A bit over 100 years ago, in the first decade of the Twentieth Century, a handsome young family would travel down from Springfield, Massachusetts to spend their summers in a rented cottage at Beach Park in Clinton. The mother, Henrietta, was a tall, beautiful, athletic woman renowned as an expert high diver. Dad Theodor, also tall, dashing and athletic, in 1902 held the world championship in marksmanship at the two hundred yard range.
Their two children, daughter Marnie born in 1902, and son Ted born in 1904, played in the sand building castles, learned to swim in the bay, and both became skilled at one of Clinton’s choicest summertime activities…….clamming. The youngsters actually earned ten cents a quart selling their catch around the neighborhood. At night the family gathered on the large front porch for hours of singing and storytelling. Young Ted could gaze out and count the stars and fireflies. Idyllic days and nights…..
This lad grew up to become one of the most famous men in the world, and one of the most influential. His full name was Theodor Seuss Geisel. Ted’s middle name was his mother’s maiden name which he later employed when he went on to draw, paint, write poetry, illustrate and publish books as Dr. Seuss. For much of the last century, his books sold in the hundreds of millions around the world in twenty or more languages, beloved by children and grownups alike. Even today in bookstores, in supermarkets, at libraries, and probably on bookshelves in your own home you can find Dr. Seuss’s “And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street“, “The Cat In The Hat“, “Green Eggs and Ham“, “The Lorax” and “Oh, The Places You’ll Go“!
Children joyously learned to read about the quirky creatures and to savor the delicious rhymes of all his forty-five books written from 1937 to 1990. The allure of his beloved characters and the sounds of his nonsense rhymes have helped millions of people around the world to become “happy literati”.
One wonders what else little Ted and Marnie might have seen during those wonderful summers of their youth at Beach Park in Clinton. Do you suppose they may have spotted some sneetches, yertles, grinches, cats with hats, zoraxes and groos, real and mock turtles, red and blue fishes, and even an obsk or two? Perhaps.
In 2010, nineteen years after his death, Dr. Seuss/Ted Geisel was named by Life Books as one of the One Hundred People Who Changed The World. Rightfully so!
Article Written by Wally Woods
Give the boys a bath they say! Give the boys a bath. For a while this battle-cry rebounded along Main Street, with signs to emphasize the need. Who are these boys and why do they need a bath and what happened to the bathtub?
Well, Liberty Park has a nice statue of a typical Union Soldier from the Civil War and the Morgan School has one of Abraham Pierson, the Congregational preacher who headed the Collegiate School that became Yale University and another of Charles Morgan, Clinton- born in 1795, who funded the first eponymous Morgan School. There isn’t much new we can say about the nameless, brave Union soldier who guards Liberty Park so well, and most of us know about the preacher Abraham Pierson who was recruited from Newark, N J in 1694 and took over the local church. He managed to convince the General Council of the Colony in 1701 to establish a collegiate school in his parish and educated young men there until his death in 1707. What happened next is another story as the school moved from Clinton to Saybrook to New Haven. That story is covered in the 350th committee brochure titled “Take a Stroll Through Historic Clinton”. Interested? Look for the brochure at Town Hall or the Chamber of Commerce.
Now as to the other celebrated statue, Charles Morgan was one of those brilliant business men who seem to pop up all across the country to move our nation forward. And one who was both altruistic and civic minded. We don’t raise statues just because somebody was successful in business, but here was a man who was not only brilliant but generous in spirit and mind. He started early and at the age of 14 was working in his uncle’s store bringing in goods from the docks. As he gained experience he started a small import business and as one thing led to another he began building ships and is credited with developing some of the first steel hulls. He soon realized that he could make more money if he owned his own steamship line and by the 1830’s he was deeply into the import-export business with ships traveling to the West Indies, Cuba, Santiago, New Orleans and Texas. During this time he was a partner and eventual rival to Cornelius Vanderbilt in attempting to put together a canal across Nicaragua. This project was reportedly scuttled when the Nicaraguans printed a postage stamp illustrating their picturesque live volcano and the US Congressmen supporting the Panama Canal used the stamp to block the proposed Nicaraguan canal.
During the Civil War both the North and the South commandeered some of his ships, but he managed to continue in the charter trade and at war’s end resumed his regular routes and locked in the US postal contracts. Much of the rest of his career was involved in expanding his railroad lines across Louisiana and Texas where he built Houston’s first deep water port.
By now a celebrated millionaire (when a million was a lot of money), he never forgot his roots and bought land on Clinton’s Main Street near the Church. Here he built his school, and on December 7, 1871 the Morgan School was opened to Clinton and neighboring students. By 1872/73 the enrollment had reached 216 students and was “known internationally for its excellence”, according to reports of the time, and we know that it’s still one of the best. Charles Morgan deserves credit for his gift to the town and his statue deserves a bath—or at least a good scrubbing.
Article Written by Roy M. Dickinson
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Jared Eliot became a leading citizen of the Connecticut Colony in the 18th Century following in the footsteps of his father, Joseph, who was rector of the Guilford church and his grandfather who was a missionary among the Massachusetts Indians. With this heritage it was only natural that he would study for the ministry. He left Guilford for Killingworth where he graduated from the newly formed Collegiate School under the guidance of Abraham Pierson, who was also rector of the Killingworth church. After Pierson’s death and a short stay teaching in Guilford he came back to Killingworth where he not only took over the running of the School but became rector of the Killingworth church. He never realized that he would serve in that position for 56 years—a record not yet surpassed in church history. As rector of the Collegiate School he was instrumental in the founding of Yale in New Haven and served as a Trustee for 33 years until his death in 1763.
Blessed with an active mind and body he not only led his church and helped guide Yale’s development, but established himself as an agronomist and publisher of many essays on the growing of crops and proper utilization of the land. Many of his articles were published in his book of 1760 titled “Essays Upon Field Husbandry in New England”. In addition to optimizing the agricultural output of his land he also managed to produce iron from black sand, import mulberry trees so he could raise silk worms and turn iron into steel at the Salisbury ore bed near Simsbury.
His influence was felt throughout Connecticut and he had a wide variety of friends including Johnathan Dickinson his fellow alumnus from Yale who became President of Princeton and Samuel Johnson who was the first president of King’s College (Columbia). Benjamin Franklin was a frequent correspondent and visited Eliot several times in Killingworth (maybe that’s when he dropped off the mile marker in the front of Eliot’s house). There are ten letters from Franklin to Eliot in the Yale Library including one that concludes “I remember the many cheerful hours I enjoyed last winter in your company and I would with all my heart give any 10 of the thick folios that stand upon the shelves before me for a little book of the stories you told me with such humor.”
Benjamin Franklin was also active in promotion of silk manufacture in the Colonies with Eliot who acted as the Colonial agent for bounties for silk producers. In 1785 there were 12,000 mulberry trees in Connecticut and in one year Mansfield produced 7000 lbs of reeled silk. However a fatal blight at the turn of the Century killed off the silkworms and the local industry.
A revered parson, an admired Trustee, an imaginative farmer, a clever business man, and most of all a renowned physician who trained over 50 other doctors in Connecticut, Jared Eliot was truly a man for all seasons.
Article Written by Roy Dickinson