By Carolyn Ivanoff
After the Battle of Gettysburg wounded Confederate prisoners were transported and detained in West U.S. Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. On August 31, 1863, one of these prisoners swore the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America and was released, free to return to his home in Bridgeport, Fairfield County, Connecticut.
Corporal Theophilus Judd was wounded fighting for the Confederacy with his southern comrades in the 2nd Georgia Battalion of Wright’s Brigade On July 2, 1863. The battalion had 78 casualties out of the 173 men engaged, Major George Ross was mortally wounded, Captain George S. Jones was wounded (Civil War in the East), and Theophilus Judd, became one of those wounded, suffering a gunshot wound in the right shoulder. (CMSR-Fold3) Judd was captured and taken to the Federal Eleventh Corps Hospital at the George Spangler Farm. His name was found on the roster of wounded Confederates by Wayne Motts, President, and CEO of the Gettysburg Foundation, while researching the Spangler Farm Hospital. No one had previously looked closely at the stories of the Confederate wounded at this hospital. What is so intriguing about Judd was that this wounded Confederate prisoner fighting for the Confederacy was from Fairfield County, Connecticut. Ironically, other Fairfield County Connecticut men wounded fighting for the Union were also taken to this hospital at the George Spangler Farm. Though Confederate wounded were technically kept separated from the wounded Union men, it is intriguing to speculate whether Theophilus Judd was recognized by men from his hometown and county in the pandemonium and chaos of the hospital during and after the battle. (more…)
By Carolyn Ivanoff
George Francis Gilman was a man recognizable to Bridgeporters, especially those in Black Rock. He was the wealthiest man in Fairfield County. When he retired from his legendary career as a tea importer to Bridgeport in 1878, he purchased a prominent 1762 colonial estate in Black Rock. Gilman was known for his expansive entertaining of famous celebrities, actresses, and the “upper crust” He and his wife were childless but had adopted a nephew. Mrs. Gilman passed away in 1891. After his wife’s death, Mr. Gilman no longer included the first families of Bridgeport in his entertaining, preferring to ignore them. He distanced himself from his adopted nephew, and he isolated himself thoroughly from local and familial relationships, but continued to host extravagant parties for actresses, artists, and the elite of the age. On November 7, 1894, after a lavish ball, the house went up in flames suddenly and spectacularly. Gilman, his guests, and his servants narrowly escaped, and several of New York’s privileged saved themselves by jumping from the windows in their night clothes or the expensive costumes they had worn to the ball. Gilman’s priceless art collection was destroyed, the entire home and contents lost. (more…)
By Carolyn Ivanoff
Daniel Nash Morgan was a prominent Bridgeport personality for many years during his long life. A self-made and extremely successful entrepreneur and politician, Daniel Nash Morgan served his city, state, and nation. Interesting to note in these politically polarized times, he was a staunch Democrat who also had a large Republican following. During his life-time his biography would appear in such publications as The Successful American, Men of Mark in Connecticut, Representative Men of Connecticut 1861-1994. Morgan was held up as a shining example of success, of hard work, upstanding moral character, and the American dream. He himself believed this wholeheartedly and would advise, “To be born and to live in such an incomparable country as the United States, the unparalleled advantages of this wonderful age, to the blessings and opportunities of youth and health, commendable ambition and a high purpose in life will win you success.” Quaint words, sometimes still used in various contexts to motivate youth, but Daniel Nash Morgan believed them and lived them. (more…)
REMEMBERING BRIDGEPORT PHYSICIAN ALLEN C. BRADLEY, 1875-1945
On February 1, 2024, I attended a program at the New Haven Museum celebrating Black History Month and the tenth anniversary of a book that I had contributed to, African American Connecticut Explored. The book is a compilation and celebration of what the preface stated was, “A book for a general audience that surveys the long arc of the African American experience in Connecticut.” One of the panel speakers urged the audience to remember and recover the stories of our history.
