Black History Lesson: The Civil War

29th Connecticut Colored Infantry Regiment

Among the first Union Soldiers to enter a Fallen Richmond in 1865, the 29th have not always been Lauded or even Acknowledged


In 1863, President Lincoln authorized the formation of Black combat units to serve in the Civil War. However, Connecticut was slow to organize them, and Blacks were told, “This is not a fight for or about the Negro.” Consequently, Black volunteers from Hartford had to travel to Massachusetts (54th and 55th Infantry) and to Rhode Island (14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery) to enlist.

Throughout the war, President Abraham Lincoln depended on individual Union states to recruit regiments and send them to the battlefield. Each regiment generally had 1,000 men divided into 10 companies.  Once African Americans were allowed to serve, Connecticut’s governor and legislature decided in November 1863 that the 29th would be a black regiment. Eventually, Connecticut’s Governor Buckingham ordered the formation of a Black infantry unit, and in response the 29th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry was quickly assembled.

The 29th Connecticut was recruited when the Union was in difficult times: the first two years of the Civil War had claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Americans, and the Union army was running very short on manpower.  A military draft soon became necessary and proved incredibly unpopular; yet, there were thousands of African American men who were eager to fight but not allowed to serve because of their race. In late 1862 the United States government finally allowed African Americans to enlist, but only in separate black regiments.

After the ranks of the 29th Connecticut Regiment had been filled, Governor Buckingham authorized the formation of another Black unit, the 30th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Recruitment for it began on 12 January 1864, but the urgent need for front line troops in Virginia meant that it had to be sent there before its ranks were entirely filled. The 30th Connecticut Colored Infantry Regiment was raised from 400 excess volunteers of 1,200 who had responded in the autumn and winter of 1863 to a call by Governor Buckingham for recruits to the 29th Connecticut Colored Infantry Regiment. The two regiments were raised side-by-side in the Fair Haven area of New Haven, where they were addressed by Frederick Douglass on 29 January 1864. Although the 29th would go on to serve in the war, the 30th was merged into the 31st Infantry Regiment on 18 May 1864.

Comprised of ten companies totaling approximately 1,000 men, the 29th Colored Volunteer Infantry (CVI) was presented with its first battle flag, a 33-star US banner, by a local minister, the Reverend Dr. Mott, on March 8, 1864, in the Fair Haven section of New Haven, Connecticut. The men made no show of emotion during the formal ceremony, recalled Isaac J. Hill in his book, A Sketch of the 29th Regiment of the Connecticut Colored Troops, “on account of the Regiment not receiving the $75 which was promised to them at their enlistment.” A little over a week later, on March 19, the New Haven Daily Palladium reported that a local black woman presented to the unit its second battle flag—its regimental colors. As the dark blue silk flag was handed over to the unit’s new commander, Colonel William B. Wooster of Derby, the father of one of the unit’s officers, the Reverend Dr. Leonard Bacon, gave a long and passionate speech in which he told the soldiers, “We give you this flag to march under which tells you that you are a Connecticut regiment, and it is our confident expectation that you as a regiment will do honor to the State of Connecticut, as well as to the stars and stripes. And in order to do this, you must bring back this flag when you return, without any dishonor.” Bacon concluded by reminding the 1,005 soldiers that as men of color, they would need to prove “worthy of the respect of fellow men,” in particular, whites. Immediately following the ceremony, as the regiment marched towards the wharf where the steamship Warrior was waiting to take them to the front, the soldiers could be heard shouting, “We’ll show you we can fight! We’ll show you that we are men!”

Through the remaining months of 1863, African American men from across the state poured into the training camp in the Fair Haven section of New Haven, and by January 1864 the 29th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers was full.  One of the recruits, Alexander Newton, was the son of a slave who “longed for an opportunity and the power to play the part of a Moses” for his people still in slavery. Newton recorded his time with the 29th Connecticut Volunteers in an autobiography, later published.

In March 1864, the men paraded through the streets of New Haven and, according to soldier J.J. Hill, “white and colored ladies and gentlemen grasped me by the hand, with tears streaming down their cheeks…expressing the hope that we might have a safe return.” With Colonel William B. Wooster of Derby as the unit’s leader, the men boarded a steamship bound for the South Carolina coast.

Sent to Virginia in the summer of 1864, the 29th Connecticut fought many small battles when Union and Confederate armies were locked in a siege between Richmond and Petersburg.  During one of those battles, Newton fearfully remembered “a twenty-pound cannon ball coming towards me…through the smoke. It looked like it had been sent especially for me.” In September 1864, the 29th Connecticut helped take Fort Harrison, located less than 10 miles from the Confederate capital in Richmond.  On October 13, the regiment participated in a scouting mission which led to the Battle of the Darbytown Road, and two weeks later the men pushed the Confederate army back at the Battle of Kell House, which resulted in over 150 casualties and many captured soldiers. In April 1865, the Confederate line finally broke, and Richmond was evacuated.  The 29th took part in the last attacks, which emptied the Confederate defensive trenches, and men of the regiment were among the first Union soldiers to march triumphantly through the streets of Richmond.  The war had ended, but the 29th reported for duty, this time in Texas. While there, the men reunited with Connecticut friends from the 31st United States Regiment.

