour are completed. Many new lots are now open.
  • SHELTON – Secretary of the State of Board Education, addresses an overflow crowd at the White Hills Baptist Church

October 27

  • ANSONIA – Waterbury High School defeats Ansonia High School 12-6 in an away game. Waterbury newspapers claim AHS left the field a minute early, after claiming they were beaten unfairly.

October 28

  • DERBY – Valley Spanish American War veterans meet in Derby, and complete the necessary paperwork to join the national veteran’s group as a local camp.

Monday, October 28, 1906

  • ANSONIA – Ansonia Democratic Town Committee votes to endorse Republican nominee for city treasurer, Frederick Drew, due to his qualifications and fact they have no equal candidate.
  • ANSONIA – Work begins on improving Blacksmith Hill on Tremont Street.

October 30

  • DERBY – Valley coal dealers are rushing to get their supplies before cold weather sets in. There are 4 barges at Derby Docks today.

October 31

  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Ansonia defeated 32-5 by Bridgeport High School in an away game.
  • HALLOWE’EN – The night is quiet in Ansonia, with less rowdiness than usual. When the fire alarm went off, most firefighters thought it was a false alarm so typical for this night, but it was actually a chimney fire on Smith Street. Derby and Seymour were also quiet too, with many out in costume.
  • SHELTON – Man murders his wife before committing suicide at their Kneen Street home.

November

Friday, November 1, 1906

  • Consolidated Railway and Lighting, the company that operates the trolleys in Ansonia, Derby, and Shelton, has been sold to the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad. Rumors are flying as to how this will affect service in the area.
  • SHELTON – Pistol shots are fired at Central House – a downtown rooming house. While investigating inside the building, a man fires upon Police Chief Robbins. He jumps the man and arrests him before he could fire any more rounds. The intoxicated man had threatened to shoot wife, and was attacked by the house’s other boarders and nearly thrown out a third story window prior to the chief’s arrival.

November 2

  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia Electrical Company plans a big addition. Several small 1-story buildings just below the YMCA on Main Street, housing a Chinese laundry, a tailor shop, and Wirth’s lunch wagon, will be removed. The new addition will have a 50′ frontage on Main Street, and will be 80′ deep, and 4 stories high.
  • DERBY – The R. M. Bassett Hook & Ladder Company holds its 32nd annual ball at Gould Armory. The event features one of largest grand marches ever held there up to the time, with over 200 couples.
  • SHELTON – High winds causes a guy-wire to break on a 50′ tall smokestack. The smokestack falls toward Howe Avenue, but comes to rest on the trolley lines above the street. Trolleys are halted in this area until the stack is taken off the wires.

November 4

  • DERBY – The newly organized Spanish-American War Veterans of Derby, Ansonia, and Shelton meet at Gould Armory, and name their group the Henry W. Lawton Camp.
  • SEYMOUR – Large crowd witnesses the blessing of new section of St. Augustine’s Cemetery.
  • SHELTON – A large Socialist rally is held on Viaduct Square.

Monday, November 5, 1906

  • DERBY – Large Democratic Party rally at Sterling Opera House attracts large crowds.

November 6 – Election Day
Note Oxford, Seymour, and Huntington/Shelton did not hold municipal elections, as Connecticut towns held their elections on a different day than cities. They did, of course, participate in the State races.

  • The new local directories show an increase of 465 entries for Ansonia. Derby and Shelton (which shared a directory) increased 63, while Seymour increased 32. Each entry represents a family.
  • ANSONIA – 7 year old boy dies of diphtheria on Jewett Street.
  • ANSONIA – Former Mayor Stephen Charters defeats Republican Jens Nielson, securing for himself a third term by a vote of 1236-1153. The Democrats also win 6 seats on the Board of Aldermen, though the Republicans still maintain a 9-6 majority. The man who unseated Stephen Charters in the last election, Alton Farrel, did not seek reelection as mayor, as he ran for the State Senate instead. Outgoing Mayor Farrel, a Republican, gained the majority of votes in Ansonia (proving that many split their vote between the two parties), by a 1315-1069 margin, and wound up wining the 17th Senatorial District.
  • DERBY – Democrat Alfred F. Howe defeats incumbent Mayor Benjamin Hubbell 779-680. The Democrats now control the Board of Aldermen. After the results are announced, 300 march from the Sterling Opera House to Mayor-Elect Howe’s house on Olivia Street for a street party.
  • OXFORD – The town voted Republican in the State Elections.
  • SEYMOUR – The town voted Democrat for the first time in many years in the State Elections.
  • SHELTON – The Town of Huntington votes Republican in the State Elections.

November 8

  • SEYMOUR – Forest fire on Castle Rock lights up the evening sky and can be seen all over town. The Sentinel said it appeared “like a small volcano”.

November 9

  • ANSONIA – 2 tenement blocks under construction on North Main Street.
  • ANSONIA – Mayor Farrel had hired his own secretary when he was mayor – and actually paid him more than his own salary. Now there is talk of making the Mayor’s Secretary a permanent position.
  • SEYMOUR – The 3 story brick Crowley Building on lower Main Street is nearing completion.
  • SHELTON – The International Silver Company, Factory B, will add a 97×37 4 story brick addition to it’s Bridge Street plant. Production has recently been hampered from lack of space.

November 10

  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Derby defeats Stamford 11-0 at Derby Meadows.
  • SEYMOUR – Merchants’ Ice Company incorporated with $10,000 capital. Many in town are unhappy about high ice prices, and hope the new concern will bring them down.

November 11

  • ANSONIA – Organizational meeting in German Hall to organize an Ansonia branch of the Order of the Scottish Clans.

Monday, November 12, 1906

  • ANSONIA – Yale Rubin applies for permission to move two frame buildings out of the way of the pending Ansonia Electrical Company’s addition on Main Street, to the corner of Factory Street and Front Street.

November 13

  • ANSONIA – Yale Rubin decides to tear down the frame buildings on Main Street, rather than move them, due to expenses. Lumber salvaged from the buildings will make a new building on the corner of Factory Street and Front Street.
  • ANSONIA – Grammar and High School teachers form the Ansonia Teachers’ Club, designed to bring authors and lecturers to town to further the teachers’ knowledge.
  • SEYMOUR & OXFORD – A morning snow squall leaves no accumulation.

November 14

  • SEYMOUR – There is a large tent city of Italian laborers on the western border, working on the new Naugatuck trolley line.

November 15

  • Snowstorm dumps 3″ of snow in the morning, catching everyone by surprise. Shoe dealers are busy selling rubbers. The heavy, wet snow turned to hail at 2 PM, and rain and slush by evening.
  • ANSONIA – William Blake, proprietor of Palace Stables on North Main Street, is the first person of the year out in a horse-drawn sleigh with bells along Main Street.
  • ANSONIA – The Board of Apportionment decides to wipe out the City’s $15,000 floating debt.
  • SEYMOUR – A new club, called the United Germans, will join the National Band of German Societies
  • SEYMOUR – Young boy dies of diphtheria on Pearl Street. Three other children are also sick with it in same family.

November 16

  • Warm and sunny. Some report flies are out, which is strange considering snow can be seen in places.
  • DERBY – A five year old New Haven Avenue boy dies of diphtheria.

November 17

  • The hills surrounding the Valley are still covered with snow.
  • ANSONIA – People aboard a trolley are thrown into a panic at 8:30 PM, when the trolley is struck by a boxcar at the Bridge Street railroad crossing from a passing freight train. The collision tears a portion of the trolley’s fender and rear platform off. Many are windows smashed, and a woman faints. Both the trolley and boxcar stay on their tracks.
  • SHELTON – A 16 year old working on the addition to the International Silver Company on Bridge Street falls when a hoist gives way, and plunges 50′. He bounces onto and down a 1 story building and rolls to the ground. Despite the distance, the building below breaks his fall, and he is not badly injured.

November 18

  • SHELTON – A 30 year old man falls from the railroad trestle into the Shelton Canal while trying to cross to Derby and drowns.

Monday, November 19, 1906

  • ANSONIA – A driver of a coal wagon is fined $25 for hitting his mule “Maud” over the head with a shovel. 5 witnesses testify against him.
  • DERBY – Despite numerous protests from neighbors, county commissioners grant the transfer of the Sterling House liquor license to 27 Hawkins Street.
  • SEYMOUR – A religious census has been completed. 1019 families totaling 4293 persons are surveyed. The largest religious groups (over 99 people) were: Roman Catholic – 1132, Congregational – 830, Methodist – 672, Episcopal – 662, Lutheran – 562, and Greek Orthodox – 249. The survey also covered national origin, and those over 99 people were: Native born – 2154, German – 637, Polish – 356, Irish – 281, Russian – 196, English – 115, and Welsh – 99.
  • SHELTON – The Ousatonic Water Company holds its annual meeting in Derby, and votes to build a new 150’x130′ building for the Sidney Blumenthal Company. Part of it will be 3-4 stories, the other part 1 story. The new building will attach to the existing plant.

November 20

  • DERBY – Sidewalk in front of Novitzky Bros & Co. on Main Street drops 4 inches. It is discovered that the cause is an old forgotten oven from the C. R. Just Bakery that had been there in the 1800s.

November 21

  • SEYMOUR – 2-year old Meadow Street girl dies of diphtheria.
  • SEYMOUR – Passenger train wrecks just south of the train station on Main Street when a baggage car takes wrong set of tracks and derails, blocking both sets. No passengers are injured.
  • SHELTON – An automobile strikes the viaduct bridge, and almost goes through the railing into the Shelton Canal below.

November 22

  • DERBY – The Derby Trucking Company is having its busiest season ever. The firm’s resources have been pushed to limit and it is hiring additional teams from as far as Oxford and Milford, and subleasing other work. A total of 40-50 additional horses have been added to help with the rush. 
  • SEYMOUR – Franklin Farrel of Ansonia is purchasing the large 300 acre farm of Andrew Wheeler, adjacent to his duck farm, off North Main Street. The purchase includes Silver Lake, where ice is harvested. 
  • SHELTON – A vein of trap rock has been discovered on land owned by the South End Land Company, originating from the trolley tracks.

November 23

  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia Memorial Day Committee completes its organization at a meeting at City Hall.
  • DERBY – The US Navy orders twenty-five 3″ caliber rapid fire guns from United States Rapid Fire Gun & Power Company on Housatonic Avenue. The order should keep the plant busy for 18 months, and also supply work for the OK Tool Company in Shelton.
  • SEYMOUR – Franklin Farrel will extend the ice monopoly on his newly purchases Silver Lake to the newly formed Merchants’ Ice Company.
  • SEYMOUR – Central Annex, Cedar Ridge, and Castle Rock schools close due to the diphtheria epidemic on orders of the health officer.
  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Derby and Ansonia battle to a 0-0 tie at Derby Meadows.

November 25

  • DERBY – Rev. Dr. W. S. Morgan of the Derby Unitarian Church resigns to accept a position in Albany. He was the church’s minister for 6 years which included the erection of the church itself on the corner of Seymour Avenue and Atwater Avenue.

Monday, November 26, 1906

  • ANSONIA – The Health Officer announces he fears diphtheria may be reaching epidemic proportions in Ansonia. There are now 2 cases on Murray Street, and one each on Holbrook Street, Franklin Street, and Elm Street. The deadly disease is also widespread across the State.
  • ANSONIA – Little opposition is encountered at a Board of Aldermen hearing on double-tracking the trolley extension line to Seymour.
  • DERBY – Irving School needs about $1000 in repairs and upgrades to it’s plumbing and lighting.
  • SHELTON – The Radcliffe Bros. hosiery factory will erect a 78×38′, 6-story addition to it’s Howe Avenue plant.

November 27

  • The 1500 telephones in the Ansonia-Derby-Shelton  exchange will be converted soon to battery telephones, which will do away with the now antiquated hand crank required to get an operator, which are now embarrassingly obsolete.
  • ANSONIA – A local man is found dead in his 20 Front Street home. The house was filled with escaping gas from a broken hose to the heater. There are some suspicions of foul play.
  • SEYMOUR – The tent city composed mostly of Italian workers on the edge of town has basically disappeared, as the construction on the new trolley line has moved to Naugatuck.

November 28

  • The turkey supply not as great as previous years, and quality has suffered as a result. Native turkeys are rare – 30-32 cents/lb. Turkeys from New York and New Jersey average 28 cents/lb, while western turkeys, packed in ice, are 25 cents/lb. The farther away the turkeys are from, the cheaper but less fresh they are.
  • ANSONIA – The Board of Aldermen approve the double-tracking of the trolley extension line to Seymour, with only one dissenting vote.
  • DERBY – 450 pack Gould Armory for the 56th annual Storm Engine Company ball.

 November 29 – THANKSGIVING

  • The day is generally quiet, punctuated by church services and football games. It is the coldest day of season so far, with a brisk northwest wind, but bright sun. There is heavy travel on the railroads.
  • DERBY – The Sunshine Society distributes 40 Thanksgiving dinners to the “worthy poor” in Derby. The group operates out of Unitarian Church on the corner of Seymour and Atwater Avenues.
  • SEYMOUR – A 9 year old Rose Street girl dies of diphtheria.

December

Saturday, December 1, 1906

  • ANSONIA – Mayor Charters takes his oath of office in the Board of Aldermen’s’ chamber at City Hall. The Aldermen are sworn in later that evening.
  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia soccer team is first place in the Connecticut Association Football League.
  • ANSONIA – There are now 10 known cases of diphtheria in the city.

December 2

  • The temperature falls to 10 degrees in the morning, the coldest so far this year.

Monday, December 3, 1906

  • The temperature is 48 degrees by 3 PM. 

December 4

  • About 1 AM, the temperature drops to 1 below zero. In some places, the temperature dropped 50 degrees in ten hours. 2″ of ice ice forms on some reservoirs, giving some the hope that the stockpile of refrigerant ice, all but depleted due to mild weather, may be ending. Both the Housatonic and Naugatuck rivers are covered with ice as well. Plumbers are kept busy with many pipes frozen. Because the temperature drop was completely unexpected, many had left their cellar windows open to allow air to circulate, and many bushels of apples and potatoes which were being kept in basements for the winter were ruined. The remaining slushy snow that was left on the sidewalks is now frozen solid.

December 5

  • ANSONIA – An apartment in a 3 story tenement on lower Main Street catches fire when clothes drying next to a stove ignite. Two construction workers who were working nearby are heroes after they enter the burning apartment and rescue 3 children who were home alone. One of them, a 5 year old girl, is critically injured. The Eagle Hose H&L Co. No. 6’s men hitch their hand drawn jumper (hose cart) to Ansonia Water Company’s sprinter horse “Sweet Marie”, which then rushes barely under control at a breakneck speed to the fire, startling many along Main Street. The Eagle and Webster Hose companies quickly extinguish the fire.
  • ANSONIA – George Washington Lodge No. 82, Free and Accepted Masons, celebrates its 50th anniversary with a gala banquet at the Hotel Dayton in Ansonia.
  • DERBY – There are currently 8 diphtheria cases in the City – 5 on Hawkins Street, 2 on Eighth Street, and 1 on Caroline Street.
  • SEYMOUR – The New Haven County Women’s Christian Temperance Union has its annual meeting at the Seymour Methodist Church.

December 6

  • SEYMOUR – A barn on Ansonia Road destroyed by fire, along with 25 tons of hay and equipment. The Citizens’ Engine Co. No. 2 refuses to respond, as it is outside water limits. This ignites a controversy that lasts for some time, during the course of which it is revealed that the fire company’s steam powered fire engine is in disrepair and may need a new boiler.

December 8

  • DERBY & SHELTON – There is a shortage of local milk in these communities. Milk dealers are buying milk from as far as Naugatuck to meet the demand. Very cold weather, and the high prices of grain, hay, and cows are also cited as reasons, along with the fact that many Huntington dealers are now shipping their milk to the rapidly growing city of Bridgeport.
  • SEYMOUR – Ice is now 4″ thick on Silver Lake, and it is being harvested by Franklin Farrel’s employees. Mr. Farrel, of Ansonia’s Farrel Foundry, recently purchased the farm containing the lake.

December 9

  • Snow falls both in the morning and then later in the evening.

Monday, December 10, 1906

  • 2″ of snow falls overnight, then turns to freezing rain. Sidewalks are covered with ice. Blacksmith shops are swamped for horseshoes with calks that give extra traction in winter.
  • ANSONIA – The Board of Aldermen reject 5 of incoming Mayor Charters’ nominees, including Corporate Counsel, as well as 2 for the Board of Education, and 2 for the Board of Charities. 
  • DERBY – The Sterling Piano Company lays off 30-35 men from its case department because some expected work orders have not come through.
  • SHELTON – A fire at Whitcomb Metallic Bedstead factory, on the bottom of Canal Street, is extinguished quickly. It is thought there is little damage, but several days later it is reported that the water damage caused by sprinklers was worst than thought. 

December 11

  • ANSONIA – A man is struck by locomotive, thrown 30 feet and badly shook up, but suffers no broken bones.

December 12

  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia Ice Company cuts the first ice of the year on Quillinan’s Reservoir on Beaver Street. It is 4-5″ thick, and sorely needed due to the current ice shortage.
  • DERBY – The sight of a sailing boat soundlessly gliding across the frozen Lake Housatonic, attracts attention and leads some to believe it is a ghost ship. Until closer investigation reveals it is actually an ice skiff, blowing across the frozen water on skis.
  • SEYMOUR – The footbridge attached to the side of the covered bridge to allow people to avoid the offensive sights and odors inside the bridge itself, is in rickety condition and people are becoming afraid of it.
  • SHELTON – Manufacturers are saying the shortage of housing in Shelton is hampering their finding good employees.

December 13

  • ANSONIA – Danger of a diphtheria epidemic seems to have passed. The last of the yellow cards indicating houses under quarantine will probably be removed this week.
  • SEYMOUR – Ice cutting is taking place on town reservoirs. 
  • SEYMOUR – Trolley work halted for the winter, due to the extreme cold weather.

December 14

  • SHELTON – Residents on the southern edge of town have lost a large number of cows, dogs, horses, and poultry in trolley collisions over the past 2 years.

December 16

  • SHELTON – The new St. Joseph’s parish has bought the J. W. Anderson house on Coram Avenue for a new church. The lot has 134′ fronting Coram Avenue and is 250′ deep. Mr. Anderson will remain in the house until March 1.

Monday, December 17, 1906

  • ANSONIA – The City’s Omega Steel Company is in receivership, and the plant is idle.
  • DERBY – The Sterling Piano Company was ready to rehire the case department men laid off last week. The firm does not do so, however, because some of them are harassing those still employed and demanding they be laid off for the same period of time.
  • OXFORD – A couple of inches of very wet snow falls. The temperature is 30 degrees.

December 18

  • ANSONIA – There are a large number of Christmas trees for sale around the city, and their prices are relatively cheap.

December 19

  • SHELTON – It is noted that Shelton appears to be a much bigger city than it really is at night, when viewed from the Derby trolley line. This is due to all the factories, which are built along the river, being lit up.

December 20

  • The New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad Company has purchased control of the Connecticut Railway and Lighting Company, which operates the trolley lines in Ansonia, Derby, and Shelton. The railroad will operate and expand the trolley system, which will be called Consolidated Railroad. For some time afterward, locals would refer to the trolley line as “The Consolidated”.
  • DERBY – Four of the men laid off from Sterling Piano last week are arrested after they threaten another who is still employed. The men accosted the employee at a Main Street saloon, threatened him, and accused him of being a scab.
  • SEYMOUR – At a special meeting, the Seymour Congregational Church votes to accept a gift of a new parish house, to be built on Broad Street, from the late Albert Swan.

December 21

  • ANSONIA – The Grove Street School is closed after a boiler went out overnight. The rest of the Ansonia School System begins the Christmas vacation at 11:30 AM today.
  • ANSONIA – The Cameron Electrical Company will move into a vacant American Brass Company building next to the Evening Sentinel on Main Street.

December 22

  • Snow and rain falls.
  • DERBY – A city man is killed instantly when hit by an early morning freight train at Derby Junction.
  • SEYMOUR – 400 pounds of copper wire is stolen from the town’s Brixey Cable Works and loaded on hand cart. A Seymour police officer officer follows the hand cart’s trail in the newly fallen snow for miles, all the way into Woodbridge. There he found two men in the woods by a fire. The copper wire was hidden in a nearby brook. Both men are arrested.

December 23

  • The temperature drops to zero.
  • DERBY – The first mass is held in the new St. Michael’s Church, in what will be the basement of the edifice, which is still under construction. Nevertheless the two morning masses were very crowded.

Monday, December 24, 1906

  • CHRISTMAS EVE – Snow begins falling at 8 AM. Some stores remain open till midnight. The Evening Sentinel reminds readers it is customary to tip postmen and trolley conductors on this date.
  • ANSONIA – About 400 children, half from the city and the others from the other Valley towns, receive gifts from Santa Claus at the Ansonia Opera House. The event is sponsored by the Sunshine Society of Ansonia.

 December 25 – CHRISTMAS DAY

  • New fallen snow puts everyone in the holiday mood.
  • ANSONIA – Quiet Christmas. The police make no arrests after 4 AM.
  • DERBY – City merchants report they earned 25% more in Christmas sales than last year. The police arrest one for public drunkenness.
  • SEYMOUR – Quiet Christmas, no arrests.
  • SHELTON – Quiet Christmas. It is noted that public drunkenness, once a problem on the holiday, was practically non existent this year.

December 26

  • DERBY – Roller skating opens for the first time in Gould Armory. The opening received mixed reviews, as 200 attend, and only 190 pairs of skates were purchased. The fact the amount of larger size skates was underestimated, leaving these in high demand while a number of small size skates sat idle, didn’t help things either. Before long there were 50 people waiting in line for a pair of skates. Despite the setbacks, many said they were pleased that Derby now had a roller skating rink, and hoped that once the bugs were worked out it would be a popular venue.

December 27

  • ANSONIA – Five gallons of lubricating oil explodes on the Ansonia switching engine near Railroad Avenue, and the fire destroys the entire cab of the locomotive. The entire Ansonia Fire Department is called to the scene.

December 28

  • 1906 is rapidly drawing to a close. Christmas decorations are disappearing from homes and storefronts. 1907 calendars and almanacs are a hot item. In this period, New Year’s Day is second only to Christmas in terms of gift giving.
  • The bitter cold weather is causing an increase in ice fishing on ponds, where pickerel are being caught.
  • SEYMOUR – There is a shortage of coal in town, due to congestion on the railroads.

December 29

  • ANSONIA – Playing basketball on roller skates is becoming popular. Ansonia has 2 teams, and both make their debut on the Ansonia Opera House skating rink today before a good sized crowd. There is talk of organizing a city team to play in a new regional league.
  • SHELTON – Real estate in downtown Shelton is among the costliest in the State.

December 30

  • ANSONIA – An entire family, including a husband, wife and 4 children, are found overcome by coal gas in their North Main Street apartment, on corner of Third Street. They are rescued by concerned neighbors, who forced the door to reach them. All are recovering.

Monday, December 31, 1906 – WATCH NIGHT

  • Many socials and church services throughout the Valley. The date was known as Watch Night in those days. Rain fell all day, and the night was just as disagreeable. However, there were many warm dances and balls inside many places.
  • ANSONIA – The daily newspaper Evening Sentinel sold 1,583,975 newspapers in 1906, with a daily average of 5,143. The daily average in 1905 was 5,022.
The Shelton Mill Complex

William Adams Textile Manufacturing Chronology

by William Adams Hunter

  • 1826 – William Adams immigrates to New York City
  • 1829 – William Adams opens handloom in attic at West 4th Street
  • 1832 – Formal business is started with a few handlooms at Waverly Street
  • 1840 – Constructed building at No. 28 Perry Street to meet expanding business needs
  • 1848 – Open salesroom at No. 38 Cedar Street, managed by Henry Adams at 12 years old
  • 1857 – Robert & Henry Adams are admitted to partnership
  • 1857 – Partners purchase and occupy Harmony Mills in Paterson, New Jersey with 60 hands
  • 1859 – Moved Dyeing and finishing departments from New York to Harmony Mills
  • 1862 – Firm organized under the name of William Adams & Co.
  • 1863 – Built a three-story extension on the rear, ninety-five feet deep
  • 1864 – William Adams retires at the age of 59 years
  • 1864 – Firm reorganized under the name of R. & H. Adams’ Mosquito-Netting
  • 1865 – Robert & Henry buy their father out of the business
  • 1869 – The entire Harmony Mill is burned to the ground at a loss of $100,000, had employed 250 hands
  • 1869 – Rebuilt Harmony Mills, forty-five by one hundred and ninety-feet, three stories high
  • 1870 – Purchase the old Essex Mill on Mill Street, just above Boudinot, and extended the buildings
  • 1874 – Built a store-house, twenty-five by ninety feet, five stories high on Mill Street, opposite the Essex Mill
  • 1875 – The finishing house at the Harmony Mill was burned down, and was immediately replaced with brick
  • 1876 – Added silk manufacture, first time fabrication of goods from two chief textiles, cotton and silk
  • 1877 – Purchased the old Industry Mill property, adjoining the Harmony Mill and replaced it with a brick building
  • 1878 – Workers strike lasted seven months
  • 1879 – Robert Adams sells out his interest in the Paterson Mills to Henry
  • 1880 – Robert Adams builds a water-powered mill in Shelton, Connecticut under the name of Adams Manufacturing Company . The plant is known locally as the Derby Cotton Mills, and was located on Canal Street, north of Bridge Street.
  • 1890 – Henry Adams dies, R. & H. Adams, along with Paterson Mills are sold-off per his Last Will & Testament
  • 1903 – Shelton Mills “living from hand to mouth” in wake of a major coal strike in Pennsylvania (Bituminous Coal Scare)
  • 1904 – Robert Adams dies and leaves management of the firm to his son Robert Franklin, stock ownership divided to children
  • 1906 – Large addition to the Shelton plant
  • ???? – Robert Adams purchased cotton mill in North Scituate, Rhode Island
  • 1915 – Rhode Island legislation creates reservoir for Providence, which condemns North Scituate cotton mill
  • 1923 – Adams Manufacturing Co. purchased Nightingale-Morse Mill in Putnam, Connecticut and invested $100,000
  • 1923 – Robert Franklin Adams dies suddenly at this home in Greenwich, Robert John is V.P. and Treasurer 
  • 1930 – Company liquidates Putnam factory 
  • 1937 – Adams Manufacturing files for bankruptcy 
  • 1938 – Robert John Adams dies suddenly at his home in New York City
  • 1939 – Fire destroys 3 four-story buildings of the Shelton complex
  • 1940 – Fire destroys one of the remaining five-story buildings at Shelton 
  • 1942 – The city of Shelton obtains title to the Putnam Mill in foreclosure action and sells it for $15,000
  • 1989 – The remaining former Adams mill building in Shelton burns down in an accidental fire.
The Shelton Mill Complex

Connecticut Mills:
–Putnam Mill – Weave material
–Shelton Mill – Finished material

Shelton Mill capacity: 
–17,000 spindles, 300 looms for $350,000 products per year

Paterson Mill capacity:
–Essex Mill – 17,032 spindles, 315 looms
–Harmony Mill – 9024 spindles, 314 looms
–Industry Mill – 8416 spindles, 200 looms

Paterson Mill Management: 
–Sole Proprietor – Henry Clay Adams 
–General Manager – William Adams, son of Henry Clay Adams 
–Superintendent – Thomas Abbott

Elizabeth Street

How Ansonia came to be and Received its Name

From the book – History of Derby, Connecticut 1642-1880
Published in 1880 by Rev. Samuel Orcutt & Dr. Ambrose Beardsley

* Asterisks indicate insertions made by the Derby Historical Society

Anson Phelps

After Birmingham (*today’s downtown Derby) had become established, as far back as 1836, Anson G. Phelps conceived the idea of utilizing the waters of the Naugatuck for manufacturing purposes upon the west side of the river, and thus making one continuous village, and finally a city, from Birmingham north a distance of two or three miles, the location being eminently beautiful, and he continued in an unsettled state of mind six or eight years before making any purchases of land in view of carrying out his notable project. By this time he had come into possession, by various purchases, of all the desirable real estate on the west side of the river except one piece called the “Old Bassett farm”, and was so situated as to be the key of the whole enterprise.

Learning from busy rumor what was going on, Stephen Booth, (often called Squire Booth) stepped in to play a sharp game of speculation, and bought the farm for $5,000, a big price to pay in those times, for agricultural purposes. Whether this was done to defeat the grand object of Mr. Phelps or to extort money, it is not easily determined, but Mr. Phelps, chagrined at the movement, rested his labors and took matters coolly, as he was not easily cornered and held in “durance vile” by his strategy.

At length Peter Phelps, the agent of his uncle, Anson G., made advances to Mr. Booth….Ten thousand dollars was the sum talked of and partially agreed upon, but no writings were drawn. Meanwhile, Mr. Booth moved into the ancient house on this farm, and when the rising sun greeted the old mansion his speculative brain fancies golden visions of the future while he thus soliloquized: “This farm is the key to Phelps’ adventure, and to me these rocks are as diamonds of great value, and I will yet get my price”.

At the next meeting, the old farm had gone up in value to $15,000…Many stories, pro and con, were raised about town, and an influential committee from Birmingham – Sheldon Bassett, Donald Judson, and others, waited on Mr. Booth, and in vain tried to persuade him to sell his farm, and if he wanted it for cultivating purposes, as he claimed, another was offered worth twice as much, but this seemed no temptation.

The farm grew in value upon his mind, and after awhile, matters remaining in status quo, Mr. Booth became anxious, and hearing from one and another that he could get his $15,000, made advances to Peter Phelps, and an hour was appointed for an interview. The meeting was held in the parlor of Dr. Beardsley at Birmingham. After a lengthy preamble Mr. Booth said, “I have concluded to part with the farm, and after all that has been said the lowest price now cash down is $25,000, but if this offer is rejected the lowest figure hereafter will be $30,000”.

Peter Phelps, the agent who had full powers to close the bargain at $15,000, and expected to do so, spurned the proposition and turning indignantly said “Go to h__l with your old farm; and when you get back what we first offered let us know”. This was a back stroke to the wheel of fortune for Mr. Booth and a fatal blow to the city project of Birmingham

Elizabeth Street
Dr. Ambrose Beardsley’s tan house is in the left foreground, on Elizabeth Street, Birmingham (downtown Derby). It was here that Anson Phelps’ nephew, Peter, had his final meeting with Squire Booth, and it was also in this home that Dr. Beardsley first suggested the name “Ansonia” to Mr. Phelps. The home no longer stands. Birmingham’s “beloved physician”, Dr. Beardsley co-wrote the book “History of the Old Town of Derby”, from which this history is taken, in 1880. Beyond Dr. Beardsley’s home is the Bassett House restaurant and hotel, and the Sterling Opera House.

Mr. Phelps now turned his attention to the east side of the Naugatuck, but this was claimed by Old Booth (as he was now called) simply a ruse to overreach him, and once more the old farm was held in still higher valuation. The first survey of the grounds now teeming with the busy life of Ansonia was made by John Clouse, Anson G. Phelps, Almon Farrel, and other gentlemen. After nearly a day’s tramp around the lots, Clouse planted himself upon a high rock near where the Congregational church now stands (*on South Cliff Street), and casting his eyes around said “Mr. Phelps, this is one of the finest places for a village in this Western world. I would be content here to live and die, and to be buried near this very spot with no other monument to my name than this rock and the memory of those who may come after me”. Purchases were immediately made, and about the same time the Seymour dam, built by Raymond French, was bought, which defeated the purpose of a manufacturing village on the west side of the river a mile north of Ansonia to be called Kinneytown.

Mr. Phelps now bent his masterly energies toward carrying out his plans, and the last lingering hope of selling the diamond farm did not vanish from the mind of Mr. Booth until he saw, in 1845, a long line of Irishmen with picks and shovels, carts and horses, ready to commence broad and deep the canal and other foundations for the new village. From the first building erected on Main Street, Ansonia has steadily grown in wealth, population, and enterprise until she now vies with any manufacturing village in the State. Eagle-like, she has spread her wings in all directions, and the old Bassett farm, having undergone many mutations, is now adorned with beautiful lawns and gardens, and dotted with neat little cottages and elegant mansions. Many imprecations were heaped upon Mr. Booth by the people of Derby, for being a stumbling block in the way of Birmingham’s progress, while the denizens of Ansonia may now rise up and call him blessed.

While Mr. Phelps was one day at Dr. Beardsley’s dinner table, about this time, he said “Doctor, we are in such a quandary as to what to name our new village. Some are in favor of calling it Phelpsville, but I have one place by that name already”.

The Doctor remarked “I suppose you would like your name associated with the place”.

“That would be very desirable”, Mr. Phelps replied.

Impromptu, the Doctor said, “Take your Christian name, Anson, and make a Latin name of it and call it Ansonia; this will be euphonious, rather poetical, and will carry your name down to the latest generation”.

Instantly Mr. Phelps dropped his knife and fork and exclaimed. “That is the name; it suits me exactly”, and at the next meeting of the company it was adopted, and hence it was called Ansonia.

The Creation of the City of Ansonia and Today’s Valley in 1888-1889

(originally written in March and April of 2003 by Robert Novak Jr. for the weekly newspaper Huntington Herald)

Part I

            In November of 1888, a series of events began across the Housatonic River which threw the entire Lower Naugatuck Valley into turmoil. The heart of the conflict involved a petition signed by 1,100 residents of the Borough of Ansonia, asking the State General Assembly seeking that area’s independence from the Town of Derby. The petition was vigorously opposed by Derby, particularly its other borough, Birmingham.

            While the most basic principals and result of the conflict are known, many of the details are not. First, a brief regional history lesson. On the Fairfield County side, Huntington (as today’s City of Shelton was called at the time) became an independent town from Stratford in 1789. At the time, the entire New Haven County side of the Lower Naugatuck Valley was Derby. The heart of Derby was located along the east banks of the Housatonic and Naugatuck Rivers, from about Commerce Street (the area was called Derby Narrows in the 18th and 19th centuries) to above the current Derby-Ansonia town line (called Uptown in the 18th and 19th centuries). There were scattered farmhouses and settlement clusters throughout what is now Derby, Ansonia, Seymour, and Oxford. The farthest flung settlement from the heart of Derby, Oxford Parish, left Derby to become an independent town in 1798.

            In the early 1800s, David Humphreys returned from his diplomatic service in Portugal and Spain, with a flock of nearly 100 Merino sheep – one of the first flocks in English-speaking North America. Purchasing and rebuilding a Naugatuck River dam, he and his partner Thomas Vose established one of Connecticut’s first true factories, manufacturing high quality wool cloth. The area around the factory became known as Humphreysville, quickly growing into a community of its own.

             After a period of economic turmoil in the first decades of the nineteenth century, a dam was constructed across the Naugatuck River in the 1830s, well below Humphreysville, in what is now Ansonia. A canal, running down the Naugatuck’s west bank all the way to the Housatonic River, was attached to the dam, providing cheap waterpower for large mills. The leading proponent of Derby’s new ‘factory village’, Sheldon Smith wanted to follow David Humphreys’ lead and name it Smithville. However his partner, Anson Phelps, vetoed the idea and the place was named Birmingham, a nod to the industrialized English city of the same name. Birmingham was such an unqualified success that by the 1840s it had run out of room to expand, its triangular boundaries composed of the Naugatuck and Housatonic Rivers, and a land speculator who priced his property out of the market to its north.

            By this time, Sheldon Smith had left the area, leaving Anson Phelps to expand Birmingham interests above Derby’s colonial center on the Naugatuck’s east bank, and found a second factory village. Like Birmingham, the village radiated from a workable power canal, completed in 1846, that paralleled the Naugatuck River. Originally he wanted to call the place Phelpsville, but after learning there was another community by that name in New England, he followed the advice of Birmingham’s Dr. Ambrose Beardsley and came up with a “Latinized” version of his first name – Ansonia. Lacking the geographic limitations of Birmingham, and benefiting from a new railroad line that extended into Ansonia from New Haven and (east) Derby in 1849, the area rapidly expanded into a virtually autonomous town, boasting a healthy mix of residential, commercial, and industrial areas. 

            In 1850, Humphreysville established itself as an independent town from Derby. It renamed itself after the Governor of Connecticut at the time – Seymour. Birmingham became a semi-autonomous borough within the Town of Derby in 1852, and Ansonia likewise became a borough within Derby in 1864.

            By the end of the Civil War, most of the waterpower along the Ansonia canal was already in use, and the area once again looked to expand its manufacturing interests. This time, the power of the Housatonic River was harnessed, with the construction of the Ousatonic Dam in 1870. Two canals were run from the dam, one along each bank. The development of the shorter canal in Birmingham was somewhat disappointing until the turn of the twentieth century, while across the river, development of the canal in Huntington boomed.

            The heart of today’s downtown Shelton was owned by a single corporate entity, the Ousatonic Water Company, headquartered in Birmingham. The OWC leased or sold property and water rights in Shelton piecemeal. Known better as “West Birmingham” in the 1870s, the area was incorporated as the Borough of Shelton within the Town of Huntington in 1882. Shelton was a virtual fiefdom of Birmingham for its first twenty years. The selectmen of Huntington Center, most of whom were farmers, had no wish to tangle with the savvy Valley businessmen investing in Shelton, or their lawyers.

            The creation of Shelton relieved pressure on Birmingham, whose government then focused on becoming the Valley’s social and commercial center. Birmingham had the best of both worlds – it did not have to worry about setting up an infrastructure to support the new factories, as they were across the river in Shelton under the OWC. It was, however, collecting the taxes from the majority of the Shelton factory owners, who lived in Birmingham, not to mention those coming in from Ansonia. With all this wealth, Birmingham could focus on beautifying its Green, paving its streets, and projects like constructing the Sterling Opera House. Unfortunately, these projects proved a bit too ambitious, resulting in Birmingham accruing a considerable debt.

            This was a major source of resentment for the area’s most developmentally balanced borough, Ansonia, who felt too much of their needed tax revenue was being taken away to benefit Birmingham. Ansonia had 10,000 inhabitants, more than any other section of Derby. Ansonia’s decision to seek independence in November of 1888 was a complicated one, and elicited strong, often conflicting emotions on both sides. The weekly newspaper Derby Transcript started a daily edition called the Evening Transcript the following month. Never one to reserve its editorial opinions, the Transcript immediately became a mouthpiece for the preservation of the union of Derby, Birmingham, and Ansonia. Unlike its rival, the Ansonia Evening Sentinel, most Transcript issues from this time period have survived.

            In 1886, Ansonia tried to annex West Ansonia, the area directly across the Naugatuck River from downtown Ansonia which was then part of the Town of Derby, into its Borough. Led by West Ansonia resident respected attorney Col. William B. Wooster, the effort failed. Two years later, Ansonia elected a slate of officials who promised independence from Derby. The independence drive was backed by Ansonia’s three largest employers – the Ansonia Brass and Copper Company, the Farrel Foundry, and Wallace & Sons. These three factories employed 2,200 people. Accounting for nearly 20% of Ansonia’s Grand List, the factory owners were displeased with the possibility of having to bail out Birmingham’s debt. Opposing Ansonia were most of Derby and Birmingham, and many residents in West Ansonia.

            By early December, some of Ansonia’s independent-minded thinking spread to Shelton, and a petition circulated there and in Huntington a separate probate district. Most of Huntington fell into the Bridgeport Probate District, while the Borough of Shelton fell within Derby’s. In seeking to form a probate district independent of Derby and Bridgeport, Shelton was taking its own first steps toward reasserting control of its own affairs.

A bombshell was dropped on December 26, 1888. The Transcript had already announced on Christmas Eve that a petition was circulating to incorporate Derby as a city. The formal notice appeared two days later stating “Notice is hereby given that an application will be made to the next General Assembly for a city charter, to cover the whole territory included in the town of Derby, and the Borough of Shelton, and all the territory lying between the said Derby and Shelton”. The “territory lying between” was the Housatonic River and Ousatonic Dam, and the town of Derby, of course, included Ansonia.

The next day, December 27, the paper editorialized “The Transcript is glad to know that a movement has been started, and a petition is to be presented to the legislature at its coming session asking for a city charter to embrace the town of Derby and the borough of Shelton, bringing them all under one local government”. “United in one community we would soon advance to the front rank among the prominent and progressive towns of the State”. The following day, the paper reported a “strong sentiment” in Birmingham to incorporate a city and annex Shelton from Huntington. The same paper reported another petition for separating Ansonia from Derby was being “extensively signed” in Ansonia.

            The evening of December 29, a group of just over a dozen prominent Birmingham residents gathered. The group formed a formal committee opposed to the division of Derby in any form, including its probate district, which of course ran counter to both Ansonia and Shelton’s intentions. The man who drew up the committee’s motions was Derby Superior Court Judge David Torrance.

Part II

“There is nothing now to be done but accept the inevitable”

            January of 1889 found a bitter dispute between the Town of Derby and its Borough of Birmingham against its other Borough, Ansonia. Two competing plans had been presented- one to establish Ansonia as independent of the Town of Derby, while the second wishing to see Derby consolidate as a City.

The daily newspaper Evening Transcript clearly reaffirmed its stance on January 25, when it proclaimed a “powerful legal battery” had been hired for “Derby’s defense”. In addition to the hopes of relegating Ansonia’s petition to separate from Derby as something for “a lover of curiosities for future ages to gaze on”, the lawyers were also instructed to “oppose the taking away of Shelton from the probate district”. Severing this tie in favor of a Huntington-Shelton probate district would effectively end any political legitimacy to Derby’s attempt to annex Shelton.

The following day, a “communicated” message from Shelton appeared in the Transcript, stating “It is now eight years since the organization of the borough, and the record of progress and advancement of material interests of the place during the time is one to be justly proud of. We think no village of its size in the State can show a better percentage of gain in population and wealth during that period than this. Our improvements have been many, our taxes not excessive, and our debt is comparably light. In this connection, it might not be out of place to inquire what further benefits could be secured by a consolidation of interest with less favored boroughs in the form of a city government. We assert confidently that the reasons in favor of such a change are few and those against it are substantial and many. Let us jog along as we are, progressive, prosperous, and in the main, happy, until such time (and it may never occur) when the city of Shelton may wish to enlarge her borders on the east, and consent to take in her discontented neighbors. In the meantime, all we ask is to be let alone”. This message likely sprang from a special meeting of the Borough of Shelton held two days before.

To proponents of the consolidation movement, the above statement must have been absolutely devastating. Not only was Shelton rejecting a union with Derby, but it made (in their eyes) the absolutely preposterous suggestion that, maybe, if they were lucky, Derby could be absorbed, wholly or piecemeal, into Shelton! No doubt some interesting conversations and incidents not reported in the newspapers swirled around the area after this piece was published.

After the petition to form a town-wide “Huntington Probate District” was scheduled in Hartford, the Transcript grumbled January 29 “This seems to be one of the schemes for the further cutting up of our community, and like the other (Ansonia) seems to us unwise”. Despite this, most opposition from the Transcript afterwards was largely passive, likely because the paper and its supporters decided to focus its energy on keeping Ansonia within Derby before going after Shelton.

The hearing on the Huntington Probate District was held before a legislative Committee on New Towns and Probate Districts in Hartford on February 7. The committee allowed the lawyers on each side to present three witnesses. It is interesting to note the witnesses selected to testify opposing the break from Derby’s district included Edward N. Shelton, for whom the City of Shelton is named, and Charles Nettleton, who was the first head of the Borough of Shelton, from 1882 to 1883. The Transcript alluded that more signatures came from Huntington Center than Shelton, and “There are many sound businessmen in Shelton who think unfavorably of the movement”. Perhaps stung by this criticism, a second petition was prepared advocating a new Probate District “from Shelton, with a long list of signatures”, in early March. On April 5, the House voted 126 to 57 in favor of creating a Probate District in Huntington. Never again would any town make an attempt to annex all or part of Shelton.

The big fight, between Derby and Birmingham against its independent minded borough Ansonia, began before the Committee on March 7, and lasted for three days. The Transcript published the testimony and cross-examinations verbatim. Some Ansonia proponents even went so far as to make the intriguing accusation that Birmingham allowed Seymour to become an independent town in 1850, and built up Shelton starting in 1870, all in an attempt of preventing Ansonia from usurping Birmingham as the center of influence within Derby, an argument their opponents vehemently denied. The interesting reality, however, is had neither event occurred, Ansonia would have been the geographic heart of Derby. 

Many of the Birmingham residents voicing opposition to dividing Derby at the Hartford hearings were factory owners, causing the pro-division lobby to ask them why, if they were so dedicated to preserving Derby, did they relocate their factories to Shelton? They were told the answer was the same reason they invested in Ansonia in the 1840s – additional space and cheap waterpower.

The majority of the Committee voted to side with Ansonia on March 19, though the minority report was also persuasive. On April 3, the Derby Division bill passed the State Senate 17 to 3 and was sent to the House of Representatives. The final blow came on April 11, 1889. With its party lines shattered, the House voted 125 to 76 to divide Derby and create a new Town of Ansonia. An attempt was made by Derby’s State Representative Charles S. Chaffee to derail the independence drive by attaching an amendment to the bill, saying Ansonia’s independence would be contingent upon a town-wide referendum (Derby, Birmingham, Ansonia, West Ansonia) to approve the measure passing. The amendment failed by a vote of 121-90. 

The Ansonia independence bill was passed again by the Senate on April 15, 1889, due to an amendment providing a minor border adjustment having been inserted by the House.. The bill was signed by Governor Buckley the following day, even as Judge Isaac Wolfe of New Haven made a last-ditch attempt to stop the division by making a motion to reconsider the action before the House (the attempt failed by a vote of 90-67).  The same day, the Transcript conceded its crushing defeat, and the birth of the Valley as we know it today, saying “There is nothing now to be done but accept the inevitable”.

In an incredible irony, the Sterling Opera House, held it first performance on April 2, 1889, a New York production prophetically titled Drifting Apart. Built with public funds, the upper floors of the Sterling served as a playhouse, in direct competition with the Ansonia Opera House built in 1870. The ground floor and basement were meant to serve as Birmingham’s Borough Hall. But the space far exceeded what was necessary for Birmingham, and many presumed the real plan was for the Sterling to serve as the proposed greater City of Derby’s City Hall. The Sterling was a particular cause of agitation for Ansonia. 

Part III

            On May 17, 1889, even as surveyors were driving stakes to mark the boundary between Derby and the new town of Ansonia, the daily newspaper Evening Transcript reported an informal meeting held in the Borough of Birmingham. Conducted in the office of the borough’s warden (the equivalent of its mayor) office, the group met to talk over “the proposed union of the old town of Derby (including Birmingham and Ansonia) and perhaps also Shelton into a city”. The group agreed to put out feelers to Ansonia, to see if, after the bitter, six-month long fight for independence from Derby, there was enough support among its prominent residents to reunite the fractured town and form a larger city.

            Three days later, the Transcript reported that everyone polled in Ansonia “expressed himself against the project, and stated he would strenuously oppose it”. This marked the final gasp of the era’s greater “City of Derby” concept. Perhaps if this gentler diplomacy been tried with Ansonia six months earlier, had the political wind been different, or had the “City” concept been introduced ten years earlier, the Valley’s history might have turned out quite different.

            The six-month period from November 1888 to April 1889, saw a flurry of petitions from the area sent to the State General Assembly, including one which resulted in Shelton and Huntington breaking from the Derby and Bridgeport Probate Districts, respectively, and forming one of their own. The election for the first judge of the Huntington Probate District quickly turned bitter, with interests from Birmingham trying to sabotage the candidacy of Republican Joseph Tomlinson. A letter writer to the Evening Transcript alleged on May 6 that Tomlinson sided with those who favored, and recently won, the division of both the Town of Derby (including Ansonia) and the Derby Probate District (which included Shelton) in the hopes of being elected.

The allegation was bitterly refuted the following day, with a ‘Sheltonian’ basically telling Birmingham to stop trying to “stir up discussions and discord in another town”. An insurance and real estate agent who lived in a beautiful new house on Howe Avenue below Myrtle Street, Mr. Tomlinson won the May 8 election by only 20 votes, becoming one of the most powerful, and by some feared, men in town. A telling aspect of how divided opinion was, Tomlinson actually lost the election in Shelton by 3 votes, yet won the rest of Huntington by 23.

Within a year, cooperation between Derby, Huntington, and their respective boroughs resulted in the construction of a new iron bridge to replace the covered one across the Housatonic River. The two towns’ trolley systems were connected. The fruits of this cooperation were made apparent when the Shelton line was extended to Bridgeport in 1899, and Derby’s to New Haven in 1901, benefiting the Valley immensely. Although Derby, Ansonia, and Birmingham’s trolley systems were already connected by 1889, needed improvements like maintenance and improvement of Division Street and its bridges took years to accomplish – no doubt a result of the bitterness of 1888-1889.

            Ansonia reincorporated itself as a City in 1893 – the first municipality in the Valley. Derby followed suit a year later, ending the Borough of Birmingham, but giving rise to the curious and completely false rumor that lingers to this day that the whole Valley was once named “Birmingham”. The smaller City of Derby’s City Hall was the first floor and basement of the Sterling Opera House until 1965. The Town of Huntington became a city in 1917, but took the unusual step of naming itself after its borough, becoming the City of Shelton.

            The conflict between those who wished to consolidate the Valley and those who wished to form smaller cities out of it riveted the entire State. What makes the conflict so intriguing is, had a few things turned out differently, we could have had a very different history. A city of  about 13 square miles would have been created in the heart of the Naugatuck Valley in 1889, with a population of about 20,000 people. Downtown Shelton would have become part of New Haven County, and its fate and destiny would have been determined in large part by forces from across the Housatonic River. How similar or different the area would have looked today is a matter of speculation.

            In the century that followed the great division debate, suggestions still occasionally popped up to unite Derby, Ansonia, and Shelton, but unlike the serious attempt of 1888-89, these were more of an idealistic nature, and never seriously considered. Prior to World War I, some suggested consolidating the three into a city called “Deanshel”, the name taken from the first letters in each of the three communities. In the late 1960s an Ansonia state legislator also broached the topic, suggesting the new city be named “Birmingham” – possibly giving rise to the false rumor that the whole Valley was once called Birmingham. The idea went as far as a $25,000 study, conducted by the University of Connecticut, which concluded that while a successful city might have been created out of Derby, Ansonia, and Shelton, the idea would never fly with their residents, who despite the irony of living in an area which serves as a model for regional cooperation, were far to proud of their smaller communities’ institutions and heritage to consider consolidation.

David Humphreys – In His Own Words

A speech by Derby Historical Society Executive Director Robert Novak Jr., at the 52nd commemoration of Roger Sherman and David Humphreys, at the David Humphreys gravesite at Grove Street Cemetery in New Haven, CT, the morning of July 4, 2003.


             Good morning. I’d like to speak a few words about the first Independence Day, and how the trials and tribulations of our new nation could be summarized in the person of David Humphreys, whom we honor today.

While Humphreys no doubt had the education to easily fit in with signers of the Declaration of Independence, such as Roger Sherman, what he lacked was life experience. He only 24 years old on July 4, 1776, five years past graduation from his beloved Yale, in whose shadow he now lays.

 David, in fact, was at home in Derby on that historic date. He had only recently returned, being unable to continue as tutor for the children of Lord Philipse, one of the most prominent Loyalists, or Tories, in the New York City area. It appears the young tutor had tried to live with the fact that his views radically differed from that of a man who, in many other respects, he liked and admired. But, finally unable to reconcile the differences, he regrettably terminated the relationship. It was, in many ways, much like his country’s break with England, and he also shared its prospects of an uncertain future.

With nowhere else to go, he returned to his parent’s homestead in Derby. His biographer speculated the homecoming contained “…a warm greeting from his father and mother, and much talk over his experiences among the Loyalists. And as the whole family was thoroughly interested in the Continental Cause, ardent wishes would be expressed for the success of the American arms”.

Indeed, David’s family was already active in the Revolutionary cause by July of 1776. His father, a Congregationalist minister, preached its virtues from the pulpit. Two of David’s older brothers were also active, one of which, Elijah, was a major in the local militia. This did not stop him from marrying the daughter of the Episcopal minister, one of Derby’s most prominent Loyalists. Needless to say, holidays must have been very interesting when this family got together, and the complex relationship serves as a reminder that the independence issue was not as clear-cut as we may think today.

Just before July 4, 1776, David Humphreys returned to New York, visiting the City and sharing a tent with his Derby neighbor, Captain William Hull. The City was under General Washington’s strict military rule, as the British were expected to attack at any time. Like his country, David’s destiny was at a crossroads, and, as is true of virtually all the patriots of the time, the path he was to take, and the direction it would lead, was anything but certain.

Inspired by what he saw, he wrote a poem he hoped to dedicate to Washington. Writing Col. Samuel B. Webb, then the General’s aide-camp, Humphreys stated “Dear sir. As I was so unfortunate not to see you, but for a moment when I was in town, I must take the liberty to trouble you with a line, and to enclose a short piece of poetry, which I wrote when I was last in New York.” The letter concluded “I expect in a few weeks to be in New York. When I shall have to the opportunity to tell you how much I am your sincere friend and humble servant. Signed, David Humphreys”. The date was July 8, 1776, and this is the earliest known writing from David Humphreys.

Within a month’s time, Connecticut hurriedly organized and rushed to New York’s defense the Second Militia Regiment. Accompanying them was David Humpheys, serving as a volunteer Adjunct to the Regiment. David had kept his promise to return to Col. Webb, only this time, as a comrade.

Prior to leaving home, he wrote a poem to his friends at Yale, where he poured out his heart, in what is now known as his “Sonnet Number 1”, which began:

“Adieu, thou Yale, where youthful poets dwell,

No more I linger by thy classic stream.

Inglorious ease and sportive songs farewell.

Thou startling clarion break the sleeper’s dream”.

He was idealistic, perhaps a little naïve, and definitely what a soldier of today would call “green”, but he didn’t have the luxury of remaining that way very long. On September 15, the British landed in Manhattan, and Humphreys found himself in the middle of a rout. His fellow troops in panic, and the Colonel of the Second Connecticut, a fellow Derby resident, killed, David would recall “We joined the army, after dark, on the Heights of Harlem. Before our Brigades came in, we were given up for lost by our friends. So critical indeed was our situation and so narrow the gap by which we escaped, that the instant we had passed, the enemy closed in by extending their line from river to river”.

Humphreys found himself with a dispirited, nearly broken group of Connecticut soldiers, reflecting, “The warmth of their enthusiasm seemed extinguished”. The following day, David participated in the Battle of Harlem Heights, which saw the British retreat for the first time in the campaign. Humphreys recalled the event had “a surprising and almost incredible effect upon the whole army…every visage seemed to brighten, and to assume, instead of the gloom of despair, the glow of animation. This change, not less sudden then happy, left little room to doubt that the men, who ran the day before at the sight of the enemy, would now have conducted themselves in a very different manner”.

The ill-fated New York City campaign would continue, but Humphreys role was finished. Washington wrote the Second Regiment had been reduced to “almost nothing”, and accordingly discharged them, along with Humphreys, on September 24, 1776.

The following winter must have been difficult for David, as news of the daily travails of Washington’s army continued to flow into Derby. Already a war veteran, David could have honorably put his military career behind him, and resumed his life as an academic, perhaps even returning to Yale, but his restless spirit would not allow it. When Congress authorized a Continental Army, Captain David Humphreys joined Connecticut’s Sixth Continental Regiment, organized on January 1, 1777. Within a few months he was promoted to a Brigade Major, serving as Assistant Adjunct General of the Regiment’s First Brigade. His biographer wrote “From this date to the close of the war, Humphreys was constantly engaged on staff duty with one General or another”.

He served some of the finest American generals in the war, culminating when his neighbor and former tent mate, now Lt. Col. William Hull, recommended him as aide-de-camp to General George Washington. Humphreys would recall in verse:

“I too, perhaps, should Heaven prolong my date,

The oft-repeated tale shall often relate;

Shall tell the feelings in the first alarms,

Of some bold enterprise the unequaled charms,

Shall tell from whom I learnt the martial art,

With what high chiefs I played my early part;

With Parson’s first whose eye with piercing ken

Reads through their hearts the characters of men;

Then how I aided in the following scenes,

Death-daring Putnam – then immortal Greene

Then how great Washington, my youth approved”. 

After the Battle of Yorktown, Humphreys was entrusted to deliver the surrendered British standards to the Continental Congress, effectively breaking the news to the world the Revolutionary War was over. He would go on to other great things in his incredible lifetime, negotiating commercial treaties in Europe, and serving in Connecticut’s General Assembly. He wrote books and poems, including the only biography of George Washington authorized by America’s first President himself. He was appointed Minister to Portugal, in effect becoming America’s first ambassador to any foreign country, and was later transferred to Spain. He returned to Derby with a flock of about 100 Merino sheep, and promptly established the first, but by no means last “manufacturing village” in the Lower Naugatuck Valley. Humphreys continued to be active in the military serving as Commander of all Connecticut militia during the War of 1812.

Much like his country, the restless 24-year-old man who contemplated his uncertain future on July 4, 1776, had evolved in ways he could not have possibly imagined. However, his vivid memories of the trials and tribulations, the greatness and uncertainty, indeed what came to be called the Spirit of 1776, never left him.

It is easy for one to call him or herself a patriot nowadays. We live in a time when we face threats from an enemy that has proven his ability to strike within our heartland, so close to where David Humphreys first encountered the British in battle. Our country needs, and continues to be blessed with patriots like those of 1776, both in the mold of the learned, daring signers of the Declaration of Independence like Roger Sherman, and also in the restless dreams, ambitions, and self-sacrifice in our youth like David Humphreys, who continue to heed the call of their country, devoting their talents to military and public service, or volunteering.

I would like to conclude with four lines from our bard, David Humpheys, whose views of July 4 were made quite clear in his poem “Love of Country”.

“To Independence, consecrate this day

Demands the tribute of my annual lay;

Protector of that gift of God Supreme,

Though Love of Country! Be this day my theme!”.Thank you, and may God Bless America.

The Derby Silver Company

The Derby Silver Company was founded in 1872, and began operations on Shelton’s Canal Street one year later. The company soon outgrew its quarters and constructed a larger building, which still stands on Bridge Street, Shelton, in 1877 near the Housatonic River, overlooking Derby. A number of additions were added in subsequent years. The original Canal Street building was razed when the railroad was built through Shelton in 1888.

The company made toilet articles, mirrors, combs, clocks, brushes, table and flatware, tea sets, children’s cups, loving cups (trophies), candlesticks, fruit baskets, dishes, basically anything which was plated by or made of silver. Special orders were constantly commissioned as well. The factory manufactured items for the Sperry and Hutchins trading stamp stores. The Company was noted for its large line of silver plated toilet ware and an economical line of plated hollowware sold under the popular trademark of the Victor Silver Plate Company.

Showrooms were established in New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco. A considerable amount of silver was shipped to South America. The logo at the time featured an anchor, often with the words “Derby Silver Company” or its initials surrounding it.

In 1898, the plant merged with the International Silver Company, a consortium of Connecticut silver companies. At that time the Derby Silver Company works was known as “Factory B”. Thus, as a rule of thumb, items with the “Derby Silver Company” logo most likely date from the nineteenth century, while items with the International Silver Company logo, either Derby or Factory B, are from the twentieth. 

A victim of the Depression, the plant closed in 1933. The Derby Silver Company’s building remains intact on Bridge Street in Shelton. The building had served as an automobile muffler factory, and during World War II manufactured bombsight optics. In 1949 it was bought by the Sponge Rubber Products Company. The Sponge Rubber Products Company was bought out by B.F. Goodrich in 1954. The large smokestack that served the Silver Company was torn down in October of 1961. The building reverted back to the rejuvenated Sponge Rubber Products Company in 1974, and was fortunately far enough away from the subsequent firebombing of the main plant of the SRPC a block south on Canal Street not to be destroyed in the explosion.

The old building was bought by former employees of the Sponge Rubber Company, who formed Housatonic Everfloat, manufacturing foam rubber cushions, mats, and life preservers. Housatonic Everfloat was bought out by a company called Spongex in 1985, which continues similar manufacturing operations in the old Silver Company building to the present day.

  Articles manufactured by the Derby Silver Company are still to be found in Derby, Shelton and her sister communities of the Lower Naugatuck Valley, some of which are on public display. Besides the Derby and Shelton Historical Societies, another good source is a book entitled “A Century in Silver 1847-1947, Connecticut Yankees and a Noble Metal” by Earl Chapin May, written in 1947.

Print of the Derby Silver Company, circa 1885

Remembering the Derby Silver Company

Originally written August 1998 by Robert Novak Jr. for the weekly newspaper Huntington Herald)

They still stand along Canal Street. Large, brick buildings, built during the American Industrial Revolution, the very nucleus from which sprang forth downtown Shelton. Today they are in sorry shape. Some are deserted or mostly deserted. One is burned out. Some are gone entirely, leaving behind weed and brick strewn lots.

It is hard to imagine sometimes that this was a bustling industrial center, with thousands of people pouring in and out of the factories, many of which had three shifts. The factory whistles or gongs would sound, and the faceless multitudes of workers would stream into the smoke belching plants, perhaps dodging a locomotive that was running along the spur tracks on Canal Street. They would disappear into another world behind the closed doors, only to reemerge when the long shift would end.

While we have pictures of what all the factories looked like from the outside in historical collections and archives, we have precious few pictures of what went on after doors closed behind the last workers for the day. Newspapers aren’t much help, the Derby Transcript often gave detailed, glowing accounts of the workings of the factories without referring much to the people inside. The Evening Sentinel offered better glimpses of factory life, but because many of the descriptions came during times of labor unrest it wasn’t exactly the best time to report on day to day activities inside the factories.

In 1918, Charles C. Smith (1904-1980) turned 14. By law, Smith was eligible to work in Shelton’s factories providing he had parental permission. Since his uncle, Watson Miller, helped found the Derby Silver Company in 1872, and his father served as the factory’s manager, Smith naturally gravitated to this plant on the corner of Bridge and Canal Streets. Smith would later write a book entitled Autobiography of a Connecticut Yankee, in which he would detail his experiences working in the Derby Silver Company.

Working after school and on weekends, Smith labored in the Shipping Department. Among his fellow employees were recent veterans of World War I. Smith earned 5 cents an hour, while the adults were paid from 20 to 25 cents an hour. He recalls “There were no coffee breaks, no time and a half overtime pay, no vacations, and no retirement benefits” in those days. 

Smith’s job was to unload wagon loads of box ends. These ends would then be nailed together to make custom-sized boxes for whatever silver shipments were to be made. The trick was to make a box large enough to fit everything but small enough not to leave a lot of empty space. The silver was sent from the shoproom floor to shipping via an elevator. Much of the silver was destined for South America, and was often packed in hay, which was difficult to work with in the summer if one had allergies. The largest boxes weighed 300 pounds when filled. The boxes would be loaded on the horse drawn wagons of the Oates Brothers Trucking Company, where it was hauled to the Derby train station. Oates Brothers’ building still stands at the corner of Wharf Street and Howe Avenue (note – this building has subsequently been torn down). 

Smith recalls the busiest times were in the fall, when stores through the United States and South America sought to fill their stocks before Christmas. The Shipping Department would work until 9 PM on Saturdays to keep up with the orders.

Although Smith had entered the workingman’s world, he was still a young boy, and naturally curious. When his department wasn’t busy, he’d wander to other parts of the factory. His father frowned upon this, saying “Suppose all the workmen wandered around as you are doing- you have no right to do this- go back to the Shipping Department”. After awhile, Smith recalls his wanderings became a game of “hide and seek” from his father, and he was often aided by men in other departments in avoiding his father. 

The Engraving Department was where one of the Silver Company’s best engineers, Mr. King, worked. Smith remembers King would cover an item’s surface with talc, and trace a design in it. He then “…would select one of his many sharp-pointed tools and with what appeared to be reckless abandon, he would cut away on the surface of a product worth as much as $1500 (a lot of money for a boy making 5 cents an hour!) …When he finished cutting all his lines and curves, he washed off the talc exposing a masterpiece”.

For a few months Smith worked in the Casting Department, located on the ground floor. Molten white metal was poured into two sections of molding. They were then clamped together and allowed to harden, forming the desired mold. Smith recalls “It was a hot place in the summer because the metal pots were heated with coal fires. In those days we had no eye shields or safety glasses to protect us from the splattering of hot molten metal. We were furnished with eye shields to protect our clothing (from catching fire)”. The ground floor also housed the Machine Shop and the Slow Hydraulic Press Departments, supervised “…by a very stern Mr. Welch”.

Above the Hydraulic Press Department was the Spinning and Turning Department, where huge blocks of Arkansas gumwood was turned into bases for prize cups (trophies), also known as “loving cups”. Also large, flat disks of metal on a rotating surface was formed into prize cups, children’s cups, pitchers, and other items which would later be plated with silver.

The work of the various departments all converged on the third floor Soldering Department. This large department would join various pieces together to make a wide variety of products. Smith spent another summer in this department, “…under the kind and helpful direction of Mr. Haynes. My work consisted of soldering the two white metal ends and two sides of fruit bowls together and then solder the base…I held a piece of solder between my teeth, brought two mating castings together by hand under a small Bunsen Burner flame”. A mild sulfuric acid was used, which created “…quite an objectionable odor”. Smith worked ‘piecework’ that summer, which meant he was paid in accordance with his output, a common practice in Valley factories, especially the textile ones. “Needless to say, I was not wandering around the factory while on that job. I often wondered later in life if there wasn’t some deal between Mr. Haynes and my father to keep me busy”.

After soldering, the products were smoothed, then put on racks and moved by hands to cleaning tanks by the Plating Department. They were then dipped in vats containing either gold or silver. Often the valuable metal would drip, so every few years the floors would be torn up and sent to Handy Harmon Company in Bridgeport, where the gold and silver would be reclaimed from the wood. The products at this point had a dull finish, so they were sent to the Buffing Department to be shined. The dust would cause the men in this department to be black by the end of the day. There were no showers to wash the stuff off, just long common sinks. The product would be cleaned and dried, then stamped with the trademark anchor and product number, and wrapped in special soft protective paper. It would then be sent into storage, and from there the Shipping Department.

When demand for silver fell during the Depression, the Derby Silver Company began turning out lower cost pewter ware. Smith’s father took his chief designer to New York museums to copy some of the designs used by Paul Revere. The pewter sold well, but it was not enough to rescue the floundering Silver Company, which closed in 1933. Smith states “This laid off many loyal men of 40 to 50 years of service, also Father with 28 years. No retirement plan was provided for any of these men who had given the best years of their life to the company. Some went on the WPA (Works Progress Administration) and a few found other work”.Today the Derby Silver Company still stands on the south side of Bridge Street, like a silent sentinel to Shelton’s industrial past. It is currently occupied by Spongex, which manufactures foam rubber products. With the exception of losing a tower that once graced its roof, the exterior is remarkably unchanged. On certain days, you can almost hear the ghosts of the workers of long ago filing through the front doors and vanishing into the closed, disappeared, and almost forgotten world described by Charles Smith.

The Dutch in the Housatonic Valley

(Originally written in July 1998 by Former Executive Director, Robert Novak Jr. for the weekly newspaper Huntington Herald)

Imagine the scene, not long after the year 1614 – 

The waters of the Housatonic flow swiftly downstream through the Housatonic Valley. After tumbling over the Great Falls at present day New Milford, where the shad journeyed every year to spawn, they wind their way downriver to merge with the waters of its largest tributary, the Naugatuck. The shores on both sides are heavily wooded, trees growing right up to the shore of the mighty river. Here and there, on both sides, can be found Native American villages and encampments. The majestic stillness of the high bluffs and tranquil flood plains along the river is broken only by the occasional splash of a fish jumping, the chirping and screeching of birds both large and small, the howl of a wolf, or the calls of Native Americans.

The waters swirl past an unfamiliar small craft, being rowed, paddled, or possibly sailed up the river. Curious Native Americans on both sides of the river peer behind trees, bolder ones coming straight to the shore. Some of the Indians may have borne the marks of smallpox, the mysterious, imported disease which absolutely devastated the Native American population in Connecticut.

The men they gazed upon in the small boat were strange. They had hair on their faces. They were dirty. They spoke in a strange tongue. Their skin was pale, appearing sickly-looking to the Natives. Their clothes were of odd colors and materials. While their boat may have been a canoe purchased or procured by the Indians downriver, it may also have been a whaleboat, which would not have been suited for the swift current of the Great River.

