Coltsville Timeline

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About the Coltsville Timeline

This guide is a timeline for the process of Coltsville petitioning to become part of the National Park Service. The major focus is on the federal legislation driving this process and the general history related to what is now called Coltsville. It is updated periodically. For histories of the Colt firearms: search our catalog; explore archives finding aids; look at the Colt Industries web site; go to the National Park site; and look at the "Further Research and Reading" and "Additional Resources" pages on this guide (updated periodically).

Public Law 113-291 includes a series of "Conditions for Establishment" that must be met before the park may be formally established. The National Park Service (NPS) is in the process of meeting the criteria.

Previously this research guide linked to most steps in the legislative process. As of April 2022, this guide will be streamlined by linking to the federal bill histories for the legislative process. Bill histories in Congress.gov include links to the relevant documents for a federal legislative history. Consult our research guide on federal legislative histories or  contact our reference librarians for additional information on the process. For detailed information about Coltsville becoming part of the National Park Service, please see our older archived guide:

Defense Rally at Colt's, 1941

Defense Rally 1941

Flood of 1936 - Aerial view of factory

Flood of 1936 - Aerial view of factory

Armory fire - Armory and equipment

Armory Fire

Connecticut State Library, State Archives, PG 460, Colt Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company, Box 3, Folder 5, Item 4

Some rights reserved

Colt's armory complex - Old office building

Office Building

1980s

1982

Riverfront Recapture releases original plan, which includes a public park on banks of Connecticut River. The uncompleted section is opposite Coltsville, and is incorporated into the Coltsville plan. Riverfront Plan by Riverfront Recapture, Inc, 1982

1980

Hartford Architecture Conservancy identifies Sheldon/Charter Oak neighborhood to be preserved in their survey.

1970s

1976

June 8, 1976 The Colt Industrial District placed on the National Register of Historic Places and recognized as the Colt Industrial National Register District. The district includes Armsmear, the Colt Fire Arms factory complex, Colt Park, three manager houses, and worker housing. Federal Register September 2, 2004, p.53733 

Blue onion dome and colt rampart restoration paid by anonymous donor. Source 28

1970s

In the 1970's the NPS started the process of making it a National Historic Landmark. [22] 

1940s through 1960s

November 11, 1966

Formerly Known As Samuel Colt Home, Armsmear was designated a National Historic Landmark (NHL) by the Secretary of the Interior

1964

Company becomes Colt Industries

1961

Samuel Colt Presents, exhibit at Wadsworth Atheneum. Exhibit book published. Samuel Colt's presentations of firearms. Source 37

Colt company celebrated its 125th anniversary. Source 37

1957

Colt Fire Arms Collection give to the Museum of Connecticut History (from The Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company Factory Collection). 

1955

Company bought by Penn-Texas, main plant moved to West Hartford. Company struggled and was bought out by the conglomerate Penn-Texas in 1955. The main plant moved to West Hartford, but production of the Colt AR-15 and M-16 automatic rifles, introduced in 1960 and used by the American military since the Vietnam War.

1942

Art modern building replaces the Italianate office building

1941

Spring - United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, CIO organized at Colt.

1900 through 1930s

1938

Hurricane of 1938

September 17-21. The Colt Dike had been rebuilt and extended after the 1936 flood. Again sandbags (many filled with loam) were used to raise and reinforce the dike. Items on the first floor of factory were moved to the second floor. The flood topped at 35 feet. Source 28

1936

Flood of 1936

March - Great Flood of 1936. March 11 - heavy rain. Vermont and New Hampshire sections of Connecticut River filled with melting snow. An ice jam formed where Farmington River joined the Connecticut River, which broke on Friday, March 13. The river hit a flood stage of 24 feet. By Sunday, it crested and began to recede. More heavy rain and melting snow brought the Connecticut River to 25 feet by Wednesday, March 18, and it continued to rise. People were evacuated from neighborhoods near the river. The dike was raised with sandbags, but the flood breached it on Thursday. The flood filled the first floor of the Colt factory and reached two feet on the second floor. Employee Robert Courtney is credited with saving the shipping ledgers. There was a wall of water when the dike gave way. It was Saturday morning before the river crested. At Colt, the water was recorded at 38.5 feet. Machines, engines, belts - they all needed to be dismantled, cleaned, dried, reassembled because the water and mud had reached the second floor. Three buildings were razed and replaced with modern ones. In Connecticut Valley, there was more destruction than Hurricane of 1938. Source 28, 37.