Many white Americans were uncomfortable with the idea of making black regiments, and it was determined that white officers would lead the unit.  Stratford has at least two soldiers that were in the 29th ; Mathias Blake, a sergeant in the division, who was mustered on January 5th , 1864, and mustered out on October 24th , 1865. and Edwin

Freeman, a black man who was a musician. Musicians did whatever was needed—staffed ambulances, tended wounded, and even fought as the war raged on. More formal than the fife-and-drum corps, bands were assigned to Army units. Regulations stipulated up to 24 musicians a band; in practice this number varied greatly. Freeman was mustered in on January 2 nd , 1864 and was mustered out on October 24th , 1865.

By late 1865, the 29th Connecticut and the Connecticut men from the 31st United States Regiment were ordered back home and arrived in Hartford in November.  All were honorably discharged from service during a large celebration, during which Governor William Buckingham thanked the men for their service and noted that “…although Connecticut now denies you privileges which it grants to others…the voice of a majority of liberty-loving freemen will be heard demanding for you every right and every privilege.” Though this prognosis proved to be optimistic, Connecticut’s African American troops had indeed moved the cause for equality forward.

Civil War Battle Flags: 29th Connecticut Colored Volunteer Infantry

By Cornel Garfman, MS
Writer and Historian

Information in this article was originally published as part of a semester-long graduate student project at Central Connecticut State University that examined Civil War monuments and their histories in and around the State Capitol in Hartford. Portions were extracted for use in the 29th Connecticut Colored Regiment history.

During the Civil War, battle flags were so important to soldiers, men would routinely risk their lives so that their unit banner would not be captured by the enemy. Because they represented a unit’s home state, soldiers took great pride in regimental battle flags and treated them with great reverence. Flags, which were carried by a designated team known as the color guard, also marked the position of the regiment on the battlefield. A typical regimental color guard would consist of two color bearers, one carrying a US or Confederate flag, often referred to as a unit’s “national” colors, and one carrying the state, or “regimental,” flag.

Considered a great honor, being in a color guard required a soldier to be extraordinarily brave, as the enemy often aimed their guns at an opposing army’s regimental flags. Consequently, the mortality rate of color bearers was quite high and there are countless stories of them being wounded or killed. After the war, most state governments put a great deal of effort into collecting and maintaining their battle flags, and although they were looked upon with great veneration well into the 20th century, these collections have been largely forgotten in modern times. Yet, state battle flag collections still exist, and with 110 flags, Connecticut owns one of the grandest assortments of military banners in the nation. Among them is a particularly unique flag display dedicated to the state’s first black military unit.

Of the nearly 200,000 black soldiers who fought for the Union in the Civil War, most were assigned to a portion of the US Army created to oversee all African American regiments, known as the United States Colored Troops (USCT). Four black regiments (three in Massachusetts, including the famed 54th immortalized in the film Glory, and Connecticut’s 29th (Colored) Volunteer Infantry (CVI)) retained their original state designations throughout the war.

Comprised of ten companies totaling approximately 1,000 men, the 29th CVI (Colored Volunteer Infantry) was presented with its first battle flag, a 33-star US banner, by a local minister, the Reverend Dr. Mott, on March 8, 1864, in the Fair Haven section of New Haven. The men made no show of emotion during the formal ceremony, recalled Isaac J. Hill in his book, A Sketch of the 29th Regiment of the Connecticut Colored Troops, “on account of the Regiment not receiving the $75 which was promised to them at their enlistment.” A little over a week later, on March 19, the New Haven Daily Palladium reported that a local black woman presented to the unit its second battle flag—its regimental colors. As the dark blue silk flag was handed over to the unit’s new commander, Colonel William B. Wooster of Derby, the father of one of the unit’s officers, the Reverend Dr. Leonard Bacon, gave a long and passionate speech in which he told the soldiers, “We give you this flag to march under which tells you that you are a Connecticut regiment, and it is our confident expectation that you as a regiment will do honor to the State of Connecticut, as well as to the stars and stripes. And in order to do this, you must bring back this flag when you return, without any dishonor.” Bacon concluded by reminding the 1,005 soldiers that as men of color, they would need to prove “worthy of the respect of fellow men,” in particular, whites. Immediately following the ceremony, as the regiment marched towards the wharf where the steamship Warrior was waiting to take them to the front, the soldiers could be heard shouting, “We’ll show you we can fight! We’ll show you that we are men!”

According to unit biographer Diana Ross McCain, during its course of service, the 29th suffered nearly 500 casualties in a half-dozen battles in Virginia.

One of the two 29th (Colored) Regiment CVI guidon flags used as markers on the left and right flank of the regiment during battle. It is unknown when the unit received these flags – Courtesy of the Connecticut Office of Legislative Management, from the book Qui Transtulit Sustinet by Geraldine Caughman

Throughout the war, in addition to the two flags presented in March of 1864, the regiment also carried two small, white triangular flags, each displaying the unit’s number. These flags, known as guidons, were carried into battle on hand-carved wooden staffs on the left and right flanks of the regiment. It is unknown how or when the unit came into possession of these two flags, but when they were discovered in the mid-1980s, a small piece of black mourning cloth was found tied to one of the banners and is believed to have been placed there either in honor of men of the 29th killed in action or for President Abraham Lincoln.

