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Man sitting on a bench in front of a storefront

Jewish Farming Communities in Connecticut in the 19th and 20th Centuries

As Jewish immigration to Connecticut increased in the late 19th century, close-knit farming communities formed in Chesterfield and Colchester.

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Detail of a fire insurance map with outlined and labeled structures

Connecticut’s First Roman Catholic Church

Hartford’s Holy Trinity Church became the first Roman Catholic church in Connecticut in 1829 and served the community for over 20 years.

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Artwork of a ship close to shore with people in rowboats. There is a large flag protruding from the mast of the ship. There is text at the bottom of the image.

Connecticut’s French Connections

From Huguenots to French Canadian mill workers to modern immigration, Connecticut has always been a place shaped, in part, by a steady French influence.

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Timothy Dwight

Timothy Dwight Dies – Today in History: January 11

On January 11, 1817, Timothy Dwight (theologian, educator, poet, and eighth president of Yale) died in New Haven, Connecticut.

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Advertisement for Isaac Doolittle's bell foundry

Early Church Bell Founders

Church bells served many important functions in early New England. Consequently, skilled bellfounders in Connecticut found themselves in high demand.

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US Post Office, 1946, Bethlehem

Connecticut’s Christmas Town

Nestled in a quiet section of Litchfield County lies the picturesque town of Bethlehem, known best for its designation as “Connecticut’s Christmas Town.”

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Black and white drawing of a man from the waist up. He is wearing a collared jacked with a neck covering

Lemuel Haynes: America’s First Black Ordained Minister

Lemuel Haynes was a father, husband, pastor, and patriot—he is widely considered to be the first Black man in America to be ordained by a Protestant church.

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West view, Somers CT

Somers School of the Prophets

November 30, 2022 • Belief, Education, Somers

The Reverend Charles Backus opened one of the more prodigious schools of the prophets in Somers, Connecticut.

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Black sign in front of a house

Peter Prudden: Milford’s First Minister

A pioneer preacher, a Puritan, and a scholar, Peter Prudden established the first European settlement that became the city of Milford.

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Gravestones, Old Burying Ground, Hartford

The Art of Burying the Dead: Exploring Connecticut’s Historic Cemeteries

From winged death’s heads to weeping willows, gravestone carvings in Connecticut’s historic cemeteries reflect changing attitudes toward mourning and memorialization.

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Shaker advertisement to board horses, 1884

Enfield’s Shaker Legacy

Shaking Quakers settled in Enfield and created the packaged seed business.

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Map of the state of Connecticut showing Indian trails, villages and sachemdoms

Andover to Woodstock: How Connecticut Ended Up with 169 Towns

Religious mandates, the difficulties of colonial-era travel, and industrialization are a few of the forces that gave rise to the proliferation of towns in our state.

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Goshen Congregational Church

Pan-Harmonicum Strikes a New Note for Puritan Worship in Lebanon

June 12, 2022 • Arts, Belief, Lebanon

Musical instruments, once scorned as ungodly, found a place in Congregational services at the turn of the 19th century.

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Portrait of an older man wearing a black suit and a white clerical collar. He is also wearing glasses and has a white handkerchief in his breast pocket

Canon Clinton Jones: A Revolutionary Figure in Connecticut’s LGBTQ+ History

Canon Clinton Jones was a central figure in Connecticut’s LGBTQ+ community and a pioneer for compassionate care, queer visibility, and gender affirmation.

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Hoffman Wall Paper Company in Hartford

Tradition and Transformation Define Hartford’s Jewish Community

May 2, 2022 • Belief, Immigration, Hartford

From the mid-1800s to the present, Jews have called Connecticut’s capital city home and enriched it with their cultural traditions and civic spirit.

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Shaker women and buildings, Enfield, 1890s

Shakers Revolutionize Garden Seed Business – Who Knew?

Enfield Shaker-grown garden seeds, one of their best and most successful endeavors, were sold throughout the US in small packages.

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The Story Trail of Voices

Mohegan history and religion have been preserved by many different voices in many different families through Mohegan Oral Tradition. However, since before the American Revolution, four women in particular have passed on Mohegan stories.

