Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Board of Selectmen Election 1973

With Election Day next Tuesday November 3rd, I’m reminded of the significant change that occurred in our Town’s form of government in 1973.

By Charter Revision a very different form of general government emerged from other Connecticut towns, one in which no candidate for First Selectman or Mayor headed the ticket to become Chief Executive. In the late 1960s our Town, in the words of Robert Frost, faced a situation where “two roads diverged in a wood, and I--I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

In 1973, we took the other road. EH voters elected a five man (no women were candidates that year) Board of Selectman, which was revised once again in the 1980s to a seven person Town Council. And the big difference, the Board of Selectman chose a Chief Administrative Officer – a professional with educational credentials who was experienced in all aspects of the management of a town. In the 1980s, we changed the title and role to Town Manager. Prior to 1973, the elected First Selectman had no specific experience or qualifications to manage municipal government. This is not to say our First Selectmen were not fine upstanding public servants. What the citizens of East Hampton believed was that the Town could be better served with a professional manager versed in grant writing, labor and personnel relations, budget preparation and public works administration.

That historic election pitted Democrats Eaton E. Smith, Lary Selavka and a 26 year old Robert "Red" McKinney against a Republican Team of William "Bill" Hughes, Robert "Bob" Ostergren and Charles "Charlie" Ottone. We all see campaign slogans in our current election. In 1973, the Democrats used “The Leadership Team- We Care!” which resinated with the electorate because of the problems with the Nixon Administration and the "Watergate Plumbers." These National antics from the 1972 election had a big impact on races throughout the Country. Our local Republicans played off the initials of the last names of the candidates – “Who’s HOO for Selectmen and the entire Republican Team – That’s who!”

From the Democrats campaign brochure .........

From the Republican's campaign brochure .........

We all see campaign slogans in our current election. In 1973, the Democrats used “The Leadership Team- We Care!” and Republicans played off the initials of the last names of the candidates – “Who’s HOO."

When the votes were tallied shortly after 8 pm, the Democrats had emerged victorious with a clean sweep – their first local victory in six years. As the very young Democratic Town Chairman, I was especially pleased to have masterminded this great victory.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Middlesex County Baseball Champions - 1928

With the World Series looming, I’m reminded of our Town’s own substantial history with baseball. The other day, Jay Hansen lent me a picture of the 1928 East Hampton Baseball Team who played in the Middlesex County League. Only able to identify one of the 12 men pictured, Jay asked me if I could help find the players names. With one glance, I smiled. Sitting at the end of the bench was my grandfather, Percy Markham. I knew my grandfather had played baseball in several leagues but didn’t realize he was still playing at the ripe old age of 30. When in the Army during World War I and in the Marines in the Nicaraguan Campaign from 1918-20, he played on a Marine Corp team and competed against major league players from the Washington Senators hitting against the fabled Walter Johnson.

Intrigued and always up to solve a good mystery, I talked to a few people around town but only found one other name – Paul Garvey – Director of Wall’s Funeral Home located across from St. Patrick’s Church. I'm not sure if Paul was a coach or team sponsor. Considering the fact that the picture was taken 81 years ago, there aren’t many around who saw these “boys of summer” play.

My next stop, Russell Library, provided microfilm copies of the Middletown Press with box scores of the Middlesex County Baseball League. It seems our Bellringers started the season with an amazing 14 straight wins. At one point in July, there was talk by the rest of the teams in the league to award EH the Championship and split the season in two -essentially starting anew. The East Hampton team, which had some tremendously talented players and dominated the league, which apparently was not the first time this occurred. One of the articles referred to East Hampton dominance back to 1884. One of the pitchers, Big Gil Jones, was unbeaten during the season.

Front L to R: Percy Markham, Dutch Longmore, Ray Cassette, Willse Moore, Gil Jones, Martin Flynn; Back row L to R: George Kilray (likely from Hartford), Edward Beyle, Paul Garvey, Ed Payne, Herm Schroder, and Harold Bransfield.

I also found I’m not the only Markham to write Letters to the Editor. It seems that in response to bellyaching by Middletown’s team supporters, my grandfather chided them for the criticism of East Hampton and poor play.