During the program my thoughts turned to the stories my parents told of Dr. Allen C. Bradley. The black Bridgeport physician who was their doctor. He was always spoken of fondly by my parents and elderly relatives who lived on Bridgeport’s East Side during the Great Depression. For many years this dedicated doctor served the immigrant and black populations of the City of Bridgeport. He is all but forgotten now. I remember him because my parents remembered him and told me his story. I have a fondness for the stories of Bridgeport, the city of my birth. I have one cousin left who has vague memories of Dr. Bradley, making house calls. That would have been in the early 1940s before the doctor passed away. My cousin remembers a small man, with a big fur coat and large brimmed hat. Both my parents remembered Dr. Bradley making house calls to their homes. Many of the immigrant families Dr. Bradley served spoke little or no English. Because many of these immigrants, including my grandparents, often had no money Dr. Bradley would try to prescribe home remedies whenever possible. One of the remedies my father remembered Doc Bradley prescribing was salt water soaks for rashes, and if it was summer, would advise parents to take that baby with the bad diaper rash to Pleasure Beach and soak up the fresh air, sun, and salt water and let the kids enjoy park. Vinegar and olive oil were prescribed for topical remedies. Cod Liver oil was a prophylactic during cold and flu season. My mother never lost her belief in the benefits of cod liver oil and would dose us with a daily tablespoon in the 1960s, much to my disgust. Of course, for my parents as children, there was always that dreaded castor oil that was good for whatever ailed you. My mother at least spared us that. (more…)
By Carolyn Ivanoff
During the 1960s my grandmother lived on the top floor of the four- story Consumer Building at 1064 East Main Street on the corner of East Main Street and Arctic. The building was the tallest building in the area and from any window of the top floor you could look over almost the entire East Side. Skydel’s Department Store, where every Easter my mother purchased our shoes and hats, was directly across the street and I could look down on the roof. Looking down Arctic Street the tall familiar landmark of the Remington Shot Tower was visible over the tops of the houses. Looking over to the left across Boston Avenue, I could clearly see the GE meatball shining above one of the largest industrial facilities in the world. General Electric, purchased the complex in 1920 from Remington. My favorite time to view the city was on a summer evening as the lights started to come on all over the East Side. (more…)
By Carolyn Ivanoff
Mrs. W. T. Hincks, Woman’s Chairman of the Liberty Committee, delivering a large subscription to someone up on a reviewing stand
Maude Morris Hincks, 1873-1956, was a Bridgeport suffragist and activist. She was reputedly the first woman in Connecticut to receive a drivers license. A talented public speaker and organizer she devoted herself to the fight for women’s suffrage and led the Connecticut Woman’s Suffrage Association as its president. After 1920 she was heavily involved in the League of Women Voters, a non-partisan public education organization devoted to educating new women voters and the public on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Throughout her long life she worked for many civic causes, the YWCA, Pure Milk for Babies, Bridgeport Hospital, Visiting Nurses Association, the Central Committee on War Work, Bridgeport’s Liberty Committee helping to raise money for Liberty Bonds and the Bridgeport Minute Women raising funds for the relief of war torn Europe after the First World War. She participated and led Red Cross Relief efforts and was on the Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce. In 1936 she worked on Bridgeport’s Centennial Committee to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the city. (more…)
By Carolyn Ivanoff
The industrial powerhouse that was Bridgeport during the 19th and 20th centuries made its mark world-wide with many, many products. Bridgeport manufactured everything: sewing machines, cars, phonographs, typewriters, corsets, submarines, machine tools, munitions, every product imaginable. Many of these products were common to the national and world needs of the times, but several products were absolutely unique. The Monumental Bronze Company, on the corner of Howard and Cherry Streets, fulfilled an exclusive and distinctive place in American manufacturing. It was the only company in the nation that cast metal tomb stones from “white bronze.” Every white bronze marker was made to order and, therefore, one of a kind. The company also cast numerous Civil War monuments that can be seen in cemeteries, on town greens, and court house squares all around the nation in thirty states, north and south. White bronze contained no bronze at all. It was almost pure zinc alloyed with tin, but white bronze sounded so much more elegant and sophisticated than zinc and the name made monuments more marketable. (more…)
By Carolyn Ivanoff
In 1936 the City of Bridgeport celebrated its Centennial. As a lasting memento of that celebration, Elsie Nicholas Dannenberg authored The Story of Bridgeport. According to the Centennial Committee the volume was to “perpetuate in a fitting manner the history of the founding, growth, and prosperity of our city…(and) to entertain and inform its readers.” In the volume on the page devoted to Lincoln and Civil War, Dannenberg made a brief, intriguing reference to a then well-known Bridgeport physician, “Incidentally, Dr. George Loring Porter of Bridgeport was the only commissioned officer present at the disposal of the body of Booth.”
