Approximately 5,354 men from Connecticut were killed during the Civil War. They left behind widows and children—so many children that Theodore S. Gold of West Cornwall put forth a proposal for the state to care for them. As a result, the General Assembly charted the Connecticut Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home in May 1864; it opened two years later in Mansfield. Gold served as Secretary of the home during its nine years of operation. More than two hundred Civil War orphans were given a home and education.
The orphanage operated on a fifty-acre farm, with a new building originally intended to become a school for boys. In 1881, the orphanage reopened as the Storrs Agricultural School (now the University of Connecticut). Theodore S. Gold was a trustee of the school for twenty years.
Theodore Gold originally planned to open the orphanage in Cornwall – if this plan had gone through, Cornwall might very well have become the home of the University of Connecticut.