Category Archives: US History

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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Suffield Academy Students Present: WWI Homefront

Screen Shot 2018-04-22 at 9.52.40 PMWhen the American Studies class began its investigation in December with a trip to the Suffield Academy archives, students were very curious to find young students one hundred years ago were wearing military uniforms. After researching our local and national history, the students are ready to share insights about the preparedness movement in Suffield, the region, and nationwide to help explain how Suffield School (now Suffield Academy) was one of the first schools in the area to start such a military prep program that provided students military uniforms and training. While following the research methods of Connecticut Historian, Stacey K. Close, the American Studies students used his chapter in African American Connecticut Explored as a model to look for patterns of the Great Migration here in Suffield. Close’s chapter, titled “Black Southern Migration and the Transformation of Connecticut, 1917-1941,” centers around migration trends in Simsbury. Please join us to learn how the American Studies students discovered similar patterns in Suffield. The class will present during the Suffield Historical Society meeting, which is open to the public, on Tuesday night, April 24th, 7-8pm at the Suffield Senior Center on 145 Bridge St, Suffield, Ct. Finally, like everyone in Connecticut who is excited to learn about the story of Sargent Stubby and see the newly released film, Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero, find out about four of the WWI veterans from Suffield who served in the famous 102nd of the Yankee Division, alongside “Stubby,” the first service or therapy dog. For more on the movie that was just released, click here: http://www.stubbymovie.com/

Suffield.Academy.Presentation.Flyer4.24.18

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.

Bring Stubby Home

imagesSergeant Stubby was the official mascot of the 102nd regiment. Stubby was a dog that “served” for 18 months and was involved in or around 17 different battles in Europe. Some of the things that he did were detect mustard gas and comfort wounded soldiers. He was also able to detect incoming artillery fire because he could hear the whine of the incoming shells before the soldiers. Stubby was originally found on Yale’s campus in the summer of 1917, where the 102nd regiment happened to be training.

The 102nd regiment is one of the most famous of the United States from WWI. Many of the members were from Connecticut as the regiment was New England based. They were involved in the first action that the United States was a part of in WWI, which took place in Seicheprey.

There has been a great injustice done however. One would think that Sergeant Stubby would be buried or put on display in his native New Haven, or somewhere nearby in  Connecticut.  Instead, Sergeant Stubby is on display at the Smithsonian Museum in our nation’s capital. This is obviously a great honor, but Sergeant Stubby should be in Connecticut.

Stubby was originally found in Connecticut and that is where he resided before the army found him. The regiment that he joined had many members from Connecticut as well. Stubby’s eventual owner, Robert Conroy, was even from Connecticut. So during this commemorative anniversary of World War I, we must ask ourselves why is Stubby not resting peacefully in his native state? After everything he did for his regiment, he deserves to be returned to home.

Source:

 

Promoting Preparedness and Company Through Adverstising

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The Bell Telephone advertisement showed America’s need to be prepared for the war. Paul Revere shown in the bottom left hand corner was the telephone of his time and informed the public about the invading British soldiers on their way to Lexington and Concord. At the beginning of WWI, Bell is the emerging telephone company, and their add showcases the dominance of their growing company and promotes the political agenda of the preparedness movement in 1916. 

The Bell Telephone advertisement also shows how reliable the telephone is by utilizing the respectability of a US soldier using it. Soldiers were seen as heroes during this time, so when they are shown using this product, citizens will be that much more inclined to use something that their role models use.

The advertisement subtly showed that Bell had complete control over the United States telephone system. The map in the top right hand corner shows the telephone company’s vast network covering the United States. It suggests their dominance by showing the company’s name over the United States.

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.

Essential Information for our Investigation.

