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Crime and Punishment


The White Pine Acts – Who Knew?

The British government made it illegal for colonials to cut down white pine trees over 24 inches in diameter—preserving the trees for use as masts on British naval ships.

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Danbury Hangings: The Executions of Anthony and Amos

November 28, 2021 • Danbury, Crime and Punishment, Greenwich, Weston

The executions of Anthony and Amos Adams in Danbury speak to the fears and racial tensions prevalent in early American culture.

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Chapel, Industrial School for Girls, Middletown

Thanksgiving and Christmas at Long Lane, 1874

In 1874 Superintendent S. N. Rockwell and his wife were…

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Policeman, ca. 1905

Enforcing Law and Order in Greenwich

November 14, 2021 • Crime and Punishment, Greenwich, Work

A short history of police work in one Connecticut town.

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Taking on the State: Griswold v. Connecticut

In the 1960s, Hartford native Estelle Griswold challenged Connecticut’s restrictive birth control law. Her argument for the right to privacy made it all the way to the Supreme Court.

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The “Red Scare” in Connecticut

The Palmer Raids, launched in Connecticut in 1919, were part of the paranoia known as the “Red Scare” that resulted in numerous civil rights violations committed by law enforcement officials.

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New-Gate Prison courtyard

Notorious New-Gate Prison

A failed Simsbury copper mine is now a national historic landmark in East Granby.

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Hartford County Jail, 1915

The Deplorable History of Hartford’s Seyms Street Jail

September 10, 2021 • Crime and Punishment, Hartford

Abhorrent conditions characterized life in Hartford’s Seyms Street Jail for much of its century-long service to the county.

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An illustration from A Sketch of the life, trial, and execution of Oliver Watkins

Connecticut Draws the Curtain on Public Executions

Brooklyn’s status as county seat in 1831 resulted in the…

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History Day 2022 Debate and Diplomacy

Connecticut History Day 2022: Debate & Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures, Consequences

Both successes and failures in the execution of debate and diplomacy lay behind some of the most monumental events in Connecticut’s history.

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Street sign for Gallows Lane

Gallows Lane and the Execution of Barnett Davenport

Tragic murders that shocked the town of Washington and revealed humanity’s dark side.

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Automatic Gallows

The Automatic Gallows – Today in History: June 18

On June 18, 1895, Jabez L. Woodbridge of Wethersfield patented…

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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…

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Connecticut’s Loyal Subjects: Toryism and the American Revolution

Loyalists in Connecticut, often acting on beliefs tied to relegion, proved particularly prominent in Fairfield County. Many of them fled to Canada rather than face imprisonment at New-Gate.

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Joseph Taborsky and the “Mad Dog Killings”

Joseph “Mad Dog” Taborsky earned his nickname for the brutal…

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Vonsiatsky and the German American Bund in the 1940s

The Vonsiatsky Conspiracy Case

In 1942, Anastase Vonsiatsky of Thompson, Connecticut, was convicted of conspiring to betray state secrets to Nazi Germany.

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The Living Actually Haunted Many Connecticut Taverns – Who Knew?

Early Connecticut laws deemed anyone who spent excessive time in taverns as a “tavern haunter” and subjected them to fines and ridicule.

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Courtyard at New-Gate Prison

First New-Gate Prisoner – Today in History: December 22

December 22, 2020 • East Granby, Crime and Punishment, Law

On December 22, 1773, John Hinson the state’s first inmate…

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Poem relating the Beadle murders

The Beadle Family Murders – Today in History: December 11

December 11, 2020 • Crime and Punishment, Wethersfield

Following the Boston Tea Party, the British Parliament passed a…

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Publicity photo of The Doors

Jim Morrison Arrested – Today in History: December 9

On December 9, 1967, police arrested Doors’ front man Jim…

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A Connecticut Nazi Spy Has a Change of Heart

On the morning of October 6, 1944, Niantic-born William Colepaugh…

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Thomas Dodd (at podium), Nuremberg trial, ca., 1945-46

Connecticut Lawyer Prosecutes Nazi War Criminals at Nuremberg

In the immediate aftermath of World War II, Thomas Joseph…

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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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Pamphlet, 1692

Accidental Shooting Leads to Witchcraft Conviction – Today in History: October 3

October 3, 2020 • Crime and Punishment, Law, Windsor

On October 3, 1651, Henry Stiles of Windsor was killed…

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Capital Punishment in Connecticut: Changing Views

Connecticut’s struggles with the issue of capital punishment date back…

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Gerald MacGuire and the Plot to Overthrow Franklin Roosevelt

Gerald MacGuire, a prominent Connecticut businessman, became deeply involved in a reported plot to overthrow the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt.

