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Historical Society membership meetings

Upcoming 2019 Meetings:

Previous Meetings:

​“An Evening with William and Helen Gillette”
October 2018
As portrayed by Harold (Tyke) and Theodora (Teddie) Niver

It is commonly said that “a man’s home is his castle”. But for William Gillette (1853-1937), a native of Hartford, who, despite his father, US Sen. Francis Gillette’s, misgivings, went on to become the most important and influential actor of his day, it was quite literally true. That home, of course, is Gillette Castle, designed by Gillette himself and constructed between 1914 and 1919 on a prominence overlooking the Connecticut River in East Haddam, and now a state park. Providing Gillette with the means to indulge his every architectural and creative fancy was his decades-long popularity and immense financial success playing Sherlock Holmes in the play of the same name that he, not Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, had written back in 1899.

New Discovery’s from the Hollister/Gilbert Dig in 
South Glastonbury
May 2018

 Dr. Brian Jones, Connecticut State Archaeologist discussed his 2017 findings during two seasons of excavation at the Lt. John Hollister site in Glastonbury. This 17th century fortified farmstead is remarkably well-preserved and contains a wealth of information about the early English settlement of Connecticut. In addition to having excellent preservation of organic materials, including fragile fish remains, the site provided new and informative evidence of the relationships made between the English settlers and the Wangunk Indians.
The 2017 field season focused on two main questions. The first was to determine if post 
features could be found between the three main cellars identified in 2015. If so, these could 
provide information about the architecture of the old Hollister house. The second was to explore a new cellar feature to the south and determine if a nearby, possible wigwam feature related in time to the Hollister Farm. This talk summarized their finds and delved into the Gilbert and Hollister family historical documents as well.

Connecticut Made
March 2018

 “Connecticut Made” presented by Cynthia Parz  h.  She spoke about the spiritual “road trip” she took while researching and writing her book Connecticut Made: A Unique Guidebook to Local Resources and Cottage Industries.   Attendees learned about creative craftsmen, artisans and entrepreneurs that reside in Connecticut and what motivates their loyal supporters. 

Frost Season: The Poetry of Robert Frost in Story and Song 
January 2018

 “Frost Season: The Poetry of Robert Frost in Story and Song” was presented by Connecticut State Historian Walt Woodward and the musical group, Band of Steady Habits.  It presented a unique opportunity to enjoy the works of American poet Robert Frost paired with songs that reflect and amplify the power of New England’s most beloved poet. Robert Frost.  Walter Woodward is a hit songwriter and an award-winning author of books about New England history and an Associate Professor of History at the University of Connecticut. A long-time admirer of Frost, Woodward and his musical partners Rachel Smith, Teagan Smith, Jeremy Teitelbaum, and Duke York presented a unique tribute to Frost– a lecture, love story, poetry reading, and song-pairing, all in one.

Making Places
October 2017
A Presentation given by Renée Tribert, Project Manager of “Making Places,” an initiative of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation

Surviving wooden grist mills, brick textile mills, and concrete lofts in our towns and cities all attest to Connecticut’s long history of manufacturing. Many of these buildings have been adapted to new uses such as museums, housing, and office space; others stand lifeless and neglected.  “Making Places: Historic Mills of Connecticut” is an initiative of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation that documents the state’s historic mills and factories and encourages their productive reuse through education and technical assistance. 

Finds from the John Hollister Site: 17th C. Life in Glastonbury
May 2017

Presented by: Professor Brian Jones, Connecticut's State Archeologist

Three archeological digs unearthed clues about Connecticut’s colonial past. One of the digs was conducted with Historical Society of Glastonbury Archaeology Day participants in a pasture alongside the Connecticut River in South Glastonbury. With the help of ground penetrating radar (GPR), numerous artifacts were unearthed. Dr. Jones, who led the excavation, told us what they suggest to us about some of the Connecticut Valley’s first European settlers.

An Architectural Gem: Connecticut's Old State House and its History
March 2017

“An Architectural Gem: Connecticut's Old State House and its History” was presented by Sally Whipple.  Connecticut’s Old State House is an architectural gem designed by American architect Charles Bulfinch. Completed in 1796 it has ties to every town in the state. As the seat of government from1796 to 1878, it housed the Senate, House, governor, and courts, as well as the state library and a museum featuring curiosities from around the world. Important local and national stories played out in its halls, including the first Amistad Trials and legislative activities related to State Heroine Prudence Crandall. Noah Webster and PT Barnum served in the legislature here and many famous people passed through its doors. Today, the Old State House is a museum that brings a lively mixture of history and civics to students and tourists from both near and far. Old State House Executive Director, Sally Whipple, will share pictures and stories of the Old State House and its impact on life in the Nutmeg State. 