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My class and I are investigating what happened in Suffield during the pivotal year of 1774. history of Suffield, Connecticut. Because the Boston Tea Party was a turning point for the colonies and their frustration with Parliament, we are trying to see how conversations of freedom and slavery were inspired by these events.
In response to the Boston Tea Party (1773), Parliament drafted the the Coercive Acts in 1774, and residents throughout the thirteen colonies protested these acts in various ways. For instance, our class first studied the western Massachusetts town of Sheffield, and learned that Colonel Ashley hosted citizens at his house; this group composed the Sheffield Resolves. Interestingly, we learned that one of his slaves, Elizabeth Freeman, also known as Mum Bett, was inspired by these conversations of protest and later sued successfully for her own freedom, Brom and Bett v. Ashley (1781). We are now trying to find out what happened in Suffield during the pivotal year of 1774. What part of the population supported the growing patriot cause in Boston? What portion of citizens accepted the dictates of the British Parliament and refused to petition King George III? Who was neutral?

To begin our historical investigation, it is important for us to know more about the founding of Suffield as well as some of the traditions and attitudes of freedom and slavery. 

Suffield is a town in Hartford County. In fact, Suffield was called Southfield until 1674 because it being the southernmost town, that is why in some documents Southfield is referred to our well-known Suffield. (3)

Some people’s reaction to the Boston Tea Party was excitement for the future and some people viewed it as an act of vandalism. The reactions across the American colonies were mixed. Most people did want a peaceful revolution. People just wanted to have a productive trading relationship with England. They did not necessarily want to pay direct taxes levied by

parliament and the government. People of America would have been much more comfortable paying taxes to their local legislatures.

Connecticut, as a part of the thirteen original colonies, responded to the Boston Tea Party and the upcoming events. The day after the Tea Party took place, Connecticut had thrown its full weight behind the neighbors to the north, and was willing to do all CT could to support Boston.

Connecticut, based on the data, supported the loyalists. At the outbreak of the war, Connecticut consisted of six counties and 72 townships. According to the census of 1774, throughout these counties and townships, there existed some 25,000 males between the ages of 16 and 50, of whom about 2,000 identified themselves as Tories. (4) Nowhere was the presence of these individuals stronger than in the southwestern portion of the state, particularly in Fairfield County. (2) However, the question is: did Suffield? What part of the population supported the growing patriot cause in Boston? Was the number of African-American effected in any way? I am looking forward to see what my classmates find in order to solve this part of the puzzle.

Slavery was common during the 18th century. We have colony of CT Census proving that in 1774 there were 37 slaves in Suffield.  The slaves were owned by wealthy merchants, tavern owners, Tobacco farm owners and town ministers and other influential people in town. We know that major John Pynchon had at least two slaves, Harry and Rocco, which means that other influential people of Suffield had slaves. (1) Suffield’s third minister, Reverend Ebenezer Devotion owned six slaves during this time period 1742-1796. Reverend Ebenezer Gay Jr. manumitted the family three remaining slaves in 1812. They were Titus, Ginny and Dinah. If we will be able to find out the names of people who had the most money in the town, we will be a step closer to solve this puzzle to find the right people who lived in Suffield in 1974. Using our deduction skills, we will dig deeper and deeper and eventually we will discover something that has been a secret for a while.

With the help of the Suffield Town Library, we have the access to the list of the earliest families of Suffield. By figuring out the century and what part of that century these people used to live, we would be able to tell who had slaves and then find out the names of all the thirty seven slaves lived in town in 1774.

 

Sources:

  1. https://archive.org/stream/documentaryhisto00shel#page/22/mode/2up/search/harry+roco
  2. http://www.hsgct.org
  3. http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/j-hammond-james-hammond-trumbull/the-memorial-history-of-hartford-county-connecticut-1633-1884-volume-2-mur/page-46-the-memorial-history-of-hartford-county-connecticut-1633-1884-volume-2-mur.shtml
  4. http://cupola.gettysburg.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1027&context=ghj

Florence and David Ruggles – The Connection to UGRR

 

