Friday, January 19, 2018

Mrs. Bethia Huntington (Mason) Wattles, The Woman Who Saved The War Office.




Mrs. Bethia Huntington (Mason) Wattles
~ The Woman Who Saved The War Office ~



How the War Office looked when it was owned by Mrs. Bethia Wattles in the nineteenth century.[1]



My first visit to the War Office, many years ago, with my father and brother.


Over the past few years, I have done extensive research on the written history of the War Office, and am quite familiar with its history, and how the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution obtained ownership of the War Office from Mrs. Bethia Wattles in the late 19th century. But until recently, I never gave much thought about who Mrs. Bethia Wattles was? What was her story? This study is a little history and remembrance of the woman who saved the War Office, ensuring that the building would be preserved for future generations. 

Mrs. Bethia Huntington (Mason) Wattles was the daughter of Daniel Mason and Eunice Huntington.[2] She was born 8 March 1800;[3] died at Lebanon, Connecticut, 1892;[4] married at Lebanon, Connecticut, 11 March 1824, John Wattles;[5] born 1795;[6] died at Lebanon, Connecticut, 1860.[7]

Children of John and Bethia Wattles born at Lebanon, Connecticut.

1. Abby Fitch Wattles, born 27 November 1824;[8] died 1851.[9]

2, Mary Alden Wattles, born 16 April 1833;[10] died 1888.[11]


Mrs. Bethia Wattles was a descendant of Revolutionary War Patriots:

On her father's side, she was the granddaughter of Colonel Jeremiah Mason of Lebanon, Connecticut. "He owned a large estate, and equipped at his own expense, and commanded a company of Minute Men which did duty at the siege of Boston. His command was with the detachment sent out in the early part of the night to fortify Dorchester Heights. In the autumn of 1776 he was promoted to the rank of colonel, and at the head of a regiment joined the army in the vicinity of New York City. He continued in command of his regiment until the close of the war. When General Arnold made the assault upon and burnt New London, he handled his regiment with such skill and address as to receive special mention. After the British withdrew, Colonel Mason was placed in command of Fort Trumbull, at the mouth of the harbour, for some months, until the excitement had passed away."[12]  




Gravestone of Colonel Jeremiah Mason, 12th Regiment Connecticut Militia 
Goshen Cemetery, Lebanon, Connecticut.


On her mother's side, she was the granddaughter of Captain William Huntington of Lebanon, Connecticut. "He was of the same family as Gen. Jedediah Huntington, and Gov. Samuel Huntington, signer of the Declaration of Independence and President of Congress."[13] "He enlisted May 10, 1775, in the Third (General Putnam's) Regiment, which was raised on the first call for troops by the special session of the Legislature of May, 1775, and was recruited mainly in Windham County. They marched in May by Companies to Camps around Boston, and were stationed during the siege in Putnam's center division at Cambridge till the end of their term of enlistment, December 10, 1775. A detachment was engaged at Bunker Hill."[14] William Huntington served as a Corporal in Captain John Durkee's Company[15] of Gen. Israel Putnam's Third Regiment mentioned above. In November 1776, he was commissioned Captain of the First Company of the 12th Regiment of Connecticut Militia: "This Assembly do establish William Huntington to be Captain of the first company or trainband in the 12th regiment in this State."[16]




Gravestone of Captain William Huntington
Trumbull Cemetery, Lebanon, Connecticut.


Her aunt (her mother's sister), Wealthy Huntington, was married to the portrait painter, Simon Fitch. As boys, he and John Trumbull (The Artist) went to the Tisdale School in Lebanon, Connecticut.[17] He served in the Revolutionary War, "Detachments from Militia Horse, 1779. ["A return of men detached from the 2nd Regt. of Light Horse in the State of Conn., to serve in the Continental Army until the 15th of Jan'ry next, agreeable to Orders from Lieutenant-Col. Seymour, Commandant."]"[18] Simon Fitch is listed in "Capt. Dan. Throop's Company, Lebanon."[19]




Gravestone of Simon Fitch and his wife, Wealthy (Huntington) Fitch
Center Cemetery, Lebanon, Connecticut
Connecticut SAR Patriot Grave Marking Ceremony, October 14, 2018.



