Easton raid. Readers may recall my coverage of the 2008 police raid in Easton, Connecticut, wherein cops hungry for a big drug bust stormed into a house, killed one of two occupants — and found only residual drug traces. Susana Guizan, the mother of the slain man, filed a civil suit against the six towns which contributed men and materiel to the raid. A newspaper reported the case was supposed to go to trial in October 2011 but the attorney for the Guizan family told me it is currently scheduled for May or June of this year. Discovery is complete and the court is now litigating motions for summary judgment.

Smedley’s gravestone. Permitting is underway to have Samuel Smedley’s fallen gravestone removed and reinscribed. Vanguard Bill Lee, who painted the art composing the cover of Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer, is scheduled to appear before the town selectmen this week as part of the process. While there’s no doubt Smedley will have a refreshed gravestone sometime this year, I don’t believe it will be ready by June 13.

Paddleboarding. My boys and I had another strong season of adventure, albeit one cut short by Irene and the ensuing high bacteria counts in the water. Alas, the increasing mass of my two lieutenants means we’re edging closer to our Versa Board’s maximum weight allowance of 300 lbs. The Versa is still great on rivers or in the marshes but on the Sound with all three of us it’s like paddling a rock. I think this year I’ll pick up an inexpensive inflatable board for my oldest and then either keep the Versa for a final summer or sell it and buy a lighter board for me and the youngest. So if you’re in the market for a used but well-maintained Versa Board, make me an offer. Unique visitors in 2011 were nearly double those in 2010, with just under 37,000 more hits as well. The top five countries of origin also made more sense than in 2010: USA; Germany and the Netherlands (logical considering my last name); and China and Russia. These last two results can only be a combination of hackers, spammers, and government censors. Seriously — you should see the spam queue.

Mark Your Calendar

I’ve added two new dates to the Upcoming Appearances page.

I’ll be signing copies of Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer at the Fairfield University Bookstore in downtown Fairfield (1499 Post Road) at 1pm on Saturday, December 17. It makes a great Christmas gift!

And on February 13th, 2012, I’ll be speaking about Smedley, Defence, prize division, and the fall of the Connecticut state navy at the Westport Public Library.

Stratford Historical Society, Nov. 18, 7pm

Friday I’ll be at the Christ Episcopal Church in Stratford, Connecticut, delivering my presentation on Samuel Smedley, prize division, and the rise and fall of the Connecticut state navy. The evening is hosted by the Stratford Historical Society. If you’re in the vicinity, come on out — you can learn about Connecticut’s Rev War history and still have time afterwards to hit the discothèque. Info here.

My Interview on

Nick Gillespie at graciously asked to interview me about Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer. This was back in July; the outside temperature was close to triple digits, which is why my shirt is open to the navel; and if you squint you can see the sweat drying on my forehead. But I’m very grateful to Nick, cameraman Josh Swain, and most of all editor Meredith Bragg, who cut the video so that I don’t resemble the blabbering idiot I was during the interview. Thank you!

Connecticut River Museum, Nov. 3, 5:30pm

I’m flattered to be the speaker for the Connecticut River Museum’s annual Horace Beck Lecture next week. I will be discussing Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer and specifically the method of prize division that was the undoing of the Connecticut state navy during the American Revolution.

If you’ve never been, the Connecticut River Museum is a wonderful place on the banks of the Connecticut River focusing on the area’s 18th- and 19th-century maritime trade. It has a lot of great hands-on exhibits for children, including a 1:1 model of the submarine Turtle that kids can hop into and pretend to operate. It’s also right down the street from the gastrotacular Griswold Inn.

The presentation begins at 5:30pm on Thursday, November 3. All the deets here.

Smedley’s Stone

A number of people have contacted me regarding the restoration of Samuel Smedley’s crumbled gravestone, seen above. Here’s how events stand.

Historian and artist Bill Lee, who painted the images composing the cover of Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer, is spearheading the effort to restore the stone. He has officially proposed restoration to the probate judge, whose office is responsible for the town cemeteries, and suggested an ad hoc committee of six (including the judge, Bill, and me) to oversee the process.

The next step is to have a professional examine the stone to see if it can be re-inscribed and reused. If not, then a new stone will be installed. Since Smedley was a veteran, public funds may be available to assist (particularly in the latter scenario — a new stone may cost as little as $25). Obviously financial estimates depend upon the assessment and the decision of how to proceed.

We’d like to unveil the restored or new stone on June 13, 2012 — the 200th anniversary of his death.

The original inscription never mentions Smedley’s service in the American Revolution. It reads:

late Collector of Customes
for the District of Fairfield
died June 13, 1812.
Aged 59.

So in either case, it has been suggested that a plaque be placed near the gravestone more fully detailing Smedley’s life and role in Independence. If it’s determined to move forward with that idea, then we’ll very likely pass around the collection plate. In the meantime, I will post periodic updates here.