The Insurance and White Bread Capitol of the World
Connecticut is home and birthplace of so many things that you would not think of. Connecticut is so much more than a series of affluent suburbs of New York City and Rhode Island wannabees.
I could tell you when Connecticut became a State, but as one of the 13 original colonies that seems rather silly. The first English settlers arrived in 1636. The Algonquin were already there.
Benjamin Franklin is credited with creating public libraries, but the Scoville Memorial Library was founded in 1771. Folks could come and take out or return books on the third Monday. Of every third month. Yep, the Library was open a total of 4 times a year. The only fees charged were for damage to any of the 200 books that made up the collection. The most common damage was caused by wax dripping onto pages, causing a greasy stain. While it has not been confirmed, I suspect the second most common was ketchup. In 1810 the good people of Scoville voted to authorize the selectmen to spend $100 of public funds to expand the Library’s collection. This also made the Scoville Library the first Library supported by community funds in the entire USA.
Connecticut also boasts the oldest newspaper in the United States (that is still in circulation). The Hartford Courant began publication in 1764.
On May 15, 1809 the first US patent issued to a woman went to Mary Kies of Connecticut for her method of weaving straw with silk.
Only slightly smaller than a Tanglewood phone book, the first Telephone Directory in the United States had only 50 names. It was published by the New Haven District Telephone Company in 1878. There is no truth to the rumour that all 50 names were law student tutors.
Connecticut claims to be the home of the hamburger, the first one being created in 1895. I am pretty sure Hamburg, Germany is a bit older (and probably miffed).
The first use of copper coinage in the territorial US was in 1737 when Dr. Samuel Higley of Simsbury started making them. Coincidentally copper was discovered and mined in Simsbury starting in 1705.
In the continuation of bad news for Pittsburgh, the first blast furnace and steel mill were opened in Connecticut.
Connecticut has had progressive ideas that the USA eventually caught up with. The best example of this is that Connecticut (and Rhode Island) never ratified Prohibition.
In 1934 Connecticut became the home to the Polaroid camera. In 1939 the State became the home of the helicopter. The first color television was developed in Connecticut in 1948. In 1954 the first nuclear submarine was built in Connecticut. The Nautilus is still there, now serving as a museum. It’s hard to find anything these all have in common, other than Connecticut.
Another progressive law on the books comes from Hartford, where it is illegal to cross the street walking on your hands for any reason whatsoever.
The term “pumpkin-head” referred to someone from New Haven, where a hollowed out pumpkin “bowl” was used as a guide for haircuts.
Connecticut leads the way with automobile related laws. The first ever State speed limit was passed in 1901. It was 12 miles an hour. It still seems to be the limit around New Haven at certain times of day. You can also blame Connecticut for license plates starting in 1937.
Ever wonder how the lollipop got its name? When George Smith built the first lollipop making machine in 1908, he named the treat after a racehorse.
Connecticut’s main products are dairy, poultry, forest and nursery plants, vegetables, fruits, and over confident law students.
The State insect is the praying mantis – probably for all the law students praying to understand collateral estoppel. (Don’t ask me, I’ve forgotten).
Actor John Schuck portrayed Roger Sherman, one of the delegates from Connecticut to the Continental Congress. Mr. Schuck is even better know for his portrayal of the Klingon Ambassador in at least two Star Trek movies. I have no idea if he comes from Connecticut – I just like Star Trek.
Your intrepid author can now correctly type Connecticut 8 out of 10 times.