The strangers for their part, continued around the long bend in the river at what is now Sunnyside in Shelton, gradually coming around Two Mile Island. Gazing upriver, European eyes for the first time beheld the confluence of the Housatonic and Naugatuck Rivers. They probably put ashore at the point between the two rivers, at what is now Derby, but could just as easily have put ashore on the east (Derby) or west (Shelton) bank. As their boots touched the Great River’s shore for the first time, they bore witness to the first words ever to be uttered by a European in the Housatonic Valley, which may have been something like:

“Schoon!”

“Dit is een goede plaats om zaken te doen”

Literal translation: “Beautiful!” and “This is a good place to do business/trade”

Fast forward to July 7,1998. The local media swarms upon an archeological dig behind a private home on the coast of Branford, Connecticut. A local newspaper reports the next morning “Archaeologists from Wesleyan University have unearthed the remains of what may have been the earliest European settlement in Connecticut – a 17th century Dutch fort…”

Some of the Natives who gazed upon the first Dutch expedition up the Housatonic may have seen Europeans before. Many would spend their summers along the Stratford coast, particularly Lordship, where seafood was plentiful and easy to come by, and the weather was cooler and breezier. It was during the summer of 1614 that a strange ship, the 16 ton vessel Onrust (meaning “Restless” in Dutch), on a voyage of exploration under the command of Adrian Block, was sighted by the Indians on the shore.

The Onrust paused at the mouth of the Housatonic while the captain recorded the river was “a bow shot wide”. Naming it the River of Roodenberg, or Red Hills, he sailed east, fading over the horizon and out of sight of the curious and inquisitive Native Americans on the Lordship shoreline. Later the river became known on Dutch charts as the Mauritius River. Adrian Block would soon give his name to Block Island.

While the news that the Dutch were here decades before English settlement of the Connecticut shoreline may have been surprising to some, it has long been known that the Dutch were the first to explore the Connecticut shoreline and the Housatonic River. We also know that the Dutch had an extensive trading network in Connecticut, the chief trading post being the House of Good Hope located at present day Hartford.

The Dutch did, of course, settle along the Hudson in New Amsterdam. Being the first ones to explore Connecticut, their claim on the state reached as far as the Connecticut River. As late as 1642, Dutch trade existed in the Valley, as Adrian Van der Donck reported on the river “…to which the name Red Hills has been given…Many beavers are taken here, since a demand for our goods has stimulated the naturally slothful savages”. Dutch trappers may very well have journeyed along smaller streams in the Valley’s interior to search of them. It also appears that Dutch traders regularly visited Native villages and other sites on both sides of the river and bartered for beaver pelts and other goods.

It is very possible, even probable, that the first European structure in the Valley was Dutch. Most likely it would have been on Derby Point. While there may well have been a small, rude trading post there to do business with the Native Americans of the Housatonic and Naugatuck, it appears that all visits were temporary. None of the incursions, as far as recorded history is concerned, involved the actual, permanent relocation of Dutch settlers from Holland or New Amsterdam to Connecticut, the establishment of farms and families, and the subsequent dislocation of Native Americans as a result.

After the Pequot War of 1637, the English had begun to establish dominance on this part of Connecticut, which was claimed (but not occupied) by the Dutch, who were not in a position to enforce it. By 1640 places like Fairfield, New Haven, Milford, and Stratford were established and growing. The 1600s were very stressful for the English settlers. Relations with the Indians were never the same after the terrible carnage of the Pequot War, plus the Dutch in New Amsterdam were a constant thorn. The English settlers lived in constant fear of being attacked and possibly exterminated by the Indians or the Dutch.

In 1642, a group of English settlers under John Wakeman of New Haven built a trading post on Derby Point. We can speculate that they may have taken over a rough Dutch trading post that was already there but only occasionally occupied. What history does record, is the little trading post at Derby Point caught the attention of the Dutch governor of New Amsterdam. William Kieft sent a letter written in Latin to New Haven. The letter, dated August 3, 1646, accused the English of “possessing an insatiable desire of possessing that which is ours…have indirectly entered the limits of New Netherlands…and have been very injurious unto us.” The letter continued ominously “And because you…have of late determined to fasten your foot near the Mauritius River…and there not only disturb our trade…but utterly destroy it…if you do not restore the places you have usurped and repair the loss we have suffered, we shall…manfully recover them, neither do we think this crosseth the public peace, but shall cast the cause of ensuing evil upon you”.

The Housatonic Valley, and control of trade with its Native inhabitants, had now grown into an international incident. The governor of New Haven colony sent back a quirky reply to the Dutch, also in Latin. It recapped the Dutch accusation of the encroachment of the Housatonic, known at this point by the English as the Paugassett River, and stated “…we know no such (Mauritius) river…It is true we have lately fell upon the Paugassett River…built a small house within our own limits, many miles, nay leagues from the Manhattoes (Native Americans of Manhattan). The letter stated the Indians were “…free to trade with you, us, Connecticut, Massachusetts, or any other”.

By this time, a New Haven man named John Wakeman had explored the area, and in the Spring of 1642, The General Court of New Haven Colony agreed to excuse two of his employees from their mandatory guard duty “because of their imployment at Powgassett” – the first reference to the area in English records. Meanwhile, the Dutch were significantly weakened by the increasing numbers of English settlers, as well as a devastating war with the Indians around the Hudson. The war began in 1643, lasted about four years, saw atrocities on both sides, and greatly increased antagonisms and paranoia between the local Native Americans and English.

Fears of war turned into a reality when England and Holland declared war in 1652, only one year after Derby received its first permanent settler – Edward Wooster. The English were afraid the Dutch would turn the Native Americans against them, but the war was resolved quickly without any action taken in North America. An idea of the paranoia manifested in the area can be seen by the witch trials that occurred a year later. One woman each was executed in Stratford and Fairfield. That same year (1653) the United Colonies (Connecticut, New Haven, Massachusetts, and Plymouth) decided to send and expedition of 500 men against New Amsterdam, but the venture fell through when Massachusetts changed their mind and refused to comply. As relations with the Dutch continued to deteriorate, Connecticut and New Haven colonies jointly manned a frigate with 12 guns and 40 men to defend the coast in 1654.

In 1664 Col. Richard Nicolls, who was employed by the rejuvenated King Charles II’s brother, the Duke of York, arrived in Boston. Announcing he wished to annex New Amsterdam, a force was raised. Within two months the city surrendered without any bloodshed. The city was renamed New York, in the Duke’s honor, ending the Dutch presence in North America.

The writer is greatly appreciative of John A. Tieman and his family for providing the Dutch translations of certain words and phrases.

March 15, 1907 – Many Improvements at Bassett House

A drawing of Bassett House

The fact that the Bassett House1 is to be reopened for business on Tuesday evening next when a reception is to be given so that the people of the city may look over the building and see the many improvements that have been made is a welcome one. The associated communities have been much handicapped during the past nine months by the fact there has not been a first-class hotel here. The reopening of the Bassett House means a good deal to the city.

The changes that have been made in the interior of the building and the up to date way in which it has been furnished, makes the hotel one of the best in this section of the state. It is superior in furnishings to the hotels in New Haven and Bridgeport, and is surpassed only by the Elton in Waterbury. It is not as large as the hotels in these other places, but the forty or more rooms will more than give accommodation for the trade which has been accustomed to come here, and it is expected that Landlord Pixley will largely increase this.

Many Changes Made

Immediately after the house was vacated last May it was closed, and late in the summer carpenters were set at work making repairs in it, and they made many, adding bathrooms, changing over rooms, laying floors and doing a number of things which it was needful to do. Then the painters and paperers took their turn at the building and changed it in appearance inside and out. Every room in the house was repainted and repapered, and by the time Michael Flaherty got ready to rent the building it seemed like a new one.

The next thing to do was to find a hotel man of experience to take hold of the house and run it, and a committee of businessmen who were anxious to have the house run in first-class shape consulted with Mr. Flaherty about a tenant. There were a number of applications for the house and Mr. Flaherty finally settled upon George E. Pixley, a man who has lived in New Milford thirty-eight years, and who has run the New England House in that place twelve years, being he land lord of the old house until that was burned, and the new one was built, having charge of that one.

The Bassett House as seen from Elizabeth and Fourth Streets.

All Furnishings New

As soon as he reached here Mr. Pixley made arrangements with F. F. Abbott, of the Howard & Barber Company2, for the purchase of furniture and equipment for the house, and through this firm the house has been refurnished throughout. Everything in it is new and nearly all the furniture was made for the house, so that it is practically made to fit in each room. The furniture, with the exception of the beds, is dark oak, and is a very handsome oak. The bedsteads are iron, enameled in white and trimmed with brass. They were made by the Whitcomb Metallic Bedstead Company3. There are no carpets in the rooms but in the center of each is a Brussels rug and outside of the rug, covering the floor, is a border of American wood-grain carpet. This wood-grain carpet makes a fine finish, and the rooms are given a very rich appearance thereby. There is not a sleeping room in this hotel which is not far more comfortably furnished that it has ever before been, and there are few hotels in Connecticut any better.

For Comfort of Guests

While the changes in the sleeping rooms are very great, those that have been made on the first floor are even greater. The office has been turned all around. The desk now occupies the space between the two doors, and is a large, roomy one. The room is finished in dark wood, and is furnished with Mission furniture. The two parlors which were formerly on this floor have been changed into a writing room and a reading room, and have been furnished with Mission furniture. The front parlor is the writing room and in this room are individual tables for the use of those who wish to write. The back parlor is the reading room. These rooms are very comfortable ones and, being somewhat retired, offer the guests of the hotel a more comfortable and more quiet place in which to sit Formerly the traveling men who stopped at the hotel had all to sit in the office and it was rather annoying for them to try and write while the talking and card games were going on. The ladies’ parlor is on the floor above it at the top of the stairs, and across the hall is the private parlor for the family, which may be used by guests when the hotel is crowded.

The dining room on the first floor has been wonderfully changed, and shows that the improvement in the house has been general. The ceiling, which has always been a great eyesore, has been paneled, and the treatment of the walls is artistic and effective. The tables throughout the room are small ones, and the table linen, china, and silverware are very attractive. The room is lighted at night by electricity. 

Looking up Elizabeth Street, the Bassett House was across Fourth Street from the Sterling Opera House

Excellent Kitchen

The improvements to the hotel have been extended to the kitchen, which has been refitted and made more convenient for work in every way. It is clean and wholesome, a fact which will appeal to those who like to think that in a hotel even there food is prepared with as much care as it is in their own homes. In connection with this development it may be said that Mr. Pixley is having one of the rooms in the basement made into a big ice chest. This ice chest will hold a large supply of meats and other articles. He says he buys his meats in bulk and cuts them as they are needed, as this is cheaper and gives a great deal better satisfaction to the patrons of the house.

The bar room has been changed over very greatly. The fixtures are entirely new, being of oak and very handsome. It is not the intention of the proprietor to put a pool or billiard table in this room, and he has one end of the room partitioned off. In this he intends that traveling salesmen  who come to the city and want a place in which to show goods, may show their samples. Those who come to show millinery can use the reading room on the main floor.

In connection with the bar room there has been fitted up a small room at the bottom of the stairs into which people who desire to have a sandwich and drink served them may find seats and tables. This is an innovation and it is believed that will take particularly with those who wish to discuss business while refreshing themselves.

Besides these changes in the place Mr. Flaherty has done his part towards making the building as comfortable as possible in wintertime. The heating arrangements have been overhauled completely and during the zero weather in February it was found that there was no difficulty in heating the house from top to bottom. The toilet arrangements throughout the house are new, and the baths are new. There is one room which has a private bath connected with it, a very new feature in the hotel. Eight more rooms on the top floor are cut off from the rest of the building, and are for servants, most of whom come from New Milford with Mr. Pixley.

All Want Hotel

Mr. Pixley says that one of the pleasantest things about coming to Derby is the cordiality with which he has been met by the businessmen of the place. He says that they have shown an eagerness for a first-class hotel, which makes the success of the house a foregone conclusion, and he has no hesitation in saying that the house will pay. There is no house that is better situated for business than this one is, and he says that in his wide acquaintance with traveling men he has learned that they want to come to the city to spend the night. He is very much pleased with those prospects. As showing the interest taken in the opening of the hotel he says he has been urged by people living here to hurry and open, as they want to get in. He says also that in fitting up of the house he has been agreeably surprised at the way Mr. Flaherty has treated him, as he left instructions with the carpenters and plumbers to make any changes Mr. Pixley wanted and to do all that he wanted. Usually the owners of a building do not treat a tenant that way, he says.

As to the new proprietor of the hotel, he and his wife come here with a fine reputation already, and have very favorably impressed those who have met and have to deal with them. They are highly endorsed by the traveling men, and the later say that the city has been fortunate to get a man of Mr. Pixley’s character and ability to take hold of the house, and that he assures the hotel will be made a first-class one in every respect.

The lighting of the house at night makes the corner of Fourth Street and Elizabeth Street a more cheerful place than it has been for several months.

Notes:

1. The Bassett House was converted into a hotel in 1868. It was destroyed by fire in 1914, and the renovations described here were ruled a mitigating cause. The Hotel Clarkwas built on the site.

2. The Howard & Barber Company was Derby’s premiere department store for many decades, located on Main Street. Its former building was razed in the first phase of redevelopment in 2005.

3. Whitcomb Metallic Bedstead Company was located on the southern portion of Canal Street, Shelton

March 30, 1907 – Maj. W. F. Osborne Died Suddenly To-Day

Maj. Wilbur F. Osborne died at his home on Hawthorne Avenue, Derby, this morning very suddenly. Mr. Osborne was taken ill with stomach trouble on Monday and was compelled to remain in the house. The attack left him weak, but on Tuesday he was better and continued to improve on Wednesday and Thursday and Friday. Yesterday, he was so much better that he planned to go to his office for a short time this morning. He spent the evening at home reading and playing chess with his daughter, and retired apparently much better than at any time during the week. This morning about 5 o’clock he was taken with a sinking attack due to heart failure and lived only a few hours, death coming about 8 o’clock.

The news of the death of Mr. Osborne was a great shock to the people of the city. He was a man who has been identified with the business interests of the associated communities for many years, and through these interests had a wide circle of friends. He was an exceedingly popular man with all classes of people , and as it was not generally known that he was ill, the announcement of his death cam with a peculiar saddening effect.

Sketch of his Life

Major Wilbur F. Osborne was born in Derby, January 14, 1841. He was a son of the late John W. Osborne, one of the founders of the Osborne & Cheeseman Company. He has lived all his life in Derby, although for a number of years  and until very recently his business life was identified with Ansonia. He grew up in the business enterprises established by his father, and from boyhood took an active and a promising part in planning and developing the business out of which since have come a number of branches. A few years after the retirement of his father from the presidency of the Osborne & Cheeseman Co., he became the executive head of that concern. In 1882, as an offshoot of the above named company, there was incorporated the Schneller, Osborne, & Cheeseman Company. Some years later the Union Fabric Company was organized, and Major Osborne became its president, a position he has since held. He was also the president of the Schneller Stay Works, of Ansonia, and of the Connecticut Clasp Company, of Bridgeport, and is identified with a number of other manufacturing enterprises in this section. He was one of the original incorporators of the S. O. & C. Co. of Ansonia, and of the Derby Silver Company, of Shelton, now a branch of the International Silver Co.

Mill Moved to Derby

A few years ago the Union Fabric Company built a large mill on Housatonic Avenue …where the business has grown to large proportions. The mill is a model one throughout, in equipment  and in conveniences and accommodations for those employed. One side of Mr. Osborne’s character is shown in the care taken to do everything that might preserve the health and add to the comfort of those who worked in this shop.

Major Osborne served three years and seven months in the Civil War, having enlisted in April 1861, from Wesleyan University, first in the three months’ service and later in the first regiment that was sworn into the United States service for the entire Civil War. He received promotion to sergeant, second, and first lieutenant, and captain of artillery, being in Companies C and G of the First Connecticut Heavy Artillery. He was military instructor of the Second Connecticut Heavy Artillery, inspector general of defenses at Washington, south of the Potomac, ordinance officer, acting quartermaster, and held other positions of trust and importance. He was a member of the Kellogg Post, GAR.

His Greatest Work

The greatest work that Mr. Osborne has done in this community is the building up of the Derby Neck Library. Notwithstanding the pressure of a large number of business affairs he found time to devote to the development of an institution that is one of the best of it size in the state, and perhaps in the country. Years ago, there was a small mission school in Derby Neck, in which Mr. Osborne was a teacher. For various reasons it seemed wise, after a time, to discontinue this school. A number of books which had been used in the school, and which has been donated principally by Mr. Osborne, were on hand, and it was decided to form a circulating library for the use of people living at the Neck. The library was organized in June, 1897. It has been the pride of Mr. Osborne’s life to build it up rapidly, and to make it a successful one, and the great number of people who visit it on the days of the week when it is open and the large number of books that are weekly drawn from it show its popularity. It is popular with the children, a thing that Mr. Osborne sought to make it. It is well equipped with a splendid selection of books. Mr. Osborne not only devoted a great deal of attention an time to the library, but was a liberal contributor, and through his wide acquaintances, drew to it support from many different people in many parts of the country.

In recent years, the library has grown so rapidly that the quarters it occupies in the Hawthorne School building are not adequate, and last year a movement for a building, which was started some time ago, was pushed with vigor, and a contribution from Andrew Carnegie1, contributions from other sources an active and energetic work y members of the association, resulted in the erection of a building. This building is now under way, and will probably be completed this summer. It will remain a monument to the interest that Mr. Osborne felt in the people of the section, and in the people of the city, for the library has long since become a library for the whole people.

Man of Great Popularity

Personally Major Osborne was a man who made friends readily and retained those that he made. He was a man who believed in the rights of others, and believed that every man should be careful not to encroach upon the rights of others. He was always approachable and always ready and willing to talk with any who sought him, and these traits, with his inherent honest, an honesty that showed itself in all business dealings, made him a vast number of friends, and friends who today speak of his death as a distinct loss to the city. These friends are among all classes, in the business world, in the labor world, and in the social world. He was a man who did not seek political preferment, and although time and again urged to accept the nomination for some office, a nomination that in his case seemed equivalent to election, he invariably declined. The only office he ever held was that of a member of the Board of Apportionment, by which fact he became a member of the committee that built the concrete steel bridge across the Naugatuck River2. He was an advocate from the first of a bridge of this material.

Mr. Osborne is survived by his widow and one daughter, Miss Frances Osborne3.

The funeral service will be held on Monday afternoon, at 2 o’clock, at the house. Internment will take place at Oak Cliff Cemetery. The body will lie in state at the house between the hours of 11 and 12 o’clock on Monday, so that employees of the shop and the other friends of Mr. Osborne may view the remains.

NOTES:

1 See also Derby Neck Library and Carnegie Libraries

2 This was the Main Street Bridge, that connected Derby and East Derby along today’s Route 34. It was built about 1905, and was a great source of pride to the city as unlike other bridges of the time it was stable, attractive, and absorbed trolley vibrations. The Derby-Shelton Bridge, built in 1919, is of a similar style. The Main Street Bridge was replaced in the years following the 1955 Flood.

3Who later married Mr. Waldo Kellogg, and died on September 27, 1956. Her obituary.    

December 23, 1907 – Annual Letter comes from Santa Claus

St. James Sewing School had its Christmas entertainment in the Sunday school room, on Saturday afternoon. There were present one hundred and forty children, all scholars in the school and quite a large number of spectators, and they had a merry time. The children did a little sewing shortly after the session opened, and then they sang a few songs, recited in unison some things that must be done in helping their mothers to keep house, and then listened to a program made up of songs and recitations. After this a letter, the annual letter which Santa Claus sends to the children of the sewing school was read.

Santa has used the same envelope for this annual letter for the past seventeen or eighteen years. It is getting worn and will hardly hold the letter. In fact, it did not hold the one received yesterday, for while the envelope had been securely tied to one of the gas fixtures, the letter was picked up by Mrs. Charles N. Downs in the room in the rear of the Sunday School, where Santa Claus must have dropped it. Mrs. Downs thought that this indicated that Santa Claus was either getting old or was in a very big hurry the night before, for he is never careless.

Children Who Recited

The audience were all eager to hear the letter read. In fact, they could hardly wait for the children to recite their pieces and sing their songs, but these had to be given first in order to show Santa Claus that the little girls could be patient. Those who sang and recited were Hattie Knapp, Katherine Cuneo, Marjorie Parker, Ethel Burr, Ruth Clark, Salome Pickle, Mary Hopkins, Carrie Coleman, Martha Hipkins, Marjorie Affleck, Medora Burgoyne, Irene Tyrrell, Helen Fifer, Edith Talberg, Marian Coggswell, Elsie Anderson, Ethel Lewis, Katherine Loomis, Liano Brown, Ethel Welton, Iverna Freeman, Helen Osborne, Della Conley.

After these children had done their parts and had been applauded, Mrs. Downs took up the letter. She stood beside a reading desk, on the top of which was perched a Teddy bear, and unfolding the letter she read it, saying she thought the writing must have been done by Santa Claus’s secretary, and was very much like the writing of Miss Ada Shelton1. The letter was as follows:

The Letter

Reindeer Lodge
Iceberg Post Office
North Pole

My Dear Girls of the Sewing School:

The Christmas stars are shining once again, the big round Christmas moon comes up at night over the Derby hills, the Christmas snow has made the world very white, once more, and now your old friend, Santa Claus, sits down by his blazing, crackling fire to write you a letter and wish you all a Merry Christmas.

Everything is ready for me to start off on my big journey. It must seem wonderful to you that I can travel in one night from Alaska to Florida, from England to Germany, and back to South America, but only the reindeer and I know the secret of my wonderful journeys.

My sleigh is packed, packed full of everything that everybody likes, the reindeer are harnessed, their bells jingling in the cold frosty air, and Mrs. Claus has asked me for the twentieth time if anything has been forgotten. Dear kind, busy Mrs. Santa Claus! How could I ever do so many things for the children if it were not for her help?

Day after day she stirs the big kettles of candy, cooking and sizzling them over our fire, stirs them with a spoon almost as long as a trolley pole, pours in peppermint and wintergreen and cinnamon, and rich, sticky chocolate, throws in handfuls of nuts, and makes all of the fine candy you can see on the counters of Mr. Wise’s2 store. She gets so sticky and sweet herself that when I kiss her good-night her round, rosy cheeks taste of all the sugar plumbs in the country. There is one thing we never make at the North Pole, and that is chewing gum. Santa Claus never puts that in anybody’s stocking.

Dressing Dolls

Think of dressing five million, seven hundred and fifty eight thousand dolls, trimming all of their hats, and making all of their petticoats. Why, only last night I discovered that my good wife had cut up nearly all my red flannel shirts to make automobile coats for the dollies. How she laughed when I found her at my chimney cupboard, but she said she must have her dolls dressed in the fashion, so I let her take the shirts, while I kept on painting sleds, tying up skates, and making whistles out of a wonderful tree in the forest, called the Whistle Tree. Then of course I have a great time catching all the Teddy bears. Our woods are full of them. They are very tame, as you know, with a soft wooly coat, for everybody has to be warm at the bleak North Pole. I step outside of Reindeer Lodge, and call “Teddy, Teddy, Teddy”, and then the little bears all come trooping up to be fed with peanuts. They are black, and white, and brown, and yellow, but they are all good little fellows and I pop them into the sleigh just as fast as I can, pack them under the seat, hundreds and hundreds of them. It sometimes seems as if I could never catch enough to go round among the children.

Dear Mrs. Claus sends you with her love something from our big kettles, and she tell me it is time to stop writing, and say good-bye, for all of the reindeer are stamping out side and all the Teddy bears are whimpering.

I hope that you will have a Merry Christmas and remember it is the best day of the whole year to be kind and loving to everyone.

Your old friend, whose whiskers are growing whiter and larger ever year, and who’s heart is growing bigger and bigger.

SANTA CLAUS

Enjoyed the Letter

The children listened to the letter with the closest of attention and laughed very much at the comparison of Mrs. Claus’s ladle to a trolley pole. After the reading was completed, a great big basket filled with bags of candy was uncovered and each girl was given a bag. Then the children, after singing another song, were dismissed and went home, being told before they left that there would not be a session of the school next Saturday afternoon.

Notes

1. Miss Ada Shelton was the daughter of the late Edward N. Shelton, for whom the City of Shelton is named, and the sister of the late author Jane DeForest Shelton. She lived at the family estate of Greystone, where today’s Irving School is.

2. Wise’s drugstore was on the corner of Main Street and Elizabeth Street.    

March 7, 1917 – Old Wallace Stack is Being Torn Down

Old Landmark, 204 feet High, Has Been Standing Since Year 1875

Work of demolishing the old Wallace stack, 204 feet high and over forty years old, was begun yesterday. The old landmark, said to be the highest stack in the State, a record which it easily held at the time it was erected in 1875, will be razed to make room for the extensive building operations planned by the American Brass Co. F. B. Hills has charge of the work of dismantling the historic stack.

Yesterday Tony Froliger climbed to the top of the stack and began the work and he planted an American flag on the peak. This attracted a lot of attention as all who saw it knew that someone had climbed to the top, and to many who knew that the stack was doomed it meant that the work of tearing it down had begun. There is an iron cap on top and this was built in sections, some of the sections being removed yesterday.

The stack was one of the wonders of the town when it was put up in 1875. It is 204 feet high, fourteen feet square at the base an ten feet square at the top. From the base it runs up straight about forty feet the same size as the base and then begins to taper towards the top. There are easily 500,000 bricks in the stack.

To Destroy Clock

The massive clock, which measures about eight feet in diameter, and which for years told the correct time to many people, is to be demolished with the stack. No special provision is to be made for the clock. When the part of the stack which contains the clock is reached the clock will be allowed to drop to the ground and this will be the end of it. This clock did great service for years, though it has not run for the past several years, it used to be illuminated at night and was standard time for the town.

The stack was in use from the time it was built up to last Saturday night. It was originally built as a flue for the boilers that supplied steam for power in the various Wallace shops. At other times since its erection it has also done service as a flue for the old casting shop. Its last use was for the boilers that gave power and heat to parts of the mill. It has no further use now, however, as the new power house erected at the A. B. & C. branch, just south of the present power house, will supply all the power. Until last Saturday night the stack had given continuous service since 1875.

Watching Workmen

The tearing down of the old stack is being watched with much interest. Workmen  began it in earnest today. Those watching from a distance could see the hammers swing and then almost as another blow was struck they would hear the sound of the first blow, the sound waves traveling very slowly towards the ground.

Notes: Wallace & Sons brass foundry was started by Thomas Wallace in 1848. It was absorbed by the Coe Brass Company in 1896, which was in turn absorbed into the American Brass Company in 1899. The Wallace smokestack was located off Liberty Street. This smokestack was probably the tallest manmade structure (not including radio towers) ever erected in the Valley. Thomas Wallace’s son William (1825-1904) performed numerous experiments with carbon arc lighting. One of his most famous experiments involved illuminating a carbon arc light on top of this smokestack late at night. The entire town was flooded with light – supposedly it was bright enough to read a newspaper from as far away as Division Street. Thomas Edison actually visited William in 1878, purchased some carbon arc lights, and later cited him as one of his inspirations to develop the  incandescent light.

April 7, 1927 – Derby’s Shipping History is now Closed as R.R. Co. Buys Dock

The Hallock and Bristol docks1, the last and largest of a long line of docks which extended along what was known as Derby Landing from below the Bradley property2 as far north as the Naugatuck bridge, have been abandoned. The railroad3 has secured both of these properties, and their title will in all probability preclude any competition from shipping, and mean the termination of Derby’s historic career as a shipping center. The hopes of a shipping renaissance in Derby raised by the favorable report on a project to deepen the river channel from the mouth to Derby have been blasted, it is said.

The Hallock dock, disposed of by Hallock Realty company to Arthur Goldstein of the Derby Coal and Charcoal company last December, was sold by him to the railroad last February, when the railroad company commenced building a new silo track to his property across Commerce Street.

The Bristol dock, which until recently was owned by the American Brass Company4, was purchased by the railroad last February.

The railroad has filled in with dirt its trestle along the dock property, leaving only a small “subway” for access to the waterfront.

At the Hallock dock many of the sailing vessels constructed in the Hallock shipyards directly behind were launched5. The Hallock family which came to Derby in 1824 was active in commerce for many years. In years gone by, before the river channel had been allowed to choke up with sand bars, large sailboats and steamers plied between Derby and other centers of commerce. During a period following the War of 1812 extensive trade was carried on between Derby and the West Indies, rum and molasses being the chief imports. Derby harbor was far more important than either Bridgeport or New Haven at that time, and the town was a trading center for towns as far north as Newtown and Mattatuck or Waterbury. Local interests, believing that Derby would get more trade if a road were completed to New Haven backed the scheme for all they were worth. When the road6 was opened it appeared that the judgment of the local men were was poor, for the greater part of the trade went to the Elm City, which soon out-grew Derby in population and importance.

The railroad when first put through cut away most of the Derby docks and gradually froze out the shipping interests. Now that the New Haven road has got possession of the last surviving docks, Derby has no waterfront. It is with extreme reluctance that many Derby people view the passing of this property into the hands of the railroad company, for many see the closing of the docks as another step backwards for Derby and another boost for the younger but more progressive and wide awake city of Shelton7.

Some optimistic Derbyites believe, however, that the railroad company may at some future time develop the dock, and operate it should the deepening of the channel to 15 feet increase steamer traffic on the river.

Footnotes

  1. Located near the foot of Commerce Street in East Derby.
  2. Approximately where the Hidden Pond shopping center is today along New Haven Avenue.
  3. At that time “the railroad” was the New York, New Haven, & Hartford railroad.
  4. The local American Brass Company plants were located in Ansonia. The world’s first electric locomotive was constructed to haul raw materials between the William Wallace brass mills, one of ABC’s predecessors, and the Derby docks.
  5. The last ship launched here was the Modesty, in 1868.
  6. This is today’s New Haven Avenue, or Route 34, once called the Derby Turnpike.
  7. The Shelton Docks, on Riverdale Avenue near Wharf Street, were still in operation in 1927, primarily serving coal barges.

June 15, 1931 – Sudden Demise of Officer William H. Stier a Shock

William H. Stier, one of Derby’s oldest and best known policemen, died suddenly Sunday evening at his home at 125 Park Avenue. Officer Stier died while on duty having been summoned two hours before by Chief of Police Thomas Van Ettan to go to Lake Zoar with the Derby Gas and Electric Company’s inhalator in an effort to revive Michael Cracho, 17 year old Bridgeport youth who drowned as the result of overturning of a canoe.

Officer Stier with former Mayor George P. Sullivan and John Dempsey jr,. all employees of the Derby Gas and Electric Company, and experts in the operation of the inhalator, hurried to Stevenson where it was found to be too late for the resuscitation of the drowned man. On the return trip, Mr. Stier complained of feeling ill and was hurried to his home, where he expired about half an hour later. He was attended by Dr. William J. Scott. Death was pronounced due to acute indigestion by Medical Examiner F. N. Loomis.

Rushed to Stevenson

Sunday afternoon, Officer Stier attended the baseball game between the Shamrocks and Cubs and Athletics at Buddies Memorial Field, as a spectator. He was to go on police duty at 6 o’clock in the evening and had been seated on the bleachers with former Mayor Sullivan, when at the start of the second game, he remarked that he thought he would go home. He lives but a short distance from the field and had been gone for half an hour when he returned in his automobile and called for former Mayor Sullivan, saying he had been notified by Chief Van Ettan that he was wanted at the power house. Mr. Sullivan climbed into the car with him and they proceeded to the power house on Housatonic Avenue and finding no one needing assistance there decided it was at the Stevenson power house. Mr. Stier with Messrs. Sullivan and Dempsey drove to the police station and took the police car whose siren would give them the right of way going up the River Road.  In the meantime, the inhalator had been secured and in another car followed the police machine to Stevenson.

There it was reported that the drowning had taken place on the Newtown side of the river and at a place known as Point Pleasant, some distance above the power plant. When t he men arrived at the place they were followed by the Echo Hose company members of Shelton, who had brought along their inhalator and it was decided to use this machine but already the drowned man had been pronounced dead, having been in the water about 45 minutes.

Complained of Illness

Mr. Stier complained of feeling ill and with Messrs. Sullivan and Dempsey went into a house nearby, where a Mrs. Martin prepared some salt and warm water for him. They then proceeded over a bridge to Peter Keefe’s residence where he again complained of feeling ill and Mr. Keefe’s daughter, Mrs. Joseph Kelly, fixed him a glass of warm water and baking soda.

Proceeding down the River Road, Mr. Stier was in the back of the machine, and was seen to double over with the pain. Mr. Sullivan, who was driving, put on all speed and soon had Mr. Stier at his home. They wanted to help him into the house but he said he was all right and then Messrs. Sullivan and Dempsey returned to the ballgame and a fire minutes later Miss Virginia Stier, daughter of the policeman, told Mr. Sullivan that her father was dying.

Messrs. Sullivan and Dempsey rushed to the house and found Mr. Stier unconscious. They worked over him with the inhalator for some time but could not restore consciousness and Dr. Scott pronounced him dead. Assistance was given by several nurses who live in the vicinity, Miss Haaf and Mrs. Amy McEvoy. The body was removed to the morgue and the Colwell Undertaking Company where permission for its preparal for burial was given by Medical Examiner Franklin N. Loomis.

Native of New Haven

William H. Stier was a native of New Haven but had resided in this city for the past thirty years. He came here to enter the employ of the late J.N. Wise and later was employed by Frank H. Kamak and D. and S. Champlain. Thirteen years ago he joined the work force of Derby Gas and Electric Company as foreman of the distribution department. He was a faithful and conscientious worker, and was held in very high regard by his employees.

Mr. Stier seventeen years ago was appointed to the supernumerary force of the Derby Police Department. As an officer he had an excellent record and high tribute was paid to him by Chief Van Ettan who stated he was always a faithful officer and one who realized the responsibility and trust that were his. He was ever ready to be of service, Chief Van Ettan said, and never failed to do his duty when called upon. He was at all times at the service of the department and had thoughts for others beside himself. During the depression he asked the police officials to assign some of the unemployed supernumerary officers to his police work saying they needed the work more than he. Mayor William J. Riordan, chairman of the board of police commissioners, said last night that he was a faithful officer, trustworthy, and reliable. Police department members, with a legion of friends and acquaintances in the associated cities, were shocked beyond measure of the untimely passing of Mr. Stier and many expressions of regret were heard for his family.

Mr. Stier was an honorary member of the Storm Engine company and a member of the Derby lodge of Elks. He was also a member of the State Police association. He had a few weeks ago been appointed to grade B patrolman, by the police commissioners, in recognition for his many years of faithful service.

Mr. Stier is survived by his wife, and four daughters, Miss Virginia Stier, assistant to the principal in the Franklin and Lincoln schools, Eleanor, a junior in the Derby High School, and Jean and Carol.

He also leaves a brother, Charles Stier of New Haven, and three sisters, Mrs. Wendell Cross of Waterbury, and Miss Elizabeth Stier and Mrs. Minnie O’Neil of New York.

Mr. Stier will be buried Wednesday, the twenty-third anniversary of his marriage.

The remains were moved from the Colwell Undertaking company’s morgue to his home.

The funeral will be held from the home Wednesday morning at 8:30 o’clock, and at St. Mary’s Church at 9 o’clock. Internment will be at Mt. St. Peter’s cemetery

February 26, 1932 – J. F. O’Sullivan Had Active Life

The death of John F. O’Sullivan, former representative from Derby to the General Assembly and owner of Island Park, notice of which was carried in these columns last night, came as a surprise to many people in this city, Shelton, and Ansonia, where Mr. O’Sullivan was exceedingly well known. It is true that Mr. O’Sullivan had been ailing for a considerable period of time, but throughout his long illness he had exhibited remarkable recuperative powers that carried him through some of the several serious attacks of his ailment. There were at times when he was at death’s door, but he rallied and was even able to be up and about although for the past two years he had seldom been down the street.

Mr. O’Sullivan succumbed yesterday afternoon at 12:30 o’clock. His long ailment had taken a toll of strength and vitality which had rendered him unable to cope with the fatal attack. He had been in critical condition for the past several days and on Thursday grew steadily weaker until the end came. Most people, although aware that Mr. O’Sullivan was seriously ill, nevertheless were greatly surprised when the news of his death became known and there were many expressions of regret together with those of sympathy for his family.

Had Many Friends

The deceased was a man of many pleasing traits and had a wide circle of acquaintances in this and the surrounding cities. He made friends easily and retained them. He had his own ideas about matters and, as to those involving public questions, he did not hesitative to express them. He was a man of high character and devoted to his family. His work was such, during his career, that he was brought constantly in touch with the people and all spoke very well of him. As a newspaperman, a businessman, insurance agent, representative in the General Assembly, and finally, as the promoter of sports and amusements at Island Park he had been more or less in public life through his many years of activity.

A Good Newspaperman

Mr. O’Sullivan was engaged in newspaper work in this city for about five years. He was a member of the reportorial staff of The Evening Sentinel and previously had worked in a similar capacity for the Derby Transcript, which has long since gone out of existence. Mr. O’Sullivan was engaged in newspaper work at a time when Charles C. Jump, former Mayor Alfred F. Howe, the late James W. Reilly and Frederick W. James and Mayor Michael J. Cook, the only one of the group presently engaged in newspaper work, were actively engaged as editors and reporters. Mr. O’Sullivan was an exceptionally good newspaperman and had an intimate knowledge of what was going on in the years he was engaged in news writing.

Developed Island Park

Mr. O’Sullivan, a number of years ago, conceived the idea of establishing a public amusement place on the island at the end of Caroline Street, which has since become Island Park. To him alone is due the credit for the changes that have taken place there. The process was slow, discouraging, and at times burdensome, but Mr. O’Sullivan worked unceasingly with the purpose in mind of turning the island into a public park. He acquired possession of the island and sought to interest others in its development. Over several years he worked to carry out his plans, and, at length, was successful in having a road built from the end of Caroline Street  connecting with the island. Much of this work he did with his own hands and under the greatest difficulties the new road passed under the trestle and, at the time, the railroad company was not any too anxious to grant its permission. At length, the connecting road was finished and Mr. O’Sullivan then commenced the task of trying to interest people in a public park. A racetrack was built on one part of the island and several driving races were held there. The lower part of the island he transformed into a field for baseball and football and this became known as O’Sullivan Field. The difficulties which beset Mr. O’Sullivan’s efforts continued even after he had constructed  the road to the island and had laid out time and money to make the island a public park. During the past few years, however, the island has increased in popularity and is now the playing field for most of the leading baseball and football teams of the city besides being used for the same purpose by the Derby High School teams. It was Mr. O’Sullivan’s purpose to make the island a public park along the lines of the old Housatonic Park, but financial support was lacking, and he was content during the last few years to rent the island to traveling carnivals and athletic teams.

Active in Politics

Mr. O’Sullivan was active in politics for many years and was a prominent figure at democratic party gatherings. For years he acted as secretary at local caucuses and conventions and in 1924 he was elected to represent the city in the General Assembly. He served in the session in 1925.

Born in Baltic

Mr. O’Sullivan was born in Baltic, in the town of Sprague. He was the son of the late Dennis O’Sullivan and Catherine O’Donovan O’Sullivan. His father came to this country as an attaché of the British consulate in Boston where he remained for a few years before going to Baltic. Mr. O’Sullivan attended the grade schools in Baltic and later entered the Holy Family Academy there, but did not complete his course of instruction owing to the fact that the family moved to Shelton.

After serving as a newspaper reporter, Mr. O’Sullivan joined the New York Grocery Store as a clerk and in a few years became manager of the business which was then located in the store now occupied by Carl Dektor’s shoe store on Main Street.

Mr. O’Sullivan was connected with the roller skating rink on First Street, in the years in which roller skating was at the height of popularity. He was associated with William Maltby, a trick bicycle rider. Mr. O’Sullivan became proficient as a fancy roller skater and with Mr. Maltby he went about the country giving exhibitions.

He was married in Baltimore to Miss Mary Bain, who survives him together with two sons, Dennis O’Sullivan, district manager for Logan Brothers’ stores, and Dr. John Reynolds O’Sullivan of New Jersey.

Leaving the New York Grocery Store, Mr. O’Sullivan joined the agency staff of the Prudential Life Insurance Company and was engaged in this business for about 20 years until his retirement because of ill health several years ago.

The funeral will take place tomorrow from his late residence at 75 Cottage Street at 8:30 o’clock and at St. Mary’s Church at 9 o’clock. Internment will be in Mt. St. Peter’s cemetery.

March 22, 1932 – School Building Being Torn Down

Second Street Building, Opened About 1847, and Abandoned Years Ago, Being Razed

SEYMOUR – One of the town’s old landmarks, the Second Street School, located on the upper section of Second Street, north of Bank Street, is being removed by workers engaged by the Mutual Aid, Incorporated, who have been given permission to raze the small structure. The building is a one room school, and for many years has not been used for school purposes. For a time there was some litigation threatened as to the rightful owner of the land there, but no real test developed.

The school building is one of the old time structures, and there are several residents in town who recall with many fond memories the years that they spent in the school. One of these, a Bank Street merchant, attended studies there 62 years ago, while another well known businessman confessed that he had been a pupil of the school 56 years ago.

The school from what can be learned was erected about 1847 and it grew out of a select school, which at the time was established at a site south of the plant of the H. P.& E. Day company on the bank of the Naugatuck River and on the old road extending from the Broad Street bridge to a point a little west of the quarters of the Citizen Engine Company. It was taken for the district school and was moved to a lot west of the fire company’s quarters. At the itme of the building of the car shops of the American Car Company, the school house suffered other movings, until it was finally located on its present location. The American Car Company later removed to Chicago.

Shortly after the erection of the Center School, which when built was the high school, the Second Street School building was abandoned for school purposes. Since that time it was frequently used as a store house. Of late years, however, the building has been given over to many uses, and it was showing traces of decay. It was decided by the town and school officials to raze it, and the job was turned over to the Mutual Aid.

Monday, September 19, 1932 – Bicentennial – Purple Heart Celebration Record Spectacle for Associated Communities

Exercises and Parade Biggest Ever Here, Are Seen by Great Crowd

Brilliant Affair Great Success in Every Way

The Washington bicentennial celebration on Constitution Day, Saturday, at which purple heart veterans of the World War2 were honored, will go down in history as the most brilliant and successful event in which the associated communities ever joined. The parade which formed in Derby, and passed through Main Street, Ansonia, on the way to Athletic Field3,  was a long and colorful one, while the exercises at the field were World War veterans received the award of the purple heart, established by Washington, were most impressive and were witnessed by the largest assemblage ever seen in Ansonia.

Fully 20,000 people were present at the exercises at the Athletic Field, while over 50,000 saw the parade. Thousands of people lined the streets along the route of the parade, but the greatest crowds of all gathered on Main Street, Ansonia, between Bridge Street and the Maple Street Bridge. Both sides of the thoroughfare along between the two bridges were solid masses of humanity which flowed over the curb into the street, while windows and roofs of buildings and other vantage points were filled with people. Residents of Ansonia, Derby, Shelton, and Seymour turned out en masse, while thousands of visitors from Oxford, Orange, Bethany, and Woodbridge, with hundreds from New Haven, Bridgeport, Waterbury, Naugatuck, and other places.

Distinguished Visitors

The purple heart medals were presented to the veterans by Assistant Secretary of War Frederick B. Payne. Other distinguished visitors to Ansonia, included Congressman Edward W. Goss, of Waterbury who spoke at the exercises held at Athletic Field; Brigadier General James A. Gaggerty of the 35th Infantry Brigade, Captain F.W. Holloway, adjunct of the 35th Infantry Brigade; Col. Lewis I. Field, 102nd Infantry; Major James M. Quinn, 102nd Infantry; Major James A. Sarret, U.S.A., Captain Irwin Manteuffel, of Torrington, 102nd Regiment, C.N.G., Captain G.L. Prindle, U.S.A., of Shelton, John Eliano, of Bridgeport, Vice Commander of the Disabled American Veterans of the World War, and John J. Mulligan, Waterbury, State Commander of the Disabled Veterans of the World War.

All occupied seats on the reviewing stand during the parade, along with Mayor Michael J. Cook of the city, Mayor William J. Riordan of Derby, Mayor Frank V. Crofut of Shelton, First Selectman Harry Mannweiller of Seymour, Frank Gates of Derby, honorary chairman; Judge Robert I. Munger, Senator John T. Walsh, Henry M. Bradley Jr., , Lieutenant William F. Hayes, County Sheriff James Goddes, Captain H. A. Thompson, general chairman of the bicentennial; George Liftig, Chairman of the bicentennial ball, former Mayor James B. Atwater, of Derby, members of the Ansonia Board of Aldermen, and others.

The address of the day was delivered by Henry M. Bradley Jr., of Derby, who spoke on “Valley Men Who Knew Washington”. Judge Robert L. Munger of the Court of Common Pleas, chairman of the reception committee who spoke briefly at the exercises and Mayor Michael J. Cook of Ansonia, extended a welcome t the gathering.

A Perfect Day

Perfect weather helped to make the success of the celebration complete. The heavy rain of Friday effectively laid the dust4 and the bright sunshine and bracing atmosphere had an exhilarating effect, which reflected in the faces of participants in the parade and exercises and in the spectators.

Not an accident marred the celebration. Although thousands of people lined the street, not a single mishap was reported to the police. Traffic in Derby and Ansonia was heavy, more automobiles assembling in both towns than were ever seen before in either city, but the police handled the situation well and there was no confusion. Not a single vehicle of any kind was parked on the streets through which the parade passed and in Ansonia every member of the police force was on duty and officers were stationed at every intersecting highway along the route of the parade. It was the first time any celebration that all vehicles were kept front he streets over which the parade passed, but the regulations were strictly enforced and were obeyed with a willingness that showed everybody was ready to help in making the festivities a success.

THE PARADE

The parade was one of the largest and most brilliant ever seen in this section and the streets of Derby and Ansonia were thronged all along the line of march. Commander Nelson W. Pickering, grand marshal; Capt. Theodore M. Terry, chief of staff, and Lieut. Commander Leroy Davidson, assistant chief of staff, marched at the head of the parade.

The general staff of the parade was: Capt. S. Howard Cohen, Lieut. Nathan Levy, Lieut. Carlos French, Lieut. William Hayden and four Boy Scouts.

Leading the first division were the Second Company of the Governor’s Foot Guard and band, attired in their bright red colonial uniforms with bearskin shakos. Major Chas. Lockhart was in command. This was the Foot Guard’s first appearance in the valley and it was accorded much applause all along the line of the parade. The marshals of the first division were Major John Voorhees and Capt. Charles Clark.

Following the Foot Guard came the fife and drum corps of Michael Comcowich post, Veterans of Foreign Wars, in their blue and gold attire, followed by the New Haven Grays and Companies M and I., of the national guard, led by Capt. N. I. Poulssen. the neat naval militia drum corps of Bridgeport followed by a battalion of the naval militia in charge of Lieut. Commander Leonard of Bridgeport was next in line. All the units looked their best and were acclaimed all along the route.

The assistant marshals of the second division were Lieuts. John Lightfoot and Charles Schmidt. the American Legion drum corps  of Corporal Coyle post, American Legion of Waterbury, led this division followed by the massed colors of the veterans’ organizations of Ansonia, Derby, Shelton, and Seymour. The purple heart veterans followed with John H. Collins post drum corps of Derby, led by Patrick F. Reidy , of Ansonia. Next came William H. Gordon post, American Legion, of Ansonia; John H. Collins post, American Legion, of Derby; Michael J. Comcowich post, V.F.W., of Ansonia; Chateau Thierry post, V.F.W., of Derby; Naugatuck Valley chapter, D.A.V.Y.D. association: Gen. Jos. Wheeler camp, United Spanish War Veterans; American Legion drum corps of Stratford; Charles W. Sutter post, American Legion, of Shelton; Emil Senger post, American Legion drum corps, of Seymour; Emil Singer post, American Legion, of Seymour, veterans of Oxford, Southbury, and Beacon Falls, the women of the “8 and 40” in their bright red capes and hats; auxiliary of Emil Senger post, A.L., of Seymour; Congdon post, American Legion drum corps, of Waterbury. The massed flags and the war veterans made an inspiring sight.

The Fire Companies

The third division was in charge of Captain Harry Terrill and Lieut. Richard Bowen, marshals. The sliver helmeted drum corps of the Hughson post, American Legion, of West Haven, led this division. The Eagle Hose Hook and Ladder Company was next in line. The Eagles, in single file, drew after them their famous parade carriage, for which their company was named and received an ovation from the throngs along the streets. The Huntington Fire Company was next in line, followed by the American Legion Fife and Drum corps of Stamford. the Echo Hose company of Shelton, in their dark green uniforms, carrying bouquets of flowers in their trumpets, also made a fine appearance.

The Hotchkiss Hose company of Derby was next in line. Their beautiful parade carriage with a revolving drum, the sides of which reflected the sunshine and mirrored the faces of the crowd as it passed, as attractively decorated and made a big hit. Gordon post’s drum corps followed, and won much applause as it passed the reviewing stand. The Paugassett Hose, Hook and Ladder Company was next in line, followed by the Websters. The Websters drew after them an old hand drawn hook and ladder truck which was one of the first apparatuses of that type in the city. Then there came the old horse drawn white fire wagon of the Websters, famous in years gone by. Seated in the wagon were James McGrath, costumed as George Washington, with his daughter, Miss Anna May McGrath, as Martha Washington.

Applause for Seymour

There followed the Maple Street School Fife and Drum corps of Seymour which made a fine showing and elicited much applause all along the line of march. Seymour was well represented. The Citizen Engine Company of that town marched with its fine old parade carriage followed by “Old Jumbo”, a steamer fire engine once owned by the Hartford Fire Department. “Old Jumbo” was resplendent with its polished paint and polished nickel trimmings. James Swan, assistant fire chief of Seymour, who owns the apparatus, drove it. He was garbed in the old time firemen’s uniform of the Citizen company, as were Martin Ummer and George Healey, stokers, and Fire Chief Harry Chamberlin of Seymour who rode on “Old Jumbo” also.

The hook and ladder truck of the Citizens was also in the parade.

The William H. Gordon post, American Legion, Boy Scout drum corps of Troop 5, Ansonia, followed in Indian regalia, and the Red Men of Ansonia, Derby, Shelton, and Seymour, also garbed as Indians, followed in line with a float representing an Indian wigwam. The Red Men won much applause, as did the Legion’s Scouts in Indian regalia.

The fourth division was in charge of Harry Hanson, executive director of Housatonic council of the Boy Scouts. His aides were William Bauer, Howard Reffelt, Lester Johns, and Edmund Strang. The American Legion Junior corps of Milford and the Derby high school band were in this division and both won applause. The Boy Scout troops of the valley followed.

The fifth division was marshaled by Mrs. Alice Russ of Shelton, her aides being Miss Marian Anderson and Mrs. Michael Aaronson. The Ansonia high school band led this division and as it marched through Ansonia it won applause from the crowds. The Girl Scouts made a fine appearance as they marched along. The Women’s auxiliary of the Comcowich Post, V.F.W. drum corps, brought up the rear and the quaint costumes for the women and their fine playing won much commendation.

Features of the parade included “Leaping Lena”, a Ford which performed all sorts of antics. A 1904 Ford, driven by Joseph Purcella, of Derby, with a delegation from Actor’s Colony in the rear seat, also attracted much attention.

Exercises at Athletic Field

The exercises at Athletic field, watched by thousands of persons, were most impressive. The parade units marched on tot he field and took their assigned positions around a large open square in front of the speakers’ stand at the westerly end of the field. Mayor Michael J. Cook of Ansonia was the first speaker. In behalf of the people of Ansonia, and all the mayors of Derby and Shelton and selectmen of Seymour, he extended a welcome to the visitors and paid tribute to the veterans who were to receive the purple heart medals. The parade, the mayor declared, and the exercises before the vast throng at the field, in honor of Washington and the veterans who were to receive the medals of the order of his founding, presented spectacles the like of which have not been seen here within the memory of the oldest residents. The mayor declared that the sight of so many thousands gathered for so patriotic a purpose must prove an inspiration to all and said it was especially appropriate that the exercises should be held at a community field dedicated to the youth of Ansonia, for he furnished a patriotic inspiration to the boys and girls of the associated towns that would remain with them as long as life lasted.

The mayor spoke of how the four communities, Ansonia, Derby, Shelton, and Seymour, had joined as one in this undertaking to do honor to George Washington and the veterans of the World war. He spoke of the large numbers of veterans who turned out to assist in making the affair successful and said that in thus honoring the recipients of the Washington medals they honored themselves.

In concluding the mayor said that he would speak for himself and the other mayors present to extend, in behalf of the associated communities, a hearty welcome to all visitors, with all the warmth that the word implies.

Judge Robert L. Munger, presided at the exercises. He presented Congressman E.W. Goss who said that he marveled at the fact that this section boasted more men who had earned the purple heart award then any other section of the United States.

Mr. Bradley’s Address

Judge Munger them presented Mr. Bradley, well known Derby historian who was the principal speaker of the occasion. Mr. Bradley chose as his subject “Valley Men Who Knew Washington” and in the course of his remarks mentioned particularly Gov. Johnathan Trumbull, Captain Isaac Hull of Derby, Col. David Humphreys of Derby, and Captain Edmund Leavenworth who lived in what is now Shelton. The speaker reviewed the early history of the associated communities and presented many interesting facts

Mr. Bradley’s remarks were as follows:

“Let us try to visualize the associated communities in the opening days of the Revolutionary war. Today the area of Derby is the smallest township in Connecticut, but in 1775 it was more than ten times the size of the present town, nearly 35,000 acres, and embraced the present cities of Derby and Ansonia, the town of Seymour, then the little village of Chusetown, the parish of Oxford and most of Beacon Falls. Its population by the 1774 census was 1,832 and its inhabitants were either farmers or sailors, the former being in a large majority.

“To the north was the town of Waterbury, including Watertown, Wolcott, Prospect (then Columbia Parish) and Salem’s Bridge, now Naugatuck. On the west was Woodbury, which included Southbury, Middlebury, Washington, and Roxbury; on the south and east, Milford, which embraced North Milford (now Orange) and part of the parishes of Amity (Woodbridge) and Bethany. Across the Housatonic River lay Stratford, and within its borders were the parishes of Stratfield, the modern Bridgeport, Unity, otherwise known as North Stratford or Trumbull, New Stratford (Monroe) and Ripton, the present city of Shelton, which in 1789 was named Huntington. The entire five towns of Derby, Waterbury, Woodbury, Milford, and Stratford, with all this vast acreage, had a population of half of that of the present city of Ansonia.

“Ansonia, Seymour, Shelton, Naugatuck, Beacon Falls, Bridgeport, Orange, Woodbridge, Birmingham, and Huntington were unknown names to the inhabitants of the Revolutionary period.

Derby Minute Men

“At the Lexington alarm, there were three companies of minute men ready for action in the old town of Derby under the commands of Captain Nathaniel Johnson, and Nathan Smith of Derby, and Captain Thomas Clark in Oxford Parish. They at once sprang to arms.

“Major Jabez Thompson led the contingent that took part in the siege of Boston and the next year commander of the second regiment in the retreat from Long Island, fell while rallying his troops in Bloomingdale. Ensign Nathan Blackman, Captain Beach Thompson, and Captain Gideon Leavenworth led detachments of Ripton men to battle. All the local communities sent companies to the defense of Danbury, during Tyron’s raid in 1777,and Major General David Wooster, native of Shelton and grandson of Derby’s first settler, was commander of the patriot troops. He was mortally wounded at Ridgefield. Part of the supplies hastily  removed from Danbury were hidden at the Birdseye farm on White Hills.

“Supplies for the Continental army were also stored in the custom house at Derby point. Captain John Tomlinson of Derby Neck was in New haven won afternoon when a Continental spy informed him that the British troops were coming to Derby, to seize these supplies. Hastily mounting his horse, the captain rode at full speed over the hills to Derby (it was 20 years before the building of the turnpike5), and reaching just before nightfall a house in Derby Narrows6 where the patriots were accustomed to gather, fairly fell from his horse, gasping; “Save the pork, men, save the pork! The British are in New Haven.

Story of Pork Hollow

“There was a hasty meeting, and as there were many Tory sympathizers secrecy was imperative. Under the cover of darkness, men, women, and children went to the custom house, loaded the pork on a cart driven by Isaac Smith, and hid the supplies in a grove of trees on the west side of the Naugatuck. The place where they hid the pork, is known to this day as “Pork Hollow”, and Wakelee Avenue runs through it. When that night, the British troops arrived at the custom house, it was in the condition of the cupboard of the well known ‘Mother Hubbard’.

“The attack on New Haven in July, 1779, saw not only the companies of Col. Daniel Holbrook of Sentinel Hill, ‘the Fighting Deacon’, Major Nathan Smith, and Captain Nathan Pierson, on the scene of the action, but many individuals responded from the hilltops when the call for aid came from the beleaguered city of New Haven.

“Among the later was Captain Joseph Hull, the father of Captain Isaac Hull, who had been a lieutenant of the artillery and a prisoner of New York, and later to command a flotilla of whaleboats on Long Island Sound. Boys of 12 and old men of 70 fought side by side and the British, with enemies facing them in all directions, were forced to hastily retreat from the captured city.

“The Tories who had taken $6,000 from the home of Captain Dayton in Bethany and kidnapped Chauncey Judd, passed through Derby in their flight and were pursed by Derby men who took to whaleboats to pursue them down the river. The Derbyites, led by Captain William Clark and Captain Harvey, caught them just within the British lines on Long Island, captured all but one, and regained their booty and saw the British safely confined in Old Newgate prison.

Visit of French Troops

“The six hundred French troops (300 foot and 300 horse) in their resplendent uniforms, led by the Duc de Lauzen and Count Dilion, on their way to join Washington’s army, on the Hudson, encamped the night of June 28, 1781, on Sentinel Hill, the officers being entertained that evening in Brownie Castle – the home of Squire Beard – and the ext morning at the home of Deacon Daniel Bennett, the grandfather of Commodore Hull, in an old house which stood until 1890 on Center Street, Shelton. Fragments of the corduroy road made by them still exist in Shelton.

Lieut. Col. William Hull, uncle of the Commodore and grandfather of  Gen. Joseph Wheeler – “Fighting Joe” – served gallantly in many battles of the war and was personally commended by Washington. A native up uptown Derbyhe ruined his splendid Revolutionary record by the surrender of Detroit to the British and Indians in 1812.

“It has been said that Connecticut furnished to Washington both David and his Jonathan. The later was of course, Gov. Jonathan Trumbull, whose ancient chair was seen today with Mr. Boothe, its present owner. Washington greatly valued Trumbull’s advice, and used to say “Don’t do anything until we hear from Brother Jonathan”. The ‘David’ was a young man who was born on July 10, 1752, in a house still standing on Elm Street, Ansonia. Son of the minister of Derby’s first church8, an honor graduate of Yale, scholar and poet, he had successfully served on the staff of Gens. ParsonsPutnam, and Greene, before being assigned on June 26, 1780, to the personal family of the Commander-in-Chief.

Favorite of Washington

“‘Death, darling Putnam; then immortal Greene, then the great Washington my youth approved’ wrote David Humprheys in later years. He was soon high in the general’s favor: on the general’s visit to Mt. Vernon before the siege of Yorktown, Humphreys was the only one of his aides to accompany him. In the siege of Yorktown he greatly distinguished himself and Washington entrusted him with the official dispatches and the captured British and German standards, together with a letter highly commending the bearer, to the Continental Congress at Philadelphia.

“After Washington’s resignation of his command at the close of  the war, Humphreys accompanied him to the Christmas festivities at Mt. Vernon and remained with him as secretary and aide until Washington wrote to Gen. Mifflin suggesting Humphreys for the post of minister of foreign affairs (his only request of Congress). He praised Humphreys for his ‘ability, integrity, punctuality, and sobriety’ – all major virtues with the father of his country. Congress did not grant this request, but made Humphreys secretary to a commission composed of Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson appointed to negotiate treaties with 20 foreign countries. A letter from Washington to Franklin in France is still extant, introducing Humphreys as ‘a young man who is very dear to me’. After his return from abroad Humphreys served as Derby’s representative in the State Legislature, and then, following the death of his parents in 1787, took up his permanent residence with Washington at Mt. Vernon, doing carving at the table, accompanying the general in his survey of his plantations and his greatly beloved sport of fox hunting, and being treated as one of the family. He also accompanied him to New York in 1789 as first secretary to the president, but after a year, was sent abroad on missions to Portugal and Spain, maintaining, however, constant correspondence with the President.

The War of 1812

“Upon his retirement in 1797, Washington wrote asking Humphreys to again take up his residence at Mt. Vernon and to edit or write his memoirs of the Revolutionary War, but Humphreys had recently married and could not comply. The general congratulated him upon his marriage, but said sadly he had ‘ hoped to have an intimate in whom he could confide during his declining years’. The letters of Washington and Humphreys still in existence are many, and some day should be collected into a most interesting book. Humphreys survived his patron nearly a score of years, becoming captain general of the ‘veteran volunteers’, composed of Revolutionary survivors, in the War of 1812 and major general commanding the Connecticut troops. Seymour was long ‘Humphreysville’ in his honor. John Trumbull proposed for his epitaph:

Patron of the arts and guardian of the state;
Friend of the poor, yet honored by the great;
To sum all titles to respect in one:
Here Humphreys rest, beloved of Washington

Their Memory Lives

“The associated communities furnished many soldiers to the patriot cause. Forty headstones of Revolutionary veterans are still standing in the Colonial cemetery of Derby, and many others have crumbled into dust. Locally the last of Washington’s volunteers to pass away was Captain Edmund Leavenworth. At the age of fifteen he had enlisted in his father’s Ripton company and saw considerable fighting. Later on at Indian Well he built the first bridge across the Housatonic and many ‘Boston coasters’ that brought the rum and molasses of the West Indies to the associated communities. Depleted in fortune by the War of 1812, he became a tavern keeper in Derby where he died in 1856 at the age of 94.

“For nearly a century, Washington’s soldiers have slept beneath the sod, but their memory is still cherished in patriotic hearts. As the years go by, we realize what their toll and sacrifices have meant to the community, the state, and nation and whether our ancestry came over in the Mayflower or as more recent immigrants from foreign lands we can all say with the poet:

‘Oh, do not wrong the generations past,
By scorn, or bitter prating of ‘dead hands’,
Tis not our fault that their achievements last,
Or whim of fortune that their building stands.
It was for us they strove; we are the heirs,
Of all their sweat and agony and tears,
And, willing or ungrateful, each one shares,
In the long legacy of toilsome years'”.

Payne Presents Medals

Following Mr. Bradley’s address Judge Munger presented Assistant Secretary of War Payne, who presented the medals to the purple heart veterans, while all assembled military units presented arms. Secretary Payne spoke as follows:

“This is George Washington’s bicentennial year and almost exactly the 150th anniversary of his first establishment of the decoration of the purple heart. It is thus most appropriate for us to assemble to do honor to a group of men who have performed in outstanding manner one of the fundamental duties of the American citizen – the defense of our country. It is even more appropriate that these exercises should take place in Connecticut and that the recipients of the decoration should be Connecticut men. So far as the records of our Revolution show, the purple heart was awarded only three times by General Washington. In each and every case the men who had demonstrated outstanding military merit came from a Connecticut regiment. We salute you who have won the modern decoration as worthy successors to Sergeant Daniel Bissell of the Second Connecticut Regiment, of Sergeant Daniel Brown of the Fifth Connecticut Regiment, and Sergeant Elijah Churchill of the Second Connecticut Dragoons.

“In establishing this order, General Washington stated that it was his desire to foster and encourage every species of military merit and directed that upon the performance of any singularly meritorious action the author of it be permitted to wear on his facings over the left breast the figure of a heart in purple cloth or silk edged with narrow lace or binding.

“Subsequent to the Revolution, the order of the purple heart seems to have fallen into disuse and no further awards were made. The 200th anniversary of George Washington’s birth was selected as obviously the most appropriate time to reestablish it.

“Award of the purple heart is authorized to persons who while serving in the army of the United States perform any singularly meritorious act of extraordinary fidelity or essential service. Wounds received in action are included in this category. Power to make awards is vested in division and hire commanders.

“The revised decoration consists of a heart shaped medal, its face gold bordered and its center of purple enamel. On the obverse is a relief bust of George Washington in the uniform of a general of the Continental Army. Its reverse is gold with the inscription: ‘For Military Merit’. The Washington coat-of-arms is incorporated in the ring which attaches to it to a purple ribbon bordered with white.

“The purple heart is probably one of the most coveted military awards. It usually signifies that its wearer has been wounded in battle against the enemies of our country. It is a token that a man has interposed his body between America and a dangerous foe. It is a sign of the full and unhesitating assumption of citizenship.

“It is now my privilege to express to each on of this group of heroes their country’s admiration and gratitude. May we who are assembled here long remember this day and take from it inspiration to serve our country as bravely and unhesitatingly as did those we honor”.

Purple Heart Veterans

Purple heart medals were presented to the following:

Ansonia – Frank J. Cushner, Joseph Staffey, Newton Wedin, Clinton Spears, Michael Worcolik, William J. Pratt, Micheal Ahern, James T. Bird, Patrick F. Reidy, Paul Johnson, Carl Bohman, T.W. Worley, Redevers Bowen, Harry Ogden, Benjamin Bernstein, John Compy, Edgar Wahlberg.

Derby – John Murasky, William Burke, Maurice Romm, Edward Kurtya, Martin Lombardo, A. Jaccubicci, Tony Lauretto, W.H. Keefe, Anthony Frisco, Stephen Shaughnessy, Bernard J. Nicolari.

Shelton – Stephen T. Honas, William Jones, Edward J. Duffy, Ernest Gressot, George H. Hummel, Stanley Kaiser, William R. Goodman, George Clark, James Canganelly, A. Gambacini, G. Orisetti, W.H. Keefe, J. Crapalicho.

Seymour10 – Frank Trevelin, Fred Hummel, Peter Muchisky, Andrew Masavage, Joseph Strefco, Dennis Bennett, Frank Marshall, Floyd Clark, William A. Ulrich.

New Haven – Henry Gosslin, John J. Renson, Michael Ematrudo.

Waterbury – John J. Mulligan, Joseph Buckingham, Anthony Chancio, William Aylward.

Torrington – Capt. Ernest Manteuffel.

Orange – Capt. Howard B. Treat, Levi O. Petersen and Morris Berger.

Naugatuck – Albert Sumpf.

Quaker Farms – Clarence Roberts.

Bethel – Herbert Hopkins.

Closing Ceremonies

Judge Munger then announced that the exercises would close with retreat and the assembled military units stood at attention while bugles blared and then the Foot Guard played “The Star Spangled Banner” while the Stars and Stripes were lowered from the flag pole which had been erected on the field that morning.

Following the exercises there were drum corps concerts. Most of the visiting units marched from the field to the state armory9 after the exercises and there they found refreshments which had been proved by the women’s auxiliaries of the local veterans’ organizations under the direction of Mrs. J. Sterling Edwards of Shelton. Judge Frederick M. MaCarthy was chairman of the refreshment committee which did its work well.

Links

The George Washington Chapter #1, Military Order of the Purple Heart

The Founding of the Military Order of the Purple Heart in Ansonia

Notes

1) The events of Saturday, September 17, 1932, were the culmination of months of planning. The celebration joined the observance of the 200th anniversary of the birth of George Washington, which was a major national theme, and the reestablishment of the Purple Heart to the United States Army. The Purple Heart medals were being sent to World War I veterans through the mail, and the veterans organizations and cities and towns of the Naugatuck Valley the medals should be properly awarded on Constitution Day, September 17. The observance received national attention before it was even held prompting the Hoover Administration, which was still smarting over its recent handling of the Bonus Army in Washington DC, to send Assistant Secretary of War Frederick B. Payne to the event. Immediately following the ceremony, the veterans agreed to form the Purple Heart Association (see the September 22, 1932 article), which became the first chapter of what is now the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the most exclusive veterans’ organization chartered by the U.S. Congress.

2) Since World War II had not yet happened, what we now know as World War I was simply known as “The World War” in the United States.

3) Athletic Field is today’s Nolan Field, off Wakelee Avenue, Ansonia.