The 29th (Colored) Regiment CVI 35-star US “National” flag was presented to the unit when it became part of the 25th Army Corps in March of 1865 – Courtesy of the Connecticut Office of Legislative Management, from the book Qui Transtulit Sustinet by Geraldine Caughman

The 29th (Colored) Regiment CVI 35-star US “National” flag was presented to the unit when it became part of the 25th Army Corps in March of 1865 – Courtesy of the Connecticut Office of Legislative Management, from the book Qui Transtulit Sustinet by Geraldine Caughman In March of 1865, just a few weeks before the end of the war, the regiment became part of the 25th Army Corps and received a second US flag, this time with 35 stars. At the ceremony, Colonel Ulysses Doubleday, 2nd Brigade Commander, praised the bravery of the 29th in his presentation speech, and according to unit historian Reverend Henry G. Marshall in History of the Twenty- ninth (Colored) Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry; In Record of Service of Connecticut Men in the Army and Navy of the United States During the War of the Rebellion, companies C and G of the 29th became the first union infantry soldiers to enter the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, when it fell on April 3, 1865. Later that same day, according to A. H. Newton in his book, Out of the Briars – An Autobiography and Sketch of the Twenty-Ninth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, President Abraham Lincoln himself must have laid eyes on the 29th’s battle flags as he made a “triumphant entry into the city” to survey the scene, a mere twelve days before the commander in chief was killed by an assassin’s bullet.

After the Confederacy surrendered, the unit was shipped to Texas for several months to perform guard duty. Upon returning to Connecticut, the soldiers of the 29th were given a hearty welcome by Hartford Mayor Allyn S. Stillman, Connecticut Governor William A. Buckingham, and the state’s most celebrated Civil War soldier, General Joseph Roswell Hawley. The Hartford Courant reported that on November 25, 1865, the day the unit was discharged, Hawley applauded the soldiers (who were described as “slouching and weary- looking”) in particular, for their performance the year before while he served as their commander at the Battle of Darbytown Road, Virginia. Hawley closed his speech by saying that the men of the regiment deserved all rights and privileges afforded citizens of the country (although full citizenship for black Americans would not be realized for another three years with the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment).

Got a Basketball Jones? Stratford High School on the Court and on TV

By Tony De Angelo
Athletic Director at Stratford High School

Getting ready for March Madness? Start working on your basketball chops by supporting our local high school basketball teams. Stratford Public Schools is allowing 2 immediate family members of participating athletes of the home team to attend games. All home and away games can be seen on the NFHS network.

The Stratford Red Devils waged a strong comeback in the 4th quarter to defeat their crosstown rival, Bunnell, 60-57 Tuesday night in the new SHS gym. Stratford was down 12 points heading into the 4th quarter but rallied back, led by Jayquan Kirkland with 14 of his 21 points in the 4th quarter. The Red Devils’ tough defense in the 4th quarter held Bunnell to just 8 points. Scott Knorr nailed 2 Free throws with 25 seconds left on the clock to lift Stratford to a 58-54 lead. On the next play Bunnell turned the ball over which led to Stratford’s Jaden Perez banking in a layup to go up 60-54 with 9 seconds left on the clock. Bunnell’s Kevin Lanham hit a 3-pointer on the next play but time ran out and Stratford went on to celebrate a 60-57 comeback victory.

Jayquan Kirkland was top scorer for Stratford with 21, Brady Knorr dropped in 16 and Ben Petrie had 8. Kevin Lanham was the top scorer for Bunnell with 26, Andrew Soltis had 14 and Yarami McCollough 8.

Stratford Moves to 4-2 and Bunnell 3-3 on the season. Stratford takes on Newtown at home on Friday, February 26 th at 7:15 p.m. Bunnell will face Masuk away on Monday, March 1. Both games are available on the NFHS Network.

On Tuesday, February 16 the Stratford HS Boys’ Basketball defeated Bethel 55-49 in the new SHS gymnasium. The Red Devils improve to 3-1 on the season. Jayquan Kirkland was the top scorer with 22. Brady Knorr dropped in 15. Mike D’Aloia and Fenley Turenne each had 8. Dylan Breeland led Bethel with 25.

The Stratford High School girls’ basketball team are 0-2 and will be returning from quarantine to play Friday, February 26 th @ Newtown at 6:15 p.m.

Here is the remaining schedules for the boys’ and girls’ teams:

Friday, 2/26

Boys v Newtown (home) 7:15
Girls @ Newtown (away) 6:15

Monday, 3/1

Boys v New Fairfield(home) 7:15

Tuesday, 3/2

Girls @ Bethel (away) 6:15

Thursday, 3/4

Girls v ND-Fairfield (home) 6:00
Boys @ ND (away) 7:15

Saturday, 3/6
Girls v Weston (home ) 3:00
Boys @ Weston (away) 2:45

Tuesday, 3/9

Girls v Kolbe Cathedral (home) 6:00
Boys @ Kolbe Cathedral (away) 7:00

Wednesday, 3/10

Girls @ Bunnell (away) 4:00

Friday, 3/1
Girls v New Milford (home) 6:00
Boys @ New Milford (away) 7:15

VAX Facts

The state is releasing information about how many individuals are vaccinated in all Connecticut communities. As of February 18th, 2021, 6,678 or 12.88% of Stratford’s population had been vaccinated with a first dose.

Stratford clinics have dispensed 3,812 vaccines to date. It’s important to keep in mind that Stratford is part of a larger regional and statewide vaccination network and effort. Stratford does not vaccinate ONLY Stratford residents – many residents and first responders have been vaccinated at locations outside Stratford, and conversely, many from outside of Stratford have been vaccinated here.