David Rugg;es

After reading various online source, I learned that David Ruggles lived as a legend in the UGRR movements without being reported in our history book. The fact that he sued the railroad company at the time when racism filled the culture and when most people would not help him, nevertheless he sustained a sense and reason of being right or wrong. Although he has lost the case, his actions give us an indication of the courage with which he lived his life. Before David Ruggles build up his connection with the utopian community in today’s Florence, he lived in New York City where he opened the nation’s first African-American bookstore. He tends to be the savior of many African American slaves to acquire their freedom, theses people include Frederick Douglass. Regard to his actions so far, what he has done was significant and his determination as a abolitionist is unshakable. His courage for an abolitionism and made him stand at the front line of UGRR to bring freedom to fugitive Africans was significant since he had operated before the Civil War and therefore slavery was a serious deal and he could got into trouble, even death by doing so. After David Ruggles, a guy named Basil Dorsey as a escaped slave, joined the Florence community from escaping his way out of Maryland, helped develop the UGRR and further more extended what David Ruggles didn’t have time and energy to achieve due to his injury to his body and eyes, which he experienced while protesting UGRRs.

Sources:

http://www.davidrugglescenter.org/?page_id=329

http://www.davidrugglescenter.org/?page_id=7

David Ruggles and Northampton Association

David Ruggles

David Ruggles, born in 1810 and passed away in 1849, was an abolitionist in Brooklyn, New York, who resisted slavery and participated in the Underground Railroad. David Ruggles is one of the overlooked figures, and he was actually the really important in the history of the Underground Railroad. He was anearly abolitionist in America. As an activist, writer, publisher, and hydrotherapist, Ruggles strived for African Americans’ freedom in variety of ways. He salvaged more than six hundred people, including Frederick Douglass. He was even a mentor of Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and William Cooper Nell to teach them the skills of antislavery activism. As a founder of the New York Committee of Vigilance, Ruggles inspired many upstate New York and New England whites, who allied with him to form a network which became the Underground Railroad.

In 1842, a utopian community called the Northampton Association of Education and Industry was created in Florence, MA. Founders of the group, abolitionists, farmers, and silk manufactures, supported William Lloyd Garrison and the immediate abolition of slavery and wanted to participate together with others who had these beliefs. This attracted David Ruggles to get involved in this community because the community planned an egalitarian enterprise around silk manufacturing. Silk was both practical and ideological, and it did not depend on slavery. This movement protests against cotton industry, which requires a lot of labor force of slaves. By growing silk, a plant similar to cotton, they wanted to show that growing cotton is unnecessary, and therefore, owning slaves is also pointless.

Further Investigation on Hanchett

As a class, we have found much information about Oliver Hanchett, about his family, his archives, and the case they fought for to in order to get Flora back. Our initial investigation started with an evil portrait of this man in our minds since everything we read about him was negative and he was fighting for a slavery case in the North at the time that we learn the Northern states to be “free”. Even though we brought the negative feelings about him into our researches, we started to realize that he has done much positive and just things in the past. For example, he served as a Captain in the Revolutionary Army, and a police officer after his military career. These are all positive characters of his career; therefore, there was something happened that dragged him to be an evil person judged by historical viewpoint that tried to fight back a slave during the abolition period, or it was because we learned the history from the biased point of view and put this evil tag on him? Only further investigation with the aid of CT State Library about Oliver Hanchett’s life can connect all these things together. We simply cannot make a judgement based on the information we have now. Whether the history point of view was biased or not, one thing tends to be very clear – Flora is a very important slave for him, or there is something Flora held very important for him. Since he hired the best lawyer at the time – Theodore Sedgwick to fight the case over state court. The cost of hiring the best lawyer in the area is ultrahigh due to scarcity of this man’s skill on the court. On top of that, the lawyer himself is an abolition-minded lawyer, which indicates either Hanchett payed even higher price for him to fight the case, or there are something else that’s untold without having slavery involved about this case. It is far too early to draw a conclusion on investigation on Hanchett since I regard as him the most significant figure in this case.