4) Many country roads were still unpaved in 1932, and many automobiles were convertibles. Choking dust would be kicked up when the roads were dry, and the best time to drive was after a moderate rain, when the water “laid the dust” – keeping it on the ground instead of on drivers and passengers.

5) “The turnpike” was the Derby Turnpike, today’s Route 34 from East Derby to New Haven.

6) Derby Narrows was the neighborhood of today’s East Derby along  the Housatonic River, just below the Naugatuck River.

7) Uptown Derby, or simply Uptown, was along the east side of the Naugatuck River, along the border of today’s Ansonia and Derby. It would include Ansonia’s Elm Street and Derby’s original green off Academy Hill Road.

8) Derby’s First Church would be today’s First Congregational Church on Derby Avenue.

9) This was the Ansonia Armory.

10) Some of the members of the American Legion in Seymour were from Oxford.    

Thursday, September 22, 1932 – Purple Heart Association of United States Formed

First Chapter Organized Last Night at Gathering of Veterans at State Armory

The Purple Heart Association of the United States was formally organized last night at a meeting held at the state armory. Election of officers took place, Frank J. Cushner of Ansonia being chosen Commander; Stephen M. Honas of Shelton Vice Commander; Edward J. Duffy of Shelton, secretary; Patrick F. Reidy of Ansonia, treasurer; and William J. Burke, Derby, sergeant at arms.

An executive committee was elected consisting of the officers and August Miller of Seymour. T. W. Worley of Ansonia and F. O’Shaughnessy of Derby.

A membership committee was named, consisting of one member from each of the towns which took part in the Washington Bicentennial – Purple Heart observance. It consists of Fred Hummel of Seymour, Michael Ahern of Ansonia, Martin Lombardo of Derby, George H. Hummel of Shelton and Maurice Berger of Orange.

A constitution was adopted and it was voted to leave the charter open until the next meeting so that all purple heart veterans who wish may become charter members. It was voted to have a committee of three consisting of Patrick F. Reidy, Stephen O’Shaughnessy, and John Compy confer with Judge Frederick M. McCarthy regarding articles of incorporation.

The order of the purple heart was established by General George Washington who awarded it to only three men during the Revolutionary War. All three men were residents of Connecticut, so it is especially fitting that the first chapter of the Purple Heart Association be organized in Connecticut.

All from Connecticut

The original recipients of the purple heart were Sergeant Daniel Bissell of the Second Connecticut Regiment, of Sergeant Daniel Brown of the Fifth Connecticut Regiment,and Sergeant Elijah Churchill of the Second Connecticut Dragoons.

It was announced that Frank H. Gates, honorary chairman of the Bicentennial – Purple Heart Association, had made a donation of $10, desiring to make the first contribution to the treasury of the new organization. The group passed a vote of thanks to Mr. Gates for his thoughtfulness and the veterans also voted to extend their thanks to all who worked to make the Bicentennial – Purple Heart observance a success. The Purple Heart Association really had its inception on Constitution Day, Sept. 17.

The following is the preamble of the constitution that was adopted last night:

“We, veterans of the wars of the United States, in  order to perpetuate the principles of national patriotism and justice, do hereby ordain and establish the Purple Heart Association, a union of those who saw active service in such wars and who because of their valiant service have been awarded the medal of the order of the purple heart founded by our first President, George Washington, and revived during his bicentennial.

“We pledge ourselves to foster those ideals of liberty, justice, and common welfare, which have made the United States the great nation that it is today and we pledge ourselves to form this union of veterans in order to perpetuate those principles which are the foundation of our national life. So believing and so pledging ourselves, we establish this as our constitution”.

The Purple Heart Association received a communication from the adjunct of a Legion post in Providence, Rhode Island, in which he sought cooperation in establishing a department of the association in the state of Rhode Island.

From the beginning made last night, the Purple Heart Association is expected to grow into a patriotic order of large proportions, and the interest that has been shown elsewhere in the purple heart celebration here and the founding of the Purple Heart Association of the United States augur well for the success of the organization throughout the Union.

Links

The George Washington Chapter #1, Military Order of the Purple Heart

The Washington Bicentennial – Purple Heart celebration held four days earlier    

January 10, 1933 – Bruce N. Griffing Claimed by Death This Morning

Prominent Citizen and President of Griffin Button Co. Succumbs to Pneumonia

Bruce Nichols Griffing, 84, of 231 Coram Avenue, president of the Griffing Button Co., Inc., died at the hospital this morning. Mr. Griffing was taken ill a week ago with broncho-pneumonia and was removed to the hospital Sunday night where death came at 7:40 o’clock this morning. News of his death came as a great shock to his wide circle of friends who mourn his loss.

Mr. Griffing was born in Newtown, December 7, 1848, the son of John and Julian Griffin. He came to this city 42 years ago when the J. & G. Griffin button shop was removed here from Botsford. After the death of his father the business was taken over by two sons, George and Bruce. Mr. Griffing was a charter member of the Shelton Kiwanis club organized in 1924; Sandy Hook lodge A. F. & A. M., and the Derby and Shelton Board of Trade. He was always interested in the community and although he never sought political office he had the interest of the city at heart. He held the office of president of the Griffin Hospital for 20 years. The Griffin Hospital was endowed by his brother, George Griffin of Newtown in 1909.

History of the Factory

The Griffin Button Company was established in 1846, at Botsford, by John Griffin, father of Mr. Griffing, and was known as the J. & G. Griffin Co. Mr. Griffin invented the first cam machine for turning horn buttons. In 1890, owing to increased business and the invention of labor saving machinery, the plant formerly owned by the Shelton Brass Hardware Co., on Canal Street, was purchased and the business was removed to this city. With new machinery and extended facilities the business was greatly increased. The output of the concern is handled entirely by a few of the largest wholesale houses and distributed to every state in the Union and Canada. 

The improvements of the Griffin company in horn button machinery enabled the concern to lead all competitors in their line, having machines that will turn out 3,500,000 buttons per month or an increase of 600 percent over former methods. The factory turns out over 100 styles of horn buttons from one-quarter to two and one-half inches in diameter.

On May 29, 1902, the Griffin Button Company was incorporated with a capital stock of $600,000. The officers of the company are: Bruce N. Griffing, president; Roger O. Clapp, Secretary, and Sarah D. Reynolds, treasurer.

Mr. Griffing is survived by his wife, Katherine M. Griffin; one son, Clarence C. Griffing of New York; two granddaughters, one nephew, Clarence M. Sear of Shelton, and one step-daughter, Mrs. Clifford E. Lewis, also of Shelton.

February 20, 1933 – Historical Talk at First Church

What the Senator Said

Senator Bradley explained that Birmingham existed only from 1836 (when it was so named by Anson G. Phelps, having previously called Smithville) until the beginning of the City of Derby in 1894. It comprised only the western portion of the town2, never including Ansonia or East Derby, which from the incorporation of the town on May 13, 1675, until 1894, was always referred to as “Derby”. For nearly two hundred years, the businesses, residential, and commercial portions of the town all centered on the east side. The beginnings of Birmingham came in 1833, when Sheldon Smith, born on Gilbert Street in 1791, but who had amassed a fortune in Newark, N.J., bought the Hawkins Point property3, Smith farm lands, and the Hull “Yellow Mills” and commenced the construction of a reservoir and canal. The first dwelling houses were erected in open fields, where Caroline Street is now located. Sheldon Canfield’s “Boston Store”, now corner of Main and Caroline Streets, and the stone store opposite were built in 1835 in a sand bank. In April of the following year, Smith was authorized to make a roadway sixty feet wide to be known as Second Street in Smithville (formerly known as the Point). This is modern Main Street. In the fall of the same year, Phelps bought out most of the Smith interests and changed the name of the village to Birmingham, after the great manufacturing city in England. Shops and mills were erected under the direction of Alman Farrel, the millwright, father of late Franklin Farrel4. Churches and schools were built; streets cut through; the green established.

The growth of the village was rapid and in 1842, Phelps sought expansion to the north. This was prevented by old Squire Booth, who bought up most of the land in what is now west Ansonia, and held out for exorbitant price. Phelps then purchased all of the eastern lands, and began the village soon known as Ansonia, after its founder’s first name. Birmingham in the meantime grew and prospered, and became a borough in 1851, with the elder Thomas Wallace, distinguished manufacturer, as its first Warden5. It sent its full quota tot he Civil War under Colonels Kellogg, Russell, and Wooster. It aided in the construction of the Ousatonic Dam in 1870 and the subsequent growth of the village of Shelton, named for Edward N. Shelton of Greystone, president of the Birmingham National Bank, state senator, and prime mover of the dam project.

Birmingham became a railroad center in 1871; had its greatest conflagration on January 12, 1879; was buried under the snows of the great blizzard of 1888, and emeged to see the first trolley road in New England completed April 30th6. A borough building (now city hall) was began in the same year7. Ansonia ceded from Derby in 1889. The (Ousatonic) dam burst on January 22, 1891; a new dam was completed in its place, and an iron bridge succeeded the old covered bridge to Shelton8. The cities of Ansonia and Derby were authorized by the legislature of 1893. Dr. Thomas J. O’Sullivan, last warden of the old borough of Birmingham, defeated Selectman Sidney E. Gesner in the ensuing election and became the first Mayor of Derby in January, 1894.

* A much more detailed history of Birmingham’s origins and history can be found in the book History of Derby, Conn. 1642-1880, by Rev. Samuel Orcutt and Dr. Ambrose Beardsley.

Notes:

1. This is actually part of a larger article about a meeting at the First Congregational Church of Derby. The entertainment was Derby’s local historian at the time, Sen. Henry Bradley Jr.

2. The line actually crossed between the Housatonic and Naugatuck Rivers about where today’s Irving School is, so places like Derby Neck were excluded from Birmingham.

3. Hawkins Point is the eastern terminus of today’s Derby-Shelton Bridge.

4. This is the same family that ran the Farrel factories in Ansonia and Derby for generations.

5. A “Borough” was basically a special district within the town, where residents paid additional taxes for additional services, such as fire, police, sanitation, street department, etc. The “Warden” was the chief administrator. The Wallace family would later build factories in Ansonia, with Thomas Wallace Jr. credited with inventing the carbon arc light.

6. The first electric trolley system in New England began in Derby on April 30, 1888. Horse drawn trolleys existed before then.

7. This is today’s Sterling Opera House. It also initially housed the police department and the Bassett Hook & Ladder Co. No. 1.

8. Also in 1891 – located where today’s Derby-Shelton bridge is today. Replaced by the current span in 1919.

June 25, 1934 – President Roosevelt Passed Through Derby Saturday A.M.

With less than three hours’ notice of his coming, President Franklin D. Roosevelt found Derby turned out in thousands with flags and huzzas to greet him on Saturday1morning when he passed through here en route to Hyde Park by way of Danbury, having attended the boat races in New London on Friday. Already a movement has been started to change the name of River Road to Roosevelt Drive as a result of his passing along that boulevard.

The presidential party reached East Derby at 12:10 o’clock, noon and already at that time many had been waiting to see him for over three hours. The news flash at 9:30 o’clock reported him leaving New London at that time and it had been an impatient populace that began gathering at that hour. Flags were run up, work in local offices and stores ceased, and by 12 o’clock the entire city was in a holiday mood.

Escorts Furnished

Arriving at the Orange town line with an escort of state troopers on motorcycles and in cars, followed by secret service men, the presidential party was met by Chief of Police Thomas E. VanEtten and Motorcycle Officer Ivan Cable, who furnished an escort of honor to the Stevenson Dam. From there, Officer Cable accompanied the escort to Newtown.

Every available place was taken by automobiles from Stevenson Dam in Oxford to Derby Avenue in New Haven. Many are the stories which are told concerning the coming of the President, and among them is this one.

One of the Stories

A party of Derby people had been shopping in New Haven Saturday morning when the news flashed that the President was coming. The children in the party were most anxious to see him, but the driver remained indifferent tot he occasion.

“Poof”, she said. “after all he’s only a man. I can’t see anything in waiting for hours just to see him go by”.

In vain they pleaded: she was obdurate. Although after much urging she agreed not do drive too fast, homeward, she made up for this concession with an enthusiastic lecture on the folly of such childish curiosity, until the remaining members of teh party had been pretty well convinced that no adult in full possession of her senses would be guilty of such conduct. Nearing the Derby line, they met some friends gathered upon their lawn, obviously eagerly awaiting the arrival of the chief executive. While exchanging a few words of greeting here, the motorcycle escort hove into sight.

In less time than it takes to write it, the heretofore disapproving driver had pulled her car to the side and jumped from the machine to the curb.

“Heigh!” she greeted with a flourishing salute just as the President’s car came along.

“Heigh!” answered the President, while the flabbergasted group about her stared in utter amazement. 

Eyes wide with excitement, shaking with enthusiasm, she flounced around to her companions, shouting “He spoke to me! He spoke to me! He spoke to me!”.

Notes

–All along the way, wherever there was a single car or a group, however small, children or adults, the President and Mrs. Roosevelt did not neglect the friendly hand wave and the famous “Roosevelt smile”. All who saw the procession spoke again and again of the miracle of personality that made every smile such as completely personal one that it was impossible for the recipient to believe that it was not somehow or other just a little more than a routine greeting.

–Senator Henry M. Bradley, whose authority is never questioned on points historical, says that it is the first instance of a President visiting Derby2 during his term of office. He points out that ex-President Taft visited here and spoke here, but after he had served his term.

–A movement is well under way, it is said, to have the aldermen take formal action at their next meeting, changing the name of River Road to Roosevelt Drive

–Mayor William F. Riordan and his staff greeted the President at the junction of Main and Elizabeth streets.

–The procession slowed up in East Derby and crowds there gave the President a vociferous welcome. As the Presidential car slowed down in making the turn into Main Street at the East Derby trolley terminal, an individual yelled “Most of us are Democrats here, Franklin, but the few Republicans we have are with you”. The President replied with a smile and a wave of greeting.

June 26, 1934

Oxford

We have read with interest the suggestion that Derby might remember the passing of President Roosevelt through the town by renaming the River Road Roosevelt Drive. Long years ago Oxford had its Governor’s Hill Road3 and it still is used by one of the highways of the town. Incidentally, it is said the governor thus remembered was also aJeffersonian. Why not connect Roosevelt Drive with Governor’s Hill and call it Jefferson Boulevard?

June 27, 1934

Great Hill

A group of Squantuck residents, having been informed that President Roosevelt would pass that way at 11 o’clock Saturday, collected in front of the home of R. G. Preece and waited diligently until 12:30 where they were rewarded by a fleeting glimpse of the Presidential party as it sped along on its way to Danbury and Hyde Park. In spite of the high speed maintained, the President was plainly recognized and was seen to smile and wave his hand. One is led to wonder whether this is the first President who has, while in office, traversed the beautiful valley of the Housatonic.

Footnotes

1. The actual date of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s visit was June 23, 1934.

2. This statement may or may not be true, depending on one’s perception. Both Taft and Roosevelt actually interacted with residents, even if Roosevelt never actually got out of his car. However, we know that President Woodrow Wilson used to pass through Derby and Shelton while in office, on his private railroad car attached to the Federal Express train, on his way to and from the “Summer White House” in Cornish, New Hampshire. Normally the train would pass at night, and was reported after the fact, and President Wilson never interacted with residents, if he was awake at all.

3. See this page on Oxford’s Record: The First 125 Years, by Dorothy DeBisschop on the Oxford Past website regarding the namesake of Governor’s Hill.

August 28, 1953 – Edward H. O’Connell Concludes 59 Years as Theater Stage Manager

The closing of the Commodore Hull Theater last night, brought to a conclusion a career of 59 years as theater stage manager for Edward H. O’Connell, of…Hamden, formerly of Derby, 26 years of which was spent with the local theater.

Mr. O’Connell started in as a stage hand in the old Sterling Opera House in 1894, when the theater was under the management of the late Ira F. Hoyt. He was with the theater throughout the remainder of the “Gay Nineties”, when stage presentations were the order of the day and when many theatrical troupes came here. He saw the advent of movies, the silent dramas of other days, which first became a Saturday night “educational” feature and later were to eclipse the legitimate stage productions as public entertainment.

Mr. O’Connell saw the theaters adjust themselves to the new medium of entertainment. They began with the one and two reelers and gradually branched into the big productions. “The Birth of a Nation“, David Griffith‘s masterpiece and other movie dramas were shown while some of Griffith’s other productions had their premier at the local theater. For many years, the movies compromised the program with vaudeville but gradually the latter type of entertainment went out.

Mr. O’Connell remained with the Sterling Theater until 1921 when the Capitol Theater in Ansonia was opened for silent pictures and vaudeville. He remained there until May 7, 1927, when he joined the staf of the newly built Commodore Hull Theater and has been with the local theater since its first performance. The advent of “talking” pictures came later and with it a new era for movies.

Mr. O’Connell says that television has greatly interfered with theatrical attendance in the past few years. He was instrumental in organizing the first theatrical union in the state in 1900 in New Haven.

Known as the New Haven Stage Employees Local 74, it has been the union’s Naugatuck Valley business representative for the past 53 years. Mr. O’Connell said today that the termination of his employment at the local theater while temporarily concluding his long career as stage manager, he hopes, will be followed by a new assignment.

Note: The Commodore Hull Theater closed on August 27, 1953. This was the first time the theater closed since it opened in 1927. While many feared the theater would close forever, the title of its “final” movie, Remains to be Seen, proved prophetic. The theater reopened on September 17, 1954, and remained open for many years afterward. It is unclear if Mr. O’Connell was present for the reopening.

June 20, 1956 – John R. Shields to Retire as Manager of Capitol Theater

John R. Shields will retire as manager of the Capitol Theater as of June 30. He will be succeeded by Harry Carlew, present manager of the Commodore Hull, Derby, who will serve as manager of both theaters until his successor at Derby is named July 7.

Mr. Shields became a theater manager for the first time on March 25, 1914, at the old Derby Theater on lower Main Street, Derby, now the Pioneer Bowling Alleys. He worked there for Kennedy and Sullivan, and when their lease on the house expired opened the Shelton Theater in 1916. In the same year, he became the manager of what was then the valley’s oldest and largest playhouse, Derby’s Sterling Theater. When I. J. Hoffman, who held the lease on the Sterling, built the Capitol Theater in Ansonia in 1920, Mr. Shields became the Capitol’s first vaudeville booking agent and has been connected with the Capitol ever since.

One Day Back in 1926

Mr. Shield’s forty years in show business gave him a familiar acquaintance with people who rose to great heights in the entertainment world. He had booked George Burns and Fred Allen for vaudeville appearances at the Capitol, and man others whose names became bywords in show business.

One day back in 1926 when Mr. Shields had rented the Capitol to the  Derby Women’s Club for a concert, a young man came backstage and asked if he had a piano.

“I’d like to exercise my fingers” the young man said.

“How about an organ?”, Mr. Shields asked him. the Capitol had once of the finest pipe organs in the country.

As the young man sat down, Mrs. Frances Osborne Kellogg of Derby came backstage and introduced the young musician to the theater manager.

It was George Gershwin.

And George played for Mrs. Kellogg and Mr. Shields, in the otherwise empty theater, “Rhapsody in Blue“, which was then Gershwin’s newest composition. He became the world’s king of jazz.

Mr. Shields recalled that he became very friendly with David W. Griffith, the great producer of spectacles in the days of silent films. Griffith premiered three of his pictures at Mr. Shields’ theaters, two at the Sterling in Derby and one at the Capitol in Ansonia, and came personally to the communities to observe first hand community reaction to them. The earlier ones were tremendous successes, and the reaction of valley audiences accurately forecast their reception. The last of Griffith’s efforts was “The Struggle“. It was tested before a Capitol audience, which did not like it. The late Charles J. Asimus of the Sentinel reviewed the film. He said it was well named, but that the name should apply to the audience which had to sit through it, not to the young actor who was engaged in a dreadful struggle with Demon Rum. Asimus said it would be appropriate fare for Sunday school entertainment, but would be a flop otherwise.

In older days, Shields booked Charlie Chaplain, the Chicago Stock Company, and many other stock companies for one night stands at the old Sterling.

Mr. Shields showed the first “sound” picture in the valley. It had musical accompaniment, but no voice. That was in 1928. And in the same year he treated Ansonia theatergoers to their first “talking picture”.

He has seen the movie industry from its flicker days in the nickelettes to the grand spectaculars of the silent films, to the changes that came in techniques when sound arrived. He has seen movies face up to and weather the counter attraction of radio. He has seen attendance dwindle when television became a novel attraction, and rise again when people decided movies still had much to offer.

Mr. Shields says some of the best moves ever made are being offered today. A few years ago, they would be featured at special prices. Today they are common, because the industry has understood that it must put its best into today’s more crowded entertainment world. That is just what it is doing.    

September 27, 1956 – Mrs. Frances Osborne Kellogg Dies at Osborndale

Dairy Farmer, Prize Cattle Breeder, Manufacturer, Patron of Arts Deeded Vast Property for a Park

Had Retained only Life Use of Area Extending from Pinkhouse Cove on Housatonic into West of Ansonia

Mrs. Frances E. Osborne Kellogg, widow of Waldo S. Kellogg, died last night at 10:43 o’clock, following several weeks’ illness in the family home, 500 Hawthorne Avenue, in which she was born and where she lived her entire life.

A woman of many interests, she was prominent in the community. Mrs. Kellogg was an industrialist, connected with local manufacturing concerns as well as with industrial firms in England.

She was the first woman member of the board of directors of the Birmingham National Bank, and was for many years president and sponsor of the Woman’s Club of the associated towns and cities which brought many distinguished artists to this community.

Mrs. Kellogg was the proprietor of Osborndale and Bassett Farms, both distinguished throughout New England for their high bred cattle and outstanding dairy products. Her prize cattle took many honors at stock exhibitions throughout the country, attracting wide attention  by their high products, and commanded tremendous prices when sold. The name “Osborndale” in the dairy world became synonymous with highest quality and finest registered stock.

Property to State

Five years ago, Mrs. Kellogg announced that she had decided to deed to the State of Connecticut most of her real estate comprising of two farms and her homestead, to be developed as a state park in a long range recreational program for the people of the state.

Reserving life use of the properties and income, Mrs. Kellogg deeded the property to the state in 1951 and it was accepted on behalf of the state by the then governor, John Lodge.

Mrs. Kellogg deeded to the state, with the exceptions of certain marginal properties, Osborndale and Bassett Farms, extending from Pink House Cove into Ansonia, and including Pickett’s Pond, to the Connecticut Park and Forest Commission. The State of Connecticut later announced its long range plans for development of the property into a recreational center for the people of the state, the plans encompassing a huge amphitheater for musicals and other outdoor presentations.

Native of Derby

Mrs. Kellogg was a native of Derby and descendant of an old Connecticut family. It was in 1817 that Captain Stephen Osborne of New Haven and his wife Apama Gorham, granddaughter of Captain George Gorham, came to live in Derby. Both Captain Osborn and Captain Gorham saw active service in the War of the Revolution and Captain Gorham built many vessels at the old Hallock’s Shipyard here and was a noted sea captain.

Mrs. Kellogg was the daughter of the late Major Wilbur Fisk Osborne, who was born in Derby January 14, 1841, and the late Ellen Lucy Davis Osborne. Major Osborne was the son of the late John W. and Susan (Durand) Osborne. His father was one of the pioneers in the brass industry in this country and a founder and president of the Osborne and Cheeseman Company. Major Osborne, a graduate of Wesleyan University, was an enlistee in the Union Army in the War of the Rebellion and served nearly four years. Following the war, he became identified with his father’s industry, the Osborne and Cheeseman Company. In 1882 he organized a branch known as the Schneller, Osborne, and Cheeseman Company. He also was the organizer of the Union Fabric Company and an organizer of the F. Kelley Company, both of these companies being located in Ansonia for a number of years when they were moved to this city in newly constructed plants on Roosevelt Drive. Mr. Osborne was also one of the incorporators of the Derby Silver Company which later became an affiliate of the International Silver Company. He was identified with many other industrial and commercial interests and was a high-minded citizen. He was the founder and organizer of the Derby Neck Library and was an active officer and member of the Derby Methodist Church.

Succeeds Father

Upon the death of Major Osborne, in 1907, his daughter Mrs. Kellogg assumed many of the business interests and civic responsibilities which she maintained until her death. She became president and assistant treasurer of the Union Fabric Company and treasurer of the F. Kelley Company and vice president of the Connecticut Clasp Company of Bridgeport. With her associates in the Union Fabric Company together with Faire Bros. Ltd. of Leicester, England, she was instrumental in founding Steels and Busks, Ltd. of Leicester, and became one of its permanent directors and made frequent trips to England to visit the company’s manufacturing plants.

Marriage

Mrs. Kellogg was married in 1919 to Waldo Stewart Kellogg, of New York, a well known architect. After coming to Derby, Mr. Kellogg became interested in stock raising and agriculture and made the Osborndale farm and later the Bassett farm two of the best known stock breeding and milk producing farms in New England. Mr. Kellogg specialized in Holstein stock raising, an interest in both farms being always maintained by Mrs. Kellogg. Mr. Kellogg died in 1929, and Mrs. Kellogg carried on the Osborndale Farm, carefully adhering to its high standards. She served as president of the New England States Holstein-Friesian Association of Connecticut and served as director of the Connecticut Jersey Cattle Club, the New Haven County Farm Bureau and the National Dairy Show of St. Louis. Prize specimen cattle of Osborndale and Bassett Farms in recent years have achieved outstanding honors and premium prices.

Patron of Music

Mrs. Kellogg, herself a talented violinist, was a lifelong devotee to and patron of music. As a young woman, she studied violin first under Max Fonaroff and Frans Milcke of New Haven, and later with Max Bendix and Franz Kneisen in New York. She also studied musical theory with Percey Goetsius at the University of Musical Art, now known as the Julliard Foundation of New York City. Her devotion to music encompassed an interest in and assistance and encouragement to many young and aspiring artists whom she considered to have unusual or promising talent.

In her desire to share with other music lovers her interest and enthusiasm in music, Mrs. Kellogg brought to the community through the Women’s Club, until a few years ago when her activity through this medium ceased, some of the best artists in the country and from other countries. As president of the Women’s Club, she directed the club program for many years bringing to Derby outstanding figures in the musical and lecture field.

Derby Neck Library

Continuing her father’s interest in community and industrial affairs, Mrs. Kellogg also devoted herself to the Derby Neck Library, which her father, in 1897, was instrumental in founding. Antedating other libraries, hereabouts, Major Osborne and others established the library mostly as a community project, but is soon attracted patrons from the entire city and other cities and towns hereabouts. Mrs. Kellogg continued her father’s purpose to provide the latest and best reading material to the library’s patrons. She also carried on the work of completing the library building on Hawthorne Avenue, which her father had undertaken to the point of securing a grant for the new building from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation, and which he did not live to see realized. Since her father’s death, Mrs. Kellogg served as president of the Derby Neck Library Association and until a few weeks ago she assisted in the library work on those afternoons in which it was open. Her cousin, Miss Helen Krehbiel, librarian for many years, died July 10 last.

Active in Church

Mrs. Kellogg was an active and lifelong member of the Derby Methodist Church and did a great deal on behalf of the church. She served for many years on various committees and was also a member of the official board of the church

Many Activities

Mrs. Kellogg was a woman of many and varied activities. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the Griffin Hospital. She also served as a member of the Board of Zoning Appeals for the City of Derby for a number of years, being a member at the time of her death. Some years ago she purchased the Shelton property on Seymour Avenue, containing the ancestral home, a greystone mansion, of Edward N. Shelton, and later sold the property to the City of Derby, the New Irving School now occupying the site. She was a director and longtime member of the Connecticut State Forest and Park Association.

When in 1917, Irving H. Peck conceived the idea of a supervised swimming camp on Lake Housatonic, Mrs. Kellogg offered the use of her property on the riverfront as the site of what is now the Recreation Camp.

In 1901, Mrs. Kellogg organized the Derby Choral Club, which began with a small group of women singers, and soon grew into a mixed chorus of 250 voices which for 16 consecutive seasons presented a public musicale here until the death of its director, Dr. Horatio W. Parker.

Mrs. Kellogg served as a member of the Derby Board of Education representing the Second Ward for two terms aggregating eight years.

She was a member of the Lower Naugatuck Valley Business and Professional Women’s Club.

She was also a longtime member of the Sarah Riggs Humphreys Chapter, D.A.R.

Funeral Saturday

Mrs. Kellogg’s nearest surviving relatives are several cousins.

Funeral services will take place Saturday afternoon at 2 o’clock at the late residence, 500 Hawthorne Avenue. Internment will be in the family plot in Oak Cliff Cemetery. There will be no calling hours.    

November 14, 1956 – Harry Haugh, Electronics Pioneer, Dies Suddenly

Harry A. Haugh Jr., of Orange, a native of Derby and long time resident here, who won nationwide recognition for his invention of the electromatic traffic signal, died suddenly this morning while on a business trip in Camden, N.J.

Registered at the Walt Whitman Hotel, he was taken suddenly ill and was removed to Cooper Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Mr. Haugh is survived by his wife, Mrs. Katherine Hobbs Haugh, of Race Brook Terrace, Orange, where he had resided for the past few years. Previously they had made their home on New Haven Avenue, Derby.

Henry Armour Haugh, Jr., was born May 3, 1896, in the family home at Minerva and Fifth Streets, son of the late Henry A. and Harriet E. Johnson Haugh. His father was a well known piano tuner and musician. A brother, Willard A. Haugh, died several years ago in Norwich.

Mr. Haugh was educated in the Derby Public Schools and was graduated from the Derby High School with the Class of 1915. In 1916, after working a year, he began his studies at Sheffield Scientific School at Yale from which he was graduated with a degree of electrical engineering in 1920. His high scholastic standing at the University won him recognition by Sigma Psi Kappa and Phi Beta Kappa, national honor societies. He served as an instructor the scientific school at the University for several years.

His invention of the electromatic traffic signal, which revolutionized traffic control by vehicular activation won him national acclaim. He began work on it in the early 20’s. 

He used to say the idea was first conceived when he observed increasing auto traffic and traffic delay under the overhead traffic signals at Main and Elizabeth Streets in his home city of Derby.

His original idea, later improved upon, has undergone improvements in later years. It provided for a strip of rubber on a highway which when passed over by a number of automobiles stored up electronic impulses which served to adjust the changes of the light to the volume of traffic in any direction.

He was associated with Eugene D. Sterling, Walter G. Garland, and Charles D. Geer, all of whom he had known at Yale, in laboratory tests and experiments which eventually led to the patenting of this traffic control system.

The Automatic Signal Corporation was organized for manufacture of the equipment in 1928. 

One of the first installations was at Orange and Humphreys Streets in New Haven. It attracted wide attention at the time.

Derby, Mr. Haugh’s hometown, was among the first to install this type of light which it installed at Atwater and Seymour Avenues.

The Automatic Signal Corporation originally located its factory in New Haven but some years later moved to Norwalk, and later merged with the Eastern Engineering Corporation under the name Eastern Industries, Inc., with offices at 101 Skiff Street, Hamden. It has plants in Hamden, Norwalk, and Newton, Mass.

Mr. Haugh was employed as an engineer by the company and was on a business trip for the concern when he was fatally stricken this morning.

Even as a boy, Mr. Haugh was interested in electricity and its uses and conducted many experiments. He was one of the first residents of Derby to own a wireless, which he had made himself. This was before the advent of radio bearing the spoken message. The early wireless carried Morse code signals and later international code signals.

First news of the great Titanic disaster of 1912 was picked up by Mr. Haugh directly from his wireless set. The young men was listening to press wireless reports in code from Europe when he heard word of the worst disaster in western maritime history. He told neighbors who were incredulous, for the Titanic had been heralded as unsinkable.

Mr. Haugh was quiet and reserved, but was blessed with a wonderful disposition and a delightful sense of humor that close friends found charming. He was a member of the Derby Methodist Church from boyhood.

January 31, 1957 – Great Names in Entertainment World Played Capitol

The story of vaudeville, its heyday prior to the “talkies” and its demise was told by John R. Shields, retired manager of the Capitol Theater, at the weekly luncheon meeting of the Ansonia Rotary Club, Wednesday, at the YMCA.

Mr. Shields, who was in the theater business for 40 years prior to his retirement last June, recalled that some of the big names in the entertainment field played the Capitol Theater, including the late Fred Allen, Lillian Roth, William Frawley, now a member of the “I Love Lucy” TV cast; ventriloquist Edgar Bergin; opera star Lawrence Tibbett and comedian George Burns, then without Gracie Allen.

Mr. Shields said the vaudeville artists used to like to play the Capitol because it had two shows a day. Because the Capitol was an independent theater it was able to book the outstanding entertainers of the period.

The speaker, introduced by Judge Carl A. Lundgren, who was in charge of the program, described two of the many incidents which harass the life of a theater manager.

He told of an elephant act which he booked for the Sterling Theater, Derby. He mentioned the difficulty in getting the pachyderm, a small one, to climb the 22 steps leading to the orchestra of the Sterling Theater and up a specially built ramp to the stage. The elephant was just about to step over the footlights when it slipped and crashed to the floor, hit the piano, and bounced across the hall.

The elephant knocked over seats and created a “mess” which necessitating canceling the matinee performance, Mr. Shields said.

Fell to Street

Another experience involved five lions, he said. He recalled the difficulty encountered in getting the individually crated lions into the Sterling Theater by block and tackle and how the rope snapped on the fifth cage and it fell to the street.

Mr. Shields said the act was booked for a show scheduled to open on a Monday but that the animals arrived on a Thursday. He said he was notified by the Derby police of the arrival of the animals whose crates had fallen off the truck transporting them on the Derby-Shelton Bridge causing a little commotion.

Republican Lion

He mentioned that on the Sunday, preceding the performance, the Democratic Party was holding a rally at Sterling Theater. The principal speaker was David E. Fitzgerald, mayor of New Haven and candidate for Governor.

The crated lions were backstage and during Mr. Fitzgerald’s speech one of the cats gave out with a loud roar. The audience broke into laughter. The Democratic candidate for governor was unruffled. He quipped: “That fellow is a Republican”.

Mr. Shields said on the second day of the performance one of the lions attacked the trainer and the other cats, smelling blood began jumping around the cage which was on stage.

“Six women in the audience fainted. What a night that was!”

The last performance of vaudeville at the Capitol Theater was in November 1928, Mr. Shields said. The first “talkie” was “Sonny Boy” with the late Al Jolson.

What contributed to the discontinuance of vaudeville acts in the Capitol Theater, Mr. Shields said, was the increase in costs.

Mr. Shields said the movie business today is “bad”. He attributed this, not to the advent of television, but rather to the automobile, which he said is the movie industry’s greatest competition.

He pointed out that the local theater had its best years during “gas rationing”. He said the theater once played to half a million customers per year.

Dr. Edward C. Gardella,  president, presided at the luncheon meeting. Guests were Robert and Ronald Barth, twins, of the Pine High School. Howard Joyce was the song leader. Rev. Ward I. Crawford, pastor of the First Baptist Church, gave the invocation.

April 23, 1957 – May Cost City $60,000 to Fill Tail Race Which in 1844 Made Industrial Ansonia Possible

Back in 1844, after dickering unsuccessfully with Squire Booth who lived in what was later the Halfway House, which stood at the time at what is now Division Street and Clifton Avenue, Anson G. Phelps bought the Kinneytown Dam, raised it, and began to build the foundation for the industrial village of Ansonia on the east side of that lovely stream1 known as the Naugatuck River.

He had originally planned to do his building on the West Side, as an extension of the industrial village of Birmingham (now the center of Derby) which had been started in 1833, but the squire wanted a wad of dough, Anson thought it was a holdup and Anson didn’t get capital to go around founding industrial villages by getting clipped by country squires. So he hired an engineer named Clouse to look over the terrain on the east side of said delightful stream and the engineer jumped out of his boots with enthusiasm, as engineers have a habit of doing.

As a result, Squire Booth awakened one morning, in the words of a contemporary chronicler, to gaze across the fair stream and its meadow to behold 400 Irishmen with picks and shovels and wheelbarrows.

They were laying the foundations of industrial Ansonia. The foundations were the canal Phelps built from Kinneytown Dam to Tremont Street. There were no electric power plants in those days. William Wallace, who was to invent the electric light and to design the most useful early dynamo, wasn’t around yet. The water from the canal turned water wheels as it dropped from the canal and the water wheels turned the wheels of infant Ansonia’s infant industries.

The water power was to help produce clocks, lamps, novelties, copper and brass sheets, and a host of other products which were to make Ansonia’s name known around the world.

But as the water dropped from the height of the canal to the level of the river, it had to go someplace. So Mr. Clouse, being a good engineer, built a tail race to convey it to the Naugatuck River.

Ansonia’s Main Street did not exist in those days. It grew up along the tail race, one end of which crossed Main Street at the corner of Bridge Street (which incidently was known as Bartlett Street at first) and ran north parallel with what is now Main Street as far as the Cliffway.

In the center of the tail race, underneath the G. C. Murphy Store, Clouse put the outflow of the tail race to the river.

The tail race made Ansonia. It was its foundation. Without it Anson G. Phelps would have been unable to have started an industrial village to which he modestly appended a Latin feminine form of his own first name.

As the industrial village grew, and men pioneered in electricity, William Wallace perfected his dynamo, which Ansonia High School seniors have seen at the Smithsonian Institute on their pilgrimages to the nation’s capital. Smithsonian also houses Wallace’s first electric arc light, which preceded Edison’s incandescent lamp and lighted the streets of Ansonia for years.

Immediate water power was no longer necessary to turn water wheels as electric turbines whirled generators to produce electric power which could be carried over wires for miles. Eventually, there was no need for the great canal which 400 Irishmen with picks and shovels and wheelbarrows had started building in 1844. Most of it was abandoned. Forty Acre Pond and the cove below Kinneytown were retained. A pipe replaced the canal as far south as First Street. The rest of it was filled in. The huge banks were leveled, the great pond behind the copper millwas filled in. East Main Street was constructed.

The canal, built by Phelps, became the property of the Ansonia Land and Water Power Company and later the American Brass Company, and the latter in giving the land for East Main Street deeded the canal property on which East Main Street was built, together with the tail race, to the City of Ansonia, which emptied its storm drainage from these streets into it.

When the Copper Mill was torn down and the pond east of Main Street removed, there was no flow of water through the tail race excepting storm water which drained into the tail race. This had drained North Cliff Street and Main Street storm water from the time those streets were built. It became the city’s job to maintain the tail race into which its storm water from South Cliff and Main Street and the new East Main Street emptied.

After the second flood3, Mayor William T. Sheasby persuaded the Army Corps of Engineers to give the city funds equivalent to the cost of removing the debris from the tail race to be applied to the construction of the city’s first storm water drains under Main Street. The outfalls of these now are located at the end of Bank Street and below Bridge Street.

With no storm water flowing into the race from city lines, there is still roof drainage flowing into the race from some of the buildings which were built over the tail race. There were some buildings emptying sanitary sewage into the race. The Board of Health had these traced. At present, only one building now drains sanitary sewage into the race, and the owners have been ordered to connect with the domestic sewer.

There are still pockets of stagnant water in the race.

These are a cause of the odors which cause annoyance.

The Board of Health, at the request of Mayor Joseph A. Doyle, met with the aldermen and tax board and other officials recently to consult with the city engineers about filling in the race.

This, according to Assistant City Engineer Charles Pearson can be accomplished most economically by sluicing from the Naugatuck River, deepening the channel at the same time. According to one rough, unofficial estimate, this will cost over $50,000, perhaps $60,000.

NOTES

  1. This is a play to the news article’s contemporary audience. The polluted Naugatuck River was anything but lovely in 1957, and less than two years before had delivered two devastating floods through the center of Ansonia.
  2. Anson Phelps’ copper mill was once located on Main Street, across from the head of Bridge Street. After it was torn down, Bridge Street was extended.
  3. The “second flood” occurred in October 1955. This followed the first flood in August of that year.

April 30, 1958 – Howard & Barber Marks 100th Anniversary

The staff of Howard & Barber’s in 1884. In the photo are Joe Martin, John Hawkins, Nona Roche, Minnie Nettleton, Lucius Curtis, “Lou” Bassett, Lizzie Dunham, Virginia Brisbois, Fanny Wilbur, and Lizzie Pitcarin. In the windows at left are curtains and drapes. Rugs and matting are displayed in the window at the right. Over the entranceway is a suspended gas light with a display case below it. At lower right is the entrance to a barbershop in the basement of the store. Sign hung sideways on pillar at entrance right advises the tenancy of the dentist upstairs.

Big Department Store Grew with Community, Kept Pace with Times

From the little dry goods store of Samuel H. Brush in 1858 to the Howard & Barber of 1958 is a century in time, and more than a century of change. Yet that little store on lower Main Street in the Borough of Birmingham was the start of a business that has continued for a hundred years.

Samuel H. Brush, born in Smithtown, Long Island, New York on August 10, 1835, is said to have started out in business as a peddler. He tired of travel early since he opened a little dry goods store in Birmingham in 1858. The exact location is not known. But evidently the business prospered, since in February, 1860, he leased from Henry Atwater the two stories under the Globe House for the magnificent sum of $200 per year. A year later he moved up Main Street to the Birdseye Building on the north side of Main Street between Caroline and Main Streets.

The early store carried little of the types of merchandise of today. Listed were silks from France, 18″ wide, Atlantic muslin, tinware, and we do mean tin, a little domestic and imported wallpapers, heavy fabrics for cloaks and suits, and some novelties. “Brush’s Cash Store” in the first advertisement found says –

S. H. Brush
Established 1858
Dealer in Dry Goods, Carpets,
Paper Hangings
Fancy Goods, Merchant Tailoring,
Dress and Cloak Making
101 Main Street
Birmingham, Conn.

In March of 1869 “Brush’s Cash Store” was removed from 101 Main Street to the top of the hill location occupied previously by Lyon Bros. & Co. This is also where the Derby Transcript was published.

Samuel Brush built the spacious home at 166 Minerva Street, Derby now the residence of Dr. W. H. Treat. The exterior of the home was completed, but before the interior could be completed there came the stock market crash of that period and Samuel Brush was not able to complete the home. He sold the unfinished home to Dr. Treat’s grandfather, Lyman L. Loomer and that transaction called for a certain amount of cash plus the stone house at the corner of Minerva Street at Third.

He was married to an Elizabeth Curtiss and there were three daughters. Two daughters died as infants. The third grew to maturity and married to a new doctor who had moved into the area, Dr. Richardson. They had one son, Henry B. Richardson who had attended the local schools and graduated from Yale in 1906. He resides in New Haven and is a professor of French languages at Yale.

Mr. Brush died on Sept. 28, 1876 at the age of 42 after 18 years in business in Birmingham. His death resulted from an unusual accident. He was riding with a lady in a carriage. It started to rain, so he stood up to cover the lady with a raincoat. He fell from the carriage, and the resulting injuries causing his death some days later. He was a Mason and Odd Fellow. Mr. Brush is buried in Oak Cliff Cemetery with his wife and infant daughters.

The Derby Transcript, original weekly newspaper in the Valley, carried the following news item in its issue of Dec. 14th, 1876. “Mr. Charles B. Boothe, who has purchased the stock of goods remaining at the old stand of the late Mr. S. H. Brush, is hard at work with the administrators of the estate, in inventorying the same, and purposed to reopen the establishment for business on Saturday of this week if possible, failing on that, on the Monday or Tuesday following. Mr. Boothe will open with a large and varied assortment dry goods fresh from the market, which together with the old stock on hand, will be sold at the very lowest possible prices and strictly for cash. His advertisement will appear next week. Mr. Dibble, Mr. Haskell and Miss Dunham will remain with Mr. Boothe, and the old established reputation of this noted stand is to be fully maintained”.

Mr. Boothe’s first ad as run in the Transcript was as follows:

To the People of Birmingham, Ansonia and adjoining towns C. B. BOOTHE Has taken the popular and reliable Dry Goods Store, known as “BRUSH’S CASH STORE” and is now thoroughly restocking it with new and desirable goods. New goods are constantly being received. Goods marked in plain figures. “Goods, goods at low prices for Cash” One Price

A feature on the Dec. 21, 1876 in the Derby Transcript under the heading “Among the Shops” says “Next to this store, the store of our departed friend and brother S. H. Brush, whose virtues are remembered, yet whose place is just taken by C. B. Boothe. Success to this successor. He brings with him a good reputation and we trust the old store may live to ‘buzz’ again like the busy ‘hive’ it was under the departed.

Mr. Boothe was successful enough so another move was in order. When the original Howard & Barber building was finished in 1877, built by A. H. and C. B. Alling he moved again. He continued in business at that location until 1883 when he decided to retire.

He advertised the business for sale in a Boston paper and “posted” it with the Boston Wholesalers. The ad came to the attention of two young men from Milford, New Hampshire, George E. Barber and Charles R. Howard. They came to Birmingham, looked over the store and checked its figures. Since they had little money, they went back to think it over. A month later, on December 23, 1883 they came to an agreement with Mr. Boothe, they to take over sometime about February 1, 1884.

After paying all the cash the two partners could scrape up, and signing notes for the balance to Mr. Boothe, they still had to have new merchandise for the opening. Mr. Barber went to the two wholesale centers, Boston and New York, explained the situation and asked for additional credit. He was surprisingly successful so Howard and Barber was successfully launched.

Prices were really low in those days. While it was some years after they started, Howard & Barber’s ad from the files of the Sentinel on April 3, 1898 is typical. They included: Gingham, four and a half cents a yard; kids gloves, sixty-nine cents; women’s hosiery, seven to nineteen cents a pair; dining room table, six leg, with six foot extension, five dollars; three piece chamber suit, nine dollars and a half; brass trimmed beds, three dollars and a half; five piece embroidered velour, upholstered mahogany finish frame parlor suite, twenty-five dollars; and corduroy covered couches, five dollars to seven and a half. Illustrations were seldom used and usually the same for several days running.

With the rapid spread of the lower Naugatuck valley in those early years of partnership, the business likewise expanded rapidly. By the time of the completion of the Board of Trade Building to the west, also built by A. H. & C. B. Alling, in 1891, physical expansion was indicated. So arrangements were made to lease the main and lower floors in the new building. This, like the original building, had three floors below the main floor.

At that time a corporation was formed by the partners to operate a separate business specializing in furniture and floor coverings. At this time another young man, Frederick F. Abbot, also a former resident of Milford, New Hampshire, joined the company. Mr. Abbot, long active in civic affairs in the communities, soon became secretary of the new corporation.

This was only the first expansion. Not long afterward, the need for more space became evident. So when in 1900 the Allings decided to put up a storehouse in the rear of 250-260 Main Street, two more floors were added and these two floors connected with the original store. In the spring of 1901 the new fashion floor and lower floor of domestics, linens, and fabrics was opened.

The first break in the ranks came in 1898 with the death of Mr. Howard. At that time, the partnership of Howard & Barber and The Howard and Barber Company were merged into one corporation. In 1902 Mr. Barber assumed the management of the Star Pin Co., though he remained active as president, director, and advisor of The Howard & Barber Co. until his death in 1941. With the diversion of Mr. Barber’s activities, Charles A. Cock, who had been in business in Ansonia until being burned out, came to Howard & Barber “temporarily” to help out. The temporary association lasted almost fifty-five years, until Mr. Cock’s death in 1956.

Later expansion included moving into a new building put up in 1913 to the west of the Board of Trade building, again the main and lower floors being occupied by Howard & Barber. This brought the area occupied to over 30,000 square feet, ample for any future expansion.

In 1939, Arthur M. Reed came to the store as general manager. Miss Barber became president of the Company upon the death of her father in 1941. During the next ten years the physical layout of the store and the fixtures were all changed, the modernization including a change from the mahogany of the early 1900s to the light maple of today.

In 1955 Richard M. Bollinger joined the company as merchandise manager of furniture, floor coverings, and housewares. At that time, Miss Barber asked to be relieved as president and Mr. Reed was elected to that office. Present officers include Mr. Reed as president and treasurer, Mr. Bollinger as secretary, Mrs. Pearl F. Rourke as assistant secretary, and John T. O’Keefe as store manager.

Now Howard & Barber is celebrating its Centennial Year. Many events have been planned. The famous brand manufacturers whose merchandise Howard & Barber sells have cooperated to start the event tomorrow, the biggest in the local department store’s history. There will be outstanding features in all twenty-seven of the store’s departments with unadvertised items in all.

The Howard & Barber buildings prior to their demolition in 2005

History of Revenue Stamped Paper

The Derby Historical Society is fortunate to have many contributors to the history of the Valley willing to share their research with us. The story and graphics below are a perfect example as Col. Don Woodworth shares with us the interesting story of an earlier form of taxation at a time when taxes are very much a part of the national political debate. Check out Col. Woodworth’s interesting story of Abraham Lincoln’s efforts to raise tax revenues for the government.

Connecticut Revenue Stamped Paper
By Col. Don Woodworth, USAF (Ret.)
O’Fallon, IL

I am a former resident of Connecticut who has lived for a long time in Illinois.  I grew up in Oxford and was educated there, in Waterbury, and Storrs.  My father and his father spent the better part of their working lives with Farrel-Birmingham in Derby and Ansonia, so there’s a soft spot in my heart for the Valley.  A large part of my interest in Connecticut revenue stamped paper thus stems from its use as an antidote for home sickness as my wife of 40+ years is from St. Louis, MO and has been holding me hostage in the mid-West for the past 26.  (-: (-:

Revenue stamped paper came about as the result of President Abraham Lincoln signing the tax Act of July 1 1862 which created the Office of Internal Revenue within the Treasury Department and also established a comprehensive series of taxes, the payment of which could be shown by “adhesive stamps, or stamped paper, vellum, or parchment.”  Stamped paper, commonly referred to as “revenue stamped paper” by stamp collectors, consisted of such documents as insurance policies, stock certificates, bank checks, bank drafts, and receipts with the revenue stamp(s) printed directly upon them.  The last of the taxes imposed under this act were not lifted until July 1 1883.  Similar taxes were again imposed during the Spanish-American War (1898-1902).

The original 1862 tax on checks was for two cents on any check of $20.00 or more.  As many people avoided the tax by simply writing two separate smaller checks, the law was changed in 1865 to encompass checks of any amount – giving rise to the existence of revenue stamped paper.  Where it might not have originally made sense for a business firm to have a supply of checks printed on revenue stamped paper when a good proportion of the checks they issued might have been issued tax free, once the law was changed to encompass all checks, it then made sense for many firms to have such checks printed.  Revenue stamps, which could also be used on checks, were susceptible to pilferage, but checks printed on revenue stamped paper were largely immune to the threat of pilferage.  Thus, such checks and related documents proliferated in the 1865-1883 time period and primarily for just checks in the 1898-1902 period.

Revenue stamped paper exists for all of the Union states and former Confederate states readmitted to the Union in 1865-1883, plus for several of the territories (ex. Utah).  The same applies to the Spanish-American War period.  There is an excellent Field Guide to Revenue Stamped Paper series (now out of print but usually available through philatelic book sellers) printed by Castenholz & Sons that catalog most known revenue stamped paper material.  This is an open-ended field, so new discoveries are often made – something that makes this area of collecting doubly interesting.  Part 5, The Eastern States, of the Castenholz series includes the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, D.C., and Ontario, Canada.  The focus here, of course, is on Connecticut.  

Revenue stamped paper was printed by security printers approved by the federal government.  After the taxed paper was printed, it could then be purchased by private printers who then printed checks and other documents upon it.  Printers printed sample books showing their work and a large variety of designs from which potential customers could choose.  A firm could choose a very plain type of check or, at higher cost, have very elegant art work printed.  There are some wonderful examples of such artwork on bank checks and drafts emanating from East Haddam, CT.  The focus here, though, is on the Naugatuck Valley towns of Ansonia and Birmingham (Derby).  Images of these checks, along with supporting historical information, have been supplied to the historical society.  The check from Ansonia bears an excellent engraving of what the interior of a late Victorian period factory might have looked like.  The checks from Birmingham are not quite as fancy but have the delightful advantage of being issued by a bank whose original premises still stand in the form of the Twisted Vine restaurant in Derby!

Collectors recognize 24 basic designs of revenue stamped paper and have assigned them designations of Type A through X.  There are no Types Y and Z.  The type designations are not governmental.  They have been assigned over time by collectors and are the standard basis for description in the Scott Specialized Catalog of United States Stamps and Covers – the bible of the stamp collecting fraternity for United States stamps.  Examples of revenue stamped paper from Connecticut are known for Types A, B, C, D, E, F, G, J. L, M, N, U, and X.  Type X applies only to the Spanish-American War period.  There are approximately 400 or so known different examples of Connecticut revenue stamped paper.  Types B, C, D, G, and X are the most common designs.  

As might be expected, the Connecticut cities most often represented are Bridgeport (53), Hartford (54), New Haven (60), New London (55), Norwich (55), and – most interestingly – East Haddam (62).  Items from the Naugatuck Valley are surprisingly uncommon – Ansonia (1), Birmingham (4), Seymour (1) and Waterbury (10).  This is rather surprising considering the industrial and commercial power house that the Valley was in the latter part of the 19th century and certainly during the time of the Spanish-American War.  The number that exists from little East Haddam is rather amazing, but this has to be a factor of happenstance in the number of checks that were saved as much as the number that were actually written.  

Most examples of Connecticut RSP are not expensive – many can be bought for $10-25.00.  A wide variety of designs are available.  There are several stamp dealers that specialize in this type of material for those that might be interested.  Over a period of years, I have managed to acquire the majority of the known Connecticut items plus a number of new discoveries.  A pet project of mine that has taken several years, and worn out the internet, has been to research information on the banks upon which the checks were written, the companies making the checks (if known) and the payer and payee of each check.  Each check in the Connecticut portion of my collection has been thus written up, though in the interest of brevity I’ve only shared those of Ansonia and Birmingham with the Derby Historical Society.  

I would be happy to answer questions from anyone that might wish additional information .

History of the Seymour Fire Alarm – By James Morgan

It was part of our childhood, the nine o’clock whistle warned all good children to be at home.  It was the voice of excitement, the herald of shiny fire apparatus thundering down the street toward a distant plume of smoke.  It was the call to battle, the harbinger of choking smoke and searing heat.  From the Tingue Opera House fire in 1882 to the Seymour Specialty Wire Fire in 1996 the firefighters of Seymour responded to the siren call of the local fire alarm.  To the families of the town the wives of members knew that there would be a empty seat at the dinner table they and the other citizens of the town would offer a prayer for the safety of the firemen.  The children would dream of the day when they too could enter the fight against the ‘red devil’.

It is no more, the whistle no longer blasts through the cold and the bell hangs silent in the tower.  Replaced by modern electronic pagers and condemned by equally modern suburbanites as a disturber of their peace.

Fire was not a stranger to the town of Seymour, even before the fire company was organized bells would ring from mills, churches and even private homes to announce the threat.  In 1940 such a bell which had hung on the home of Carlos French on Washington Avenue was presented at a ball of the company. The bell was given to an Episcopal Church on Cape Cod. 

When the Citizens Engine Company was first organized no alarm system was in existence.  By 1882 the deficiency was obvious. Members of the fire company recognized that “Some delay in getting to the engine house and fire showed the necessity of a more efficient arrangement for giving an alarm and a subscription paper was started by Wm. B. Swan, E.E. Adams and others for the purpose of raising funds to procure a bell.  Something over two hundred dollars was quickly raised, of which the members of the fire company contributed the greater share.  The bell was purchased and an appropriation was voted by the town to build a bell tower.”   Due to the relatively short distance that the department could cover dragging the heavy steamer and pulling the hose carts, the sounding of the bell at the firehouse covered two purposes.  First it alerted the citizenry to a fire in the town and second provided the manpower to move the apparatus.  The bell was intended to be sounded by a firefighter who had a key to the tower he would then pull a rope attached to the bell until the company arrived.  The company would then respond with their apparatus.

At the time of the Tingue Opera House fire the Seymour Transcript reported that “The tower had but just been completed and the bell placed in position, but the bell rope had not been attached, and the alarm was rung by a fireman who climbed up into the tower and swung the bell tongue by hand.”   This system worked well as many of the fire department members lived close by and could be awakened by the ringing bell.

With the growth of the town and the diversity of the membership the old system was no longer adequate.  One of the major problems with the system is that no matter where the fire was members had to travel to the fire house first instead of the shortest route to the fire.  Often the apparatus had left and the member had to play catch up.  Also the company had located hose carts in various places in the town and these could be put in service much faster than the centralized apparatus at the firehouse.  The fact that only members had keys was another serious problem.

In June of 1893 it was suggested by the Evening Sentinel that a system of signals be developed to indicate the location of the fire.  F.H. Beecher took the lead in developing the signal system which is the present system of the neighborhood fire alarm box location.  About the same time it was realized that the old bell was not sounding its full tone.  It was recognized that the striker was placed too far up the bell, which made the tone flat.  The old tongue was put in and strikes in the proper place which gives the desired tone.

Many of the Boxes and their location are familiar to present firefighters. Box 26 was Bank and Martha Streets, while others like box 24, the James Swan Company (Chisel Shop) on Mill Street and box 61, Derby Avenue, have faded with the changes of time.

About 1893 a fire alarm system of some sort was in use but it required that a member of the company with a key was required to send in the alarm.  An article in the Evening Sentinel stated, “At the fire in Vois’s barber shop this morning there has been some discussion in regard to the advisability of the fire company making provision whereby a person not a member of the company can readily send an alarm in case of fire.  There are two persons, at least, who feel there was a unnecessary delay in reaching the fire bell, Monday morning because the men who ran to the alarm had no key to the engine house.

‘If there where any delay which had serious consequences, should a fire be discovered in the dead of night any kind of disaster might result.

“In many volunteer fire engine houses a member of the company sleeps in the building, his room being connected with the outside by an electric bell.  Such a arrangement could undoubtedly be installed in the Citizens house..”

While nothing was done to install a fireman in the Citizens house to give the alarm at night the campaign for an alarm system continued.  Naugatuck installed a system of street boxes in 1899 and the Evening Sentinel printed the following article, “In less than a second after the hook inside the box is drawn to the bottom of the box, the alarm has begun to sound in the two hose houses in the borough…”·

While the need for a fire alarm system was obvious the old system of firemen sounding the location from the firehouse continued in use.  In 1900 a study done by Engineer James Smith concluded that the bell, now located in the tower of the new firehouse should be raised two feet.  It was found that the bell was located so low that the sound went down the tower rather than into the air. The necessary work was done for fifteen dollars.

By 1906 the need was pressing the Evening Sentinel editorialized, “Some sentiment has been expressed here occasionally, that a fire alarm would be a very good thing for Seymour, and that it would have a tendency to lessen fire insurance rates, and would be a safeguard for property.  At the present time word has to be gotten to some firemen in case of a blaze, and he is then supposed to ring an alarm.

“In some instances, there is quite a little confusion as to the location of a fire, and this would, of course, be done away with were there a fire alarm system.  It is learned that a fire alarm system in case the factory owners could be secured to co-operate with the town, for less than $1500.  In that case fire alarms would be located near the different factories, and would be of service to the neighborhood where they were, as well as to the factory people, the companies and the town bearing each, a proportion of the cost of installing the boxes.

“The cost of maintenance is said to be small, especially in such an alarm system as would meet all requirements in a town like Seymour.  A well known fire alarm man said that in a place like Seymour it could be maintained for $100 a year.  The advantages of a local fire alarm system seem almost too numerous to mention, over the present antiquated system of alarm.  People who live at some distance from the engine house have considerable risk, as a fire could easily gain damaging headway before the company could be called out.  That property owners have been fortunate in this respect is a matter of congratulation, but a fire alarm system would insure greater safety in the future.”

The fire alarm system, of twenty four street boxes, was contracted for in 1907.  Manufactured by the Gamewell Company the system was typical of the fire alarm systems being installed throughout the country.  The fire alarm system was powered by batteries installed in the fire house and kept charged by current drawn, at no charge, from the nearby trolley wires of the Connecticut Railway and Lighting Company.  The alarm was transmitted by a clockwork motor turning a wheel which opened and closed the circuit when “the hook” was pulled.  Of the twenty four original alarm boxes ten were installed at manufacturing plants.  One additional number, the “No School” signal could also be transmitted by sounding the Fire Alarm.

The new fire alarm system automatically sounded the bell in the firehouse by striking the bell with a hammer.  The hammer powered by a weight hanging in the tower.  The bell striker was activated by an Acme bell striking machine which is still located in the tower.  The firehouse also contained a punching tape machine to record the alarm and a combination gong/indicator.

Although the firehouse was centrally located the fire alarm often could not be heard throughout the town.  It was customary for the factory whistles of certain manufacturers to repeat the alarm, such as the Brass Mill whistle at Seymour Manufacturing, the whistle at the James Swan Company and the whistle at the Kerite Company.  The brass mill whistle and Swan Company whistle were activated automatically while the Kerite Company whistle was sounded manually by the Kerite Company watchman.

Although the fire whistles were installed on private property they were still the responsibility of the Town.  In 1938 the fire whistle at the Seymour Manufacturing failed having worn out.  It was replaced by a whistle borrowed from the Waterbury Fire Department.  Chief Swan, who took over the responsibility for restoring the whistle, tested three replacement whistles including one which had served on a steamboat from New London.  The whistle system had other problems.  When the manufacturing companies did not have steam, such as when the companies were shut down for vacation or holidays there was no way to sound the fire alarm except for the city owned bell.   On July 1, 1945, a fire occurred at the home of Mr. & Mrs. H. Dukely on Derby Avenue.  As the Seymour Manufacturing Company had been shut down for vacation the air raid siren was sounded to summon the firemen to the firehouse to bring the apparatus to the burning house.

By the 1940’s the fire alarm system was beginning to show its age.  Many of the alarm boxes were those installed in 1908.  The system itself was of the ‘interfering type’ which meant that an alarm sent from one box could interfere with the sending of a alarm from another box as was demonstrated by a fire in Beck’s Poultry barn on New Street, July 7, 1940.  “…the alarm was sent in from Box 51 at exactly 1:00 am. However only one gong sounded from the old box on New Street, as the coils, which had been repeatedly repaired during the life of the box gave up the ghost entirely….  Superintendent Ernest Culverwell today announced that box 51 is gone beyond recall.  A new box for New Street has been ordered and is expected to arrive this week. The coils are all gone he says.   Box 51 was an old box, so when the glass was shattered to turn in the alarm and the door left ajar, no other alarm could be sent in.  So the door had to be closed before the other alarms could be used”.

Interfering and broken fire alarm boxes were not the only problem with the alarm system.  Basically the fire alarm system only covered the downtown area.  The lack of hydrants and early warning doomed most buildings beyond the city limits.  On September 29, 1941 the popular restaurant Green Acres located on lower Derby Avenue approximately where Route 8 is now, burned to the ground.  In order to direct firefighters to the scene Box 62, the last box on Derby Avenue was sounded.

False alarms, a plague in later years, were rare in Seymour, a newspaper clipping from January 2, 1944 stated, “A false alarm sounded from Box 16, corner of Bank and Third, this is the first phony in several years.”

Mention should be made of the system of air raid sirens installed after entry into World War II.  A system of two large electric sirens was installed on the roof of the Pond Extract Company Mill and on the H. P. & E. Day Company.  these sirens remained in use throughout the war and afterward.

The problem of a lack of ability to sound the alarm when the various mills were not operational persisted.  As the result of a fire in June of 1949 at the Seymour Auto Company in which the whistle could not be sounded, it was decided to seek the installation of a air horn in the tower of the fire station.  The proposal was made by Chief Swan who estimated the cost at $2000.  A month later the need was reinforced by a fire in the main mill of the New Haven Copper Company.

The Evening Sentinel reported “An alarm was sounded with the bell on the firehouse tolling the three bells signifying a still alarm.  A few minutes later the air raid siren was sounded to call out the firemen…. Seymour’s whistle system cannot be used either this week or next week as the Seymour Manufacturing Company which supplies steam for the whistle is closed down for the annual vacation period….  This is the second time in three days that Seymour has had a fire without adequate means to sound the alarm”.

The whistle and a compressor and tank, installed in an addition on the east side of the firehouse were in place by 1951.  This system still was activated from the street boxes or from police headquarters in response to a telephone call.

The location of the new air horn in the tower of the fire house provided coverage for the center of town.  The alarm was sounded in the Great Hill area by a siren located near the fire house.

The Gamewell street box system was vulnerable to breaks and lightening strikes as well as mistakes by citizens.  In August of 1960 a lightning bolt knocked out the master panel and caused two flash fires.  With the fire alarm system disabled the alarm was sounded from the Civil Defense for a structure fire on Garden Street.

Nor was the system immune from man made disasters.  In September of 1961 a false alarm was sounded from Box 67 at Pearl and Grand.  This was immediately followed by the fire box at Maple and Pearl.  Firemen responding to the box found an old man with his unmailed missives before the box looking puzzled.

The technology was changing. Radios on fire apparatus dated from the late 1940’s, Chief Swan installed a radio in his private car which doubled as the Chiefs car for fire in Seymour in the late 1940’s.

By the 1950’s radios were available to firemen for monitoring radio transmissions.  These radios, which looked like the table radios available at the time, allowed firefighters to monitor the fire department frequency.  All transmissions on the frequency were heard and the radio had to be tuned by hand.  At first no effort was made to follow a procedure which would give a listener the location of the fire and other vital information.  As the radio was on at all times extraneous noises and chatter often invaded the household being quickly removed by a wife with a quick application of the “off” switch.

In the 1960’s the Plectron Company offered a alerting radio which could be placed on standby and activated by a tone transmitted from a dispatcher.  The radio could be used to transmit the alarm into the homes of firefighters having these units and would not subject the household to undue disturbance.  In the early sixties several valley towns equipped their fire departments with such systems including Oxford, Derby, Naugatuck, Watertown and Southbury.  Early in 1962 the firefighters of Seymour sent a letter to the Board of Selectmen to obtain a home alert system for the town.  The letter, signed by thirty five firemen, stated their letter was a plea not a petition, sent to the fire chiefs of Seymour that ‘we are interested in a radio system for home use’.  and that a system of this type would be beneficial to the town, as well as the firemen, adding more audible alerting units to the town fire alarm.

Housatonic River Ice

(Originally written in February 2004 by Robert Novak Jr. for the weekly newspaper Huntington Herald).

An “old-fashioned New England winter” had given way to a much-anticipated thaw at the end of January 1879. By February 2, winter had returned. The weekly local newspaper Derby Transcript reported that the day “was perhaps the bleakest day we have had for weeks…beginning in a storm and ending with a biting arctic wind”. By February 4, the weather had turned, and bluebirds had been sighted singing in nearby trees.

But perhaps one of the most interesting passages from that 125-year-old newspaper was a single sentence, reading, “There was lively trotting on the dam, Saturday”. What the paper was saying was that people were riding their horses for sport on the thick ice above the Ousatonic Dam, between Derby and Shelton.

While this may seem incredulous today, riding, and even racing horses upon the Housatonic River above the dam was actually quite commonplace in the late 19thcentury, which is why it was barely noted by the Transcript. Seventy-five years later, horses on the Housatonic River were mostly forgotten by all but a few, until the daily local newspaper Evening Sentinel ran an article on January 5, 1954, entitled “Old Time Winters on the Housatonic”, which began in part by saying “there is a whole generation of young people who have never seen the Housatonic above Derby frozen solid, bank to bank, with ice nine inches thick. Stories of horses, drawing cutter sleighs, racing up and down the solid surface of the stream seem fantastic to them”.

Horses, of course, were the only real means of transportation on local roads back then, other than walking or the occasional train or trolley. Just as we have different cars and trucks that perform different tasks today, there were horses bred for different purposes in those days. Draft horses, which were very common, were for pulling heavy loads, while lighter horses might be employed for carriages and general riding.

Physicians often bought the swiftest of the horses, which were very expensive,, since most of their practice was composed of house calls. It was pride in their horses that lead the physicians of Derby and Shelton to take the lead in the ice racing above the dam. They were not the only ones in the Valley with swift horses, of course, but the Sentinel noted that they were always very well represented. And there was always quite a crowd of ice skaters, braving the bitter wind that would howl down the river, on their homemade or store-bought skates, for an audience. Most of the races were on Sundays, the universal Day of Rest back then, when the crowds were highest.