Clinics will continue at Birdseye every Tuesday and Wednesday based on vaccine supply and eligibility.

Governor Lamont recently announced that the state will continue taking an age-based approach to distribution of the COVID vaccine, making the following update to the vaccine schedule:

The planned schedule is as follows:
March 1, 2021: Expands to age group 55 to 64
March 22, 2021: Expands to age group 45 to 54
April 12, 2021: Expands to age group 35 to 44
May 3, 2021: Expands to age group 16 to 34

The State has spelled out additional individuals who are eligible for vaccinations in Phase 1b, those additional individuals include:

Residents between the ages of 65 and 74
Residents between the ages of 16 and 64 who have underlying health conditions that
put them at greater risk of the virus
Residents and staff of congregate settings
Frontline essential workers

Following the Governor’s orders, our clinics are now open to Stratford residents 65 years of age and older. We are encouraging everyone to register online through the CT DPH portal at Registering in the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) provides you with flexibility in securing an appointment at any area clinic, including at the Stratford Health Department.

Vaccine clinics require an appointment (no walk-ins accepted) to be made in advance. When viewing the directory of vaccine clinics, click on ‘More Details’ for specific information about how you can schedule an appointment at each location. Some locations offer online scheduling through their website or electronic health record, others allow scheduling by phone, and some locations can be booked through the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS).

Couch Potato No More: Fitness For All

Level Up Community Gym

By Malcolm Wilson

Level Up Community Gym is a registered nonprofit guiding its members to new levels with affordable small group and 1-on-1 personal training. Our purpose from the beginning was to transform lives but we now see the opportunity to transform communities. We’re raising funds to provide low-income members with the opportunity to live healthier.

Originally from New York, I have lived in the Stratford area for about 6 years. I am qualified to be a trainer: I have been in the health and fitness industry for a decade. I have certifications in National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM), nutrition, and many others. I continue to obtain certifications relevant to this field every year to stay up to date with new information. All the staff in our gym are certified personal trainers and are thoroughly trained through the Level Up Community Gym system. Overall, the main qualification is our passion to help people become the best version of themselves.

Levels of Workouts:

We help people from beginner level to advanced. Our workouts are functional to target weight loss and build toning for the whole body. In addition, we help individuals build their strength and obtain skills of physical balance which in turn benefit their lives.

We offer fitness assessments for everybody that visits our gym and is interested in becoming a member. The fitness assessment is designed to collect data on an individuals’ current physical and health state. We analyze their endurance, strength, balance, flexibility, and goals. We consult with each individual and go over the data we collected to develop a plan so individuals can reach their goals.

We offer personal training 1:1 and small group personal training. Small group personal training consists of 3-5 people. The group is team oriented, so we base it off similar availability and goals.

Black Merchant Exposition:
My team and I organized a black business merchant exposition in July 2020. We had about 15 volunteers and gym staff participate in making this event a success.

This past year was tough for everyone, and this exposition gave us an opportunity to bring unity in our community by shining light to black owned businesses. Given the circumstances our black brothers and sisters have faced with racial discrimination, we wanted to provide support and empower black business owners in this exposition.

We had about 30 black business owners participate as vendors in our recent expositions and over 50 people from our community came by to shop, play games, participate in raffles and even be guest speakers or entertainers. We practiced social distancing and everyone at the event wore masks. The area was big enough to host this amount of people without having to be so close to one another. Every vendor had a mask on and hand sanitizer at their station. The news came to record the event and the word spread around. The next 2 events we had were just as great and we hope to have more expositions in the future.

Real Estate Staging with Feng Shui

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way

What is Real Estate Staging? Basically real estate staging is prepping your home for sale. You or your Realtor may hire a professional to stage the home to create more interest. This process can be as simple as removing clutter or as dramatic as fully re-decorating your home to set the stage for a quick and lucrative sale.

A real estate staging with a Feng Shui twist takes a deeper look at the challenge. Sure, clearing clutter and a coat of paint may do the trick. But, more often than not, a seller or rooms in the house may be generating an energy that does not support the end goal of moving or change.

Sharon’s Story: “I had been thinking and talking about downsizing for some time. I was at a place in my life where I knew that I needed to move forward from some significant life transitions, but just did not know how to start.

I was afraid and overwhelmed with the prospect of taking such a big step on my own. Preparing a home for sale and the tremendous amount of mental and physical effort it takes is ever so stressful.

With the current housing market being so strong, I realized I should think about getting serious. I hired Feng Shui Joan’s Way to help. At the outset, my end goal really was not to sell immediately. I just wanted to be able to go when I was ready.

Joan took the time to understand my unique circumstance and literally held my hand through every step of my journey. She created an approach to the process that was thoughtful and supportive.

Hard choices need to be made when you are going through a lifetime of stuff. Figuring out what goes and what stays on your journey forward can be daunting. It is so much easier when you share this hard work with a friend. Joan becomes that friend.

Well I did put my house on the market, and it sold in three days and over the asking price. Even better, I am not weighted down anymore. I have my wings to fly! I love the stuff coming with me to my next home and I honestly do not miss the things I let go. I simply could not have gotten through this effort without Joan by my side.

Take a look at one of our before and after photos. They can be seen at The photos show the physical transformation. But remember, this is more than a physical exercise.

Be happy. Be well!