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Map of the invasion of New Haven

Ezra Stiles Captured 18th-Century Life on Paper

Among Ezra Stiles’ greatest contributions to history are the journals and records he kept detailing daily life in 18th-century New England.

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America’s First Ordained Woman Minister: Olympia Brown and Bridgeport’s Universalist Church

March 5, 2022 • Bridgeport, Belief, Women

Long-time Bridgeport resident Olympia Brown was the first woman ordained as a minister in the United States and campaigned vigorously for women’s suffrage.

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Waterbury’s Holy Land

December 17, 2021 • Belief, Popular Culture, Waterbury

Begun by Catholic activist John Greco in 1956, Holy Land USA fell victim to neglect and abandonment in the 1980s.

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The Revolution of 1817

The Connecticut gubernatorial election of 1817 transferred power from the Federalists to the Republican Party, ending the Congregational Church’s domination.

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Gershom Bartlett, Winged Face

The Art of Life and Death in Colonial Bolton

October 21, 2021 • Bolton, Arts, Belief, Everyday Life

Bartlett was the first gravestone carver in the upper Connecticut River Valley, and his headstones tell historians much about early life in the northeastern colonies.

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A Revolutionary Book Designer: Bruce Rogers of New Fairfield

October 19, 2021 • Arts, Belief, Literature, Work, New Fairfield

Bruce Rogers was a book designer who settled in New Fairfield. Considered one of the great typographers of his time, his masterpiece was the 1936 Oxford Lectern Bible.

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Henry Augustus Loop, Jonathan Edwards

Connecticut Origins Shape New Light Luminary Jonathan Edwards

One of the most significant religious figures in US history, this theologian, philosopher, pastor, revivalist, educator, and missionary spent his formative years in Connecticut.

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Thomas Hooker: Connecticut’s Founding Father

A powerful and popular preacher, Thomas Hooker led a group of Puritans out of Massachusetts in 1636 to settle new lands that eventually became the city of Hartford.

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The Importance of Being Puritan: Church and State in Colonial Connecticut

Connecticut Protestants wanted to cleanse the church of what they saw as corruption, and to return to the simplicity and purity of early Christian worship.

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Charles G. Finney

Charles Grandison Finney Spreads Revivalism and Education throughout the Mississippi Valley

August 27, 2021 • Belief, Warren

Charles Grandison Finney was a revivalist preacher and educator born in Warren on August 27, 1792.

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Portrait of Amos Beman.

The Rev. Amos Beman’s Devotion to Education, Social Activism, and New Haven

Amos Beman spent much of his life a religious leader and social activist in New Haven, fighting the stereotypes and other obstacles he encountered because of his race.

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David Bacon

Home Missionary Society’s First Missionary – Today in History: August 7

August 7, 2021 • Belief, Woodstock

On August 7, 1800, David Bacon, a native of Woodstock and a minister with the Home Missionary Society of Connecticut, set out on foot for the then far lands of the West.

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Corpse preserver

Death and Mourning in the Civil War Era

The Civil War transformed traditional practices of death and mourning in Victorian-era Connecticut.

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Mohegan Sacred Sites: Moshup’s Rock

Every nation has a spirit. The Mohegan Spirit moves and breathes within the very rocks and trees of the Mohegan Homeland in Uncasville, Connecticut.

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Detail from an 1863 broadside

Henry Ward Beecher, a Preacher with Political Clout

This skilled orator championed woman suffrage, temperance, and the cause of anti-slavery but scandal nearly derailed his career.

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Hooker and Company Journeying through the Wilderness from Plymouth to Hartford

Hooker’s Journey to Hartford

In early June 1636, Puritan religious leader Reverend Thomas Hooker left the Boston area with one hundred men, women, and children and set out for the Connecticut valley.

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An English woodcut of a Witch

Alse Young Executed for Witchcraft – Today in History: May 26

On May 26, 1647, Alse Young of Windsor was the first person on record to be executed for witchcraft in the 13 colonies.