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FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive poster of Victor Manuel Gerena

Financing a Free Puerto Rico: The Great Wells Fargo Heist of 1983

On September 12, 1983, an employee at the Wells Fargo depot in West Hartford, Connecticut, committed what was, at the time, the largest cash robbery in American history.

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Aerial view of Connecticut State Prison

Wethersfield Prison Blues

September 8, 2020 • Crime and Punishment, Law, Wethersfield

In September 1827, the newly constructed Connecticut State Prison in…

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Death of Captain Ferrer

The Amistad

After slaves revolted and took control of the Amistad in 1839, Americans captured the ship off Long Island and imprisoned the slaves in New Haven. A US Supreme Court trial in which Roger Sherman Baldwin and John Quincy Adams defended the slaves, ultimately won them their freedom.

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Detail from a New York Times article August 11, 1886

The Shoe Box Murder Mystery

On the morning of August 8, 1886, on a walk through the Parker farm district of Wallingford, Edward Terrill and his dog uncovered what appeared to be a box of a dozen shoes that had recently fallen from a cart.

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Map shows the neighborhood where the murder took place

Murder on the Map: The Mysterious Death of Captain George M. Colvocoresses

At first glance, this hand-drawn map appears unremarkable but it depicts the scene of a sensational crime in Bridgeport.

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Courtyard at New-Gate Prison

New-Gate Prison Breakout – Today in History: May 18

On May 18, 1781, the largest mass breakout in the…

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Lydia Sherman: The Derby Poisoner

Lydia Sherman confessed to killing three husbands and four children, but it is believed that the total number of her victims may be much higher.

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A 1947 Movie Details the Unsolved Murder of a Bridgeport Priest

An unusual murder of a Bridgeport, Connecticut, priest in 1924 inspired the movie, Boomerang!, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in 1947.

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Elizabeth T. Bentley, 1948

Elizabeth Bentley Born – Today in History: January 1

On January 1, 1908, Elizabeth Terrill Bentley was born in…

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Courtyard at New-Gate Prison

First New-Gate Prisoner – Today in History: December 22

December 22, 2019 • East Granby, Crime and Punishment, Law

On December 22, 1773, John Hinson the state’s first inmate…

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God admonishing his people of their duty, as parents and masters

A Most Unusual Criminal Execution in New London

On December 20, 1786, a crowd gathered behind New London’s…

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Gerald Chapman: America’s First “Public Enemy Number One”

October 12, 2019 • Crime and Punishment, New Britain

On October 12, 1924, in New Britain, Connecticut, Gerald Chapman…

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Federal Correctional Institution, Danbury

Danbury Prison Protest – Today in History: August 11

On August 11, 1943, conscientious objectors and other prisoners staged…

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Advertising label for Fine Old Bourbon Whiskey, 1855

Video: No Booze for You – Who Knew?

During Prohibition, many Connecticut residents found it easy to obtain alcohol illegally, though violations of Prohibition led to an increase in violent crime.

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Windsor’s “Murder Factory”

At the beginning of the 20th century, Amy Duggan Archer…

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A Different Look at the Amistad Trial: The Teenager Who Helped Save the Mende Captives

James Benajmin Covey, a former slave, was only 14 years old when asked to serve in one of the most publicized trials in American history.

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John Brown: A Portrait of Violent Abolitionism

John Brown of Torrington used violence to oppose the spread of slavery prior to the Civil War, ultimately leading a bloody raid on the armory in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia.

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A Fair to Forget – Who Knew?

…send in the cops to stop all the fun. In…

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Horses crossing the finish line at Charter Oak Park

Sunday Funday? We Think Not – Who Knew?

…that amusements and morals don’t mix.  At the start of…

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Somers' prison opening day

Osborn Correctional Institution

April 27, 2014 • Crime and Punishment, Law, Somers

When the Connecticut Correctional Institution opened in Somers in 1963,…

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The General Superintendent, Z. R. Brockway, interviewing new arrivals

Zebulon Brockway: A Controversial Figure in Prison Reform

January 2, 2014 • Crime and Punishment, Lyme, Work

Zebulon Brockway was one of the more successful and controversial…

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Memorial Sculpture, 1988. Mark Rabinowitz, sculptor

Monument to Hero of the Greenwich Police Department – Who Knew?

… that a memorial in Byram Park honors the town’s…

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