The horses were equipped with caulks on their horseshoes to give them firm footing. Sometimes they drew sulkies or sleighs. In a follow-up to the 1954 Sentinelarticle, elderly Derby resident John Fayden would recall two days later “In one of those years I remember when there was a horse race on the ice. I think one of the ponies was owned by McDermott of Orange and I think the other horse may have been owned by someone with the name of Donovan from Shelton. I remember the thrill of seeing those horses coming down the river on the ice. The starting place must have been just above the Recreation Camp (still on Roosevelt Drive in Derby), and the finish line must have been (just above the Yale Boathouse)”.

The ice was used for more than just skating and racing. Local ice companies, such as the Derby-Ansonia Ice Company, and later the Huntington Ice Company, would harvest the ice, cutting it into blocks, and pushing it with long poles down a narrow channel into a nearby ice house. The ice blocks, weighing over 200 pounds, would be packed in straw and stored in the nearby icehouses.

When the warm weather came, and the Housatonic ice was but a pleasant memory, the enclosed ice wagons would lumber down Valley streets, pulled by the heavy draft horses that would never even be considered to race on the Housatonic River. Regular customers would indicate if they needed ice by placing special cards in a window. The Sentinel recalled young children would often follow, hitching rides on the scales on the back of the wagons, and snatching whatever scraps of ice would fall to the ground on hot summer days.

The icemen, who were by necessity usually large, muscular men, would cut a smaller block of ice from the larger one, and carry it with a big set of tongs to the family icebox. Bare in mind there were four story high apartments buildings in the area back then, with no elevators! Usually this would occur on weekdays, when husbands were at work and children were at school, so the iceman would have no help.

Reaching the icebox, the block would be dropped into the top compartment. The iceman would keep trimmers handy in case the block was too big. Once in place, the ice would provide refrigeration, until it melted, and once again the card would be placed in the window to catch the iceman’s attention.Not every winter was as cold as 1879 or 2004, of course, and there were winters where there would be little or no ice harvest at all. When that occurred, the ice companies would send crews up the Housatonic, to Stockbridge in Massachusetts or even higher, to harvest ice upstream. Sending the crews and bringing the ice down to Derby was a costly proposition, and the expense was passed on to the customers. Just as gas prices rise and fall based on world events today, local residents knew a mild winter would lead to high ice prices in the summer.

Remembering the Valley’s Spring of 1953

(originally published in the Spring 2003 Derby Historical Society newsletter)

One of the unifying themes fifty years ago was rain! The Ansonia Water Company labeled March of 1953 its wettest March since 1923, with 12.81” of rain. By May 8, it had rained 68 out of the 128 days of the year so far in 1953, with a total of 30.58”.

The historic “Greystone” mansion on Elizabeth and Caroline Streets became the property of the City of Derby on March 24, 1953. Constructed by Edward N. Shelton in 1836, the 3.3-acre property remained in his family until sold to Mrs. Waldo S. Kellogg in 1941. Mr. Shelton was president of the Shelton Tack Company and chairman of the Ousatonic Water Company. The City of Shelton is named after him.

Demolition of Greystone began April 1. In the meantime, there was some controversy on what to call the new school that was to arise there. Among the ideas was naming it “New Irving School”, after the school it was replacing, as well as nods to the property’s past, including “Shelton School” and “Greystone School”.

            The Valley witnessed a number of other prominent real estate transactions. Among the properties changing hands were Derby’s Commodore Hull theater, the Hotel Clark, and the Nathan’s Hall/Gould Armory building on 204-224 Main Street. Ansonia’s IOOF hall on 54-62 Main Street was sold to the Ansonia Brass Workers Building Fund.

While some old structures were being destroyed or sold, new ones being built. Housatonic Printing and Dyeing completed a new boiler house on Roosevelt Drive April. Construction began on a new Drive-In theater upon Pioneer Field, located on Derby Meadows off Division Street near the Naugatuck River, on April 9. The  same day, across the river, a tall, rusting steel smokestack stack at the former brewery on Derby Avenue developed a bad kink about ten feet from its top and city officials huddled to solve the problem.

A prominent son of Derby passed away in late March. Brother Adelphus Patrick was born James McKenzie on March 19, 1893 on Bank Street, and attended Franklin School. He was president of Manhattan College 1932-1938. It is interesting to note a fellow Franklin School alumni who passed away a few years before, Rev. George Dillon, was a past president of Providence College.

A major redecoration of St. Michael’s Church was completed on April 8, just as a renovation of the Seymour Congregational Church was about to begin. The same day, the Derby Historical Society held our Annual Meeting down the street at the First Congregational Church. Bertrand DeForest was reelected President, a post he had served for all but one year since the Society’s founding. Among the highlights were the donation of a history of liberty poles on Derby Green by former mayor James Atwater, along with a newel post from Greystone and two oil paintings from the Blakeman family. The meeting concluded with President DeForest giving a talk on Native Americans and the region’s early settlement.

St. Michael’s would be struck by tragedy ten days later when their pastor of 15 years, Father Joseph Swaltek, passed away. A native of Poland, Father Swaltek had been ill since January, and the tolling of the church bells at 3:00 PM to announce his death was greeted with sadness and regret. His funeral, presided by Hartford Bishop Henry O’Brien at St. Michael’s two days later, was heavily attended.

One of the biggest non-events to occur was the Carnegie Cup Regatta, hosted by Yale University on the Housatonic River. In years past university students, became so unruly that the annual Derby Day festival which coincided with the regatta was cancelled. This year, with the notable exception of one incident in Shelton, a much smaller, orderly crowd of about 2,500 watched Cornell’s scull beat Yale and Princeton.            May concluded with interesting events in Ansonia. About a dozen residents of Wooster and Clifton Avenue were about to become homeless, as their apartments were in the way of the new Ansonia-Derby expressway (Route 8). Two of them, along with Mayor Sheasby, appeared on behalf of the group on the television show “Strike-It-Rich”, hosted by Warren Hull. The group won $550. Meanwhile, downtown, the new N.M. Landau store opened in the former Boston Store on Main and Bridge Streets, with much fanfare. The store, composed of 50 departments on three floors, was mobbed on its opening day of May 28.

Steamboat Ansonia

Speech presented by Robert Novak Jr.
Executive Director of Derby Historical Society
While Presenting the SS Ansonia painting to the City of Ansonia
Board of Aldermen Meeting – December 12, 2000

As part of the Valley-wide River Festival celebrated last October, Ansonia resident Dr. Margaret Gibbs and I began researching the early steamboats which plied the Housatonic river in the 19th century. Among other things, we were searching for any steamboats which bore names of Lower Naugatuck Valley cities and towns. After a wide search, which enlisted the aid of Mystic Seaport, we found the only ship which fit that category was the SS Ansonia.

Mystic also revealed the Mariners’ Museum of Newport News, Virginia, had an original painting of the ship by noted maritime watercolor artist J.F. Huge of Bridgeport in 1850. After some negotiations with the Museum, the Derby Historical Society obtained permission to have two copies of Huge’s paintings made. One now hangs at the General David Humphreys House on Elm Street, commemorating the maritime career of Humphreys business partner, and later owner of the Humphreys House, Thomas Vose, who sailed the very first steamboat up the Housatonic River in 1824. We eventually plan to make it part of a transportation exhibit at the Howe House Industrial Museum.

The second painting is the one I shall unveil before you now. We based the frame upon those already hanging in the portrait gallery in the City Hall corridor.

Ansonia was a side wheeled steamboat built in Brooklyn, New York, in 1848 for the Naugatuck Transportation Company. She was 412 tons, 188 feet long, 27 feet wide, one of the largest boats on the Housatonic River. Her first captain was George Denning. At the time of her completion, the Naugatuck Transportation Company was in direct competition with the steamboats from Bridgeport.

Ansonia’s original normal ports of call were Derby (at the bottom of Commerce Street), Stratford, and Bridgeport, where she carried freight and passengers. The Commerce Street docks were connected to Ansonia factories via an electric locomotive. In 1851, one year after Huge painted her, she added New York to her itinerary, which she could reach in six hours. A period advertisement called her “beautiful as a duck and can give entire satisfaction to all who may have the occasion to embark on board of her for the great metropolis”. A strange agreement in 1852 saw Ansonia and the a Bridgeport line boat named Cataline, and later SS Bridgeport, running between New York and Bridgeport on opposite days, carrying freight only. 

She was later bought by the Hudson River’s Saugerties Line and renamed Ulster, and in 1920 was enlarged, rebuilt, and named Robert A. Snyder. The last word we have on the boat is that it was still in service as of 1923, making it likely that she served at least until the Great Depression. The steamboat was one of the longest serving steamboats in American history.

While we were previously aware of the existence of a steamboat named Ansonia, we were not aware that such a fine portrait of it had been painted 150 years ago, or that it was the only town in our Valley to have a steamer named after it. We have visited Government Centers in larger cities, and admired namesake ship paintings or models in their corridors, and also noting the portrait gallery hanging in this building. Not every city is lucky enough to have a ship named after it. Although copying and framing the portrait was done at considerable expense, we feel it will be a worthy addition to the portrait gallery, and its presence will inspire pride and the imagination of present and future Ansonia residents.

Valley Links to the Titanic Sinking

by Robert Novak Jr.
Originally written February 25, 1998 (with a couple updates since)

“CQD. SOS. FROM MGY (TITANIC). WE HAVE STRUCK ICEBERG. SINKING FAST. COME TO OUR ASSISTANCE.” -General distress call sent from the steamship RMS Titanic’s wireless telegraph, at 12:45 AM, on Monday, April 15, 1912. She sank less than two hours later, taking 1,503 lives with her.

TITANIC BADLY DAMAGED BUT IS STILL AFLOAT” “It is probable that all of the passengers of the Titanic are safe…the Titanic is reported to be making her way toward Halifax under her own steam…” “…the wireless telegraph. By this means of mystic communication the world was informed of the peril of over 2000 human souls, and its anxiety is somewhat lessened by the assurance that such other ships a-sea are rushing (to assist)”. “The interest in the accident that happened to Titanic last night was considerably increased this morning when it became known that among the passengers on the steamship were Philip Mock, and his sister Mrs. Paul Schabert (both of Derby)”. -Front page headline and text from the local newspaper Evening Sentinel, April 15, 1912, over twelve hours after the Titanic sank.

“1,350 LIVES LOST WITH THE ILL-FATED TITANIC – INDIGNATION FELT” “…the anxiety of the friends of Mrs. Paul Schabert and Philip E. Mock, which were allayed yesterday upon the receipt of the reassuring news, was increased many fold. It was not until a list of the passengers that had been rescued had been received and found to contain these names that these fears all quieted…To Mrs. Ellen Elliot (of Seymour) and members of her family the news was of special and painful interest because of the fact that William Murdoch, chief officer of the Titanic, is Mrs. Elliot’s cousin. Mr. Murdoch paid a visit to Mrs. Elliot…only about a month ago”. -Headlines and text from The Evening Sentinel, April 16, 1912. The New York newspapers first began receiving the truth about the disaster from the White Star line that morning.

Anyone who saw the recent blockbuster movie “Titanic” will remember William Murdoch. He was at the helm of the Titanic when the iceberg was struck. It was he who ordered “full reverse!”, which while seeming to make the most sense at the time, actually became part of the tragic chain which doomed the ship, as it caused her to make a wider turn than she would have under full speed. Moviegoers will also remember the Murdoch character as the one who threw a bribe back at a first class passenger at the lifeboats, as the man who lost his cool and shot a steerage passenger, then in remorse saluted another officer and shot himself. There is no evidence that Murdoch, or anyone else shot passengers on the Titanic, and there is some, but very little evidence stating that Murdoch shot himself. The Titanic director was, at best, taking creative liberties with the character.

The real William Murdoch was one of the best officers in the White Star Line, which is why he was placed second in command of their grandest ship. On April 19, word came to the Valley that Murdoch had not survived. The Evening Sentinel reported he was “well known here”, and said he “…did all that could be done in the emergency and died feeling that he had not been found wanting when the crisis came”. In addition to having family relations in Seymour, he had two life-long friends in Ansonia. Occasionally, he would visit the Valley to visit friends and family.   

It’s interesting to note that in 2004 Historical Society member Merritt Clark of Derby visited the United Kingdom, and returned with a newspaper clipping from the July 22, 2004 Daily Mail, which headlined “Director apologises for Titanic slur”. Apparently while visiting Southampton, James Cameron stated “I think I have come to the realisation that it was probably a mistake to portray a specific person, in this case First Officer Murdoch, as the one who fired the weapon. First Officer Murdoch has a family, and they took exception to that, and I think rightly so”.

The same morning William Murdoch’s fate became known, the New York Tribune wrote Mrs. Schabert’s story: “I was awakened by the shock of the collision and went out on deck. There was no great excitement and persons were coming out of their rooms and asking what had happened. Suddenly from the bridge or from some officer came the cry: “Ladies first”. This was my first inkling that we had that the ship was in danger. We went back to the stateroom and dressed. Then came the horrifying cry that women must leave their husbands and brothers and that no men should go in the boats. (She later said that Bruce Ismay, the president of White Star Line, told her to get into a boat. When she asked if there would be other boats, he said yes, but later he returned and told the Derby woman she probably made a mistake in not getting on a boat sooner). I refused to leave my brother and remained on deck until the next to last boat was leaving. They looked around and saw that I was the only woman. I told them I would not go on without my brother and then they took me and my brother. I thus saved him. We left the ship about twenty five minutes before she sank…As we left the ship, it was the most remarkable and brilliant sight I ever witnessed in the water. All the lights were burning and the band was playing as if a concert”. 

On April 23, Mrs. Schabert and Mr. Mock returned to Derby, their journey finally at an end. Mr. Mock was Secretary of the Sterling Company, a factory which manufactured pianos and player pianos in Derby. His sister’s husband, Paul Schabert, was Treasurer of the same firm. Both men and their wives shared a home on Elizabeth Street.

The next evening the Valley was treated to Philip Mock’s exclusive story of his experiences on the Titanic. He stated that Titanic was the finest ship he had ever sailed upon, being so large that it didn’t even seem like they were on board a ship at all.

He recalled the night the ship struck the iceberg was very cold. People in the first-class lounges wore their coats and furs, and complained a great deal about why the ship wasn’t more comfortably heated. Mock overheard a woman ask a steward why it was so cold told that the ship is soon “going to be surrounded by ice”.

Dinner was served at 7:00. By 8:30, most had retired to the grand lounge. Mock recalled they were “sitting around on tables or on the lounges, talking, the men smoking, and everyone happy and interested…the women seeming more vivacious than usual and the men merry and contented”. After dinner, most first-class passengers went to the grand lounge until about 10:00 PM. At that time, some, like his sister, went to bed, while others went to smaller, private lounge rooms. Mock stayed awake until 11:00 PM, went to sleep immediately, and was shaken awake by the collision at 11:45.

He rushed to the deck, where he met his sister. A number of people were asking what happened, but no one seemed to have a satisfactory answer (his cabin was on the opposite side from where the iceberg struck). He and his sister then went back to their cabin to get dressed. When they returned to the deck, some of the stewards were telling passengers nothing was the matter, and advising them to return to bed, which many did.

Mock and his sister then went to an upper deck, to get a better idea of what happened. As they went upstairs they learned the ship struck an iceberg. Looking down, they could see ice on the deck, and heard people commenting on such insignificant things as where the iceberg had came from, what they would do with the things that had fallen down and broken, etc.

At 12:05, crewmen began handing out life preservers, courteously stating that they are ordered to put them on as a precaution. There was no panic, many joked about the strange silhouettes the life preservers made on others’ bodies. Even as the boats began to be lowered, no one wanted to get on them, as they still did not believe the ship was to sink. To make matters worse, because of the inexperience of the crew in lowering the new lifeboats on the Titanic, the first two were rather roughly lowered into the water, further discouraging people from leaving the deceptive safety aboard the ship.

Mock and his fellow passengers began to get a sense that something was seriously wrong after the second boat was lowered. Four times he and his sister tried to board a life boat, each time crew members told him they’d take her but he’d have to stay. After a while all boats on his part of the ship had been lowered, and the crowd had largely thinned out. With her lights brilliantly blazing, and few people around, Titanic reminded him “of a deserted ballroom” at that point. He was advised that a boat was about to be lowered in the rear of the ship. From a distance, there were only six or seven people around the boat, but by the time they reached it a crowd had gathered and it was filled beyond capacity.

Meanwhile, steam was rushing out of the forward-most smokestack with a roar, and rockets were being fired into the sky. From the flickering light of the rockets, he could see lifeboats on the water rowing away as fast as possible. Although Mock admitted he was getting increasingly nervous, he fought the urge to panic, and recalled that all passengers on his part of the ship were remarkably calm as well.

They tried to make their way forward on the sloping deck again, but stopped and told to try to get a lifeboat one deck below. When they initially reached it, there were very few people, but the number increased very quickly. His sister got on the boat, under the impression that he was to follow, but he did not. Instead, with the lone steward remaining, he assisted other women in boarding the lifeboat, as they had to actually climb over the railing to get in. In many cases, the women used his knee and leg to step over the railing, and then basically fell into the boat. The boat was mostly filled with passengers from the lower classes, but two first-class passengers from the deck above actually jumped down into the boat, while another was found hiding under the seats.

When the boat was filled, Mock told the Sentinel that he was “left sitting on the railing looking at the sea 60 feet below. It did not occur to him that this would be the last chance for him. He knew the boat was full, at least it seemed to be, and was about to put off. Suddenly an officer sang out that there was room for one more, and asked if there were any more women. There were no more women, and only six or seven men left standing around, the others having gone off in the boats or to other parts of the ship. Someone in the boat said to him ‘come on old man!’, and gave him a pull into the boat, and it was lowered away”. There were over 70 people in the boat, which was over its rated capacity.

As soon as the boat hit the water all ropes connecting it to the ship were cut. Mock took one of the ten oars and began rowing for dear life, fearing the boat would be caught in the suction when Titanic went down. He recalled “They could see Titanic alight from stem to stern, brilliant in that cold air, as it rowed away, and while it was a wonderful sight they could only think of the many who would lose their lives through the disaster. They could see the ship going down by the bow. Suddenly, when a long distance out, they heard and explosion…followed by three others, and the lights went out. A huge column of steam, Mr. Mock supposes, shot high into the air, and mushroomed against the sky. Then arose a cry, which he says he shall always remember, as the survivors on the boat were thrown into the water. The cries continued, he thought, for fifteen minutes, some say for an hour. The boat in which he was in could do nothing, as it was already loaded to the danger point with women and children. He heard afterward from a survivor on the Carpathia that the Titanic had broke in two at this explosion, and the two parts slid into the water so quietly that hardly a ripple was left (note: this statement is quite remarkable, as most claimed the Titanic had held together when it sank, and that was how most books and all movies depicted it. It wasn’t until the wreck was discovered in the mid-1980s that it was proven that the ship did in fact split in half. The recent movie is the only one to depict the sinking this way). The majority of passengers on deck were thrown forward, sliding downward into the water”.

Mock and the others on the lifeboat spent the next two hours searching for food, water, and lights, but couldn’t find any. They were able to signal where they were by lighting the end of one of the ropes on fire. Once they felt they were safe from the suction, they stopped rowing, and the boat simply drifted for two hours. Very little was said, no one complained about the cold. Occasionally other lifeboats would quickly flash lights to reveal their location. Eventually, one steady light became brighter and brighter, until it revealed itself to be a ship steaming full speed to the rescue, causing an overwhelming feeling of relief. The ship, the Carpathia, stopped, and the boat rowed to it. It took an hour and a half to carefully load all passengers from Mock’s overloaded boat onto the ship.

On the Carpathia, Mock recalled “the scene was very affecting, for there were people watching each passenger eagerly to see if it were some loved one, some husband, brother, sister. The women who were waiting and watching frequently fainted, and the groans and shrieks that came forth were heart-rending”. Mock also recalled the survivors were treated “splendidly” on the Carpathia. On April 18 Mr. Mock send a Marconi telegram to Derby to notifying his brother in law of their survival. The Sunday after the catastrophe, every church in the Valley held memorial services for Titanic’s dead. The catastrophe affected many, as there was little precedent by 1912 of over 1500 people dying so rapidly in peacetime. The Titanic catastrophe eventually moved from front page headlines. Newspaper vendors, who had seen demand for the New York dailies double after the disaster, noted they were selling at the normal rate again. The wreck of the Titanic faded into Valley residents’ memories. But as time went on, some who before the disaster were looking upon the new 20th century with such optimism and hope may have recalled the Sentinel’s prophetic editorial of April 17th, the day they finally reported the Titanic had actually sank with a heavy loss of life: “The largest steamship in the world is but little more than an egg-shell after all, when compared with the tremendous power of the iceberg, and the fate of the Titanic today comes as an illustration of man’s littleness when battling with forces of immensity of which he has no control”.

Remarkably, this Marconi telegram sent by Titanic survivor Philip Mock to his brother in law Paul Schabert, notifying him that both he and Mrs. Schabert had survived, has been preserved. Thanks to Randy Ritter of Derby for the image.

For more information on the Titanic, visit the Titanic Historical Society.

1907

January

Tuesday, January 1, 1907

  • Blue skies and bright sunshine greet the New Year at dawn. It is the first clear day in a week, and a fine one to finally get outside and take a walk, which many do. The streets are filled with well wishers. 
  • ANSONIA – The Pure Food Law goes into effect in Connecticut. Nevertheless, the appearance at Ansonia grocery stores is virtually unchanged. Many merchants don’t know much about it, other than the fact that many food manufacturers have discontinued products and brands that do not meet its specifications. Labels must now contain food ingredients.
  • DERBY –  Nearly 800 are present at the sunlight hop and dance at the Gould Armory, a record crowd.

January 2

  • DERBY – Roller skating will likely be discontinued at Gould Armory, because the owners are upset that the floor is being damaged by skates, and continuing it would ruin the dance floor. It took more time to clean up after the 200 skaters on December 26 than it did to clean up after hosting 800 dancers on January 1.
  • SEYMOUR – The town officially has 36 societies, lodges, and associations, many of which are secret and beneficial. With a population of 354, that’s one society for every 100 people, not including the numerous church clubs, etc.

January 3

  • ANSONIA – The long drawn out affair which began when Aaron Olderman moved a building into the new fire limits finally ends when he is found guilty in City Court of violating city ordinances and fined $100.
  • ANSONIA – The police made 225 arrests in 1906, as opposed to 270 in 1905. They were: Intoxication – 51; Assault – 26; Liquor violations – 25;  Breach of peace – 16; Intoxication and abusive language – 12; Burglary – 8; Theft – 8; Intoxication and breach of peace – 5; Vagrancy – 5; Assault and beach of peace – 4, Murder – 1.
  • DERBY – Derby Neck residents want trolley service extend to them, in a loop that would go up Housatonic Avenue, up to Hawthorne Avenue, then down to Elizabeth Street.
  • SEYMOUR – Many have colds in town.

January 4

  • ANSONIA – The dwindling Thomas M. Redshaw Post GAR has vacated the top floor of the Hotchkiss block, known as Grand Army Hall, and leased rooms in the Colburn Block. It was organized after the Civil War with 125 members, and met in the Ansonia Opera House. In 1896 it moved to Grand Army Hall, at which time it had 100 members.

January 5

  • December 1906 saw a high of 54 degrees, and a low of -2. A total of 4.13″ of rain fell over a total of 11 rainy days, including 2.03″ which fell in a 24 period December 30 & 31. Six inches of snow also fell. 
  • ANSONIA – Fire in back of a store and tenement building owned by Max Olderman on 414 Main Street at 8 AM. Occupants panic and start throwing belongings out of the windows, but the Fire Department puts the blaze out before it could spread.
  • SEYMOUR – One of the oldest buildings in downtown Seymour has been sold – a blacksmith shop built before 1798 on Maple Street and Pearl Street. 

Monday, January 7, 1907

  • Orthodox Christmas. Many factories allow Greek and Russians to have the day off to celebrate.
  • The temperature rises 68 degrees. The unseasonably warm weather is putting a severe strain on the ice companies, which rely upon cold weather to manufacture their product. A thunderstorm passes through at 10:30 PM. Many have colds due to the variances in weather.
  • ANSONIA – Great prevalence of la grippe in the city. Doctors and druggists are busy. The West Side is particularly hard hit.
  • ANSONIA – 150 attend a celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Webster Hose Company #3 at its Platt Street firehouse.
  • DERBY – Democrat Alfred F. Howe is sworn in as Derby’s new mayor. The oath was administered by the man he defeated in the November election, outgoing Mayor Hubbell. Other city officials are sworn in too.
  • DERBY – Mayor Benjamin Hubbell’s administration ends. The newspaper cites the major improvements on New Haven Avenue and Housatonic Avenue, as well as sewage improved, as some of his major accomplishments.

January 8

The temperature drops 30 degrees by early morning.

  • ANSONIA – Johnny o’ the Woods is in the City. This well known traveler has been walking a circuit in Connecticut for many years. However, the Sentinel notes that age is catching up to him, and that he is “becoming a pitiable object”. When told to leave a Main Street restaurant he was given food, he grew so violent that the police chief was called.
  • SHELTON – The cash till at the J. Edward Dockery store on Howe Avenue and Bridge Street is stolen in a brazen morning theft, as he stepped out for a moment to talk to someone.
  • SHELTON – The remodeled and rebuilt hook and ladder truck returns to the Echo Hose H&L Company.

January 9

  • DERBY – Housatonic Avenue residents between Olivia Street and Third Street complain that some tenants are playing banjos and other instruments, and dancing very late into the night.
  • OXFORD – The town registered 19 births, 3 marriages, and 14 deaths in 1906. 24 students are currently attending Center School.

January 11

  • ANSONIA – Considerable complaint over people cheating vending machines by using slugs.
  • DERBY – 1906 vital statistics: 253 births, 157 marriages, and 186 deaths. This compares to the 266 births, 103 marriages, and 150 deaths in 1905.
  • OXFORD – The mud on the roads is very deep – up to the wheel hubs in some spots.

January 13

  • ANSONIA – Johnny o’ the Woods is still in town, which is a little unusual because he normally does not stay so long. Many places he used to sleep are now closed to him. He is found tonight by the police in the freight yard, apparently looking for a place to sleep. He is escorted off before he gets hit by a train, and refuses lodging in the lockup.
  • SEYMOUR – R. Rev. Chauncey B. Brewster, Episcopal Bishop of Connecticut, makes his annual visit to Trinity Church.

Monday, January 14, 1907

  • DERBY – Clothesline thieves are at work in the Caroline Street and Cottage Street neighborhoods.
  • SEYMOUR – Wood dealers arrive in town, pulling timber on large sleds with difficulty. There was adequate snow in the Oxford hills to do so, but there is little if any snow in town.

January 15

  • SHELTON – Southern New England Telephone Company (SNET) is installing audiophones in Huntington Congregational Church to assist people with hearing difficulties. The device uses a telephone circuit.

January 16

  • ANSONIA – There Savings Bank of Ansonia has 6,852 depositors.

January 17

  • The weather turns bitter cold – 22 below in some areas at midnight. By 6 AM it has risen 4 above in Ansonia. A snowstorm breaks out later that morning, and dumps 5″ by evening.
  • DERBY – George Pixley will reopen the Bassett House around March 1. Furniture being bought in New York City at this time. The hotel has been closed since June.
  • SEYMOUR – Trolley car slips off the rail in the snow and hits a telegraph pole 30′ away on South Main Street. No injuries.

Monday, January 21, 1907

  • ANSONIA – Jumbo trolley car derails on Bridge Street. No injures.
  • DERBY – About 2,000 people line the Housatonic riverbank, as well as the Huntington Bridge and the railroad bridge, at sunrise despite a 30 mile per hour wind, to view what appears to be a sea serpent. It appeared to be 50′ long, and every now and then what appeared to be a head would rise out of the water, and its body would twist all the way down the body to the tail, which would point one way or another. To some it appeared that it was swimming slowly up the river. Some claimed it was first sighted at 6:30 AM under the railroad bridge, and had swum halfway to the Huntington Bridge. Others claimed to see water spouting from the head. It appeared to have scales that glistened in the morning sunlight. Finally a man who had been watching the thing for an hour near the water’s edge declared it had not changed position the whole time he had watched it. He identified that the “serpent” was actually long pieces of rope or cloth that were caught on a stump. The scales were small pieces of ice that had formed on the object. The spouting was caused by boys who were hiding nearby and throwing rocks at it.
  • SEYMOUR – Many people want to change Seymour’s name to Humphreys, and some are proposing a special town meeting. David Humphreys established Humphreysville in the early 1800s. It was renamed Seymour after Connecticut’s governor at the time, as a means of gaining votes towards splitting with Derby in 1850 in the State Legislature. As the debate continues, a few old timers stir superstitions by recalling how an old railroad engine originally named Seymour was renamed Humphreys. After that, it met many misfortunes.

January 22

  • ANSONIA – A brass cannon used for many years by the T.M. Redshaw Post GAR is moved to City Hall. It is placed under the main staircase, in the basement. The cannon was one of the mountain howitzers used by Union Gen. Franz Siegel in Missouri during Civil War.

January 23

  • Temperature 3 to 10 below overnight. Many frozen water pipes.
  • ANSONIA –  Quillinan’s Reservoir has ice 9-10″ thick.
  • SEYMOUR – The Citizen’s Engine Company’s fire engine, the only steam fire engine in the Valley, is shipped to Bigelow Boiler Works in New Hampshire for a new boiler.
  • SHELTON – Ground broken for a temporary St. Joseph’s church building in rear of the new parish’s recently purchased property off Coram Avenue. The building will be a plain structure, measuring 65’x35′. 

January 24

  • Coldest January morning since 1886.
  • ANSONIA – Ice harvesting begins on Quillinan’s Reservoir off Beaver Street by the Ansonia & Derby Ice Company.
  • DERBY – Albert H. Yudkin’s new wood tenement house on Derby Avenue near Bank Street is completely destroyed by fire. The building had 2 stories, and housed 3 families, all related to Mr. Yudkin. There were two stores on the first floor, Mr. Yudkin’s grocery and the Cohen dry goods store, which is where the fire originated. The blaze goes to two alarms, with all four companies of the Derby Fire Department responding. The temperature is 4 below zero, causing water drops to freeze in mid-air and fall to the ground. Ice forms everywhere. Six to eight firemen are treated for frostbite.
  • DERBY – The Ansonia & Derby Ice Company is harvesting ice at Pink House Cove.
  • DERBY – The Board of Education passes a resolution that children caught smoking going to, from, or at school will be suspended on the first offense, and expelled on the second.

January 25

  • Using 1903-4 figures, Derby ranks 23rd out of the 168 towns in Connecticut in terms of school spending per pupil. Ansonia ranks 100, and Huntington is 122.
  • ANSONIA – 2,000 tons of ice have been removed from Qullinan’s Reservoir so far. The ice company is trying to make up for the late start in the ice cutting season, with 60 men cutting, and numerous teams transporting the blocks to ice houses. Electric lights have been set up to illuminate the pond so work can continue into the evening.
  • ANSONIA – Close call when a long, slow freight train slams on its brakes and stops just 2 feet away from broadsiding a trolley car on Bridge Street.

January 26

  • DERBY – Much complaint about the heating system at Sterling Opera House, which also houses City Hall, the police, and a fire company. Mayor Howe has steam fitters looking over the building to remedy the situation.

January 27

  • ANSONIA – At this time there are 70 men working at Quillinan’s Reservoir. 4,000 to 5,000 tons have been taken by the Ansonia & Derby Ice Company. The ice is now 11-12″ thick. Despite the late start, it will be a good ice harvest this year.
  • DERBY – The police raid the Durrschmidt building on lower Main Street on this fine Sunday, and find a hidden saloon in full operation. The saloonkeeper and 13 men are arrested.
  • DERBY – George S. Arnold, who was born September 30, 1850, dies in New York City. He was warden of Birmingham in 1887 and 1888, during which the Sterling Opera House was built.

Monday, January 28, 1907

  • DERBY – 8″ thick ice being harvested by 50 men on Lake Housatonic, by the Ansonia & Derby Ice Company.
  • SEYMOUR – Merchants’ Ice Company completes ice harvesting its pond. Its storehouse is filled.
  • SHELTON – The New York City firm that is starting a box factory in the Scattergood Building gets only get 30 applicants, many of which are already employed. They are looking for 100 females, but the economy is so good help is scarce.

January 29

  • ANSONIA – Much sleighing and sledding going on. Prospect, Fourth, Hill, Jewett, High, Maple, and Grove Streets are popular. Mayor Charters will post Fourth Street due to the number of near misses with the Seymour trolley. A Woodbridge Street boy is thrown from a sled on North Prospect Street and is unconscious for half an hour, but recovers.
  • ANSONIA & OXFORD – The Ansonia High School senior and junior classes take evening sleighs to Oxford, where they have supper and a dance at the Oxford Hotel.
  • DERBY – Storm Engine Company members are shocked when they realize how much room the tanks for the new fire alarm will take in their basement – nearly the whole area. They now have little room for storage.
  • DERBY – New Haven Avenue is a popular place for sledding today.
  • OXFORD – Oxford is a popular destination for sleighing parties. This night there are 3 from Seymour, 3 from Naugatuck, and three or more from Ansonia and Derby.
  • SHELTON – The hills on Coram Avenue and Wooster Street are popular spots for sledding.

January 30

  • SEYMOUR – The Little River Manufacturing Company is in receivership. Founded in 1902, they made nail clippers, and were sued by the HC Cook Company of Ansonia for patient infringement.

January 31

  • 6 inches of snow falls overnight. The snow changes to a rainy drizzle later, but there is so much snow on ground it has little effect.

February

Saturday, February 2, 1907

  • Area groundhogs see their shadow due to the sunny day, which means more weeks of winter.
  • ANSONIA – Clan MacDonald, Order of Scottish Clans, is formed at German Hall. Many of the Valley’s Scottish residents join.
  • SHELTON – Membership in Echo Hose Hook & Ladder is low. Young men are not inclined to join the volunteer fire company these days.

February 3

  • DERBY – Rev. George H. Buck celebrates his 20th year as pastor of St. James Episcopal Church. In that time, he has baptized 502, confirmed 332, performed 161 marriages, and conducted 413 funerals.

Monday, February 4, 1907

  • A major snowstorm breaks out late in the afternoon, and continues all night.
  • DERBY – 10″ thick ice is now being cut at Lake Housatonic. Unless one or more of the icehouses burns down, there is now enough ice to supply both Derby and Shelton until next winter.
  • SEYMOUR – The Seymour Congregational Church votes to move the parsonage off the church lot, to make room for the new Albert Swan Memorial Parish House. The Society has an option to move the parsonage on one of 9 lots located on or close to Derby Avenue.

February 5

  • The snowstorm continues past dawn, dropping about 18″. But because of the high winds, in some spots there are 5 to 6 foot high snowdrifts while in other spots the ground is practically bare. All schools are cancelled. Trains are at least one hour late. All country roads are blocked, and heavy teams are trying to break paths through the snowdrifts. Milkmen can’t get into the downtown neighborhoods, causing a run on condensed milk in grocery stores, and many of them run out of it by afternoon. Many can’t get to work, and mills are running with skeleton crews. The trolley service is very erratic, despite an effort by the trolley companies to keep the tracks plowed. The District Nurse Association visiting nurse breaks her wrist while making a home visit in Derby.

February 6

  • People are having trouble hitching horses on main streets, as many hitching posts are under the snow. The trolley company is now helping clear snow from the streets that their tracks run on, because their plows caused it to pile up and make them impassible. The day was actually  quite sunny, a welcome change as this has been a particularly gloomy winter. Greenhouse owners, preparing for Valentine’s Day, are very happy at the sunshine. Travel is improving in the cities, though country roads are still treacherous, and horse-drawn sleighs are tipping over due to the high snowdrifts.
  • SHELTON – New St. Joseph’s chapel has been completed completed and is used for the first time this evening for a Mardi Gras festival. The temporary building is lighted by electricity.

February 7

  • Coldest morning this winter, at 8 below zero in Ansonia. The coldest spots seem to be on Oxford Road in Seymour, where it is 20 below, and on Bank Street in the same town, where it is 14 below.

February 8

  • DERBY – The 25th anniversary of the St. Aloysius Total Abstinence and Benevolent Society (TAB) is held at St. Mary’s hall. Members refrain from drinking alcohol.
  • DERBY – The 3rd Annual District Nurse Association meeting held at Derby Public Library. The sole visiting staff nurse made 1050 recorded visits and at least 486 unrecorded visits to Valley homes in the past year. She is convalescing after breaking her wrist from falling in the recent snowstorm.

February 9

  • ANSONIA – 700 people cram into the Ansonia Opera House for the Webster Hose Company’s ball. There were 185 couples in the Grand March alone.
  • SHELTON – A new firm called the Derby Paper Company purchases the unexpired lease of the former Derby Paper Mills, and will begin operations at the Canal Street factory.

February 10

  • Another inch of snow falls in the morning, but the later sunshine causes it to melt off surfaces that have already been cleared.
  • ANSONIA – An apartment fire in the Stillson Block on High Street causes a big commotion and panic within the tenement. Two Eagle Hose H&L Company firefighters are injured.
  • ANSONIA – Saloon on Main Street and Central Street raided by Ansonia police for conducting business on a Sunday. The proprietor and 2 customers are arrested. News of the raid spreads quickly, and other illegal saloons quickly empty out. Tracks in the snow to these illegal establishments now is making secret entryways obvious.

Monday, February 11, 1907

  • ANSONIA – State Police serve warrants to 3 officers of the Ansonia Mannerchor club, including a former City Treasurer. Warrants are also served to the proprietors of the German Hotel, Warcholic Hall, and 2 other men of the Russian and Slovenian Liberty Club. All of the warrants are for selling liquor on Sunday. By the time the day was over, a total of 14 warrants were served, and the bar at the Dayton House Hotel was raided.
  • ANSONIA – The Evening Sentinel reports that people in Ansonia want to rename the Town Farm, popularly called the Poor House, to make it easier for people to go there without the attached stigma. Among the suggestions are Riverview, Sunnyside, or Hillside farm.

February 12

  • ANSONIA – It is revealed that the Rabbi  of Synagogue Benai Israel on Colburn Street has not filed a single marriage certificate since 1892, despite the fact he has performed many ceremonies. He pleads he was not aware he had to file marriage certificates, and will not be prosecuted. By the end of day 16 affidavits have been filed by married couples seeking marriage licenses, with many more pending.
  • DERBY – Armour & Co is expanding in East Derby. The meat packing firm has bought the old Smith house next door and tore it down. Its expanded property now fronts Derby Avenue, Gilbert Street, and New Haven Avenue, and there are plans to expand the buildings there.
  • DERBY – Practically every seat is taken at the Sterling Opera House as the Derby Choral Club does their annual recital of Handel’s Messiah.

February 13

  • SEYMOUR – The temperature is recorded at 16 below on Oxford Road. 
  • SEYMOUR – The Merchant’s Ice Company has begun supplying its stockholders with ice. The Company has 1300 tons stored for summer.

February 14

  • Exchanging Valentines is becoming more popular, the mail is loaded with them. Picture cards have become very popular, and unlike previous years there is quite a variety.
  • DERBY & ANSONIA – Holy Name Society of St. Mary’s Parish votes to ask Ansonia’s Assumption Parish to help them take better care for St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery, on Wakelee Avenue and Division Street.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – The Ansonia-Derby Ice Company has 8000 tons of ice stored in ice houses on Lake Housatonic to meet the needs of Derby and Shelton.
  • OXFORD – Oxford continues to be busy with sleighing excursions from other towns. The Oxford House furnished 350 meals in the past week.
  • SHELTON – A new Town Clock, which regulates fire alarm tests and incidentally furnishes correct time to citizens, has been placed in position in the post office lobby. The old clock was so bad it was a running joke when someone put a sign reading “This is a Clock” next to it.
  • SHELTON – Young boy loses part of a finger in a sledding accident on Coram Hill.

February 16

  • ANSONIA – 2,000 gather to watch man jump off the roof of the YMCA building. The man lowers to the ground slowly, using his patented fire escape which is basically a cable that lowers him slowly. Some Ansonia businessmen have subscribed a total of $26,000 to manufacture it here.
  • ANSONIA – An Oxford man driving home from New Haven drives his horse and sleigh onto the railroad tracks over the Birmingham Canal, north of Division Street, in the early morning hours. Apparently he thought he was following trolley tracks. The horse breaks its leg on the trestle, and the man falls into canal. While he is struggling in the water, the sleigh is struck by a passing train. The train crew rescues the man, and a police officer is forced to shoot the horse.
  • DERBY – Over 30 sleds and double-rippers coasting on Watering Trough Hill on New Haven Avenue – including a number of residents from downtown Derby and Shelton. The largest double ripper is called “Man Killer”, because man was killed on it 2 years ago, and others have been injured in other accidents involving it. The sled is stored at the R.M. Bassett Hook & Ladder Company firehouse. On this date the “Man Killer” nearly lives up to its name again, when the sled strikes the trolley rails, just as a trolley was approaching. A number of people land in a pile on the tracks, and one man and a girl are pinned underneath the sled. The trolley motorman, who was aware of the sledding, was proceeding cautiously, and stopped the trolley just 10 feet from the struggling group trying to get the sled off the two in time. The man was injured, and required a doctor’s attention. Trolley motormen in Derby and other Valley towns are complaining that sleds have been going over the tracks, and several times they have had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting them.

Monday, February 18, 1907

  • ANSONIA – The work of replacing the alter at the Church of the Assumption with a new one is continuing. It already is looking very impressive.

February 19

  • Light snowfall followed by rain. 
  • DERBY – The infamous Derby double-ripper “Man Killer” (see last week) sled smashes into a telegraph pole at the bottom of Watering Trough Hill, and is badly damaged. Twenty persons are thrown off the contraption, and 2 have minor injuries. The accident occurred the same night it set a sledding record on Watering Trough Hill. It was clocked from the top of the hill, to the bottom at New Haven Avenue and Gilbert Street, in 29 seconds.
  • SHELTON – A double-ripper loses control on Coram Hill, and smashes into utility pole at 10 PM, throwing 16 young men a considerable distance. Four are badly injured, with some knocked unconscious. It takes one young man an hour to wake up.

February 20

  • ANSONIA – Man badly injured when a sled collides with an ice wagon at the bottom of North State Street hill in Ansonia.  

February 21

  • The snow has been thawing by day and freezing at night, making ideal conditions for coasting.
  • ANSONIA – A 12 year old girl is struck by a double-ripper on Kankwood Hill and is badly injured. This sled was clocked running from Prindle Avenue to Columbia Street in 48 seconds.
  • DERBY – Three are injured, the most serious being a broken ankle, when a double-ripper loses control and strikes a tree on the New Haven Avenue hill.
  • DERBY – A half mile track has been laid out over the frozen water of Lake Housatonic. The track is wide enough for 6 horses to travel abreast, and many impromptu horse races are occurring on it, to the delight of local residents on both sides of the river.

February 22

  • Many are complaining that the trolleys are inadequately heated this year.
  • ANSONIA – A double-ripper with 9 children on it overturns while avoiding a horse team on Kankwood Hill. 3 of them are injured. It is estimated that sleds are hitting 60 mph by the time they enter Platt Street. 
  • ANSONIA – A 5 year old suffers fractured collarbone in a sledding accident on Myrtle Avenue hill.

February 23

  • ANSONIA – The newly patented Engel fire escape, which many local businessmen have invested in and are planning on manufacturing in Ansonia, is tested for a second time, at Main Street’s Terry Block. The first person to jump off the block is lowered safely, but the second person to jump off becomes stuck, and is suspended along side of building. He had to be taken into window, in view of several hundred spectators. Mr. Engel notes this is the first time the same device was used for two different people, and that the contraption is still undergoing field testing to identify and eliminate flaws such as this in the design.

February 24

  • Another 5″ of snow falls in the evening.
  • DERBY – A fire breaks out in a basement of a duplex on East Ninth and Olivia Streets. Derby firemen are hampered by sub-zero temperatures, frozen fire hydrants, and low water pressure, and are unable to stop the house from burning to the ground. The fire spreads to the duplex next door, and that burns to the ground, also. The fire then spreads to 2 more houses on Hawkins Street, but these are saved. Five firefighters are injured, 3 of which suffer from frostbite. This starts a major controversy between the fire department and the Birmingham Water Company, with many statements and denials being issued by city and company officials

Monday, February 25, 1907

  • Johnny o’ the Woods seen again in Seymour, where he was given a set of gloves by a concerned person, and in Ansonia, apparently on his way to Derby. Frequent sightings of this well-known vagrant, second only in fame to the late “Leatherman” lead many to believe he is sticking pretty close to Derby, where is reportedly where he is originally from.
  • ANSONIA – The Olderman Block, on the corner of Main Street and Colburn Street, is now completed, and the first floor stores are occupied. The second and third floors are ready for tenants. The brick building is now considered one of the largest and best appearing structures on Main Street
  • DERBY – Stagehands at Sterling Opera House go on strike, in protest over two non-union stagehands that arrived with the company now playing. The company insisted that they perform some of the tasks that the Sterling stagehands normally would do. The show goes on regardless, though the Sterling’s stage manager and other members of the company to do all of the scene shifting and operate the curtain, causing some delay between scenes.

February 26

  • DERBY – A large crowd is on the horse racing track on Lake Housaonic today.
  • SHELTON – The new Borough of Shelton clock, located in the post office, tests the fire alarm for the first time. Although running the fire horns is its primary purpose, the clock will also be the accepted “standard time” for the borough, which all are expected to set their timepieces around.

February 27

  • DERBY – The stagehand strike at Sterling Opera House is now over.
  • DERBY – Many out of towners are visiting the horse race track on Lake Housatonic.
  • DERBY – The city suffers yet another serious fire, this time in the Benham Shoe Store in the Gould Armory.  The fact that the fire was at night, and originated on a floor that is considered the basement on the Main Street side and the third floor on the First Street side complicated things. The fire was very smoky due to burning leather shoes burning. Some neighboring businesses received smoke and water damage, but the fire was confined to the store, and the building survived until 2006.

February 28

  • ANSONIA – About 85 librarians from all over the state attend the annual meeting of Connecticut Library Association, held at the Ansonia Public Library.

March

Friday, March 1, 1907

  • SEYMOUR – There are currently 3 houses under quarantine in town. Two are for diphtheria, and the other is for scarlet fever. There have been 35 diphtheria cases in town since the start of December, with five proving fatal.

March 2

  • ANSONIA – Rain and fog in the morning. The snow is melting fast. Only a layer of ice is left, about 5″ thick in places on Main Street and clogging gutters. This causes water to back up to several inches on the south side of City Hall. A dyke composed of ashes is built around that side of City Hall to protect the basement.
  • ANSONIA – Man shot in the head at the Kelley House, which was a rooming house on Main Street and Bridge Street, lies for 14 hours before discovered. He is taken to New Haven Hospital in critical condition. A suspect is being sought.
  • ANSONIA – There is talk of fixing up the triangle at the foot of Kankwood Hill, known as the Elm Street Green. It is the largest piece of city-owned open ground, and is being used by neighborhood children as a playground.

Monday, March 4, 1907

  • DERBY – Controversy over the February 24 fire that destroyed or damaged a number of houses at Olivia Street and East Ninth Street continues. Many are now advocating a horse drawn chemical fire engine. Others are willing to go one step further and say Derby now requires a steam powered fire engine, even though this will necessitate the hiring of a paid fire department. Meanwhile, the Birmingham Water Company continues to be questioned regarding the low water pressure in the fire hydrants in that part of the city.
  • DERBY – The police commissioner wants a call box system installed in downtown Derby.
  • DERBY – The average thickness of the ice on Lake Housatonic is 21″, and it is even thicker in the coves. This is very unusual.
  • SHELTON – 29th Annual Report of the Borough of Shelton published. Among its highlights- the Health Report stated the following cases – measles 3, whooping cough 86, scarlet fever 19, typhoid fever 5, diphtheria 16, tuberculosis 2. Ferry School is overcrowded. The Bailiff’s Report listed 72 arrests, including 28 for intoxication. The entire Republican slate, along with two Democrats, are elected to the Borough Board, with 204 ballots cast. William S. Healey got the most votes, making him the Borough Warden, the chief elected office.

March 5

  • A Valley-wide effort has begun to raise funds to care for Johnny o’ the Woods, aka John Brennan, the famous, aging transient originally from Derby who wanders the State. After spending a longer amount of time than usual in the area, he was most recently sighted in Southington.
  • SEYMOUR – The ice on the Housatonic River at Squantuck is 21 to 28″ thick. There are fears that when the ice breaks, it will result in a damaging freshet, which were well known in the Housatonic Valley back then..

March 6

  • DERBY – Extensive renovations have changed just about everything inside the Bassett House. The hotel is expected to reopen in about 2 weeks.
  • OXFORD – The prolonged cold weather has caused many well pumps to freeze.

March 7

  • ANSONIA – A section of the retaining wall at the Wooster mansion (later Pine High School) on Clifton Avenue caves in.

March 8

  • DERBY – A new style Connecticut Company trolley car makes its first appearance in the City. It has 10 seats large enough to accommodate 2 people, and at each end are side seat that can accommodate more.
  • SEYMOUR – A 14-year old Humphreys Street girl dies of diphtheria.
  • SHELTON – 1906 Grand List for the Town of Huntington lists 965.5 houses, 86 stores or mills, 490 horses, 1031 cattle, and 356 carriages.

March 9

  • DERBY – The ticket agent at Sterling Opera House is often approached by foreigners wanting to pay taxes or obtain marriage licenses. They are confused over the fact that the City Hall offices are upstairs.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – There are concerns that the Huntington Bridge is unsafe.
  • SEYMOUR – J. H. Hale, owner of the extensive Hale peach orchards in town, fears that the state’s peach crop may be completely ruined due to the mild start of winter which caused them to bud, followed by months of bitter cold weather.
  • SHELTON – The Shelton Water Company will lay a 12″ main on Howe Avenue, from Wooster Street to Wharf Street. This will be its largest main yet, designed to help with fire protection and providing a better supply to the factories.

March 10

  • Just when everyone thought that the hard winter of 1906-1907 may be over, 5″ of snow falls. The fact it fell on the 19th anniversary of the Blizzard of 1888 didn’t help people’s frustration.
  • ANSONIA – Landslide off 100′ high bank at Central Avenue smashes into a wagon shed, nearly burying a delivery wagon inside.

Monday, March 11, 1907

  • DERBY – Gould Armory opens under the name Nickel Theater, showing continuous exhibit of motion pictures and illustrated songs every afternoon and evening. Admission is 5 cents, making it a true nickelodeon.

March 12

  • The Northern Lights are spectacular from midnight till 3 AM.
  • DERBY – The Evening Sentinel laments that although the ice on Lake Housatonic has not been thick enough for horse racing for many years until now, not nearly as many horses were racing on the course as last time.

March 14

  • SEYMOUR – Spring thaw making travel difficult.

March 15

  • St. Patrick’s Day postcards are popular.
  • ANSONIA – Filth on Main Street Ansonia left over from the spring thaw looks “disreputable” 
  • DERBY – Robins and bluebirds are spotted for the first time this year on Caroline Street.
  • DERBY – The Howard & Barber department store on Main Street now has a telephone intercom system, as well as 2 phone lines.
  • SEYMOUR – Complaint that children that living in diphtheria quarantined houses have been seen playing in the streets.

March 16

  • ANSONIA – The “Our Baby” nickel slot machine, seized in a raid at the Hotel Dayton on January 17, 1906, is finally ordered destroyed by the City Court. It is rumored that there is $75 in nickels inside. It actually yields 623 nickels, totaling $31.15, though it is unclear where the money should go.
  • DERBY – Ground broken for a six family apartment house on Fourth Street, near Caroline Street.

 March 17

  • Many are out walking, or riding the trolley on this fine spring-like St. Patrick’s Day, though many were surprised when they woke up to find a light snow fell overnight. Some churches had special services with Irish music, etc.

Monday, March 18, 1907

  • DERBY – The old fire whistle which was used for decades, at Alling’s Mill, off First Street, has been taken down. It may eventually be used for something else.

March 19

  • DERBY – The Bassett House hotel reopens. Many from Derby, Ansonia, and Shelton are present at the open house.

March 20

  • Navigation reopened on Housatonic River, as it is clear of ice from the mouth to the Shelton Docks. The timing is perfect, as coal, which is normally barged up the river, is starting to be in short supply.
  • ANSONIA – Mayor Charters’ mother, Bridget Charters, passes away at her Wakelee Avenue home.
  • ANSONIA – Practice of dumping refuse collected from street cleaning behind City Hall is generating complaints.
  • DERBY – Paugassett Hose (today’s Pauguassett Hook & Ladder) Company will get a new 25’x40′ brick two-story firehouse on Derby Avenue.

March 22

  • ANSONIA – The Salvation Army barracks on High Street is for sale, in the hopes that the proceeds can be used to relocate the barracks on Main Street.

March 23

  • The temperature rises to a high of 76 degrees.
  • The “ice goes out” on the Housatonic River, causing no damage. Any fears earlier in the month that there would be damaging freshet were dashed with the warm weather in the days prior causing the ice to melt rapidly. The entire river is now free of ice.
  • ANSONIA – The various German fraternal and benefit organizations of Derby and Ansonia form the United German Societies of Ansonia and Derby at Mannerchor hall.

March 24

  • The temperature drops to 28 degrees, a 48 degree difference from yesterday.
  • DERBY – William Peat’s small lunchroom near the trolley carbarn on lower Main Street is broken into sometime between 3 and 5 AM. Finding no money, the thieves prepare themselves a breakfast of 18 eggs, 3 slices of ham, 3 hamburgers, and potatoes. Mr. Peat is getting a guard dog.

Monday, March 25, 1907

  • SEYMOUR – Frequent forest fires are breaking out in the hills around town. Some are caused by boys, others by sparks from passing trains.

March 26

  • DERBY – Robinson S. Hinman, who lives on River Road, offers to supervise rebuilding the road near the Pink house for free, providing city reimburse his material expenses. He is tired of complaints about the mud, and his oxen often have to pull wagons out that get stuck there.
  • SEYMOUR – Ground broken for the first house off Pearl Street near Arethusia Spring, in a new housing development called Broad View Heights.

March 26

  • SHELTON – The Grand List of the Borough of Shelton is 365 houses, 74 mills, 127 horses, 2 cattle, 131 carriages

March 27

  • The Johnny O’ The Woods Fund is now up to $206.35
  • ANSONIA – 11 bodies were placed in the receiving vault of Pine Grove Cemetery over the winter season, waiting for the snow to melt. They are gradually being buried as the weather thaws.
  • ANSONIA – Bronze tablets are being put on the exterior of Ansonia National Bank. One tells of the bank’s organization in 1865. The other will say the name of bank and announce that it has safety deposit vaults.
  • SEYMOUR – The Town announces the trolley company will replace its wood poles with steel poles in the business center.
  • SEYMOUR – There are currently 3 houses under quarantine in town – two are for measles, and 1 for diphtheria.

March 28

  • Automobiles have been reappearing, some have been rebuilt and repainted.
  • Many brush and field fires throughout the Valley.
  • Public schools close at 11 AM for Easter Recess, which will last until April 8.
  • The bakeries have hired extra help to make hot cross buns.
  • Fine displays of spring millinery on are on display at the Boston Store, Howard & Barber, and many other places.
  • DERBY – A large number of Derby High School boys are laying out 1/6 mile running track at Derby Meadows.
  • DERBY – The Street Commissioner has the Fire Department flush the block (cobblestone) pavement on Main Street and Elizabeth Street of winter dirt.

Good Friday, March 29

  • All mills are shut down for the holiday. 
  • Open car trolleys make their first appearance of the year. 
  • Many spend the day off hunting for better houses or rents. 
  • Lawns are turning green in the fine weather.
  • DERBY – Bassett House prices are – $2.50 per day, 50 cents for all meals. $1 for just a room. 75 cents for Sunday dinners. Lower rates for 2 days or over, and terms for weekly board can be worked out.
  • DERBY –  The J. N. Wise Bakery sells 30,000 hot cross buns.
  • SEYMOUR – Complaints that chickens are running loose in Trinity Cemetery.
  • SEYMOUR – The first baseball game of the season is played at Park Field, against two scrub teams. There are proposals to form a Valley baseball league.

March 30

  • ANSONIA – A boy runs into the almshouse near the Seymour border, and tells the supervisor of a forest fire at nearby Schuetzen Park. He and five other men rush to the scene, and barely manage to save nearby a house occupied by a hysterical woman and 4 small children.
  • ANSONIA – The Evening Sentinel is now a joint stock corporation
  • DERBY – Major Wilbur F. Osborne dies at his home at Osborndale Farm (today’s Kellogg Homestead) on Hawthorne Avenue. See his obituary.

Easter Sunday, March 31

  • The weather is cloudy at dawn. Many go to church to enjoy fine sermons, music programs and floral decorations. Florists have been very busy. Snow begins before midnight and continues into the following morning.

April

Monday, April 1, 1907

  • Many April Fools jokes – some of the more popular ones involve putting bricks in paper bags for people to kick out of the way. Sawdust and cotton confectionary and loaded cigars are also popular.
  • SHELTON – Special meeting held in the Borough of Shelton, where it is voted to acquire a site and erect a new 8-room schoolhouse somewhere north of Bridge Street.

April 2

  • The temperature is 22 degrees at 6 AM, which is the coldest reading for this date since 1874.
  • SEYMOUR – A sick man at Trinity rectory has been diagnosed as having diphtheria, so the building is now under quarantine. Rev. Woodford has left the rectory, and is staying at a neighbor’s house across the street.

April 4

  • DERBY – A large number of Sterling Piano employees walk off their jobs over a man’s refusal to join the Piano Makers Union. He claims he cannot afford it. 

April 5

  • DERBY – The Piano Makers Union walkout is over. The man who refused to join the Union will do so.
  • SHELTON – Shed being torn down at Whitlock Printing Press on Canal Street falls down prematurely, burying 4 men and injuring them.

April 6

  • The famed, aged wanderer who was originally from Derby, Johnny o’ the Woods, has not been seen since the rescue fund was started for him in the Valley towns. It is feared that he may be avoiding area because he does not want to give up his wanderings
  • Kite flying and top spinning are popular pastimes right now.
  • DERBY – The Secor Typewriter, being manufactured at Williams Typewriter Company, is selling very well. The total orders for the machines are now around 9,000, enough to keep the plant busy for the next couple years at least.

April 7

  • ANSONIA – Mayor Charters joins a large delegation of “Slavs” holding a huge protest in Bridgeport against the treatment of Magyars in Hungary by the Habsburggovernment.
  • SEYMOUR – Fire destroys a duplex on Derby Avenue.

Monday, April 8, 1907

  • Mixed snow and hailstorm in the early morning.

April 9

  • DERBY – The Business Mens’ Association of Ansonia, Derby, Shelton, and Seymour hold a banquet at the Bassett House, where they are addressed by Lt. Governor Everett Lake, the State Highway Commissioner, and the State Business Men’s Association President.
  • SHELTON – The peach crop in White Hills is expected to be a failure due to the unseasonably warm weather, followed by bitter cold this year.

April 10

  • DERBY – Miss Frances Osborne is elected president of the Derby Neck Library Association, filling her late father Maj. Wilbur Fisk Osborne’s seat.
  • SHELTON – The ancient Oronoque Paper Mill on the Far Mill River, near Pine Rock Park, is destroyed by fire.

April 11

  • ANSONIA – Rumors have been circulating this week, first that Hollbrook Street School, then all schools on the West Side, will close due to a diphtheria outbreak. These rumors are false. There are currently four houses under quarantine for various reasons on the West Side.
  • DERBY – Arctic explorer Robert E. Peary lectures at the Sterling Opera House before a large audience as a guest of the Pickwick Club, where he talks about his hopes of reaching the North Pole.

April 13

  • DERBY – Sterling Piano employees are surprised when it is announced that as of April 29 the factory will run 9 hours a day, but employees will still receive 10 hours pay.
  • SHELTON – Derby Gas Company is replacing its 4″ gas mains on Howe Avenue with 6″ gas mains, due to increased demand.

Monday, April 15, 1907

  • ANSONIA – The physicians of Ansonia, Derby, and Shelton meet at the Ansonia YMCA. Vote almost unanimously to increase their rates 50% – all charge the same.
  • DERBY – The Sterling Pin Company is adding a 80×40′ addition to its Housatonic Avenue side. The addition will be 3 stories, along with a basement, adding 10,000′ to the existing 12,000′ the factory currently has. The firm began in October 1899 in Shelton, and makes hair pins, hooks and eyes, paper boxes, and novelties.
  • SHELTON – The Huntington Piano Company, like their parent corporation Sterling Piano in Derby, will reduce their hours from 10 to 9 per day, without reducing pay. Back then, the typical workweek included Saturdays, so it has gone down from 60 to 54 hours.

April 17

  • ANSONIA – The latest fad with Ansonia girls is “hair pillows”, in which girls cut the hair of boys they like, and stick them into small souvenir pillows. The Sentinelwarns that there may be an increase in the number of bald-headed boys shortly.
  • OXFORD – The grass is “as green as summer” on Oxford Green.

April 18

  • SHELTON – Shelton’s jobs are outpacing its housing, because land values are so high. The Derby-Shelton bridge crowded with employees crossing at the start and end of the workday. The reason cited for this is land values are too high in Shelton.

April 19

  • ANSONIA – Two children die of diphtheria within 24 hours in the same Smith Street home.
  • OXFORD – Two older boys, allegedly from Naugatuck, interrupt class at Red Oak School. They begin by barging into the one-room schoolhouse and insult the teacher. When they tire of that, they go outside, and one begins shooting at the roof with a revolver, while the other pelts the school with stones. The children are terrified. Two boys risk their lives to run down the lane to a nearby farm house. The assailants chase the boys, until they find the farmer outside, at which point they turn and flee. No one is injured, though the town is in an uproar. The two boys are being sought, their identities are known.
  • SHELTON – The R.N. Bassett Company on Bridge Street will have another large addition – the second major one in 2 years.

April 20

  • SHELTON – The Bridgeport Hydraulic Company buys the water rights of the Far Mill River below Pine Rock Park from the Oronoque Paper Mill, though the mill retains its right of manufacturing and salvage of the machinery that survived last week’s fire. BHC will keep the water supply as a reserve, for now

April 21

Tuesday, April 23, 1907

  • The Evening Sentinel notes the surge in baby carriages seen outside, in a headline entitled “Sure Harbinger of Summer”.
  • ANSONIA – Complaints about “foreign shopkeepers” keeping Sunday hours, which is against the. There are also complaints of gangs of beer drinkers in the Factory Street area.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – Boats and launches are being put into Housatonic River for the summer. Some are noting that the channel seems to have changed from last year, causing navigational difficulties that have even led to some boats running aground.
  • SEYMOUR – 10 year old boy killed instantly by a work train on the tracks off South Main Street.
  • SHELTON – The Ousatonic Water Company withdraws an offer of property on Union Avenue for a town school site, citing complaints from neighboring property owners.

April 24

  • OXFORD – The Town’s Grand Juror is investigating the April 19 shooting at Red Oak School. Apparently this is not the first incident involving Naugatuck youths at isolated town schools, though it is the most serious. Such behaviors will no longer be tolerated, and the boys will be found and prosecuted.

April 25

  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia Floral Company has offered to distribute 1,000 geraniums to Ansonia, Derby, and Shelton students to decorate veteran graves this Memorial Day.
  • SEYMOUR – The Seymour High School senior class arrives home from their trip to Washington DC. While there, they had a few minutes audience with President Theodore Roosevelt on April 21, and all got to shake his hand. They described the tales of his firm, hearty handshake to be true, and had an overall positive impression of the popular President.

April 26

  • ANSONIA – No serious opposition at public hearing regarding the American Brass Company’s request to close the sections of Tremont Street and Cheever Street, that are west of Canal Street, as ABC owns all the land on both sides of the streets, and wants to put coal bins there.
  • SEYMOUR – A teacher at Center School is sick with a severe case of diphtheria. The school is closed for rest of week and into next as it is completely fumigated.
  • SHELTON – The body of a man missing since March 30 is found in the Shelton Canal. It is uncertain if he drowned or was murdered.

April 27

  • DERBY – The building that until recently housed the Paugassett Hose Company firehouse on Derby is moving south to its new destination in front of the Mansion House on the same street.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – Huntington Bridge vibrates whenever anything crosses it, even dogs. It seems to vibrate worse with horses than trolleys. Even the wind causes the steel span over the Housatonic to vibrate, and some are afraid of its stability.
  • OXFORD – The Oxford constable and the Naugatuck Police Department arrest 2 Naugatuck youths in connection with the April 19 shooting at Red Oak School. According to the Sentinel, they’re from “respectable families”. They are brought to Oxford, where the youths subsequently plead in Town Court that they meant no harm, but that they were just having fun. The boys are heavily fined, and released.

Monday, April 29, 1907

  • DERBY – A large number of forest fires have residents calling for a fire warden to be appointed.

April 30

  • DERBY – Drivers are complaining that only a little water is trickling out of the memorial fountain on Seymour Avenue and Atwater Avenue, because the pipes are stopped up. This leaves little for horses to drink.
  • SHELTON – The factory of the Whitlock Printing Press will nearly double its size with a new addition. The 4 story building will cover the space between its current building and the Huntington Piano Company.

May

Wednesday, May 1, 1907

  • Today is the opening day of “Moving Season”. Virtually every van and truck wagon in the Valley has been reserved for moving occupants from one apartment or house to another.
  • SHELTON – The Board of Education recommends naming the new school to be built “Isaac Hull School”. The name is changed to “Commodore Hull School” before the end of the week.

May 2

  • SHELTON – 13 International Silver Company employees walk off the job for higher wages.

May 3

  • It has been unseasonably cold this May. The temperature drops to 36 degrees early this morning. Farmers and gardeners are in a state of despair.
  • SHELTON – The 50 acre J. C. Wakelee Farm, which reaches from the Housatonic River, to and across River Road, and further to and across Old Coram Road, is purchased by the Swedish Baptist Club of New York and Brooklyn. The farm will be utilized as a summer home and health resort for clergy, women, and children.

May 4

  • DERBY – The Sterling Opera House will be open 7 nights a week this summer, showing moving pictures and illustrated songs. This is a departure from previous years, where it was closed on Sundays. It is cited that other major theaters are remaining open on Sunday, and Sterling must do the same.

May 5

  • Temperatures down to 31 degrees early in the morning.
  • SHELTON – Ground broken in a ceremony for the new St. Joseph’s Church, which will be 52′ wide fronting Coram Avenue, and 108′ long.

Monday, May 6, 1907

  • SHELTON – 600 people pack Clark’s Hall to celebrate the first anniversary of the founding of St. Joseph’s Parish, and the breaking of ground for the new church.

May 7

  • SEYMOUR – Town Hall’s exterior appearance on Second Street is greatly improved, and now there is talk of beautifying the grounds.

May 8

  • ANSONIA – A “reserve hose house”, which will utilize an old fire department hose cart, will be installed on the Nelson property on North Main Street to better protect the area.

May 9

  • DERBY – Governor Woodruff and his staff visits Derby to open a Spanish American War Veterans’ fair at the Gould Armory, where he makes an address. Crowds cheer him as he proceeds from the railroad station to the Armory.

May 11

  • Snow falls in early morning, but does not stick.
  • ANSONIA – A smallpox case is discovered in a gypsy camp north of the Town Farm near the Seymour border. The entire camp is quarantined, with a 24 hour guard posted to keep anyone from entering or leaving.
  • ANSONIA – There are 19 automobiles registered in Ansonia. Only one person owns two. 5 are Packards. There are also two Pierce-Arrows and two Columbias. There is also one each of the following: Locomobile, Pope-Hartford, National, PeerlessFranklinReo, and Oldsmobile. Franklin Farrel has the only foreign car, a French made Rochet-Schnieder

May 12

  • The morning temperature is 30 degrees, causing frost conditions.
  • ANSONIA – The Frank A. Robbins circus arrives in Ansonia, and begins to unpack at Woodlot. $200 in tickets is stolen during the unloading. 
  • DERBY – The planned Sunday shows at Sterling Opera House are cancelled, due to protests by the ministers of Derby Methodist, Second Congregational, and First Congregational churches

Monday, May 13, 1907

  • ANSONIA – The Frank A. Robbins circus continues at Woodlot. A man’s pockets are picked of $400 there today.
  • ANSONIA – The gypsy infected with smallpox is removed from his camp and taken to the pest house on the town farm nearby.

May 14

  • SEYMOUR – The new trolley tracks on Main Street are completed, but have been covered with dirt so they will not be an inconvenience before they are ready to use.

