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Avon Historical Society Civil War Events

 

 

 




Avon Historical Society Presented

“Myth, Maggots, Minie Balls, Gangrene and Glory – A Civil War Medical Program"

The Avon Historical Society presented a talk on Civil War medicine by expert re-enactor and noted Civil War Historian, Carolyn Ivanoff on Thursday, June 5th at the Avon Free Public Library as part of the ongoing “Avon to Appomattox” series generously supported through 2015 by Connecticut Humanities, Ensign Bickford Foundation, Avon Public Schools and the Avon Free Public Library.    

            Today we live with the wonders and miracles of modern medicine and we look back on the horrors of the Civil War with a generational chauvinism and snobbery.  Our general understanding of Civil War medicine is difficult to divorce from its myths:  Civil War surgeons were nothing more than butchers “saw bones.”  How could they operate with the same bloody instruments on man after man, sometimes holding their knives in their mouths as they tied off wounds, or wiped their instruments on their bloody aprons over and over again before getting back to work with surgical tools that looked like they were more suited to carpenters sawing wood than healing human bodies? Why, a modern person asks, did they amputate limb after limb?   The war occurred only a few years before Lister’s antiseptic practices could have saved tens of thousands of lives lost to the horrors of infection.  We look back and shake our heads.  How could men of medicine have been so cruel and ignorant?  If they only had our practices; if they understood germ theory; if they had sterilized their instruments…. “What if” history.  We need to judge history and the men and women who lived it in light of the information they have at the moment they make their decisions.  We cannot judge them by our times and experiences, but only by their own.  The story of Civil War medicine is a remarkable one of heroism and hard work.  It is a story of surmounting huge difficulties, conquering huge obstacles, and successfully undertaking huge tasks.  It is a story of saving lives by the tens of thousands, not destroying them. It is also a story of tribute to the amazing endurance and determination of the common soldier who withstood and surmounted untold hardships in the line of duty and in the service of their respective countries.  The program provides an overview of the practice of battlefield medicine in the 1860s.  It highlighted the practices that saved lives and dispels the myths that Civil War surgeons were butchers. 

            Carolyn Ivanoff is an assistant principal at Shelton Intermediate School in Shelton Connecticut. She is a versatile, proficient educator with twenty-five years of experience in a variety of educational settings from public schools as an administrator, department chair, teacher leader, adult education, and workplace environments for schools and industry.  In 2003 Carolyn was named Civil War Preservation Trust’s Civil War Preservationist Teacher of the Year.  As a teacher and administrator Carolyn is committed to providing professional development programs for educators.  In 2010, 2011 and 2013 three of her educational programs were recognized by the Connecticut League of History Organizations with Awards of Merit. 

This and other Civil War-related presenters and two more exhibit will continue this year into 2015 as Avon commemorates the 150th events of the Civil War.


Pioneers of the Liberty of Your Race:
 A history of the creation of the Connecticut 29th Colored Volunteer Infantry (CVI)
February and March 2014
In celebration of Black and Women's History Months

The Spirit of Frederick Douglass

The Avon Historical Society is pleased to present Michael E. Crutcher, Sr., of Nicholasville, KY, an accomplished actor and scholar, who will portray Frederick Douglass in first person on Tuesday, February 4th at 7:00pm in the sanctuary of the Avon Congregational Church, 6 West Main Street, Avon, Connecticut.  It is part of the ongoing “Avon to Appomattox” series generously supported through 2015 by Connecticut Humanities, Ensign Bickford Foundation, Avon Public Schools and the Avon Free Public Library.  Mr. Crutcher’s first person portrayal of Mr. Douglass will bring to life the principles of freedom, equality, religion and self-esteem at a time when Civil Rights was taking hold in our country.  Douglass, considered by many to be the grandfather of the Civil Rights movement, was born a slave in Maryland about 1818 but escaped twenty years later.  He was self taught and became the most prolific and influential black man of the nineteenth century.  He was an advisor to President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and the first man to stand up for women’s rights and suffrage.  He was a champion of freedom, liberty and equality.  Mr. Crutcher will speak to students in the morning at Avon High School and then later in the day to the public at the Avon Congregational Church, built in 1819, from the same pulpit that may have seen other abolitionists speak during the Civil War 150 years ago.  The Avon Congregational Church is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The History of the CT 29th Colored Volunteer Infantry (CVI) and