Some interesting notes about her life, just to put into perspective the time in which she lived:


* She was born March 8, 1800. Less than three months after General George Washington died on December 14, 1799. She lived all her life in Lebanon, Connecticut. As a child, and as a young woman, she would have seen and talked with veterans of the American Revolution. She probably heard many stories of the Revolutionary War throughout her life, from both family, and residents of the town. Possibly stories of Revolutionary War Governor Jonathan Trumbull Sr., the French Winter Encampment of 1780/1781, and General George Washington's visit and review of the French troops on March 5, 1781, just to name a few.

* She would have seen the meetinghouse that was used during the American Revolution. Between the age of four and seven, she would have seen the new meetinghouse built. This meetinghouse was designed by Col. John Trumbull, the Artist of the American Revolution, and built (1804-1807), and still stands today.

* She would have seen both the Governor Jonathan Trumbull House and the War Office in their original locations at the corner of West Town Street and the Colchester Road (Route 207), where they were located during the American Revolution when Governor Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., met with the Connecticut Council of Safety. 

* She was nine years old when Connecticut Governor Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. (1740-1809), son of Revolutionary War Governor Jonathan Trumbull Sr., died on August 7, 1809. Governor Jonathan Trumbull, Jr., served as, "Paymaster-General for the Northern Department of the American Army -- then Private Secretary to the Commander-in-chief of all the American Armies -- next, surviving the war, to become a member of the first House of Representatives of the United States -- then Speaker of this House -- next a Senator of the United States -- and last, succeeding his father, after a few years, as Governor of his native Stateto expire, at a good old age, with the mantle of gubernatorial power still wrapped around him."[20]

* She was eleven years old when William Williams, Signer of the Declaration of Independence died on August 2, 1811, and she was thirty years old when his wife, Mary (Trumbull) Williams, daughter of Revolutionary War Governor Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., died on February 9, 1831.

* She was twenty-two years old when David Trumbull (1751-1822), son of Revolutionary War Governor Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., died on January 17, 1822. David Trumbull, "his father's right-hand man,"[21] and, "under his brother Joseph, a Commissary for the armies of the Revolution -- and, under the Connecticut Council of Safety, to be a most active agent in procuring and preparing arms and munitions of war for service against the foe."[22] It was David Trumbull who had Redwood built in 1778/1779, the house was used as a headquarters by the Duc de Lauzun during the 1780/1781 Winter encampment of French troops.

* She was twenty-four years old when she married John Wattles on March 11, 1824 in Lebanon, Connecticut. 1824, the same year the Governor Jonathan Trumbull House and the War Office (1st move) were moved from their original locations.

"War Office - Council of Safety. - The house of Governor Trumbull stood originally and until 1824 on the north corner of Town Street and the Colchester road, on the present site of the Lyman house, and the War Office was west and near it, on the Colchester road. In the winter of 1823-24, Solomon Gilbert, who in 1821 had bought the premises of John Champion, removed both the house and office a few rods farther north, to the place where they are shown in the accompanying view, and added the portico to the front of the office. The view is taken from a very accurate sketch by Barber in 1836. The Governor's house still remains there in good preservation, but the War Office was again removed, in 1844, a few rods farther north, where it now stands. In this office Governor Trumbull conducted his great commercial business, and through the war of the Revolution the Council of Safety, or War Council of the colony, held most of its sessions here, and it became by force of circumstances not only the military but also the naval headquarters of all the land and marine forces of the colony during that war."[23]

* She was twenty-five years old when Lafayette laid the cornerstone for the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown, Massachusetts, on June 17, 1825, the fiftieth anniversary of the battle. Colonel James Clark (1730-1826) of Lebanon fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill, and was present at the laying of the monument cornerstone, he was ninety-five years old.[24] 

* She would see the War Office used as a country store and post office.


Earliest illustration of the War Office, published by Barber in 1836.[25] This illustration shows the Gov. Trumbull House and War Office after they were moved in 1824. The War Office would be moved again in 1844 to its present location. As of today, no illustration exists depicting the War Office in its original location during the American Revolution. It's a shame there are no sketches from Col. John Trumbull. 

* She was forty-three years old when Col. John Trumbull (1756-1843), the Artist of the American Revolution, died on November 10, 1843, although for most of his life he lived abroad.

* She would have seen the War Office (2nd move) again moved to its present location in 1844.