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Unitarian Church, Brooklyn

Celia Burleigh, Connecticut’s First Female Minister

March 15, 2021 • Brooklyn, Belief, Women

In 1871, Celia Burleigh, a life-long activist and reformer, became minister of the Unitarian congregation in Brooklyn, Connecticut.

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Little Bethel AME Church, 44 Lake Avenue, Greenwich

Site Lines: Fortresses of Faith, Agents of Change

Black churches, including the earliest ones in Connecticut, have long been at the forefront in the battle for social progress and equality.

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The birthplace of John Brown, Torrington

The Fight Over Slavery Reaches Torrington

In the years prior to the Civil War, Torrington, like many towns in New England and the rest of the country, found itself divided by the issue of slavery.

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Reverend James Pennington: A Voice for Freedom

Having escaped from slavery in Maryland, this accomplished pastor, publisher, and freedom fighter challenged racism wherever he found it, even within the ranks of the abolitionist movement and the ministry.

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Drawing from Remarkable Apparitions, and Ghost-Stories, 1849

The Ghost Ship of New Haven Sets Sail Shrouded in Mystery

Tales of a spectral ship seen sailing in the skies above New Haven have haunted Connecticut’s imagination since the late 1640s.

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Wagonload of Christmas trees, Hartford

O Christmas Tree!

December 25, 2020 • Belief, Everyday Life, Popular Culture, Hartford

On December 25, 1890, The Hartford Courant reported that Christmas Eve had seen crowded stores and train delays of up to an hour due to heavy travel.

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Detail of the South Part of New London Co.

The Rogerenes Leave Their Mark on Connecticut Society

December 23, 2020 • Belief, Everyday Life, Ledyard, Waterford

A refusal to compromise became the governing principle of this religious group active in the New London area for some 200 years.

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Danbury’s Sandemanian meeting house, built in 1798 next door to the “eating house,” on a rise above Main Street.

The Sandemanians

December 2, 2020 • Danbury, Belief, Business and Industry

The Sandemanians of Danbury were a semi-communal sect whose local influence outweighed its tiny numbers.

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Replicas of the 1636 church and house built by Reverend Thomas Hooker

What’s a Puritan, and Why Didn’t They Stay in Massachusetts?

November 22, 2020 • Belief, Hartford

Mean-spirited, repressed souls or persecuted refugees and rugged egalitarians? Connecticut’s state historian sets the record straight.

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A front view of Dartmouth College, with the Chapel, & Hall

Eleazar Wheelock: Preacher, Dartmouth College Founder

Eleazar Wheelock was a notable eighteenth-century farmer, Congregational minister, revivalist, educator, and founder of Dartmouth College.

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Foreign Mission School, Cornwall

An Experiment in Evangelization: Cornwall’s Foreign Mission School

November 10, 2020 • Cornwall, Timothy Dwight, Belief, Education

The story of the Foreign Mission School connects the town of Cornwall, Connecticut, to a larger, national religious fervor that preoccupied the United States during the Second Great Awakening.

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Witchcraft in Connecticut

Well before the Salem trials, Connecticut residents were executing “witches.” Connecticut is home to what was most likely the first execution of its kind in colonial America.

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The Wallingford Oneida Community

In the late 1800s, Wallingford was home to a small branch of the Oneida Community.

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Frame for Indian round house

Living Rituals: Mohegan Wigwam Festival

The Wigwam festival is a modern version of the ancient Mohegan Thanksgiving for the Corn Harvest, or Green Corn Festival.

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Sign for the Temperance Hotel, ca. 1826-1842

Hope for the West: The Life and Mission of Lyman Beecher

Lyman Beecher was one of the most influential Protestant preachers of the 19th century, as well as father to some of the nation’s greatest preachers, writers, and social activists.

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Joseph Hopkins Twichell: Asylum Hill’s Religious Leader and Mark Twain’s Closest Friend

Inspired by his friendship with Mark Twain, Joseph Twichell took up such causes as labor rights, immigration, education, and interfaith advocacy.