re-dedication of Civil War soldier grave in Avon

In honor of Black History Month the Avon Historical Society will re-dedicate the grave of Pvt. Leverett Holden who served in the CT 29th Colored Volunteer Infantry (CVI) from Avon in 1864 and 1865 during the American Civil War.  Pvt. Holden is buried in East Avon Cemetery on Simsbury Road adjacent to the Avon Congregational Church, 6 West Main Street.  The re-dedication and a talk on the history of the CT 29th CVI will be held on Saturday, February 22nd beginning at 1pm.  It is part of the ongoing “Avon to Appomattox” series generously supported through 2015 by Connecticut Humanities, Ensign Bickford Foundation, Avon Public Schools and the Avon Free Public Library.  The Headstone Rededication Service is adapted from the 1917 Service for use by the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) to dedicate headstones of Civil War veterans.  The service takes about 15 minutes to conduct, weather permitting. After the ceremony, which will be conducted by Mr. Charles (Ben) Hawley, direct descendant of Pvt. Orrin Hawley of Woodbury, CT, the public will be led in to the Avon Congregational Church sanctuary by Pvt. William Webb, CT 29th CVI, portrayed by Kevin Johnson.  After the public is seated, they will hear a brief presentation on Pvt. Leverett Holden, the history of the service by the over 900 African American men from Connecticut who served in this regiment by Tom Acri, and the personal story of Pvt. Orrin Hawley.

“Follow the Cannon”

A Reading of Clara Barton’s Civil War Letters

 The Avon Historical Society is pleased to present Lynne McKenney Lydick who will portray Clara Barton on Tuesday, March 25th at 7:00pm in the Community Room of the Avon Free Public Library, 281 Country Club Road, Avon, Connecticut.  It is part of the ongoing “Avon to Appomattox” series generously supported through 2015 by Connecticut Humanities, Ensign Bickford Foundation, Avon Public Schools and the Avon Free Public Library.  

McKenney Lydick’s first person portrayal of Clara Barton (1821-1912) will bring to life the “angel of the battlefield” who was praised for her limitless courage and unfailing spirit in bringing supplies to the front lines of the Civil War.  Armed with medicinal supplies, clothing and food she saved the lives of countless soldiers on both sides who would have died without her. She cooked for the soldiers and ripped sheets into towels and handkerchiefs for them to use. She fought for permission to go to the front lines and rushed food, supplies and medicine to the troops.  She gained the trust and respect of soldiers, battlefield surgeons, generals and politicians alike.  Research has found she also served in many field hospitals for both white and black Civil War soldiers all throughout the war.  Modern historians remember her most for her lobbying of President Chester A. Arthur to sign the Geneva Convention in 1881 which she used to create a neutral volunteer organization, the American Red Cross, based on one in Europe that mandated protection for wounded soldiers and for relief from disasters. 

Lynne McKenney Lydick, of Worcester, MA., has presented one-woman shows all over the northeastern United States including many national parks.  Audiences give her performance high acclaim as an educational and thought-provoking experience.  In May 2012 she received the prestigious Katherine Forbes Erskine Award for Arts and Culture.

Yankee Ingenuity: Defending the Union and Inventing the Future

Civil War Exhibit Nov. 2013-Jan. 2014

Supported by Connecticut Humanities,  

Ensign Bickford Foundation, Avon Public Schools and Avon Free Public Library

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 The Avon Sesquicentennial Committee of the Civil War, which is part of the Avon Historical Society, is pleased to present an exhibit outside the Marian Hunter History Room at the Avon Free Public Library.  Yankee Ingenuity: Defending the Union and Inventing the Future was conceived, researched, created and mounted by members of the Sesquicentennial Committee and will be on display November 1, 2013 through January 31, 2014.  The exhibit will showcase the dramatic growth of industry in the Avon and the Farmington and Connecticut River Valleys during the Civil War and is part of the ongoing “Avon to Appomattox” series  supported by the Ensign-Bickford Foundation, Avon Public Schools and the Avon Free Public Library.

The 19th Century was a time of enormous economic growth for Connecticut.  Along the way innovations by Connecticut citizens both saved the Union and created the basis for this state’s current prosperity.  These achievements often can be credited to innovators in their teens and twenties. The Avon Historical Society will pay tribute to these achievements and serve as an inspiration for today’s entrepreneurs. Exhibits will connect 19th century business such as Avon’s own Civil War-era manufacturer of safety fuses to today’s explosive business and the original Pratt & Whitney founded by two young apprentices.