"In 1844 the "War Office" was again moved to its present location, considerably altered and converted into a dwelling."[26] In the "Life of Jonathan Trumbull, Sen., Governor of Connecticut," published in 1859, Stuart states, "But within, it was divided, as seen but a few years ago, into two apartments -- one of which, that on the North, was strictly the office-room of the Governor, where he matured his councils -- and the other of which, that on the South, was his store room, and the apartment also in which his messengers and expresses were usually received."[27] The fact that Stuart mentions, "as seen but a few years ago, into two apartments," would imply that the room configurations had significantly changed, and as stated elsewhere, "considerably altered." This statement by Stuart would have been written no later then 1849, "Since the year 1849, when Isaac W. Stuart completed his "Life of Jonathan Trumbull, sen."[28] During this period, the War Office was being used as a residence.

* In 1876, she would observe the Centennial of the United States of America.

Originally Mrs. Bethia Wattles offered the building to the Town of Lebanon in 1889.[29] "The citizens of ancient, historic Lebanon are to call a town meeting at an early date to determine whether the town will accept as a gift from Mrs. Bethia Wattles the famous old "war office" of Gov. Jonathan Trumbull, the "Brother Jonathan" of the Revolution. The offer is made on condition that the building shall be preserved and kept in good repair at the expense of the town."[30] "but the people voted in town meeting that they didn't want to incur the expense of taking care of it."[31] It was through the efforts of members of the Connecticut SAR, that the War Office was, "formally deeded to the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution."[32] "I call your attention most particularly to the Lebanon War Office, believing, as I do, that the restoration of this building, and that our custody and care of it in the future is the most important work which our Society has in hand. By deed of gift from Mrs. Wattles of Lebanon, procured by Mr. Frank Farnsworth Starr, under appointment by our Board of Managers, we now own this building and the lot on which it stands."[33]

Jonathan Trumbull, President of the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, stated, "I was much interested in investigating the old war office, and am happy to say I believe it can be restored and repaired in a way that will insure its existence through the next century at least. The honest old oak framework shows no decay, and the traces of the original details are such that, with the aid of old traditions and recollections, we can make it very nearly the old war office of Revolutionary days."[34] The Connecticut SAR would state that, "Traces of the original partitions, windows, and doors were also found to be so plainly marked that the restoration could really be made complete."[35]

Mrs. Bethia Wattles was a living witness to the history of the War Office throughout the 19th century!

She was there, having actually seen the War Office in all its locations over the years. As previously stated, through written tradition (Barber's illustrations, Stuart's description of the War Office, etc.), the recollections of Mrs. Bethia Wattles and others, and the traces of the original details seen by the Connecticut SAR, the War Office, "finally in 1891, was restored to its original semblance and re-dedicated to patriotic purposes."[36]

* She also took an active part in the War Office Dedication Ceremonies, June 15, 1891, "The first name upon the register was that of the donor of the building, Mrs. Bethia H. Wattles, aged ninety-one."[37]

"Three years ago, "The Sons of the Revolution" came into possession of this historic building. It was put in repair, and was dedicated with patriotic ceremonies. The building was presented by Mrs. Bettina Wattles, then ninety-one years old, who has since died. In it are placed a few ancient relics, and is visited by those who come to this ancient town."[38]

In 1901, Jonathan Trumbull stated, "And we can point to the old war office at Lebanon as property of which our society is the proud owner, saved from destruction and restored to its original condition in filial reverence for the men who toiled for liberty and promptly and ungrudgingly answered the calls of Washington within its walls."[39]

* Mrs. Bethia Wattles died in 1892, and is buried next to her husband and two daughters in the Center Cemetery, Lebanon, Connecticut.[40] 




Connecticut SAR Tribute to Mrs. Bethia Huntington (Mason) Wattles
The Woman Who Saved the War Office
Center Cemetery, Lebanon, Connecticut, October 14, 2018.