June 1936

Construction of storehouse and recreation center

March 13, 1935

Start of thirteen week strike. Management had police restrict strikers to standing two abreast outside the main entrance. The company lost their "Blue Eagle" which meant it was not in good standing to receive government contracts. There were reports of violence directed at workers crossing the picket line as well as management and executives. Several sources, including Source 28, 37.

1934

Independent Association of Colt Employees disbanded. Source 28

May - three craft unions formed a joint council and attempted to bargain with Colt.  Eventually the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Colt had refused to bargain collectively and gave the company ten days to recognize the  joint council. March 13 strike came out of Colt's refusal to comply.  Source 28

1929

Armory House demolished

1921

Resigned from the board: Colonel Skinner (president); Stone (vice-president); Frank Schirmer. source 28

1920s

Following the end of World War I, Colt Industries planned to diversify their manufacturing with adding machines, washing machines and acquiring plastics company (renamed Coltrock). source 28

1916

To fill the extraordinary demands of the war, the Colt plant underwent a major expansion in 1916, adding the South and North Armories, the Machine Shop, and several smaller structures. This expansion effectively doubled the capacity of the plant.

1914

World War One begins. USA joined in 1917. Women began to work in factories outside of textile industry. Source 28.

1911

Army adopts Colt .45 as standard sidearm.

1905

August 21, 1905 - Elizabeth Hart Jarvis Colt dies, leaving the Elizabeth Hart Jarvis Colt Collection to the Wadsworth Atheneum, along with $50,000 to build the Colt Memorial Wing. 105 acres of Armsmear grounds was left to City of Hartford for a public park.

Before her death, Elizabeth Colt prepared that summer by going over details for statue of Sam Colt that would be erected in Colt Park; paying one last visit to Caldwell's yacht the Dauntless; assembling small gifts of remembrance; leaving orders for her horses to be shot and buried. $800,000 was left to the Church of the Good Shepherd to maintain the church and parish house. Source 28.

1903

January 21, 1903 Richard Jarvis (brother of Elizabeth Colt) dies on ninth anniversary of Caldwell Colt's death. Source 28 and State Library death records.

1901

Company sold to Armstrong & Schirmer and a holding company was formed.

After 54 years, Colt was no longer family owned. Source 28

General William B. Franklin stepped down from being director. Source 28

May - "Fifty thousand machinists and metal workers went on strike across the country in May." They were seeking a nine hour day and time and a half over nine hours. Colt workers did not join the strike, although others in the state did. p.57 source 28.

1850- 1899

1850 through 1899

1896

September dedication of the Good Shepherd Parish House. Source 28 The Caldwell Hart Colt Memorial House formally opened on September 10, 1896. Caldwell was the only child of the Colts to reach adulthood. The design incorporated themes on Caldwell's love of the sea and of travel and a full size portrait of Caldwell Colt by Eastman Johnson. A portrait of Elizabeth Colt, by Charles Noel Flagg, was presented to her by the parishioners on the day of dedication. There are rooms specially designed for the women's societies and guilds  on one side and others for the men's guilds, as well as a classrooms for younger children's Sunday school. The library and reading room had books, newspapers, and art. The lower level was dedicated to physical exercise, with a bowling alley, weights, bath room and other accessories. The building was to support the mission of the church and also offer a quiet retreat from active homes. Source 38, which includes detailed description and Elizabeth Colt's letter to the parish and the main address of the day.

1894

Eldest son, Caldwell Colt ("Collie") died.

January 21 1894 - Commodore Caldwell Hart Colt, 35, died in Punta Gorda, Florida. Source 29, 30, 38. He had been Vice-Commodore of the New York Yacht Club and Commodore of the Larchmont Club. Source 38

Several paternity suits were filed against the estate after Caldwell's death. While Elizabeth Colt worked to present Caldwell as a respectable son, it has been said that Caldwell Colt was shot by an angry husband as Colt ran from the bedroom. Source 37.