The County Baseball games were also a highlight of Old Home Day. 1928 was the fifteenth celebration of Old Home Day. On that August Saturday afternoon, East Hampton took both sides of a double header. Finishing the season with an amazing 20-3 record, they even beat a team of County League All Stars and a Championship Team from Hartford.

The players that summer included William Bransfield, 3rd base, Harold Bransfield, 2nd base, Irish Moore, 3rd base, George Kilray, SS, Ed Beyl, 1st base, Ed Paine, Left Field, ___ Cosette, Catcher, Percy Markham, Manager and Center Field, ___ Ferrigno, Right Field, Frank Fernald, Center Field, Tom Sipples, Right Field and Charlie Barber Left Field. Marty Flynn, Gil Jones, Chet Nichols, Charlie Commer, (a local policeman), Herbert Kegler, (from Willimantic), ___ Longamore, ___ Mantelli, and Jack Curtis all pitched.

It is likely several players were recruited from other Towns by Percy Markham. He worked for Summit Thread and made contact with players in other thread mills in Connecticut. Also, three of the players, Irish Moore, Ed Paine and George Kilray (from Hartford) were on leave from the Army. They were called back to duty in Panama during the season which is why you see so many players listed but only 11 plus Paul Garvey in the picture.

I would greatly appreciate any help from viewers of this blog if they recognize any family members in the team picture. I’ve identified a few and have listed all the players from box scores. With a bit of luck, maybe we can make this complete and we can have it included in the East Hampton Athletic Hall of Fame.

Friday, October 9, 2009

East Hampton's Oldest Home

I’m often asked what the oldest house in East Hampton is. For purposes of answering this question, I am assuming it relates to the settlement of the Three Mile Division which encompasses the East Hampton section of the original Township of Chatham. Not wishing to offend my friends in Middle Haddam, which was settled first at Knowles Landing in the late 1600s, I will discuss those early homes and its settlement at another time.

The last tract east of the Connecticut River was purchased in 1674-75 from the Mattabeseck Indians by agents for the General Assembly of the colony of Connecticut and granted in 1683 to the township of Middletown which extended East Middletown (subsequently named Chatham) by the area called the Three Mile Division, taking the territory to the present day town line with Marlborough, Colchester and East Haddam. The name Three Mile Division referred to the even width of three miles and a length of nine miles laying between Glastonbury and East Haddam and Colchester to the east.

The initial land owner in East Hampton was James Wright. Wright purchased 640 acres from Terramuggus, an Indian of Wethersfield, which included present day Spellman’s Point of 40 acres on the east side of the pond called “Poocatoobock”, two little islands in said pond and 600 acres on the west side running from present day Sears Park to Pocotopaug Brook running to the foot of Miller Hill where our Town's Library and Senior Center is located.

The original Wright homestead was located “butting on Pocaktabogg Pond on the other side surround by common.” The likely position of this first house is where the tennis courts are located next to Sears Park and probably included a small living structure and a barn. The second Wright house, a more permanent structure, built circa. 1726 stands at 34 North Main Street and is owned by Mrs. Dorothy Lawson., this being the oldest in the community.

Home of Mrs. Dorothy Lawson - view from North Main St at gable of original Cape Cod James Wright house

The original Cape Cod style structure has had other additions throughout the years, but its unique position facing south rather than west toward North Main Street was constructed so that it faced the highway (Rt. 66) which ran from east to west when the home was built. It was obviously open fields then.

Southern exposure of original James Wright house.

The second oldest house in East Hampton is the John Clark house at the crest of Clark's Hill, currently owned by Ms Carla Cataldi. A photograph of this 1737 house taken circa. 1900 appears below.

John Clark House

There are approximately 35 homes standing constructed prior to 1799 here in East Hampton.
Although many of these properties were know as the home of another prominent citizen of the community such as 31 South Main as the Bailey, Skinner, Purple House, I have attempted to reflect the original builder as best I could determine.