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Jonathan Edwards’ Famous Sermon – Today in History: July 8

July 8, 2020 • Jonathan Edwards, Belief, Enfield

On July 8, 1741, theologian Jonathan Edwards spoke the words of the sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” at a Congregational church in Enfield.

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Henry Ward Beecher, ca. 1866

Henry Ward Beecher Born – Today in History: June 24

June 24, 2020 • Belief, Litchfield

On June 24, 1813, Henry Ward Beecher was born in Litchfield to the well-known Beecher family.

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Early Civil Rights and Cultural Pioneers: The Easton Family

June 21, 2020 • Arts, Belief, Social Movements, Hartford

For a variety of reasons, the Eastons were one of New England’s most notable 19th-century African American families.

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Horace Bushnell

Horace Bushnell Born – Today in History: April 14

April 14, 2020 • Horace Bushnell, Belief, Litchfield

On April 14, 1802, Horace Bushnell was born in Bantam and is often called the “father of American religious liberalism.”

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Reverend John Davenport

Forgotten Founder: John Davenport of New Haven

John Davenport, the founder of New Haven, was a prominent Puritan leader during the early years of the New England colonies.

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Karen Mission Compound at Maulmain

Baptist Missionaries at Work in 19th-Century Burma

Justus Vinton was a missionary and humanitarian dedicated to spreading the Baptist religion around the world.

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Manumission document for slave Bristow, from Thomas Hart Hooker, Hartford

Gradual Emancipation Reflected the Struggle of Some to Envision Black Freedom

Connecticut enacted gradual emancipation in 1784 but the abolition of slavery would not occur until 1848.

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John Warner Barber, South view Bethlehem

The Reverend Joseph Bellamy Makes Bethlehem a Holy Place

December 22, 2019 • Bethlehem, Cheshire, Belief

The Reverend Joseph Bellamy was a dynamic preacher, author, and educator during the 18th century and a long-time resident of Bethlehem, Connecticut.

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Sleeping Giant, Mount Carmel, Hamden

A Volcanic Giant Sleeps in Hamden

November 29, 2019 • Belief, Environment, Native Americans, Hamden

The unique ridge that runs east-west just six miles north of New Haven is known as “Sleeping Giant” for its resemblance (from a distance) to a recumbent person.

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Michael Joseph McGivney

Knights of Columbus Chartered – Today in History: March 29

March 29, 2019 • Belief, New Haven

In October 1881, the Reverend Michael Joseph McGivney and male parishioners of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic church in New Haven founded Knights of Columbus.

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Video – Vampires and Witches in Connecticut a Lecture and Panel Discussion

Explore Connecticut’s aggressive prosecution and execution of accused witches between 1647 and 1663, decades before the famous Salem witch trials.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Searching for the Common Good, 1634-1776

In the Great Awakening, impassioned evangelical ministers attracted crowds of thousands and the General Assembly promptly banned traveling preachers.

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The Wethersfield Academy

Wethersfield Academy Est. 1804

In the mid-17th century, Connecticut was considered the most literate place on earth, primarily due to the early Puritans’ insistence that everyone be able to read and write.

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The house of Samson Occom in Mohegan, Montville

Samson Occom and the Brotherton Indians

A Mohegan and founding member of a pantribal group of Christian Indians, Occum sought to preserve Native autonomy by living apart from European communities.

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Joseph Bellamy Monument

Hidden Nearby: Bethlehem’s Joseph Bellamy Monument

December 30, 2013 • Bethlehem, Cheshire, Jonathan Edwards, Belief

This monument is dedicated to the leading pastor and theologian, Joseph Bellamy, promoted New Light Congregationalism in the 1700s.

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Warren Congregational Church

Warren Congregational Church, a Longstanding Community Center

An examination of the Warren Congregational Church not only tells us about the central role churches played in developing communities during this period in New England’s history.

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Video – Hidden History: Hartford’s Ancient Burial Ground

August 19, 2012 • Hide Featured Image, Belief, Hartford

Your Town’s History in Video: Hartford’s Ancient Burial Ground

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