May 15

  • Today is considered Straw Hat Day, when the temperature is normally considered warm enough to wear straw hats. There are many for sale in local stores, but few being bought because of unseasonable cold.
  • ANSONIA – The gypsy camp near the town arm is still quarantined and under 24 hour guard. People from throughout the Valley who came there recently to have their fortunes told are now afraid of contracting smallpox.
  • DERBY – Judge Downs announces anyone arrested for intoxication on Sunday in Derby will be sent to jail. Residents generally approve of this measure.

May 16

  • ANSONIA – The Maple Street Bridge will be reinforced with a dressing of crushed stone. Last fall’s concrete was laid too late into the year, and is a bit soft.
  • ANSONIA – The State hive of Ladies of the Maccabees, which is an auxiliary of the Knights of the Maccabees, hold their annual convention at Ansonia Opera House. The City’s hive was chartered on August 3, 1903, and numbers 33 members. 
  • DERBY – Many of the Ladies of the Maccabees delegates are staying at Bassett House. They hold a banquet there this evening.
  • SHELTON – Pine Rock Park will open this summer. Roller skating and dancing will be the main attractions, and picnickers will be better catered this year

May 17

  • ANSONIA – The pest house now has a telephone. The doctor who is treating the gypsy infected with smallpox is grateful that he now has a means of communicating with the outside world.
  • ANSONIA- The Ladies of the Maccabees convention closes. This is the only day that the convention is open to the public.
  • DERBY – The trolley employees of the Consolidated Railway & Lighting Company employees form a labor union.
  • SEYMOUR – The new trolley bridge over Bladen’s Brook is nearly completed.
  • SEYMOUR – Citizen Engine Company’s Button steam fire engine returns with a new boiler from the Bigelow Company in New Haven.
  • SHELTON – The Shelton Trap Rock Quarry reopens.
  • SHELTON – The Wells Hollow Schoolhouse is overcrowded. It is 14’x16.5′, 9′ high, and houses 34 students.

Tuesday, May 21, 1907

  • 150 area men of the Naugatuck Division of the New York, New Haven, & Hartford Railroad join the section men and work train hands from other divisions on strike, for a 10% increase in wages. The strike began in the main division yesterday.
  • ANSONIA – The quarantine is lifted at the gypsy camp on the edge of town. The gypsies immediately pack up and leave Ansonia, although the man who was infected with smallpox is still in the pest house, though his condition is improving. His wife is also has stayed in Ansonia to be with him.
  • ANSONIA – An auction is held for the assets and equipment of the defunct Omega Steel Company. One of the items up for auction includes the company’s so called “$1 million secret” for making steel. Only gets one bid is received for the secret, for $25, which is refused.
  • SEYMOUR – A Boys’ Brigade branch is formed in town. So far 38 have joined, and it is expected that 75 will join eventually. The organization is billed as a uniformed, paramilitary organization sponsored by Christian churches for “Christian manliness”. 
  • SEYMOUR – The weather is unseasonably cold. Snow squalls are reported in town today.

May 22

  • Temperatures just above freezing overnight and early this morning. A slight frost is reported in Seymour, Oxford, and the White Hills of Shelton.
  • DERBY – The landscaping at Derby Green, the Derby Public Library, and the new Derby High School on Minerva Street, are attracting much favorable attention
  • SEYMOUR – A band of striking railroad workers pass through Seymour, trying to induce other railroad workers to join them. 

May 23

  • Area farmers disagree on the severity yesterday’s late frost will have on crops, though all are concerned. 
  • DERBY – There has been an increase in the number of females spotted driving automobiles, which at this time in history is considered an odd sight.
  • SHELTON – All union carpenters, plumbers, etc, walk off job at International Silver Company on Bridge Street, because they will not work with a gang of non union laborers who are whitewashing the interior of a new building on the factory complex.

May 24

  • DERBY – 100 striking railroad workers gather for a peaceful rally at Elks’ Hall.
  • DERBY – Valvoline Oil Company will build oil tanks near the Derby Docks.

May 25

  • DERBY – The newly organized Housatonic Lumber Company has bought out the buildings and equipment of Carter & Hubbell lumber company, and will soon begin conducting a lumber business in Derby. 100 years later, they are still doing so.
  • SHELTON – The new Commodore Hull School will be 84’x66′, 2 stories high, with outer walls composed of terra cotta blocks. It will have 2 large recreation rooms on the first floor, 1 each for boys and girls, and 4 classrooms on second floor.

May 26 DECORATION DAY

  • ANSONIA – The City holds evening memorial services in evening at Ansonia Opera House for Civil War dead.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – The cities hold joint Decoration Day exercises this evening at Sterling Opera House and the Civil War monument on Derby Green, sponsored by the Kellogg Post GAR, which serves both communities.
  • SEYMOUR – Upson Post GAR conducts memorial exercises at the Seymour Methodist Church.
  • SHELTON – Kellogg Post GAR holds memorial services this rainy afternoon on Huntington Green. It is noted that Spanish American War veterans participate in the ceremonies for the first time this year.

Monday, May 27, 1907

  • ANSONIA – A downpour causes the Naugatuck River to rise 6″, and overwhelms city’s drainage system. Beaver Brook almost overflows its banks. Many cellars are flooded, and several inches of water covers Jersey Street.
  • SEYMOUR – At 2:15 PM, Car No. 142, the first trolley car to travel on the new Seymour extension arrives at Main and Bank Streets.

May 28

  • ANSONIA – The mattress allegedly used by the gypsy smallpox patient wasn’t fully burned along with the rest of the items he came into contact with, and has reportedly been left by the side of road. Feathers from the mattress are blowing around, alarming many.
  • ANSONIA – Railroad agents are reportedly combing the “foreign sections” of town, hiring strikebreakers. There is no end in sight to the railroad worker strike.
  • SEYMOUR – A freight car derails just south of the North Main Street bridge. The Sentinel reports “something is radically wrong with the tracks at that point”. 
  • SEYMOUR – The famed wanderer Johnny ‘o the Woods, who has not been seen since early March, spent the night in the Seymour lockup.
  • SHELTON – The International Silver Company on Bridge Street is still on strike, even though the non-union whitewashing of its new building is nearly done. The union says its members won’t return to work unless the union gets to whitewash the building, or if the amount that would have been paid to do the job is put into union’s treasury.

May 29

  • Severe frost in the early morning.
  • ANSONIA – Johnny o’ the Woods is reportedly heading towards Ansonia, where a charitable fund has been raised to pay for his care. Apparently not wishing to spend the remainder of his days on Ansonia’s Town Farm, he seems to elude detection, as there is no mention of his whereabouts in the paper for the rest of the week.
  • ANSONIA – The gypsy smallpox patient has been discharged into the custody of his parents and wife. They are heading to New Jersey to rejoin their band. All bedding that came into contact with the patient has been destroyed, and the pest house has been disinfected.
  • SEYMOUR – 100 striking Italian railroad workers armed with clubs pass through town early in the morning. They later get into “serious trouble” in High Rock Grove in Beacon Falls.

May 30

  • ANSONIA – 5000 gather for the decorations at Pine Grove and St. Mary’s Cemeteries. 2000 march in the city’s first Memorial Day parade. The address is given by Rev. Mr. Blatz Jr., of Ansonia Methodist Church
  • DERBY – A baby carriage gets loose on Main Street near Minerva Street, and rolls down backward down the hill. It strikes a horse drawn truck, but the driver stops the horses before the impact to avoid crushing it. The carriage topples, but a pillow falls under the baby, saving his life.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – Fine weather for the Memorial Day parade. The parade stops in Oak Cliff Cemetery, and the Civil War monument on Derby Green, where Gen. Charles Pine gives a stirring address.
  • SEYMOUR – The Memorial Day parade goes from Second Street up Bank Street to Central School. 300 schoolchildren march in the parade carrying small flags, all the way to the Spruce Street soldier’s monument. Rev W. H. Kidd of New Haven gives the address.

May 31

June

Saturday, June 1, 1907

  • SHELTON – Many new homes are being erected in the North End of downtown.

June 2

  • DERBY & ANSONIA – A meeting at St. Mary’s Church to organize care for the St. Mary’s cemeteries is largely attended.

Monday, June 3, 1907

  • ANSONIA – A new New England Order of Protection lodge is formed.
  • ANSONIA – The city’s expenses to care for the recent gypsy smallpox case cost $395. The physician, Dr. Sanford’s expenses alone were $225.
  • ANSONIA & DERBY – Stephen Tracy, of 223 Elizabeth Street, Derby, reveals to the Ansonia Board of Charities that he had sheltered the locally famous, elderly wanderer Johnny o’ the Woods in his barn behind St. Mary’s Church. He told Johnny in March he had to chose to go to Town Farm, where many Valley residents had contributed a large fund to pay for his care, or leave. Johnny did chose to leave, but returned few days ago. He absolutely does not want to live on the Town Farm (a.k.a. Poorhouse).
  • DERBY – Double tracking of the trolley line has begun. The pavement is torn  up on lower Main Street.

June 4

  • ANSONIA – Ice slips out the back of an ice wagon on Main Street. Half of the thoroughfare is blocked, from the curb to the trolley tracks, with several hundred pounds of ice.
  • DERBY – The Derby Lodge, BPOE votes to lease the upper 2 floors of the B.J. McManus building on Elizabeth Street, starting about September 1.
  • SEYMOUR – The first trolley car to travel between Seymour and Naugatuck makes its inaugural run this afternoon. The trolley was loaded with officials from both towns, as well as Beacon Falls (which is along the way), and Waterbury (which is now connected to Seymour via Naugatuck. The large closed car, #261, leaves at 3:54. It encounters a bit of trouble in Beacon Falls when it slips off the track but it is quickly put back on. The trolley left later than scheduled, and that combined with the minor derailment along the way led to a great amount of apprehension when it was late arriving in Seymour. The crowd that gathered to see the first trolley arrive was relieved when it came into sight at Main Street and Bank Street at 5:00 PM.

June 5

  • OXFORD – “The village green has been clipped and is looking very nice. The center never looked prettier than at the present time. The houses’ frontings on the green have all been put in order for the season, and look very neat and trim”.
  • SHELTON – Frequent dynamiting is occurring at the Shelton Trap Rock quarry.

June 6

  • ANSONIA – The large 18 to 20 room house and spacious grounds of Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Wallace on North Cliff Street sold to Church of the Assumption. It fronts 90′ of both North Cliff Street and North Main Street. The Church would later convert the house into a convent, and it burned down just prior to the first Flood of 1955.
  • ANSONIA – An Imperial Japanese Navy Lieutenant is in the city to inspect work being done at Farrel Foundry and Machine Company for his government. The factory is making castings for turbine engines, which will be used for navy cruisers being built in Fall River.
  • DERBY – Boaters who moor near the Derby Docks are upset that thieves who they call ‘dock rats’ are stealing articles from their boats. This includes draining tanks of gasoline. They vow to catch them.

June 7

  • DERBY & SHELTON – Several launch owners in Derby and Shelton plan to attend the Jamestown Exposition, by boating down there.

June 8

  • DERBY – Construction on the new St. Michael’s Church is expected to be complete by July 4.
  • SEYMOUR – A 16 year old local boy is killed when he struck just above the heart with a fastball while at bat during a baseball game, in front of a large crowd of people.

June 9

  • SHELTON – A large dog goes on rampage in White Hills. It starts by attacking 2 cows and a horse at one farm, then attacks an ox at another. Moving to a third farm, it kills 2 ducks at another. People are in an uproar. Many arm themselves and search for the animal. The dog is killed by Tracy McEwen

Wednesday, June 12, 1907

  • ANSONIA – Bridge Street shopkeepers want their street to receive the same level of maintenance and cleaning that Main Street does.
  • DERBY – The Board of Aldermen is again debating the question of whether to start leaving streetlights on all night.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – Bass are dying off in Lake Housatonic. No one is sure why.
  • OXFORD – A large room in the basement of the Episcopal Rectory has been made into a meeting room for socials in the community.

June 13

  • ANSONIA – Many are violating the law that says all bicycles and rubber-tired vehicles must have at least one lantern lit at night.
  • SEYMOUR – The macadam road under the Maple Street viaduct is nearly completed. The road, unofficially called “the subway”, will hopefully no longer be known by its other nickname, the “mud-way”.

June 14

  • ANSONIA – The 22 members of the Ansonia High School Class of 1907 are awarded their diplomas at the Ansonia Opera House.
  • DERBY – The 11 members of the Derby High School Class of 1907 are awarded their diplomas at the Sterling Opera House.
  • SEYMOUR – The 8 members of the Seymour High School Class of 1907 are awarded their diplomas at the High School. 

June 15

  • ANSONIA –  17 members of the High School graduating class accept an invitation to take a trip up the Housatonic River in F. B. Westmore’s launch “Bessie J”.
  • SHELTON – Howe Avenue barber George Gade’s ice water fountain is very popular this time of year.

Monday, June 17, 1907

  • DERBY – People in are upset that there are piles of peanut shells and fruit skins on and around nearly every bench on the Green, left over from the weekend.
  • DERBY – Two Lafayette Street brothers, ages 7 and 5, are playing with high explosives they  found on Anson Street. The explosives go off, apparently when the 7 year old was hitting it with a rock. He is killed instantly. His 5 year old brother is horribly mangled. Accounts vary as to exactly what happened.

June 18

  • Barefoot boys and girls are appearing on the streets again, a sure sign of summer. Icemen are warned to be careful, as the children try to get behind the wagons to get chips of ice to cool themselves. 
  • SHELTON – Much of the foundation of the new St. Joseph’s Church on Coram Avenue has been laid.

June 19

  • Farmers have complained for years about how dust kicked up by automobiles ruins their crops. Now there are so many autos on the road, the drivers themselves are complaining that driving on the roads is like “taking a dust bath”.
  • OXFORD – “The temperature of the last few days has made it safe to let the fires go out for the first time this season. It now gives promise to the other extreme, too warm to be comfortable. The ground is becoming very dry and dusty and a good rain would be welcome”.
  • SHELTON – The Shelton High School Class of 1907 has its graduation exercises at the Sterling Opera House in Derby.

June 20

  • Foul odors are starting to come from backyard garbage heaps

June 21

  • ANSONIA – A boy is struck while darting out from behind an ice wagon. He suffers minor injuries.
  • ANSONIA – Improvements have been completed at the Methodist Episcopal Church on Main Street. The entire front lot has been transformed, and it now has pleasing landscape.
  • DERBY – 75 acres, on the west side of Seymour Avenue, between Hawkins Street and Division Street, are being developed into building lots.

June 22

  • DERBY – A public telephone has finally been installed in the waiting room of the Derby Train Station.
  • SHELTON – The newly completed Church of the Good Shepherd is consecrated by Bishop C.E. Brewster in a big ceremony on Coram Avenue.

June 23

  • ANSONIA – The Church of the Assumption, which has been under construction for many years, is dedicated by Bishop Tierney in front of a huge crowd on North Cliff Street. The church is still not considered completed as of this time, as the steeple has not been built. (The steeple would never be added).

Monday, June 24, 1907

  • SEYMOUR – Four machinists employed by Fowler Nail Company are on strike over their hours. This is the only unionized factory in Seymour.

June 25

  • Fireworks are appearing in local stores. The law says they can not be set off before 4 AM on the Fourth of July.
  • SHELTON – The Naugatuck Valley Motor Boat Club holds first meeting in its new clubhouse

June 26

  • An afternoon shower breaks the heat wave of the last few days, dropping the temperatures dramatically. By 6 AM the following morning, the temperatures have gone from 92 to 60 degrees.
  • ANSONIA – The first wedding is held at the new Church of the Assumption, when Teresa A. Darrigan of Ansonia weds Patrick J. Boland of Derby.
  • OXFORD – “There is not the slightest doubt but that summer temperature is with us now, and it seems perfectly safe to shut up the coal bin for the summer. Can anyone be found who does not sound a note of rejoicing?”

June 27

  • There have been 19 weddings in the Valley in three days. All but one of the brides are local.
  • DERBY – A contest is being held to name the new subdivision off Seymour Avenue. It is open to all Derby, Shelton, and Ansonia children, and the prize is $25.
  • DERBY – Boaters are complaining about “naked” men bathing below the Derby Docks. Whether they are actually nude or simply not wearing “appropriate clothing“, which back then covered the neck to the knees, is unclear.

June 28

  • SHELTON – A 21 pound turtle is captured in the Shelton Canal

June 29

  • SEYMOUR – The Dayton House, also known as the William Hull house, has been moved from its old location to a new foundation further south on the same lot, and is being made into a two family tenement.
  • SEYMOUR – The old Humphreys Mill, one of Seymour’s most ancient landmarks, is rapidly being torn down. It will be replaced by a concrete structure to be occupied by the H. P.& E. Day Company. Many are taking old nails as souvenirs.
  • SHELTON – A serious fire breaks out at the Derby Rubber Reclaiming Company on Canal Street after midnight. The pouring rain hampered both the fire’s ability to spread and the firemen’s ability to put it out.
  • SHELTON – The factories are very busy, despite the fact this is normally a dull period of the year. The Shelton Canal will be drained next week, as it is annually, and the factories normally give their employees their summer vacations at that time. But this year some factories are only giving 3 day summer vacations, the absolute minimum, for their shutdowns.

July

Tuesday, July 2, 1907

  • ANSONIA – 15 local meat dealers, who primarily cater to Slovak and Russian immigrants, sign an agreement that they will no longer extend credit to people who rent in boarding houses. They say they have lost thousands every year on that segment of the population.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – Many are camping in tents along the banks of the Housatonic River.

July 3

  • OXFORD – “There is one remarkable feature of the season that we have not seen mentioned heretofore and it is the entire absense from apple trees of the worm nests. So far we have failed to notice one on any trees in the village”.

July 4 – INDEPENDENCE DAY

  • ANSONIA – The City has a rough Independence Day. Many fireworks are set off. The Ansonia Congregational Church is broken into early in the morning so the bell could be rung in the early morning. The Baptist Church is also broken into at that time for the same reason with a ladder. Both churches are damaged. Guards thwart attempts to break into Christ Church and the Methodist Church. Many fireworks are set off. There are some arrests and injuries throughout the day. Vandalism occurs on Main Street. Ansonia – some arrests & injuries. Many fireworks. Congregational Church broken into to ring bell, Baptist Church with ladder. The entire police department is on duty, but officers can’t be everywhere at once.
  • DERBY – Many fireworks are set off. Many are injured by them.
  • DERBY – The new St. Michael’s Church is dedicated at 10:30 AM. The square in front of the church is packed with people. A parade with 500 people, including all of the local Polish societies, precedes the dedication.
  • DERBY – A 31 lb. fish is caught in Lake Housatonic.
  • SEYMOUR – The town is largely quiet, as many have left for the shore or the country. There is one injury – a man firing a gun into the air to celebrate.
  • SHELTON – Independence Day is largely quiet, with one notable exception. A number of boys delight themselves by placing dynamite caps along the trolley line, as they pop when the trolleys run them over. Finally, someone gets the idea of placing the whole box along the line. The continuous pops under the trolley frighten the passengers, and it comes to a stop. While people’s attention is diverted to the trolley, hoodlums ransack a nearby fruit store.

July 5

  • ANSONIA – A man drowns in the Ansonia Canal. His body is recovered the following day.

July 6

  • SHELTON – The Borough lockup has been renovated to more humane conditions.

July 7

  • DERBY – The new organ is dedicated at the Unitarian Church, presented by Andrew Carnegie and Captain & Mrs. Paul Schabert.

Monday, July 8, 1907

  • DERBY – Police Chief Charles H. Arnold announces his resignation, effective at the end of the month. All are surprised, normally the position lasts for life. No reason is given.
  • DERBY – The Imperial Moving Picture Company movies at the Sterling Opera House are very popular, but because of the hot weather they will be discontinued until fall.
  • SEYMOUR – The opening of the new Seymour – Naugatuck trolley line has been delayed due to legal technicalities. Many are disappointed.
  • SHELTON – A 6 year old boy falls into the Shelton Canal and drowns. The water had to be drained out of the Canal to locate him.

July 10

  • Trolleys on the Consolidated line (serving Ansonia, Derby, and Shelton) will be getting revolving signs that show the stops the trolley will be making.
  • “Haying is now in full swing. Indications are that the crop will be fully as large as last year. The weather is just right for haying, and some of the farmers have hopes of getting in their entire crop without wetting”.
  • ANSONIA – The Theodore Giuse farmhouse in David’s Meadow (part of today’s Ansonia Nature Center) burns to the ground. The house was one of the oldest in town. The barn also caught fire but was saved.
  • DERBY – Much reporting is being done on the Derby Police Department since Chief Arnold announced his resignation. There are many claims that the force has much troubles with petty jealousies and other major problems. The Sentinel now says the force “needs a shakeup”, and there is talk of dismissing every police officer, except for a few, and starting all over again.

July 11

  • ANSONIA – African American residents gather at the Tabernacle Baptist Church on Colburn Street to incorporate a “Negro Business League”.

July 12

  • DERBY – The body of a man missing since Wednesday is found in Birmingham Canal near Sterling Piano.
  • DERBY – The job of Chief of Police has been offered to John W. Nolan. He has not accepted as of yet.

July 13

  • DERBY – The Board of Aldermen orders an investigation of the Derby Police Department by their own committee and the Police Commissioner. The announce plans to abolish the Grade A patrolmen, who patrol the streets during the day, saying the new Chief will do the patrols himself. They also raise the Chief’s salary. It is later reported that people are confused and dissatisfied with these moves.
  • SEYMOUR – The Seymour – Naugatuck trolley line begins regular operations. The Seymour stop is at Main and Bank Street. The cars leave south toward Ansonia at 18 & 48 minutes past the hour, and north to Naugatuck and Waterbury at 22 and 52 minutes past the hour. By coincidence, the new steel trolley poles for Main Street arrived today, too.

July 14

  • ANSONIA – 12,000 people ride the trolley over the weekend, which is now newly connected to Waterbury via Seymour, over the weekend.

Monday, July 15, 1907

  • SEYMOUR – A 10 ton road roller crossing over Bladen’s Brook near Cedar Ridge Schoolhouse crashes through the bridge into the brook below. No one, including the engineer that was driving it, is injured. 

July 16

  • ANSONIA – Many are complaining about the odor coming from Naugatuck River near Jersey Street, which is being made worse because walls are being built right up to the riverbank to extend yards into the river. This is interfering with the river’s natural current, and sewage from the neighborhood goes directly into the river, where it collects in stagnant pockets along the banks. The odor is noticeable from the Maple Street Bridge. The diverted current and new river walls are also raising fears of increased flood risk.
  • ANSONIA – Many are upset that no arrests have been made in the Fourth of July break-in at the Congregational Church, despite the fact many were involved and there were many witnesses. Complaints are now arising that the police department is “too lax”.
  • SEYMOUR – The road roller is removed from Bladen’s Brook 

July 17

  • ANSONIA – Christopher Kelley dies in Ansonia. Born in Ireland in 1828, he came to the United States 60 years ago, at one time working at Colt Firearms Manufacturing Company in Hartford. When Samuel Colt died, he was one of the employees that served as his pallbearers. He rode the first train from Ansonia to New Haven, later recalling that its passengers had to dismount the train and help it push it over Turkey Hill in Derby.
  • OXFORD – “With the completion of the trolley from Seymour to Waterbury, there seems to be a very logical reason that there should be a line built from Seymour through to Woodbury, which, when completed, would not only prove a popular route for pleasure seekers, but would also prove profitable as a freight line”.
  • SEYMOUR – A new temporary bridge is under construction over Bladen’s Brook near the Cedar Ridge Schoolhouse, where a road roller destroyed the bridge 2 days before.

July 18

  • The area is in the grip of a heat waved. The temperature is 95 degrees today in Ansonia, the hottest day of the year so far. Many are seen sleeping at night on their roofs and verandas to try to beat the oppressive heat.
  • ANSONIA – A trolley strikes a bakery wagon on lower Main Street. 3 injured, all from the wagon.
  • DERBY – The temperature is 96 in Derby. The pump on Derby Green is in constant use, with lines forming at it by residents desiring to fill buckets up with its cool, clear water.
  • SHELTON – The new Naugatuck Valley Motor Boat clubhouse has an open house. 150 attend.
  • SHELTON – The Specialty Weaving Company shuts down in the early afternoon due to the intense heat. Other Shelton factories follow suit later.

July 19

  • SEYMOUR – The trolley jumps the rack on Main Street near the New Haven Copper Company. It is righted in about an hour. There is talk in town of putting extra patrolmen on duty on Saturday and Sunday nights, due to so many coming in on the new trolley.

July 20

  • SHELTON – Frederick Dimon of White Hills is using his automobile to drive cows to and from pasture.
  • SHELTON – Lightning destroys the barn of George Shelton on Booth’s Hill. This marks the first time lightning destroyed a building on Booth’s Hill in 70 years. The barn is a total loss, all the newly cut hay inside is destroyed.

July 21

  • SEYMOUR – Another trolley derailment today.

Monday, July 22, 1907

  • ANSONIA – Many attend the first night of the Ansonia Firemen’s Carnival at Woodlot. It includes a circus, trained dogs, a “Hindu theater”, magicians, and a tent called “Fairyland” with a dancer. 
  • SHELTON – The Mill Street Schoolhouse and Coram Schoolhouse (off River Road) have been enlarged.

July 23

  • Canoeing is becoming popular on the Housatonic River.
  • Riders on the new Naugatuck trolley are complaining about sewer odors coming from the Naugatuck River. In the days that follow, the Sentinel has articles on the pollution in each of the Lower Naugatuck Valley towns. There is no fish in the river anymore, and no town along it has an adequate sewage system.

July 24

  • ANSONIA – Ansonia merchants are demanding cleaner streets. The newspaper says the citizens are realizing that city is “a dirty place”. Some women with white dresses on won’t even get off the trolley. 
  • DERBY – Mayor Howe sends Police Commissioner Kerwin a registered letter, stating in effect that he is fired. The letter does not reach Commissioner Kerwin until the 26th.
  • SEYMOUR – The general manager of Tingue Manufacturing Company, along with his wife and 2 other women, are riding in a horse drawn wagon on Derby Avenue Seymour when they are struck by an automobile operated by Atty. Torrance (son of the late Chief Justice David Torrance) of Derby. The wagon overturns, and the occupants are thrown out. No serious injuries.

July 25

  • ANSONIA – There are many complaints about locomotive whistles and bells at night.
  • DERBY – Main Street merchants threaten a class action lawsuit against the City if their basements flood again this year. The sewer pipes are too small, causing them to back up into their basements at times of heavy rain. There have been several disastrous floods which ruined stocks and merchandise in the past few years.
  • DERBY – John Nolan, who was asked to replace Chief Arnold, who resigned as the Derby Police Chief, informs Mayor Howe and Commissioner Kerwin that he is declining the position. Kerwin, apparently unaware that a letter stating that he is fired is in the mail, asks Joseph Casey to accept the position. Meanwhile, outgoing Chief Arnold refuses to appear before a the Board of Aldermen Police Investigation Committee.

July 26

  • ANSONIA – The Forepaugh & Sells fire circus arrives at the freight yard during a thunderstorm early in the morning. The first heavy circus wagon becomes stuck in the mud on Mill Street, The fire engines that are part of the circus had to take Clifton Avenue to get to Division Street, where the canal bridge was strengthened by an advance circus team prior to their arrival to bear their weight. Because of the muddy roads, the circus train backs down the tracks to Division Street to unload the rest of the heavy equipment. Later that morning, a big crowd from all over the Valley watches the 20 minute long parade down Main Street, as the Forepaugh & Sells circus heads to Division Street. There are many fire engines in the parade, as that his a major feature of the circus. The Ansonia police warns citizens that a large band of pickpockets are following the circus, but no incidents are reported.
  • DERBY – Sellout crowds exceeding 10,000 people attend both of the shows of the Forepaugh & Sells Circus, which set up in the old horse race track off Division Street. Highlights of the shows include an “automobile somersault”. This is considered a “higher class” than some of the other circuses that visited previously – employees are forbidden to swear at any time when around the public, for instance. Division Street is torn up by the circus wagons, but the troupe has a crew that fixes it up to the condition it was in before leaving.
  • DERBY – The police department mess continues. Commissioner Kerwin receives his termination letter, and now it is unclear where that leaves his appointment of Jospeh Casey for Chief of Police. Meanwhile, a patrolman submits his resignation.

July 27

  • DERBY – The rain causes a small backup of water into the basements of Main Street basements, causing worry but little damage among merchants’ stocks. The complain to the City’s health officer.
  • DERBY – Mayor Howe says Police Commissioner Kerwin’s removal is due to his refusal to allow the mayor the sole right to dictate the new Chief of Police and officers. Kerwin thought that he had the sole right. The rumor mill is in full swing in the City over this, and the stories are turning nasty. 
  • DERBY – Lots will be sold at auction at the new development off Seymour Avenue, which is to be called Mountainside.

Monday, July 29, 1907

  • DERBY – The police department controversy continues. The Board of Aldermen’s police committee will press for an inquiry with outgoing Chief Arnold, who refuses to appear. Meanwhile, Mayor Howe appoints John Hurley the new police commissioner. Commissioner Hurley announces that he has chosen Daniel T. O’Dell as the new police chief, and he is sworn in immediately. 

July 30

  • ANSONIA – The Century Gas & Electric Fixture Company of New York City will open a branch in the Gardner Building, in an area formerly occupied by Omega Steel.
  • DERBY – A trolley collides with a loaded undertaker’s wagon on Housatonic Avenue. One man on the wagon breaks his leg.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – The United Realty Company is incorporated with a stock of $25,000 in Derby. Its purpose is to build houses in Derby and Shelton for working class families. The company will initially build five 6-family buildings, each apartment will have 4 rooms. Two will be on Howe Avenue, across from Riverview Park. Three others will be on Howe Avenue near Maltby Street.
  • SEYMOUR – One of the first nighttime baseball games played under electric lights in the area starts at 8 PM at Park Field. The lights are made possible becaues the visiting team, the Cherokee Indians, brings their own lights and dynamo. The local team defeats them 4-1.

July 31

  • ANSONIA – The Southern New England Telephone Company is found installing telephone poles on Ansonia Public Library property without permission. The work is ordered stopped by the library president. SNET explains the work was approved by the street commissioner, but it turns out he had no authority to do so. SNET apologizes, and says the company will repair the damage.
  • OXFORD – “The sewing school has been given a vacation from this date until the warm weather is over”.

August

Thursday, August 1, 1907

  • ANSONIA – The switcher engine that was used for years at the Ansonia freight yard is being replaced by a new one which is much larger. The new locomotive has a fire pump on it, which will be useful for fighting both building fires near the railroad tracks, as well as train fires on the line itself.

August 2

  • Rain is needed. The potato crops are drying up in the fields. The corn is OK for now, but there are fears the drought may affect the apple crop.

August 3

  • The trolleys now equipped with fire grenades, or chemical fire extinguishers.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – The American Typewriter Company, whose machines were assembled by Williams Typewriter Company in on Housatonic Avenue in Derby, moves to space in the OK Tool Company on Riverdale Avenue in Shelton,, because Williams now too busy to assemble American typewriters.

Monday, August 5, 1907

  • DERBY – The trustees of the Derby-Shelton YMCA vote to purchase the Sterling property, adjoining the Bassett House, for $18,000. The Sterling house will be used for the YMCA.

August 7

  • OXFORD – “There is a great scarcity of milk in the village this summer, the demand being much greater than the supply. If someone would purchase an extra cow and supply this want, there would be much rejoicing among the people”.

August 8

  • ANSONIA – Complaints of many homeless people in the Maple Street and Franklin Street area.
  • SEYMOUR – Fire destroys W.O. Davis stable and livery on Broad Street. All 12 horses, carriages and much of the equipment inside is saved. The flames threatened the Seymour House, but the Seymour Fire Department kept it wet to prevent that from happening.

August 9

  • ANSONIA – The Naugatuck River is filthy, particularly above the Bridge Street Bridge. Local officials are at a loss of what to do.
  • SEYMOUR – A New Haven father and son, staying at a summer home on Chestnut Tree Hill, are seriously injured when a powder can they were going to use to blow up a log explodes.

August 10

  • Lack of rain is now lowering the Naugatuck River, making it harder for the industries that draw water power from it. 
  • DERBY – The Fire Department waters the dry grass on Derby Green.
  • DERBY – Suburban Park, a new baseball field at McDermott’s farm, opens for the first time. A Shelton team beats Derby 7-6.

Monday, August 12, 1907

  • ANSONIA – A report shows possible Black Hand activity on in the City. An Italian immigrant received a letter, allegedly from them, instructing him to deliver a sum of money to a representative in Ansonia. The man was so badly frightened he went back to Italy.
  • ANSONIA – Mayor Charters calls for the removal of all overhead wires on Main Street, so they won’t hamper operations of the fire department’s new ladder truck.

August 13

  • Horse owners are complaining that rising costs are making them almost as expensive as automobiles.
  • SHELTON – There has been a call to cover Burying Ground Brook within the Borough of Shelton limits. With water running very low due to the ongoing drought, the many animal carcasses and junk thrown into it is not washing away. In some cases the garbage is creating dams, which is very bad considering sewage is still flowing into the brook, despite ordinances against it.

August 14

  • DERBY – Derby state representative Ira Hoyt resigns, to assume the post of deputy sheriff. At least one Hartford newspaper accuses it of being a political kickback.
  • OXFORD – “The drought in this vicinity is becoming quite serious. It is said that the ground for 2′ or more in depth is entirely devoid of moisture. Jack’s brook, running through the Centre, is almost dray, and the springs and wells are feeling the effects of so long a dry spell”.

August 15

  • ANSONIA – There are 14 cases of typhoid fever in Ansonia, leading to fears of an epidemic. 
  • DERBY – The bridge over the Birmingham Canal on Water Street is being replaced.
  • SHELTON – The Borough of Shelton needs a new garbage dump, as the section of Riverview Park serving the purpose can no longer be used. Officials are looking at a 100′ deep ravine at under the trolley tracks at High Bridge in the South End. There is talk of building a platform over the ravine to drop garbage to the bottom.

August 16

  • ANSONIA – The typhoid fever cases have been traced to a single milkman, who makes deliveries to those afflicted. The route is closed down, and as a result 200 families do not receive their milk deliveries this morning. Meanwhile a 15th case is reported, and the first death associated with typhoid fever occurs.
  • DERBY – Bennett N. Beard, (future mayor of Shelton) will rebuild 800′ of River Road, starting from the Seymour line, south.

August 17

  • SEYMOUR – The recent loss of the Puddle Hollow neighborhood has caused other Seymour tenements to become overcrowded. Third Street in particular is overcrowded, and there are fears that a fire there may be catastrophic. For instance, one tenement has 13 men and 3 women boarders. Most of the tenants are immigrants.

August 18

  • SHELTON – The cornerstone is laid for the new St. Joseph’s Church.

Monday, August 19, 1907

  • Drought-stricken farmers are desperate for rain.
  • ANSONIA – The railroad owns both sides of Cheever Street off Canal Street. Thus, the railroad felt justified erecting a fence across Cheever Street two days ago, to stop residents from dumping garbage on its property. Mayor Charters is outraged, and orders it torn down. He personally supervises the removal of the fence, and says he will seek legal action if the railroad does it again.
  • DERBY -The Board of Education, in special meeting, votes to accept St. Mary’s Roman Catholic School to alleviate overcrowding. St. Mary’s Church offers the school, on the conditions that Father Fitzgerald be made assistant superintendent, and and no teacher be appointed there without his recommendation. The conditions are accepted. In the days that follow, the deal generates much talk and controversy.
  • SEYMOUR – The first meeting of promoters for building athletic fields and a picnic area along the Naugatuck trolley line at Rimmon Rock is held. Two days later, the name “Rimon Park” is suggested for its name.

August 20

  • SEYMOUR – The drought has now affected the water that powers the industries along the Naugatuck River. Rain is desperately needed.
  • SEYMOUR – It is feared that Thomas Cosgrove may have died in Davis Stables fire on August 8, as he has not been seen since then. It is thought that he may have been smoking in the hayloft, and fell asleep, causing the fire.

August 21

  • ANSONIA – The new ladder truck arrives for the Eagle Hose Co. No. 6.
  • ANSONIA – There are now 23 typhoid fever cases in Ansonia. 1 more is added later in the week.
  • OXFORD – “The great need of rain in this vicinity increases. Jack’s brook is entirely dry and Little river is but a very low brook. The village green shows the burning heat of the sun, where not shaded and is in places quite brown. Just at present very cool nights are the order, and Monday am at 9 o’clock, thermometers not exposed registered thirty degrees. The sun, however, gets in its work heavily each day”.

August 22

  • The Daniels’ Comet is visible overhead.
  • SEYMOUR – The steel trolley poles on Main street Seymour are installed, and are a big improvement over the old wooden ones.

August 23

  • The drought is so bad it is noted there are even less birds and insects.
  • Rain finally arrives at 11:15 PM, and it rains the remainder of the night. It is thought the rain will save the late summer and fall crops, but it may be too late for others. Many are convinced it had to do with St. Swithun’s Day on July 15, because exactly 40 days since then.
  • DERBY – The grass on Derby Green is yellow and burned.
  • SEYMOUR – The second blaze in 2 weeks breaks out at W.R. Brixley Kerite works, in a top floor stockroom.
  • SHELTON – Cows in White Hills are coming down with rabies. Several have died.
  • SHELTON – The Naugatuck Valley Motorboat Club has its annual regatta. The main event is a 25 mile speedboat race. The speedboat Red Devil, of New Haven, wins the 25-mile race.

August 25

  • ANSONIA – The American Brass Company has organized 3 fire companies – one each from the copper, wire, and bass mills. Each fire company consists of 10 men. The ABC is now buying equipment and apparatus for them.

Monday, August 26, 1907

  • ANSONIA – The well known elderly wanderer Johnny o’ the Woods makes a short visit to the City. The fund up set up for his care is now up to $200. He implies he wouldn’t mind staying in Ansonia, but would like to remain free until the cold weather comes. It was noted that unlike his prior appearances, this time he was very clean and dressed nice.
  • DERBY – The Sterling Opera House opens for the season, with the Wayne Campbell play “Across the Desert”. The performance is very crowded, and people had to be turned away.

August 27

  • The temperature drops to 48 degrees at sunrise. People are wearing blankets on the open trolley cars.
  • DERBY – A trolley hits an 800 lb cow on New Haven Avenue, killing it and derailing the trolley. No injuries are reported.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – A women gets her pocketbook snatched by a man on Elizabeth Street. When she resists, he punches her in the face. The man, who is quite overweight, is chased by a crowd down Elizabeth Street, but every time they get close he keeps them at bay with a revolver. When a Derby police officer tries to apprehend him, he points the gun at him and implies he is with the Black Hand. He runs across the bridge to Shelton, where Chief Robbins arrests him at gunpoint. The man had been released recently for shooting a New Haven police officer, and was “living by his wits”. Both he and the woman he robbed are immigrants from the same Italian village.
  • SEYMOUR – Work on new the baseball diamond at Rimon Park progressing. It was decided yesterday to adopt the name Rimon Rock for the new area.

August 28

  • ANSONIA – The number of typhoid fever cases in the city is up to 28.

August 31

  • ANSONIA – The police made 56 arrests in August, which is the most in any month of the department’s history, up to that time.

September

Sunday, September 1, 1907

  • DERBY – The First Congregational Church holds its first service since it closed for repairs and renovations. Many of the Victorian era decorations have given way to a simple, plain, Colonial setting. Many people find it favorable, and more in keeping with the church’s traditions.

Monday, September 2, 1907

  • Labor Day – Most everyone has the day off. Rain spoils many outings. 300 canoe enthusiasts meet at Lake Housatonic.

September 3

  • Children return to school throughout the region today.
  • ANSONIA – There are now 35 cases of typhoid fever in the City.

September 4

  • ANSONIA – 26 year old James Ervin dies at his parents William Street house of typhoid fever on William Street. He had acted as an assistant to the City Clerk.
  • DERBY – The new hospital association (which will later be called Griffin Hospital) will build a 41×45′ three-story building of red brick. The first floor will have 1 ward with 4-6 beds. The second floor will have the same, along with a 3-4 bed children’s ward. The third floor will feature a 14×14′ operating room, and 2 private rooms. As of today, the entrance is planned to be on Division Street, near Seymour Avenue.

September 5

  • The Consolidated Rail and Light Company begins a popular new service allowing school children to purchase 40 tickets for $1, which 50% of the normal fare, to be used only on school days. More children are riding trolleys to school
  • ANSONIA – The trolley company begins a new express trolley service. 2 cars will run twice a day, direct between Waterbury, Ansonia, Bridgeport, and New Haven. 
  • ANSONIA – 2 more cases of typhoid fever are discovered, bringing the total up to 37 cases.
  • SEYMOUR – There are 6 cases of typhoid fever in town.

September 6

  • ANSONIA & SEYMOUR – The Ansonia Water Company is building a road in Seymour to the Peat Swamp Reservoir. Now 200,000 gallons, the reservoir size will be be doubled to supply the East Side of Ansonia.
  • SHELTON – Diphtheria is discovered among the children of 2 families in the Paper Mill block, which is on Wooster Street. The entire block is quarantined, and guards are posted. Most of the inhabitants are immigrants who speak little or no English.

September 7

  • ANSONIA – A 38th case of typhoid fever is discovered.
  • SEYMOUR – A 21 year old man dies of typhoid fever.
  • SHELTON – A distraction is created at the quarantined Paper Mill block to allow a woman to slip past the guards. She rushes to Health Officer Dr. Gould Shelton’s office, where she appeals for aid from the Town. She is escorted back to the block, and both Dr. Shelton and Shelton police officers have to be disinfected.

Monday, September 9, 1907

  • ANSONIA – There are 3 cases of diphtheria on Tomlinson Street. One of the victims, a 12 year old boy, dies today.

September 10

  • DERBY – A proposed merger of all typewriter factories in the USA includes Williams Typewriter.
  • SHELTON – A fire at Meyer’s iron foundry on Wooster Street guts part of the 2-story factory. It takes firemen an hour to put it out.

September 11

  • ANSONIA – Two fires destroy much of the Olderman Building on Main Street, and badly damage the Cohen Building next door. Some businesses, including a grocery store and a barber shop, suffer severe damage, and  a number of apartments are ruined. Many firemen are burned by falling plaster.
  • DERBY – St. Michael’s opens a Polish school in the church basement. Students will first be taught how to speak English, then will receive a regular curriculum and religious instruction.
  • SEYMOUR – Shanties that were occupied for quite some time are being demolished and burned. The nearby Garden City neighborhood is now infested with fleas from the shanties.

September 12

  • ANSONIA – The ruined barbershop in the fire damaged Olderman Building is looted overnight.
  • SEYMOUR – The Seymour Athletic Association has organized, and is leasing quarters in the Stoddard Building on Main Street.
  • SHELTON – Work commences on Shelton’s first brick sewer – 3′ diameter, from the canal to Howe Avenue. It is hoped it can handle the large amount of water that comes down Maltby Street in rainstorms.

September 13

  • SEYMOUR – The Dayton Tavern is being converted to house 2 families.

September 14

  • ANSONIA – The insurance loss on the Olderman Building is $8500. The Cohen Building suffered a $900 loss.
  • DERBY – The old blacksmith shop on lower Main Street has  been torn down, and will be replaced by a 2 story brick building.
  • SHELTON – The work of excavating the basement of the new Commodore Hull School on Oak Avenue is completed.

September 15

  • SHELTON – The body of a man missing for 4 days is found in the Shelton Canal.

Monday, September 16, 1907

  • ANSONIA – The Board of Education says more school rooms are needed, particularly at the Fourth Street School, where there are 123 first and second graders, a ratio of over 60 per teacher. The school is now running half sessions. Some transfers have been necessary. School enrollment is: Ansonia High School – 238, Elm Street School – 320 Garden Street School – 453 Hill Street School – 325 Fourth Street School – 479 Grove Street School – 629 Holbrook Street School – 168.

September 17

  • SEYMOUR – There is an abundance of wild grapes in the woods just outside of town.

September 18

  • ANSONIA – Columbia bowling alleys opens for the 1907-1908 season.
  • DERBY – Stakes have been driven, and excavation of the cellar commenced, on the new hospital off Seymour Avenue at Division Street.
  • OXFORD – Notwithstanding the heavy rains of the past week, the roads have again become quite dusty and showers would be welcome. The freshening of vegetation by the late rains is quite noticeable, and the outlook in consequence quite cheery. The heat during the day of several days now, has had the intensity of midsummer, but after the sun goes down the nights become quite cool.
  • SHELTON – A White Hills woman captures a hawk alive after it flies into her house while going after her chickens.

September 19

  • Ice houses are still stocked unusually high from last winter’s bumper crop of ice.
  • SHELTON – Telephone lines on Howe Avenue are being placed in underground conduits. Overhead wires will soon disappear.

September 20

  • ANSONIA – 2 diphtheria cases are discovered on Holbrook Street. No new typhoid cases have been reported in the last few weeks.
  • DERBY – “Raymond” the escape artist is performing a 3 night engagement at Sterling Opera House. 

September 22

  • SEYMOUR – Residents going to Waterbury to witness the cornerstone laying of St. Mary’s Hospital are delayed by the power station going out in Bull’s Bridge, Beacon Falls, on the Seymour-Naugatuck Trolley line.

Monday, September 23, 1907

  • The heaviest downpour of the year thus far begins at 3 PM – 2″ of rain falls in a short time. 
  • ANSONIA – Main Street is under several inches of water. 
  • DERBY & SHELTON- The Housatonic is very high, a coal boat breaks from its moorings at the Derby Docks and drifts downriver. The sole occupant on the boat at the time, a woman, panics and jumps overboard, but is rescued. The boat runs aground on Two Mile Island in Shelton. Three other boats are missing and presumed swept downriver.
  • OXFORD – “The storm on Monday will probably be called the fall equinoctial. The downpour was steady and heavy all day, and the earth must be well soaked to quite a depth. The brooks felt the efect perceptibly. About 6 PM the wind rose and blew violently with the force of a gale for some time, but aside from whipping leaves and small branches from trees we cannot learn if it did much damage around the village”.
  • SEYMOUR – The Naugatuck River is very high.

September 24

  • ANSONIA & DERBY – 4 bars of copper weighing 750lbs and costing $125 are found along the railroad tracks near Division Street, Ansonia. It is believed thieves snuck onto the boxcar in Derby, and threw them out, intending to retrieve them later. In the old days, copper was transported in open cars, but since in the years since the price of copper has soared, so the metal is now transported in closed boxcars.
  • DERBY – A 10 year old Gilbert Street boy drowns while swimming in the rain-swollen Naugatuck River.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – The coal boat, with 400lbs of coal, that was swept aground on Two Mile Island yesterday, is pulled back to the Derby Docks by 2 tugboats from Bridgeport.

September 25

  • ANSONIA – The roller skating rink at the Ansonia Opera House opens for the season.
  • DERBY – A Temporary Injunction is issued, restraining the City of Derby from paying any more money to support St. Mary’s School, to alleviate public school overcrowding.

September 26

  • Heavy frost this morning.
  • DERBY – The Oak Cliff Cemetery Association buys the Phalen house and the 200 x 275 lot it sits on. The lot is bound on two sides by the cemetery and on a third side by Hawthorne Avenue. The lot will be used for future expansion.

September 27

  • Heavy frost again this morning.
  • ANSONIA – The Fire Department assigns a reserve hose cart that until recently served the Eagle Hose Company at the old Crane property on North Main Street and Fourth Street, to protect the First Ward.

Monday, September 30, 1907

  • SHELTON – The French District schoolhouse teacher discovers the school has been broken into and looted. Nothing of value has been taken, and boys are suspected.

October

Tuesday, October 1, 1907

  • ANSONIA – A city man pays a fine of $24.06 (over $500 in 2007 dollars) for using “abusive language” in the presence of a woman.

October 2

  • DERBY – Max Durrschmidt, well known Shelton builder, will construct the new Derby Hospital.
  • OXFORD – “The last heavy rains have had the effect of raising the brooks and spings and there seems no danger of a water famine in this locality at present”.

October 3

  • DERBY – An East Derby Italian has disappeared, days after he received a Black Hand letter demanding the either he pay $12.50 or be killed. The letter bore a Derby postmark, so it appears the group is active here. The man sent the amount, then got another letter, this time demanding $100. The man was so frightened he left for Italy. His coworkers are very upset and vow to find the extortionists.
  • DERBY – The Elks have taken over 2 floors of the McManus block on Elizabeth Street, and have fixed it up nicely.

October 4

  • DERBY – Investigation into Black Hand activity in Derby reveals the local men who are currently being accused are “worthless bums”. In another case a man was told to get money from his house, while a supposed Black Hand operative waited outside. When he came back outside with a pistol, the extortionist begged for his life, fled, and never came back. This is not exactly the type of vengeance the real Black Hand has a reputation for in 1907, which is why many suspect they are not really part of that group.

October 5

  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Ansonia defeats a local team called the Emeralds in their season opener 11-0.
  • OXFORD – A major scandal has erupted when it is revealed that no annual figures have been submitted by the tax collector, the treasurer’s books are not balanced, and no accounts appear for the school board. The Selectmen are accused of “laxity and neglect”, and it is said this might affect the upcoming local elections.
  • SHELTON – Large Socialist rally on Viaduct Square.

October 6

  • SEYMOUR – Residents are upset that a football game with 2 out of town teams was played on a field in town, just above the Ansonia line. Seymour teams not allowed to play on Sunday, and the town has laws prohibiting sports from being played on those days.

Monday, October 7, 1907 – Election Day in Connecticut Towns

  • OXFORD – John B. Pope, Democrat, is elected First Selectman. Most of the Democrats who are running are elected.
  • SEYMOUR – Republicans sweep the town elections. George A. Divine is elected First Selectman.
  • SHELTON – Republicans sweep the town of Huntington elections. Stephen Palmer wins First Selectman.

October 8

  • Heavy rain and high winds uproot trees, blow over fences and outhouses, and lays corn flat on the ground. Fallen trees interrupts train and trolley service. Schools are cancelled due to the rough weather.
  • OXFORD – “The storm which came Monday night, accompanied as it was with violent wind, has greatly reduced the labor of apple picking, as a large percentage was blown from the trees”.

October 9

  • ANSONIA – Complaints that families who are under quarantine are not observing it, and others are visiting them. Diphtheria is on the increase.

October 10

  • DERBY – A new anti-spitting ordinance will cause one to face a fine not to exceed $10 per infraction if it is violated in public, or on trains or trolleys.
  • SHELTON – Over 600 tickets are sold this morning at the railroad passenger station for the Danbury Fair.

October 13

  • ANSONIA – There are now at least a dozen diphtheria cases. A special patrol of 2 guards is being formed by the Health Officer to enforce quarantines

Monday, October 14, 2007

  • ANSONIA – Mayor Charters’ veto of a grading project for Platt Street and Elm Street is overruled by the Board of Aldermen.
  • DERBY – The last stage line between Derby and New Haven has been taken over by trolleys. The freight business has greatly increased, putting too much strain on the horses.
  • SHELTON – A heavy steel car used at the Shelton Trap Rock quarry loses control, rolling down a narrow gauge track, and smashes through protective bulkhead onto the northern part of Howe Avenue. The car smashes into a wagon that was loading crushed stone. One horse is killed, one seriously injured. The driver, sensing trouble when he heard the car rumbling down the hill, jumped out of the way just in the nick of time.
  • SHELTON – Dennis Donovan closes his grocery and saloon he has conducted on Center Street since 1884, with a note that he can not pay his creditors. He has helped many poor families on credit during hard times, and owes $40,000 as a result.

October 16

  • ANSONIA – There have been 14 identified diphtheria cases since the first of the month. 9 houses are under quarantine – 3 on West side, and the rest on East Side. Patrols to enforce the quarantine have been established on Jersey Street and North State Street.
  • OXFORD – “The foliage on the hillsides is now showing the gorgeous colorings of the season, and the whole landscape is very beautiful. While the air is all that one can ask for the enjoyment of outdoor life, let everyone drink in all they can of it before the long winter really sets in”.

October 18

  • SEYMOUR – The roof of the new reinforced concrete factory of the H. P. & E. Day Company, manufacturers of Waterman Pens, is completed. Construction workers hoist an American flag from the roof, as was custom at the time, to signal its completion.

October 19

  • ANSONIA – Fire destroys a Prospect Street barn. The nearest hydrant was over 600 feet away, and there was not enough water pressure to put out the blaze.

October 20

  • SEYMOUR – When the police learn of a football game being played in the southern part of town on this Sunday, they move to stop it. When they arrive at the game, everyone there, including 2 teams and 500 spectators, flee in a mad panic. Most of those at the game were from Ansonia, and Seymour residents are very aggravated over the fact that they come to Seymour on Sundays to play football, in violation of the law in both towns, thinking they can get away with it.

Monday, October 21, 2007

  • Hard frost overnight. A thin layer of ice forms over small pools and buckets of water.
  • ANSONIA – A coal cart is smashed into kindling by a trolley at Main Street near Division Street. The trolley could not brake in time to avoid the collision because of wet leaves on the tracks. The driver of the coal cart was inside a house on Division Street. The horse hitched to the cart strayed across Main Street street to feed on grass, leaving the cart across the tracks. The horse was knocked down, but not seriously injured.

October 22

  • ANSONIA – First Baptist Church has a reception for its new pastor, Rev. Elbert E. Gates.
  • DERBY – A passenger trolley collides with a Cole’s Express trolley at the New Haven Avenue switch. One woman sustains moderate injuries, while others on the passenger car experience minor injuries.
  • DERBY – An new fire company, called the Independent Hose Company, is forming in the reserve hose house on the corner of Smith Street and Ninth Street.
  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Branford defeats Shelton 20-3 in an away game.

October 23

  • OXFORD – “Work at the cider mill is very brisk these days, and Mr. Andrews is finding few idle minutes”.

October 24

  • DERBY – Enumeration reveals there are 1,934 children of school age in Derby.
  • DERBY – Two very old, large trees in front of St. Mary’s Rectory are taken down. One was a chestnut, the other an oak tree.
  • SHELTON – The Bridgeport trolley crashes into the North End local trolley at Dockery’s Corner. The front of the local car is smashed, and the driver receives minor injuries.

October 25

  • The new local Directories are out. Physically, they are much smaller than the previous directories, and the list of names are in double column format for first time. The directory has a total of 528 pages. Ansonia added 983 new names, and deleted 701, for a total of 6,292 listings. Seymour also increased its listings. Derby actually went down in listings in the past year, with 957 new and 986 deleted for a total of 5,914 listings.
  • ANSONIA – Annual Report of the Almshouse, also known as the Town Farm or Poorhouse, on the Seymour boarder: 18 live there now. In the past year, the residents raised 325 bushels of potatoes, 100 bushels of turnips, 20 bushels of parsnips, 20 bushels of onions, 15 bushels of carrots, 10 bushels of beets, 180 bushels of corn, and two fattened pigs.

October 26

  • DERBY – A 3-year lease has been taken in a large store in the Alling Block on Main Street. The store will be used for moving picture shows.
  • DERBY – The Birmingham Water Company has purchased the Coe Farm, on Coe Lane, one of the oldest farms in the city. This was done to protect its water rights, and the company will move the house and buildings off the land.
  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Ansonia defeats Gunnery at Washington 12-5. Derby defeats Danbury 50-0 at Derby Meadows. The second half of that game is cut short to 10 minutes, to allow the Danbury team a chance to catch their train home. The Sentinel questions if their players even knew how to play the game.

October 27

  • ANSONIA – The Connecticut Football League (which played what we now call soccer) meets at the Hotel Dayton, and decides to disband the league for lack of interest. The teams will still play in friendly contests.
  • SHELTON – The Shelton Basket Company is now manufacturing an adjustable carpenter’s plane, and a chain lock. Demand for both items is brisk.

Monday, October 28, 1907

  • Heavy rainstorms continue for the second day.

October 29

  • ANSONIA – The Street Department estimates the storm water sewers put down earlier this year saved the City $500 flood damage from the last two days of heavy rain.
  • DERBY – Johnny o’ the Woods stayed overnight in Derby. The locally famous, aging transient is now willing to accept boarding from funds raised over the past year through charity this winter.
  • DERBY – There have been 15 diphtheria cases in the past month. 4 have died.
  • SEYMOUR – The Naugatuck River is rising rapidly from the previous 2 days heavy rain. One good effect of this is it is washing away the garbage that lined the riverbank.
  • SHELTON – High water on the Housatonic River causes many factories along Canal Street, including Star Pin, Griffing Button, Silver Plate Cutlery, and the R.N. Bassett Company to close. This is the first time the water level has caused factories to close in years.
  • SHELTON – A trolley jumps the tracks on the north end of Howe Avenue after an axle breaks. Passengers are thrown about, but no serious injuries.

October 30

  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Ansonia is defeated by Naugatuck 15-5 in an away game.
  • OXFORD – “It is rumored that the State Police have recently visited Oxford, securing personal evidence of the violation of the Sunday liquor laws here”.
  • SEYMOUR – The Rimmon Manufacturing Company has changed hands, and is now called the Rimmon Eyelet Company of Connecticut.
  • SHELTON – Canal Street factories are still closed due to high water on the Housatonic.

October 31 – HALLOWEEN

  • Many bonfires are noted today, to get rid of fallen leaves.
  • ANSONIA – Considerable damage is done by Halloween vandals throughout the City. Windows are smashed, outhouses overturned, vehicles and gates stolen – some are destroyed. The children are out early, but in the late night hours hooligans ruled. 1 arrested.
  • DERBY – Very few major Halloween related incidents, with the exception of the carriage gate at the Greystone Mansion destroyed. It is noted that the children were noisier than usual.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – The Anatomik Footwear Company will locate a factory in Shelton. They manufacture shoes that correct deformities without the use of braces and operations. Their temporary headquarters is in the Hubbell Brothers Shoe Store at Main Street and Elizabeth Street in Derby.
  • SEYMOUR – Very quiet Halloween.
  • SHELTON – Quietest Halloween in years. Stones are thrown from Ravine Street (today’s High Street) onto Center Street.
  • SHELTON – People in the newly incorporated regions of the expanded Borough of Shelton are asking for modern improvements, such as water, hydrants, and streetlights.

November

Friday, November 1, 1907

  • SHELTON – A new 10-room rectory will be built for the Church of the Good Shepherd.

November 2

  • DERBY – 11 toolmakers at the Williams Typewriter Company are on strike due to their hours being increased from 9 to 10 per day, without a raise.
  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Derby defeats Danbury on a very wet field in an away game. 16-0. Because Danbury did not have enough players to take the field, Derby loaned them two of theirs.
  • SEYMOUR – The canal wall of the Seymour Electric Light Company has washed away.

Monday, November 4, 1907

  • DERBY – The Derby Neck Library dedicates its new library building this evening. The guest speaker is Yale Professor William Lyons Phelps, on “Novels and Other Books and How to Use Them”.

November 5

  • ANSONIA – The City holds elections for sheriffs and selectmen. Since all are running unopposed and will be voted in regardless of the vote, by noon only 50 people had voted, and some officials were seen playing cards to pass the time. By the end of the day only 192 had voted.
  • SHELTON – Millionaire James Graham Phelps Stokes delivers address in packed Clark Hall called “Why I am a Socialist“. His wife Rose Pastor Stokes gives speech entitled “Only Cure for Poverty” (is Socialism).
  • SHELTON – The Shelton Trap Rock Company files for bankruptcy.

November 6

  • Heavy rain dumps 2.52″ over the Valley.

November 7

  • Yesterday’s heavy rain causes a rapid rise of the Housatonic and Naugatuck rivers this morning to it’s highest point of the year. The water rises to only 14″ under the RR tracks on the trestle over the river in Ansonia. Lower Derby Meadows is completely covered with water. Shelton’s Canal Street factories are forced to close due to the high water. The water drops almost as quickly as it rose, lowering 3′ overnight, and back to it’s normal level the following morning.
  • ANSONIA & SEYMOUR – The Ansonia Water Company has recently planted thousands of trees on its 1,200 acres, with the help of the Yale School of Forestry.

November 8

  • ANSONIA – A 16 year old girl held up on First Street, Ansonia, but her cries scare the two muggers away. Police are investigating.

November 9

  • DERBY – Many Derby taxpayers are protesting the formation of the Independent Hose Company, saying that another fire company is not needed, and it will just cause taxes to go up.
  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – New Haven High School defeats Ansonia at Yale Field 13-7.
  • SEYMOUR – 60 hands at the Seymour Manufacturing Company are laid off. There are also unconfirmed reports that 12 brass scratchers are out on strike, over a reduction of wages caused by going from piece to daily wages.
  • SHELTON – A young Polish immigrant is stabbed to death breaking up a fight at a wedding festival in the Donovan Block at 88-90 Center Street. His assailant is arrested.

November 10

  • ANSONIA – Archbishop Plato, head of the Russian Greek Orthodox Church in North America, visits the local church. Hundreds attend.

Monday, November 11, 1907

  • ANSONIA – The City is  feeling the effect of the business depression. The factories are not offering any more overtime work, and are now operating at just normal capacity. Layoffs loom if the fiscal outlook does not improve soon.

November 12

  • DERBY – Otter Rock, a rocky outcropping that extends about 100′ above the Housatonic River where it takes its southern bend, has been sold to Nellie Haynes, of Brooklyn, NY, who plans to build a private cottage there. For years, the place was used as a picnic area and scenic overlook, as its was useless as farmland.

November 13

  • There are many signs that winter will arrive late this year. Muskrats have not yet built winter quarters. Deer still have thin coats. Ducks have been slow to migrate south. Beavers are not cutting down trees. Owls have not yet taken refuge into the deep woods, and some song birds can still be heard.
  • DERBY – With the laying of Hassam pavement on the westerly approach to the Naugatuck River Bridge in Derby, the 5 year project is now considered completed. The new concrete bridge, has proved a boon for both sides of the bridge, particularly East Derby, where many of the adjoining buildings have been spruced up, Franklin School has since been built, and St. Michael’s Church is being constructed.
  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Naugatuck defeats Ansonia again, 5-0, at Athletic Field. 
  • OXFORD – “Hunters still report game as being very scarce, a tramp of a whole day often being rewarded with only one or two shots”.

November 14

  • DERBY – Complaints that small boys are playing football on Derby Green and ruining the turf.
  • SHELTON – Specialty Weaving Company’s production is down by 50% due to the business depression. Employees are working short time, but managers expect that everyone will be back to full time soon.

November 15

  • ANSONIA – The business depression has caused a spike in applications to the Charities Department.
  • ANSONIA – Millionaire James Graham Phelps Stokes delivers an address to fair sized crowd in German Hall. His usual speech “Why I am a Socialist” is amended to defining Socialism, due to the fact there are few Socialists in Ansonia. His wife Rose Pastor Stokes gives speech “Socialism, the Hope for the World”
  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Ansonia plays Crosby of Waterbury at Athletic Field. The game ends in dispute, Crosby left the field with the score still tied, claiming there was an agreement to end the game when it became too dark to play. As Crosby’s players left the field, Ansonia’s players continued playing on the empty field, scoring a touchdown and claiming victory. Derby defeats Greenwich High School 6-0 at Derby Meadows.

Monday, November 18, 1907

  • ANSONIA – Burglars break into the S. G. Resdshaw paper box shop. Although they ransacked the place, they were unable to get anything of value, so they set the place on fire. The fire causes $8000 in damage, badly damages the shop’s machinery, destroys the stock on hand,  and temporarily throws 35 people out of work. Police are investigating.
  • SHELTON – A section of a newly poured concrete floor collapses into the basement at the Commodore Hull School, which is under construction on Oak Avenue. No injuries. 

November 20

  • A balloon, called Stevens No. 21, carrying Albert Leo Stevens and millionaire A.H. Forbes passes over the Valley while traveling 100 miles between Pittsfield, MA, and Orange, CT. The balloon, and the occupants in it flies very low, east of the Naugatuck River, and is visible to all in the Valley downtowns and countryside. As it passed over Myrtle Avenue in Ansonia it starts to scrape trees, and the balloonists drop some ballast, causing it to jump higher. It makes a safe landing in Ansonia. This appears to be the second manned flight over the Valley (not counting stuntmen who parachute out of balloons at places like Pine Rock Park). The first was in 1870 or 1871, when one of the balloons trying to cross the Atlantic in a contest sponsored by the New York Herald flew over the area. 

November 21

  • The midnight passenger train, nicknamed “The Owl”, will be reinstated on the Naugatuck Division. Many are pleased to hear this.
  • DERBY – A trolley jumps the tracks at Elizabeth Street and Cottage Street, and ends up on sidewalk in front of St. Mary’s School. No injuries.

November 22

  • ANSONIA & DERBY – The news that Belt Line service will be restored between Derby and Ansonia in three days is received very positively. Trolleys will be on a  20 minute schedule.
  • SHELTON – Up to 2/3 of the 80 female sewing machine operators in the Hose Supporter Department of the R.N. Bassett Company goes on strike today. Reports of the reason vary, though there appears to be dissatisfaction over an apparent cut in wages cut from 2 3/4 cents to 1 1/2 cents per dozen of rows stitched. Management claims nothing has changed – but a new style of hose that is being produced only needs one row of stitching instead of two, which is causing the trouble. The following day it is reported that the women are also upset that when five of them approached management with their issues, they were fired for “insolence”. The strike continues into next week.

November 23

  • For some reason, hens are not laying as many eggs as usual. This is driving the price of eggs up to as much as 5 cents each.

Monday, November 25, 1907

  • ANSONIA – New England Order of Protection celebrates its 20th anniversary at the Ansonia Opera House, which is packed with members and spectators. All 4 Valley lodges are present.
  • SEYMOUR – The Seymour Water Company has hired 60 hands to build its new reservoir at Pinesbridge (Beacon Falls).
  • SHELTON – The strike at the R.N. Bassett plant has been “quietly settled”, and all but the 5 female employees who were discharged for insolence have returned to work.

November 26

  • The first snowfall of the season occurs today, witnessing big white flakes that melt immediately on contact.

November 27

  • ANSONIA – Vacant tenements are becoming more common in the City due to the business depression. It is estimated that over 200 have left town.
  • DERBY – The Storm Engine Co. No. 2 holds their 57th Annual Ball. About 500 people pack into the Gould Armory. The festivities go to 6 AM following morning.

 November 28, Thanksgiving Day

  • Turkeys cost 28-30 cents per pound. Those who cannot afford turkey eat pork. All hotels and restaurants have special turkey dinners
  • ANSONIA – Thanksgiving Union Service at the Methodist Church. The Town Farm serves a big turkey dinner.
  • DERBY – Thanksgiving Union Service held at the Second Congregational Church, involving the First & Second Congregational Churches, as well as the Derby Methodist Episcopal Church.
  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – The only game played on Thanksgiving in the Valley this year sees Derby High School defeating the Derby High School Alumni at Derby Meadows 15-2.
  • SEYMOUR – Thanksgiving Union Service held at the Methodist Church.
  • SHELTON – Neighbors call the police for a burglary in progress at Donvan’s Saloon. Not much is taken but the burglars escape.

November 30

  • Ice an inch thick forms overnight.

December

Sunday, December 1, 1907

  • DERBY – Democratic politician William Jennings Bryan was to be the guest of Mayor Howe for his speaking engagement at the Derby Elks Lodge at the Sterling Opera House. The venue changes its time over the course of the week, but an apparent miscommunication, which is blamed on the “forgetfulness” of Sen. McNeil, he arrives early in Derby, and asks to speak much earlier than he was scheduled. The Elks are unable to get the entire program together on such short notice, so Sen. Bryan leaves Derby early, without speaking at all, to attend an affair in New York City. The Rector of Immanuel Episcopal Church speaks in his place instead. The stage at the Sterling is very patriotically decorated, and many are disappointed when they learn that Sen. Bryan will not speak, as the event had been promoted for a week. The event experiences further problems when the lights fail to go on when the curtain raises. After sitting in the dark for about 15 minutes, the gas lights are lit. Not long after, the electric lights suddenly come on.
  • SEYMOUR – Fire destroys an old barn on Woodside Avenue. It was one of the oldest structures in the neighborhood.

Monday, December 2, 1907

  • SHELTON – Iowa Socialist John M. Work performs an address at a packed meeting at Town Hall.