1. The Lebanon War Office. The History of the Building, and Report of the Celebration at Lebanon, Conn., Flag Day, June 15, 1891, Connecticut Society of Sons of the American Revolution, Press of The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, Hartford, Conn., Pages 8-9.
2. The Huntington Family in America, A Genealogical Memoir of the Known Descendants of Simon Huntington from 1633-1915 . . ., Published by the Huntington Family Association, Hartford, Connecticut, 1915, page 725.
3. Ibid. page 725.
4. Cemetery Stone Inscription, Center Cemetery, Lebanon, Connecticut.
5. Family Record in Our Line of Descent from Major John Mason of Norwich, Connecticut, Theodore West Mason, The Grafton Press, New York, 1909, page 28.
6. Cemetery Stone Inscription, Center Cemetery, Lebanon, Connecticut.
7. Ibid.
8. The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records, Lebanon, Vols. 1 & 2, 1700-1854, Lebanon, Vol. 3, 1700-1854, Compiled by Nancy E. Schott, Lorraine Cook White, General Editor, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, Maryland, Second Printing, 2003,
9. Cemetery Stone Inscription, Center Cemetery, Lebanon, Connecticut.
10. 7. The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records, Lebanon, Vols. 1 & 2, 1700-1854, Lebanon, Vol. 3, 1700-1854, Compiled by Nancy E. Schott, Lorraine Cook White, General Editor, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, Maryland, Second Printing, 2003,
11. Cemetery Stone Inscription, Center Cemetery, Lebanon, Connecticut.
12. Family Record in Our Line of Descent from Major John Mason of Norwich, Connecticut, Theodore West Mason, The Grafton Press, New York, 1909, pages 21-22.
13. The Throope Family and the Scrope Tradition, Winchester Fitch, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Vol. XXXVI, No. 2, New York, April 1905, page 128.
14. The Huntington Family in America, A Genealogical Memoir of the Known Descendants of Simon Huntington from 1633-1915 . . ., Published by the Huntington Family Association, Hartford, Connecticut, 1915, page 714.
15. Gravestone of William Huntington, Trumbull Cemetery, Lebanon, Connecticut.
16. Public Records of the State of Connecticut, From October, 1776, to February, 1778, Inclusive, with the Journal of the Council of Safety from October 11, 1776, to May 6, 1778, Inclusive, and Appendix, Charles J. Hoadly, LL.D., Press of The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, Hartford, 1894, Page 74.
17. Memories, Counsels, and Reflections. By an Octogenary. Addressed to his Children and Descendants, and Printed for their use., Dan Huntington, Metcalf and Company, Cambridge, 1857, Page 107.
18. Record of Service of Connecticut Men in the War of the Revolution, Adjutants-General, Hartford, 1889, Page 556.
19. Ibid.
20. Jonathan Trumbull, Governor of Connecticut, 1769-1784, by his Great-Great Grandson Jonathan Trumbull, Little, Brown, and Company, Boston, 1919, page 41.
21. Ibid. page 61.
22. Life of Jonathan Trumbull, Sen., Governor of Connecticut, I.W. Stuart, Crocker and Brewster, Boston, 1859, pg. 58.
23. History of New London County, Connecticut, with Biographical Sketches of many of its Pioneers and Prominent Men, Compiled under the supervision of D. Hamilton Hurd, Philadelphia, 1882, Pages 489-90.
24. Captain James Clark, of Bunker Hill Renown: his Ancestors and Descendants, Mary Clarke Huntington, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Vol. XXVIII, No. 2, New York, April, 1897, pages 65-71.
25. Connecticut Historical Collections containing a general collection of interesting facts, traditions, biographical sketches, anecdotes, &c. relating to the History and Antiquities of every Town in Connecticut, with geographical descriptions", John Warner Barber, 1836, page 323.
26. Historic Lebanon, A Printing Ink Pilgrimage To The Cradle Of Liberty Of The Connecticut Colony And The Homes Of Patriots Who Rocked It, Compiled and Edited by Joe Stedman, The Stedman Press, Westerly, R.I., 1923. (General Distributors: Gov. Jonathan Trumbull Chapter, D.A.R., Lebanon, Conn.) Page 15.
27. Life of Jonathan Trumbull, Sen., Governor of Connecticut" by I. W. Stuart, 1859, Chapter XV, Page 183.
28. Jonathan Trumbull, Governor of Connecticut, 1769-1784, by his Great-Great Grandson Jonathan Trumbull, Little, Brown, and Company, Boston, 1919, Preface vii.
29. The Old War Office. Will the Town of Lebanon accept the Gift?, Article: New York Times, March 24, 1889.
30. Ibid.
31. Magazine of Western History, Vol. XIV, May, 1891-October, 1891, Magazine of Western History Publishing Co., New York, page 351.
32. Ibid.
33. Year-Book of the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution for 1891: To which is Prefixed a History of the Organization of the Society, set forth in Official Reports, CTSSAR, Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co., 1892. pages. 53-55.
34. Magazine of Western History, Vol. XIV, May, 1891-October, 1891, Magazine of Western History Publishing Co., New York, page 351.
35. The Lebanon War Office. The History of the Building, and Report of the Celebration at Lebanon, Conn., Flag Day, June 15, 1891, Connecticut Society of Sons of the American Revolution, Press of The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, Hartford, Conn., Page 11.
36. Historic Lebanon, A Printing Ink Pilgrimage To The Cradle Of Liberty Of The Connecticut Colony And The Homes Of Patriots Who Rocked It, Compiled and Edited by Joe Stedman, The Stedman Press, Westerly, R.I., 1923. (General Distributors: Gov. Jonathan Trumbull Chapter, D.A.R., Lebanon, Conn.) Page 15.
37. Ibid. page 26.
38. The War Office of 1776. Jonathan Trumbull, the Governor and Patriot - A Visit to his Historic Home - The Original "Brother Jonathan.", Boston Evening Transcript, Monday July 30, 1894, page 6.
39. Year-Book of the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution for 1901, page 130.
40. Cemetery Stone Inscriptions, Center Cemetery, Lebanon, Connecticut.