The Role Connecticut Played During World War I
January 2017

This  presentation by Christine Pittsley explored the role Connecticut played leading up to the war, home front activities during the war, stories of local contributions to the war effort, and how Connecticut commemorated the war.
Connecticut was known as “the Arsenal of the Nation” during World War I. It is believed that Connecticut factories produced two-thirds of all munitions used by the Allied Forces. Yet Connecticut played other roles as well, ones that are just now being revealed.

The Cost of Battles Not Fought: War and Rumors of 
War in Early New England 
October 2016

This presentation looked at the role rumors (and who doesn’t love a good rumor) played in the early wars between English settlers and the native people whose land they occupied. Focusing on the first and most shocking of these conflicts - the Pequot War of 1636-1637 - it argued that rumors, rather than actual conflict, accounted for the greatest expenditures of time, resources, and psychic energy in this, and probably most other, human conflicts.
The presenter, Prof. Woodward is a scholar of Early American and Atlantic World history, with an emphasis on Connecticut and New England.

The History of Memorial Day (including its Glastonbury Root), on this, its 150th Anniversary
May 2016

Marshall S. "Mike" Berdan spoke about the origins of Memorial Day which was first observed 150 years ago in Waterloo, New York, or so decreed Congress in 1966 on the eve of its centennial. The father of the commemoration, originally known as "Decoration Day," is none other than Henry C. Welles, a relative of Glastonbury's own Gideon Welles (Lincoln's Secretary of the Navy), who had himself been born here in 1820. 
Writer, historian, and Historical Society of Glastonbury board member Marshall S. "Mike" Berdan spoke about Henry C. Welles, that first Memorial Day, and the subsequent history of the holiday. 

Connecticut’s Earliest European Settlers: 
Recent Finds from Glastonbury and Windsor
March 2016

Professor Brian Jones, Connecticut’s State Archeologist presented finds from three archeological digs in the Summer of 2015 which unearthed clues about Connecticut’s colonial past. One of the digs was conducted with Historical Society of Glastonbury Archaeology Day in a pasture alongside the Connecticut River in South Glastonbury. A ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey was conducted and the large remains that were uncovered are very exciting, though it is likely that it will take a number of years of thorough study to fully document what is clearly a very significant find. Dr. Brian Jones, Connecticut’s State Archaeologist and the leader of these excavations, will talk about what they entail and what they tell us about Connecticut’s earliest European settlers. 

Historical Impact of the Iroquois
January 2016

Luis R. Lee (Guin Yah Geyh) dressed in full Seneca regalia, Guin Yah Geyh will discuss the history of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and their contributions to American history, specifically in the Northeast. He discussed how the Iroquois form of government influenced the U.S. Constitution and how women were the controlling factor in the Iroquois Confederacy.

Our presenter, Luis Robert Lee, is a member of the Bear Clan was born on the Seneca Nation's Allegany Indian Reservation in Quaker Bridge, NY. His clan name, Guin Yah Geyh, means "Something from the Clouds" and was given to him by his maternal grandmother in the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Longhouse.

In his spare time, Luis creates beadwork jewelry, horn rattles and, most recently, Quahog "wampum" shell necklaces and earrings. The designs are based on the tradition, color and style of the Haudenosaunee and are unique, but faithful to the American Indian heritage.

The Hartford Courant: 250 Years and Counting
October 2015

 The presentation focused on the history of the oldest existing newspaper in the country: The Hartford Courant. After working for The Hartford Courant for more than 25 years, Henry McNulty left the newspaper in 1995 to found Henry McNulty Communication Services, L.L.C.  At The Courant, he created the newspaper’s Op-Ed Page and was its first editor; was The Courant’s first Features Editor, and was the paper’s first Reader Representative, or news ombudsman. He is a former president and director of the International Organization of News Ombudsmen.  A direct descendant of Ozias Goodwin, one of the people who founded the city of Hartford, Henry is the former Governor (president) of the Society of the Descendants of the Founders of Hartford.

One of our historic restored tobacco sheds in Glastonbury, CT
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One of our historic restored tobacco sheds in Glastonbury, CT