1890

Colt Bicycle Club formed for employees. It lasted for seven years. Source 28.

1888

General William B. Franklin retired from Colt to work at Hartford Steam. He remained director of armory until 1901. Source 28

Caldwell Colt vice-resident of Colt company for two years. Source 29.

March 11, 1888 The Great Blizzard of 1888

1886

Colt factory began to switch to electrical power. Source 28

1884

May 5, 1884 - COLT & Another v. COLT, Executrix. 111 U.S. 566 Supreme Court decision on Samuel Colt's will. Source 36

1881

U.S. Circuit Court ruled on LeBaron B. Colt et.al. vs. Mrs. E. H. Colt, finding for defendants. The case contested the will of Samuel Colt. Source 35.

1880

Caldwell Colt became a director at the company. source 28.

1879

Children of James B. Colt filed suit to contest Samuel Colt's will. Source 35.

1877

"A collection assembled in 1877. The forty-six Colts in this display were exhibited at Schuyler, Hartley and Graham, New York, in the last quarter of the nineteenth century." page 304, Source 37.

1876

Colt exhibited at the Philadelphia. Elizabeth Colt attended. Source 28. 

1874-1891

Mark Twain lived in Hartford. Colt factory appealed to his interest in mechanics. Some say Sam Colt might have been an inspiration for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Source 37 , and others

1873

Fire destroyed willowware factory. It was not rebuilt. Source 28.

1869

Church of the Good Shepherd parish house commissioned. Elizabeth Colt commissioned Edward Tuckerman Potter to design parish house and recreation hall in Caldwell Colt's memory. It had a nautical theme in design and decoration in honor of Caldwell's love of the sea. Source 28, 38, and several others.

Church of the Good Shepherd completed at 155 Wyllys in Samuel Colt's memory. 

Church of the Good Shepherd consecrated on January 28, 1869. The west window has a memorial to Samuel Colt and their infant children: Samuel Jarvis Colt, Elizabeth Jarvis Colt, and Henrietta Selden Colt. There are memorials to other family members too. The font is also a memorial to the three children who did not survive infancy. "The vessels of Communion Service were made chiefly from articles of silver which had been gifts to the infant children." [n.p.] During the consecration, the sermon said that this church was for rich and poor to worship together. Source 38

1867

First machine fun, the Gatling, produced

Construction completed on rebuilt armory, including a new dome.

1866

Mrs. Colt chose Edward Tuckerman Potter as her architect for the Church of the Good Shepherd. serval sources and Source 38 - which includes a detailed description of the building.

1865

Elizabeth Colt began to organize a new parish in the South Meadow and was planning to erect a memorial church in memory of her husband, Sam Colt.

February, plans for new armory - making it four stories and as fireproof as possible, including fire brigade in each story of existing buildings. Source 28

April - foundation laid for new armory. Source 28

Elizabeth Colt commissioned Charles Loring Elliott to paint a life size portrait of Samuel Colt and another of she and Caldwell. Source 37. Mother and son posed in 1866. Source 37.

Civil War ended. Firearms industry slowed. Colt production was reduced. Source 37.

Richard W.H. Jarvis president of Colt 1865-1901. Source 37

February 4, 1864

Fire at the Armory.

February. When the fire was first discovered in the attic, a hose was run up, but there was no water. The factory was running on two ten hour shifts and it was common that workers were locked into their departments. They were released as the top floor collapsed. Local volunteer fire companies arrived after the upper part of the old section collapsed, and pumped water from the river to the fire. Several local industries stopped production and sent employees to help fight the fire. Elizabeth Colt was present when the blue onion dome fell. The building had oil-soaked wood and gun powder to fuel the fire. The new wing was made with brick walls and was fire resistant. Production for the U.S. military contract was able to continue. But the older half of the armory, which included the office, was destroyed. Only one death was reported. There was a call to have paid fire department, which the established by October. Cause of fire was never determined. Sam Colt did not have fire insurance. After his death it had been purchased prior to the fire, but the financial loss was still great. Production immediately moved to the tobacco warehouse. Source 37. Elizabeth Colt immediately called for rebuilding exactly as Sam Colt had left the building, although it took several years. After Elisha Root's death, Elizabeth Colts brother, Richard Jarvis, became head of the company and William B. Franklin the new executive. Jarvis had previously been involved with Colt's failed land speculations and mining, and later he managed the willow ware factory. He served as president for 36 years. Franklin remained director of the armory until 1901. Source 28, 31

James B. Colt contested Samuel Colt's will. Source 35.