George Loring Porter was born in Concord N. H. in 1838. With Civil War raging, he graduated from Jefferson Medical College in March 1862, he passed the Army Medical Examination and entered the Medical Service of the U.S. Army. In May 1862 the young surgeon was treating the wounded when the Union Army retreated down the Shenandoah Valley. Dr. Porter volunteered to stay behind with the wounded. He was captured by Col. Turner Ashby. General Stonewall Jackson placed him in charge of wounded Union prisoners and requested he care for Confederate wounded as well. Dr. Porter’s hospital was the white columned Presbyterian church in Strasburg, Virginia where the sick and wounded were put into the pews. Fifty-three years later the Bridgeport, Connecticut physician was invited by the parishioners to return to the hospital church. From the pulpit he slept in as a young assistant-surgeon, he thanked the parishioners for the use of their beloved church, “for healing and saving men’s bodies.” Porter and the Union prisoners were freed when the Confederates withdrew from Strasburg when the Union army returned. After his release, Dr. Porter was sent to the General Hospital in Winchester, Virginia. He served with Best’s Battery in the Battles of Cedar Mountain, Second Bull Run, South Mountain and Antietam, and tended wounded men from these battles at hospitals in Frederick, Maryland. (more…)
Seeing What My Father Saw: the Hindenburg Over Bridgeport in 1936 – Celebrating the Bridgeport History Collections that Let Us Witness the Past
By Carolyn Ivanoff
One of my father’s favorite stories about growing up on Bridgeport’s East Side was the day the Hindenburg flew over St. Mary’s School. He remembered that the nuns let all the students out of school to view the massive aircraft. Seeing the Hindenburg was always a vivid and unforgettable memory for him. Perhaps it was that experience that fueled his life-long enthusiasm for airplanes and jets, although he refused his entire life to ever fly. He was born in 1927 and a few years after seeing the Hindenburg, when he turned 17 years old in 1944, he like many other young men during World War II, boys really, did not wait to be drafted but he joined the Navy and was sent to the Pacific Theater.
I hadn’t thought about this story for a long while until I was browsing through the Bridgeport History Center’s digital collections online. I happened upon a photograph of a Zeppelin flying over Bridgeport. The description on the photograph read: A Zeppelin is seen flying over downtown Bridgeport as pedestrians look up and people gathered on a rooftop take in the sight. “Times-Star” newspaper building at 928 Lafayette and trolley tracks on State Street are visible as are a parking lot and the Richfield gas station. A sign from the Cameo Theater is also visible. Photographer Griffin, WalterI immediately thought of my father. He would have been nine years old when he saw the Hindenburg. Until I saw this picture it was just another one of his childhood stories to me. Now it was real, and I could see what he so enthusiastically described. Curiosity ignited, I began surfing through the BHC Collections. I found two “Bridgeport News’ articles by Mary Witkowski. Mary is the History Center Head Emeritus. She wrote over 400 articles for the “Bridgeport News” during her tenure at the BHC. All of her articles are available on-line from the Bridgeport History Center Collections. These fascinating articles explore many facets of Bridgeport history, the people, the places, and things–“from the renowned to the quirky.” The Bridgeport History Center collections allow the viewer a fascinating window into Bridgeport’s past.
By Carolyn Ivanoff
Reading a newspaper you can witness the first draft of history from world to local news. In the spring of 1915 the sinking of the Lusitania factored largely in headlines along with the war in Europe. Local and national labor news would also fill the papers. 1915 Bridgeport was full of restless laborers, many of whom were immigrants, who flooded the city and were working in a multitude of industries especially the crucial munitions industry. (more…)
By Carolyn Ivanoff
In 1862 our nation was embroiled in a desperate Civil War. The war was not going well for the Union. In June General McClellan was beaten back from Richmond by General Lee in the debacle of the Seven Days Battles. The federal government needed money desperately to pay for the war and on July 1 the U.S. Congress passed “An Act to provide Internal Revenue to Support the Government and pay Interest on the Public Debt.” This was the first federal income tax in U.S. history. Also in July President Lincoln issued a call directly to the loyal governors of the northern states for 300,000 men needed immediately to stave off disaster as casualties mounted in both the eastern and western theaters. In addition to recruiting new regiments, the old regiments were decimated for manpower and desperately needed men to replace losses in their ranks. Connecticut’s Governor William Buckingham loyally responded to President Lincoln’s call that “I will spare no effort to raise men.” He issued a ringing proclamation to the men of Connecticut, “Close your manufactories and workshops—turn aside from your farms and your businesses—leave for a while your families and your homes—meet face to face the enemies of your liberties.” (more…)
by Carolyn Ivanoff
William H. Warren
Birth: March 28, 1842 – Death: June 5, 1918
Buried in Wooster Cemetery, Danbury, CT
William H. Warren was born on March 28, 1842. Warren was listed in the 1860 census as a railroad hand living in Danbury, Connecticut. In August 1862, as the Civil War raged, Warren patriotically enlisted in the 17th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry as an 18 year old private. He enrolled in Company C along with other young men from Danbury Connecticut. The 17th Connecticut Regiment was known as the Fairfield County Regiment, almost all of the volunteers for the regiment enlisted from different towns in Fairfield County. This typical Union Civil War regiment was approximately one thousand men and led by a Colonel William H. Noble, a Bridgeport lawyer and business man, who was appointed Colonel of the 17th Connecticut. A regiment was divided into ten companies of 100 men led by a captain. When Warren enlisted in Company C, most of that company was recruited from Danbury. The 17th Connecticut was enlisted as a three year regiment. (more…)