Thursday, June 24, 2021

The Family Who Saved The Gov. Jonathan Trumbull House & War Office


 

The Family Who Saved The Gov. Jonathan Trumbull House & War Office



Benson J. Lossing's 1849 sketch of the Governor Jonathan Trumbull House.[1]


"It is said that people were so crazy to have some souvenir from this house that the oaken boards of the attic floor were sold in pieces."[2]




As the fifth anniversary of The LOST Trumbull online blog approaches, nearly eight years since, "The LOST Trumbull," historical/genealogical paper was published by the Connecticut Society of Genealogists in, "The Connecticut Nutmegger," and a little over fifteen years since, "The LOST Trumbull," historical/genealogical paper (early rough-draft edition) first appeared self-printed, we'll re-visit the Trumbull sites in Lebanon, Connecticut. After, "The Woman Who Saved The War Office," blog post, there has been some interest for a follow-up blog post on the Gov. Jonathan Trumbull House. 

As a great great . . . grandson of Captain Joseph Trumble, Sr., I always look forward to visiting, participating at events, and researching/writing about both Gov. Jonathan Trumbull's Revolutionary War Office (Captain Joseph Trumble's Store, circa 1727) and the Gov. Jonathan Trumbull House (The Captain Joseph Trumble House, circa 1735/40) where my ancestral grandparents worked and lived nearly 300 years ago. 

I find it very interesting how both the Gov. Jonathan Trumbull House, and the War Office were saved. In a previous blog post we looked at how the War Office was saved by Mrs. Bethia Huntington (Mason) Wattles. In this blog post we will look at how the same family saved not only the War Office, but the Governor Jonathan Trumbull House too. Many of the stories and traditions passed down to us are from this family, who were a direct link from the American Revolution to the early 20th century. They saved these historic buildings, passing them on to the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution to preserve for future generations.

Just as a side note, May, 2025, will mark the 250th anniversary of the Connecticut Council of Safety. This Council of Safety was created in May, 1775, and met throughout the Revolutionary War to late October, 1783, "to act with the governor on detailed and emergency matters connected with the war."[3] Many of these Council of Safety meetings were held at the War Office in Lebanon, Connecticut. I expect there will be a special 250th anniversary commemoration event at the War Office in May, 2025.


"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."[4]
 



The Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution
Tribute to Mrs. Bethia Huntington (Mason) Wattles
~ The Woman Who Saved The War Office ~
Center Cemetery, Lebanon, Connecticut, October 14, 2018




Captain Joseph Trumble, Sr., and his store, circa 1727.




The Gov. Jonathan Trumbull House was built by Captain Joseph Trumble, Sr. (1678-1755), Patriarch of the Trumble/Trumbull family of Lebanon, Connecticut, in 1735/40. The Gov. Jonathan Trumbull House and the War Office were both originally located on, and faced the Colchester Road (Route 207), on the north corner of the Colchester Road and West Town Street. Upon his death in 1755, his only surviving son, Gov. Jonathan Trumbull, Sr. (1710-1785), inherited the house. Gov. Jonathan Trumbull's youngest son, Colonel John Trumbull (1756-1843), Artist of the American Revolution, was born there in 1756.


Colonel John Trumbull, Artist of the American Revolution




Jonathan Trumbull, Connecticut's Revolutionary War "Rebel" Governor

Gov. Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., The Rebel Governor of Connecticut



Earliest known illustration of the Gov. Jonathan Trumbull House and War Office, published in Barber's 1836 Connecticut Historical Collections.[5] This was sketched sometime in the early 1830's AFTER both buildings were moved in 1824. This is NOT how the buildings looked during the American Revolution. This sketch shows the Gov. Trumbull house and the War Office after they were moved to West Town Street in 1824. The Gov. Trumbull house is still in this location, but in 1844 the War Office was moved again a little further north on West Town Street where it is located today. The War Office porch or portico pictured above was a, "modern addition,"[6] (I've always wondered if this porch or portico could possibly be the old porch that Gov. Jonathan Trumbull paid to have built for the old meeting house that was later replaced by the current meeting house (built 1804-1807) designed by his son, Colonel John Trumbull? Perhaps the design was based on Trumbull's porch? The porch design doesn't look like it fits the lines of the War Office? Could this have been an attempt to save it?)  and the barn on the north side of the War Office may be the, "old barn," later added by Mrs. Eunice (Huntington) Mason.[7]

"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."[8]

