Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Why May is Important to Derby!
"As the lilacs, which were first introduced to the British colonies by Dr. John Durand of Derby in 1680s begin to bloom, we reflect upon other events that took place in May in the City's history. There are traditions which have passed, such as the Yale's "Derby Day" regatta, as well as those which thankfully continue, such as the honoring of veterans' sacrifices in one of the oldest continuing Memorial Day observances in the State. Here are some little known tidbits highlighting Derby's history of generosity and public service in the month of May:
- May 13, 1675 – Derby incorporated as a Town
- May 27, 1847 – A public meeting is held at Birmingham Congregational Church (Second Congregational Church) to raise funds for the victims of the Irish Famine.
- 1859 – A private citizen, Mr. H. Atwater, donates the funds to replace the “Liberty Pole” on Derby Green ( Birmingham ). At 136’ high, it is the tallest flagpole in Connecticut , and is a local landmark for years.
- May 27, 1909 – It is announced that the yet to be opened Derby Hospital will change its name to Griffin Hospital, after one of its major benefactors, and that its board of directors will be 1/3 each from Derby, Ansonia, and Shelton.
- 1910 – Derby residents band together to beautify the Derby passenger station grounds, turning an ugly mess into one of the most attractive spots in the City.
- May 10, 1912 – Col. H. Horton Wood dies in Brookline , MA . He donated the funds which built the Derby Public Library a decade earlier, in memory of his late son.
- May 26, 1932 – At this time, the John H. Collins American Legion Post continues to distribute used clothing to needy families in Derby . They are also maintaining gardens for food.
- May 4, 1933 – The Derby Relief Fund, a pre-New Deal local charitable group designed to keep unemployed men working and feeding their families, employed 82 people this week, a record, and paid them $550.40 Most of them are working on beautifying local cemeteries and improving Academy Hill Road at this time.
- May 16, 1935 - The St. Mary's Church Community House opens on Seymour Avenue , free of debt, in the former Fitch Smith mansion. Outbuildings have been removed, and there is a tennis court and picnic grounds. The residence has been remodeled, with 2 kitchens, restrooms, sitting rooms, and 2 large meeting halls or ballrooms. This is where St. Mary’s St. Michael's School is today.
- May 2, 1957 - John H. Collins Post, American Legion, is soliciting funds to build a new home on Caroline Street .
- May 20, 1957 – The Grassy Hill Men's and Women's Club donate a new stretcher to the Storm Ambulance Corps
- May 31, 1957 – It is announced that the Housatonic Council, Boy Scouts of America, will conduct a campaign to raise $200,000 to purchase a camp site in Goshen, as wel as construct buildings, and buy equipment there.
- May 31, 1958 – After a year of fundraising, formal ceremonies are held to lay the cornerstone of the new home of the John Collins Post American Legion Post on Caroline Street .
- May 1960 – Griffin Hospital celebrates its 50th anniversary, and opens a newly constructed wing which includes the newly inaugurated Self Care Unit.
- May 13, 1960 - An anonymous donor has come forward to donate the cost of installing a water dispenser at site of old town pump on Derby Green, at corner of Elizabeth Street and Fourth Street . (I believe the donor was later revealed to be a member of the Yudkin family)
- May 26, 1960 – At its 44th Annual Meeting, the Directors of Recreation Camp approve capital fund drive to replace buildings which have been in place since the Camp started in 1916.