December 3

  • ANSONIA – Two female Ansonia High School students die of natural causes. A Howard Avenue girl does after only a few hours illness, and another who had been ill for seven months on Winter street died the day before. The Sentinel headlines “Gloom is Cast over High School”.
  • DERBY – A big express trolley car jumps the tracks near Mt. St. Peter’s Cemetery, blocking both directions of the tracks. Passengers have to transfer around the accident before it is cleared. No injuries.

December 4

  • Although today’s snowstorm did not leave a lot of accumulation on the ground, it was enough for children to begin coasting on the hills. That night, the temperature drops to 19 degrees – the coldest this season so far.
  • OXFORD – “The two snow storms of the past week are an augury of the coming winter. As the first one did not tarry long with us, we take courage that none will be of long duration through the season”.

December 5

  • ANSONIA – Classes are dismissed at Ansonia High School so students may attend the funerals of the two classmates who died earlier in the week.
  • DERBY – The Paugassett Hose Company holds first meeting in its new firehouse. 

December 6

  • ANSONIA – The S.G. Redshaw’s box factory, gutted by an arson fire on November 18, resumes full operations.

December 7

  • Blacksmiths are busy putting sharp calked shoes on horses, due to the snow on the ground.
  • DERBY – The new Lyceum Theater opens in the Alling Block on Main Street. The entrance has been changed to a theater entrance, complete with electric lights. The 225 seats are at an incline so everyone can see the stage, and there is standing room for 75 people. The storefront theater will show vaudeville, movies, and illustrated songs. On this opening night, the feature act is Mrs. Peter Maher, and her son of same name, performing a comedy sketch. All tickets are sold on the two opening night performances.

Monday, December 9, 1907

  • ANSONIA – The Olderman Building suffers its second serious fire in 3 months. This time the fire started in an overheated stove in a second floor kitchen, and spread to third. Repairs from the November 11 fire had just ended that morning. The fire causes $1000 damage.
  • DERBY – The semi-annual meeting of the Connecticut State Mayors’ Association is held in Derby. 16 members are present, representing 7 out of 18 of Connecticut Cities, including Governor Woodruff.

December 10

  • Heavy rain affects the area for much of the day. The Naugatuck River rises 2′ to 3′. Ansonia’s Beaver Brook rises over 1′. The frost is washed out of ground, and many earthworms can be seen.

December 11

  • ANSONIA – A large shipment of Christmas trees has arrived in the City, and is being distributed to different stores.
  • DERBY – The United States Rapid Fire Gun & Power Company on Housatonic Avenue receives an extensive government order for ammunition that will keep it busy into the summer.

December 12

  • DERBY & SHELTON – Despite many concerns over safety and structural stability of the Huntington Bridge, neither the Fairfield or New Haven county commissioners are alarmed over its condition. The locals feel the commissioners are just sweeping the problem under the rug, they are still convinced the bridge is unsafe.

December 13

  • ANSONIA – A fire breaks out in the greenhouse of the Ansonia Floral Company near North Main Street and Fourth Street. While the fire itself causes small damage, it destroys thousands of potted plants. The First Ward’s auxiliary hose cart is the first fire wagon on the scene. Within days, the Floral Company announces it has arranged to get flowers from other florists, and is still in business.

December 14

  • Heavy snow storm dumps 5″ by noon. The trolley plows are out.
  • ANSONIA – Although the snow storm affects business Main Street, the merchants are actually relieved, because the storm also shuts down the street sweeper for the year. The cloud of dust his broom kicked up, caused many, especially women, to flee whenever he appeared in front of stores. The situation got so bad the merchants were considering suing the City over it.

December 15

  • The snow turns to rain, then back to snow. Many skip church due to the bad weather.

December 16

  • The snow turns back to rain, and the temperature starts to rise. The snow is disappearing fast.
  • ANSONIA – A cat is procured for City Hall to take care of a mouse problem. Meanwhile, the stench from the dog pound in the City Hall basement is said to be unbearable.

Monday, December 16

  • The snow turns back to rain, and the temperature starts to rise. The snow is disappearing fast.
  • ANSONIA – A cat is procured for City Hall to take care of a mouse problem. Meanwhile, the stench from the dog pound in the City Hall basement is said to be unbearable.

December 17

  • The Evening Sentinel reports of a “sudden falling of in the business in the mills”, which is now effecting commercial trade.
  • SHELTON – The exterior edifice of the new St. Joseph’s Church is nearly completed.

December 18

  • A number of sleighs are seen on city streets today. Many on their way to Oxford, where the country roads offer better trips and scenery.
  • DERBY – Sterling pianos are already very popular in large cities. Now player pianos from Sterling are becoming popular as well.
  • OXFORD – “The first really heavy snowstorm of the season came on Saturday, when there was a fall of some 12 inches on the level. The snow was followed by mist and sleet, which dampened it and made it more compact. Sunday and Monday, sleighing was the chosen mode of travel. The bright sunshine of Tuesday, accompanied as it was with mild temperature, makes it probable the stay of the visitor will be short”.

December 19

  • The Christmas rush begins. Main Streets filled with shoppers.
  • SHELTON – International Silver Company, Factory B workers, now on Christmas vacation, have organized a walking club. They meet each morning, walk to Ansonia’s west side, cross the Naugatuck River, and come back through East Derby, going 4 miles.

December 20

  • Christmas vacation begins at the schools.

December 21

Monday, December 23

  • Heavy rain and high winds come down “by the bucketfulls, but with great violence” in the morning. The rain continues into the evening, a total of 2″ falls. Ice skating is spoiled. Some  hills are gullied.

December 24

  • After yesterday’s rain, the snow is “spotty” on the ground. 
  • Christmas trees are selling “unusually well.” 
  • ANSONIA – There is a moving picture show this afternoon and evening at the Ansonia Opera House.

 Wednesday, December 25, Christmas 1907

  • The weather is balmy and spring-like. Trolley travel is light
  • Businessmen say the Christmas trade exceeded expectations.
  • ANSONIA – Residents of the Town Farm are treated to a turkey dinner at almshouse.
  • DERBY – There are evening performances at the Sterling Opera House and the Lyceum Theater.

December 26

  • OXFORD – “The storm on Monday was one of great severity and the snow had almost entirely disappeared. The sleighing on Sunday was good, but is entirely spoiled at present. Wells and springs are very full, and there is no chance of a water famine this winter in this locality”.

December 27

  • The temperature jumps from 28 to 54 degrees between 8 AM and noon.

Monday, December 30

  • Country roads are in very bad condition due to the wet weather. Wagon wheels are sinking deep into the mud, and travel is a hardship.
  • ANSONIA – The body of a North Main Street woman who disappeared from her house at 1:30 AM in a “demented condition” is later in the day found in the Ansonia Canal.
  • SEYMOUR – At a Special Town Meeting in Seymour, it is voted to pay no more than $60 per carbon arc light to the Seymour Electric Light Company in 1908, as opposed to the $70 per light that was paid in 1907. The Electric Company has already pledged not to accept the new terms, and have threatened to remove all streetlights, which will throw town into total darkness at night.

December 31

  • ANSONIA – The City’s mills are doing well, relative to the rest of the country, where industry is in decline due to the Panic of 1907. Employees of the Farrel Foundry are working 44.5 hours a week. American Brass Company employees are working 8 hours per day. In both cases this is less than normal for these plants.
  • ANSONIA – The Columbia Bowling Alleys on Mechanic Street closes, and the alleys are moved to Norwalk. The large building is being converted back into the original purpose it was constructed for, as a roller skating rink.
  • ANSONIA – A fire at Rabbi Samuel Bernstein’s house on Canal Street is put out by a police officer with a dishpan before the arrival of the fire department.

1908

January

Wednesday, January 1, 1908

  • The New Year arrives with ringing of bells and the blowing of factory whistles across the Valley. Many attend functions at the Ansonia Opera House and other social halls. A number of churches hold “watch services” in the hours leading up to the turn of the year at midnight.
  • Unseasonably warm weather is causing the early appearance of dandelions and pussy willows too. Some take advantage of the warm weather to play golf at Shelton’s Highland Golf Course on New Year’s Day. Last month was the warmest December since 1891.
  • The Valley’s daily newspaper Evening Sentinel sold a daily average of 5,273 newspapers in 1907. This is up from 5,143 in 1906.
  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia Skating Rink reopens on Mechanic Street in the old Columbia Bowling Alleys. Ladies admitted free, and the proprietor rules no swearing or smoking will be allowed. Skating lessons are given to novices, as well as skate rentals. People from all the Valley towns patronize the attraction the first week it is open.
  • SEYMOUR – The Town is plunged into darkness when the Seymour Electric Company, after the contract for $70 per carbon arc light expired. Although the 36 carbon arc lights are out, the 79 incandescent street lights are still on because there is no dispute over that contract. Nevertheless, the carbon arc lights are much brighter than the incandescents, and while the darkness is not total, it is very discernable.

January 2

  • ANSONIA – The east span of the Bridge Street Bridge, which is a covered trolley bridge, is in very bad shape and needs repairs.
  • SEYMOUR – The Seymour Electric Company turns the carbon arc lights back on, after reaching an agreement that they will remain on pending another Special Town Meeting to reconsider the vote. Four nights later, the SEC turns off both the carbon arc lights, and the incandesents for 20 minutes to remind residents of the tenuous arrangement.

January 3

  • ANSONIA – A controversy is brewing at the Synagogue Benai Israel on Colburn Street, A well known butcher, who is a member of the synagogue, refuses to donate a portion of his profits to support the synagogue. He is only kosher butcher in town, and as such enjoys a monopoly on the Jewish business in Ansonia. The synagogue is threatening to sponsor the opening of another butcher shop. The current butcher pays Rabbi Bernstein $1 for each cattle the Rabbi butchers in the Jewish rite, while the synagogue is asking for $10 per week. The butcher says he cannot pay this amount, and accuses the synagogue of threatening to run him out of business.

January 4

  • ANSONIA – A store in the Colburn building on Bank Street opens as a vaudeville and moving picture theater called “Dreamland”.

Monday, January 6

  • ANSONIA & DERBY – Rev. Vladimir Alexandroff, of Russian Greek Catholic Three Saints Church, gives Evening Sentinel reporters a tour of “foreign colonies” in Ansonia and Derby. Many of them are inhabited by “Russians”, which back then was a rather generic term which included Poles and some Slavs. Many of them do not speak English. Some of the apartments and boarding houses have 10-20 unemployed men living in them, living on soup and bread. Rev. Alexandroff is trying to emphasize that while the economic conditions caused by the Panic of 1907 is a hardship for many, it is creating dire circumstances for some of the Valley’s newest immigrants.
  • DERBY – Trolleys between Derby and Bridgeport have changed from visiting each stop each half hour to a each hour schedule. The trolleys between Derby and New Haven are overcrowded since last week’s switch from visiting each stop every 15 minutes to every thirty minutes. In both cases the Connecticut Railway and Lighting Company, the trolley operating arm of the New Haven Railroad, cites the bad economy as the reason, but admits the Derby-New Haven situation is bad enough that 15 minute service may be restored.

January 7

  • A heavy rainstorm causes the Naugatuck River to rise 2′, but it recedes rapidly early the next morning. The mild weather is bad news for ice dealers.
  • ANSONIA – An arson fire breaks out at 4 AM in the vacant Levy Building, which is across Bridge Street from the Boston Store at the corner of Main Street. It took an hour to put out the fire which caused $1,000.
  • DERBY – The City’s Grand List for 1908 is published. Despite the hard economic times, dwelling houses have increased the list by $70,000 over last year. The List has an overall increase of $152,836.
  • SEYMOUR – Women and small children can be seen every day in the freight yard picking up coal that falls off the trains. While this is helpful to keep them from freezing out of their homes, some worry that someone is going to get hit by a train.
  • SHELTON – Horse teams from Shelton and Derby coming down Leavenworth Hill from George Shelton’s funeral in Monroe have a very difficult time as it is a sheet of ice. 4 horse drawn vehicles slide, and crash into ditches on the hill, but there are no injuries.
  • SHELTON – Depressed over the economic conditions, the manager of the Shelton Public Market ends his life by sealing himself into his office and turning on the gas.

January 8

  • The downsizing of rail service in the Valley continues. Now the traditional railroad has been effected. The New Haven Railroad has eliminated four daily trains from the Naugatuck Line schedule. Many are upset. People have been seen sprinting to train stations to catch trains that aren’t there, and then walking out of the train stations feeling foolish.

January 9

  • ANSONIA – A fire breaks out in the McLarney building on Bridge Street, which was damaged in the Levy building fire next door two days before. The fire starts in a tailor shop, and causes $2,000 damage. It is believed to have started by a stove drying clothes that were wet from the previous fire.
  • SEYMOUR – A contentious Special Town Meeting is held over the Seymour Electric Company’s dissatisfaction with the previous Town Meeting allocating $10 less per carbon arc streetlight than they did in 1907, which resulted in the SEC cutting electric light service to Seymour for a short time. This meeting, held at the opera house, resulted in a vote of 165-90-5 to rescind previous motion. After some debate a motion to restore the amount paid per carbon arc streetlight back to $70 per light passes 193-32-2.

January 10

  • A cold snap finally allows ice skating.
  • ANSONIA – The Derby Gas Company is wiring the Ansonia Almshouse for 12 to 14 new electric lights, which will replace the kerosene lamps.
  • ANSONIA – Skaters on Biddy Lamb’s pond on North State Street steal firewood and destroy fences and chicken coops for bonfires. Complaints are made to the police, who warn that if this continues ice skating will stop there.
  • DERBY – There are many ice skaters on Picket’s Pond and and the artificial skating rink on Seymour Avenue.

January 11

  • Several days of cold weather renew hope for local ice dealers that ice harvesting may be possible soon.
  • ANSONIA – A trolley leaves the tracks at Main Street and Central Street, causing an employee to be thrown onto the street. He receives minor injuries.
  • DERBY – 2 Ansonia boys break through the ice on the Derby Reservoir while skating. One could not swim, but his head is kept up by the other. Other skaters, mostly local boys, form a human chain to successfully get them out.

January 12

  • Torrential rain which dumps an inch and a half in a few hours in the early morning causes the Naugatuck River to rise 3′, just below the tracks of the Ansonia railroad trestle. Some fear it will lead to a freshet, but this does not happen because there is no snow to the north. Most of the ice washes away, ruining skating.

Monday, January 13

January 14

  • Today was a terrible day for the trolleys. The Shelton electric power station is out of commission. This causes the other power station in Beacon Falls to become overloaded. The trolleys are way off schedule, and are running slow due to the low power in the wires. 
  • ANSONIA – As if the power troubles were not enough, a trolley breaks an axle and jumps the track on Clifton Avenue, completely blocking the rails on the belt linefor a few during the evening rush. A wrecker is later brought in, lifts the trolley off the rails and plops it onto the street, where it stays.
  • ANSONIA, DERBY, & SHELTON – Derby Savings Bank, the Home Trust Company, Shelton Savings Bank, and Ansonia Savings Bank all announce they are ending the 90 days notice required to withdraw savings their banks. This policy has been in effect since November 4, 1907, and was in response to a large number of people nationwide withdrawing their life savings in response to the Panic of 1907
  • SEYMOUR – 8-10 skaters on Wooster’s Pond off Elm Street fall through the ice. They all either crawl out or are rescued from the frigid water, which is as much as 10′ in places.

January 15

  • DERBY – Many unemployed and underemployed men can be seen browsing magazines in the reading room of Derby Public Library and other libraries in the Valley.
  • OXFORD – “The storm of Saturday night and Sunday morning was quite severe hereabouts, and being accompanied with mild temperature, left the traveling very disagreeable and soft. There does not seem to be much but surface frost in the ground, and so the water soon soaks up. The long continued mild weather is a condition not often vouch-safed to this locality at this season of the year”.
  • SHELTON – White Hills Baptist Church is receiving favorable comment for its new carpet, which was purchased from Derby’s Howard & Barber Department Store.

January 17

  • DERBY – Derby 1907 vital statistics – 298 births, 150 deaths, and 137 marriages. This compares with 1906 – 252 births, 186 deaths, and 157 marriages. The decrease in marriages is blamed on the hard economic times. 

January 18

  • DERBY – 5 break through ice on the Derby Reservoir. They all survive. A number also fall through the ice at Pickett’s Pond, but again, no casualties. The rink off Seymour Avenue is safe, and very popular today.

January 19

  • The ice is thicker due to drop of temperature. Skaters can be seen on all the ponds. 
  • ANSONIA – Ansonia City Hall is packed with 400 people to see Miss Fanny Crosby, a blind woman who as of that time had written 5,000 hymns.

Monday, January 20

  • SHELTON – An old horse trots away from a nearby stable, and walks to the new St. Joseph’s Church under construction on Coram Avenue. It is identified as belonging to the owner of the house that was demolished to make way for the church. It stands in the driveway for a full minute, taking in the scene, then walks back towards its stable, reportedly looking very sad.

January 21

  • It is 52 degrees at 2 P.M.

January 22

  • ANSONIA – After months of litigation, the differences between a landlord and store owner is settled by Rabbi J. Koppstein, of Synagogue Benai Israel
  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia & Derby Ice Company plans to erect one of the largest ice houses in this part of Connecticut. Costing $12,000, it will have the ability to store 6,000-7,000 tons of ice, below Quillinan’s Reservoir on Beaver Street. The old ice house there, and at Pickett’s Pond will be dismantled.
  • DERBY – The front doors of the trolley car barn on lower Main Street are being enlarged so that the new larger cars and the snowplows that service the region can use it.
  • OXFORD – The Town’s Grand List is completed. Total valuations is $555,622, an increase of $190,000 over last year.

January 23

  • The business depression has caused the price of food to go up.
  • The Ansonia & Derby Ice Company is looking for a pond in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, that can supply the Valley with ice if the temperatures are too warm to harvest it here.
  • The Evening Sentinel produces a 3/4 page series of articles under the heading “Why People Complain of Trolley Service”. Among the reasons cited are fewer cars, longer waits, the cars are too small, and the various Valley branches don’t coordinate their schedules.
  • A snowstorm starts at 7:30 PM, dumping 4-5″ of wet snow by sunrise the next morning, and accompanied by 35mph winds. Trolleys are crippled, the plows are working the line all night.  Sleighs are the only way of transportation on the streets, and the milkmen are late in their early morning deliveries.
  • ANSONIA – A fire at the clothing and dry good store of A.M. Caplan in the Sperry building on 278 Main Street causes $5000-6000 in damage.
  • DERBY – Half of the ten new double truck trolley cars have arrived in Derby. The cars are being fitted with illuminated signs that will be visible on all sides.

January 24

  • ANSONIA – The City Engineer is recommending a new Bridge Street Bridge, so the new 40 ton trolley cars can cross it. 
  • DERBY – For remainder of the season there will be vaudeville and moving pictures at the Sterling Opera House every night a first class performance is not given.
  • DERBY – The new concrete bridge carrying Main Street over the Naugatuck River cost $75,113.92 during its construction between 1904-1907.

January 25

  • SEYMOUR – The Seymour Ice Company is cutting 9″ ice from pond at Warrin’s farm. It already has 400 tons in its icehouse.
  • SHELTON – The trolley power station, which has been undergoing repairs all week, is finally done. Regular service is resumed on the Belt Line and Bridgeport lines.

January 26

  • Warm rain causes much of the snow to disappear.

Monday, January 27

  • ANSONIA – A 4 year old boy is killed instantly when the new stove in his kitchen explodes at 5 Clifton Avenue. His mother had collected coal that had fallen off railroad cars at the freight yard, a common practice among the poor at this time in history. It is thought she may accidentally have picked up a small piece of dynamite or, more likely, a railroad torpedo

January 28

  • ANSONIA – A School Street couple is told that the wife’s sister is dying in Derby. They quickly leave for the sister’s house. While gone, the house is entered, and $100 stolen.
  • ANSONIA – The bowling alleys that were just recently moved from the now closed Columbia Bowling alleys to Norwalk have been destroyed in a fire.
  • SHELTON – A sign that the local economy is recovering from the economic downturn caused by the Panic of 1907 is the fact that the International Silver Company on Bridge Street is hiring again. Since it deals with luxury items, it is usually one of the last factories to bounce back during hard times.

January 29

  • OXFORD – “Woodpeckers were heard at work on the hillsides, Tuesday morning. This is looked upon as an indication of a coming thaw”.

January 30

  • Temperatures are down to zero. 
  • ANSONIA – 7″ ice reported at Quillian’s Pond. Hill School closed due to cold. Ansonia High School closes at 10 AM when inside temperatures fall to 48 degrees.  2/1-2 Temps up, snow falls early AM till 9 AM, heavy rain, high winds, ice harvest
  • ANSONIA – Over 200 crowd into German Hall to witness the creation of the Lady MacDonald lodge No. 23, Daughters of Scotia, with 52 charter members.

January 31

Temperatures fall to -6.

  • ANSONIA – 2 die of pneumonia.
  • ANSONIA – A $2000 fire guts the attic of an old 2 story house at 91 Canal Street in the afternoon. Several firemen suffer frostbite to their fingers.
  • DERBY – A house at the corner of Elizabeth Street and Fifth Street, occupied by Dr. M. J. Sheehan, is badly damaged by a fire at 4 AM in subzero weather. The fire burns for 3 hours, then rekindles in the roof when they leave at 7 AM. Everything, including the interior, is covered with ice. Two firemen suffer minor injuries.
  • SHELTON – 8″ ice is being harvested from the Shelton Water Company reservoirs. 

February

Saturday, February 1, 1908

  • The temperatures are up. Snow starts falling in the early morning, turning to heavy rain and high winds lasting until 9 AM. The ice harvest, which was so promising yesterday, comes to a halt.
  • SEYMOUR – The town’s new fire alarm system is repeatedly tested, alarming nearby Woodbridge, who thinks the repeated blasting of the Tingue Co. mill whistle means that there was a big fire in Ansonia, or the Ansonia Water Company reservoir dam had burst.

February 2

  • SEYMOUR – The Albert Swan Memorial Hall, a parish house for the Seymour Congregational Church, is dedicated on the corner of Broad Street and Derby Avenue. The house is brick, 51’x30′, and has a basement gymnasium. The first floor is used for services and Sunday School, with an auditorium on the second floor.

Monday, February 3

  • ANSONIA – An Army recruiting station opens on the second floor of the Terry Block on Main Street.
  • ANSONIA – Ice harvesting at is occurring on Quillinan’s pond by Ansonia-Derby Ice Company. The cold snap which followed the February 1 storm, saved the crop.
  • SEYMOUR – The icehouse at Tyrrell’s pond is filled today.

February 4

  • SHELTON – It is -4 on White Hills at 10 AM. At the same time, it is 4 above on Howe Avenue.

February 5

  • Coldest morning of the winter so far this year, it is at -6 at 4 AM. Plumbers are busy with frozen pipes. Coal dealers are busy. 
  • ANSONIA – Complaints arise as the interior temperatures of the Ansonia High School go down to 48 degrees.
  • ANSONIA – The ice on Quillinan’s reservoir is 12″ thick. The ice harvesting workforce is increased. They are paid from $1.60 to $2 a day.
  • ANSONIA & DERBY – An Orange man asks for directions to Derby from two men on the Ansonia side of Division Street. They say they’ll show him a shortcut, then take him to railroad tracks, where they beat and rob him. He makes it to Derby side in half frozen condition. Had he lost consciousness he probably would have frozen to death overnight.
  • DERBY – A pig escapes a barn in East Derby, and runs into the Mansion House bar room. Patrons and the bar tender unable to catch the slippery pig as he runs all over the room for 15 minutes, making a mess. Finally he is caught by the bartender, and thrown outside, just as his owner arrives to ask the patrons if anyone has seen his missing pig.
  • SHELTON – The Ansonia-Derby Ice Company harvesting ice on the Shelton Water Company reservoirs. They expect the icehouses there filled in two days. The ice on the Housatonic River itself is 8″, the company will start harvesting there for the first time in years within a day or so. 

February 6

  • A snowstorm dumps between 4″ to 6″ of snow in the morning. Trolley and railroad schedules are disrupted. The temperatures rise during snowstorm, and ends with rain, increasing the weight of the snow on the ground and making clearing it difficult.

February 7

  • Many sleighs are observed on the streets.
  • Valentines are appearing in the stores. The old penny comic valentines, with crude drawings and humor, are gone, and replaced by more ornate post cards with lace and tinsel.

February 8

  • ANSONIA – The Valley’s famous wanderer, the now elderly Johnny o’ the Woods, is found half frozen lying on Maple Street. He is taken to the police station, and stays in the lockup where he is fed. Attempts to tap into the trust fund which was set up to his care are unsuccessful as of Monday morning, at which time the police chief lets him go, as he has no grounds to hold him.

Monday, February 10

  • Hundreds are out coasting this evening. The Housatonic River is frozen all the way down to the Washington Bridge (today’s Route 1 between Stratford and Milford), for the first time in 3 years.
  • ANSONIA – The Board of Aldermen pass an ordinance delineating a boundary encroachment line along the west bank of Naugatuck between the bridges. The ordinance says no walls, buildings, dirt, garbage, or other obstructions may cross the line. Offenders face a steep $100 fine. Encroachment of the river has lead to sewage, garbage, and flooding problems, caused mostly by people on the east side of Jersey Street trying to extend their backyards at the river’s expense.
  • SEYMOUR – The locally famous old wanderer Johnny o’ the Woods spends the night in the police lockup to escape the extreme cold. 

February 11

  • DERBY – Johnny o’ the Woods’ friend, Stephen Tracy, learns that he is in the Seymour lockup, picks him up, and takes him to his home off Olivia Street, Derby. As a condition of his being given a hot meal and spending the night by a fire in the workshop, Mr. Tracy insists that he bathe. Contrary to expectations, the old fellow seems happy to do so, and afterwards proudly struts around in the new clothing Mr. Tracy bought for him. Mr. Tracy states that many rumors about Johnny o’ the Woods – his reluctance to bathe or change cloths, or his course manner, are merely stories, and in fact he is very misunderstood.
  • SHELTON – The police have to stop children from coasting on Wooster Street hill, due to the heavy traffic there.

February 12

  • Valentines range from 1 cent to $6. Delivery of flowers is also becoming popular instead of sending valentines.
  • ANSONIA – Harvesting of ice at Quillinan’s reservoir has been completed by the Derby-Ansonia Ice Corporation. The icehouses are all full. The nearly 8000 tons of ice harvested in Ansonia should be enough to meet local demand this year.

February 13

  • DERBY & SHELTON – For the first time in years, the Derby – Ansonia Ice Company is harvesting ice on Lake Housatonic. By the end of the day, however, rain and fog descend upon the Valley, halting the harvesting.
  • SHELTON – A delinquent border shoots his landlady in the face on the top floor of the Adams Block. The wound was not serious. After the shooting, he calmly awaits for the police to arrest him in his room. He was 3 months delinquent in rent, and when asked why he was allowed to fall so far in arrears, the story comes out that he terrified the local Italian immigrant population, as they believed he could make potions which could “hex” them into being sick. The police recover the potions, stating they are simply make of harmless components.

February 14

  • It rains all day, with spring-like temperatures and high winds. The snow is melting fast, making sleighing impossible everywhere but in hill country. Mailmen strain with heavier than normal loads due to the large number of Valentines sent.

February 15 (Subdivided between Naugatuck and Housatonic Valleys today)

NAUGATUCK VALLEY:

  • ANSONIA – The Naugatuck River is only 3 feet below the railroad trestle at 2:00 PM, due to all of the rain and melted snow coming down the rivers. There are fears of a freshet, and Main Street merchants are struggling to move their goods out of their basements as a precaution. The Naugatuck River overflows at 8:00 PM, flooding store basements, and covering the railroad tracks in 2′ of water. Bridge Street is impassible, though fears the bridge will go out are unfounded. Several light poles on the railroad trestle are torn away. Some say that this is the highest the river has risen here in 40 years. Fears the railroad tracks would wash away are unfounded. The floodwaters begin to recede at 10:00 PM. Much of the illegal fill that was debated about five days ago, off Jersey Street, is washed away.
  • DERBY – The water rises to 8-10″ over Derby Avenue near Franklin School, trolleys are still able to pass, however. The wisdom of making the new concrete bridge over the Naugatuck on Main Street a 3-span bridge instead of a 2-span one is apparent, as it weathers the flood very well, with the water reaching the shoulders of the piers. Derby Meadows are full of ice, and a railroad trestle on an East Derby siding is destroyed.
  • SEYMOUR – The Naugatuck River is 20′ above normal at 2:00 PM. The ice at Rimmon Pond breaks at 7:00 PM, with a clap “sounding like artillery”. The Seymour Electric Company cuts power as a precaution. Factories along the river are flooded.

HOUSATONIC VALLEY:

  • At 3:30 PM, the water level on the Housatonic River suddenly rises two feet, indicated that there was an ice jam upriver that had broken. A second ice jam occurs near Otter Rock, Oxford, which breaks at 4:00 PM, causing a mass of water and ice entered Lake Housatonic. Some witnesses stated that as the water surged into the lake, the ice upon it was lifted in one giant sheet to a 45 degree angle, temporarily holding back an enormous quantity of ice and water before shattering. At 7:00 PM, the first huge chunks of ice began falling over the Oustonic Dam, and an hour later the river was so choked with broken ice it almost appeared that one could walk from one shore to the other. By the time it reached Huntington Bridge, the sheet of broken ice was several miles long. Many watch from the Huntington Bridge as the ice then jams a third time, beneath the eastern abutment of the Berkshire railroad bridge between Derby and Shelton. The bridge could only withstand the unrelenting power of the ice for about 20 minutes before the pilings supporting it snapped like twigs and floated down the river, causing 150’ of railroad track to dangle uselessly above the river.
  • DERBY – A railroad trestle on Derby Meadows is destroyed by the flood and ice. The water floods the stables of the Derby Trucking Company on Factory Street. The wet and frightened horses are led in a line to the safety of a barn in Shelton. Residents of Lower Caroline Street, Hallock Court, and River Place are evacuated in boats. The water rises to 50′ from lower Main Street. The United States Rapid Fire Gun and Power Company off Housatonic Avenue is flooded.
  • OXFORD – Two bridges over Eight Mile Brook are destroyed. 
  • SEYMOUR – The highway between Eight Mile Brook & Squantuck is flooded at 2:00 PM.
  • SHELTON – About two miles of railroad track near Indian Well went underwater, and when the water receded, the tracks were covered with several feet of ice. The Shelton Docks faced a similar experience, and Riverdale Avenue behind the docks was underwater for a time. Washouts occurred on Brook Street and John Street.

February 16

  • ANSONIA – Scores are out below Bridge Street, gathering the timber which washed ashore during the flood.

Monday, February 17

  • Many arrive in the Valley, lured by fantastic reports in out-of-town newspapers claiming millions of dollars in damages from yesterday’s flood. This causes the Sentinel to quip “If a man had all that was left of a million dollars after all losses by the flood in this vicinity had been paid, he might begin endowing libraries or giving away church organs”.

February 18

  • DERBY – Much driftwood is piled along the rivers. Some are able to scavenge a month’s supply. The wood includes remains of destroyed bridges from upriver.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – The south track of the Berkshire railroad trestle over the Housatoinc River is repaired, and the first train crosses over it. Work continues on the rest of the flood damaged trestle.

February 19

  • Snow starts in the morning, dumps 4″, then changes to rain. Sidewalks are icy.
  • ANSONIA – An city man has made $50 reselling driftwood he scavenged from the riverbanks after the flood.

February 21

  • ANSONIA – $500 fire strikes a 4-room, 1-story house in New Jerusalem. The house had a dozen boarders residing in it, and the fire is believed to have started by an overturned lamp.
  • SHELTON – The 1907 Grand List includes 985.5 houses, 86 mills, 472 horses, 1078 cattle, and 385 carriages.

February 22

  • ANSONIA – The Board of Education is considering restoring the bells outside of the public schools. These were removed in 1906 after much controversy.

February 23

  • SEYMOUR – The Rt. Rev. Chauncy B. Brewster, D.D. Episcopal Bishop of Connecticut, pays his annual visit to a packed Trinity Episcopal Church, where he confirms 5.
  • SHELTON – The new St. Joseph’s chapel is dedicated by Rt. Rev. Michael Tierney, DD, Roman Catholic Bishop of Hartford, in a ceremony attended by 800. The chapel is in the basement of the church, which is under construction off Coram Avenue. The choirs of St. Joseph’s and St. Mary’s in Derby united for his visit.

Monday, February 24

  • ANSONIA – The City’s Board of Trade dissolves by a vote of 2/3 of its members, then reforms under the name “Manufacturer’s Club”, with 94 members. The new club will be more of a social organization than the old Board of Trade.
  • DERBY – Illegal slot machines are once again starting to appear in certain places.

February 26

  • Heavy rainstorm dumps several inches of rain throughout the area.
  • ANSONIA – Jersey Street furniture dealer Simon Specter goes to City Hall, and demands that a night’s lodging be given to him because his street’s storm water sewer is clogged and there is 3-4′ of water on the street. He is offered the lockup, where homeless men are sometimes given lodging, and he refuses and goes home. Cellars are flooded, and the stock of the Specter furniture warehouse is damaged by the flood.
  • DERBY – The brook that crosses Chapel Street overflows, cutting a 2 1/2′ x 60′ long gully in the road.

February 29 (1908 was a Leap Year)

  • DERBY – While repairing Dr. Sheehan’s home on the corner of Elizabeth Street and Fifth Street, which was badly damaged in a January 31 fire, a colony of bees is found behind a wall. A total of 100 pounds of honey is taken out, though it is all ruined by the smoke and heat from the fire, which also killed the bees.

March

Monday, March 2, 1908

  • OXFORD – The town lowers its tax rate from 22 to 16 mills, following a reassessment which raised its Grand List from $351,000 to about $544,000. 

March 3

  • New construction is at a near standstill due to the high price of lumber, paint, and other materials.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – Repairs continue on the ice damaged railroad trestle over the Housatonic River. Two pile drivers are at work.

March 6

  • The catastrophic Collinwood School fire in Ohio causes many focus on fire safety in schools, both in the Valley and across the country. 
  • ANSONIA – Two fire drills are held at Hill School today. Fire drills are held regularly in all City schools. However, it is discovered that the doors at Grove Street School and Elm Street School open inward, which is what caused so many to perish at Collinwood.
  • ANSONIA – There is a proposalto put unemployed men to work extending the city’s sewer system.
  • SEYMOUR – Fire drills are held once a week at Central School in Seymour, which holds 350 pupils. All doors open outward.

March 7

  • ANSONIA – A fire breaks out at 2-story frame house on Liberty Street, with a grocery and confectionary in front starts in the kitchen and works to the attic. More damage is caused by water then fire.
  • DERBY – The doors on the Bank Street side of Franklin School inward.

March 8

  • SEYMOUR – The doors at most Seymour churches open inward.

Monday, March 9

  • ANSONIA – A “Hindu Healer”, who claims to be able to cure people using electromagnetic powers from his hands, appears before a large crowd at the Ansonia Opera House, where he reportedly heals several people of their ailments, aches, and pains. He is staying at the City’s Hotel Dayton from tonight to March 20th for personal appointments. 
  • DERBY – Two men, both Italian immigrants, draw revolvers upon on each other on Housatonic Avenue after an argument. One fires, but the shot misses wide. The shot is heard all over Derby and Shelton, however, and rumors spread that someone had been killed. The shooter is arrested. The other man is wanted as a witness but he goes into hiding. This renews a controversy about the large numbers of “foreigners” carrying illegal concealed weapons.

March 10

  • ANSONIA – The “Hindu Healer” suddenly leaves the City, leaving big crowd waiting to see him in front of a darkened Ansonia Opera House. It is rumored that several people may have threatened to charge him for acting as a physician without a license.

March 11

  • SHELTON – The man wanted for the shooting in Derby two days ago is arrested and turned over to Derby Police.

March 12

  • SEYMOUR – The Town’s Grand List is $3,141,279, an increase of $56,968 over the previous year.
  • SEYMOUR – A trolley derails near the Ansonia city line, where it sinks in soft soil and blocks the tracks. The removal of the trolley ties up the line for 3 hours, causing many to be late for work this morning.
  • SHELTON – A young Italian immigrant employed by Sidney Blumenthal Company velvet mills is arrested for carrying a loaded revolver as a concealed weapon, after he threatens the life a foreman.

March 13

  • ANSONIA – An apparently insane “foreign” man is arrested on breach of peace. During periods when he is not rambling incoherently, he appears to have much knowledge of the American system of government. He warns that an anarchist group exists in Ansonia, and one of the reasons he is insane is they have been hounding him to join.
  • ANSONIA, DERBY, & SHELTON – Two men are arrested in Derby, and a third in Ansonia, for sending a threatening Black Hand style letter to a Derby Italian immigrant. A small arsenal is found in the Ansonia man’s Liberty Street home. Apparently, despite advise that the letter was not from true members of the Black Hand, the victim became very frightened and decided to pay the extortion money after dark at High Bridge in Shelton. A relative, however, did not believe it was true, and alerted the police. They followed the victim to High Bridge, where the three men, one of who was disguised as a woman, were arrested. Further investigation reveals that this group had previously extorted money from a second victim.
  • SHELTON – A Derby-Bridgeport trolley car plunges down an embankment near Peck’s Mill in Stratford, just over the Shelton line, and stops before entering a brook. No one hurt, but it brought back bad memories of the disaster of August 7, 1899, when 32 people were killed when a trolley plunged off the bridge here. It was (and still is today) the worst trolley disaster in Connecticut’s history.

March 14

  • DERBY & SHELTON – Many have been fishing just below the Ousatonic Dam the last few days, catching suckers, perch, and pickerel. The water over the dam is high due to melting snow.

March 15

  • ANSONIA – A series of five cockfights occurs in the City, between Waterbury and New Haven birds. Over 200 spectators from Ansonia, Seymour, New Haven, Waterbury, and Naugatuck, including some “rough characters”, and possibly Yale students. Over $2,000 is exchanged in side bets. The use of Ansonia as a midway point for contests between New Haven and Waterbury birds is becoming more common. The Sentinel calls it “a disgrace”

Monday, March 16

  • ANSONIA – The Board of Education appoints a special committee to inspect all schools and make recommendations for fire protection.
  • ANSONIA – St. Peter & St. Paul Greek Catholic Church on May Street is destroyed by fire. The roof is burned off, and the minaret and bell tower collapse into the basement. The fire department was hampered by low water pressure from the hydrants. The entire church was made of wood, and reportedly insured. The origin is unknown. Parishioners rush to the fire when word gets out, and a number of women weep at the sight of the burning church.
  • SHELTON – A trolley stalls near Pine Rock Park late in the evening, in pitch darkness. After awhile, the passengers get cold, get off the trolley, and build a bonfire. They are stranded for over an hour before the power is restored.

March 17

  • St. Patrick’s Day brings snow flurries. Many wear shamrock or green ribbons, and shop windows are decorated. A number of people take the train to New York City to see the parade.
  • DERBY – J. Newton Williams, a Derby native, has been working on a helicopter-type flying machine for 2 years. He has been in New York for the last 3 months building one. Dr. Alexander Graham Bell says his design is the most practical of all experimental aircraft currently on the drawing board.
  • SEYMOUR – A boxing match at the Seymour Opera House, held under the Seymour Athletic Club, is stopped by authorities after the main event only went 2 rounds, due to the unruliness of the crowd.

March 18

  • SHELTON – Shelton is now a railroad freight terminal. Every 8 PM a train comes from Hopewell Junction, empties its load of boxcars at the freight station, and takes back a train of empty cars, including those of other railroad lines.

March 20

  • ANSONIA – The old Eagle Hose Hook & Ladder Co. No. 6’s ladder truck is sold to the Ansonia Flour & Grain Company. The ancient fire truck was put in service April 1, 1879, just before the firehouse moved from Main and Liberty Streets to its present location.
  • SEYMOUR – Many residents are upset that someone painted “Gen. Humphrey” on the side of the town’s new watering cart. It is felt that if the town can’t name itself or erect a statue after its founder, it should not be put on something as ignominious as a water cart. It is unclear, however if it was intended as a tribute to Gen. Humphreys or mocking the townspeople who still wish to revert to Seymour’s old name “Humphreysville”, but in any event whoever wrote “Gen. Humphrey” on the cart spelled the name wrong.
  • SEYMOUR – After a Quaker Farms house owned by a very poor African-American family is completely destroyed by fire, the neighbors take up a collection to help them. They are able to raise enough money for clothing, necessities, and to find them a new place to live.

Monday, March 23

  • ANSONIA – Sts. Peter & Paul Greek Catholic Church is debating whether to repair old church, which was swept by fire last week, or build a new one.
  • SHELTON – The land and property of the Shelton Trap Rock Company is sold at auction. Only one bid was received, for $5, from a Mr. Barnet, who acting for the mortgager who holds a $20,000 note on the plant. Mr. Barnet says the mortgager intends to restart operations.

March 24

  • ANSONIA – Complaints are rising again about vagrants hanging around the corner of High Street and Maple Street, in front of the West Side market, covering the sidewalk with tobacco juice and filling the air with vile language.
  • SHELTON – The Black Hand trial starts at a packed town court, filled with spectators and the press. The accused are defended by 4 attorneys, including Atty. Torrance of Derby and Atty. Dillon of Shelton. For the next few days, the testimony is graphically covered in the Evening Sentinel.

March 25

  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia Water Company will expand its pipes up North Main Street, as well as along North Cliff Street, and North State Street, as far as First Street. A 12″ main will be extended to Liberty Street.
  • DERBY – Many in Derby are fixing up or rebuilding their automobiles for the upcoming season.
  • OXFORD – “Only one more week of March. So far the month has not been as bad as prophesized, and now the wonder is if April will give us March weather”.

March 26

  • DERBY – After a series of amateur performances finish at the Sterling Opera House, while a movie reel is being shown, a 5’x3′ strip of plaster falls from the underside of the gallery to the floor of the orchestra circle. Most of the plaster falls into an aisle. One man is struck in the head, though not hurt. The event causes a bit of excitement, however, and the house lights turn on. When it is clear it is not a major emergency, the lights turn off again and the movie reel continues.
  • DERBY – In a modern sign of Spring, the open summer trolley cars have arrived at the Derby car barn, and the snowplows have been taken to New Haven, where there is more room to store them.

March 27

  • The Northern Lights are visible over the Valley for about 20 minutes around 8 PM.

March 28

  • ANSONIA – Sts. Peter and Paul Greek Catholic Church decides to accept an insurance settlement for $2,533 for the March 16 fire. This is significantly less than the $6,100 insurance policy the church carried on the building. A new church will be constructed on land recently purchased on Clifton Avenue.
  • SHELTON – The Black Hand trial ends. All four defendants are bound to await trial in Superior Court, with $1,000 bonds.
  • SHELTON – The Shelton Cricket Club organizes, and it already has a full slate of games scheduled.

March 29

  • ANSONIA – An African-American woman is shot in her side, at the old Ford place on Benz Street. The wound is considered serious. It is a mystery because people in the house insist the gunshot was self-inflicted, but the location does not agree with that. Doctors at Grace-New Haven hospital later agree that the wound was not self inflicted. This is the same woman who arose the concern of neighbors, who called the police when they saw her husband “trying to kill her”. The police investigated at the time and saw no cause for action.

Monday, March 30

  • The “Merry Widow” hats are very popular with women this Spring, and the brims are huge this year, requiring no need for sunshade, but presenting problems for both the wearers and other pedestrians over the width of sidewalks. The hats are also causing problems in cramped spaces, such as trolleys.

March 31

  • ANSONIA – Kankwood Hill residents are complaining that the water tank used by their horses has been out of commission for two months, due to the pipe leading to the spring being broken.

April

Wednesday, April 1

  • ANSONIA – The fire damaged Sts. Peter and Paul Greek Catholic Church on May Street will be repaired with a new roof, but no bell tower. Services will be held there until the new church is completed on Clifton Avenue. Then old church will be converted into a school.
  • OXFORD – “The old oak tree, which stands on the upper green in front of the Congregational parsonage having become much decayed with age, and looked upon as dangerous, is to be cut down next week. The tree is one of the old landmarks of the village, and from its great size must have been planted in the early days of the settlement of the village. From time to time of late years, the decayed limbs of the tree have been shorteneed, or entirely removed, until now comparitively little remains but the large trunk”.
  • SHELTON – The Anatomick Shoe Company begins operations in the old National Folding Box & Paper factory.

April 3

  • ANSONIA – The City is replacing the stone retaining wall at St. Mary’s Cemetery on Grove Street with a concrete one.
  • ANSONIA – Four men are discovered carrying a safe out of a Jersey Street at 3 AM by Mrs. Simon Spector. She yells for the police, and the men drop the safe and flee. The rise of burglaries is editorialized in the Evening Sentinel.

April 4

  • Temperature is down to 24 degrees in the morning.  
  • The new common battery telephone system will be installed by Southern New England Telephone Company shortly.
  • ANSONIA – Many rumors of burglaries are sweeping the City. 
  • ANSONIA – Main Street is filled with clouds of dust, and there were no watering carts to be found to sprinkle the streets. Merchants are kept busy all day sweeping out their stores.
  • SEYMOUR – Slight snow squall in the morning.

April 5

  • ANSONIA – Burglars break into a Mott Street home, but nothing is taken.
  • SHELTON – Two Center Street saloons raided by deputy sheriffs on this Sunday. Two bartenders and a score of customers are arrested.

Tuesday, April 7

  • ANSONIA – It is revealed that the woman who was shot on March 29 has died at Grace-New Haven Hospital. After insisting all along that she shot herself accidentally, she makes a deathbed confession that her husband in fact shot her. The husband, Charles Miller, is arrested in Pleasantville, NY, and is arraigned to New Haven. has been arrested.
  • SEYMOUR – Father M. Rigney, Pastor of St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church, receives a Black Hand letter, which threatens his life if he doesn’t pay a ransom. He is not worried, nor does he intend to pay. The postal authorities are investigating.

April 8

  • ANSONIA – There is a gravestone at Elm Street Cemetery, marking the resting place of Mrs. Hannah Clark, who died in September 1801. The gravestone lists the number of children, grand children, and great grandchildren at the time of her death, which total 333 lineal descendants.

April 9

  • SEYMOUR – Miss Grace Whitlock, the bookkeeper of Coleman Bros.’ Market in Seymour, gets a threatening Black Hand letter.

April 10

  • ANSONIA – The county coroner finishes his investigation, which concludes that Mr. Miller murdered his wife. He is formally charged the following day.

April 11

  • DERBY – Five Derby men are caught in a sailboat below Derby Docks when a storm comes in. The boat tried tacking up the river, until a sudden gust of wind caused it to capsize, spilling all 5 into the cold water. The men cling to boat which floats down river, trying to decide whether to hold on and hope that it washes ashore, or risk swimming ashore in the choppy water. They are spotted by a man, who was looking for a baseball near the riverbank. He gets a boat, and rows them all ashore.
  • DERBY – The remains of the ice house at Picket’s Pond in Derby, owned by the Ansonia-Derby Ice Company, blows over in high winds. Picket’s pond was never a very good place for ice, which is why it is no longer harvested. The pond is used mostly for skating by 1908.
  • DERBY – The F. Hallock company has an automobile on display in their showroom, which was made entirely of material found in the hardware and mill supply store.
  • SEYMOUR – The Citizens’ Engine Co. No. 2 tests out their newly repaired steam powered fire engine, which was fitted with a new boiler. They are unable to draw water from the canal.

April 12

  • DERBY – Derby saloons are all conspicuously dry on this Sunday. The reason is someone tipped off the saloon keepers that raids were planned against those engaged in “Sunday selling” of alcohol.
  • DERBY – The ruins of the icehouse at Picket’s Pond are set on fire, apparently by boys.

Monday, April 13

  • ANSONIA – The Sentinel headlines “$75,000 Fire in City Hall Basement”. The ‘fire’, was actually the burning of a 3.5% bond issue dating to April 2, 1889, when the new Town of Ansonia (later City) absorbed the debt of the Borough of Ansonia, which was formed in 1864 in the Town of Derby and existed until Derby was divided in 1889 (for more information click here).  The bond matured on April 1, 1908, and over the years a total of $52,500 in interest had been paid.
  • ANSONIA – Trolley company starts to repair the covered east side of the Bridge Street Bridge. The company told the City the bridge was in bad shape. But the City denied it and refused to devote funds to repair it, so the trolley company is fixing it themselves.
  • SHELTON – Ground is broken for a model four-family flat on the corner of Maltby Street and Division Avenue. It will be 38’x56′, 2 stories, with 5 rooms per apartment. More of the same design will be built later.

April 15

  • DERBY & SHELTON – The New York, New Haven, & Hartford Railroad is still repairing the trestle across the Housatonic that was damaged in the February freshet.
  • OXFORD – “The grass is taking on the green hue of spring, and the buds of trees are swelling, but the nights are still too cold for vegetation to make very rapid progress, but better so, then to swift and then a serious setback”.
  • SEYMOUR – The old blacksmith shop at the corner of Maple Street and Pearl Street is being demolished to build a new house. One of oldest buildings in Seymour, the shop dates before 1798. The Woodbury – New Haven stagecoach used to stop there for repairs, and a tavern was nearby.

April 16

  • SHELTON – Railroad detectives investigating a rash of thefts of coal from the local freight yard accuse 4 young boys, though it is believed they may have been encouraged by their parents. The boys would climb on stopped cars near the Maple Street crossing, and throw coal as much coal as they could to the ground, and scoop it up later. Despite residents’ denials, further investigation found a huge amount of coal being hidden in the nearby Paper Mill Block basement. 3 of the accuses boys live in the block, the fourth is from Derby.

April 17 – Good Friday

  • 5,000 dozen hot cross buns baked in Ansonia bakeries, 2,000 at Webster Bros. bakeries in Shelton, and many more in other Valley towns. Most of the buns sold out before 10 AM. Florists report a record demand for flowers.

April 19 – Easter Sunday

  • There is a slight chill in the air today. Clear skies gave way to threatening weather later in the morning, but the day improved as it went on. The churches are packed. Most are dressed in Easter finery. This year’s Easter bonnets are not as odd in shape as they had been in previous years, but they are larger.
  • ANSONIA – Fire breaks out in the Kornblut store and adjoining wood building near Maple and High Streets at 11:30 PM. The store is wrecked. Rumors that firemen looted tobacco and expensive cigarettes from the store are being investigated by the fire department. Following the fire, Judge Tucker gives permission for an auxiliary hose cart to be stored in his nearby barn for better fire protection in the neighborhood.

Monday, April 20

  • DERBY – Removal of the old organ at St. James Church begins. The organ was the first one installed there, dating to 1854. A new one will be installed by May 1.
  • SEYMOUR – 68 employees of the Tingue Manufacturing Company have been laid off, possibly for only a few days. Orders have slackened recently.
  • SEYMOUR – A Smith Street home is destroyed by fire. Neighbors were alerted when the wife began screaming and throwing bed clothing out the window. She and her two children had to climb down a neighbor’s ladder in nightclothes. The house was one of the oldest in Seymour, built before 1832.
  • SHELTON – 3 Italian immigrants, 2 from Shelton one from Derby, are arrested for picking up coal from the railroad tracks between the freight station and passenger station. They were caught by railroad detectives as part of the ongoing investigation of theft of coal in the area.

April 21

  • ANSONIA – The special Board of Education committee on fire prevention, formed after the Collinwood disaster, reports that $4,000 is needed to make Ansonia schools safe from a similar disaster.
  • ANSONIA, DERBY & SHELTON – Ansonia, Derby, and Shelton residents meet at Ansonia City Hall, and form an Associated Civic Society. The cities will have separate societies, but they will work together as a federation.

April 23

  • Summer-like temperatures today.
  • ANSONIA – An auxiliary hose house is being built for the Webster Hose Co. No. 3 on James McKeon’s property on Central Street. Mr. McKeon is doing much of the work himself. He has converted an olive green hose wagon with white stripes and electric bell from a delivery wagon, drawn by two of his own black horses, carrying 500′ of hose. The firehouse will be outfitted with stables and harnesses, and will go down in history as one of the few horse drawn firehouses in the Valley. Note: this is the very same fire engine that was on the cover of the Derby Historical Society’s 1999 book Images of America – Ansoniastill available in our gift shop.
  • DERBY – Part of the Commodore Hull house on Commerce Street is being torn down, though the original portion will remain intact and will be fixed up.
  • DERBY – The Berkshire Trestle, east of the steel railroad bridge over the Housatonic River, is now completely repaired from the ice damage it sustained in February. The repairs have made it stronger.

April 24

  • The Naugatuck River is the lowest it has been since last summer
  • SEYMOUR – A large chicken coop burns on Gilyard Street, very close to houses. The woman who owns the coop rises from her sickbed and tries putting it out and is overcome by smoke. She is rescued by a neighbor, but not before she’s burned. 200 finely bred chickens are lost. This is the second fire in the area this week, raising suspicions that an arsonist may be on the loose.

April 25

  • SHELTON – Horace S. Plumb of Bridgeport dies. He was the brother of David W. Plumb, who served as warden for both the boroughs of Ansonia and Shelton over the course of his lifetime. Mr. D. W. Plumb was very generous in his will to Shelton, and Horace Plumb made sure his brothers wishes were kept, spending over $50,000 in bettering Shelton, including donating to build the Plumb Memorial Library and Riverview Park.

April 26

  • ANSONIA – Two chicken thieves enter a coop with an alarm system. The alarm rings a bill next to the owner’s bed, who gets his gun and shoots one of them with buckshot. Both thieves escape, however. The owner got the alarm system after he had 26 chickens stolen in January.
  • DERBY & SEYMOUR – A 150 acre brush fire in Squantuc lights up the night sky in Derby.
  • SEYMOUR – A bronze fountain, donated by the WCTU, is dedicated at the corner of Main and South Main Streets.

Monday, April 27

  • ANSONIA – US. Secretary of War William Howard Taft spends the night in Ansonia, in the home of Republican National Committeeman Charles F Brooker on State Street. He left for Bpt following AM, many gathered at RR station to see him, but were disappointed to learn he went by automobile. Note: William H. Taft will win the national election later this year and become the 27th President of the United States.
  • ANSONIA – The well known, elderly homeless wanderer, Johnny o’ the Woods, spends night in a vacant lot off Clifton Avenue, despite having $200 in an account donated for his well being. He does not seem inclined to use the funds.

April 28

  • ANSONIA – Word has spread that Secretary of War William Howard Taft is in town, and that he is leaving for Bridgeport this morning. Many gather to see him off at the railroad station, but are disappointed when they learn that he was discretely whisked out of the city in an automobile.
  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia Civic Association organizes at City Hall, with Alton Farrel as President.
  • DERBY – A number of local Italians have been cultivating a large vegetable garden on Shelton Island. Note: While it is unclear what was considered “Shelton Island” in 1908, it was likely the tidal flats below the Housatonic trestle, or today’s O’Sullivan Island.
  • SHELTON – The Shelton Civic Association organizes with David S. Brinsmade as president.
  • SHELTON – A ten year old Howe Avenue boy is killed when he finds and drops a railroad torpedo near the railroad track. The borough is horrified. This is the second child killed by a railroad torpedo in the Valley this year, the first was on January 27 in Ansonia.

April 29

  • DERBY – A smokehouse is discovered in the ell portion of the Commodore Hull birthplace on Commerce Street. The ell is being torn down, though the main portion of the house will stay (for now). Rooms for smoking meats were once common in the 19th century, but there are few left alive in 1908 that can remember their widespread use.

April 30

  • ANSONIA, DERBY, AND SHELTON – The three cities hold a joint “Clean Up Day”. Schoolchildren participate, while many others donate labor and material to give the cities a through cleaning. Cellars are cleaned out, streets swept, yards and vacant lots cleared.

May

Friday, May 1

  • ANSONIA – The trolley company considers the wooden covered portion of the Bridge Street Bridge in such bad condition it has condemned it and refuses to run trolleys over it. Repairs to the iron portion of the bridge are almost completed, and trolleys are running to the end of it. In the middle of the bridge, passengers have to disembark and walk across the covered wooden portion to transfer to trolleys on the west side. Naturally not many are happy with this arrangement.

May 2

  • ANSONIA – The man on trial in New Haven superior court for murdering his wife in Ansonia on March 27 breaks down and admits he shot her, though he says it was an accident.

Monday, May 4

  • ANSONIA – The City will repair the wooden covered portion of the Bridge Street Bridge.
  • ANSONIA – The Webster Hose Company No. 3 accepts the auxiliary hose house and hose wagon on Central Street, donated by James McKeon. One of the Valley’s only horse drawn fire engines in it history will carry 1000′ of hose and 2 chemical extinguishers.
  • SHELTON – The fire-ruined Silver Plate Cutlery Company on Canal Street will be torn down to make room for a new 4 story 36×135′ addition to the Adams Manufacturing Company, also known as the “Derby Cotton Mills”. The addition will be used mostly for storage and finishing machines.

May 5

  • ANSONIA – A horse becomes frightened by an automobile on Main Street, and jumps in front of it. Trying to avoid the horse, the automobile drives though the front window of the Ansonia Trading Company on the corner with Water Street.
  • ANSONIA – Charles F. Brooker’s former butler is sentenced to 7-12 years for stealing over $7000 in jewels on September 25, 1907. The theft occurred after the butler was discharged on suspicion of stealing. He reentered the home later that day while the family was at dinner and looted the place.
  • ANSONIA – The man on trial for murdering his wife on March 29 is found guilty of 2nd degree murder, and sentenced to life in prison.
  • ANSONIA – The Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church on Howard Avenue is roused by the ongoing destruction of church property by hoodlums. Many church, stable, and rectory windows have been smashed, iron and wood fences damaged or stolen, and trees or shrubs damaged. The police say they are investigating.

May 6

  • OXFORD – “The cold wave which followed so closely on the few summer-like days of last week, caused much uneasiness to people having fruit trees in bloom, particularly plum and peach trees which were showing indications of a heavy fruitage”.
  • SEYMOUR – A French woodchopper’s right foot is horribly injured when he slips under the wheels of a boxcar he was trying to illegally jump onto near the Seymour train station.

May 7

  • The heaviest rain thus far of the season, over 2″ falls, accompanied by 22mph winds. A total of 3.38″ falls in 24 hours.
  • ANSONIA –Jersey Street is covered with several inches of water again, and cellars are flooded, residents there very upset.
  • ANSONIA – A Black Hand letter is sent to real estate developer and landlord Phillip Cohen, asking for $2000 to be left in a bag at the Bridge Street Bridge. He ignores it.
  • DERBY – The Derby Choral Club holds a 10th anniversary concert at the Sterling Opera House. Mme. Louise Homer was the prima donna, from New York City’s Metropolitan Opera House. The opera house was crowded despite the bad rainstorm outside.

May 8

  • ANSONIA – The George May & Son Grocery Store is gutted by fire at 12:20 AM, near Maple and High Streets.

May 9

  • SHELTON – A 4-story brick building, 38’x30′ will be erected on the corner of Coram Avenue and Kneen Street. It will have one five-room flat each floor. This building still stands today across from Good Shepherd Church.

Monday, May 11

  • ANSONIA – The Board of Aldermen is considering suing the trolley company for the manner it repaired the Bridge Street Bridge. The planking on the trolley side is higher than that on the city-owned side, thereby diverting most of the traffic to the city side.
  • ANSONIA – Local real estate developer and landlord Phillip Cohen receives a second Black Hand letter, chiding him for not paying $2,000 extortion demanded in the last letter. The new letter now says he needs to pay $4,000 tonight, at the gas tank near the railroad tracks on lower Main Street. Like the last letter, he ignores it.
  • DERBY – Johnny o’ the Woods is spotted sleeping in a gutter at the corner of Olivia Street and Fourth Street. The aging wanderer who refuses to settle down, even though he has a locally raised trust fund for his care, is taken to the police lockup for night.

May 12

  • ANSONIA – Alderman John C. Meade has planted two flower beds in front of City Hall, giving it an attractive appearance.
  • DERBY – About 600 witness a hypnotist put a man to sleep in the Hubbell Bros. shoe store window. He’s performing over weekend at the Sterling Opera House.
  • DERBY – Hundreds of automobiles pass through the City yesterday and today. These are the first good days of the year for that.

May 13

  • The first open car of the season appears on the Waterbury-New Haven line. Many like the new semi-convertible closed cars, which have breezes go through them through windows near the roof of the car. This allows the cool breeze without getting splashed by mud and rain during bad weather. The only major problem is traditionally the last 3 seats in the open cars were used by smokers, so as not to bother the rest of the car. With the semi-convertibles the smoke does not exit as easily, and the cars do not allow smokers.
  • ANSONIA – City horse owners are upset that the supply of water in watering troughs has been cut down. Today there is a line of horses at the tank at the foot ofFoundry Hill, and in front of the Boston Store, but little water is coming out. The Ansonia Water Company is being criticized for causing the problem by putting meters on the tanks.
  • OXFORD – The chancel of St. Peter’s Church was recently enlarged for putting in choir stalls. The church plans on starting a vested choir.
  • OXFORD – “The rain of the past week put the ground in fine condition for the reception of seeds, and farmers are now rushing their work as fast as possible”.

May 14

  • ANSONIA – City watering troughs are back to running at full capacity.

May 15

  • ANSONIA – The City receives a telegram from Washington DC, stating that Ansonia has been appropriated $90,000 from Congress to build a new Post Office. This is more than any other city in Connecticut will receive for this purpose this year. The new Post Office will probably be on Main Street, near the Sentinel building.
  • DERBY – A Caroline Street man saves a young Polish child who fell off the pontoon bridge between Water Street and the Sterling Piano Company over theBirmingham Canal.
  • SHELTON – The Borough of Shelton Grand List for 1908 totals $4,046,237, including 579 houses, 76 stores or mills, 141 horses, 3 cattle, 147 carriages, and 795 watches.

May 16

  • ANSONIA & SHELTON – Ansonia School Superintendent Edwin C. Andrews resigns to become the Superintendent of the Huntington and Stratford school systems.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – An 18 year old man is arrested for trying to force his way into a dance at Gould Armory. He is taken to the Derby police station, which was on the lower floors of the Sterling Opera House, where he was locked in a corridor. He sets fire to the corridor to escape, dashing past the police officer who investigated the smoke. He is chased into Shelton, and the police chief there joins the investigation. It is learned that he was sleeping at the Wilkinson Paper Mill at the top of Canal Street, and is found there and arrested. Two others who tried to warn him are also arrested. The fire in the police station was not serious, just scorching the walls and door.

May 17

  • ANSONIA – A 2-story Beaver Street home which was being used as a workshop is destroyed by fire.
  • ANSONIA – The basement of the Dwyer Building on Railroad Avenue is raided by the police. Three are arrested for keeping or patronizing an after hours saloon, though many others escaped through the back door.

Monday, May 18

  • Poor residents are finding much driftwood along the Naugatuck River, despite the fact the water isn’t abnormally high.

May 19

  • ANSONIA – Hundreds of pounds of eelpickerel, and bullhead are being caught at Pickett’s Pond. There seems to be an “inexhaustible” supply of good sized bullheads, and since they are best caught at night, many are there at the pond after dark.
  • ANSONIA & DERBY – Many complaints about reckless automobilists this spring, in particular along Wakelee Avenue, the corner of Elizabeth and Main Streets, and Derby Avenue.
  • SEYMOUR – The wooden bridge over Bladen’s brook, near the Beach farmhouse in Skocorat, gives way under a team of 4 horses pulling the town road scraper, plunging them 10′ into 5′ deep water. Other workmen saved the scraper’s driver, who was entangled in the reins. The 4 horses are OK.
  • SHELTON – A Socialist rally occurs on Bridge Street, just off Howe Avenue.

May 20

  • DERBY – The John H. Brewster Company is incorporated. Mr. Brewster’s business is the second oldest business downtown, selling dry goods since 1866. He was burned out in Great Fire of 1879, but went to same site when the building rebuilt.
  • OXFORD “It really seems as if summer weather has come now to stay, and it is most welcome. There is need, however, of rain to start planted crops growing rapidly”.
  • SEYMOUR – Bell School on Great Hill is now up to 25 students, due to some new families moving to the area. More desks had to be added to the schoolhouse.
  • SEYMOUR – “The handsome new iron fence around Trinity Cemetery in Seymour has been painted with black enamel”.

May 21

  • ANSONIA – Repairs to the covered west end of the Bridge Street Bridge are almost completed. It should be able to hold almost any load now.
  • ANSONIA – The Brewster Corset Company will shut down indefinitely. It employs 70 hands, mostly women and girls.

May 22

  • ANSONIA – Upcoming Ansonia High School graduates are upset they are only being issued 10 tickets each to the graduation exercises at Ansonia Opera House.
  • DERBY – The dog basins on the bottom of the memorial fountain on Atwater Avenue and Seymour Avenue are stopped up. Dog owners want it fixed.

 May 24 MEMORIAL SUNDAY

  • ANSONIA – Big crowd at the Ansonia Opera House for Memorial Day, including many veterans. The event includes patriotic speeches, along with the Ansonia High School student choir which sang patriotic songs.
  • DERBY – Big crowd at Sterling Opera House for an evening observance of Memorial Day. The patriotic songs are sung by the Methodist Episcopal Church choir. 
  • OXFORD – A small ceremony marking Memorial Day occurs on Oxford Green.
  • SEYMOUR – The town celebrates Memorial Day “the old fashioned way”, with small ceremonies by veterans. There was a bit of controversy this year as the Town’s Memorial Day Committee never effectively organized.
  • SHELTON – Memorial services at Huntington Congregational Church.

Monday, May 25

  • ANSONIA – City florists report an unprecedented demand for flowers in advance of Memorial Day.
  • ANSONIA – Despite the City’s repairs, the trolley company still refuses to run trolleys over the Bridge Street Bridge, citing concerns about its stability. An engineer came to town to inspect the bridge, supposedly at Mayor Charters’ request, but the mayor says he knew nothing about it. Passengers who have to transfer from one trolley to another by crossing the old covered bridge on foot are not happy about the situation.
  • DERBY – A house is being moved from Minerva Street to Hawthorne Avenue, very slowly. It is expected the entire trip will take a month. The house passed through the intersection of Elizabeth Street and Fourth Street today. The house will soon block the Bassett Hook & Ladder Co. No. 1 firehouse on Fourth Street in the Sterling Opera House. When that happens the ladder truck will be parked on Elizabeth Street until the house passes.

May 28

  • DERBY – City officials warn that if they continue to see children running around outside after 10 PM and making mischief, they will impose a curfew law for 9 PM.

May 29

  • DERBY – The last house let standing on railroad property near Derby Junction is being torn down. The house may date from before the Revolution, and was occupied by Captain George Curtiss and Gabriel Dziadik over the years. It was part of the ancient Derby Narrows neighborhood, at a place then called Cockle Island, near where the Huntington Ferry used to come in.
  • SHELTON – The Pine Rock Park signs have been painted over on all the trolleys. At the park itself, no trespassing signs have been erected. The pavilions, bridges, and platforms are decaying and being dismantled, and it is expected the land will be sold. The park has not been profitable for the last few years – it was hard to access, on top of a steep hill, and other attractions can be reached by trolley like Savin Rock in West Haven and Steeplechase Island in Bridgeport.

 May 30 MEMORIAL DAY Skies are threatening during the parades, but the rain held off.

  • ANSONIA – Big parade between St. Mary’s cemeteries and Pine Grove Cemetery, as well as downtown. 7,000 people are in the cemeteries alone.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – Many attend the Memorial Day Parade that starts in Shelton and ends with a brief ceremony at the Civil War monument on Derby Green. The cemeteries in both towns are decorated.

June

Tuesday, June 2

  • Much bass has been observed in Lake Housatonic. Derby’s Captain George Van Deusen is renting boats for fishing.
  • SHELTON – The new Knights of Columbus council forming at St. Joseph’s Church will be named Bernardo.

June 3

  • DERBY – Burglars steal $400 in clothing and cloth from the K. Goldberg Store, located in the Shelton block on Lower Main Street
  • OXFORD – “The greens have been mowed over with a hand mower, this past week, and are looking very lovely. The village never appeared more attractive than it does at the present time”.

June 4

  • Over 60 motorboats are above and below the Ousatonic Dam this year, as well as 60 canoes.

June 5

  • The number of licensed automobiles in the Valley cities and towns are as follows: Derby (37), Shelton (36), Ansonia (26), and Seymour (12). In all there are 111, and a few have more than one.
  • SEYMOUR – Seymour High School holds its graduation exercises at the Seymour Methodist Church. In all there are 4 seniors, all female. Helen Thompson Warner is the valedictorian.