1863

Samuel Caldwell Colt (nephew) married at Armsmear. Elizabeth Colt "presented the couple with a nice home across the street." p.54 source 28.

January 1862

January 10, 1862 - Samuel Colt dies in Hartford. 

Died at age 47. Buried on grounds of Armsmear, January 14, 1862. Survived by wife, Elizabeth, and son, Caldwell (3 years of age). Caldwell was the only one of their five children to survive infancy. "...a third daughter was stillborn, six months after the Colonel's death." page 154 Source 37.  Also survived by nephew, Samuel Caldwell Colt (rumored to be Sam's son). Shortly before his death, he named his brother-in-law, Richard Jarvis, to take the reins. Estate, controlled by Elizabeth Colt, was estimated at $15 million. Named beneficiaries included Elizabeth, son Caldwell, and nephew Samuel Caldwell Colt. Elisha K. Root became president of the company.  Source 28 Colt made provisions for after he died, selecting the next president. The prepaid funeral expenses were the last item in Sam's bank register. Although Source 37 does not indicate if Colt had planned all aspects of the elaborate funeral. Hundreds gathered on the grounds, as the house was filled. Employees marched to Armsmear to pay last respects, then formed and honor line from the house to the grave site. Source 37 

The will was contested and case went to US Supreme Court according to several articles in the Hartford Courant.

The factory was running extended shifts. Colt anticipated civil war and ramped up production several years prior. Source 37.

1860

Around this time Colt had skilled workers from Potsdam, Germany emigrate to Hartford in order to work in the willowware factory. The Swiss chalet-style Potsdam houses were built for these workers. 

February - Sam Colt was in Havana. He wrote to the factory to ramp up production so that there was a surplus of firearms, to make hay while the sun shines. The armory ran two ten-hour shifts. p.111 Source 37.

1858

Samuel Colt presented inscribed sets of firearms to Czar Alexander II of Russia and two of his brothers. Source 37

November 25 1858 - Caldwell Hart Colt born in Hartford. Source 38.

1857

Armsmear was built as Colt family residence. Style of Armsmear described as an Italianate villa. Colt had the grounds landscaped, and enjoyed having the work continued and expanded each year.  Several Sources. Armsmear "the meadow of arms" [n.p.] Source 38 

London factory closed. Source 28 Crimean War ended in 1856.

1856

June 5, 1856 Colt married Elizabeth Jarvis in Middletown. Colt chartered a steamboat to travel to Middletown. They toured Europe for six months, during which time they attended the coronation of Czar Alexander II. Source 28, Source 37

Sam and Elizabeth Colt became known for their paternalistic support of employees: good wages, homes near the factories, social hall, church, recreation areas, band, and so on. Various sources ; Source 37

May - Charter Oak Hall was dedicated. Colt built this as a place where his workers could gather for social events. With all the technical training within the factory, Colt had hoped to develop his own technical school. Source 28, Source 37

Colt Armory Band formed with Sam Colt's patronage. Instruments were engraved with a revolver and inscription according to a Connecticut Courant article of March 1856. Source 37  The band played at events (such as funerals), concerts, dances, and parades. 