"This house had fallen very much out of repair by 1824, when it was purchased by a grandmother of the late owner -- Miss Mary Hubbard Dutton (d. 1916), -- who removed it to its present location on Dutton land and restored it to its present attractive condition. She probably added at that time the old barn and well which are still extant on the premises. It may be that she also planned the beautiful old garden and set out some of the fine trees as well."[9]

Miss Mary Hubbard Dutton (1836-1915) was the daughter of Charles Hubbard Dutton, M. D. (1802-1836), and his wife, Mary Lyon (Mason) Dutton (1802-1884). Her grandmother mentioned above was Mrs. Eunice (Huntington) Mason (1769-1857), daughter of Captain William Huntington (1732-1816), a Revolutionary War veteran, and Bethia Throop (1738-1799). She was married to Daniel Mason (1770-1828).

Mrs. Bethia Huntington (Mason) Wattles (1800-1892), "The Woman Who Saved The War Office," was also the daughter of Mrs. Eunice (Huntington) Mason. Mrs. Mary Lyon (Mason) Dutton was her sister, and Miss Mary Hubbard Dutton was her niece.




Lossing's 1849 sketch of the War Office,[10] "This sketch was taken from the open field in the rear, looking north."[11] It is unfortunate that there are no 1849 illustrations of the War Office interior, most likely because, "In 1844 the "War Office" was again moved to its present location, considerably altered and converted into a dwelling."[12] 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."[13] 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."[14] During this period, the War Office was being used as a residence.





Benson Lossing visited Lebanon in 1849 while compiling sketches and information for his Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution. While there he tried to visit Mrs. Eunice (Huntington) Mason at the Gov. Jonathan Trumbull House,

"Several well-built houses erected before or about the time of the Revolution yet remain. Among them is that of Governor Trumbull. It is a substantial frame building, and is now (1849) owned by Mrs. Eunice Mason, a widow eighty years of age. We were denied the pleasure of an interview with her on account of her feeble health. The house is on the west side of the street, near the road running westward to Colchester."[15]

While in Lebanon, Lossing was able to meet with Mr. Wattles and Captain Dutton (Captain Hubbard Dutton was Miss Mary Hubbard Dutton's paternal grandfather.). Captain Dutton, "has a distinct recollection of all the revolutionary events about Lebanon and vicinity, and could direct us to every spot made memorable by those events."[16]




Detail: 1868 map of the Town of Franklin, Connecticut,[17] including, "Town Street or Lebanon P. O." The map shows the Gov. Jonathan Trumbull House owned by Mrs. Mary Lyon (Mason) Dutton, and a house and the adjacent War Office owned by Mrs. Bethia Huntington (Mason) Wattles. Both sisters were widows at this time.  

In 1891, Miss Mary Hubbard Dutton was present at the War Office Celebration where her aunt, Mrs. Bethia Huntington (Mason) Wattles turned over ownership of the War Office to the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. The society published a book commemorating the event, and she is mentioned twice. First, "Andirons made by a Lebanon blacksmith in the days of the Revolution were presented by Miss Dutton, forming, with the old iron cranes, a complete outfit for these important features of the interior."[18] Second, "The band discoursed its music while the visitors examined the exhibition of relics and curiosities which had been carefully collected and arranged under the supervision of Miss Mary H. Dutton. This exhibit consisted of specimens of old-time needle-work, products of the spinning-wheel, old firearms, sabres and rapiers, pictures, china, old volumes, documents, and utensils, forming a most interesting and valuable collection, of which it is impossible to furnish a catalogue in this connection."[19]

In 1915, Miss Mary Hubbard Dutton passed away, in her will she left, "to the Connecticut Daughters of the American Revolution, subject to their acceptance, of the Governor Jonathan Trumbull house at Lebanon, Connecticut, together with three acres of land and a trust fund of $1000, on condition of their maintaining said property in perpetual repair."[20] The decision to accept was unanimous.[21] At the time two of her cousins were still living in the house[22] with life interest.[23] In 1934, with the passing of Miss Adelaide S. Hallen, ownership of the Gov. Jonathan Trumbull House went to the Connecticut Daughters of the American Revolution, who restored the building as part of Connecticut's Tercentennial in 1935.[24] 



"Official Post Card of The Tercentenary of Connecticut," 
Connecticut Daughters of the American Revolution, 1935.


Governor Jonathan Trumbull Connecticut Tercentenary Cover, 1935.