Monday, June 8

  • ANSONIA – The Board of Aldermen meets until nearly midnight, mostly talking about ongoing issue between the trolley company and the Bridge Street Bridge. The City insists the bridge in good repair, and many are upset how the public has been inconvenienced by having to walk across the covered portion of the bridge due to the trolley company’s refusal to cross it. It is felt that the trolley company is trying to strong-arm the City to building a new bridge. Members of the Board threaten to take the trolley company’s franchise away if trolleys don’t start running over the bridge again.
  • ANSONIA – Naming the Town Farm is once again under discussion. “Hillside” seems to be the most favored name.

June 10

  • ANSONIA – Deacon Benjamin Root of Ansonia is ordained a priest at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in New Britain.
  • ANSONIA – Fire at a house at 4 Smith Street causes $750 in damage. Boys from a local academy man the fire department’s reserve jumper (hose cart) and had fire under control before regular fire apparatus arrived.
  • OXFORD – “Edward Tyler has been trying his luck hatching chickens with an incubator. For a first experiment he had very good success, getting 70 chicks from 100 eggs”.

June 11

  • ANSONIA – A traveling, self-professed healer who claims to be Schlatter, actually Presbyterian minister Charles McLean, says he can heal anyone through divine intervention. Mayor Charters initially said he could use City Hall, until he realized he isn’t sponsored by any of the local churches. He then refused to allow him to use City Hall. Nevertheless, he preaches on Main Street, making quite an impression on some, and bounding about with the energy of a man half his age.

June 12

  • ANSONIA – Ansonia High School graduates the largest class in its history up to that time. 34 graduates receive their diplomas at exercises at Ansonia Opera House. When the class started 4 years ago, there were 103 members. Miss Helen Bartholomew is salutatorian – she was never tardy or absent for the entire 4 years. Miss Marian Freethy is the valedictorian.
  • ANSONIA – The new dog pound will be south of Central Street. Dogs that need to be put down will now be chloroformed, instead of shot as they were perviously.
  • DERBY – Derby High School graduates 11 seniors at Sterling Opera House. Miss Marian Emilie Deings is the valedictorian. John Francis Ryan is the salutatorian, however he cannot attend the commencement because he has been in the hospital for some time. He completed his final coursework from his hospital bed, and though he can’t be present at the commencement he’s very much in everyone’s thoughts.
  • SHELTON – A house at corner of Perry Avenue and Beard Street is broken into in broad daylight. The family was only away for 2 hours, and only jewelry was stolen. Much of house can be seen on the corner, yet the thief entered through cellar window. The newspaper headlines it “Boldest Robbery Known in Shelton”.

 June 14 – FLAG DAY

  • ANSONIA & DERBY – The Sons of the American Revolution, David Humphreys Branch No. 1, decorates 53 Revolutionary War graves in the Colonial Cemetery and Elm Street Cemetery.
  • SHELTON – Another bold robbery takes place, this time in a Wheeler Street house. A pocketbook is stolen while the family was at church.

Monday, June 15

  • A fine rain in the evening finally breaks the drought. Farmers rejoice. Temperatures drop.
  • ANSONIA – 6 cases of diphtheria have appeared in the city in the past two days. Five are on west side, and the other on North State Street.

June 16

  • ANSONIA – City schools and the public library are closed due to the diphtheria outbreak. Seven new cases have been reported since noon yesterday, making for a total of 13. The grammar school graduation exercises scheduled for June 18th has been cancelled. 
  • DERBY & SHELTON – John H. Barlow, who spent much of his early life in Derby but now lives in Shelton, is found dead in bed at his temporary home in Hartford. He was Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut masons. Born in Ridgefield in 1832, he moved to Birmingham at age 17. Four years later he was hired by the Shelton Company, and became superintendent of its tack and bolt works. He retired in 1891, moved to Shelton, and began selling real estate and insurance. He joined King Hiram Lodge No. 12 of Derby in 1853, and rose through the ranks to become the Grand Secretary of all Connecticut masons.

June 17

  • ANSONIA – Eight more diphtheria cases reported in the past 24 hours, making for a total of 21. 
  • DERBY – John H. Barlow is buried with the Masonic rituals at Oak Cliff Cemetery. The cemetery is packed.
  • SHELTON – Shelton High School holds its 22nd commencement at the Sterling Opera House in Derby. 15 graduate. The Valedictorian is Miss Elizabeth Sarah Shelton, while the Salutatorian is Kenneth Fletcher Lees. This was presumably the same Elizabeth Shelton who retired as a teacher from the Shelton school system in 1958, and for whom Elizabeth Shelton School is named.

June 18

  • ANSONIA – A Special Meeting of the Board of Aldermen is held regarding the trolley company’s refusal to use Bridge Street Bridge. The meeting is short, but an unanimous resolution is passed declaring that the bridge is safe, and the City will spend no more money on it though the trolley company can if they want to. There is still talk of removing the trolley company’s franchise if they continue to refuse running their cars over the covered portion of the bridge. The resolution is signed by Mayor Charters.

June 19

  • ANSONIA – Between yesterday and today, 10 more diphtheria cases have been reported, raising the total to 31.
  • ANSONIA – Mayor Charters announces he has changed his mind regarding the Board of Aldermen resolution passed yesterday, and vetoes it despite the fact he signed it yesterday.  He says he is afraid the wording would enable the trolley company to successfully demand a new bridge before state railroad commissioner.
  • SHELTON – The Derby Christian Endeavor Union holds its 91st pubic meeting at the White Hills Baptist Church.

June 20

  • ANSONIA – Four new cases brings the total affected by the diphtheria epidemic to 35.
  • DERBY – The work on the grading grounds and driveway of the new hospital on the corner of Seymour Avenue and Division Street is progressing. The iron work on the building is nearly completed.

June 21

  • ANSONIA – A fire on the second floor of a junk shop on Main Street, between Tremont Street and Colburn Street is quickly extinguished, causing $200 damage. A horse in an attached stable is saved.
  • ANSONIA – Sunday School classes are cancelled due to the diphtheria outbreak.
  • DERBY – Fire guts Jack’s Lunch Room, next to the Home Trust Company’s building on Main Street.

Monday, June 22

  • ANSONIA – Three new diphtheria cases have been diagnosed since Saturday, bringing a total of 38 cases in a total of 30 families in the City since the outbreak started.

June 23

  • Heavy rain falls at noon. The temperatures drop 30 degrees.
  • ANSONIA – Only one new diphtheria case has been diagnosed in the last 24 hours, though it has been reported that some who live in houses under quarantine are not adhering to it.
  • ANSONIA – Roads in the City are covered with several inches of dust. The dust has spread inside of houses on heavily traveled roads, and it is so thick that people can’t sit on their verandas. Those opposed to street sprinkling are rethinking their position.
  • SEYMOUR – Construction has begun on the new state road between Seymour and Beacon Falls.

June 24

  • ANSONIA – The man who demonstrated his new fire saving device by jumping off the YMCA and Terry buildings in February of 1907, Fred G. Engel, is killed in a fall from a 6-story building in Springfield, MA, while demonstrating it.
  • DERBY – St. Mary’s High School graduates 14 seniors at St. Mary’s Hall. Miss Alice M. Moffatt is the valedictorian, while Miss Genevieve L. Johnson is the salutatorian.
  • DERBY – The Police Commissioner fires a regular officer appointed last January, on charges that he lied about his age. The officer said he was 34 when he was 37, which is past the maximum starting age.
  • OXFORD – “Haying has begun in earnest, farmers making the most of the hot, sun-shiny days. A good crop of hay seems general”.

June 25

  • DERBY – The police officer fired yesterday announces he plans to appeal his termination on the grounds of age discrimination.
  • SEYMOUR – The locally famous, now elderly wanderer, Johnny o’ the Woods, is seen in Town wearing a queer ensemble of an overcoat and a straw hat.

June 26

  • ANSONIA – One new diphtheria case in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases to 40. Nevertheless, it appears that the worst part of the epidemic is past.
  • ANSONIA – Complaint of 12-15 panhandlers who hang out day and night on the Bridge Street Bridge. They insult those who don’t pay them money, and the amount they beg for seems suspiciously close to the price of beer is at the nearby saloons.
  • DERBY – The Howe Manufacturing Company is in negotiations to be bought by Plume & Atwood Manufacturing Company of Waterbury. A notice was posted yesterday that the shop will shut down for an indefinite period. In 1832 Dr. John I. Howe of New York patented a machine which could mass produce pins. This was one of the very first examples of mass production in America. The Howe Manufacturing Company was incorporated in December of 1835 in New York City, though it moved to the Birmingham Canal in April 1838. Dr. Howe took residence on Caroline Street, and served as the sole manager of the pin company until 1863, and engaged in many civic improvements and philanthropic pursuits until his death in 1876. The company continued to be run by his son-in-law and his family until today’s announcement. The passing of one of Derby’s pioneer industries was greeted by many with sadness.

June 27

  • ANSONIA – Sunday schools, closed last week due to the diphtheria outbreak, reopen today.

Monday, June 29

  • ANSONIA – The wood and iron steps of the Cliffwalk will be replaced by concrete steps.

July

Wednesday, July 1

  • ANSONIA – With the diphtheria outbreak waning, the Health Officer allows the Ansonia Public Library to reopen.
  • OXFORD – “There is no lack of peddlers here. There are three fish peddlers and three grocery peddlers and a baker”. “The showers of the past week were very acceptable, laying the dust and freshening vegetation, though they made extra work for haymakers who had much grass to cut”.
  • SHELTON – While returning from a baseball game at Sunnyside Field between the Echo Hose Hook & Ladder Co. No. 1 and the Whitlock Machine Company, the fire alarm rings. Both baseball teams, in their uniforms, man the hand-drawn jumpers from the Howe Avenue firehouse to the Adams Cotton Mills on Canal Street. The fire was in a detached building, and it took over an hour to put out. Two firemen were injured.

July 3

  • ANSONIA – Derby residents are becoming increasingly tired of having to walk across the covered portion of the Bridge Street Bridge in order to enter downtown Ansonia. The impasse with the trolley company refusing to cross the bridge until the City repairs or replaces it continues.
  • DERBY – Quite a number of new houses are currently being erected.

 July 4 – INDEPENDENCE DAY

  • ANSONIA – The holiday is relatively quiet, with only occasional fireworks.
  • DERBY – A considerable number of fireworks are set off, and more revolvers can be seen on the street.
  • SEYMOUR – On the eve of the Fourth, St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church is broken into and the bell rung, following an old custom that local officials are trying to stamp out. The rector is taunted by the crowd.
  • SHELTON – A considerable number of fireworks are set off, some of which ignite the roof of a house on Long Hill Avenue, but it is quickly extinguished.

Monday, July 6

  • The temperature rises to 98 degrees at noon. It is 104 degrees in the Evening Sentinel composing room at same time. Many are sleeping outdoors at night, on porches, roofs, and yards. Houses are unbearably uncomfortable. 
  • For the entire week, Valley residents are battling to save their Elm Trees from a plague of Elm Tree beetles, which are rapidly eating their leaves.

July 7

  • The heat wave continues. The shore along Lake Housatonic is packed.
  • ANSONIA – Downtown looks deserted as everyone looks for way to beat the unbearable heat. 
  • DERBY – The Storm Engine Company sprinkles Derby Green to keep the grass alive.

July 8

  • DERBY – The Sherwood farm, birthplace of local author and historian Albert Sherwood, composed of 60 acres of land, a 14 room farmhouse, and several barns, is sold by Edward McEnerney to Fredercik B. Van Wert. The farm was located above the intersection of today’s Sentinel Hill Road and David Humphreys Road.
  • OXFORD – “The hot wave under which this locality sweltered the past week was extreme both in intensity and duration, even the occasional showers of the past week gave hardly passing relief, leaving the air so full of humidity that the heat seemed greater then before they came”.

July 9

  • Temperatures drop 39 degrees in 24 hours, down to 59 in the early morning hours. People sleep soundly indoors for the first time in days.
  • DERBY – 50 “no spitting signs have been erected around the City.
  • SEYMOUR – A house and contents on Washington Avenue is destroyed by fire in the late evening hours. The Tingue Company night watchman ended his shift, and being a volunteer fireman walked to the Citizen Engine Company firehouse. There he was suddenly assaulted by an unknown man. A man is detained for the crime, but the night watchman states the police caught the wrong man, and he is let go.
  • SEYMOUR – The New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad notifies tenants of “The Plains”, which is railroad-owned property at the north end of Franklin Street, they must move in 30 days. The railroad plans to build a new freight house there. The Seymour Lumber & Hardware Company will also have to move.
  • SHELTON – A band of gypsies pass through, but it is made clear they are not welcome as they are blamed for a smallpox outbreak last year. A few of the women tell fortunes for the superstitious residents willing to pay them, and they attract much attention in their brightly colored clothes, but they pass through without incident.

July 11

  • ANSONIA – New athletic fields laid out off Rockwood Avenue, called Woodside Park, open for the first time today.
  • DERBY – The Sterling Opera House has its final performance of the season before it closes for the summer. It was one of the longest, and poorest, seasons ever. The performances were mostly vaudeville and moving pictures after March. It is felt that economic conditions brought about by the Panic of 1907 had a lot to do with the lackluster ticket sales and fewer traveling theater troupes. Some seats and ceilings in the theater need to be replaced. The heating needs improvement, the stage floor is in bad condition, and the fire escape facing Fourth Street side is in very poor condition.
  • SHELTON – Most of the meadowland along the railroad tracks has been cut to stubble, and with the dry weather much of this has burned up from brush fires caused by sparks from steam locomotives.

July 12

  • The ongoing drought is getting very serious. Farmers are in a state of despair, as their crops dry up in the fields. Many prayers for rain are said at church today. Crops drying up in fields. Today brings 90 degrees and high humidity, but no rain.

Monday, July 13

  • ANSONIA – The City’s Corporate Counsel and Board of Aldermen rule that Mayor Charters’ controversial veto of their recent trolley resolution was out of order, and therefore void.
  • DERBY – Fire breaks out in a one and a half story tenement house adjacent to the Peterson & Hendee mills on Caroline Street and River Place. The fire gained considerable headway because the occupants focused on throwing their belongings out the windows instead of pulling the fire alarm. The building, as well as the Peterson & Hendee storehouse next door, is badly damaged. A large crowd gathers in front of the burning building, getting in the firemen’s way.
  • SEYMOUR – The Town’s drinking water is yellow and has a bad odor. Reports are circulating of dead fish coming out of fire hydrants. The Chinese laundry is forced to close for the week because the clothes are all being dyed yellow. The Seymour Water Company is trying to pinpoint the cause of the problem.

July 14

  • The long drought is finally interrupted by a violent thunderstorm that goes through the northeast portion of the Valley, though the rain is not enough to save the withering crops, yet. Telephone and electric wires are down everywhere, and train and trolley service is interrupted. 
  • ANSONIA – Lightning strikes a house on the corner of Grove Street and Meadow Street, hurling 3 people through the air and causing $200 damage. Another lightning strike damages a Rufus Street home. A Wakelee Street man is injured by a nearby lighting strike.
  • DERBY – 0.5″ of rain falls
  • DERBY & SEYMOUR – Baseball is not as popular as it once was in Derby, though it is very popular among the summer residents at Squantuck.
  • SEYMOUR – 3.5″ of rain falls.
  • SHELTON – Lightning strikes a barn on the top of White Hills, killing a farmhand and a horse, while injuring the nearby farmer and another horse. The roof catches fire, but the farmer’s son puts it out before it got serious.

July 15

  • St. Swithin’s Day – Only a few drops of rain fall in Ansonia, but none in Seymour or Derby. 
  • The crops are dried up, even though temperatures fall to 50 overnight. One farmer says the says the drought compares to the bad ones in 1886 and 1890. Only half of the normal rainfall amount fell in June.
  • OXFORD – “”Sunday was a record breaker for this valley, thermometers going up to 96 in the shade, and 112 in the sun. There was little relief to be found, either outdoors or in. About 4 PM, black clouds in the north gave promise of a shower, but as has been the case several times of late the clouds went around Oxford, not a drop of rain falling here. Evidently there was a shower to the north, for a breeze sprang up and there was a slight but welcome drop in the temperature. The ground was like ashes, and the dust rose in clouds with every passing team. The soaking rain last night was beneficial in every way, and was a welcome stranger”.

July 16

  • DERBY & SEYMOUR – Gypsies visit both locales today, telling a few fortunes and attracting attention. They are not wanted due to being blamed for a smallpox outbreak last year.

July 17

  • A light shower in the evening brings 35mph winds. The storm was worse in terms of wind and rain in Seymour.
  • OXFORD – 4 cows and 2 heifers belonging to Harry Davis of Great Hill were killed in a lightning storm on July 3, after they took shelter under a large tree near a wire fence. It was a big loss for him, and his neighbors will give a dance in “Quaker Farms town hall” to benefit him today. The location was probably GOOD TEMPLAR HALL.

July 18

  • SEYMOUR – Woodchucks are plentiful, so now woodchuck hunting is popular.

July 19

  • Temperatures are in the 90s all day, with excessive humidity. Places like Ansonia’s Main Street are deserted, with many taking the trolleys to the shore to try to beat the heat.
  • ANSONIA – Ansonia is suddenly covered with white moths overnight, which blanket buildings and utility poles like snow. When the sun came out they disappeared. Older residents recall that the last time anything like this happened was 1868, just before a big storm. Many blame the drought. Birds that normally eat moths won’t touch these. Superstitious residents fear that this may be a presage of evil about to come.
  • SHELTON – A farmhand drowns in the Housatonic near Murphy’s Corner. He and another swum across the river from Milford. On the way back, he developed cramps and went under. He is still missing.

Monday, July 20

  • Big drop in temperature.
  • ANSONIA – The Board of Education votes 3 times on a new superintendent – each of the two contenders are tied at 4 votes because the 9th member continues to abstain. Finally, the board member withdraws from voting, allowing Mayor Charters to cast the deciding vote in favor of Francis M. Buckley. He is an Ansonia native, a 1901 Ansonia High School graduate.

July 21

  • 2″ of rain falls in late evening thunderstorms, causing washouts in places. The drought is now said to be broken.
  • ANSONIA – Rainwater washes down Lester Street hill, submerging half Jersey Street under 3 feet of water due to rubbish blocking storm drains. many are upset.
  • ANSONIA – The white moths which invaded Ansonia last week are said to be a new kind of pest which may come back this spring in the form of worms. They reportedly like to eat all leaves, especially maple and elm trees. English Sparrows, themselves not native to the area but are in abundance, reportedly will eat them, however.
  • OXFORD – A Special Town Meeting is held to appropriate funds to build a new Red Oak District schoolhouse on the upper end of Chestnut Tree Hill. The present building has been condemned as unfit for further use.
  • SEYMOUR – At least one house is struck by lightning.

July 22

  • More rain falls, totaling 3′ in the past 48 hours. Dried up streams are now running again, and vegetation is greening again.
  • DERBY – The Grimes house is being moved from Water Street to the rear of Main Street, over the tail race, near Hallock Court. The move is difficult work, as the house needs to be turned around to fit. Because its being placed over the Birmingham Canal tail race, workmen can only work on it on 2 sides.
  • OXFORD – “The protracted drought was at last broken by the liberal supply of rain which came during the showers of Saturday evening and night and Sunday morning, early, though none too much water has come as the ground was dry and so great a depth and there are many patches of potatoes which are said to be beyond help from rain”.

July 24

  • ANSONIA – A small fire in a grocery store is discovered on the corner of Jackson Street and Howard Avenue by a milkman early in the morning at a grocery store. The neighbors organize a bucket brigade and extinguish it before Fountain Hose Co. No. 1 arrives. The building is owned by fire chief George May.
  • ANSONIA – The Dreamland nickelodeon in the Colburn Building on Bank Street has been closed for several months, but should be reopened by September 1.
  • SHELTON – The CR&L trolley company announces Pine Rock Park will be dismantled.

July 25

  • More rain.
  • Blueberries are plentiful.
  • More freight observed on the railroads indicate that the economic outlook is finally improving.

July 26

  • The day is sunny and clear. Mosquitoes are making a comeback now that rain has returned. Local farming is much improved. Trolleys are crowded with people flooding the shoreline resorts.

Monday, July 27

  • ANSONIA – A large metal shed on lower Main Street collapses, and tumbles into Beaver Brook. The shed was built over the bank, the side facing the brook supported by wooden stilts, and it was the stilts that gave way, apparently due to the weight of the many barrels inside. The barrels contain hundreds of tons of brass, copper, and other metal, much of which also tumbles into the brook. The remaining part of the shed still standing, on the bank itself, is leaning on a crazy angle toward the brook. The 10 PM collapse sounded like an earthquake to the residents of nearby New Jerusalem, frightening many. Guards have been posted around the wreckage and brook to prevent scavenging, and salvage operations have begun.
  • SEYMOUR – By vote of 31-2, the Seymour Congregational Church calls Rev. George Abel to succeed outgoing minister Rev. Dr. J. F. Johnston.
  • SEYMOUR – Peach harvesting begins at the Hale & Coleman orchards.
  • SHELTON – Well attended outdoor Socialist rally downtown.

July 28

  • ANSONIA – Fruit and vegetable peddlers can be seen on just about every street in Ansonia nowadays, and in some cases 4-5 wagons are parked on one block. Regular storekeepers are getting upset because the peddlers don’t pay taxes but cut into their business.
  • DERBY – Complaints are prevalent of hoodlums hanging around on Derby Green in the evenings, overturning benches and upsetting many. 

July 29

  • DERBY – The Birmingham Iron Foundry and Sterling Piano Company buy a strip of land on Derby Meadows east of their plants, from the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. This is where the pioneer New Haven & Derby Railroad once ran along the Birmingham Canal tail race. Birmingham Iron Foundry also secures the old New Haven & Derby depot site by Main Street.
  • DERBY – Few know that the little cottage being moved from lower Water Street to Hallock’s Court was once the home of Marcus Daly, copper king, who was the richest man who ever made Birmingham his home. He worked for the old Birmingham Iron & Steel Company. Some older residents still remember him.

July 30

  • ANSONIA – 5,000 people from all over the Valley enjoy an open air concert by the American Brass Company band at Wallace’s Grove, in the area of Franklin Street and Wakelee Avenue.. Special trolleys are commissioned to take people there. Neighbors get into the spirit by putting out Chinese lanterns and selling drinks and refreshments from their front lawns.
  • ANSONIA – The Cliffway reopens today. People generally like the new concrete steps.

July 31

  • DERBY – A chain breaks on an automobile parked near Elizabeth Street and Fourth Street. The brake would not hold so the machine was turned to the curb. The auto jumps the curb, goes over the sidewalk and smashes into the veranda of the Bassett House, damaging both.
  • DERBY – Complaints are surfacing of young people, including dating couples out past midnight, talking loudly and singing in the area of Hawkins Street and East Ninth Street.
  • SEYMOUR – The State Board of Health will investigate the ongoing problem of discolored, vile smelling public drinking water.

August

Sunday, August 2

  • DERBY – Charles Atwater, secretary and treasurer of the Howe Manufacturing Company, dies at his New Haven home of diabetes.
  • SEYMOUR – A young Austro-Hungarian woman who lived on Main Street dies of wounds she sustained 4 days ago when her husband attacked her. Her husband fled town when he learned warrant out for his arrest, and he will now be charged with murder if caught.

Monday, August 3

  • DERBY – A body found is found floating in Lake Housatonic. His identity is initially a mystery, though he is later linked to a hat found on the riverbank on August 2. On August 4 he is identified as a Boston man who was selling wire arrangements for cleaning windows here.
  • SEYMOUR – There is a movement in Town to purchase a lot on the corner Franklin Street and Bank Street, next to Central School. It was recently bought by Max Olderman and Oscar Cohen of Ansonia, who plan on moving 7 tenement houses from the soon to be cleared railroad property there. Townspeople think it would be better as a playground.

August 4

  • ANSONIA – The Board of Aldermen is upset over additions to the Levy Building on Bridge Street. Because the additions are wood, they are putting up a wooden building in the heart of downtown. The building needs to be covered in fireproof material to meet the fire limit standards.
  • ANSONIA – The Board of Charities officially changes the name of the Almshouse to Hillside Home. Other names considered were Riverview, Riverside, and Fairview. The almshouse is also known as the Town Farm or Poorhouse.
  • OXFORD – “The continued dry weather is being more severely felt now, than at any other time through this remarkably dry season. Many wells have entirely dried out and pasture fields are as brown as if killed by frosts. Hardly a drop of rain has fallen since the storm of two weeks ago last Saturday. The dust has become suffocating, and the prospects for farmer are not encouraging”.

August 5

  • Heavy thunderstorms over the area. Prior to that it was 92 and very humid.
  • ANSONIA – The thunderstorm is considered the worst in years. A barn and house on New Haven Avenue are struck by lightning, and a horse is killed there. The tragedy could have been much worse as 3 children took shelter in the barn, and were called inside the house by one of their mothers just before it was hit. Houses on Garden Street and Hull Street are also struck, with a small fire breaking out in the later one. Many trees and wires are down, trolley tracks washed over by sand or stopped by power failures. Corn stalks are blown down. The old, unused Ansonia-Derby Ice Company icehouse is blown down on Beaver Street.
  • DERBY – Catch basins overflow, causing 1′ of water to pool at Olivia Street and Main Street, and a whirlpool to form at Elizabeth Street and Main Street. Trolley service, telephone service, and trees are down.
  • SEYMOUR – A house under construction on North Main Street is struck by lightning. Trolleys are stalled.

August 6

  • More rain showers. The drought is history.
  • SEYMOUR – One day after the big storm, the old croquet shop on Oxford Road collapses. The ancient building was used as a cider mill before.

August 7

  • Third day in a row of rain. The river levels were low due to the drought, but now it is finally rising.
  • DERBY – The Board of Aldermen receive a petition from Birmingham Iron Foundry and Sterling Piano Company to abandon Foundry Street so they can use it as a railroad siding. The street was laid out 1881.
  • DERBY – The former Housatonic Park pavilion grounds, north of Derby on Houatonic Avenue, is being used by tramps. They are reportedly often drunk and loud at night, and annoying the neighbors. The problem is becoming worse and has been in the forefront since the news since the Boston salesman was found drowned near there.

August 8

  • ANSONIA – Very sad incident along the river. A 12year old Maple Street boy drowns at a swimming hole on the west bank of the Naugatuck River. Other children who witnessed the event say that those who rescued him made no attempt to revive him when he was found, and he was left just off the riverbank until the arrival of the Health Officer, despite the fact he had only been under for 45 minutes and some say he was gasping. The rescues say they were under the impression they had to leave the scene intact before the Health Officer’s arrival. The Health Officer, while not ruling if the children’s account was accurate or not, later states that attempts at resuscitation should always take priority over preserving evidence if there is any chance of revival.
  • SEYMOUR – An injunction filed against Max Olderman and Philip Cohen of Ansonia by Seymour Manufacturing Company, restraining them from moving 7 homes from the north end of Franklin Street to its south end, on land purchased from the Rimmon Water Company. The company claims the houses will interfere with their operations and deliveries.
  • SHELTON – The now closed Pine Rock Park is being leased from the trolley company, as a summer camp for young boys from New York City’s crowded East Side, who are ages 12 or older. No one seems to mind, it is noted that they are not bothering the neighbors.

Monday, August 10

  • Farms doing better from last week’s rain. The Housatonic River has risen, which is very good news because many factories were at reduced capacity due to lack of water power.
  • ANSONIA – The trolley company offers the Board of Aldermen a new proposal. It wants the City to extend the company’s time limit for double tracking to November 1, 1909. In return, the company will pay $4,000 due on the trolley agreement and strengthen the covered portion of the Bridge Street Bridge at own expense. The Aldermen table the issue to give them time to consider it.
  • DERBY – An explosion causes a small fire and burns an employee at the Sterling Pin Company on Housatonic Avenue.

August 11

  • Over half an inch of rain falls in the afternoon.
  • ANSONIA – Jersey Street is underwater again. As usual, the neighborhood boys wade into the filthy floodwaters to clear the plugged up gutters, and that eventually drains it. Residents are becoming impatient with the situation.

August 12

  • ANSONIA – An approximately 55 year old man is instantly killed when he is hit by a train near the railroad bridge south of Bridge Street.
  • DERBY – A 20’x15’x15’ office structure is moved from Water Street to J.J. Flynn’s property on the corner of Caroline Street and Fifth Street. The building is placed on skids, each of which has 2 large wheeled trucks. These in turn are pulled by 6 horses rather easily to the location.
  • OXFORD – The town’s one-room schoolhouses are Red Oak, Riggs Street, Center School, Christian Street, Bowers Hill, Scrub Oak, Riverside, Bell School (Great Hill), and Quaker Farms. All have one teacher each.
  • OXFORD – “The storms of the past week gave the ground a thorough soaking, and effectively settled the dust. The roads on the hillsides show some washing as a result of the downpour during the heavy shower of last Wednesday afternoon, and the small stones are in strong evidence in many places”.
  • SEYMOUR – Great Hill – “The water company has built a small dam this summer in the vicinity where it is expected a large one will some time be constructed. This one is supposed to dam the fish pond, but at high water might cause trouble at the Rockhouse Hill Bridge”.

August 13

  • ANSONIA – About 7,000 attend another American Brass Company band concert at Wallace’s Grove off Wakelee Avenue and Franklin Street. All 200 benches, which can sit 7-8 people, are occupied. Others watch from the grass, paths, and sidewalks.
  • ANSONIA – Kankwood Hill area residents are upset over a horse cemetery in the neighborhood. They say the horses are not being properly buried, causing problems.
  • SHELTON – A 21 year old Derby man bathing in the Shelton Canal drowns near the dam. His body could not be located until much of the water was drained to a level where it could be located.

August 15

  • DERBY – Repairs and renovations to Sterling Opera House are complete, and it will be ready for the theater season which starts in two days. Highlights are a new steel ceiling over the balcony, and new side lights.
  • DERBY – The Street Department has used up its entire yearly appropriation, and is shut down indefinitely. Some say the Department was given too small an amount in an effort to aid the City’s poor. Many of the poor were hired by the Department in order to give them work, which also drained its funds.
  • SEYMOUR – An abandoned icehouse on Woodside Avenue is destroyed in a huge arson fire. The James Swan Co. fire brigade is first on the scene. The Citizens Engine Co. No. 2 stops it from spreading to the Swan Company and neighboring houses. Hundreds watch the inferno.
  • SEYMOUR – There are currently 5 town constables. They do not receive a regular salary, but are paid for patrol work and any arrests they make. Frequently, people from out of town and immigrants don’t realize they are the Town’s police force, and there is debate over whether to require them to wear uniforms, and if so, who will pay for them.

August 16

  • SHELTON – A fire breaks out in a detached building at the R.N. Bassett plant on Bridge Street, when chemical tank explodes. The flames were blue due to because sulfur was burning, and the noxious fumes kept firemen from entering the structure. The Fire Warden tries to break down a door on the river side to let fumes escape, but bounces off the landing and falls 20’ into the Housatonic River. Fortunately it was high tide, and the water cushioned his fall.

Monday, August 17

  • DERBY – The Knickerbocker Stock Company opens the Sterling Opera House theater season with comedy drama “Why Women Sin”. The house sold out early in the day, and the play was standing room only.
  • SEYMOUR – The State Health inspector says the water from the Seymour Water Company reservoir at Pinebridge is safe for drinking, but not for washing because it contains too much iron.

August 18

  • ANSONIA – There are about a dozen typhoid cases right now, raising concerns there may be an epidemic.
  • ANSONIA – Most of the Board of Aldermen and public are opposed to last week’s trolley company proposition concerning the repair of the Bridge Street Bridge anddouble-tracking the City’s system. However, many prominent businessmen are for double-tracking, and think the City is taking a risk in turning it down.
  • DERBY – An intruder wakes up the stage manager and musical director of the Knickerbocker Stock Company when he breaks into their room at the Olivia House hotel on Olivia Street, and is scared away. It is possible that he mistook their room for the treasurer’s, and was trying to get the previous night’s receipts.

August 19

  • ANSONIA – County health officials believe they have traced the typhoid outbreak to a North End well.
  • ANSONIA – Reports are sketchy, but there appears to be a schism in Synagogue Benai Israel. A faction may be petitioning for the use of the nearby Factory StreetSchool for services. Others claim there are major disagreements which include a change in rabbis, the sale of kosher meat, and prayers. The following day it is revealed that a new synagogue is being formed, to be called Zemach Zedeck, with Benai Israel’s Assistant Rabbi Samuel Bernstein as head. Some try to downplay the apparent trouble, saying that it is a simple disagreement, and one group moved nearby because the current synagogue building is too small to accommodate all of them at once.
  • DERBY – Fire is discovered in a Minerva Street duplex, the old Barlow home. The occupants were visiting next door, and rescued 2 sleeping children before the arrival of the firemen. The smoke was suffocating, though the fire department confines the fire itself to a closet area.
  • OXFORD – There is much talk in Oxford over a proposed Seymour-Woodbury trolley passing through. There is currently no easy way in or out of town. Many feel a trolley line will stimulate development and attract people from the cities.
  • OXFORD – Thieves are active in Quaker Farms. One woman has lost 20 chickens, another man some potatoes.
  • SEYMOUR – A Special Town Meeting in Seymour reveals a surprising amount of opposition to purchasing the corner of Franklin Street and Bank Street to prevent development and create an open area. The owners want $10,000 for the tract. The proposal to purchase the property is voted down 180-42.

August 20

  • ANSONIA – Crowds once again pack Wallace’s Grove to hear the third American Brass Company band concert this summer.

August 21

  • More camps and cottages are lining Lake Housatonic than ever before.
  • DERBY – There is very little objection to the proposed closing of Foundry Street.

August 22

  • 2.75″ of rain falls unexpectedly. The total in August so far is 7.34″ The trolleys are caught with their open cars in the storm. Many are drenched, and some try to avoid getting wet by standing in the aisles, or sitting on the backs of seats.
  • SHELTON – Many Eastern European families are buying farms in White Hills.

Monday, August 24

  • ANSONIA – The Board of Aldermen meet on trolley matter. They vote along party lines to accept the trolley company’s proposal to fund the repairs to the Bridge Street Bridge in return for extending its deadline for double tracking by a vote of 8-6. All Democrats vote against it, all Republicans support it. The public was for the most part against it, while prominent businessmen and the Evening Sentinel were for it. Many are upset with the Republicans for voting for the proposal, and later it is revealed that some Republicans may have been strong-armed into voting for the proposal.  Democrats feel they can use the vote to their advantage in the next election. The Sentinel rather derisively expects Mayor Samuel Charters (a Democrat who was a union organizer) to veto it.
  • SHELTON – The Board of Health is told by the State that tests on wells on Huntington Avenue found them unsafe due to high mineral matter. Also, the well at the Huntington Piano Company, and another on Kneen Street, has colon bacilli, which causes typhoid.
  • SHELTON – Louis Tapper has renovated an old Booth’s Hill farmhouse into a 20 room summer boarding house. The place is mostly patronized by New York City Jews, who seem to like it and Huntington as a vacation retreat very much.

August 26

  • OXFORD – “The village green has been newly mowed and presents a very attractive appearance”.

August 27

  • ANSONIA – As expected, Mayor Charters vetoes the trolley agreement the Board of Aldermen agreed to three days earlier. It is unclear where things will go from here.
  • ANSONIA – A singer accompanies two songs of the American Brass Company’s fourth concert this summer at Wallace’s Grove, singing “Stop Making Faces at Me”, and “Childhood”, by Kerry Mills. The bandstand and seats have been painted green. 7,000 attend the concert, a record up to that time.
  • DERBY – 150 people, members of both political parties, form an East Derby Citizens’ Club to promote the interests and welfare of that neighborhood.
  • DERBY – Former Mayor Benjamin Hubbell dies of diabetic complications at his 330 Caroline Street home. He was born in Wilton, CT, November 20, 1841, and came to Derby around 1872. After an initial start in the grocery business he began running a livery around 1873, which he continued for the rest of his life. He represented Derby in the State Legislature, served on the Board of Alderman, and as Mayor from 1905 to 1906. He was also widely liked, and at the time of his death his livery is the largest in Derby’s history. He is survived by his widow, Alice Marvin, and two sons.

August 29

  • The temperature dips to 47 degrees in the early morning hours.
  • ANSONIA – While returning to its Seymour terminal at the end of the day, and empty trolley leaves the tracks at North Main Street. It slides 60 feet, crossing the road and crashing  through a fence before coming to rest in a meadow.

August 30

  • DERBY – Former Mayor Benjamin Hubbell’s funeral is held at his 330 Caroline Street home.  Many had to stand outside on front lawn because could not get in the house. His burial is in Wilton, CT, his birthplace.

September

Tuesday, September 1

  •  ANSONIA – City Public Schools are the first to open in the Valley this school year, though for the first time in years the superintendent was not present due to illness. Some overcrowding is reported, the most extreme example being the 65 students who showed up for first grade at Elm Street School. 

September 2

  • ANSONIA – The Board of Education refuses the right of a dissenting group from Synagogue Benai Israel to hold services at the Factory Street School, as Synagogue Zemach Zedeck. The Board say it has no authority to rent schools to anyone. 
  • OXFORD – A local farmer has planted a quarter of an acre with coffee beans as an experiment. They are doing well, the sprouts are filed with bean clusters.
  • OXFORD – “Now that the warmer wave is with us people breathe a little easier. The cool wave which preceded it and which lasted about a week or 10 days was quite extreme, coming perilously near to a freezing temperature, thermometers on more than one morning recording 36 and 2 or 3 times there was a slight white frost visible on the grass in the meadows of the Centre. However, no harm to vegetation seems to have been done, gardens looking as fresh as ever”.
  • SEYMOUR – Townspeople are talking of a trolley from Woodbury through Oxford. The communities of Woodbury and Waterbury have just connected by trolley.

September 3

  • ANSONIA – The temperatures fall to 40 at night, which cuts into attendance of tonight’s American Brass Company concert at Wallace’s Grove.

September 4

  • ANSONIA – The Elm Street School first grade is split, and running on half sessions due to its overwhelming number.
  • ANSONIA – Dissenting Synagogue Zemach Zedeck will hold services at Germania Hall on High Street.
  • DERBY – The Secor Typewriter Company on Housatonic Avenue is upset that the Board of Education bought Underwood typewriters for its Derby High School commercial course instead of patronizing the local firm, igniting a war of words which lasts several days in the newspaper between the Board and the Company.

September 5

  • ANSONIA – Work has been completed on an improved Jersey Street drain, which will hopefully end the neighborhood flooding problems.

Monday, September 7

  • ANSONIA – Labor Day passes quietly. About 900 go to the Orange Fair.

September 8

  • ANSONIA – The last American Brass Company Band concert of the season, at Wallace’s Grove, boasts about the same attendance as last week’s concert due to the cold weather. Many had to move about to keep warm.
  • DERBY – City schools open. There are no reports of overcrowding, though the enrollment at Derby High School is higher.
  • SHELTON – City schools open, including the Commodore Hull School on Oak Avenue for the first time. Some overcrowding is reported.

September 9

  • OXFORD – “Townspeople are greatly pleased at the agitation of the trolley project. Particularly they are pleased to have the people of Seymour arrayed in the line of progress that this subject represents. Seymour needs to work hard for it and give it the financial backing it deserves for it means much for the material welfare of the mercantile business of the town. As it will give facilities for the people of the country lying in the Oxford and Southford valley of reaching Seymour for trading and give to Seymour much trade that is now done through the mail and cities”.
  • SEYMOUR – As of this time 3 houses have been moved to the controversial location at the corner of Franklin Street and Bank Street. Four more have yet to be moved, including the former home of W.H. Wooster. Moving operations are at a standstill at this time due to the injunction.
  • SEYMOUR – Carloads of peaches are being shipped out of Hale Orchards of Great Hill on a daily basis.

September 10

  • DERBY – A City man is badly injured after being struck by a freight train while returning home to East Derby from the Huntington Piano Company in Shelton. The accident occurred on the Derby side of the Housatonic trestle. Many from East Derby use the trestle to get to Shelton to work, and they know the train schedules.

September 11

  • ANSONIA & SHELTON – The Hose Supporter department at the R.N. Bassett Company, located on Bridge Street in Shelton, has grown 50%. Much of the stringing for the hosiery factory is done in various homes in Shelton and Derby, but now more are needed and a branch office is opening in Ansonia at Lester and Crescent Streets to handle it.
  • DERBY – The locally famous, aged homeless wanderer Johnny o’ the Woods was in town, wearing 2 overcoats and a straw hat. Taunting children followed him around, making him upset.
  • SEYMOUR – The injunction on moving the remaining houses to the corner of Franklin Street and Bank Street is now dissolved, clearing the way for the completion of the controversial project.
  • SEYMOUR – Most of the peaches at Hale Orchards on Great Hill have been harvested.
  • SHELTON – Many are pleased to learn that Shelton will soon have a postal delivery system.

September 12

  • DERBY – I.S. Coan is renting the stables at Olivia Street and Fourth Street as a livery. These were once used by I.E. Alling and more recently for sales by the Derby Carriage Company.

Monday, September 14

  • ANSONIA – The Board of Aldermen fails to override Mayor Charters’ August 27 veto of the trolley resolution. Although a majority, 8-5, voted to override the veto a 2/3 majority was needed.
  • DERBY – A 34 year old woman attending her toddler is shot in her yard off Housatonic Avenue by a 55 year old man who once boarded with the family. She drops the baby (who was slightly injured) and tries to run away. In all she is shot five or six times, and she dies of her wounds the following morning. The neighborhood was predominantly Italian, as were the victim and murderer. The murderer first runs, then walks when he gets tired, all the way to Seymour Avenue. He is pursued by an angry mob of neighbors, who keep a safe distance because they believe he still has his gun (in fact he threw it away near the scene). Officer Urbano, the only Italian-American on the Derby Police Department back then, is on Seymour Avenue, and is alerted of the murderer’s approach. Standing in the murderer’s path on Seymour Avenue, as he reaches to grab him the murderer, he quickly consumes a bottle of carbolic acid. He is loaded in a wagon, but dies 15 minutes after reaching the lockup. In the days ahead a number of theories circulate about the murder-suicide. It is known that the victim and her husband successfully sued the murderer not long ago for slander, as he continued to circulate rumors of an affair between the two. It was also possible that the victim’s husband was part of a group that may have been harassing the victim for money he owed them and some Bridgeport parties, and was living in fear. In any event, the truth was not immediately clear, and the crime was one of the era’s most heinous crimes.  
  • SEYMOUR – Residents awaken to a slight frost. 

September 16

  • 37 degrees in the early morning hours, with a slight frost. Enclosed trolley cars appear for the first time today.
  • ANSONIA – The first case of diphtheria since June reported on a Rockwood Avenue child.
  • OXFORD – “The ground is now very dry, in fact, seems more parched than previously in some time. The brooks are running very low. This is a time when great care should be used to avoid fires, particularly should no one attempt to burn bonfires or brush, until conditions are more moist”.
  • SEYMOUR – Seymour school population – Center 429 (overcrowded), Annex 182 (overcrowded), Castle Rock (grade 1) 40, Bell (grades 1 & 2) 37, Cedar Ridge 45, Great Hill 20, Seymour High School 42.

September 17

  • A brilliant meteor passes overhead at 7:17 PM, lighting up the sky, leaving a trail, and exploding a number of times. Some say they heard it hiss. This is the second such occurrence in three weeks, and some fear it foretells evil.

September 18

  • SHELTON – The Citizens’ League holds a rally at town hall in favor of making Shelton a “dry” town, drawing many.

September 19

  • ANSONIA – A large audience gathers at Ansonia Methodist Church to hear Oliver Stewart of Chicago discuss the merits of Prohibition.

September 20

  • ANSONIA – A switcher engine, going backwards, hits a wagon delivering the New York American newspaper at the Bridge Street railroad crossing. Two young Derby men are injured, but miraculously survive. The two horses pulling the wagon, which is smashed, are so badly hurt they had to be put down.
  • SHELTON – A 23 year old brakeman walking on top of an empty freight train has his lantern go out. He then, in the darkness, misjudges the distance to the gap between boxcars, falls between them, and is run over. He later dies at Bridgeport Hospital the next morning.

Monday, September 21

  • ANSONIA – Miss Clara Barton, 88, founder of the American Red Cross, is a guest of the Drew family on New Street. The visit was kept quiet until now, though she’ll receive the GAR there tonight. The event was photographed by the Drews’ daughter and Miss Barton’s namesake, Clara Barton Drew. The photos are in the collection of the Derby Historical Society.

September 22

  • SHELTON – Iowa Governor Albert B. Cummins and his wife spend the night in Shelton as guests of Walter E. Andrews. The next day leaves for Iowa, to tour with Republican presidential candidate William H. Taft.

September 25

  • SHELTON – The Shelton Poultry Association has been organized, with a charter from the American Poultry Association

September 26

  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Derby ties Danbury High 6-6 at Derby Meadows.

Monday, September 28

  • The first heavy rain since September 6 falls. Despite the rain, the Naugatuck River is still low. With the rain come high winds, blowing down many leaves. The trolley company runs the old snowplow, which is the old 1889 freight locomotive, on the tracks to remove the wet leaves from the tracks, attracting much attention.

September 29

  • Brilliant northern lights are visible. Many in this time in history believe that foretells the coming of frost. 

September 30

  • The trolley line between Derby and Ansonia is 21 years old today.
  • Many are collecting the large amount of chestnuts that were blown to the ground two days ago. 
  • OXFORD – “The hillsides are beginning to show the varied tints of foliage which comes with the season and scenery is becoming one of great beauty. Nuts are ripening early and beginning to fall plentiously. The crop is large and it looks as if there was an abundance for all who care to gather them”.

October

Saturday, October 3

  • Northern lights are visible again overnight. Residents awake to the coldest morning of the year so far, 38 degrees, and the first big frost of the season.
  • ANSONIA – Rev. Dr. Bonvorti, of Staten Island, has been assigned to Ansonia to help found a new Italian Roman Catholic Church. There are 200 Italian families in Ansonia, and they are elated by this development.

October 4

  • ANSONIA – The fledgling Italian Roman Catholic parish holds its first mass in the old Assumption Church on lower Main Street. Over 100 attend, and as word gets out across the Valley it is certain that more will be attending. This parish is the beginning of today’s Holy Rosary Church.

Monday, October 5

  • Today is Election Day in most Connecticut towns (not cities).
  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia Water Company is buying the Benz farm in David’s Meadow (an ancient name for the area around Benz Street and the Ansonia Nature Center). This includes a house, barn, and 18 acres, for a new reservoir. The Water Company already owns much of land in area.
  • OXFORD – Democrat John Pope is elected First Selectman. 
  • OXFORD – A notice is issued to the Diamond Match factory, that pollution of Eight-Mile Brook must cease after October 12.
  • SEYMOUR – Residents approve a 12 mill tax rate at the Annual Meeting, as well as a resolution appointing a committee to petition the State General Assembly to make the Town of Seymour a Borough. Republican George Devine is elected First Selectman. The “no license” vote fails 333-242 – had this passed the sale of alcohol would have been illegal in town.
  • SHELTON – Huntington Town elections – the “no license” question brings out largest turnout ever – 1084 out of 1200 voters. The vote to deny licenses to sell alcohol in town fails 558-509. Republican Nicholas Wakelee is elected First Selectman.

October 7

  • ANSONIA – A one story, 17×25′ addition, is added to the Walsh Building on Main Street, which houses the Vonetees’ Palace of Sweets.

October 10

  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Derby is defeated by Manor School of Stamford 11-5 in an away game.

Monday, October 12

  • The first killing frost of the year occurred this morning. More of this season’s abundant chestnuts fall to the ground, residents scurry to gather them. The foliage is beautiful. 

October 13

  • Residents awake for the second morning in a row to a killing frost.
  • ANSONIA – A fair-sized audience watches De Castri perform band at Ansonia City Hall. Their manager reportedly abandoned them in New London, and they are trying to raise enough money to return to home Europe by playing across the area.

October 14

  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Ansonia beats Shelton at the Woodlot 12-0.
  • DERBY – Thomas Scott Baldwin, pioneer aviator and balloonist, is a guest of J. Newton Williams, of Caroline Street.
  • OXFORD – “The summer-like weather Sunday was followed by an intense cold wave on Monday and Monday night the first nipping frost of the season came. It was severe enough to kill vegetation which had survived previous low temperatures, and ice an eight of an inch thick formed on water left standing outside. This is a most forcible reminder that we can not much longer enjoy the delightful weather which has prevailed throughout the fall. It will have the effect of causing the trees to shed their foliage more rapidly and soon the view will be one of barrenness. At the present time the hillsides are a mass of brilliant color, and the country is looking very attractive”.

October 15

  • SEYMOUR – A horse pulling a carriage becomes frightened when a football from a street game passes under it. The animal goes on a mad dash down Washington Avenue, then suddenly makes a sharp turn onto Humphrey Street. The carriage overturns, throwing 3 females, including an elderly woman and a young girl, into the street. The elderly woman suffers a broken leg.

October 16

  • SEYMOUR – Captain Wilbur Watson Smith, the Town’s Postmaster, dies at his Day Street home at 80. A Civil War veteran, he was captured at Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863, and held at Libby Prison, before he was exchanged in a prisoner swap. He was Seymour’s First Selectman in 1895-99.

October 17

  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Shelton ties Newtown at Sunnyside Field.

Monday, October 19

  • There is much smoke in the air due to nearby forest fires and the normal pollution. Visibility is low – Derby & Shelton are barely visible to each other across the river. Many residents are having breathing problems.

October 20

  • SEYMOUR – The last of the 7 controversial tenement houses have been moved by Olderman and Cohen on the corner of Franklin Street and Bank Street, next to Center School.

October 21

  • OXFORD – “The cold wave of the last week was accompanied by a killing frost and nature now shows its blighting breath. Flowers that had withstood the previous drops in temperature, were all killed. It has also had the effect of causing leaves to fall very rapidly and the hillsides are beginning to present a very bare look. Hunters are welcoming this condition, however, as it makes the roaming of the woods for game much more enjoyable”.

October 22

  • ANSONIA – Hillside Home, also known as the Town Farm or “Poor House”, has raised over $1,000 in farm products this year, including potatoes, turnips, parsnips, onions, carrots, beets, corn, rye, hay, straw, bedding, cabbage, and celery.
  • ANSONIA – A milk wagon owned by D. N. Sharp of White Hills is wrecked after being struck by a trolley on Jackson Street. Mr. Sharp was injured, and needed stitches to his forehead. The milk on the wagon was lost.
  • SHELTON – The R.N. Bassett Company has outgrown its newly enlarged Bridge Street plant, and will occupy part of D. M. Bassett Bolt Company building around the corner on Canal Street.

October 23

  • ANSONIA – 65 local men and women have skin removed today, donating it for grafts for a young Russian girl who was badly burned on October 3 near her Mill Streethome. Many of the donors are work in the City’s factories.

October 24

  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Ansonia defeats Danbury 6-0 in away game. Derby defeats Shelton 29-0 at Derby Meadows.
  • SHELTON – At a Special Town Meeting, the Lower White Hills School is ordered reopened. Also Cribbins Avenue, Foley Avenue, William Street, Riverview Avenue, and Wheeler Street are accepted. Wheeler Street is only 40′ wide at this time.

Monday, October 26

  • DERBY – The Derby Corset Company is incorporated, with a capital of $25,000. The firm will succeed the Brewster Corset Company, having purchased all the latter’s equipment and leasing its old building on Caroline Street.

October 27

  • DERBY – A new 2-story brick stable of a sanitary design has been built for Armour & Co. in East Derby, containing 4 stalls and wagon sheds.

October 28

  • OXFORD – “The intense heat of the sun, Saturday, can be appreciated when its record is old. Hanging in front of Sanford’s store is a large thermometer, with a limit registration of 120 degrees. In the afternoon, the sun’s rays shine directly upon it. On the date mentioned, Mr. Sanford looked at it and found it was up to the limit 120. Later he found the bulb had burst as it would not go up any higher. And this was October weather”.
  • SEYMOUR – Many are growing concerned about the number of small boys who are using the freight yard as a playground after school. The boys are frequently driven off, but soon come back.
  • SHELTON – White Hills – “Owing to warm weather, apples are not keeping well. This, with a short crop, is disappointing to say the least”.

October 30

  • SEYMOUR – A fire in the historic Dayton Tavern (then called the Dayton-Hull house) attic is discovered by a conductor on a passing trolley. The trolley stopped to alert the houses residents. The fire was in a trunk, and spread part of the roof and floor, but was quickly put out by the fire department.
  • SHELTON – Huntington – “It is reported that the Centre is to have another grocery store. That a gentleman named Griffin who has been conducting a similar establishment in Nichols is to start one there. It is stated that the store will be located in a building owned by W. H. Main which is being prepared for that purpose. The Centre must be growing fast if it can support another grocery store besides that conducted by E.J. Buckingham”.

October 31 HALLOWE’EN (as it was spelled in the Evening Sentinel)

  • The cold night apparently detracts from Hallowe’en mischief. No report in Seymour or Oxford. Extra police are on duty.
  • ANSONIA – The City is mostly quiet, other than the fire alarm ringing, and scattered neighborhood bonfires. A wagon set on fire in New Jerusalem. Some gates disappeared, nothing serious.
  • DERBY – The City is very quiet, only a few doorbells are rung.
  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Greenwich defeats Shelton 11-5 in a home game.
  • SHELTON – Many young children are out and about, but most of them are merrily having fun – no damage or disturbances.

November

Sunday, November 1

  • SHELTON – The body of a man is discovered in Shelton Canal when the water drained to make repairs. It is later identified as a New Haven Civil War veteran last seen in Derby three days earlier.

Monday, November 2

  • ANSONIA – Boys secure an old carriage in the lower end of downtown, set in on fire and race through streets pulling it, upsetting many. Later, either they or other boys start a bonfire in the intersection at Main Street and Central Street. No arrests are made.

November 3 ELECTION DAY

  • NATIONAL ELECTIONS – Republican William Howard Taft is elected President. Republican George Lilley is elected Connecticut’s Governor, and Frank Weeks the State’s Lt. Governor.
  • ANSONIA – Republicans wins all 3 Board of Aldermen seats in each of the 1st, 2nd, and 5th wards, Democrats win all 3 seats in each of the 3rd and 4th wards. In the presidential election, Republican Howard William Taft is selected over Democrat William Jennings Bryan for President 1353-1029. Ansonia narrowly choses Democrat Robertson over Lilley for Governor 1149-1142, yet chose Republican Frank Weeks over Democrat Tyler for Lt. Governor by a vote 1424-1095. Democrat Stephen Charters is narrowly reelected Mayor over Robert Munger by a vote of 1268-1239
  • DERBY – Taft wins Derby by 134 votes, but City voters chose Democrats Robertson for Governor 863-652 and Tyler for Lt. Governor 863-695. In an major upset, Republican James B. Atwater is elected Mayor over Democrat P. J. Sweeney 850-706. Two Republicans and one Democrat are elected to the Board of Aldermen. The “no license” question, which sought to deny licenses to operate saloons, fails by a vote of 1060-398. Democrats are reportedly “in shock” over the mayoral election.
  • OXFORD – The Town votes Republican, choosing Taft for President 149-79, Lilley for Governor 127-100, and Weeks for Lt. Governor 149-82.
  • SEYMOUR – The Town votes Republican, choosing Taft for President 581-167, Lilley for Governor 428-306, and Weeks for Lt. Governor 573-177.
  • SHELTON – A total of residents 1188 voted, and Taft won by 518 votes, the largest majority for a Presidential election in the Town of Huntington’s history. The Town and Borough also vote for Lilley as Governor 660-412, and Weeks for Lt. Governor 809-301. It is noted that of the smaller political parties, the Socialists got less votes then the last elections, but the Prohibitionists got more.

November 4

  • ANSONIA – Fire destroys a duplex on Hill Street. The house is outside fire limits, and hoses can’t reach from the nearest hydrant a quarter-mile away. A nearby barn is saved by a neighborhood bucket brigade with the help of ladders from the Webster Hose Company hose wagon, and much of furniture in the doomed house is saved before it burns down.
  • OXFORD – “The cold wave, which struck this vicinity over Sunday was very extreme, thermometers registering as low as 18 above 0. It was a practical verification of the vagaries of this climate. Only two weeks before the heat of the sun was so great that it burst the bulb of a thermometer hanging in front of Sanford’s store. Take cheer, however, winter is not with us for keeps yet awhile”.

November 5

  • ANSONIA – There is speculation that City resident Charles Brooker may be President-elect Taft’s Secretary of the Interior.
  • ANSONIA – Coal in the cellar of the house that was destroyed by fire yesterday is still burning, having been ignited when the house caved into the basement. Plans are being drawn to try to salvage some of it. Meanwhile, neighbors are clamoring for better fire protection and fire hydrants in the area.

November 6

  • ANSONIA – The City is heartbroken upon learning that Lubov Hodio, 8, dies of burns she sustained on October 3 at her Mill Street home. 65 volunteers from Ansonia, Derby, and Seymour went through the painful process donating skin for the little girl for skin grafts.
  • SHELTON – A devastating fire strikes the Rocky Rest neighborhood, when a kitchen fire ignites an acetylene gas tank under the front porch of the Dr. Glover Ewell house, spreading fire across the neighborhood. In all three houses are destroyed, and a fourth is damaged. Neighbors are helpless to stop the flames due to the total lack of a water supply, and can only watch as the houses burn down.

November 7

  • ANSONIA – The Connecticut Assembly of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew has its annual meeting at Christ Church today and Sunday. The national president is also present.
  • DERBY – The A.H. & C.B. Alling mills, operated under the will by the administers of the estate of Charles B. Alling, is taken over by a corporation by the same name. Charles B. Brewster, manager of the large hosiery since Mr. Alling’s death, is the president.
  • SHELTON – A large forest fire burns north of the Borough of Shelton, taking many hours to control.

Tuesday, November 10

  • SEYMOUR – A large electric sign, made of copper, has been placed on the Humphreys building, bearing the words “Masonic Hall, A.F. and A.M”, along with the Masonic symbol, and smaller letters “R.A.M.”, and “O.E.S.”

November 11

  • ANSONIA – Steel sheeting is being installed on the north side of the Curtiss stables, which adjoin City Hall, giving it a nicer appearance.
  • DERBY – Dr. Loomis has a new, odd-looking “doctor’s cab” carriage. It is an ordinary box carriage with a cab top, featuring a high dashboard, with reins that run through a slit below it. The carriage has glass in front and the side, with curtains that can be drawn, giving the doctor protection from cold and water.
  • SEYMOUR – People are upset when it gets dark early due to a storm, but the Seymour Electric Company’s lights do not turn on. It is dark in stores and offices around 5 PM, and some have difficulty getting out. The electric company’s main motor burned out in late October, and it will be awhile before it is fixed. People are talking about getting gas service into town.

November 12

  • ANSONIA – A young man jumps into the Naugatuck River from the Maple Street Bridge, a 30 to 40′ plunge, onto a soft sandbank below. He does this to retrieve a dollar bill that a woman lost, and abandoned, in the water. He gets it the dollar, and wades back to shore in cold water up to his chin.

November 13

  • DERBY – There appears to be some discrepancies in the recent election in the Third Ward. Although they favor the Democrats, none of them appear to change the outcome of the election.

November 14

  • DERBY – The Birmingham Water Company will begin pumping water out of the Housatonic River to supply the city, because its reservoir is so low, starting Monday. The Company suggests boiling the water before using it.
  • DERBY – A wagon carrying an Oxford man and a young woman is struck by a trolley on Housatonic Avenue. The wagon is smashed, the occupants bruised, and the horse had a few scratches.
  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Derby defeats Shelton 16-6 at Derby Meadows. Derby was supposed to play Ansonia but they were sidelined due to injuries.

November 15

  • The first real snowstorm of year hits overnight, leaving the ground covered. Most of the snow melts when the sun goes up this morning, but the sidewalks are slippery for people going to church.

Tuesday, November 17

  • ANSONIA – An old man who lives on the Seymour Road and is about to be sent to prison for 30 days for public intoxication, successfully pleas with the judge to avoid incarceration. Instead, he is charged $7 and costs, on the grounds his chickens will starve to death if he is jailed.
  • SHELTON – There are 32 school aged children now living in the Walnut Tree Hill area. The old district schoolhouse may have to reopen.

November 18

  • OXFORD – The Oxford Congregational Church buys the Barnes homestead in Oxford Center, which will be used as parsonage.
  • OXFORD – “The light snow which fell Saturday night shows a tendency to remain on the ground in the open, the air being too cold to melt it rapidly. There is considerable anxiety here in common with other localities for fear that winter will set in without copious rains falling to fill the springs and wells, many of which are entirely dry, necessitating the carrying some distance of all the water used for household purposes and watering of stock”.

November 19

  • DERBY – Fire in a 3-story wood furniture store owned by Herman Blankfeld causes damages of $1500 to the building, and $5000 to stock. The fire took 90 minutes to extinguish. A fire sale starts within days.

November 20

  • DERBY – A 50 year old man on a cart drawn by a Shetland pony is killed when he is hit by a trolley on New Haven Avenue. The pony was slightly hurt. The trolley motorman was so upset he required medical treatment as well – because of the low profile of the pony and cart he couldn’t see him until it was too late.
  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Derby defeats Ansonia 6-2 at Athletic Field in Ansonia, in a highly anticipated meet. About 450 people watch. This is the first time the Derby team ever won against Ansonia. Derby High School boys parade through Derby that evening with red fire, blowing horns, and cheering, before settling down around a big bonfire at Fifth Street and Minerva Street. Many others join them.

November 21

  • ANSONIA – Famed wanderer Johnny o’ the Woods asks for, and receives, shelter in the police lockup overnight due to the cold. Meanwhile, postcards are circulating of Johnny o’ the Woods, raising the question of what if any royalties he’s receiving from them.

Tuesday, November 24

  • ANSONIA – The “turkey train” fails to arrive on time, becoming fogbound after it left New York. The train bears turkeys raised out West, in cold storage, and generally sells for 27-28 cents/lb in local grocery stores. “Native” birds, those raised in New England or New York, are scarce. Fruit and vegetables are abundant this year, and cranberries are about 15 cents per quart.
  • ANSONIA – The roller skating rink reopens for the season on Mechanic Street. The building has been extended 40′, and the now enlarged rink sports a new floor. More skates have been purchased for rentals.

November 25

  • DERBY – Most grocers expect to run out of turkeys by noon today.

 November 26 THANKSGIVING

  • The first half of the day brings heavy fog, which turned into a drizzle in the morning. Afternoon was cloudy but the weather was better, with a high of 57 degrees.
  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Shelton High School Alumni and Shelton High School battle to a scoreless tie at Derby Meadows. After that game, Derby High School Alumni beats Derby High School at Derby Meadows 28-0.
  • SHELTON – Three boys are arrested trying to steal 25 lbs. of blasting powder from D.N. Clark’s powder house. Donations from public school children allow for 52 poor families to be fed today.

November 27

  • SEYMOUR – Letsome Terrell Wooster dies at his Pearl Street House, at age 78. He was the founder of Seymour Manufacturing Company, and served as director and superintendent up to the time of his death. He was well known throughout the brass industry.
  • SHELTON – Shelton Woman’s Club hosts cartoonist Homer Davenport at Clark’s Hall.

November 28

  • ANSONIA – School enumeration shows 3,935 of school age, a rise of 76 over last year. The number attending school is 108 more than last year. The number attending private school is slightly down, from 235 last year to 220 this year. The number of children aged 14 to 16 not attending school has dropped from 305 to 227.
  • DERBY – F. Will Hallock’s launch has been raised from the Housatonic River and hauled to dry land. Many of its ribs were broken when it was crushed by a tugboat. The engine has been shipped to the factory to repairs.

Monday, November 30

  • SEYMOUR – A man is hit by a trolley on the outskirts of Town. Unidentified, he is taken to a doctor in Ansonia by the trolley, and from there transferred to Grace-New Haven Hospital, where he dies. In another, unrelated incident in Seymour this day, another unidentified man falls off the rear platform of a trolley. He is placed back on the car, but is dropped off on the trolley stop on Main Street and Bank Street in a semi-conscious state, near doctors’ offices. The trolley then leaves. The event is witnessed by some, who are upset at the treatment.

December

Wednesday, December 2

  • DERBY – The late former mayor Hubbell’s livery has been sold to I. M. Thompson of New York, who states he wants to keep a high class stable there. He has already shifted some of his New York horses to Derby, and plans to sell carriages, too. Mr. Thompson would later sell automobiles as well.
  • OXFORD – “A crew of men in the employ of the Western Union telegraph co. have been going over the line through here, which was put up about 27 years ago. They report that the line will be rebuilt next season in a very much heavier manner, and built to carry a number of wires”.
  • OXFORD – A passing locomotive sparks a fire on the Lee Armstrong farm on Christian Street. The fire spread toward Jack’s Hill Burying Ground. While it was prevented from entering valuable timberland, a large peach orchard on the farm is destroyed.

December 3

  • DERBY – A vacant 2 story house behind the Colonial Cemetery, reached from the foot of Division Street hill near the railroad tracks, is destroyed by fire.
  • SEYMOUR – The first shipment of big submarine cable, made by Kerite for the Panama Canal, which is under construction, leaves. The cable is 32 miles long, weighs 250 tons, and took 10 days to load. Upon reaching New York, it will be sent to Panama by boat.

December 4

  • ANSONIA – A 3-story structure on Star Street is badly damaged by fire that gutted the top floors and flooded the lower one. The Coe Brass fire brigade assists the fire department.
  • ANSONIA – A spring on the American Brass Company property on Beaver Street has been closed over, and is now emptying into a catch basin on Central Avenue. The surrounding neighborhood is disappointed, as they used it for drinking even though it is on private property. ABC eliminated the spring because the surrounding area was also being used as an illegal dump by the neighbors.

December 5

  • SHELTON – The first day of free mail delivery in Shelton did not go smoothly for postal workers. Only one postman has a full uniform as of yet. Sorting the mail was confusing, and took awhile to deliver. Many do not have mailboxes yet, even though several stores sell them for $0.50 to $1.25.

Monday, December 7

  • A storm begins a few minutes after midnight, bringing with it hail and sleet, which soon turns to rain and high winds. The ground is frozen, and the Naugatuck River rises rapidly. The rain is very much needed.

December 8

  • ANSONIA – The house that burned on Hill Street last month is being rebuilt by James McDonald of Seymour. He has a carpenter’s workshop, which he hauls around on wheels to job sites. The shop is heated, and is equipped with power, planners, a steam engine, and beds for 3 people.
  • SEYMOUR – A bill is read in Congress, calling for the erection of a new post office in Seymour.

December 9

  • DERBY – The new hospital is nearing completion. A Valley-wide committee has been organized, and is actively trying to raise money to equip it.

December 10

  • Ice on ponds is 2” to 3″ thick in places. Skating is possible on small ponds.
  • Christmas trees range from 35-50 cents for small ones to 75 cents to $2 for big ones.

Tuesday, December 15

  • SHELTON – There are rumors that Shelton is seeking a City Charter, which would end the Town/Borough arrangement. Many are opposed to such a move.

December 16

  • ANSONIA – An early morning fire breaks out at a 2 story building at 42 Liberty Street. The first floor is a Greek confectionary, while the second floor serves as a lodging house. A total of 15 are forced to flee, some of them jumping from the rear second floor windows. The fire, which started in the cellar, guts the building. It is the second fire at that address this year.
  • ANSONIA – There are rumors that the New York, New Haven, & Hartford Railroad may soon build a new passenger station in Ansonia.
  • OXFORD – “The snowstorms of Friday and Sunday have amounted to just enough to make mud and very unpleasant traveling”.
  • SEYMOUR – Great Hill School is closed after an attending family’s children are all diagnosed with diphtheria.

December 17

  • ANSONIA – Work begins on re-planking the covered portion of the Bridge Street Bridge. The gas lamps and arc light are also replaced – they were broken by vandals’ stones, and the bridge was in total darkness at night.

December 18

  • A morning snowstorm blankets the area.
  • Today is the last day of school before Christmas. Most hold Christmas programs.
  • SEYMOUR & SHELTON – Seymour is nearly snowbound because the trolley power station in Shelton broke down. The large trolleys which service Seymour don’t have enough power to reach it. 

