SOUTHINGTON – The Southington Historical Society is offering an expanded roster of programs this year, with subjects ranging from World War I to Witches in Connecticut and more.
“We are trying to be a more active museum,” said Lisa Jansson, president of the Southington Historical Society, located at 239 Main St. “We will be offering many more free programs this year for the public to enjoy.”
Jansson noted that several of the programs will be related to World War I in honor of the 100 year anniversary of the end of the war this November.
“World War I is often overshadowed by World War II, but we want to make sure that it is not forgotten,” she said. “Here in town, Adam Raczkowski was our last World War I veteran. He used to march every year in the Apple Harvest Festival parade until his death in 1985. We have his uniform at the Southington Historical Society. He earned a Purple Heart after being hit by a German gas attack when he fought in France in 1918.”
The first program, which will be held March 14, is titled “Connecticut in the Great War” and will be presented by Christine Pittsley from the CT Historical Society. Walter Grover, program coordinator with the Southington Historical Society, noted that Christine Pittsley had been consulted for the upcoming children’s movie, “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero” which will teach children about a stray dog who was adopted by World War I soldiers and played a heroic role. The dog was even decorated with his own medals and uniform.
On May 19, the Southington Historical Society will partner with the CT State Library for “WWI Digitization Day.” Relatives of those who fought in the war are encouraged to bring stories, pictures, uniforms and other items so that they can be preserved digitally. This program will be held at the local American Legion post at 64 Main St.
On June 20, the Southington Historical Society will host a program on the Revolutionary War era titled “Tories, Spies & Traitors.” Natalie Belanger from the Connecticut Historical Society will present this program.
“We were inspired to have a program on this subject because of the show ‘Turn’ on TNT,” said Jansson. “Everybody knows about Benedict Arnold, but what many people don’t realize is that only 3 percent of Colonists actually got involved in the revolution. Most were either supporters of the British or didn’t care. We won our freedom based on the actions of those three percent.”
Jansson noted that there is also a historical home located near the YMCA which belonged to Samuel Andrews, a veteran of the Revolutionary War who fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill.
On Sept. 20, the Southington Historical Society will present its third World War I program of the year, “WWI Yankee Division: The Life of a CT Soldier in France,” which will be presented by the “26th Yankee Division WWI Living Group.”
“They are a group of re-enactors, who will present this program in uniform and will bring with them the items that the typical soldier had with them while over in France,” said Grover. “This November they will be going over to France to re-trace the steps of the Division.”
Finally, on Oct. 17, Taylor McClure from the CT Historical Society will present a program titled “Witches in Connecticut” just in time for the spooky season. The program will detail real life cases where area women were accused of witchcraft during the early days of the colonies.
The Southington Historical Center will also be hosting an Open House, limited specifically to members and benefactors, on April 19. Jansson said that the event is intended to thank them for their support.
For more information on the Southington Historical Society, call 860-621-4811 or visit southingtonhistory.org.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.