The War Office is owned and maintained by the 
Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.





Monday, January 15, 2018

Captain John Higley of Windsor and Simsbury, Connecticut.



Captain John Higley


Gravestone of Captain John Higley
Hopmeadow Cemetery, Simsbury, Connecticut

"Capt 
JOHN HIGLY
died august
25, 1714
aged 66 yers"[1]

My ancestral grandfather, Captain John Higley, "the American progenitor of all bearing the name in this country, . . ."[2] was the grandfather of Joseph Trumble, Jr. (The Lost Trumbull), and the great grandfather of Joseph Trumble Jr's two daughters, Sarah (Trumble) Johnson Watrous and Catherine (Trumble) Burnham. Captain John Higley's daughter, Hannah Higley, married Captain Joseph Trumble, Sr., the Patriarch of the Trumble/Trumbull family of Lebanon, Connecticut.



Gravestones of my ancestral grandparents, Captain Joseph Trumble, Sr., and his wife, Hannah (Higley) Trumble, daughter of Captain John Higley and Hannah Drake,
Trumbull Cemetery, Lebanon, Connecticut.

~ --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ~
NOTE: There is some confusion about the ancestry of Hannah Drake's grandfather, John Drake of Windsor, Connecticut. The question of his Royal ancestry back to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, son of Edward III, King of England, and his relationship to the family of the English admiral/privateer/explorer, Sir Francis Drake, has been questioned and challenged (John Drake of Windsor, Connecticut, thought to be a descendant of Robert Drake of Wiscombe Park, Devon, England, was a first cousin of Sir Francis Drake. Robert's father, John Drake the Elder, Esq., High Sheriff of Devon, England, was the brother/half-brother of Edmund Drake, who was the father of Sir Francis Drake?). So, at this time, and until there is more evidence, I will not address the Trumbull/Drake family connection beyond the immigrant ancestor, John Drake of Windsor, Connecticut. The connection to Royal ancestry is proven through Sarah (Bulkeley) Trumble Welles, (wife of "The Lost Trumbull," Joseph Trumble, Jr.) and her two daughters, Sarah (Trumble) Johnson Watrous and Catherine (Trumble) Burnham, through the Bulkeley, Chetwode, and Chauncy family lines.
~ ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ~

Captain John Higley was born in Frimley, Surrey, England, 22 July 1649;[3] baptized 12 August 1649;[4] son of Jonathan Higley and Katherine Brewster, "daughter of the Rev. John Brewster, who died in England 23 August 1657. They were of the lineage of the ancient Brewster family of Mayflower fame."[5]

"His father, Jonathan Higley, had married January 3, 1637/38, Katharine Brewster, daughter of Rev. John Brewster, pastor of the church at Frimley. Jonathan Higley died in 1664, and his son, John, according to the custom of the time, was bound out as an apprentice; but liking neither the trade nor his master, he ran away and secured passage on a vessel sailing for New England, which on its arrival sailed up the Connecticut river to Windsor, Connecticut, where he was sold to pay his passage."[6]

John Higley became an indentured servant of John Drake of Windsor, Connecticut (John Drake was the eldest son of John Drake, the immigrant ancestor, who settled in Windsor, Connecticut, "early in the year 1639."[7]), and would later marry his daughter Hannah Drake.