December 19

  • Sleighs have begun to appear in the Valley since the snowstorm, some of which are rented from liverymen. The snow is wet, and packs well, making for ideal sleighing on the roads. Sleds can be seen everywhere coasting on the hills. 
  • SEYMOUR – The Town may soon have its own telephone exchange.
  • SEYMOUR & SHELTON – The Shelton trolley power station has been temporarily fixed, restoring Seymour’s links with the outside world.
  • SHELTON – The R.N. Bassett plant on Bridge Street has practically doubled its efficiency and will soon be running 24 hours a day.

December 20

  • Coasting on the hills is still a popular sport among young and old alike.
  • ANSONIA – A small fire which breaks out at 33 Fourth Street, on the corner of Main Street, causes little damage but the Santa Claus suit that upper Ansonia used is destroyed.

Monday, December 21

  • SHELTON – 90 school boys have been formed into a military-style company, called Co. B of the Boys’ Escort Guards.
  • SHELTON – The first coasting accident of the season occurs on Elm Street when two double-rippers collide. A Howe Avenue girl suffers a deep cut on her right leg below the knee, but is otherwise alright.

December 22

  • DERBY – An Orchard Street home has been quarantined, after three children there are diagnosed with diphtheria.
  • SEYMOUR – Residents overwhelmingly turn down the proposal to form Seymour into a Borough at a Special Town Meeting by a vote of 161-9.
  • SEYMOUR – Farmers from Bungay and other places are making a fair profit in the sale of Christmas trees and greens.
  • SHELTON – Three young men have been decorating the Tenderloin on its own for Christmas.

December 23

  • ANSONIA – A large 100′ long storage barn used for a trucking and livery business on Central Street burns in spectacular fire. Much valuable property is destroyed, including 5 pianos, 2 sprinkling carts, mowing machines, wagons, other vehicles and stable supplies.
  • OXFORD – “Very many took advantage of the light sleighing on Sunday. A few more inches of snow is needed on the icy foundation to make fine slipping. It does not look now as if we are to get a green Christmas”.

December 24

  • ANSONIA – The Sunshine Club hosts a Christmas party at the Ansonia Opera House, for 700 needy Ansonia, Derby, and Shelton children. Santa Claus visits and hands out gifts.

 December 25

  • Christmas – merchants reported a good season, a signal that the hard times are over. More Christmas trees were reported sold this year than ever before, which is partly attributed to the rising number of German, Polish, and Russian immigrants who brought the tradition from their home countries. Many graves were decorated with flowers. Most spent the day at home or visiting, the saloons were quiet.

Monday, December 28

  • ANSONIA – A large crack is discovered in the stone abutment which joins the iron and wood portions of Bridge Street Bridge. The crack was discovered by Mayor Charters and Building Inspector Dwyer, both of whom were assisting in the repairs of the bridge. There are fears that it may be serious.
  • DERBY – A fire breaks out in the dry goods and clothing store of Abraham Cohen on 176 Main Street. Much of the stock is destroyed. The fire started when a store employee lit a gas light, which ignited crepe paper that was being used for Christmas decorations throughout the store. The fire ran like powder among the paper, dropping flaming material throughout the store and causing forcing customers to flee.

December 29

  • ANSONIA – Five cases of scarlet fever and 3 cases of diphtheria have broken out in Upper Ansonia this month. An 11 year old Star Street girl dies of scarlet fever at the end of the week.
  • ANSONIA – A new Ansonia Derby Ice Company ice house is nearing completion on Beaver Street. One of the largest in the state, it will hold enough ice to supply the City for months.

December 30

  • ANSONIA – Ansonia’s Grand List has passed the $10 million mark for the first time.
  • OXFORD – “The weather conditions are simply marvelous for this season of the year, not warm enough to be oppressive, there is an enticing brightness about the air and sunshine that tempts one to outdoor life and the enjoyment of the season’s pleasures”.
  • SHELTON – The auditorium of the Methodist Episcopal Church has been wired for 6 electric lights.

December 31

  • Many churches hold watch night services, while others attend parties and dances. The cities turn noisy at midnight.

1909

January

Friday, January 1, 1909

  • SHELTON – Two are arrested in the early morning hours in the Tenderloin on Center Street when they drew a knife and revolver and threatened people, after they were not served drinks they thought they were entitled to.

January 2

  • ANSONIA – A special Board of Aldermen meeting is held regarding the Bridge Street Bridge. The City will hire an expert for a cost not to exceed $250 to assess the damage, with the trolley company paying half.

Monday, January 4

January 5

  • DERBY – There have been many complaints of late that the horses currently used to pull the Bassett Hook and Ladder truck are too light for the job, and heavier ones are needed.

January 6

  • Heavy rain which began yesterday ends early today, totaling 2.07”. The Naugatuck River has risen 4′. Temperatures are in the 50s.
  • ANSONIA – A trolley jumps the track at Main and Elm Streets, and smashes through a fence, into an embankment. A woman holding an infant is said to be “severely hurt”.
  • DERBY – There was a very small increase in the City’s Grand List, from $5,761,721 in 1907 to $5,806,216 in 1908.
  • SHELTON – There is controversy that the Board of Education has thus far ignored the Town of Huntington’s order to reopen Lower White Hills School, due to the greater amounts of children living in the neighborhood.

January 7

  • Temperatures drop to 18 degrees.

January 10

  • DERBY – Rumors of pending raids keep City saloons closed on Sunday. It is noted that there are more than the usual number of police officers looking into store windows, today, but no raids. Saloon owners are upset that false rumors curtailed their illegal Sunday activity.

Wednesday, January 13

  • ANSONIA – An Augusta, Georgia newspaper has reported a rumor that Charles F. Brooker has been tapped as Chairman of the Republican National Committee. The rumor is denied here.
  • ANSONIA – A lamp explodes in the Nicolari meat market, located in the Larking Building on the corner of Main Street and Cheever Street. Neighbors have a hard time finding their fire alarm box, which was relocated without notice from its previous location. After some hunting, during which the fire grows larger, a boy finds it. Unfortunately, he is not tall enough to reach it. Finally, the driver of the Webster Hose Company’s horse drawn hose wagon is alerted when neighbors rap on his door. The fire is extinguished, but not before $2000 in damage is done.
  • OXFORD – “The traveling on the highway to Seymour is very rough at the present time, the rain having drawn out the frost on the surface so that the horses often have to break through so badly that pleasure driving is at a discount”.
  • SHELTON – White Hills – “The road at the top of Leavenworth Hill has been widened and greatly improved. All the roads excepting the macadam are in very rough state and it behooves one to have his life insured before starting to the nearby towns”.

January 14

  • An ice storm starts late this evening, coating everything. The ice is still there by noon the following next day. Walking is treacherous.
  • ANSONIA – The Evening Sentinel reports on the air pollution nuisance caused by so many smokestacks in the City.
  • ANSONIA – Inspection of the covered portion of the Bridge Street Bridge reveals it may be possible to repair, rather than replace it.

January 15

  • DERBY – City vital statistics for the previous year reveal 324 births (298 in 1907), 101 marriages (137 in 1907), and 141 deaths (150 in 1907).

January 16

  • SEYMOUR – Mr. George W. Horman, 91, of Seymour, presently living in the Soldier’s Home in Noroton, is believed to be the oldest living veteran in Connecticut at this time.

January 17

  • SEYMOUR – William Losee, the oldest man in Seymour, dies at the home of his son at 41 Maple Street at the age of 92. Born in August 1836 on Humphreys Street, he was a carpenter by trade.

Tuesday, January 19

  • Temperatures reach zero for the first time this winter in the early morning. Sleighing is good, providing the horses are well shod, and many sleighs are out today.
  • ANSONIA – Ice on Quillinan’s reservoir off Beaver Street is 8″ thick, and is being harvested by Ansonia Derby Ice Company men
  • ANSONIA – A Factory Street chicken coop becomes the latest to be raided, with 10 of its 13 chicks stolen. Other poultry owners are now setting up traps around their coops to catch or injure the thieves.

January 20

  • OXFORD – “Owners of ice ponds and those fond of the amusement of skating are feeling quite happy over the freeze and hope for a continuation of present conditions for some little time”.
  • SEYMOUR – Great Hill – “The recent snowstorm has brought out sleighs on the road”.

January 21

  • ANSONIA – Ice is being harvested at a rate of 5 tons per minute at Quillinan’s pond. The new Ansonia Derby Ice Company ice house on Beaver Street can hold 10,000 tons. Ice harvesting continues today until about 10 PM.

January 22

  • Temperatures go up to 58 degrees, melting the snow.

January 23

  • It is reported that famed local wanderer Johnny o’ the Woods has apparently found a new home in Newtown, where he will be cared for by a group of charitable women who take care of the area’s poor.
  • ANSONIA – The new Beaver Street ice house is about half full.

January 24

  • ANSONIA – Rain ends the ice harvesting on Quillian’s pond off Beaver Street, for now.

Monday, January 25

  • ANSONIA – Mrs. Annie Cowles of North Cliff Street arrives home. She and her 2 sisters were passengers of the White Star Line ocean liner RMS Republic, which collided with another ship off Nantucket two days before and sank yesterday. Mrs. Cowles owed much of her survival to the fact that this accident marked the first time a wireless was used to put out a distress signal, allowing 1200 people to be saved.

January 27

  • ANSONIA – It is revealed that the cause for a rising number of families applying to the Board of Charities is due to husbands deserting the family.

January 28

  • A stiff wind blows up clouds of dust on the streets, making traveling extremely unpleasant, particularly on the main thoroughfares where the snow and ice are mostly gone. The wind causes ashes and even some shingles to blow around.

January 29

  • ANSONIA – Residents of Clifton Avenue, between Bridge Street Bridge and Wooster Street, want more police protection due to near nightly brawls occurring there.
  • DERBY – Rev. E. E. Burtner accepts a call to become pastor of the First Congregational Church. Since his tenure becomes effective January 25, the church went only 10 days without a pastor after Rev. Mr. Houghton’s resignation, which was effective January 15.

January 30

  • The heaviest snowstorm of the winter so far dumps 10″ of snow. 
  • Trolleymen are reminded that local volunteer firemen can ride for free if they are responding to a fire, providing they show their badge.

January 31

  • The temperature drops to zero this evening.
  • ANSONIA – Hutwohl’s barber shop on Main Street is gutted by a general alarm fire.

February

Monday, February 1

  • It is 4 below and windy this morning.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – Ansonia-Derby Ice Company employees begin clearing snow on the ice above the Ousatonic Dam, in preparation for harvest. The wind blowing down the Housatonic valley makes this a very cold undertaking. The ice is 8″ thick today, and will be 9″ thick three days later.

February 3

  • Fine sleighing is reported this week. Many sleighing parties are going to the Oxford House (Crofut’s Inn) and White Hills. Moonlight coasting is popular.
  • OXFORD – “The storm which visited this locality on Saturday, was the most severe of the winter. Snow fell to the depth of about a foot on the level, and the result is really fine sleighing, which, if the zero temperature which prevailed since, continues, will cause it to last some little time. Sunday and Monday there was a keen north wind blowing, which cut like ice, and those obliged to be out riding, unless well protected, suffered keenly”.

February 4

  • DERBY – A 9-year old Olivia Street boy sledding down Cottage Street hill is injured when his sled hits one of the Wise Bakery delivery sleighs at Elizabeth Street. He is knocked unconscious, and is taken to a doctor, who gives him 4 stitches. The Evening Sentinel blames older boys setting a bad example for the accident.
  • SEYMOUR – A fire breaks out in the kitchen of the Windsor Hotel, near the Citizens Engine Company firehouse. Holes are cut in the attic, but the fire is extinguished quickly. This incident occurs exactly 23 years after the old Windsor Hotel, and the opera house next door were destroyed by a raging blaze.

February 5

  • ANSONIA – Residents are complaining that the salt that the trolley company is using on its Main Street trolley tracks is damaging their horses’ hooves.
  • DERBY – Liveryman I. M. Thompson is now selling broughams, a different kind of carriage than those normally found in Derby. They require two horses, are generally used as a hack (taxi). Mr. Thompson is repairing the old stables behind the Birmingham Hotel and will sell carriages there.
  • SEYMOUR – The body of a man who appears to have been deceased for 2-3 months is found on Dead Man’s Island, in the Naugatuck River, across from the old bone factory. It is speculated that he may have been a local character who disappeared recently nicknamed “Captain Moonlight”.

February 6

  • ANSONIA – Following a Board of Aldermen meeting night the before, the covered portion of the Bridge Street Bridge is condemned. The deterioration is apparently much worse than originally through. Boards are nailed across both ends, and notices are placed that the bridge is closed; pedestrians pass at their own risk. The bridge has already been closed to horse teams for several weeks, and trolleys have been refusing to cross for some time. Many pedestrians ignore the warnings and cross anyway.

February 7

  • ANSONIA – Vandals have torn down the boards closing the Bridge Street Bridge. The police warn they will arrest whoever they catch doing it.

Monday, February 8

  • ANSONIA – An engineer reports to the Board of Aldermen that the cost of repairing the covered portion of the Bridge Street Bridge will be $7,500, which includes constructing a new pier.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – Melting ice halts the Ansonia Derby Ice Company from harvesting on Lake Housatonic.

February 10

  • ANSONIA – A 7 year old Central Street girl is struck by a work car trolley on Main Street at Colburn Street, and is horribly injured. She is taken to a New Haven hospital by trolley. The Evening Sentinel calls the scene “one of the most distressing in City history”, and accuses trolleys of speeding in this section. 
  • ANSONIA – Many protest a new move by the trolley company to cease giving transfers over the Bridge Street Bridge. The Company says they have done so because the bridge is legally closed, it cannot be held liable for encouraging people to cross it illegally. The problem is there was no warning of the new policy – people going to work were able to transfers, but found out they could not when they tried to go home.
  • OXFORD – “The cold wave of the past week was of short duration, the temperature moderating rapidly, the last of the week. The snow disappeared on Friday and Saturday very rapidly, and little was left excepting in sheltered places, by Sunday. This winter certainly i s breaking the records in swift changes of temperature”.
  • SEYMOUR – Great Hill – “John Karnath is out with a new milk wagon from the Herman Karnath Orchard View Dairy Farm. Mr. Karnath’s cattle barns cannot be excelled for cleanliness and up-to-date equipments. Some of the old dairymen think it advisable for the health officers and milk inspectors to look after the quality of the milk being peddled around Derby by the new milk men who are underselling them, as no parties can afford to sell pure milk any less than the present price”.

February 12

  • Exercises celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln are observed at schools and other venues throughout the country. 
  • ANSONIA – A christening ceremony is held, changing the name of the Garden Street School changes name to Lincoln School, by breaking a bottle of Beaver Spring Water over its steps. Civil War veterans are present for the ceremony. Later that evening, another ceremony is held at Ansonia Opera House, where the crowd is so large the hall couldn’t accommodate the entire crowd, even when many chose to stand.
  • DERBY – Union services to commemorate Abraham Lincoln are held at the Second Congregational Church, sponsored by the Kellogg Post of the Grand Army of the Republic. The church is filled.

February 13

  • SEYMOUR – Hoadley’s Bridge reopens to traffic, after some long repairs.

February 14

  • ANSONIA- Nine are arrested on gambling charges, when the basement of the Academy Pool Room on Main Street is raided. Two slot machines are seized.
  • ANSONIA – Fire causes $1500 to a grocery store on 15 Star Street

Tuesday, February 16

  • SEYMOUR – Several inches of mud covers both Main Street and Bank Street despite the fact they have macadam pavement.

February 17

  • ANSONIA – The Board of Aldermen votes to confer with the trolley company on repairing the Bridge Street Bridge, despite the fact that their engineer says a new bridge is probably needed.

February 18

  • ANSONIA – A Derby High School boy falls into Pickett’s Pond while ice skating. His friend, an Ansonia High School student tries to rescue him, but falls in too, A second Derby High School boy manages to get both of them out.

February 19

  • DERBY – Repairs have been completed at Sterling Opera House. The front doors only swing outward now, and there is improved heating in the lobby. Nevertheless, the seats are in bad shape, and the interior needs redecorating and repainting.

February 20

  • ANSONIA – A freshet began on the Naugatuck River late last evening, continuing into today. Hundreds gather to watch the Bridge Street Bridge, expecting to see it topple into the high waters. The bridge held, but the gap in the stonework in the damaged pier seems to have gotten worse. By 9 AM, the floodwaters from the Naugatuck River freshet were only a few inches below the bottom of the railroad trestle, and some Main Street cellars were flooded. High water was reached at 5 PM, and then dropped rapidly.
  • DERBY – A 9 year old Hallock Court boy drowns after falling off the railroad trestle over the Derby Meadows, while watching the freshet in the Naugatuck River. His body is recovered the following day.
  • SHELTON – During the freshet, a child has a narrow escape when the riverbank collapses under him near the Naugatuck Valley Motor Boat Club. His older brother jumps in and saves him.

Tuesday, February 23

  • ANSONIA – A 20 year old girl, a Polish immigrant, is shot at by a jealous lover on Clifton Avenue. Despite his close proximity, the assailant misses. He is overpowered by her boyfriend, who manages to wrestle the gun away, though the attacker escapes. He is still at large a week later.
  • ANSONIA – A conference between the Board of Aldermen and the Ansonia Manufacturers’ Club makes it clear that the manufacturers want to replace the condemned, covered portion of the Bridge Street Bridge. 
  • ANSONIA – A scarlet fever outbreak has led to 6 houses being quarantined. But some are breaking the quarantine, leading to fears that the disease will spread. ears it will spread because the quarantine is being broken. 
  • DERBY – Even though it was a short ice harvesting season, it looks like the Ansonia Derby Ice Company has harvested enough to get Derby through the summer.

February 24

  • A storm accompanied by high winds dumps 2.05” of rain in 24 hours, and downs trees, telephone poles, and outhouses. The rivers are running high.
  • ANSONIA – A two year old North Cliff Street girl becomes the first fatality of the scarlet fever outbreak.
  • OXFORD – Quaker Farms – “The last of the old trees that stood north and south of Christ Church has been cut down, as it had been partly blown down in the storms”.

February 25

  • SHELTON – The 1908 Grand List reveals 997 houses, 89 manufactories, 487 horses, 632 cattle, and 353 carriages in town.
  • SHELTON – An ermine is captured in a skunk trap, the first one caught here in many years.

February 26

  • ANSONIA – The trolley company informs Mayor Charters it will not pay a cent to repair the old covered portion of the Bridge Street Bridge, though it may consider assisting in replacing it.
  • DERBY – 50 children are sent home from Irving School after the health officer inspects them and determines they have head lice. Many parents are upset.

February 27

  • SEYMOUR – The foundation for the new freight depot is nearly completed.

February 28

  • SEYMOUR – State and local police raid a Third Street saloon, where they arrest the owner for selling liquor on a Sunday, as well as eight patrons. A makeshift court is set up in the saloon. The owner is tried, found guilty, and pays his fines on the spot.

March

Monday, March 1

  • DERBY – The City Health Officer visits Franklin School, and sends 25 pupils home for head lice. Most of the children sent home from Irving School for the same reason last week are back to school today, after being inspected by the Health Officer. The anger and indignation many Irving School parents felt last week is subsiding.
  • SHELTON – Democrat Leroy Moulthrop is elected Warden, the highest elected position in the Borough of Shelton. The Borough is heavily Republican, and he was elected with help from dissatisfied members of that party, over William Wainman by a vote of 364-341. A parade with a band marches to his house after elections. He is only the third Democrat to be elected Warden in its 26 years of existence.

March 3

  • ANSONIA – Engineers are surveying the Bridge Street area to arrive at the cost of a new viaduct bridge to replace the covered bridge there. Some favor having the new bridge cross at Water Street.
  • DERBY – Camptown residents are complaining of people throwing garbage over the riverbank at Housatonic Avenue.

March 4

  • Snow and high winds overnight disappoint many who thought the recent mild weather meant spring was arriving.
  • ANSONIA & DERBY – The Ansonia Derby Ice Company will not raise the price of its ice this year, unlike ice companies in many surrounding communities.
  • ANSONIA, DERBY & SHELTON – Local Socialists are uniting, and forming a new headquarters in the Transcript Building on Main Street in Derby, which will include a circulating library.

March 5

  • The snow is melting fast in the high temperatures.

March 6

  • SEYMOUR – Four hotel keepers receive summons resulting from last week’s liquor raid. They include the Germania House, Windsor Hotel, Brunswick Hotel, and Seymour House.
  • SHELTON – There are more complaints about reopening Walnut Tree Hill School then there were when it was closed. There is only one teacher is teaching 7 grades in the one-room schoolhouse. At least one family is asking for their children to be transferred back to Huntington Center.

March 7

  • DERBY – Rev. Fitzgerald announces St. Mary’s Church is now free of debt.

Tuesday, March 9

  • DERBY – The Board of Aldermen is supporting the Civic Club in its drive to plant shade trees along City streets.

March 10

  • ANSONIA & OXFORD – There are reports that people living in the area of Bridge Street, Ansonia, have been fishing with seines in the Housatonic River. There are other reports, possibly related, of people using seines to fish in the Zoar Bridge area too, and that the seines are being manufactured at a Star Street house. Fishing with seines is unlawful, and the reports are being investigated.

March 12

  • DERBY – The local division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians has been active trying to get merchants to pull St. Patrick’s Day-related items that contain pictures, images, or other things that ridicules the Irish.
  • SEYMOUR – The Town’s policy of allowing “hoboes” to sleep overnight in the lockup is becoming a problem. At breakfast time they go from house to house in the area begging for coffee and food from local women, and can be abusive if refused. The problem is starting to happen every day, apparently the word is out among the hoboes that Seymour is a desirable place, and more are appearing.

March 13

  • ANSONIA – A contract for a new Church of the Assumption Catholic School to accommodate 500-600 pupils on North Cliff Street has been awarded to the Torrington Building Company, for over $75,000.
  • DERBY – The old Lyric Theater reopens under new management with a matinee, featuring “high class” moving pictures and illustrated songs. A prize offered for the woman who thinks of the best name to rename the theater.

March 14

  • SEYMOUR – The cold night brings 8 hoboes to sleep in the town lock-up. The local correspondent of the Evening Sentinel is starting to call the building “Hotel de Bum”.

Monday, March 15

  • ANSONIA – The Seccombe Bros monument works has purchased the Holbrook quarries on North Prospect Street, Ansonia, and will use the stone there. 

March 16

  • SHELTON – The Borough of Shelton publishes its Grand List, which includes 588.5 houses, 315 lots, 82 mills and stores, 134 horses, 2 cattle, 144 carriages, and 695 watches. This list is derived from the Town of Huntington’s list, which came out on February 25.
  • SHELTON – It is being discovered that nearly every cottage above Indian Well was broken into and vandalized and ransacked over the winter.

March 17

  • Many are wearing pieces of green on their clothing this St. Patrick’s Day, including ribbons, carnations, and real shamrocks which can be purchased at local florists. The day is blessed with fair weather.
  • With the improving weather, automobiles are starting to appear on the roads again. Children are enjoying themselves spinning tops and shooting ‘mingles’ (marbles) on sidewalks, and baseball teams are starting to form.
  • ANSONIA – The Ancient Order of Hibernians Ladies Auxiliary hosts a popular St. Patrick’s Day social in Celtic Hall.
  • DERBY – The Ancient Order of Hibernians dance at Indian Well Hall is packed.
  • DERBY – St. Mary’s Hall is filled to capacity, as a party is held to burn the $50,000 mortgage which is now paid off.
  • DERBY – The Ousatonic Water Company asks the Superior Court for the appointment of a receiver for the Williams Typewriter Company, because it owes it $175,000 for power, cash, and other services furnished. The bid is labeled a ‘friendly proceeding’, and should not interfere with the manufacture of the popular Secor typewriters that are made there.

March 18

  • ANSONIA – A forest fire on the west side burns a large area, including parts of the Town Farm and the Fountain Water Company watershed. At same time, a grass fire on Spring Street spreads to a barn, burning it to the ground.

March 19

  • DERBY – William C. Atwater dies at his Atwater Avenue home after a few weeks’ illness. Born on April 8, 1842 in New Haven, his family moved to Derby when he was young boy. He started an insurance business in Derby in 1868. This is the William C. Atwater & Sons Insurance Agency, which still exists today. He served as a director of the Birmingham National Bank from 1887 until his death, and was also a director of the Birmingham Water Company.  He also served as town treasurer, a selectman, was the second Mayor of Derby, and at the time of his death his son, James Atwater, was also the Mayor of Derby.
  • SEYMOUR – Residents are complaining that Main Street is often being blocked by trolley express cars loading and offloading at the railroad freight yard. The problem has been getting worse since the new trolley line to Naugatuck opened.

March 20

  • ANSONIA – John Gardella, a Main Street fruit dealer, has received a Black Hand letter demanding $1,000. He refused to pay, and the police is investigating.

March 21

  • The first day of Spring is accompanied by frost.
  • SHELTON – Sparks from a passing locomotive ignites a grass fire near Indian Well, which spreads to an Ousatonic Water Company barn that was rented and full of hay. The barn burns to the ground.

Monday, March 22

  • ANSONIA – An 11 month old boy is burned to death after he makes contact with coals from a small stove in a bedroom on Bridge Street, igniting his clothing. He was left alone with his 3 year old brother, after his mother briefly stepped out to go shopping for household supplies.
  • ANSONIA – Tragedy visits a Fourth Street family when an 8 year old girl and her 17 month old brother die of Scarlet Fever, only 3 days after their 4 year old brother died of the same disease.

March 23

  • ANSONIA – A barn fire on Holbrook’s Lane destroys 425 pairs of pigeons and squabs, gutting the building and causing $750 damage. 

March 24

  • ANSONIA – A barn is destroyed by fire off Franklin Street, causes $500 damage. The fire spread to two other houses but was quickly contained.
  • OXFORD – Quaker Farms – “Grip (influenza), colds, and sore throats are the prevailing fashion at the present time”,

March 25

  • ANSONIA – A heavy rainfall of 1.79” causes Naugatuck to rise rapidly. By 8 PM the river is within 1 foot of the railroad tracks at the passenger station. The water stayed that level for a few hours before going down. Once again people watched to see if the condemned covered portion of the Bridge Street Bridge would go down, but it did not.
  • SHELTON – The old Housatonic Trap Rock Quarry on Howe Avenue above downtown is being dismantled.

March 28

  • DERBY – Rev. Walter Chamberlain, a retired Methodist minister who lived on 171 Caroline Street, dies on his 50th wedding anniversary. He served as minister in a number of places, including Shelton Methodist Church for 15 years.

Monday, March 29

  • ANSONIA – A Jersey Street woman chases a thief who had stolen a pair of cheap shoes out of her store, and holds him until husband arrives. The husband takes the thief to the nearest telephone, which was in a saloon, and calls the police.

March 31

  • DERBY – The Sterling Piano Company will add a fifth story to its main building, which will be 200′ long and will add 8000 new square feet to the complex.
  • OXFORD – “It is getting to be quite the usual event to get up in the morning and find the ground covered with a light fall of snow, which, however, soon disappears under the influence of the sun’s warm rays”.
  • SHELTON – Bruce N. Griffing has purchased a Banner Six, the first 6-cylinder automobile in the area.

April

Thursday, April 1

  • Anglers pack streams for the first day of trout season.
  • ANSONIA – Farrel Foundry & Machine Company pours what was the biggest casting ever made there up to that time, in 4 minutes. The casting was a 60 ton frame for a giant stone crusher.
  • SEYMOUR – The brickwork for the office for the new freight station is nearly complete. The new yard will be able to hold 500 to 550 cars.

April 3

  • ANSONIA – A meeting is held in the McGrath building, on the corner of Grove and Murray Streets, to organize a new fire company for the Fourth Ward.  Mayor Charters favors the project, and urged it forward in his recent quarterly message. The Evening Sentinel, declares the “enterprise not likely to succeed”, due to concerns being voiced on the Board of Aldermen that this is a political move on Mayor Charters’ part to increase his power in the district. This fire company was eventually organized, and is today’s Charters Hose Co. No. 4.
  • ANSONIA – Hundreds visit the formal spring opening of the newly renovated Peter Vonetes’ Palace of Sweets.  Among the new features are interior colored electric lights, which the Sentinel says makes the place “look like fairyland”.

Monday, April 5

  • ANSONIA & DERBY – Today is the start of Clean-up Week. Each City’s Civic Club is taking the lead toward cleaning vacant lots, rubbish, etc. By the end of the week there is a decided improvement in both communities.

April 6

  • ANSONIA – The organizers of a proposed fire company in the Fourth Ward deny they are doing so for political motivations, and state that Mayor Charters has nothing to do with their effort. They state that all they all want is a jumper (hose cart) and some hose for the neighborhood. The Mayor’s Republican rivals on the Board of Aldermen are in favor of that.

April 7

  • Afternoon wind reaches 70mph. Visibility is very poor due to dust and garbage blowing about.
  • ANSONIA – Main Street is particularly choked with dust and swirling paper, causing people to run for shelter and merchants to shut their doors to prevent the dust from entering their stores.
  • SHELTON – Roller skating is very popular with the children this year – pedestrians have to be cautious on the sidewalks.

April 9

  • ANSONIA –Famed local wanderer Johnny o’ the Woods is in town, shopping for clothes.
  • ANSONIA, DERBY & SEYMOUR – The first annual inter-town footrace ends in a dispute when William Glenn of the Piker Athletic Club finishes first but ran on sidewalk, missing the tape across the finish line on Ansonia’s Main Street. Shortly after, Nick Brown, a member of the Ansonia YMCA, runs through the tape. The 12 mile course is run in 1 hour 11 minutes, with over 5,000 spectators. The area near the finish line was particularly crowded with spectators, and a number of runners complained that the space left for them was too narrow. After much deliberation, including consulting with sport authorities, it is decided to declare Brown the winner, but also to award a prize of equal value to Glenn.
  • DERBY – The Board of Apportionment allocates $2,000 for a city-wide garbage contract. Many are pleased with this move, as it will eliminate the hodgepodge of private contactors who currently pick up trash.

April 10

  • ANSONIA – A local tough knocks down Johnny o’ the Woods this evening on Main Street near Maple Street. People are upset upon learning the news, Johnny is of advanced age and harmless, and they want to find out who the assailant was.
  • SEYMOUR – Flags in Town are flying at half mast due to erroneous report that Gov. Lilley, who is critically ill, had died.

Easter Sunday, April 11

  • After a cold morning, the rest of the day is clear, with very pleasant weather. As usual, the Easter parades in the various cities and towns near the churches witnessed the women wearing many interesting varieties of hats. The newspaper reports that “many men just stared”.

Tuesday, April 13

  • ANSONIA – The condition of the roadway across the Maple Street Bridge is a problem which is not getting much attention, due to the Bridge Street Bridge problems.
  • DERBY – The summer trolley cars are ready. All that’s needed now is warm weather.
  • OXFORD – “There are signs of spring on all sides, indicated by swelling buds and rapidly greening lawns. Housekeepers are making things merry within, and there is no place for drones in the hive now. The desire is to emulate nature and show at an early date the home nest immaculate”.

April 14

  • A rainstorm dumps 4.5” of rain.
  • ANSONIA – “The no school signal was sounded this noon and no sessions were held in the public schools this afternoon. The rain came down in torrents when the schools were dismissed at 11:20 this morning, and the children who lived some distance from the school buildings were pretty well drenched before they reached home”.
  • ANSONIA – At 10 PM the Naugatuck River is within inches of the railroad tracks at the passenger station and reaches the bottom of the railroad trestle over the river, but the water receded around midnight. A section of retaining wall on the west bank above the Maple Street Bridge is washed out. Main Street store basements are flooded, as is the passenger station’s too. Most store owners moved their stock out of the basements before they were ruined. Many on watch the freshet on the Bridge Street Bridge, which has been condemned, and could have been disastrous had the bridge washed away.
  • DERBY – The Housatonic River is also high. A horse owned by an Italian immigrant who has been tilling Shelton’s Island (possibly today’s O’Sullivan Island) can’t escape before the entire island is covered. The horse is tied to a tree at highest point. The water reaches its knees, but it survives. The man’s shack on the island, completely surrounded by water seemingly in the middle of the river, is an odd sight. A large embankment slides into the river below Pink House Cove, taking about five large trees with it.
  • SEYMOUR – The brook which empties into Rimmon pond ends up undermining the trolley tracks crossing it, creating a 60′ gap. Passengers had to be transferred between trolleys on either end. Several inches of water is on the factory floor at the New Haven Copper Company, and Tingue Manufacturing and Seymour Manufacturing also are forced to close.

April 16

  • SEYMOUR – The washed out trolley tracks near Rimmon pond have been repaired.

April 17

  • ANSONIA – Two new churches planned in Ansonia over summer – a new St. Peter and St. Paul Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and a new Lithuanian Catholic Church. The latter would become St. Anthony’s Church.

Tuesday, April 20

  • ANSONIA – Mayor Charters receives preliminary plans for a new Bridge Street Bridge. The plans call for a bridge with 3 spans, 300′ long and 42′ wide. The west end will be where the old bridge was in 1909, but the east end is realigned near the old house that was once the bridge’s gate tender, between Bridge Street and Water Street. The Bridge Street railroad crossing, scene of so many accidents in the past, would be eliminated with a steel viaduct beginning on Canal Street, carrying the roadway over the railroad property in a straight line with the bridge.
  • SHELTON – Many are complaining of stench from Burying Ground Brook at Howe Avenue, due to raw sewage flowing into it from Oak Avenue.

April 21

  • Many are saddened this evening upon learning of the death of Connecticut’s Governor George L. Lilley. Flags are lowered to half staff.
  • DERBY – A bill passed the State General Assembly last week amending the charter of the new Derby Hospital. It calls for a Board of Trustees consisting of no less than 12 or more than 30 people. These Trustees are granted permission to formally change the name of the hospital to “The Griffin Hospital” at any meeting.

April 22

  • SEYMOUR – The First Selectman notifies the trolley company that Main Street is not a freight yard, the express cars must stop blocking Main Street.

April 24

  • Many people, especially Republicans, travel to Hartford to Governor Lilley’s funeral. Mills and businesses close during the funeral.
  • SEYMOUR – Following an old New England tradition, the Town’s firebell tolls 49 times, one for each year of Governor Lilley’s life, at the time his funeral was scheduled to begin in Hartford.
  • SHELTON – A 30′ long gasoline-powered boat is launched before an unusually large gathering at the Shelton Docks. The boat was constructed by Frank Jones of New Haven Avenue, Derby, and christened the Sis.

Monday, April 26

  • ANSONIA – Miss Caroline Phelps Stokes, daughter of James Stokes and granddaughter of Ansonia’s namesake Anson Phelps dies in California. She was one of the two donors which started the Ansonia Public Library.
  • ANSONIA – William Potter is developing a large plant to produce curbing at his granite quarry off Rockwood Avenue.
  • DERBY – Improvements at the Sterling Opera House include 12 new chemical fire extinguishers, and a new booth for moving pictures made of sheet steel located in the upper gallery under the ceiling, above all the patrons.

April 27

  • Heavy frost appears this morning, and ice appears on still water. There are fears the cold may have injured early planting and fruit trees.
  • ANSONIA – Many residents are upset that local stockbroker William Wood has shut up his office, disconnected his telephone line, and apparently closed up his home in Shelton. His whereabouts are unknown. He told his friends he may have lost as much as $5,000 (almost $120,000 today) recently.

April 28

  • ANSONIA – The American Brass Company is improving Wallace’s Grove again this year. Trees are being trimmed, underbrush is being cleared away, evergreen trees are being planted, a gravel walk is being installed around the bandstand, seats are rearranged, and there are changes in the lighting system.
  • OXFORD – “Indications in this vicinity for a large yield of fruit are excellent if buds are not blasted by the cold weather. Particularly is this true of plum trees which give promise of an immense crop if warm, steady weather comes soon”.

April 29

  • The day dawns bright and clear, but turns cold by afternoon. A slight snow flurry starts around 2 PM, and before it changes to rain in the evening 2½” of snow falls. The temperature drops again at midnight, and the rain turns to sleet and hail. The unusual weather leads to concerns about damage to crops and fruit trees.
  • DERBY – The Sterling Piano Company is installing a large new dovetailing machine which will glue and clamp boards in its mill room, which will save time and manpower.
  • SEYMOUR – Trinity Cemetery is getting a large extension to the north.

May

Saturday, May 1

  • ANSONIA – The City’s police officers are replacing their helmets with caps similar to those worn in New York City and New Haven. The helmets will be retained as part of the winter uniforms.
  • SHELTON – Reports are surfacing of a strike at the Anatomik Shoe Company. The company says about 6 boys are on strike, but some of the strikers say its more like 100. The strikers’ demands appear to be the rehiring of a popular superintendent that was fired, and calls for discharging some “obnoxious employees”.

Monday, May 3

  • SEYMOUR – The peach buds at the Hale & Coleman orchards seem uninjured despite the bad weather.

May 4

  • Warm weather means straw hats are appearing in store windows.
  • ANSONIA – An exploding lamp destroys a small 2-story house on Mechanic Street. The fire spreads to a second 2-story house next door, belonging to the American Brass Company, but the fire department is able to save the second house. The early morning fire becomes a General Alarm. The family of five living in the first house escaped with only the night clothes they were wearing.
  • ANSONIA – The remaining scarlet fever patient in the Murphy family on Fourth Street has recovered, and the quarantine has been removed. The family lost 3 children in a week over the winter to the dreaded disease.
  • ANSONIA – It is announced at the Webster Hose Co. No. 3 banquet that the McKeon horse-drawn hose wagon was purchased by company for $265.30. Mr. McKeon will remain the driver.

May 5

  • OXFORD – ‘Tis useless to comment upon the fickleness of the weather, but such surprises as snow, hail, rain, and high wind, all in quick succession, keep us wondering when real spring weather will settle down for business.

May 6

  • Temperatures reach 86 degrees.
  • DERBY – An afternoon thunderstorm results in a Housatonic Avenue house struck by lightening, but causing no major damage.
  • SHELTON – The first thunderstorm of the year strikes a house in Coram, stunning a woman who was standing nearby. Another lightening bolt hits a trolley guy wire on the Bridge Street viaduct, snapping it.

Monday, May 10

  • ANSONIA – The Board of Aldermen passes an anti-spitting ordinance.
  • OXFORD – Charles Johnson, the Town’s Republican representative on the State General Assembly, dies at Hartford Hospital after a week’s illness. A lifelong resident, he was born February 2, 1870, and was a successful farmer and cattle dealer on Quaker Farms.

May 11

  • ANSONIA – The new Bridge Street Bridge and viaduct will cost $134,000. 
  • DERBY & SHELTON – Boat owners at Derby Docks and Shelton are again complaining this year that items are being stolen from their boats. The Naugatuck Valley Motor Boat Club has put out a reward for the thieves. Above the Ousatonic Dam, other residents are complaining that boats are running without lights at night.
  • SHELTON – Sunnyside Park will be improved with grandstands for 500 people on its south side, and a railing around the baseball field.

May 13

  • ANSONIA – A malaria outbreak in the City is threatening to become an epidemic.
  • ANSONIA – A portion of the condemned covered portion of the Bridge Street Bridge, the outer sheathing that protects the wooden on the south side, has broken off. Also, a door on the bottom of one of the piers, which allows for inspection of the bottom of the bridge and pipes, has loosened and is now lying in the river. The samepier has settled, and the covered portion of the bridge is out of plumb. Despite the bad condition of the covered bridge, the iron portion of the bridge, on the east bank, is OK. Many residents think that instead of building an expensive new bridge, the iron portion of the bridge should just be continued to the west bank to replace the covered bridge.

May 14

  • ANSONIA – Charles Miller, the man who fatally shot his wife in their Benz Street home on March 29, 1908, dies of tuberculosis at the Wethersfield State Prison.
  • DERBY – The body of a man is found in the Naugatuck River, about 1,000′ north of Main Street Bridge. He is later identified as an approximately 50 year old man who lived on the Derby side of Division Street. It appears that he had fallen off the old Naugatuck railroad tracks, on the east bank, into the river.
  • DERBY – Shelton’s Island is being tilled again this year for planting. This was possibly what O’Sullivan’s Island was called back then.

May 15

  • ANSONIA – “If the women could vote, says an Ansonia woman, Ansonia would have sewers”. The Evening Sentinel agrees with that statement, saying that men are often at work and don’t have to deal with the unpleasant nuisance all day at home like women do.
  • SHELTON – The police department will have new uniforms, including caps, by Memorial Day.

Monday, May 17

  • ANSONIA – The Board of Aldermen unanimously adopts its bridge committee’s report, and will seek $90,000 in bonds to replace the Bridge Street Bridge.
  • ANSONIA – The old Naugatuck Railroad tracks are to be removed.
  • ANSONIA – The city engineer recommends wood block flooring to repair the badly damaged pavement on the Maple Street Bridge.

May 18

  • ANSONIA – The bridge over Grapevine Swamp Brook on Ford Street has been repaired. Some of the planking was rotted.
  • SEYMOUR – Saloons being forced to move from Bank Street are relocating to Third Street, which is 400 to 500′ long, and composed mostly of tenements. There may be as many as 5 saloons on this small, crowded street soon, which have some residents alarmed.

May 19

  • ANSONIA – A number of vacant lots in the City are being converted into household gardens.
  • DERBY – The New Haven Railroad wants to electrify its line between New Haven and New York City. Derby people hope the same happens along the local tracks, to reduce noise.
  • OXFORD – “The country is looking very beautiful at the present time. The few warm days of the past week brought out the foliage on the trees very rapidly, while apple trees are fast coming into full bloom. The promise for an immense crop of all kinds of fruit is excellent if weather conditions remain favorable”.
  • SEYMOUR – The new freight depot is nearing completion.
  • SHELTON – The workshop of boat builder Charles Gordon on Gordon Avenue is completely destroyed by fire, including all its contents and machinery, and one partially finished boat. The fire started under the building, which was on piles, and couldn’t be reached despite attempts to extinguish it with buckets of water from the neighbors, though they did save the nearby house and barn. Mr. Gordon is well known for making rowboats, launches, and motorboats, and will probably rebuild.

May 20

  • ANSONIA – A horrible tragedy occurs on Smith Street when a 3½ year old girl dies after her dress catches fire from a bonfire that was lit by older brother.

May 21

  • ANSONIA – The Frank Robbins circus arrives at Woodlot early this morning. Later in the day the circus parades through Ansonia and Derby, including a Teddy Roosevelt imitator who created a stir walking in khaki clothes and a hat, carrying a gun posing as game hunter (at the time the former President was on an African safari). The shows are crowded. A female equestrian rider is injured at one of the shows after being kicked by a horse. The last show that evening is very overcrowded, with many people unable to see. The swelling crowd surged into the ring itself, interfering with performances. After the crowd was warned to get back or the show would stop, the crowd turned unruly, playing with articles in the ring and performing their own “stunts”, throwing first class seat cushions around, etc. The circus reacted by stopping the show for good and turning the lights in the tent off. Immediately after the crowd left the premises, the circus lowered the tent and skipped out of town. Many were upset – the circus was blamed for allowing their ticket agents to oversell the last show. The circus blamed the police department for having only one officer on scene, who was hopelessly overwhelmed when the trouble began. Others claimed that the ticket agents short changed them.

May 22

  • DERBY – A woman is stabbed 11 times on Housatonic Avenue, after resisting the advances of an unknown assailant. She had been trying to track down her husband, who in turn was trying to avoid her, before he spent all his paycheck on drink. She will survive.

May 23

  • ANSONIA – A political meeting is held in German Hall on Maple Street by New York City interests is held, to raise support for a man about to be hung for murder by Austro-Hungarian authorities in Galicia. Many of the Ruthenians present didn’t agree with speakers that he should be pardoned. When these people were asked to leave, a riot ensued. The speakers were escorted out by the police, but not before they were considerably roughed up.
  • SEYMOUR – Rev. Ringney at St. Augustine’s Church announces the parish will build a Catholic School, opposite the church.

Monday, May 24

  • As of this month, there are 136 automobile license holders in the Valley. This includes 47 in Derby, 43 in Shelton, 31 in Ansonia, and 15 in Seymour.
  • ANSONIA – A hearing is held on the proposed new Bridge Street Bridge. The public’s sentiment seems to be divided.
  • SEYMOUR – George Homan, a Town resident for many years, dies at the Soldiers’ Home in Noroton. He was credited with starting the first playhouse in New Haven. He served in Seymour’s Company E, 20th Connecticut Infantry, during the Civil War. While employed at Kerite, he accidentally discovered that company’s ‘famous’ cable insulating process.
  • SHELTON – An argument in Dennis Donovan’s saloon on Center Street escalates into a fight, resulting in one man stabbed by a defective knife. His assaulter is arrested.

May 25

  • ANSONIA – The Board of Aldermen unanimously adopts the railroad’s proposal for a viaduct to carry Bridge Street over the railroad tracks.
  • DERBY – The Birmingham Water Company is having 6,000 trees planted by an experienced forester near its reservoirs on Derby Hill, including 4,000 white pines and 2,000 Norway spruces.

May 27

  • ANSONIA – An early morning fire at 3 Central Street destroys Sheriff Aaron Olderman’s feed store.
  • ANSONIA – Trouble breaks out at the B’nai Israel synagogue when two rabbis have differences over how services are to be performed. Sheriff Aaron Olderman apparently orders a man to take his hands off one of the rabbis (whose views he supports), and, by some accounts, is then assaulted. There is much excitement as he tries to arrest him. When a regular policeman arrives, the sheriff asks him to assist him, and other arrests are also demanded by other people in attendance. Ultimately, no arrests are made, as the officer does not want to interfere with a religious dispute, and does not perceive any assaults.
  • SEYMOUR – Town voters vote to rebuild Franklin Street, from Bank Street to the new freight yards. The new street be a gravel road with a Telford base, and cost $3,600. This is due to the expected heavy trucks that will use it when the depot is completed.
  • SHELTON – “A set of Star Ceiling Springs and Robert Carleton Spreaders were placed in position in the apparatus room of the fire department last evening by Fire Warden Ward, under the supervision of the fire department committee. This is something that will be hailed with satisfaction by the driver of the truck, who was in danger of being hung every time he took the truck by the old attachments. The new device is so arranged that a touch of the central trigger releases the harness, which falls on the backs of the horses, while the attachment flies up to the ceiling out of the way instantly”.

May 29

  • ANSONIA – The two factions at B’nai Israel synagogue hold separate services today.

May 30

  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia Opera House is packed for Memorial Services.
  • DERBY – The Sterling Opera House is packed for Memorial Services.
  • SHELTON – Memorial Services are held in Huntington Center. Civil War veterans from Derby and Shelton’s Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) arrive in 5 carryalls and many single teams. Services are held at St. Paul’s, and 34 graves are decorated in St. Paul’s Cemetery, along with 7 in Lawn Cemetery. A reception is held afterward. A delegation is also sent to decorate Long Hill Cemetery.

 Monday, May 31, Memorial Day

  • ANSONIA, DERBY & SEYMOUR – George Sheasby, of the Ansonia YMCA wins Memorial Day marathon several yards ahead of Nick Brown, who was also from the Ansonia YMCA. The race started on Main Street, Ansonia, and went to Seymour, then down Wakelee Avenue and Seymour Avenue to Elizabeth Street in Derby. The route then went to Main Street, then Derby Avenue, then back to the finish line on Main Street, Ansonia. Most of the route is packed with spectators, particularly the start and finish line on Main Street, Ansonia. 
  • ANSONIA – The day brings ideal weather. The parade marches to the cemeteries. Civil War soldiers are applauded, and big exercises are held at Pine Grove Cemetery.
  • DERBY & SHELTON – The Memorial Day parade winds through both towns. 26 Civil War vets march, while 10 more ride in carriages. Services are held at Oak Cliff Cemetery, and exercises on Derby Green.
  • SEYMOUR – Memorial Day exercises are held by the Upson Post GAR at the Soldier’s Monument, culminating a small parade which began at Center School.

June

Tuesday, June 1

  • SHELTON – A bad train wreck occurs at Sturge’s Siding, 2-3 miles north of downtown Shelton. An eastbound train smashes into the caboose of a disabled train, and its momentum continues to plows through many railroad cars, some of which are flung over 15′ down an embankment. There are no injuries, but the locomotive is totaled.

June 2

  • ANSONIA – The police may post officers on Wakelee Avenue due to frequent complaints of speeding automobiles and motorcycles, which sometimes exceed 30-40 mph. 

June 4

  • DERBY – “The Green was well patronized last night by people in general who taxed the capacity of the benches and kept the pump going the greater part of the night. The night was certainly a bit close during the early hours, especially and during that time there was a good sized crowd around the pump waiting for a chance to get a pail or pitcher of water, as is usually the case during the warm summer evenings”.

June 5

  • ANSONIA, DERBY, & SHELTON – A “Tag Day” is held for Griffin Hospital. Women canvass the cities, asking for contributions, and giving donors tags. Ansonia raises $1,540, Derby raises $1,208.28, and Shelton $965.

June 6 

  • ANSONIA – The police pull over many speeders on Wakelee Avenue, but only issue warnings.
  • SEYMOUR – Two horses, 2 sets of harnesses, and a milk delivery wagon stolen from the Samko farm on Bungay.

Monday, June 7

  • ANSONIA – Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, leaves Ansonia after spending the week with the Drew family on New Street, including Clara Barton Drew, who is named after her.

June 8

  • Strong winds make the open trolley cars uncomfortable today.
  • SHELTON – 50 of the 67 chickens from Samuel Buckingham’s coop at Well’s Hollow are stolen. A $50 reward offered.

June 9

  • It is a cold, rainy day, necessitating the return of closed cars back on the New Haven-Waterbury line.

June 10

  • ANSONIA – James McKeon has leased the Central Street fire station, which houses the horse drawn hose wagon he recently sold to the Webster Hose Company, for 99 years.

June 11

  • DERBY – Derby High School graduating exercises are held at the Sterling Opera House. Joseph Gertrude Kennedy is the 1909 valedictorian of the 21 students, while Anna May Esla Anderson is the salutatorian.
  • DERBY – The number of ice cream carts on City streets are increasing.

Monday, June 14

  • ANSONIA – The 8 year old daughter of former Board of Aldermen member Richard Preece, of Church Street, is run over on Wakelee Avenue by large touring car driven by a Naugatuck man. She is severely injured. The car was reportedly going about 12 miles per hour on Wakelee Avenue, and had slowed to 5 miles per hour when it struck the girl, and was repeatedly tooting its horn to get people out of its way. The girl was apparently confused and froze in front of the vehicle, which could not stop in time.
  • ANSONIA – The City Building Inspector tenders his registration to the Board of Aldermen. It is accepted without comment. He was apparently upset with the Board for overruling him, and allowing a wood feed store with sheet tin covering to be built in the fire district.
  • DERBY – The annual meeting of Derby Hospital incorporators is held. The institution’s name is formally changed to “Griffin Hospital” in honor of major donor George Griffin of Shelton. The board is increased to nine incorporators each from Derby, Ansonia, and Shelton.
  • DERBY – The drinking fountain at Seymour and Atwater Avenues is struck by an unknown automobile. Its bowl and pedestal are twisted around and shoved to one side several inches. No one knows who did it.

June 15

  • ANSONIA – A 12 year old Beaver Street girl dies of Scarlet Fever. Three other children in the family are ill with the disease, and the house is quarantined.
  • DERBY – The local chapter of the United States Daughters of 1812 of Connecticut dedicates a monument for Commodore Isaac Hull in Uptown Cemetery.
  • SHELTON – The Shelton High School’s twentieth annual commencement is held at Sterling Opera House in Derby. The class is composed of 13 girls and 5 boys. The Valedictorian is Elizabeth Janet Dodd, and the Salutatorian is Dorothy Holden.

June 16

  • OXFORD – “The house known as the Warner place in the Centre, has been torn down, and the rubbish is now being cleared away. This house has been left to fall into decay, and was a blot upon the landscape. The improvement is already quite evident, and its demolition is a source of much rejoicing in the neighborhood. We understand Mrs. Gabler, the present owner, contemplates erecting a modern residence on the plot in the near future”.
  • SEYMOUR – Seymour High School’s graduation takes place at Seymour Methodist Church. The Valedictorian is Grace Ella Yarrington, and the Salutatorian is John Tibbets Keir. The Class of 1909 is composed of 4 graduates, 2 boys and 2 girls.
  • SHELTON – “Samuel Buckingham has offered $50 for the conviction of the party who stole his fowls. Rumor says he is hot in the chase. With $50 offered by the state, the reward should make one feel that “open confession is good for the soul”.

June 17

  • ANSONIA – The old, large chimney behind the Ansonia Novelty Company on Main Street is being taken down. It was once a part of the Osborne & Cheeseman casting shop.

June 18

  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia High School graduation is held at Ansonia Opera House. The Valedictorian is Eleanor Bliss, and the Salutatorian Mary Clark Steele. 34 students graduate. The opera house is badly overcrowded for the event, and the police are criticized for not controlling the number inside. It is felt that it would have been catastrophic had there been a panic. Prior to the event, the countryside scoured for sweet peas that were white and lavender, as it was traditional at that time to give them to the female graduates.

June 19

  • ANSONIA – Water has been accumulating in “Passenger Station No. 2” in Ansonia for so long it now smells bad. The water will be pumped out, and there are rumors that the station will have to be torn down. This costly, peculiar station has never been used, as the work was stopped before it was completed.
  • SHELTON – The Naugatuck Valley Motor Boat Club publishes a census of boats on the Housatonic River between the dam and Moulthrop’s point (about where the marinas are located today). In all 70 boats are listed, ranging from 12’ to 35’ in length, though the average length is 17 feet. Twelve of the boats are over 30 feet long.

June 20

  • SHELTON – A Tenderloin saloon is raided by the Shelton Police. The bartender is arrested for Sunday selling, along with 4 patrons.

Monday, June 21

  • Today’s high is 93, with a low of 60.
  • SHELTON – Dry manure on the Huntington Bridge catches fire, and burns for a few minutes before being extinguished by pails of water. This is a normal occurrence in the summertime, and some planks have been badly burned as result.

June 22

  • Today’s high is 98, with a low of 71.

June 23

  • The area is in the midst of a heat wave. The temperature reaches 95 degrees at 3 PM today, with a low of 71.
  • DERBY – Classes at Irving School are suspended due to the heat.
  • OXFORD – “The first really warm wave of the season reached this locality on Monday and is a forcible reminder of what summer weather means. It will have the effect of bringing gardens ahead rapidly”.

June 24

  • The temperature is 85 at 9 AM today. The heat wave is proving tough on animals. Automobiles are staying off the roads until late in the day. The trolleys are well patronized; many ride the belt line to enjoy the breeze the open cars create. There are fewer shoppers in the downtowns. The heat reaches 96 in the early afternoon, and by 9 PM the temperatures are still 90, The night is very uncomfortable, with a low of 71, high humidity and no breeze to rid houses of the heat that is trapped inside.

June 25

  • Today is the fifth day of very hot weather. People are weak, exhausted, and irritated. Many factories are now sending their workers home in the early afternoon due to dangerously high heat on the shop floors. The temperatures reach 99, but cools a bit after a shower.
  • Public schools close for the summer today.

June 26

  • Temperatures reach 94 today. The meat trade is way down due to the hot weather. By contrast, farmers are saying the present hot weather is good for their crops. With tempers running short, people are on the lookout for animal cruelty. Swimming holes are popular with men and boys. Many go to the shore today to beat the heat, the shoreline trolleys were filled all day, starting at 7:30 AM.
  • ANSONIA – Only one house is still quarantined for Scarlet Fever, on Beaver Street.
  • DERBY – “Many a hot businessman, dressed according to the proprieties and sweltering in cuffs and collars and coat, have been envious of the children about the street. Some of the little ones have been taking the hot days comfortably in slips, the larger ones have gone about barefooted and bare-armed. Many a tow-headed boy was on the streets yesterday with arms like a broiled lobster’s back and a neck that looked like a storm-brewing sunset. But the sunburns were not sore and the boy was cool and comfortable compared with the businessman and his proper clothing. It takes better than 98 in the shade to faze the barefooted, bare-armed small boy”.

June 27

  • Heavy late morning rain and thunderstorms. Initially, the rain reportedly “sizzles”, as it touches the ground, due to the heat wave. The temperatures turn much cooler after the rain passes through, and the streets are crowded for the first time in days with people enjoying the relief.
  • DERBY – A 57 year old man trying to get relief in a hot stuffy room falls out of a window, four stories to his death, from the Beardsley Block on Third Street.
  • DERBY – A deer is spotted early in the morning walking up Fifth Street to Elizabeth Street. The animal then went to Derby Green, where it laid down near Derby-Shelton Civil War monument for awhile, before going up Minerva Street.

Monday, June 28

  • A heavy shower, much needed for grass and crops, arrives in the afternoon. 
  • ANSONIA – A Star Street store gutted by fire at 5AM. This is the same store that was gutted by another fire last March. Although the damage to the building isn’t bad, the store’s stock is ruined, and the owner had no insurance. The fire is labeled suspicious, and on July 10 the State Police declare it was arson.
  • SEYMOUR – The rainstorm causes the sky to turn very dark to the extent that trolleys have their headlights and interior lights on, yet there is no thunder or lightning.
  • SHELTON – A house is struck by lightning in White Hills. The house rear of the house had a history of being struck by lightning, so the owner moved onto her porch as a precaution. This time, the lightning struck the porch. She was momentarily stunned by the experience, but uninjured. The house sustains moderate damage.

July 29

  • DERBY – 114 public school children have had perfect attendance for the entire school year.
  • SEYMOUR – The old freight depot will soon be vacated. This building was erected on Main Street in 1849, when the town was still a part of Derby called Humphreysville. An 1866 addition allowed the building to provide passenger service as well. The passenger service was discontinued in 1898, at which time the addition was razed. Thus, the old freight depot is still relatively unchanged from when it was first built. Its future is uncertain at this time. 

June 30

  • OXFORD – “The break in the extreme warm wave of the past week which came Tuesday was most welcome. While the heat here was not quite so excessive as in the cities, yet it taxed the endurance of the people greatly. There were no heat prostrations in town, so far as is known”.

JULY

Thursday, July 1

  • The temperature is 80 degrees at 7PM.
  • ANSONIA – The first open-air concert of the year by the American Brass Company Band is held at Wallace’s Grove off Franklin Street. A large crowd is in attendance, Franklin Street is “a solid mass of people”. This year’s improvements to the American Brass Company-owned grove includes leveling the ground, beautifying the trees, and doubling its seating capacity, and better lighting and fencing. A 10′ wide promenade of crushed stone now winds around the bandstand from Franklin Street.
  • SHELTON – “Camp Barlow”, an unofficial fishing camp and resort for workingmen along the Housatonic River above downtown Shelton, opens for the summer.

July 2

  • ANSONIA & SEYMOUR – The Ansonia Police and Seymour’s Prosecutor Atwater warn against “premature” celebrations of Independence Day. This includes setting off fireworks and breaking into churches to ring their bells at the stroke of midnight on July 4. 
  • DERBY – The Birmingham Iron Foundry has purchased the adjacent property of the Howe Manufacturing Company. The Howe factory was built in 1838 to manufacture pins, while the BIF dates back to 1836. The Howe plant will be altered for BIF as a pattern workshop and pattern storage facility. It was bought by Plume & Atwood of Waterbury on June 26, 1908, but they didn’t do anything with it. The Birmingham Iron Foundry merged with Farrel Foundry, to become Farrel Birmingham in 1927. Today’s Home Depot now occupies the site.

July 3

  • DERBY – Last year’s fashion dictated that women stick pins and combs in their hair, which was very good for Derby’s industries. This year, wearing hats is in fashion, which is negatively affecting the same industries. While some hope that pins and combs come back in style, others recall a similar situation after the Civil War when Derby’s hoopskirt industry collapsed after these went out of style, too.
  • SHELTON – There is a movement to have Riverview Park lit by electric lights. Right not it is completely unlighted

 July 4 – America’s 133rd Independence Day

  • ANSONIA – 3 are arrested for setting off fireworks just after midnight. Some churches and schools are guarded overnight to prevent pranksters from ringing the bells at midnight. The rest of the day is “saner and safer” than normal.
  • DERBY – The City is “noisy but safe, though there is a racket the following day when merchants start offering discounts on leftover fireworks.  
  • OXFORD – “The Fourth was very quiet in Oxford. The bells of the Congregational Church and Centre school were rung for a little time at an early hour in the morning. The bell of St. Peter’s Church was not rung, as it is out of repair. There was some firing of crackers and firearms, but nothing of a disturbing nature was done by anyone”.
  • SEYMOUR – The Town is relatively quiet this Independence Day.
  • SHELTON – A man is arrested for setting off fireworks after midnight. An older resident says this was the quietest Independence Day he had ever known.

Monday, July 5

  • ANSONIA – A fireworks display over the Ansonia Flats is given by Eagle Hose Hook & Ladder Co. No. 6, using fireworks donated by a citizen. Over 2,000 gather at Woodlot and other places to watch them.

July 7

  • ANSONIA – The Board of Health votes to purchase anti-spitting signs, to post around the City.
  • DERBY – The Board of Aldermen order the Health Officer to enforce a law stipulating that outhouses must connect to city sewers, on streets where the sewers exist.
  • OXFORD – “The roads are getting very dusty and clouds of dust fill the air after every passing vehicle”.

July 8

  • ANSONIA – A bill authorizing Ansonia to issue $90,000 worth of bonds to replace the Bridge Street Bridge, and appoint a Bridge Commission, passes the Connecticut General Assembly’s House of Representatives. However, it is held up later in the week in the Senate due to a procedural matter.
  • ANSONIA – Complaints are rising of local merchants staying open on Sundays, as well as questions of why the police are not stopping it.
  • SHELTON – A bill limiting trolley fares within Town of Huntington to 5 cents passes the General Assembly’s House of Representatives.

July 9

  • Temperatures drop to 48 degrees at 2 AM. Grass is drying in the fields for lack of rain, and the roads are dusty.
  • ANSONIA – “The condition of the west bank of the Naugatuck, at the base of the retaining wall in the rear of High and Jersey streets, is such that it publicly invites the attention of the health department. The sewerage is exposed on the stones along the riverbank in the hot sunshine and also lies along the margin where the current is not strong. Rubbish of all descriptions is to be found floating there, even including an old mattress that was noticed this morning. The muck and rubbish, exposed to the brilliant sunshine, sets up a stench that is at times nauseating to say the least. The river is certainly in need of a through flushing, which only a good rain can accomplish”.

July 10

  • SEYMOUR – Some are complaining of the location of the new freight station, because it far from business center of town. Some Main Street merchants must travel a mile to get to it. There are fears that this will result in trucking rates going up.

Monday, July 12

  • ANSONIA – Reporting on a Board of Aldermen meeting held tonight, tomorrow’s Evening Sentinel will headline “Aldermen Hold Talk Fest for 3½ Hours”, with the byline “Little Business Transacted”.
  • DERBY – Griffin Hospital is appropriated $15,000 from the General Assembly for furnishing and equipping its new hospital building before it opens.

July 13

  • SHELTON – Manufacturers are paying to have a section of Canal Street and Center Street, paved with oil tar as an experiment. Oil tar is a byproduct of water gas.

July 14

  • Gardens and fields have turned into “ash heaps”. The dust is so bad on the roads; many are keeping their front windows closed. The grass on Derby Green is dry and yellow.
  • OXFORD – “The need for rain is very great. The brooks running through the village are very low, the bed of the Little River being partially dry”.
  • OXFORD – Quaker Farms – “The farmers are very busy haying. Some have finished and others are just commencing. Rain is needed very much for the benefit of vegetation and pasture. The streams are getting low”.

July 16

  • DERBY – Constant locomotive whistling all night long is bothering many.

July 17

  • Buttermilk is becoming a popular drink.
  • ANSONIA – A spectacular noontime two-alarm fire breaks out at the Charon Levy rag warehouse on Jersey Street, which also sold junk and was a cinder washing plant. The warehouse soon becomes fully engulfed in fire, and spreads to 3 other buildings. All of the buildings, located along the river wall, burned to the ground within 20 minutes, the heat could be felt across the river on Main Street. The residents of a nearby tenement panic and being throwing their furniture out the windows, though their building is saved. Firebrands blow across the river and ignite the roof of the Fitzgibbons building on 30 Bridge Street – it is also saved. Hundreds of rats flee the burning warehouse, running through the crowd. The newspaper claims about 100 rats swim across the river. The fire’s cause is unknown. One firefighter was injured while responding to the blaze.
  • ANSONIA – 88 public school students had perfect attendance for the academic year.

July 18

  • SEYMOUR – A 22 year old farmhand drowns in the Housatonic River after he dives out of a boat into water over his head. His 13 year old companion was unable to save him.

Thursday, July 21

OXFORD – “Blueberries are now in the market but the dry weather has rather stunted their growth”. 

July 22

  • Raspberries are very small due to the ongoing drought.
  • DERBY – A two-alarm fire starts in the boiler room of the former Howe Manufacturing Company factory on Water Street. Fed by junk and debris in the basement, the fire spreads throughout the oil-soaked, 3-story building. One fireman is injured by falling glass, and a group of Hotchkiss Hose firefighters have a close call when a large chimney collapses right in front of them. The fire is speculated to have been started by tramps. The brick portion of the factory is gutted, but the original stone portion of the building is only slightly damaged. The pin machine invented by Dr. John I. Howe, said to be the first such machine in the nation, was in the building but not affected. This is quite possibly the same Howe pin machine now on permanent display in the Smithsonian
  • DERBY – The sidewalk at the corner of Elizabeth Street and Fifth Street was laid by Sharon Bassett in 1862, and was the first tar walk in Derby. No work has been done on the walk since then, and as of 1909 it is still in good shape. The sidewalk in front of Second Congregational Church was also laid around 1862, but it recently received a new top dressing.

July 23

  • Maple tree leaves are starting to turn brown and drop due to the ongoing drought.
  • DERBY – Finishing touches are being put into the new Griffin Hospital building.
  • DERBY – James Hancock dies at the Warriner House on Elizabeth Street, where he boarded, at the approximate age o 75. He was said to be the nephew of Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, and a lineal descendant of revolutionary patriot John Hancock. He was called “General Hancock” in Derby, although he never held that rank. He was a Civil War veteran, however, and had worked at the Sterling Piano Company. He is buried in the GAR plot at Oak Cliff  Cemetery.

July 24

  • OXFORD & SEYMOUR – The Birmingham Water Company has bought 800 to 900 acres of land on Four Mile Brook on the Seymour-Oxford border, and plans to build a reservoir there. The dam will be in Seymour, south of Great Hill Church, and the water will be piped to Derby partially along River Road.
  • SHELTON – There is a movement to change the name of Shelton High School to Huntington High School. This is because when the high school was formed, it only served the Borough of Shelton. But since it is now funded by the Town of Huntington, and receives students from there, there is pressure to change the name.

Tuesday, July 27

  • ANSONIA – An impressive 10 room house is being built at the corner of Wakelee Avenue and Jackson Street for C.E. Bristol. It has 4 rooms on the first and second floors, and two large ones on the third.
  • July 28
  • ANSONIA – After a Main Street man gets a threatening letter, reportedly by the Black Hand, telling him to meet the gang at a lower Main Street location at midnight with a ransom, Police Chief Ellis tries to ambush the gang. Assisted by Derby Police Officer Urbano (probably because he is the only police officer in the Valley who speaks Italian), the two show up at the time and place the letter stated, but no one else shows up.
  • ANSONIA – Gov. Weeks signs the Ansonia Bridge Bonding Bill into law, which allows for a bridge commission which can act officially for the city and in conjunction with New Haven Railroad.

July 29

  • ANSONIA – Led by Rabbi Samuel Bernstein, a number of influential members of the B’Nai Israel Synagogue withdraw from the congregation. This is the culmination of a conflict, which had grown more serious in recent months, between two groups that have been opposing each other for several years over religious and other issues. Those splitting will worship in temporary places for now, while the matter is referred to higher authorities as to which group will retain the right to worship at the original Colburn Street synagogue.
  • ANSONIA – The Luria & Olderman hay and feed business on lower Main Street incorporates with a capital stock of $6000.
  • DERBY – Mrs. Susan Williams, an African-American woman living on Water Street says she was born a slave, belonging to Gen. Robert E.