1855

Model factory built in Hartford that employed the most advanced manufacturing technology. Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company incorporated. In 1855, Samuel Colt built a model factory in Hartford that employed the most advanced manufacturing technology. He also created an industrial community surrounding the factory that included housing, a beer garden, social hall and library, and a church. Various Sources ; Source 37

August 1855, dike and armory completed. source 28

1854

Summer - Construction of Armory began. Source 37

1853

Opened branch in London, being the first American to do so. Source. 28 Opened on the Thames, near Vauxhall Bridge. Source 37 Throughout the Crimean War, Colt had profitable contracts with the British government. Like in Hartford, Colt provided his London workers with conditions not commonly found in British firearms manufacturing: baths, reading rooms, modern ventilation, and in the winter, lighting and heat. Source 40

1851

May 1851 - Crystal Palace Exhibition in London: Colt revolvers displayed at this 1851 exhibition. System of interchangeability demonstrated as a highlight of the ''American System of Manufacturing." Several sources Samuel Colt met with Prince Albert and presented sets of firearms to several royals and other prominent people, as well as selling many. Source 37, 40

Samuel Colt buys property in South Meadows section of Hartford to build armory (completed in 1855).

Gave a speech to Institution of Civil Engineers, London, which was later published his own history of repeating firearms, Institution of Civil Engineers ICE), London. ICE elected Colt an associate member - and Colt had the diploma included in a later portrait. "On the Application of Machinery to the Manufacture of Rotating Chambered-breech Fire-Arms, and other Peculiarities of Those Arms" by S. Colt, in Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 1852, n. 1852, v. 11. Link to online version on the "Further Research and Reading" page of this guide. Source 37

Wins court case Colt vs. Massachusetts, preventing other companies from manufacturing firearms that infringe on the 1836 patent. Edward N. Dickerson was Colt's patent lawyer. Source 37 Samuel Colt vs. The Mass. Arms Company. Tried June 30, 1851, In U. S. Circuit Court, Boston, Mass.

1850s

Colt was a patron of artist George Catlin, known for his paintings of the frontier. Colt commissioned a series of lithographs from Catlin's paintings, which Colt used for promotional material.

"It is not generally known that Colonel Samuel Colt was himself the first Colt collector. Fully realizing the impact of his life and his firearms on the nineteenth century, he began early in the 1850s to assemble an arms collection of selected pieces of his own manufacture, plus weapons related to the evolution of the revolver. Colt's own arms group is now displayed in the Wadsworth Atheneum and the Museum of Connecticut History, both in Hartford." page 295, Source 37. Note: The Museum of Connecticut History and the Connecticut State Library cannot assist collectors in valuing or tracing firearms.

1850

Samuel Colt commissioned as a lieutenant colonel in the Connecticut State Militia. The title helped with marketing. He was known as Colonel Colt from then on. Source 37

1800-1849

1800 through 1849

1849

The 1836 master patent was extended until February 25, 1857. Colt gave a convincing argument that he had not made a reasonable profit, and therefore needed the patent extended. Colt was able to dominate the market with exclusive rights to the designs. Various sources ; source 37

Third trip to Europe for marketing and patent protection. Source 37.

1847

Began construction of his first factory in Hartford in 1847. State of the art, precise machinery were used - invented for the factory. Various sources ; Source 37

Colt opens factory in leased building on Pearl Street in Hartford. Production was increased with refinement of the system of interchangeable parts already in practice. Elisha Root hired to manage the company with Colt promoted the product. Source.28

Government and civilian orders started coming in. Captain Samuel Hamilton Walker and Captain Jack Hays were impressed with Colt firearms after using them in Texas and Mexico. Colt sought an endorsement, Walker wanted to purchase arms. Without a factory, Colt turned to Eli Whitney, Jr. for production of the order, which was shipped during the summer. Colt learned from the Paterson factory that it was important to have both government and civilian sales. He was an expert at marketing his product. Several sources, Source 37

 

1846

Collaboration with Samuel F. B. Morse, supplying Morse with waterproof batteries and cable. May Magnetic Telegraph Association was incorporated by Colt. It did not succeed. Source 28

Mexican War began, ending in 1848. Source 37

U.S. Army ordered 1,000 Colt firearms. Without a factory, Colt worked with Eli Whitney, Jr. to produce the firearms. After getting additional military orders, Colt began to organize his armory. Source 28

1845

Congress appropriated money to purchase Colt's waterproof ammunition cartridge. source 28.