He married first, Hannah Drake, the daughter of John Drake and Hannah Moore. They married at Windsor, Connecticut, 09 November 1671,[8] she was born at Windsor, Connecticut, 08 August 1653;[9] she died at Simsbury, Connecticut, 04 August 1694.[10]

"Mrs. Hannah Higley, whose maiden name was Drake, departed this life in ye year of our Lord God 1694, August 4 day."[11] "Her grave, if it ever had a memorial stone, cannot be found - every vestige of it has been swept away by time, . . ."[12]

He married second, Sarah (Strong) Bissell, Widow, daughter of Return Strong.[13] 

Captain John Higley was involved in trade with the West Indies, "His warehouse appears to have been the beginning of his commercial transactions, and proved a channel through which his genius achieved success and great business prosperity. He held the appointment of Officer of Customs, Windsor then being a port of entry. One important item in a very considerable trade which the warehouse commanded was the importation and transportation of rum from Barbadoes."[14]

"In connection with  the advancement of trading interests, John Higley made voyages to the Island, as well as coast-wise trips. The tradition of the family is that he owned vessels plying between the American coast and Barbadoes. There is ample evidence that he was one of the leading and prosperous merchants of early Windsor."[15]

One could assume that Captain Joseph Trumble, Sr. learned, or at least heard stories of the mercantile trade with the West Indies from both his wife, Hannah, and father-in-law, Captain John Higley. Joseph Trumble, Jr., as a young boy, may have also heard stories of his grandfather's voyages to the West Indies? There was a very close relationship between the Trumbull family of Lebanon and the Higley family. The "Higleys of Simsbury and the Trumbull household appear to have enjoyed a partiality for each other's companionship. While he was yet a minor, Mrs. Trumbull's brother Samuel became a member of her family and was probably attending school. It is recorded that, at a later period, her niece Elizabeth Higley, the daughter of her brother Brewster, "spent the most of her youth and girlhood in her family"; and in a few years her sister Mindwell, and her two half sisters, Abigail and Susannah, married -- and settled at Lebanon near her."[16]


"Capt. John Higley was one of the seven who became the original proprietors of Simsbury in 1685 and was a leading spirit, taking an important part in all the public affairs of the town."[17]


Andros and the Charter of Connecticut.[18]

"Sir Edmund Andros was appointed governor-general of all New England in 1686, and on his arrival he demanded the surrender of all the colonial charters under his jurisdiction. 
Connecticut alone resisted the demand."[19]


John Higley and the hiding of the Connecticut Charter 


There is a Higley family tradition that it was John Higley who hid the Connecticut charter when Sir Edmund Andros tried to seize it on October 31, 1687.  "He it was who carried away and secreted the charter of Connecticut to prevent it from being seized and abrogated by Governor Edmund Andros. His daughter, Hannah Higley, was the mother of Governor Jonathan Trumbull, of Connecticut."[20]

The story in brief, "The assembly met, as usual, in October, and the government continued according to charter, until the last of the month. About this time, Sir Edmund, with his suit, and more than sixty regular troops, came to Hartford, when the assembly were sitting, demanded the charter, and declared the government under it to be dissolved. The assembly were extremely reluctant and slow with respect to any motion to bring it forth. The tradition is, that governor Treat strongly represented the great expense and hardships of the colonists, in planting the country; the blood and treasure which they had expended in defending it, both against the savages and foreigners; to what hardships and dangers he himself had been exposed for that purpose; and that it was like giving up his life, now to surrender the patent and privileges, so dearly bought, and so long enjoyed. The important affair was debated and kept in suspence, until the evening, when the charter was brought and laid upon the table, where the assembly were sitting. By this time, great numbers of people were assembled, and men sufficiently bold to enterprise whatever might be necessary or expedient. The lights were instantly extinguished, and one captain Wadsworth, of Hartford, in the most silent and secret manner, carried off the charter, and secreted it in a large hollow tree, fronting the house of the Hon. Samuel Wyllys, then one of the magistrates of the colony. The people appeared all peaceable and orderly. The candles were officiously re-lighted; but the patent was gone, and no discovery could be made of it, or of the person who had conveyed it away."[21]