Circa. .... Address ...............Builder ..............Current Owner

1726 ..... 34 North Main St ... ......James Wright ....... Dorothy Lawson
1737 ..... 87 Clark Hill Road ....... John Clark .......... Carla M. Cataldi
1740 ..... 140 Chestnut Hill ........ Henry Snow ...... Martha R. Weigel
1745 ...... 146 Main St. ............ Benjamin Stillman ... Patricia J. Powers
1747 ...... 31 South Main St. ..... Ezekiel Spicer ..... Don & Phylis Martin

1750 .....95 Young Street......Clement Bates.....Barbara Doherty

1750 ..... 127 Waterhole Road ..... Nicholas Ackley ... John & Anna Dill
1754 ...66 Old Marlborough Road .. John Markham .. Steven Kissinger
1755 ..... 17 Summit Street ........ Bryan Parmalee ........... White Estate
1756 ...... 7 Barton Hill .... James Johnson ... Guy & Christine Gustafson
1757 ...... 53 Barton Hill ....... William Bevin .......... Mary Hall

1758 ..... 164 Young Street ....... John Giddings ...... Layne O. McClennan
1759 .... 54 Smith Street ...... Isaac Smith, Jr. .. Richard & Holli Adelkopf
1760 ... 55 South Main St. .... Benjamin Goff ..... William & Jacki Reardon
1765 ..... 25 Barton Hill ......... James Johnson ....... Kimberly Widman
1765 ..... 49 Waterhole Road ...... Samuel Brainard ...... Roger Lawson

1770 ...... 52 Main Street ....... Unknown ......... 52 Main St. LLC
1770 ... 82 Young Street .. Nathaniel Freedman .. Rbt. & Allison Walck
1772 ..... 295 Young Street ..... Lemuel Daniels .... Robert J. Zajack, Jr.
1772 ... 52 Smith Street ... Isaac/Sparrow Smith .. Chris & Kathleen Koziel
1775 ...... 35 East High St. ....... Abijah Hall ........ Edward Jackowitz

1779 ..... 28 Old Chestnut Hill .. Daniel Hubbard ..... Richard R. Dickerson
1780 ... 64 South Main St. ... Elisha Cornwell .... Bruce & Barbara Shepard
1780 ..... 27 Edgerton St. ......... Amos Clark ....... James & Jill Swindel
1780 ..... 51 Cone Road .......... Nathaniel Cone ....... Scott & Nancy Foley
1785 ..... 59 White Birch Road ... John Welch ... Scott & Lynn MacDonald

1786 ... 245 Old West High St. .. Jesse Swadle .. Thom. & Michelle Keegan
1790 .... 1 Middletown Avenue ....... Andrew Carrier ....... Messier Estate
1790 .... 131 Lake Drive ........... James Bill ...... Benjamin & Donna Hall
1792 .... 103 Mott Hill Road ........ Othniel Brainard ...... Jeffrey Schleidt
1794 ..... 83 Mott Hill Road ......... Moses Cone ........ Ralph Strong

1795 ..... 2 Bevin Boulevard ........ Apollas Arnold ...... Helen DiPace
1795 ..... 115 Tartia Road ..... Martin Kellogg .... Frederick T. Fitch, Jr.
1797 ...... 81 White Birch Road ...... Samuel Arnold ...... Daniel Loos
1798 ..... 14 Main Street ............ Seth Alvord ........ Troy Kaufman

This information is substantially complete. There remain several properties that I am researching to determine their date of construction and provenance, which I hope to add to this list soon.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Walk for Sunshine Kids

Many thanks to this wonderful group of friends who graciously donated to sponsor me on the Sunshine Kids walk .

Linda Denton Arlene Thompson Maryanne Costerella
Larry Byron Chris Brown Joan Colaccino
Marcia Vecca Claire Kavanagh Dr. Bo Subbarao

My Prudential colleagues joining on the walk raised over $600 today are pictured as we begin the walk on the Air Line Trail - a walking and bicycling trail beginning at Cranberry Bog in East Hampton.

Carl Guild, Tammy Jones, Lori Ducat, Renee Dumaine, Susan Canedy, and Dean Markham.

The stalwarts walking for Sunshine Kids.

Susan Canedy, Office Mgr., Renee Dumaine, Tammy Jones, Lori Ducat (hidden) and Carl Guild.

As you can see, I wanted to trudge on, but I was outvoted as we reached the half-way point.

Carl Guild, Renee Dumaine, Tammy Jones (leading) Susan Canedy and Lori Ducat. (When you are taking the pictures, you don't have to be in them.)

All in all, a beautiful day that will put smiles on the faces of some beautiful kids.

Thank you!