Category Archives: Connecticut History

Our Connection to Seicheprey

Over the course of our school year, our class has had a deep connection with the town of Seicheprey in France. We first learned about Seicheprey through our research about Sergeant Stubby, the war dog of the 102nd US Infantry. After learning about Stubby’s heroic tales and service, we developed a curiosity to learn more about this significant battle for Connecticut history. Due to this battle being significantly historic for the Connecticut veterans specifically, the importance of this battle gradually faded in memory and history when the Connecticut veterans passed away in the 20th century. Our class discovered several interesting facts and stories from the Battle of Seicheprey, such as one of our Suffield veterans at the battle serving as a cook. When we learned of the details when the German storm troopers overwhelmed the trenches, we were shocked to learn that the cooks responded by picking up their knives and fighting off the Germans with hand-to-hand combat. Along with these facts we found new events that were happening in the town of Seicheprey today. We took the liberty to spread our findings across the social networks of our class blog and twitter. Our posts were immediately recognized by many WWI historians and eventually by Stéphanie Trouillard, a French journalist studying the history of WWI.

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More details on our academic network: https://twitter.com/Stbslam/status/957705999690936322

We reached out to Stephanie to find out if the town of Seicheprey was doing a commemoration for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Seicheprey. She took the initiative to reach out to the town hall of Seicheprey and received a response from Gérard Andre, the Mayor of Seicheprey. From this information we discovered that Seicheprey was honoring this historic battle on April 21st, 2018 and intend to make a fountain with several representatives from Connecticut in order to honor the 102nd division and Sergeant Stubby. After this interaction from Stéphanie, we were able to continue communications with the Mayor and other citizens from Seicheprey as well as students from the nearby school of architecture. While we were not able to attend the commemoration, these architecture students shared their local history project with us. Then we shared slides from our presentation with them. It was great to get positive feedback from students doing the same type of work that we were doing here.

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An interactive exhibit from the commemoration

Pauline, a student from Seicheprey reached out to us and gave us a very detailed overview of what the town presented and the different activities that were going on in the town to commemorate this battle. These connections to Seicheprey have been the foundation of our class and we are extremely thankful to everyone who has helped spread the story of this forgotten battle.

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An invitation to the commemoration of April 21st.

 

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Social Media Sources “Over There” For #CTHistory!

Screen Shot 2018-04-18 at 10.31.47 PMAs we prepare for our public presentation for the April meeting of the Suffield Historical Society, we are also keeping an eye on social media sources “over there” for the upcoming events at Seicheprey. This is such an important anniversary for Connecticut History. #CTHistory! During this battle, the German army sent special stormtroopers over the top and attacked the American line here in this quiet sector to see what type of fighting force the inexperienced American were. After getting knocked out of the trenches by the Germans, the Americans successfully re-established themselves in the trenches, which began by the cooks takings meat cleavers and fighting the Germans back with hand-to-hand combat. Back in December when we read about the battle, we researched some of the men from Suffield who were in the 102nd or the Yankee Division, and we all were shocked and awed by the fact that William Habikai from Suffiled was listed in the records as being a cook!

Here is a list of social media sources that we are following to help us appreciate the significant battle of Seicheprey in real time back here in Connecticut. Do you have others to suggest? The text, When Connecticut Stopped The Hun, is available online from several libraries. If you have any suggestions, please add that content to the “comment” thread incorporated with this post.

Our #PBL class also enlisted the help of one of our French I classes to help us with researching sources on the French language landscape. They are helping us out on the “left flank” or here “in the trenches” if you appreciate how war idioms infiltrate our daily language. The latter “in the trenches” still seems to be alive and well in the modern vernacular. They will be researching and reading media and cultural materials in French for us so that we can appreciate the French dimension of this Commemoration period.

Do you have other sources to suggest we add to our list? Please comment below with a link and a few words explaining the value of the source. A #PBL thanks in advance for your contributions!

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Join Our Inquiry into Women’s History

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 1.07.33 PMWhat famous Connecticut women made history in your community? Who is making history now? What significant woman’s contributions to your community history has been overlooked? Forgotten? Undervalued? Start researching and writing about your local history. We will plan to do the same research and share research methods when we published our discoveries on this CAISCT PBL blog. Bill Sullivan’s class will also be putting on a community presentation to the town’s historical society in April of 2019 where the students will share what they learn and show how they learned it. In some ways, CAISCT students and teachers can find their own venues to add more depth of authenticity to the way they share their local history discoveries with their community. Perhaps it is best to consider this work as another form of service learning.