1844

April 13, 1844 - Colt demonstrated his submarine battery for President Tyler by blowing up a boat on the Potomac River. Source 34

1841-1844

Submarine battery. "...the development of Colt's novel harbor defense system was supported by limited Congressional appropriations during 1841-44..." A patent application was submitted in 1844. Source 33

1842

November 18, 1842 - John Colt scheduled to hang for murder at 4 pm. At noon John Colt and Caroline Henshaw were married in John's prison cell, and then granted one hour alone. Several people visited, with all leaving shortly after 2 pm. Just before 4 pm a fire broke out and several prisoners were released to prevent them from perishing in the fire. Once the fire was extinguished, a sheriff found John Colt dead in his cell with a knife in his chest. It was ruled a suicide, although the coroner's jury never saw the body. No funeral arrangements were made by the Colt family. Caroline Henshaw and Samuel Caldwell Colt left for Europe. Source 41

September 1842 - Patent Arms Manufacturing Company of Paterson, New Jersey closed. Contents were sold at auction. Source 28, 37, 41

July 4, 1842 - Demonstration of submarine battery in New York Harbor. The reports in the press did not exactly match Colt's description. Colt claimed the target was moving, while others reported it was stationary. Several sources and page 26, Source 33 "In 1842 the federal government granted him the substantial sum of $50,000 for trials and tests." page 20, Source 37.

August 1842 - Demonstration of submarine battery in Washington, D.C. Source 33.

"During the winter of 1841—42, Colt was engaged in the procurement, insulation and testing of several thousand feet of rolled copper wire, whose manufacture was undertaken at the Waterbury works of Philo Brown and John P. Elton.  At this juncture Colt began consulting with his Washington Square neighbors, Professors John William Draper and Samuel F. B. Morse..." page 22, source 33

1841

December 18, 1841 - Submarine Battery Company was formed. Source 33

John Colt, older brother of Samuel, killed Samuel Adams, with trial becoming a newspaper sensation. Caroline Henshaw married John on November 18, 1842, the day he was to be hung. Before the execution, John was found dead with a knife in his heart. Caroline already had a son, Samuel Caldwell Colt. At Sam Colt's insistence, she changed her name to Miss Julia Leicester and took her son to live in Germany. p.5-6 source 28

Colt continued to work on underwater battery for submarines, giving a demonstration to members of Congress. The invention did not go into production. He continued to work on waterproof cartridge. Various sources. Colt did not go through the Army Ordinance Office, but rather he went to Samuel Southard, President of the U.S. Senate and previous Secretary of the Navy. Southard expressed intertest in Colt's submarine battery, writing President Tyler. Southard maintained interest until his death in 1842. Colt proposed trials and a demonstration, funded by Congressional appropriations. Tyler administration initially declined the funding of trials. Source 33

"Colt now seriously considered an attractive alternative —the proposal by members of a Russian naval commission then studying naval technology in the United States that he place his inventive talents at the service of Tsar Nicholas I. The Russian ambassador, Count Alexander de Bodisco, had earlier evinced considerable interest in Colt's repeating arms." Colt let Senator Southard know that the U.S. government would have first chance at his secret technology, but Colt would go elsewhere if they declined. page 18 Source 33 "With Navy Department support formally confirmed on 25 November 1841, the inventor-entrepreneur moved rapidly to acquire additional financing from the private sector and began testing necessary elements of his galvanic mine warfare system in laboratories at the University of the City of New York..." page 21, Source 33

1839

August 29, 1839 - Colt was issued another patent. source 37.

1837

December 1837 Colonel William S. Harney ordered 100 guns. Army Ordnance Department didn't agree until summer of 1840. source 28

Colt continued to lobby Congress for military contracts. Source 33 and others.

1836

Samuel Colt opened first firearms factory in Patterson, NJ. It closed in September, 1842. Patent Arms Manufacturing Company of Paterson, New Jersey chartered in March 1836. Several sources. Sometimes abbreviated by Colt as P.A. Mfg. Co. "Even before the first U.S. patent was officially issued, Colt embarked on a campaign to create a stock company and establish a factory." He demonstrated prototypes to get support for his project. "A sales office and showroom were established at 155 Broadway, New York City." page 10, source 37. Colt marketed accessories for his Paterson firearms - flaks, tools, cleaning rods, etc. Towards the end of 1836, Colt now replace prototypes in his demonstrations with actual production items. Source 37, 40

February 25, 1836 - Samuel Colt received first U.S. Patent No. 138 for the first revolving cylinder pistol. Colt would be able to extend the patent up to 1857. Several sources ; Source 37 Colt brought his models  to D.C. where he gave a demonstration for President Andrew Jackson. Jackson declined to order the firearms. Colt entertained D.C. society and journalists as part of his marketing plan. Source 41.

