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"People will not
look forward
to posterity,
who never
look backward
to their ancestors."

- Edmund Burke

Events past & present

This is where to find out about SMFSD's coming events and activities, as well as the place to find out about past meetings. More information about past meetings is in The Middler archive.


SMFSD will exhibit on April 18, 2013 at
the New England Regional Genealogical Conference

SMFSD will exhibit at the New England Regional Genealogical Conference in Manchester, N.H. at the event's "Society Fair" along with other genealogy and history organizations on Thursday, April 18, 2013. The conference will be April 17-21 at the Radisson Hotel & Expo Center in Manchester.


Triennial Meeting in Middletown October 17-20, 2012

Attendees from all corners of the U.S. gathered in their ancestral hometown of Middletown, Conn. for SMFSD's Triennial Meeting Oct. 17-20, 2012. Some 40 genealogists and historians, mostly descendants of early Middletown settlers and distant cousins to some degree, enjoyed a packed schedule of cemetery tours, library visits, research sessions, speaker presentations, and social gatherings. Many also attended the annual seminar of the Connecticut Society of Genealogists on Saturday, Oct. 20 in North Haven, Conn., where SMFSD engaged potential members at its corner booth in the exhibit hall. Thursday Oct. 18 was "Cemetery Day," which included visits to Old North Burying Ground in Middlefield, Riverside Cemetery and Washington Street Cemetery in Middletown, and the Old Burying Ground in Cromwell. At the Cromwell Historical Society, SMFSD members were treated to a presentation by Richard Donahue on the earliest settlers of Middletown's "North Society." Friday was "Research Day," beginning in the morning at Godfrey Memorial Library, then moving to Middletown's Russell Library for more research ... and a presentation by Erik Hesselberg on "Middletown as a Seaport." Don & Lyn Brock's Wine & Cheese Social followed at the headquarters hotel (Marriott Residence Inn, Rocky Hill, Conn.) before departure to Carmen Anthony's Restaurant in Wethersfield. The guest speaker was Dr. Ronald Schatz, professor of history at Wesleyan University, with his 20th-century history presentation, "The Barons of Middletown." The 2012 Triennial Meeting hosted many new members and first-time attendees, engaged the local community, and forged new friendships in Middletown that will be mutually beneficial in the future.

In the photo montage below: Top row (l. to r.): Mike Whitmore assisted by Godfrey librarian Sharon Dahlmeyer-Giovannitti (with James & Regina Cornwall to the right); Stan Bowe, Mark Phelps, & David Bowe at Godfrey; Jo Lynn Campbell, Mike Campbell, & Janet Wallace at dinner. 2nd row (l. to r.): Woody Exley, Linda Whitmore, Hal Whitmore, & (next photo) Sue Welles at Don & Lyn Brock's Wine & Cheese Social; Michael H.G. Whitmore, Sandra Salm, Connie Bernholz, Barbara McCarthy, & Mark Phelps at dinner; and Woody Exley, Augie DeFrance, Sue Welles, & Don Brock at dinner. 3rd row (l. to r.): Augie DeFrance, Barb Stenberg, Barbara McCarthy, & Reg Bacon at Washington Street Cemetery; Riverside Cemetery; Middlefield Old Burying Ground; and Sue Welles, Don Brock, Hal Whitmore, & Stan Wetmore at Middlefield. Bottom row (l. to r.): Ruth Shapleigh-Brown presenting information at Middlefield Old Burying Ground; Richard Donahue of the Cromwell Historical Society; Erik Hesselberg presenting at Russell Library; Dr. Ronald Schatz presenting at Carmen Anthony's Restaurant; and the audience gathering at Russell Library's Hubbard Room.


SMFSD exhibits at the 2011
New England Regional Genealogical Conference

On April 7, 2011 SMFSD exhibited at the Society Fair at the New England Regional Genealogical Conference. The 2011 conference was held April 6-10 in Springfield, Mass., and featured four very full days of genealogy-related educational programs and seminars at both the Sheraton and Marriott hotels. The Society Fair early on Thursday evening was an opportunity to showcase the organization before hundreds of genealogy enthusiasts --- and potential members. The SMFSD exhibit included display panels, recent newsletters, membership brochures, and a laptop to demonstrate the SMFSD web site. Representing SMFSD were Marge Piersen, Sue Welles, and R.W. Bacon. In the photo montage below (clockwise from top right): SMFSD's display table, the crowd at the Society Fair event, SMFSD's Marge Piersen (r.) chatting with a potential member, and the laptop web site showcase.