Ask the Registrar: A Look Inside Canvassing

Is Stratford Behind Other Municipalities in Keeping Its Voting Rolls Up to Date?

Your place to get questions answered about voting and local elections in Stratford CT

By Democratic Registrar James Simon

Q: Many Democrats in Stratford have complained that the voting rolls are not up to date. Is that true?

Imagine an ideal system for keeping voting records current. You would use the National Change of Address list from the U.S. Postal Service, capturing Stratford residents who have their mail sent to a different address, either across town or out of town. You would obtain the state Department of Motor Vehicles list of people changing their address. You would examine the Town Clerk’s death registry. You would reach out to people who haven’t voted in four years, asking them if they are still active, and then give them four more years before any action to take them off the rolls. And in all cases, you would send any affected voter a letter, confirming any change before modifying the voter list.

That’s the system, under state law, that most communities including Stratford use in the first quarter of every year. I have talked to registrars in other Connecticut communities, and their process is much the same. I see no evidence we are behind what other towns are doing. It’s time-consuming, but the goal is to have the lists as accurate as possible by Election Day later in the year.

Q: I recently went to the Department of Motor Vehicles for some paperwork, and then I got a letter from them, saying my registration was changed. What happened?

The federal Motor-Voter law calls for DMVs to help citizens sign up to vote, usually after moving to Connecticut and registering their car. But in my first three weeks as Registrar, five Stratford residents complained to me that their voting registration was changed without their permission. I asked a simple question: did you happen to go to the DMV recently?

DMV customers may make a minor change in their registration – such as changing their formal first name to a nickname –that would trigger a letter to their home, confirming the change. We urge you to be careful and not introduce unwelcome changes if you use the DMV system.

Q: Can you move from Stratford to another Connecticut town, yet continue to vote in Stratford?

Yes, if you legally consider Stratford to be your “bona fide” residence. The problem: state election law does not define bona fide! People are allowed to vote in their old community, even after moving to another town, if they say they still consider the old community to be their home and might move back. Example: people going into a nursing home, or snow birds going out of state for more than half the year. But if you leave Stratford and register to vote elsewhere, the Registrar in the new town will enter your new address into the uniform state database, and your registration in the original town will be terminated.

Q: You think your neighbor is too mentally incompetent to be allowed to vote. Can a Registrar of Voters take away their voting rights in Connecticut?

No, only a Judge of Probate can act in such a case, and any such actions are exceedingly rare.

Q. As Registrar, you help keep track of voters who leave Stratford. Is it true everyone is moving to Shelton because of lower taxes?

In an unscientific survey, I looked at a random sample of 100 voters who recently moved out of town and are having their voting address changed. Only three were from Shelton. A set of a different 100 people might yield different results, but there is no evidence of a flood of Stratford residents going to any one town or to any particular geographic region. People move for such a variety of reasons, including downsizing, job opportunities, and family considerations.

More Questions? Please send them to Registrar Jim Simon; This is not an official publication of the Town of Stratford.

Romantic Rewrite: Stratford’s Own Cinderella Story

The Rewrite: Glorianna Fulsom vs Abby Folsom

Stratford Historical Society

By David Wright

Since February is considered the most “romantic” month of the year, we thought enjoy reading some background on Stratford’s most romantic tale, the Glorianna Fulsom story. This uniquely Stratford story is truly a “Cinderella” tale. We’ve learned that there are about 345 variants of the Cinderella story which was first printed in Italy in 1634. There are some very strange versions of the story including one where Cinderella’s step sisters plot with Cinderella to murder, then eat their mother.

You may even enjoy reading up on some of the unusual variants of the Cinderella story at -cinderella. Stratford’s version of the Cinderella story is nowhere near as gruesome, or odd, as some of the 345 variants, but shares with the Cinderella story many different versions and retellings.

We recently discovered a 1902 newspaper article from The Thompsonville Press (Thompsonville, CT) relating the story of the Phelps Mansion. In that same article was another story about one “Abbie Folsome”. The story was a very unique and original re-telling of the Glorianna Fulsom story which was first documented in Stratford history in print by Rev. Samuel Orcutt in his s1886 “A History of the Old Town of Stratford Volume 1”.

In The Thompsonville Press article, not only was Glorianna Fulsom’s name rendered as Abbie Folsom. Not only was Glorianna’s name changed, but so were the names of other townspeople. The timing of the story was a few years earlier than the Orcutt story, and, the story was morphed into a tale more of heroic Revolutionary deeds by Stratford citizens than the romance tale we are accustomed to thinking of when we think of Glorianna Fulsom. A quick search of the internet for the names Abbie Folsom and Abby Folsom yielded a rich harvest of 1879-1880 newspaper articles which relating, almost verbatim, The Thompsonville Press article published in 1902. In Orcutt’s 1882 telling of Glorianna’s romance, he even related that there was a spurious Revolutionary War story pertaining to the Glorianna Folsom romance. Orcutt must have been aware of these 1880 newspaper articles. Orcutt derived his tale from two of Glorianna’s nieces who had heard the original tale from their mother, Glorianna’s older sister, many, many years earlier.

It caused us to wonder how the earlier stories had come to exchange Glorianna Fulsom’s name with Abbie Fulsom.

A bit more searching yielded a story printed in the Demorest’s Monthly  Illustrated Magazine from 1876. The story was an earlier re-telling of the Glorianna Fulsom romance as written by Lillie Devereux Blake. In Lillie’s story, Glorianna Fulsom was identified as Abby Folsom and the setting of the story was at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War which would have been some time after 1783.