Among the many artifacts and displays will be an original John Brown pike, made in Collinsville and Unionville, CT for John Brown’s October 1859 raid at Harper’s Ferry, VA as well as many visual presentations of industrial objects and instruments used by the original Pratt & Whitney Company established in 1860 in Hartford, CT including a salesman sample case of measuring tools.   In addition will be a look at how Elizabeth Colt, wife of Sam Colt, carried on her husband’s very successful business during the Civil War after his death in January 1862. She was an entrepreneur, business leader and city philanthropist. A special interactive display with 3D glasses will allow the visitor to see photographs from the Civil War as they were meant to be seen. Today’s innovation activities such as the Connecticut Invention Convention and Avon’s successful FIRST Robotics team, the ÜberBots, will also be highlighted.

The Society will also present four events, open to the public free of charge, in the Community Room of the Avon Free Public Library in conjunction with this exhibit:

·         November 7 – “Silicon Valley of the 19th Century: Rediscovering the Connecticut Valley’s Industrial Heritage” picture show and lecture by William Hosley, Terra Firma Northeast

·         December 5 – “America’s First Armory” talk presented by Alex MacKenzie, National Park Service, Springfield Armory

·         January 8 – “A Visit from 1876” by Mystic Seaport’s acclaimed roleplayers

·         January 11 – “Avon’s Explosive Heritage” talk presented by Caleb Ensign White, CEO, Ensign Bickford Industries

Gettysburg: “nip and tug right smart fighting”

Opening June 4, 2013

With support from Connecticut Humanities

The Avon Sesquicentennial Committee of the Civil War, which is part of the Avon Historical Society, is pleased to present a new exhibit outside the Marian Hunter History Room at the Avon Free Public Library.  Gettysburg: “nip and tug right smart fighting” was conceived, researched, created and mounted by members of the Sesquicentennial Committee and will be on display June through August.  The exhibit coincides with the 150th commemoration of the Battle of Gettysburg which was fought on July 1-3, 1863.

The exhibit’s title is a quote taken from a letter written on July 4, 1863, which will be on display, by Avon native Private Eugene Hawley, 5th Reg. CT Volunteers, who fought at Gettysburg. Private Hawley wrote numerous letters home to his family; they are in the collection of the Society archived in the Marian Hunter History Room of the Avon Free Public Library.  Highlighting the exhibit will be an original Grimsley saddle (see photo attached) used by a Connecticut officer in the Civil War.  The pattern was patented by Thorton Grimsley of St. Louis, MO in 1846 and was adopted as the standard saddle for the U.S. Calvary and U.S Dragoons in 1847.  This model was widely used by Union officers and by the U.S. Light (Mounted) Artillery during the Civil War.  The saddle is in remarkable condition and was found in a house in Fairfield County. Also on display will be two cannon balls picked up on the battlefield. One is a 12 pdr solid shot ball from a Napoleon smooth bore canon while the second is a 10 pdr Parrott shell from a Parrott rifle canon. These were collected shortly after the battle and acquired by a Pennsylvania soldier who lived in Gettysburg after the War.  In addition there will be descriptions of the three days of the battle, photographs and prints of scenes then and now, maps, and an original bayonet.  Focus will also be on the Connecticut soldiers who fought all three days of the Battle.   Original letters from General George Meade, the Union’s Commanding Officer, on loan from the Roy Seelye family will also be on display.  Photos of a recent trip by Connecticut residents to Gettysburg will be featured with a model of the CT 14th Monument cast in resin by a Gettysburg artist in 2013.  Rounding out the exhibit will be photos and description of the visit by President Abraham Lincoln in November 1863 when he gave his famous Gettysburg Address to open the National Soldier’s Cemetery on the battlefield.

Thanks to a grant from Connecticut Humanities, the Society will also present two special events this summer with nationally known historians on Gettysburg.  On Tuesday, July 16, Mr. Edwin Cole Bearss, Chief Historian Emeritus of the National Park Service and nationally known Civil War historian, will present “Major General Dan Sickles : Soldier, Scoundrel, Statesman,” who served with the Union Army at Gettysburg but is mostly remembered for his very long and colorful life during and after the Civil War.  A US Marine Corps veteran of WWII, Mr. Bearss served as Chief Historian of the National Park Service from 1981 to 1994 and has authored and edited more than two dozen books on the Civil War. He is a lively, popular lecturer and will bring his usual flair and style to this event. On Tuesday, August 20, Mr. David Ward, President of Civil War Tours, Winchester, CT will present “Mr. Lincoln Goes to Gettysburg: The Crossroads of History and Hollywood.” He will first provide background on Lincoln’s visit to Gettysburg in November 1863.  He will also share his participation on the research for the recently released movie “Lincoln” when he provided a tour of Gettysburg in 2011 to Stephen Spielberg and Daniel Day Lewis.   Both events will begin at 7pm in the Community Room of the Avon Free Public Library.  Registration information will be published soon.

