The Hartford County Bar Association’s origins can be traced to November 14, 1783, when a formidable group of thirty-two men gathered at the well known local establishment known as Ripley’s Tavern and adopted a governing code of practice and fees entitled “Regulations of the Barr.” The illustrious signers who founded the Association included Oliver Ellsworth, Oliver Wolcott, Jr., Enoch Perkins, John Trumbull, and Ephraim Root.
The earliest known president of the Association is Charles Enoch Perkins. Perkins served as president for thirty-one years, from 1886 to 1917. In the early years, the Association focused on the quality and quantity of attorneys practicing in Hartford County. One of the Association’s main functions was to pass on the admission of attorneys into practice. Another was to honor those deceased members who had served in the legal community. Early Association minutes are replete with eloquent memorial resolutions.
In early December, 1928, a Committee on Reorganization of the Bar was appointed. Its purpose was to recommend measures for making the Bar Association more active. The Committee was composed of six prestigious members: States Attorney Hugh M. Alcorn, Joseph F. Berry, Richard H. Deming, Solomon Elsner, Robert P. Butler and S. Russell Mink. The Committee’s efforts produced a newly drafted Constitution with accompanying By-Laws. These documents were unanimously adopted on January 1, 1931. Hugh M. Alcorn was elected the first president under the new scheme. The Constitution and By-Laws enacted during this time have remained as the framework for the Association’s operation during the present time.
2008 marked the 225th anniversary of the Hartford County Bar Association. A celebration dinner was held on December 8, 2008 at The Marriott Hartford Downtown. Over 300 members were in attendance. The program was hosted by the organization’s president, Kathryn Calibey and United States Senator Christopher J. Dodd gave the Keynote Address. The culmination of the event was a special tribute to the organization’s past presidents.
Anniversary Celebration Committee Members
- - President Calibey’s remarks
- Governor Rell Proclamation
- Connecticut Bar Association Citation
- Presidents of the Hartford County Bar Association
- List of Presidents: 1886-present
- History Committee Publication: Hartford County Bar Association Presidents*
OUR FINEST HOUR - THE CIRCUS FIRE
by Joseph P. Kenny
The Circus was in town again. It was 2:40 p.m., July 6, 1944. The place was Cleveland and Barbour Streets in Hartford, Connecticut. The big cats were moving through the runways to their cages. The flying Wallenda family had just swung up to their high perches for the start of their act. The laughter and applause had almost faded when the cry of “fire” soared above the music of the main entrance, and in a few moments, was rapidly consuming the top of the tent. Panic seized hundreds, and a mad rush was made for safety.
By nightfall, there were 152 deaths listed and 225 persons injured, and several more casualties were reported on subsequent days. The Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus hovered near the abyss of total collapse. Within forty-eight hours, suits for damages had started, and the seventy-nine red and yellow cars bearing the big top were posted with lien notices. The Circus was impounded. The lawsuits continued to climb. The event was reported throughout the world as a home-front war catastrophe. In 2000, the circus fire was called the most important Connecticut news story of the 20th century.
225th Anniversary Celebration
Kathryn A. Calibey
Honorable Anne C. Dranginis
Honorable Alexandra D. DiPentima
John C. King
In honor of the Association’s 225th Anniversary, the History Committee compiled an overview of the individuals who have served as president from 1886 through 2008. The publication contains biographical sketches of the deceased presidents and quotes from contemporary presidents. The biographical sketches were compiled with information available from the Hartford County Bar Association records, newspaper articles and obituaries, historical references and internet sources.
* If you are an HCBA Member and are interested in obtaining a copy of this publication, please contact the HCBA office at (860) 525-8106.
Hartford County Bar Association Award Recipients
Our Thanks to the Members of the HCBA History Committee
Mark A. Rosenblum
Claudia A. Baio
John L. Bonee, III
Kathryn A. Calibey
Hon. John R. Caruso
Hon. Henry S. Cohn
Patrick J. Flaherty
Ryan P Greco
Michele G. Kostin
Gregory W McCracken
Hon. A. Susan Peck
Michael S. Taylor