Dec 2, 2022
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When was the color line broken in the Hartford Fire Department? And how did a high school dropout and a Vietnam vet both become distinguished firefighters in the Hartford Fire Department? Hear their inspiring first-hand stories of growing up in Hartford’s African American community in the North End in and dive into the detective work done to uncover the story of William Henry Jacklyn, Hartford’s first Black firefighter.
Our 2022 Winter issue of Connecticut Explored magazine celebrates citizen historians who come to their subjects because of a deep need to understand or uncover some person or event or answer a question they could not brush aside. Many become public advocates for their historical findings and projects. Both of the guests in this episode, Chief Charles Teale, Sr. and Captain Steven Harris were honored as Connecticut History Game Changers by Connecticut Explored magazine and both are passionate avocational historians.
Chief Teale served as a member of the Hartford Fire Dept. from 1982-2010, retiring as chief. Always interested in Hartford’s history even as a teenager, Chief Teale researched and documented the many outstanding accomplishments of the Hartford Fire Dept to the fire service profession throughout its 221-year history. This included uncovering the William Henry Jacklyn story.
Captain Steven Harris began his career as a fire fighter in 1970, retiring in 1997 as a captain in the department and was voted Firefighter of the Year in Connecticut. In 2021, the Hartford Public Library partnered with Captain Harris to create a mural honoring Jacklyn on the Phoenix Society building at 729 Windsor St. in Hartford. The mural was painted by artists Lindaluz Carrillo and Kayla Farrell with an intergenerational group of community members.
The Phoenix Society is a black fraternal organization of firefighters the was formed in 1965 in Hartford. John B. Stewart, Jr, Hartford’s first African American fire chief, was the first president. The Society works to help its members toward promotional goals and to foster a closer relationship with the community. Learn more about the Phoenix Society at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_Society_(firefighters)
Read more about our 20 for 20 Connecticut History Game Changers here:
And read more about Hartford history from Chief Teale here;
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This episode of Grating the Nutmeg was produced by Mary Donohue and engineered by Patrick O’Sullivan of High Wattage Media at https://www.highwattagemedia.com/
Donohue has documented the built environment and pop culture for over 30 years. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org