You may recall from other 2020 Stratford events the proposed destruction of the Lillie Devereux Blake home on Main Street. Lillie Devereux Blake was one of the most prominent leaders of the Suffrage movement of the early 1900s. She was an accomplished author, and had begun her writing career at her mother’s home on Main Street in Stratford in 1860.

Additionally, Lillie was Samuel William Johnson’s grand-daughter. Samuel Johnson’s house is, and was, located on the corner of West Broad Street and Main Street. Prior to the construction of the Johnson home on this corner, the property belonged to John Folsom (Fulsom). John was a well-known and respected blacksmith. The Johnson home was built in in 1799. Lillie was born in 1833 and spent much of her young life at her grandfather’s home. During one of her visits to her grandfather’s home, Lillie’s grandfather related the story she told in 1876. In this story, Glorianna’s name is first mentioned in print as “Abby”. We’re quite certain all later retellings of the Glorianna Fulsom story based her name on Lillie’s 1876 story. However, Lillie’s story was silent on the Revolutionary War heroism mentioned in virtually all the 1880-1915 newspaper articles.

Lillie’s 1876 story filled in many details that were not included in Orcutt’s telling of the story. Details that made the Glorianna story make much more sense. So who got the story right: Orcutt or Lillie Blake? Both stories were based on second-hand information related by elderly people whose memories may not have been totally clear as to all the details. We suspect that some combination of Orcutt’s Glorianna Fulsom story, and Lillie Blake’s Abby Folsom story, is the “whole” story.

We’ve included on the home page of our newsletter website (www.stratfordhistoricalsociety .info), Orcutt’s and Devereux- Blake’s version of the Glorianna story as well as several of the other version published between 1865 and 1915. The Hartford Courant actually printed three different versions of this story, over the years, including one version which situated the romance in Stratford, Ontario, Canada.

The Bossier Banner August 31, 1876
BY Lillie Devereux Blake 

My grandfather, and my great-grand-father, and my great-great-grandfather, all lived in Stratford, Connecticut. The old homestead stood on the main street off the village, opposite the church, which the first one of the race, the Rev. Samuel Johnson, had helped to build. There were great elms shading the walk before the gate, and in the deep yard mulberry and horse-chestnut trees. Around the stone “stoop” flourished lilac and arcanthus bushes, and there were clumps of mighty box beside the walk.

Back of the house, on a side street, were the stables and farms, and on the other side stretched a deep garden, with a row of willow trees shading it at the lower end. One day, when I was a child, I was playing with some- companions near these willows, when we saw a queer-looking bit of iron protruding from the ground, and digging about it, presently unearthed a horse-shoe, with which we went, full of eager questioning, to my grandfather, Judge Johnson.

“How did it get there, grandpa?” we all queried in chorus. “There once stood, just where you found this, little ones, a blacksmith shop, and I dare say if you were to search that you would find many queer bits of iron in the ground.” “And where is the blacksmith now, grandpa?” I asked. “He is dead, my dear, but his only daughter was one or the great ladies of England; when you are older you shall hear the story.”

We ran away to our play, and for days afterward amused ourselves by digging for iron on the site of the former blacksmith’s shop. We were rewarded by-finding many odd broken bits, and long afterwards, when I was old enough to understand the story, I was told the romance of Lord Stirling’s courtship.

Rather than a century ago, after the close of the Revolutionary war, when prosperity had dawned on the yoting Republic, there came to this quiet village a handsome

In 1870, on the one hundredth anniversary of the Gloriana Folsom marriage to a Scottish Baron, many papers throughout America ran the following story.

Alexandria (VA) Gazette
September 5, 1870 A Romantic Story. From the Nation.

At the commencement of the present century a young man made his appearance in Stratford, and spent a few weeks at the tavern, which then existed to afford shelter to stage-coach travelers [sic]. Whence he came and what his business none could guess.

Directly opposite the tavern stood the small cottage and forge of a blacksmith named Folsom. He had a daughter, who was the beauty of the village, and it was her fortune to captivate the heart of the young stranger. He told, his love; he was from Scotland; that he was travelling incognito., but in confidence gave her his real name, claiming that he was heir to a large fortune. She returned his love, and they were married.

A few weeks thereafter the stranger told his wife that he must visit New Orleans. He did so, and the gossips of the town made the young wife unhappy by disagreeable hints and jeers. In a few months the husband returned, but before a week had elapsed he received a large budget of letters, and told his wife that he must at once return to England, and must go alone. He took his departure, and the gossips had another glorious opportunity to make a confiding woman wretched. To all but herself it was a clear case of desertion.

The wife became a mother, and for two years lived on in silence and hope. At the end of that time a letter was received by the Stratford beauty from her husband directing her to go at once to New York with her child, taking nothing with her but the clothes she wore, and embark in a ship for her home in England.

On her arrival in “New York she found a ship splendidly furnished with every convenience and luxury for her comfort, and two servants ready to obey every wish that she might express. The ship duly arrived in England, and the Stratford girl became the mistress of a superb mansion, and, as the wife of a baronet, was saluted by the aristocracy as Lady Samuel Stirling.

