Suffield Trivia

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1. Isabella Stewart Gardner, art collector and founder of an art museum in Boston which is named for her, has a connection to Suffield. What is it?

a. She posed for a painting in Suffield.
b. Her ancestors resided in Suffield.
c. Willis Seaver Adams, a landscape painter and Suffield resident, gave her one of his paintings which hangs in the museum.

2. The Suffield Observer will be observing a special anniversary next year marking the year of its first issue. When did it start?

a. 2009
b. 1984
c. 1999

3. In the presidential election of 1860, Suffield was noted when the Hartford Courant published the election results. What was Suffield’s election news?

a. Suffield’s election results were not tabulated for the published election results.
b. The majority of Suffield votes were for Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln’s opponent.
c. Suffield reported ballot tampering.

4. Ran Blake was born in 1935 and grew up in Suffield. He has a Wikipedia page, and yet seems unknown in his hometown. Why is he notable?

a. He is a jazz pianist and composer.
b. He is a three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500.
c. He is a comic book author who writes under the name Frank Miller.

5. Henry Watson was born in servitude in Maryland in 1830, but he also has a connection to Suffield after he achieved his freedom. What is it?

a. He was part of the Underground Railroad and conducted people through Suffield.
b. He enlisted in the 29th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, Company E, at Suffield.
c. He resided in Suffield and became the town barber.

6. Did the Connecticut Literary Institute admit women when it first opened in 1833?

7. Sylvanus Dryden Phelps (1816-1895), who grew up in Suffield, became a noteworthy Baptist minister who served in New Haven’s First Baptist Church for 28 years. He published poems, travel writings and hymns which were popular at the time. In addition to Reverend Phelps, Suffield is known as the home of another hymn writer. What was his name?

a. Hezekiah Sheldon
b. Olin Levi Warner
c. Timothy Swan

8. The American Anti-Slavery Society was formed in 1833. In February 1838, a convention of the Society assembled in Hartford. Two Suffield men attended: Charles Sherman, grandson of Roger Sherman, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and Josiah McWhinnie. McWhinnie was a young Scottish soldier who came to Suffield to be educated at the Connecticut Literary Institute. He wrote The Converted Soldier…a portion of which describes his time at the school when he was a student and briefly a teacher. Who founded the American Anti-Slavery Society?

a. Prudence Crandall
b. William Lloyd Garrison
c. John Brown

9. Some early New England houses had fireplaces in the cellar. One of the seven fireplaces in the Alexander King house is in the cellar. Which statements about fireplaces in colonial homes are accurate?

a. Basement fireplaces in early America were frequently associated with inns and taverns and in the homes of wealthy people with a domestic staff.
b. A cellar fireplace could have been used to cook food in the summer to reduce the heat in the house.
c. Colonial fireplaces often had large mantels.

10. Did the Suffield Historical Society come into existence in 1960 when Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Reid Spencer donated the Alexander King House to it?


1. b. Isabella Tod, Isabella Stewart Gardner’s grandmother was the daughter of David Tod, a wealthy entrepreneur who lived in Suffield and whose handsome house still stands on North Main Street.
2. c. 1999
3. c. In Suffield, a fake ballot “was circulated on the sly, and twenty-nine found their way into the ballot-box before the trick was discovered.”
4. a. Ran Blake is a jazz pianist and composer, professor and founder of the Department of Contemporary Improvisation at the New England Conservatory in association with Gunther Schuller. He is known for his unique style that combines blues, gospel, classical, and film noir influences. He has played on more than forty jazz albums. Some of his own albums received critical acclaim. Unfortunately, his 1983 album, Suffield Gothic, was not well received. Its cover photograph shows the musicians standing on the Suffield Green in front of the First Congregational Church.
5. b. He enlisted in the 29th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, Company E, at Suffield, under the United States Colored Troops. He is best known for helping to organize the meeting of Frederick Douglass and John Brown prior to Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry. He also assisted O. Perry Andersen, the only known escapee from Harpers Ferry.
6. No. Women were admitted in 1843 when forty-one women attended. However, the answer is more complicated. In 1918, the school converted to a “Military School for Boys.” Women were not readmitted until 1974.
7. c. Timothy Swan (1758-1842)
8. b. William Lloyd Garrison
9. a. and b. are accurate. True mantels were rare before the 1800’s. The very earliest American hearths were flush with the wall.
10. No. The Suffield Historical Society was founded in 1940. The Society did not own or rent property before the Spencer’s donation when the King House became its home.

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