Hiding the Original Charter in the Oak.[22]

The book, "The Higleys and their Ancestry," includes a quote from "The Story of the Charter Oak," by W.I. Fletcher, Librarian, Connecticut Historical Society, "The tradition is that Captain Joseph Wadsworth was the chief actor in this episode. The act has given his name a worthy place among those honored by Connecticut as patriots and heroes."[23] "But that Captain Wadsworth had his helpers in the "irregular proceeding," who were at hand to assist in this shrewdly managed action, is plain to be seen. Old private MS. (manuscript) in the hands of the Higley descendants state positively that the document was given to their honored ancestor, John Higley, that he mounted his horse and galloped off with it to Higley-town, where he kept it secreted six weeks, before it finally found its hiding-place in the hollow of the since famous oak tree in Hartford."[24]

[25]

"That there was a duplicate copy of the charter is well known, and whether this may have been the prize preserved by our worthy hero cannot be stated; indeed, it is not known how authentic is the story, which comes down to us direct, of his fast horseback ride through the forests bearing the valuable parchment to Higley-town; but since it is both possible and creditable, true to the old tradition we record it here, knowing that John Higley was a man equal to any great emergency, possessing bouyancy and great tact, full of clear grit and defiant courage."[26] 

"The records of the Assembly show that a duplicate of that charter was made before Andros came, and this fact offers an explanation of the mysterious action of the Assembly. The box was undoubtedly left on the table, with the key in it, for somebody to take the charter out without the knowledge or apparent connivance of the Connecticut authorities. Somebody did so, and caused a duplicate of the charter to be made on parchment, when, probably, the original charter was concealed in the hollow tree from whence it was taken in 1689, and the duplicate was placed in the box, so that if Andros should seize the charter he would not have the original."[27] In 1715, the Connecticut General Assembly grants Captain Joseph Wadsworth the sum of twenty shillings, "Upon consideration of the faithful and good service of Capt. Joseph Wadsworth, of Hartford, especially in securing the Duplicate Charter of this Colony in a very troublesome season when our constitution was struck at, and in safely keeping and preserving the same ever since unto this day: . . ."[28] 



John Higley's Military Career

"In 1687 he was commissioned Ensign of the train-band."[29] Simsbury, Connecticut.

"[May 1690]  [214] John Higly is allowed Lieutenant, and Thomas Barber, Ensigne of Simsbury traine band, and are to be commissioned accordingly."[30] 

"[May 1698]  Lieutenant John Higlye was confirmed Captain of the train band in the town of Symsbury, . . ." [31] 




Captain John Higley's gravestone, Hopmeadow Cemetery, Simsbury, Connecticut.
The wreaths were placed earlier, part of the National Wreaths Across America Ceremonies,
held Saturday December 16, 2017.


Higley Coppers

It is said of Captain John Higley, that, "In the early days of the century [1705-7] he was prominently identified with the discovery and development of the rich copper mines at Copper Hill [now Granby];"[32] and that, "A Granby copper mine owned by John Higley was the source of the copper for the famous Higley tokens."[33] "He was active in developing the copper mines, altho' to a later Higley we owe the association with the Higley coppers."[34] It was his son, Doctor Samuel Higley (my ancestral uncle), brother of Hannah (Higley) Trumble, who would mint Higley coppers. Regarding the location of Samuel Higley's mine, "It was property held quite separate from the famous Newgate prison and copper-mines, from which it was separated a distance of one and a half mile to the south."[35]  

Doctor Samuel Higley was lost at sea in 1737, "that Dr. Higley sailed for England in a ship laden with his own copper ore, which was lost at sea, --"[36]




Photos of Old Newgate Prison and Copper Mine, East Granby, Connecticut.