Connecticut Tercentenary 1635-1935 - Lebanon Pin. 1935




Notes:


1. The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution, or illustrations, by pen and pencil, of the history, biography, scenery, relics, and traditions of the war for independence, Benson J. Lossing, Volume 1, Harper & Brothers, Publishers, New York, 1860, page 602. Digitized by Internet Archive at <archive.org>
2. AMERICANA, (American Historical Magazine), Volume XVI, January, 1922 - December, 1922, The American Historical Society, New York, 1922, page 22. Digitized by Google, Google books, <https://books.google.com>
3. The Public Records of the State of Connecticut, For the Years 1783 and 1784, with the Journal of the Council of Safety from January 9, 1783, to November 15, 1783, Leonard Woods Labaree, State Historian, Published by the State, Hartford, 1943, page vii. Digitized by Internet Archive at <archive.org>
4. Address of the President, Jonathan Trumbull, Year-Book of the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution for 1891: . . ., Printed by The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1892, page 54.
5. 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, Printed by B. L. Hamlen, New Haven, 1836, page 323. Digitized by Google, Google books, <https://books.google.com>
6. Life of Jonathan Trumbull, Sen., Governor of Connecticut, I. W. Stuart, 1859, Chapter XV, page 183; Ibid.; see also, 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, Printed by B. L. Hamlen, New Haven, 1836, page 323. Digitized by Google, Google books, <https://books.google.com>
7. XXV, The Captain Joseph Trumbull House, Commonly known as The Governor Trumbull House, 1740, Old Houses of Connecticut, from material collected by the Committee on Old Houses of The Connecticut Society of The Colonial Dames of America, Edited by Bertha Chadwick Trowbridge, . . , Yale University Press, New Haven, 1923, page 191. Digitized by Google, Google books, <https://books.google.com>
8. 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. Digitized by Google, Google books, <https://books.google.com>
9. XXV, The Captain Joseph Trumbull House, Commonly known as The Governor Trumbull House, 1740, Old Houses of Connecticut, from material collected by the Committee on Old Houses of The Connecticut Society of The Colonial Dames of America, Edited by Bertha Chadwick Trowbridge, . . , Yale University Press, New Haven, 1923, page 191. Digitized by Google, Google books, <https://books.google.com>
10. The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution, or illustrations, by pen and pencil, of the history, biography, scenery, relics, and traditions of the war for independence, Benson J. Lossing, Volume 1, Harper & Brothers, Publishers, New York, 1860, page 602. Digitized by Internet Archive at <archive.org>
11. Ibid.
12. 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.
13. Life of Jonathan Trumbull, Sen., Governor of Connecticut, I. W. Stuart, 1859, Chapter XV, Page 183.
14. Jonathan Trumbull, Governor of Connecticut, 1769-1784, by his Great-Great Grandson Jonathan Trumbull, Little, Brown, and Company, Boston, 1919, Preface vii
15. The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution, or illustrations, by pen and pencil, of the history, biography, scenery, relics, and traditions of the war for independence, Benson J. Lossing, Volume 1, Harper & Brothers, Publishers, New York, 1860, page 602. Digitized by Internet Archive at <archive.org>
16. Ibid. page 603.
17. Map of the Town of Franklin, Connecticut, The Atlas of New London County, Connecticut, F. W. Beers, New York, 1868.
18. 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 12.
19. Ibid. page 26.
20. Proceedings of the Twenty-sixth Continental Congress of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Washington, D. C., April 16-21, 1917, Capital Publishers, Inc., Washington, D. C., page 424. Digitized by Google, Google books, <https://books.google.com>
21. Ibid.
22. AMERICANA, (American Historical Magazine), Volume XVI, January, 1922 - December, 1922, The American Historical Society, New York, 1922, page 22. Digitized by Google, Google books, <https://books.google.com>
23. Proceedings of the Twenty-sixth Continental Congress of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Washington, D. C., April 16-21, 1917, Capital Publishers, Inc., Washington, D. C., page 424. Digitized by Google, Google books, <https://books.google.com>
24. The Governor Jonathan Trumbull House, Reprinted with the permission of the Waterbury Republican, Distributed by The Daughters of the American Revolution of Connecticut, October, 1935, T. F. Dunne, Inc., Printers, Derby, Conn., page 3.





The Governor Jonathan Trumbull House is Owned and Maintained by
The Connecticut Daughters of the American Revolution


The War Office is Owned and Maintained by
The Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution







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