On the death of her husband, many years ago, the Stratford boy succeeded to the title and wealth of his father, and in the last edition of the Peerage and Baronetage he is spoken of as the issue of “Miss Folsom, of Stratford, North America.” When the late Professor Silliman visited England, some years since, he had the pleasure of meeting Lady Stirling at a dinner party, and was delighted to answer her many questions about her birthplace in Connecticut. When Glorianna Folsom was born on 24 December 1753, in Stratford, Fairfield, Connecticut Colony, British Colonial America, her father, Samuel Folsom, was 37 and her mother, Anne Bingham, was 37. She married Sir John Baronet Sterling on 28 January 1774. They were the parents of at least 10 sons and 8 daughters. She died on 4 January 1826, at the age of 72.

Brooklyn: Fuhgeddaboudit: Books Over Coffee

“Deacon King Kong” by James McBride Wednesday,
February 24th

Discussion Leader: Linda Lidestri

by Tom Holehan
Public Relations & Programming at the Stratford Public Library

On Wednesday, February 24 th at Noon on Zoom the Stratford Library will present “Deacon King Kong” by James McBride as part of their Books Over Coffee presentations. The event is free and open to the Public.

The discussion leader will be Linda Lidestri. For further information, call the Library at: 203-385-4162

One of Barack Obama’s “Favorite Books of the Year”, Oprah’s Book Club Named it one of the Top Ten Books of the Year, as did the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly and TIME Magazine.

James McBride examines an inexplicable act of violence, and the tangled threads of the story behind it. “Deacon King Kong”, set in Brooklyn, in what appears to be a fictionalized version of the Brooklyn housing project where McBride grew up, is crowded with characters whose backstories are crowded with more characters, all of their fates connected, in ways they know about and in ways they don’t. It’s a world where isolation seems like vanity; where one’s intimate business is usually, somehow, everyone else’s business, too; where even the attempted murder that begins the novel takes place in front of sixteen witnesses, many of whom know both shooter and victim personally.

“Deacon King Kong” is a nickname on top of a nickname: everyone in the Cause Houses knows the title character as Sportcoat. He is indeed a deacon, serving at the local Five Ends Baptist Church (though one of the novel’s running jokes is that no one quite knows what a deacon’s duties are, or how a man gets to be one), and he used to be the coach of the Cause’s youth baseball team. Now he spends his days doing the occasional odd job and, primarily, drinking. King Kong is the name of the home brew he favors. It is September, 1969, during what will prove a miraculous season for baseball fans in the city, and Sportcoat, seventy-one years of age, is equally in need of divine intervention, as he reels from the death of his wife.

Middle School Scholars

Flood Middle School Q2 Honor Roll

First Honors Grade 8
Sharlize Lynnea Acevedo, Scarlett Helen Adams, Madison Leah Aguirre, Janiya Semira Antoine, Keira Mills Ballaro, Addison Olivia Barber, Adrian Daniel Batsu, Qu’Mar Thomas Bentley, Austin Rene Bernadel, Jenna Elizabeth Bernardo, Dariel Bernier, Allie Madison Borgia, Paulo Buterin, Melanie Nicole Cabrera, Stephen Anthony Calzone, Britany Sarai Flores Carrera, Anthony Stephan Cavaliere, Nicholas Raymond Cavanaugh, Tori Leslie-Ann Charles, Danielle Joan Ciuci, Joey Darbilli, Marissa Jane DiPronio, Jean Doe, Denisse Vanesa Donoso, Andre Peyton Eblamo, Krisztian Mateo Elcsics, Xiomara Esquivel, Alexander William Ethier, Scott William Ezarik, Paige Victoria Fabian, Melanie Fajardo, Lillian Farrell, Anne Kathryn Forker, Gabriella Sophia Galich, David James Garcia, Autumn Elizabeth Gomzi, Ghislayne Chanthal Gonzalez, Symone Kori-Lenee Good, Tyler James Grant, Morgan Elomy May Grey, Nellie Guerrier, Karl Henry, Brynn Marie Herrera, Kyleigh Anne Higgins, Addison Leigh Huntting, Julien Marcel Jacques, Antoine James Lacan, Addison Victoria Lezinsky, Leo Lin, Crystal Luviano, Kaitlyn Elizabeth Marcus, Ava Martinez, Layla Yanique McTavish, Zoey Olivia Miller, Ashley Naylea Mondragon, Robert Daniel Moran, Anne Grace Mulford, Dristan Ernest Anthony Munroe, Lina Doan Nguyen, Wisdom Chibueze Nwaeze, Otylia Olechno, Alex Junior Ormeno, Eva Siobhain Ortiz, Stephanie Margarita Padilla, Justin Kevin Palma, Briana Lisa Paternoster, Logan Jack Petraglia, Gianna Patrice Petree, Daniel Luis Planas, Darlene Cassandra Pressoir, Amelia Grace Quint, Michael J Reilly, Carina Iris Rivera, Divinity Ayuni Rosa, Rosali Rosario, McKayla Amarachi Ruddock, Kevin Ryan, Jaelynn Daisy Santana, Sydney Elizabeth Sedlock, Andrew John Solomon, Maddon Carlos Soto, Ashlynn Taylor, Crystal Cherie Temple, Leila Ashley Thompson, Kiley McKenna Tote, Sophia Viera, Ashley May Wargo, Saveena Wiggins, Julyssa Lysette Williams, Saige Williams, Summer Lee Williams, Leeluh Marie Wilson, Duny Yanes, Keely Ann Zadrovicz, Elliott Ford Zukowski