Continued work on submarine battery and underwater mines. Source 33 - pages 13 and 14 have images of sketches by Colt.

1835

Sam Colt traveled to England and France to apply for patents in those countries, so his designs would not be infringed upon. His first patents were granted in Europe. Several sources, Source 37 His first patent was granted in England, October 22, 1835. Source 40 At some point during his travels, he met Caroline Henshaw. Source 41 She would later have a son, Samuel Caldwell Colt, and marry Sam's brother, John.

1832-1835

In order to raise funds for his inventions, Sam Colt toured as Dr. Coult, demonstrating nitrous oxide (laughing gas) in a medicine show. His skills as a showman and marketer made this a successful event. He used the title of Doctor and highlighted his travels to London and Calcutta to appeal to the crowds. Several Sources, Source 40, 41. During this time, Colt used the money to hire gunsmiths to work on his invention . Source 41.

1832 - Sam went to Washington, D.C. to see a friend of his father's - Henry Ellsworth, U.S. Commissioner of Patents. Ellsworth recommended not apply for a patent until his invention was further refined. Various sources, Source 41. 

1830-1831

August - At 16, Sam Colt went to sea, worked on Corvo. Went to England and India. Carved a model of his first revolver, from wood, based on observations of how the ship's wheel worked. This was the inspiration of the statue of young Sam Colt commissioned by Elizabeth Colt and displayed in Colt Park. Researchers discuss that Colt most likely had seen revolving weapons during his time at sea, while Colt claimed he had not. Colt's invention was not a copy, having different mechanisms than earlier revolving firearms. Upon return from sea, Sam Colt showed the invention to his father, Christopher Colt, and to the Commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office, Henry L. Ellsworth, a friend of the family. Source 28, 37, 39 December 1830, the Corvo, and Colt, arrived in India and returned via London.  Source 41.

1829

July 4, 1829 - advertised Sam Colt would blow up a raft for holiday celebration in Ware, Massachusetts. While the raft was not blown sky-high (as the flyer claimed it would), the explosion was so big that it doused spectators. This was when he met Elisha K. Root, who would become the superintendent of the Hartford armory.  page 2, source 28 ;  page 8, source 33 ; Source 37  "The inspiration had come from Grandpa Caldwell's story of 'Bushnell's Marine Turtle' used in the Revolutionary War and the song his mother sang, 'The Battle of the Keys.' " page.6, Source 39 Colt explained to Root that he was able to pass the current underwater because he had wrapped the wire in tarred cloth. Source 41.

Colt explored the idea of underwater explosions and harbor defense while working at his father's textile business in Ware, Mass. page 8, source 33 "Samuel Colt's notion of employing electric current to fire explosive or flammable substances was by no means unique, even in the United States" page 9, source 33 William T. Smith ran the laboratory at the mill and became a friend of Sam Colt. Together they experimented with gunpowder and also nitrous oxide. Source 41.

1828-1829

Sam Colt enrolled in Amherst Academy (note: not the same as Amherst College). He got in trouble for breaking the school's prohibition on using firearms on the school grounds. He returned to Ware. Various sources, Source 41.

1823

March 12 - Christopher Colt marries Olivia Sargent. The children are dispersed among relatives. Sam was placed with a farmer in Glastonbury, where he stayed a year before going to work in his father's Ware textile mill. Source 41

1821

Young Samuel Colt took apart a pistol, examined it and reassembled it. Source 37

June 16 - Sarah Colt, Samuel's mother, dies of tuberculosis. Source 39, 41 and Ancestry database

Christopher Colt moves family to Ware, Massachusetts and sets up a silk mill.

1814

July 19, 1814 - Samuel Colt born in Hartford, to Christopher and Sarah Caldwell Colt. He was the fifth of six children. Various sources, including Source 41.