Triennial Meeting in Middletown, Aug. 27-30, 2009

The SMFSD Triennial Meeting Aug. 27-30, 2009 drew members from across the continent to Middletown, Conn. for four days of immersion in genealogy and local history. Descendants of Middletown's earliest settler families arrived from 14 states to enjoy a stimulating schedule of library research, member networking, cemetery walks, museum visits, guest speakers, and social gatherings. Many thanks are extended to SMFSD board members, presenters, attendees, and our numerous hosts in Middletown and Hartford for their contributions to our successful weekend. (See the Fall 2009 Middler for more details and photos about the 2009 Triennial Meeting.)

In the photo montage below: In the top left photo (l. to r.) are Tom Smith, R.W. Bacon, & Toni Smith. In the top right photo at Riverside Cemetery are (l. to r.) John Cornwell, William Cornwell, Janet Wallace, L.J. Newton, Pat Doherty, Michele Doherty, Marge Piersen, Sue Welles, & Don Brock. In the middle row of photos (l. to r.) are Sue Welles, Tom Smith, James Cornwall, Barb Stenberg, the Connecticut State Library in Hartford, the stacks at CSL, and Russell Library in Middletown. In the bottom row of photos (l. to r.) are guest speaker Augie DeFrance, Michele Doherty, Janet Wallace, Pat Doherty, and SMFSD officers Marge Piersen, Barb Stenberg, Sue Welles, & Don Brock.


SMFSD exhibits at the 2009
New England Regional Genealogical Conference

On April 23, 2009 the SMFSD exhibited at the Society Fair at the New England Regional Genealogy Conference in Manchester, N.H. Held at the Radisson Hotel and Expo Center, the event featured four days of genealogy-related educational sessions. The Society Fair was an opportunity for SMFSD to connect with prospective members. The SMFSD mounted its exhibit of display panels, distributed membership brochures, and showcased the organization's web site on a laptop computer. As a visual aid, next to the computer was the bulging 300-plus-page binder --- the hard-copy content of the web site. Representing SMFSD --- and looking spiffy in their SMFSD shirts --- were (l. to r.) Marge Piersen, R.W. Bacon, Barb Stenberg, Sue Welles, and Don Brock.


SMFSD participates in the 2007
New England Regional Genealogical Conference

On April 26, 2007 the SMFSD participated in the Society Fair at the New England Regional Genealogy Conference in Hartford, Conn. Held at the Connecticut Convention Center, the event featured four days of seminars on a broad variety of genealogy topics. The Society Fair, open to the public 5-7 p.m. Thursday, was an opportunity for historical societies and hereditary organizations to dispense information to prospective members. Representing SMFSD were Margery Piersen, Suzanne Welles, Donald & Lyn Brock, Thomas Smith, and R.W. Bacon. The group coordinated banner and table displays, and showcased SMFSD photos, publications, and the new web site.

Below, top left, SMFSD treasurer/historian Tom Smith explores the new web site, which was showcased on a laptop computer at the conference. Staffing the booth (top right, l. to r.) were secretary Marge Piersen, vice commander Suzanne Welles, Middler editor R.W. Bacon, Tom Smith, and registrar Don Brock. At bottom row, center, conference attendees huddle around the SMFSD genealogy materials assembled for the display.


Triennial Meeting in Middletown, Aug. 18-20, 2006

Middletown cousins, genealogists, and local history enthusiasts from across the U.S. gathered in their ancestral hometown August 18-20, 2006 for the Triennial Meeting of the Society of Middletown First Settlers Descendants. From meeting headquarters at the Marriott Residence Inn in Rocky Hill, Conn., attendees from as far away as California and Washington embraced a jam-packed weekend of genealogy and history activities. The event, planned mostly long-distance by SMFSD officers, included two days of research (Godfrey Library, Russell Library, Connecticut State Library, and Connecticut Historical Society Library), one business meeting, an after-dinner speaker (Nicholas Bellantoni, Conn. Museum of Natural History), an all-day museum visit (Sturbridge Village in Mass.), and after-hours opportunities for networking, comparing notes, and socializing.