First Honors Grade 7

Soleil Natalia Acosta, Benjamin Cyrus Atehortua Oliva, Jeacary Chris Augustin, Jack Kevork Avedikian, Emma Kathleen Beers, Maksymilian Bielski, Emily Elizabeth Bohn, Megan Anne Boisvert, Jillian Taylor Borgia, Nicole Marie Branco, Phoenix Ceballos, Timothy Luke-AmorCharles, Baylen Asa Christensen, Stephany Mariela Chutan, Carson Ormand Clarke, Sanaii Renee ‘ Clarke, Fayrouz Connor, James Jeremiah Daly, Daniel De Jesus Genao, Bianka Diaz Lora, Madison Rosalie Dina, Kayla Simone Duckworth, Jemar Phenix Duverger, Maurice Eugene Ellis, Chiara Jade Nader Espineli, Aaron Orlando Falcone, Alexa Marie Gabriel Tracy, Victor Zion Gachette, Adrian Julio Garrachon, Syeda Alishba Gilani, Liliana Ann Gill, Alexander James Greaves, Luz Maria Hereford, Peyton Lynn Huertas, Greyson Joseph Janicki, Ishshael Antonasia Johnson, Dominic Louis Laros, Mary Kathryn Llewelyn, Caiden Alonzo London, Valentina Marin-Bustos, Alexa Martinez, Nicholas Elliott Martino, Tyler John McDevitt, Mia Skye Mendez, Syed Ali Mohammad, Kiara Jade Moreno, Brenna Clare Murphy, Sara Ann Negedu, Bryant Nivar, Lumingu Janice Nkuili, Melany Sarahi Oliva Reyes, Carter James Ormsbee, T Maxim Richard Owen, Ashley Pagan Vasquez, Madison Elizabeth Perry, Isabella Maria Planton, Samantha Lena Poniros, Kimberly Christelah Pressoir, Anisa Qendro, Jianna Elise Quinones, Haylee Lauryn Ramos, Isabella Kara Ramos, Donta Smith Ready, David Ribeiro, Gabriella Eva Roberts, Maria Elizabeth Rojas, Natalie Elise Romero, Raeed Diyar Saeed, Alexa Maria Saez, Peter Alexander Salas, Jhael Eduardo Salinas-Suarez, Madison Skott Solano, Vaida Marie Staffy, Julia Hannah Tedesco, Matilda Grace Tote, Sophia Mary Trovarelli, Evan Andrew Vazquez, Janyah Peyton Walker, Ana Patricia Walsh, Kevin Robert Wargo, Autumn Grace Wiles, Esther Annmarie Williams, Emma Grace Zelle, Lenny Marc Zhunio Loja

Second Honors Grade 8
Michael John Aguiar, Ashley Marie Almonte, Jimmy Issac Alvarez, Anthony Archer, Bella Mia Caramanica, Diallo Khari Cowan, Adrianna Giada DeFrank, Anthony Joshua Dennis-Eaddy, Valentina Didomenico, Naqiya Fumilayo Gbadamassi, Emerson Sharon Kushel, Marcus Anthony Long, Adya Manoo, Melanie Dayanis Martillo, Kimberly Dayana Montenegro, Aysia Serenity Nichols, Cesar Padilla, Alyssa Nicole Petrashka, Kevin Nikolas Piotrowicz, Travis Prochette, Brendan Shields, Ghalisa Eloise Sistrunk, Jose Emilio Soto, Saylor Bea Terwilliger, Nathan Michael Thompson, Silas William Toledo, Jayden Antonio Vasquez, Tay’Jon Jayden Walton, Breanna Ruby Whitaker

Second Honors Grade 7
David Isaiah Adorno, MiKayla Grace Aquilino, Alexa Luz Brown, George David Calderon, Nicolas Candiotti, Cassius Izayah Caraballo, Blake Chapman, James Daniel Frederick Chmielewski, Tyler James Dapp, Andrea Elizabeth Diaz, Luke Philip Dolan, Valeria Espinoza, Gianna Jade Ferranti-Palermo, Kamilah Yamilet Flores, Connor Jack Frankel, Amanda Valentina Garcia, Jacey Alaina Gentles, Jameson Luciano Gill, Leilani Ariyah Seara Gomez, Tatiana Marie Gonzalez, Kayden Jah’miere Gregoire, Joseph Steven Jacko, Mouhamed Babacar Kamara, Doumie Lalanne, Maya Manoo, Jonzelle Martinez, Mazzlyne Yaya Calixte Maximin, Edward Hisao McGettigan, William Thomas Hawk Miles, Jesus Bernabe Mondragon, Shea Marie Morin, Daniela Manyonga Nsenda, Christopher Daniel Oliva, Carlos Rolando Orellana Contreras, Giovanni Alexander Ortiz, Ava Lynn Perez, Gabriella Perez, Aliyah Marie Pirro, Hannah Faith Rich, Phoebe Belle Rodrigues, Alexander Rodriguez, Dawid Sajdyk, Lolita Rita Samrin, Janessa R Santana, Savannah Shamamba Luanda, Aislynn Barbara Small, Sean Austin Small, Traevon Antwone Smith,  Madelyn Cole Stansberry, Zoe Catalina Villagra, Olivia Charlotte Watson, Jaylah Rae Yatsinko