Sunday, January 27, 2013

From 1868: Snow and a Fenian Ball

The following is an extract from an article published about 145 years ago today, it appeared in the Hartford Daily Courant on January 29th, 1868.

Perhaps as an indication of the importance of Middletown in those days, the article was simply entitled, "New England News", and included sections on Middletown, New Haven County (where Edward Nettleton slided downhill into a loaded ox sled), Middlesex County, Fairfield County, Litchfield County, New London County (where a large number of New Londoners take the steamer for California February 1st, to try and improve their fortunes), Windham County (they had a large Fenian mass meeting), Maine (earthquake in Andover), New Hampshire, Massachusetts (where "An Irish woman who stole a cod-fish from a grocery in East Arbington, returned it during the night, hanging it on the store door with a note stating that her heart was 'proke,' and she 'couldn't kape the fish.'"), and Rhode Island (where "a union of all the circles of the Fenian Brotherhood of Providence has been effected.").

The IRB refers to the Irish Republican Brotherhood, whose mission was the establishment of an independent Irish Republic. The Fenians supported armed rebellion in Ireland. Between 1866 and 1871, the Fenian Brotherhood, based in the U.S., raided British Army forts, custom posts and other targets in Canada. The Pigeon Hill Raid of 1866 was led by a General Samuel Spear.

[Judging by the volume of text, the Fenians have now invaded Wikipedia.]

I presume that Spear Park, at the corner of William and Main Streets is named for this rebel.

The G.A.R. was the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization of former Union Army soldiers.

The snow storm of Monday and Tuesday has made excellent sleighing hereabouts, but the cold weather and frost occasioned a burst in the gas pipes, which left the city in comparative darkness Monday night.

A Fenian ball was held in Middletown last night at which Gen. Spear and other prominent officials of the I.R.B. were present.

The Post of the G.A.R. here have got out a handsome transparency over the entrance to their quarters over Pease's store. The post here is large and constantly increasing in numbers. The officers are efficient and popular.


Mr. Fixit said...

I believe Spear Park was named for William Spear, who lived in Middletown in the 20th Century.
William Spear was born on June 05, 1896 and died on October 01, 1972 at the age of 76.

He was prominent in town, but I don't recall why (politics? business?). I'm certain others can add to the comment.

J2K said...

Wasn't Bill Spear chair of the Housing Authority at the time the park and Senior Center and apartment complex were created?

Joyce Kirkpatrick