Below, top left, is the group photo outside Godfrey Library. Pictured, l. to r., are Mike Cornwell, Library Director Richard Black, Tom Smith, Gale Cornwell, Donald Salm, Sandra Dudley, Al Dudley, Barbara Stenberg, Sandra Salm, Marge Piersen, Suzanne Welles, Donald Brock, and Candace Bryan. In the photo at top right are SMFSD founder Gale Cornwell and his grandson Mike Cornwell. Directly below are SMFSD officers at the business meeting: (l. to r.) Tom Smith (Historian), Barb Stenberg (Commander), Donald Brock (Registrar), and Suzanne Welles (Vice Commander). At middle row left is the headless T-shirt man in front of the AGBI at Godfrey. In the photos at the bottom row are (l. to r.) Suzanne Welles, Donald Brock, Tom Smith, Al Dudley, Candace Bryan, Sandra Dudley, Sandra Salm, Donald Salm, and Karen Dziok. (Photos by Barb Stenberg, Suzanne Welles, and R.W. Bacon.) Additional photos of the event are in The Middler newsletter archive.


Triennial Meeting, Middletown, Aug. 29-Sept. 1, 2003

The Society of Middletown First Settlers Descendants convened in Middletown for its Triennial Meeting Aug. 29 - Sept. 1, 2003. There were 40 people in attendance, including some non-members representing the Ranney family, who were also holding a family reunion in Cromwell, Conn. The major research destination on Saturday was the library of the Connecticut Society of Genealogists. From there the group proceeded to Hartford for a riverboat cruise which included lunch. The SMFSD business meeting was held Saturday afternoon. The guest speaker after the Saturday evening banquet was Gerald Seagrave of the Cromwell Historical Society. The Sunday museum destination for this meeting was the Pequot Museum in Mashantucket, Conn. On Monday, Donald Brock led a walking tour of Main Street, Middletown, pointing out locations of first settler homesteads. For more information on this meeting, consult The Middler, September 2003. Below are photos of this meeting discovered in late 2011. In the group photo at top left, (l. to r.): James Cornwall, Don Brock, unidentified, Barb Stenberg, Sue Welles, Dorothy Alair, unidentified, unidentified, Sandra Dudley, Al Dudley, unidentified, Sandra Salm, unidentified, unidentified. In the photo at top right, the group prepares to board the Mark Twain for a Connecticut River cruise. At bottom left, the group prepares to tour the Pequot Museum. At bottom right, attendees explore Riverside Cemetery, the oldest in Middletown.


Special meeting:
Middletown's 350th Anniversary, September 2001

The Society of Middletown First Settlers Descendants gathered in Middletown on Labor Day Weekend, September 1-3, 2001 to help celebrate the 350th anniversary of the original settlement. In addition to meetings at Godfrey Library, the group participated in the rededication of Founders Rock on Saturday (with placement of a new plaque honoring the first women settlers) and in the parade the following day.

The photos below, clockwise, from top left, the group in period wardrobe prior to the parade; the business meeting at Godfrey Library (officers at the table: l. to r., Donald Brock, Barbara Stenberg, and Leigh Hanscom); the final preparation of the parade wagon; Mike Cornwall and Eric Stenberg carrying the flag; and a view of the SMFSD group from along the parade route on Main Street. (Photos by Mike Cornwall, Gale Cornwell, Eric Stenberg, & Donald Brock.) Additional photos of the event are in The Middler newsletter archive.


The inaugural meeting of SMFSD, October 2000

The Society of Middletown First Settlers Descendants was founded in 2000 by Gale Thomas Howe-Cornwell, whose grandfather led the initiative to install the plaque on "Founders Rock" at Middletown's 250th anniversary in 1900. In 1996 Gale Cornwell began contacting descendants of Middletown first settlers with the idea of participating in the 350th anniversary. By 2000 over 200 people across the U.S. had signed on to Cornwell's idea, and on Oct. 29, with 58 in attendance in Middletown, the SMFSD was officially formed as a genealogical society. Officers were elected, bylaws adopted, and Godfrey Memorial Library offered to house society archives. Plaques were mounted at the library commemorating the 350th anniversary of Middletown's settlement and recognizing the first settlers.

The photos below show some scenes from the October 2000 meeting at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell, Conn., which was hosted by E. Franklin Romig II, the Governor of the Connecticut Society of the Order of the Founders and Patriots of America. Clockwise, from top left, our founder Gale Cornwell accepting a proclamation from Middletown mayor Domenique S. Thornton; our initial slate of officers being sworn in by our founder (l. to r., Donald Brock, registrar, Barbara Stenberg, commander; Julia Snow, treasurer; and Leigh Hanscom, secretary); Founders Rock at Riverside Cemetery; Gale proudly displaying the proclamation; and Donald Brock reading the original plaque placed in 1900. Additional photos of the meeting are in The Middler newsletter archive.