The exhibit in the History Room will be one of several that will be placed on display during the course of the next two and half years as Avon continues to commemorate the 150th events of the Civil War.

Connecticut Humanities (CTH) is a non-profit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities that funds, creates and collaborates on hundreds of cultural programs across Connecticut each year.  Connecticut Humanities brings together people of all ages and backgrounds to express, share and explore ideas in thoughtful and productive ways.  From local discussion groups to major exhibitions on important historical events, CTH programs engage, enlighten and educate.  Learn more by visiting: www.cthumanities.org


Inaugural Exhibit at the Marian Hunter History Room entitled “American Women on the Home Front," featuring an original Civil War-era woman’s dress - 2012

AFPL History Room Display Case April 24, 2012

Photo courtesy of The Hartford Courant

The Avon Sesquicentennial Committee of the Civil War, which is part of the Avon Historical Society, is pleased to present the inaugural exhibit in the display case of the new Marian Hunter History Room at the Avon Free Public Library. “American Women on the Home Front” was conceived, researched, created and mounted by members of the Sesquicentennial Committee and will be on display through to the grand opening of the new Library, June 10th.

This exhibit features an original calico, cotton dress worn by Sophia Evans Wells who was born in 1835 and died in 1910 in Gorham, NH. The dress is all original, except for one button that was replaced. Sophia’s great grand-daughter, Pat Small of Burlington, CT, loaned the dress to the Avon Historical Society to be used as the centerpiece of the exhibit. In researching information for this exhibit, Society Board member Elisabeth Neff used a variety of historical data to put together the story of women who helped with the Civil War effort back home. What she found was that Avon women participated eagerly by contributing medical supplies and other goods to the Hartford Union League in order to support the U.S. Sanitary Commission. This commission was created through Federal legislation in June of 1861, to coordinate the efforts back home and to make sure that all the provisions reached the troops. A typical activity of the Avon’s Relief Society might be rolling bandages, collecting scrap lint to pack wounds on the battlefield, making comfort bags, which might contain tea, needles, thread, buttons, stationery, and envelopes and stamps. Of the 94 Avon men who served in the Civil War, only 34 survived, unscathed. A thank you letter from Bridgeport native John W. Clark of the 1 st Connecticut Calvary to Miss Carrie Case of Avon in January 1865 showed his gratitude for the comfort bag he received by telling her that “quite a number of my brother officers received comfort bags from the ladies of Avon and read the note contained and I assure you they were appreciated.” Within a short few weeks of writing this note to Miss Case, 1 st Lt. Clark was killed in battle.

This exhibit will contain a reproduction of a comfort bag as well as many original Civil War-era items from the Society’s collection. This Civil War Commemoration exhibit will be one of several that will be placed on display during the course of the next three years as Avon continues to commemorate the 150 th anniversary of the Civil War.

The Funds to purchase the Display Case were made possible by Monte and Cindi Hopper

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May 13,  2011 – Civil War Veterans honored for their service at West Avon Cemetery. Representatives from Avon VFW Post 3272, Avon Historical Society and Avon Free Public Library attended a memorial service honoring Civil War Veterans buried at West Avon Cemetery.

Civil War re-enactor Sal Carmosino, dressed in period garb, fired three shots from an authentic Civil War weapon to remember those buried there.

In addition, the Avon VFW placed a Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) medallion and an American flag on the grave of Harrison Woodford, a Civil War veteran whose great-grandson, Gordon Woodford, was present for the service.

  Sal Carmosino loading his rifle       Sal Carmosino firing his rifle

  Group honoring Civil War Veterans

From left to right - Rachel Neuhoff, Kara Dillaway, Patrice Celli, Terri Wilson, Sal Carmosino, Gordon Woodford, Lee Wilson, and William Newman.

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May 4, 2011 – “Connecticut in the American Civil War: Slavery, Sacrifice and Survival,” at the Horse Guard.

Dr. Matthew Warshauer, Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University and co-chair of the Connecticut Civil War Commemoration Commission, discussed his new book, Connecticut in the American Civil War: Slavery, Sacrifice and Survival, as well as plans for the state's 150th anniversary of the war. The presentation took place at First Company Governor's Horse Guard at 280 Arch Road.

Professor Warshauser's Presentation and Book Signing was well attended by young and old alike. This event is one of an ongoing set of programs and exhibits to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

From left to right - Patrice Celli, Tina Panik, Terri Wilson, Norm Sondheimer and Jim Genco. Author and Civil War Expert, Professor Warshauer is seated with his book. Civil War Afficionados will note the 34-Star Flag used by the Union Army during the Civil War in the background.

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