Curious about using a classroom blog and student-operated Twitter account to accommodate project-based learning? Plan to join our day hike for the 2018-19 academic year and dive into this authentic, local history challenge. Any CAISCT learner is welcome to collaborate on the CAISCT-PBL blog and Twitter account. So provide your students the opportunity to write history and appreciate the discipline form another perspective. They will soon learn that Connecticut’s history is complex, and one ingredient of our historic inquiries acknowledges that a local history perspective will CAISCT learners shed a new light in the historiography of Connecticut’s narratives. Lisa Leveque from Rectory School and Bill Sullivan from Suffield Academy will share their students’ learning experiences while working on one blog during the 2016-17 academic year in which they investigated freedom and slavery in the pivotal year of 1774 as well as the 2017-18 academic year, which pursued homefront issues of WWI.

Bring your day hike bag and learn about next year’s inquiry into Women’s history and set your students on an adventure course where they explore possible nominees for the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame in their community. http://cwhf.org/induction-ceremony/induction-process#.WvxbmNMvzaY

The Government’s Tight Grip

Screen Shot 2018-03-04 at 9.34.43 AMMedia censorship was heavily seen in the war effort. The media could only report on a fraction of what actually happened in the war. Once the U.S entered the war, the government began to tighten its hold over what was said to the public. The U.S needed to make sure it could produce enough soldiers for war, and when the draft came out, some were skeptical if everyone would continue to support. If chosen anyone would have to fight and possibly die in war. In order to counter these many anti-war ideas, media sources were either terminated or forced into changing sides to support the war. People who promoted any anti-war ideas were fined heavy amounts and possibly even arrested.

In Connecticut, people could really see a crackdown in Bridgeport. Bridgeport was one of the U. S’s biggest exporters of war, and keeping those workers in the dark about the horrors of war was something the government worried about. The U.S did not directly come out with the idea of censorship but rather tried to use wordy language to try and confuse people to not quite understand what the Government means. This was because it violated the first amendment and was seen in Suffield, Connecticut by the lack of newspaper articles talking about war, and more specifically what was happening overseas.

Wilson had two major concerns. One being the abrupt change to pro-war might lead to some confusion and anger in the population and by silencing the media. The second reason is if the people were told about what was really happening, Wilson feared the people of America would be angry with him. The response he might have endured from the people could crumble the war effort around him. Wilson was so nervous of a possible revolt, he “prepared a bill authorizing the president to censor the press. (Wilson) himself declared this to be absolutely essential.”(Meyer, Source 1) Wilson had to manipulate the American people to get excited about the war by going as far as staging robberies and damaging property. He then claimed the attacks were from the Germans. It got so intense once the war was underway, a man was sent to prison for calling the war foolish. Things like this happened all throughout the war. Once the war was coming to end Wilson’s administration actually liked the idea of media censorship and the tight hold they had on the American people. Luckily this was stopped by the House of Representatives, and this censorship was lifted. This Censorship on the American people also raise an interesting question, “How much of the information we know today about the war was true?”

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These two images portrayed the Germans as beasts and promoted liberty bonds, which directly helped fund the government’s war effort.

Sources:

1: http://www.signature-reads.com/2017/03/that-time-in-wwi-america-when-censorship-was-legal/

This talked directly about Wilson and his plans to continue to censor the media and keep the firm grip the government had on the people even after war.

2: https://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/censorship

This gave some background as to what the censorship was and how harsh it became.

3: https://revisionworld.com/gcse-revision/history/world-history/world-war-one-1914-1918/propaganda-censorship

This was more on the shift of the nation and how tight the hold of the government was on the American People.

Walking Tour of Campus & Village

In an attempt to appreciate our local place more, we walked to various sites that we have researched in detail for the last ten weeks. While we are focussing on the homefront during WWI, we also took time to consider Suffield’s history from the time the first colonials carved up the home lots as well as how the land was used. This long look back over Suffield history was inspired by the great lengths Suffield celebrated its 350th birthday in the fall of 1920. We are dwelling on this moment because it will help us understand Suffield’s post war attitudes as well as its response to the Influenza outbreak. See this book for more details on the celebration: https://archive.org/details/celebrationoftwo00suffie

With that in mind, we observed how the old town hall in the center of town and the installation of the Bronze Tablets were significant moments for making memory in 1920. We then saw how our modern war memorial utilizes these bronze tablets from the old town hall and honors other 20th century veterans. Moreover, when we focused more on the town green’s four centuries of history, we observed how the first two centuries of colonial use took advantage of the high ground and well worn Native American path. The current home locations and shape of the town green also revealed how these colonial residents utilized the “common lands” for domestic animals and probably shared overseeing these animals while they took turns working the narrow and long fields behind their houses. Our common knowledge of the 19th century image of the town green with the couple strolling under shade trees helps us image that century’s appreciation of the space. (This image hangs in several rooms at Suffield Academy, including my classroom.) When we paused on the late nineteenth century installation of the Civil War memorial and how it does not list the 35 members of the 29th regiment that are listed on the bronze tablets, we realized how this was a new chapter of town green for honoring veterans would continue in the 20th century. What patterns do you see in your New England town center? #CAISCT learner join our blog and share what you learn.