1. Gravestone inscription, Captain John Higley, Hopmeadow Cemetery, Simsbury, Connecticut.
2. The History and Genealogies of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut; including East Windsor, South Windsor, Bloomfield, Windsor Locks, and Ellington. 1635-1891., Henry R. Stiles, A.M., M.D., Vol. II Genealogies and Biographies, Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1892, page 387.
3. Ibid. page 387.
4. Ibid. page 387.
5. Ibid. page 387.
6. Colonial and Revolutionary Families of Pennsylvania, Genealogical and Personal Memoirs, Volume III, John W. Jordan, LL.D., Editor, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1911, page 1683.
7. The Descendants of John Drake of Windsor, Connecticut, compiled by Frank B. Gay, The Tuttle Company, Rutland, VT., 1933, page 1.
8. Ibid. page 16.
9. Ibid. page 16.
10. Ibid. page 17.
11. Simsbury Records, Book I, Leaf 3; The Higleys and their Ancestry, An Old Colonial Family, Mary Coffin Johnson, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1892, page 62.
12. Ibid. page 62.
13. The History and Genealogies of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut; including East Windsor, South Windsor, Bloomfield, Windsor Locks, and Ellington. 1635-1891., Henry R. Stiles, A.M., M.D., Vol. II Genealogies and Biographies, Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1892, page 387.
14. Ibid. page 387.
15. Ibid. page 388.
16. The Higleys and their Ancestry, An Old Colonial Family, Mary Coffin Johnson, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1892, page 108.
17. The History and Genealogies of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut; including East Windsor, South Windsor, Bloomfield, Windsor Locks, and Ellington. 1635-1891., Henry R. Stiles, A.M., M.D., Vol. II Genealogies and Biographies, Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1892, page 388.
18. A Primary History of the United States. For Schools and Families, Benson J. Lossing, Published by Mason Brothers, New York, 1864, page 81.
19. Harpers' Popular Cyclopedia of United States History from the Aboriginal Period Containing Brief Sketches of Important Events and Conspicuous Actors, in Two Volumes, Vol. I, Benson J. Lossing, LL.D., Harper & Brothers, Publishers, New York, 1890, page 229.
20. Colonial and Revolutionary Families of Pennsylvania, Genealogical and Personal Memoirs, Volume III, John W. Jordan, LL.D., Editor, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1911, page 1683.
21. A Complete History of Connecticut, Civil and Ecclesiastical, from the Emigration of its First Planters, from England, in the Year 1630, to the Year 1764; and to the Close of the Indian Wars. In Two Volumes., Benjamin Trumbull, D.D., Volume I, New Haven, 1818, pages 371-372.
22. Lossing's History of the United States from the Aboriginal Times to the Present Day, Benjamin J. Lossing, LL. D., Volume I-II, Lossing History Company, New York, 1909, page 450.
23. The Higleys and their Ancestry, An Old Colonial Family, Mary Coffin Johnson, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1892, page 56.
24. Ibid. pages 56-57.
25. The American Revolution, A Picture Sourcebook, John Grafton, Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1975, page 20.
26. The Higleys and their Ancestry, An Old Colonial Family, Mary Coffin Johnson, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1892, page 57.
27. Harpers' Popular Cyclopedia of United States History from the Aboriginal Period Containing Brief Sketches of Important Events and Conspicuous Actors, in Two Volumes, Vol. I, Benson J. Lossing, LL.D., Harper & Brothers, Publishers, New York, 1890, page 229.
28. The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, from October, 1706, to October, 1716, Charles J. Hoadly, Press of Case, Lockwood and Brainard, Hartford, 1870, page 507.
29. The History and Genealogies of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut; including East Windsor, South Windsor, Bloomfield, Windsor Locks, and Ellington. 1635-1891., Henry R. Stiles, A.M., M.D., Vol. II Genealogies and Biographies, Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1892, page 388.
30. The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, from August, 1689, to May, 1706, Charles J. Hoadly, Press of Case, Lockwood and Brainard, Hartford, 1868, page 25.
31.  Ibid. page 252.
32. The History and Genealogies of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut; including East Windsor, South Windsor, Bloomfield, Windsor Locks, and Ellington. 1635-1891., Henry R. Stiles, A.M., M.D., Vol. II Genealogies and Biographies, Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1892, page 388.
33. Connecticut's Colonial and Continental Money, Wyman W. Parker, The American Revolution Bicentennial Commission of Connecticut, Hartford, Connecticut, 1976, page 24.
34. The Descendants of John Drake of Windsor, Connecticut, compiled by Frank B. Gay, The Tuttle Company, Rutland, VT., 1933, page 17.
35. The Higleys and their Ancestry, An Old Colonial Family, Mary Coffin Johnson, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1892, page 125.
36. Ibid. page 131.