MADISON — Did you know that Madison was once home to the most generous person of his day — giving the equivalent of $40 million to a charitable organization in the late 1890s?

Discover who this philanthropic man was at the Madison Historical Society’s Holiday Lantern Tour. Local students and members of the Deacon John Grave Foundation will offer lantern-lit tours of the Madison Green National Historic District Sunday, Dec. 15 between 4:30 and 7:30 p.m.

A new MHS holiday event, the Holiday Lantern Light Tour is a 90-minute journey through time to glimpse a period in Madison’s history. This year, visitors will be transported to the year 1862, when the nation was locked in a civil war.

Emilie Ely, whose three older brothers served in the Union Army, will greet guests at Lee’s Academy. The tour will then continue to the First Congregational Church to see congregants celebrating the brief return of Rev. Samuel Wheelock Fiske from the battlefield. As a role model to other Madison men, he left his post as pastor to serve in Connecticut’s 14th Volunteer Infantry.

The tour will also introduce guests to women from the Soldiers Aid Society and to Talcott Bradley, whose sons and son-in-law fought for the Union Army. The evening walk will touch on American holiday traditions during the Civil War, and reenactors will appear along the route to tell stories of courage, hope and healing.

Guides will lead groups of eight to 10 people every 30 minutes, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Visitors will cover roughly a half-mile, traveling on foot over various terrains for the duration of the tour. For this event, visitors are strongly encouraged to dress warmly and wear appropriate footwear, whether there is rain or clear skies. There is no rain date.

Beginning at Lee’s Academy, the tour makes six to eight brief stops and concludes with a warm fire and refreshments at the Deacon John Grave House. On the tour, visitors can peek into historic homes while learning about important people and events in Madison’s past.

Tickets are $15 for adults ($10 for MHS or DJG members) and $5 for children ages 5-17. They can be purchased online at or by calling 203-245-4567. The tour is recommended for children aged 5 and older.

Connecticut Media Group