Suffield In WWI

In WWI Connecticut had many successful people enter the war effort. Specifically, our town of Suffield has four registered soldiers that were in the 102nd regiment. We tweeted @mozactly, a professor who is investigating CT’s involvement in WWI. She replied by sending us information on the people in WWI from Suffield. This was very useful to us and one, in particular, was Harry M, Convery.

Mr. Convery was born on August 20, 1884, in New York. At an early age, he moved to Suffield CT, where he lived the rest of his life. Prior to entering the war, he was single and worked on a farm for the Kullie family. It is not known if Mr. Convery wanted to go to war or not, but once president Wilson implemented the Selective Service Act men between the ages of twenty-one to thirty had to register and possibly be called upon to go fight in the war. This must have a very anxious time for people selected to fight in the war. Most of these people have never held a gun and before they know it they are off to use guns regularly. Going into this blood bath of a war was not easy and these young troops had the right to be nervous.

With all of this preparation toward war, Mr. Convery was soon required to make his draft card and was eventually chosen to take part in the war. We found his draft card that everyone had to fill out before going to war. He was a medium sized man and had blond hair and blue eyes. Once in the war, he was given the rank of private. It is not known exactly what role he played in this war, but we do know that people from our small town served in The Great War. A possible avenue would be to try and find more information on his war efforts. There possibly could have been someone we have not found yet that played a large role in the war. We are assuming that this information is true; however, we can not know for sure. The way I could do this would be to contact the Suffield or Connecticut library and ask if they have any more records. I could also tweet at Professor Gil again or #CTUntold. Maybe they will have some more information on Mr. Convery in war or more names of troops from the war.

Mr. Convery was not killed in combat but rather lived a long life. He died in 1989 at the age of ninety-seven. I want to dig deeper and see if there were any additional people who participated in the war.

Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 7.18.36 PM.png*This is Mr. Convery’s draft card from WWI. It gives some information as to who he was prior to the war.

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* This is the questionnaire that Mr. Convery was required to fill our as well as the draft card. We can see his religion, his marriage status and his employment.

Sources:

  • Ancestry. com: Ancestry provided me with multiple documents on this man’s life and is my main source I can use. This site provide people with information that is lost or not available to the public.
  • Twitter: Twitter provided me with the opportunity to connect with other professionals in the field of WWI history. It is how I located the information on the people from Suffield in WWI.

WWI in Bridgeport

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During WWI there were a tremendous amount of people from all around the country overseas. They were battling in trenches, in the air, and in the water. However, some would question how was all of this fighting possible. People who were not directly fighting in the war began devolving manufacturing plants for all the required supplies for The Great War. One of the largest manufacturing plants of weapons was actually in Bridgeport, Connecticut, specifically Bridgeport Remington Arms.

Prior to the war, Bridgeport was a prime location for industrialization and the U.S war movement capitalized on it. When the war started in 1914 Bridgeport was used to produce weapons, even before the U.S entered in 1917. They still provided materials to the allies and many of these resources came from Bridgeport. Bridgeport provided around thirty million magazines per week for the Remington-Enfield model 1917, which was the most popular weapon used in the war. This massive plant was located on Boston Avenue and employed twelve thousand people. They also manufactured other common guns such as the colt 1911, Trench shotguns, and machine guns. These massive plants were also surrounded by guards to prevent sabotage by possible German spies, after 1917.

All of this protection in Bridgeport produced the number of war supplies is about fifty percent of all production in the U.S. Bridgeport offered this much supply into the war was that workers could possibly go on strike and cause a major lack of production. This happened when workers wanted an eight-hour workday. Bridgeport also had a strong push for women’s suffrage. The reason for this was that since the town was in the eye of the government they would have a better chance of gaining traction in their movement. The women would work in the factories to try and further prove their point, and eventually, the president granted them suffrage in 1920. Bridgeport in WWI is a town rich with history and is sometimes forgotten.

Bridgeport was such a heavy provider and without it, the war could have been completely different. I next want to explore more of the work conditions of Bridgeport and compare them to today’s standards. I also want to discover who worked there and if anyone from Suffield or even my family moved to that location to help serve the cause. These people did not directly fight in the war but did make a positive impact in the war effort.

Sources: