Sunday, June 27, 2021

The Mysterious War Office Flag of 1891

 


The Mysterious War Office Flag of 1891


The first Society flag of The Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, presented to the Society by Mr. Jonathan F. Morris, considered by some to be the, "Father of Flag Day," but was it something more?


“Thither repaired too, [War Office] from time to time, many a naval officer of the State – the gallant Harding, the adventurous Smedley, the brave Niles, Coit, Stanton, Tinker, McLane, and numerous others who bore the flag of Connecticut upon the deep – here to receive their commissions, and sailing orders – or here to report the movements on the water of the enemy they had watched, or the prizes it had been their good fortune to take.”[1]



The War Office, Lebanon, Connecticut


“The Defence and the Spy—carefully equipped by the care of Governor Trumbull—frequently encountered British men of war, and the former, particularly, signalized herself by daring enterprize.”[2]



Governor Jonathan Trumbull



I first became aware of this flag back in 2016, when I started researching the history of this flag in search of its origin. Regarding its appearance, I came across several interesting statements like this,

"A 23 February 1776 voucher records payment to Anthony Perit for “11 yards blue Tammie, 26 yards white Tammie for the colors of ye brig Defence”. The design of the Defence's colors is not known, but from the quantities of cloth one might guess that it was white with a blue canton."[3]

“A voucher in the state records indicates that the flag of the Connecticut Colony Brig “Defence,” fitted out at New Haven in 1776, was blue and white.”[4]

“The naval flag of those days was evidently different in the different colonies or states. From the fact that the bill for “tammie’ included white and blue colors only, it would appear that the flag of the Defence must have been a Colony or State flag.”[5]

This is merely speculation, but, if this actually is an 18th century flag, could this be one of the colors of the Connecticut brig Defence? This is something I have pondered for the past four or five years.

Since the Defence was not captured, most likely her colors were saved? The Defence was wrecked and bilged on Bartlett’s Reef (Goshen Reef) off Waterford, Connecticut, while fleeing capture on route to New London Harbor, March 10, 1779, during the American Revolution.

“On March 10, 1779, the ship Defence, still under Captain Smedley, when returning from a cruise, struck on Goshen reef, bilged, and soon after overset. Her guns and most of her stores were saved. As no further notice of her appears, she must have proved a total wreck.”[6]


Researching this flag initiated my interest in the Connecticut brig Defence. This research inspired a written (draft) proposal for a future SAR patriot grave marking ceremony on the sea, in the vicinity of the shipwreck of the Connecticut brig Defence, off the Connecticut coast on Bartlett's Reef, where, "some of the people in the hold were drowned."[7]  I'm not sure if a patriot grave marking ceremony like this was ever held by the SAR before? But that's a future project for another day.


      
The known history of this flag begins on June 15, 1891, when it is presented to The Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution,

"A meeting of the board of managers had, meanwhile, been held, at which meeting thirty-three members were added to the Society of Sons of the American Revolution, upon applications previously approved by the Registrar. At this meeting, a flag was presented to the board by Mr. Jonathan F. Morris, and was adopted by a vote of the board as the flag of the Society. This flag is a white field with a blue canton or union in the upper staff corner. These colors, blue and white, were the colors of Washington's Life Guard, whose uniform was a blue coat, trimmed with white, white waistcoat and knee-breeches. The hour of one o'clock having arrived, the drum corps sounded its call, and headed a long and informal procession for its short march to the town hall and the church nearby, at both of which places an ample collation had been provided by the people of Lebanon;"[8]

Originally the Society colors of the Sons of the American Revolution were blue and white. The colors were later changed to blue, buff and white. This was the first State Society flag of The Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. This blue and white flag was used by the CTSSAR from 1891-1901 when it was replaced by the official SAR flag we know today. 

“The [1901] annual banquet of the Connecticut society is an important event. It always takes place on the anniversary of the birth of Washington, and is the occasion for many interesting ceremonies. At the dinner this year there were 225 members present. An informal reception was first held in the parlors of the hotel, the feature of which was the presentation to the society of a banner and a flag. These have been paid for out of the treasury of the State society under an order given by the president and approved by the secretary. The banner is made according to the design adopted by the vote of the National society, and measures seven by five feet. There are three perpendicular stripes of blue, white, and buff, the colors of the Sons of the American Revolution. Embroidered by hand upon the white stripe is the insignia of the society, upon which appears the head of Washington. The motto, “Libertas et Patria,” is written upon a blue belt, and below the insignia are the letters, "S. A. R.” The word “Connecticut,” inscribed in a semicircle, is at the top of the stripe. The edge of the banner is finished with buff fringe, and it is attached by ribbons to a ten-foot staff upon which is perched a gilt spread-eagle. The regulation belt, staff-holder, and cord and tassel complete the outfit. The accompanying national flag is also finished with a buff fringe, and is similarly equipped, but has no lettering. The presentation was made by General E. S. Greeley, who called attention to the two emblems: the flag representing all that is good in this country, and the banner representing that society whose aim is the installing of patriotism and love of the United States. The banners were accepted by Mr. Trumbull in the following words: “The Connecticut Society of Sons of the American Revolution adopts this banner as a lasting emblem to signify to our organization throughout its future the aims and purposes for which we are banded together. May the sight of this mute but eloquent symbol inspire us in all our undertakings, and may its motto, “Liberty and Country,” be ever before us as a standard for firm resolve and high purpose. May it form, too, a fitting emblem of our devotion to the Stars and Stripes which accompany it.”[9] (Note: the word, "banner," was used instead of, "flag," regarding the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution banner, although actually it was a flag. There was much debate and opposition to this Society flag when it was proposed at a National Congress in 1899.[10])  


There is some evidence that this white and blue flag may have been flown over the War Office on special occasions in the 1890's.[11] Would the Society fly a 110+ year old Revolutionary War era flag over the War Office? 

“The Lebanon War Office stands to-day thoroughly re-paired and restored, and in charge of a keeper engaged by our board of managers; but much is still lacking to make this building the memorial which it should be, both on account of its importance in the history of our state and for the honor and credit of our society as the custodian and owner of the building. With the exception of a few pieces of antique furniture which have been generously presented to our society by various donors, the interior of this building is still bare of objects of interest. No tablet commemorative of its character or of our ownership marks its walls; and the flags, one of which was kindly presented by a member of our society, alone distinguish the building from others in its neighborhood.”[12] (Note: the keeper (caretaker) mentioned above was Isaac Garrison, he was hired to look after the War Office and the Trumbull Tomb, until the War Office became the Public Library. He may have lived in the room upstairs?)

The following quote published in 1923 may be referring to the flag of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution?  It's doubtful the white and blue flag was used after 1901? There are also a few references to a French flag that may have been flown there also? This may or may not be the white and blue flag, which may have been mistaken for a French flag?

"Few passing the spot fail to notice and remember the small, "hip-roofed' building, with a memorial tree to Lebanon's only son, who made the supreme sacrifice in the World War, in front, and surmounted by a flag-staff, from which on holidays and special occasions the Society's flag and the flag of the thirteen original states float upon the breeze, . . "[13]

“near the house that was Governor Trumbull’s home, the stars and stripes and a small French flag float in fair day breezes to mark the little gambrel-roofed War Office.”[14]

There is no evidence that this flag ever left the War Office.


~ ------------------------------------------------------------ ~

Jonathan F. Morris [15]


Who was Jonathan F. Morris?


Regarding Compatriot Jonathan F. (Flynt) Morris (1822-1899). He gave the white and blue flag to the society as previously mentioned. He was a President of the Charter Oak National Bank,[16] he helped form the Republican Party in Connecticut,[17] he was a Treasurer of the Connecticut Historical Society,[18] and he was, "one of the organizers,"[19] of the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. He was CTSSAR member #5 and NSSAR member #392, and he served as the first CTSSAR Registrar.[20] He was called the, "Father of Flag Day."[21] (Note: Mr. Bernard John Cigrand (1866-1932), a Wisconsin school teacher, is also called the, "Father of Flag Day," regarding a Flag Day observance in 1885 (The Stony Hill School in Waubeka, Wisconsin is considered the, "Birthplace of Flag Day."), and later for his advocacy which lead to a U.S. Flag Day Proclamation in 1916, by President Woodrow Wilson (The U.S. approved Flag Day as a national holiday in 1949.). He also wrote his first of many articles in 1886 titled, "The Fourteenth of June," in a Chicago newspaper called the, "Argus."[22] But that was like 25 years after the newspaper article published in the, "Hartford Evening Press," inspired by Mr. Jonathan F. Morris, five years before Mr. Bernard John Cigrand was even born? I haven't seen any documentation pre-dating Jonathan F. Morris' 1861 concept of Flag Day? Even the CTSSAR June 15, 1891, celebration of Flag Day at the War Office in Lebanon, Connecticut, is rarely if ever even mentioned in the historical time-line of Flag Day events? I guess another way of looking at this is, if Mr. Bernard John Cigrand is the, "Father of Flag Day," then Mr. Jonathan F. Morris is certainly the, "Grandfather of Flag Day," since he seems to have originated the concept in 1861?)

"He was a close student of historical matters and took a lively interest in the establishment of "Flag Day" as a legal holiday and had gathered a greater amount of facts about the stars and stripes than any other man in the Country."[23]

"The Hartford Courant in an editorial says, "he was by nature an antiquarian, and his interest in history and historical matters was unceasing."[24]

"Flag Day, on June 14, was first publicly observed throughout the country upon the recommendation of a member of the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, and Charles Dudley Warner, of Hartford, published an editorial on this subject as far back as 1861."[25]

"It was not Charles Dudley Warner that started Flag Day. Charles Dudley Warner was the editor of a Hartford paper [Hartford Evening Press] at the outbreak of our Civil War. A warm personal friend of his, Mr. Jonathan Flynt Morris, suggested the propriety of celebrating Flag Day all over the United States. He induced Mr. Warner to write an editorial in his afternoon paper in Hartford, which appeared there the first time on June 8, 1861; the editorial was by Mr. Warner, but at the suggestion of Mr. Morris. There was introduced in the Congress of the United States a bill suggesting to the various States two dates for the observance of national holidays; one was Flag Day, June 14, and the other was the adoption of the Federal Constitution. The bill was not approved. Many others since then have claimed the credit for having originated Flag Day; but it belongs to this citizen of Hartford, who was later a loyal, true member of our Connecticut Society, who made a very fine address on the subject of flags at, I think, the Wadsworth House celebration, and it was published in one of the Connecticut Societies' Year Books and to him is due the credit. He died in 1899."[26]

"In 1890 Jonathan F. Morris, of Hartford, then registrar of the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, suggested that the anniversary of the adoption of the national banner be commemorated by his society. Since then the observance has grown to be national in character."[27]

"At its annual meeting, May 11, 1891, the Connecticut Society of Sons of the American Revolution voted that a celebration should be held at Lebanon, to commemorate the completion of the repairs and restoration of the War Office, and to re-dedicate the building to public uses. The anniversary of the adoption of our National Flag was selected for this purpose, with a view to establishing an observance of the day, for which the society has adopted the title of Flag Day. As the anniversary fell on Sunday of this year, it was found necessary to hold the celebration on the following Monday, June 15th."[28]

"Twenty-nine years ago a bill was introduced in Congress, and eloquently advocated by a son of Connecticut, providing for the observance of the anniversary of the adoption of our national flag. In the stirring legislation of those troublous times of 1862 the bill was laid upon that convenient and capacious piece of congressional furniture, the table, and has there remained, badly "snowed under," ever since. Its champion, to whom I have referred, the Hon. Mr. Dwight Loomis, has honored us with his presence to-day. We had hoped that he could remain long enough to take the flag-day bill from the table on this occasion, but since he has been obliged to leave us, let me pass that duty to the originator of the movement, Mr. Jonathan F. Morris, whose untiring interest in the matter and whose earnest efforts in promoting the movement fit him peculiarly to speak on this subject."[29]

"President Trumbull has introduced me as the originator of "Flag Day." I should be very proud indeed if I were entirely worthy of such distinction, for while it is true that I perhaps did make the first suggestion in regard to the observance of the day, I was not alone in bringing the matter to public attention."[30]

"On one of the early days of June [1861], when in the office of the Press, and in a conversation with Mr. Warner, it occurred to me that the birthday anniversary of the flag was near. I suggested to Mr. Warner the propriety of celebrating the day by public demonstration. He at once fell in with the idea.  . . . Mr. Warner said he would write an article on the subject, and he did so in an editorial in the Press of the 8th of June, in which he advocated the establishment of the 14th day of June and the 17th day of September as national holidays, the one to be known as "Flag Day," the other as "Constitution Day." . . . Mr. Warner's suggestion for the observance of the day was well taken by the citizens of Hartford. There was a very general display of flags and decorations, -- the "red, white, and blue" was displayed everywhere: from shops and houses; the dry goods stores vied with each other in their efforts at decoration. Other cities and towns had their celebrations also.  . . . A year passed away, and by June, 1862, the flag which had been deserted, pulled down, and disgraced in several of the States was again raised in them, and the authority of the Union partially restored. Early in this month I wrote to Hon. Dwight Loomis, then a member of Congress from this State, asking him to introduce in Congress a resolution for the observance of "Flag Day" as a national holiday, to embrace "Constitution Day" also. He readily complied with my request."[31] As mentioned above, this resolution was tabled.[32]

"In connection with the celebration of the centennial of the flag in 1877, let me state that a distinguished editor in the Southwest, Hon. Henry Watterson of Louisville, Kentucky, had on Memorial Day, that year, in an address at Nashville, paid a beautiful tribute to "the starry flag of the Republic." I wrote to him thanking him for the spirit of his address, and suggested the observance of Flag Day that year, and the making of the day a national holiday. He was absent from home when my letter arrived, and did not return until after the day had passed. On his return he wrote me that he thought the suggestion an admirable one."[33]

"The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution have authorized the commemoration of "Flag Day' by the State societies, and here to old Lebanon the Connecticut Society has come to celebrate the day."[34]

"Rightfully, unless earlier evidence is uncovered, Compatriot Jonathan Flynt Morris of the Connecticut Society must be considered the originator of "Flag Day." Others copied his promotion of the patriotic holiday. Nevertheless, he is the "Father of Flag Day.""[35]

See also, "June 14th is the 150th Anniversary of Connecticut Flag Day," Allen Ramsey, Assistant State Archivist, State Archives, Connecticut State Library, Hartford, Connecticut, 2012.[36] This article states that in June 1862 both the Connecticut Senate and House passed a resolution recommending the observance of Flag Day and Constitution Day.[37] This resolution was proposed and approved around a year after the newspaper article initiated by Jonathan F. Morris. The article also states that it was, "around 1893,"[38] that any laws were passed in Connecticut regarding Flag Day.

~ ------------------------------------------------------------ ~


This white and blue flag then disappeared and is forgotten until it is found during the 1988 renovation of the War Office. Both flags were given on loan to the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, for further research on their origins.


Some questions need to be asked?


Is this 1891 flag the oldest surviving State Society flag of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution? Was this even considered? The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution were still considering the design of a National SAR flag, and whether the Society should even have a flag, other then the U.S. flag, at their National Congress in Detroit, Michigan, on May 1-2, 1899.[39] In its known history, this flag has historical significance as a flag presented by Mr. Jonathan F. Morris, who is regarded by some as, "The Father of Flag Day," and most likely it is historically the first flag of the Sons of the American Revolution? If Jonathan F. Morris is, "The Father of Flag Day," then is the War Office a contender for, "The Birth Place of Flag Day," the location where Flag Day was commemorated on June 15, 1891 (since June 14, 1891 was a Sunday) where individuals (Mr. Jonathan F. Morris) who originated the idea of Flag Day back in 1861, and (the Hon. Mr. Dwight Loomis, U.S. House of Representatives, Connecticut's 1st District (1859-1863)) who proposed a Flag Day resolution in the U.S. Congress in 1862 took part?



Is it possible that Jonathan F. Morris presented a real Revolutionary War naval flag to the Society to use as its State Society flag? Could this be a flag from the Connecticut brig Defence? He was a historian in both Connecticut and flag history. He also had the means and connections to obtain a flag like this. Or, could this be a 19th century reproduction of a flag from the Connecticut brig Defence? A flag he may have seen somewhere, which may be in a private collection, or no longer exists? A flag that he had made based on the colors of the Connecticut brig Defence, since its colors of white and blue corresponded with those of the Society? The design doesn't look like a flag you would design for a Society flag? 


We know there were three other flags on June 15, 1891, at or in the vicinity of the War Office, possibly created for the ceremonies, and according to General Hawley, regarding the thirteen star flag, it was, "the first time a flag was ever raised over this War Office."[40]

"At the roll of the drums the flag, with its thirteen stars, floated over the building. A few minutes later another flag bearing, in large letters, the words, "BROTHER JONATHAN," was displayed from the residence of Mrs. Wattles."[41] And, "Near the town-house on the Green a large flag extended across the street bore, in conspicuous letters, the words, "WELCOME, SONS OF THE REVOLUTION.""[42] 






A photo of both flags appeared in the Summer 1988 issue of the Sons of the American Revolution Magazine, page 5.[43] They are referred to as, “Two valuable flags – one a 13-star banner, the other carried by a Connecticut militia”. Where did the notion that this blue and white flag was carried by a Connecticut militia originate? There is no further mention of this?

According to surviving written Society correspondence from 1988-1992, analysis was done on both flags by both the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution, and The Flag Research Center. Both of these examination reports are missing, and the individuals involved have since passed away. Most of these surviving letters of correspondence dealt with the 13-star banner, with little to nothing regarding the white and blue flag? 

I had an e-mail conversation in 2019 with the Flag Curator at the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution. No one from that period of time is still working at the Smithsonian, and the 30+ year old flag examination reports on the two flags appear to be lost. All we have are the receipts that the flags were examined, and Society correspondence with vague references to the examination reports.

I have also written to The Flag Research Center with no response. That was also back in 2019. In one surviving letter from a Society member who had a phone conversation in 1989 with the late Mr. Whitney Smith, Ph.D., Executive Director of The Flag Research Center, before the flags were examined,

“During our conversation I mentioned the companion flag from the Lebanon War Office and his off hand view is that this is probably a signal flag flown by a naval or merchant vessel as a means of identification. Knowing that Revolutionary War Time Governor Trumbull was an important importer a further examination of this flag might well be given consideration.”

It's unfortunate we cannot find the reports once the flags were examined? We know the flags were examined by The Flag Research Center because we have the receipts in our records.

From the surviving correspondence, The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, determined that the 13-star banner is a 13-star U.S. Navy boat flag, circa 1870-1885, similar to the boat flag of the USS Olympia.[44]  But, regarding the white flag with blue canton, there appears to be no conclusion? 

So the un-answered question remains, what is the origin of this white and blue flag?



Notes:


1. Life of Governor Jonathan Trumbull, Sen., Governor of Connecticut, I. W. Stuart, Crocker and Brewster, Boston, 1859, page 182.
2. Ibid. page 293.
3. Flags of the State Navies in the Revolutionary War: A Critical Overview, Peter Ansoff, Raven: A Journal of Vexillology, NAVA (North American Vexillological Assoc.), Vol. 17, 2010, pages 23-46.
4. Standards and Colors of the American Revolution, Edward W. Richardson, The University of Pennsylvania Press and the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution and its Color Guard, 1982, page 73.
5. Exploits of the Connecticut Ship “Defence”, Commanded by Captain Samuel Smedley of Fairfield, CT. Revolutionary War, Louis F. Middlebrook, Hartford, Connecticut, 1922, page 22.
6. The State Vessels of Connecticut During the Revolution, Records and Papers of the New London County Historical Society, Volume 1, 1890, page 39.
7. The Public Records of the State of Connecticut, from May, 1778, to April, 1780, inclusive, . . . , Charles J. Hoadly, LL.D., Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, Hartford, 1895, page 344.
8. The Lebanon War Office: The History of the Building, and Report of the Celebration at Lebanon, Conn., Flag Day, June 15, 1891, In Commemoration of the War Office and of the Adoption of our National Flag, The Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, Press of The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, Hartford, Conn., 1891, pages 29-30. 
9. The Connecticut Magazine, An Illustrated Bi-Monthly, March-April 1901, Vol. VII, No. 1, Hartford, Conn., 1901, page 98.
10. National Congress Sons of the American Revolution, Detroit, Mich., May 1, 1899, The Spirit of '76, Devoted to the Principles, Incidents, and Men on '76, and Colonial Times, Volume V, No. 10, Published Monthly by The Spirit of '76 Publishing Co., New York, June, 1899, pages 218-219. Digitized by Google, Google books, <https://books.google.com>
11. 1892 War Office Photo, Lebanon, Images of America, Alicia Wayland, Ed Tollmann, and Claire S. Krause for the Lebanon Historical Society, Arcadia Publishing, 2004, page 14.
12. Year-Book of the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution for 1892, The Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, Printed by The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1893, pages 54-55.
13. Historic Lebanon, The Home of "Brother Jonathan, A Printing Ink Pilgrimage, Joe Stedman, The Stedman Press, Westerly, R. I., 1923, page 10.
14. Early Lebanon, Mary Clarke Huntington, The Connecticut Quarterly, Vol. II, July, August, September, 1896, No. 3, Hartford, Conn., page 256.
15. Jonathan F. Morris, The Spirit of '76, Devoted to the Principles, Incidents, and Men on '76, and Colonial Times, Volume III, No. 10, Published Monthly by The Spirit of '76 Publishing Co., New York, June, 1897, page 555. Digitized by Google, Google books, <https://books.google.com>
16. Ibid. page 556.
17. Centennial Heritage Facts, The SAR and the Origins of Flag Day, Compatriot Allen R. Yale, Connecticut Society, Centennial History of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution 1889-1989, National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, Turner Publishing Company, 1991, page 11.
18. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume LIII, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, 1899, page 384. Digitized by Google, Google books, <https://books.google.com>
19. Year-Book of the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution for 1897-1898 and 1899, The Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, Press of The Price, Lee & Adkins Co., New Haven, 1900, page 661. Digitized by Google, Google books, <https://books.google.com>
20. Centennial Heritage Facts, The SAR and the Origins of Flag Day, Compatriot Allen R. Yale, Connecticut Society, Centennial History of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution 1889-1989, National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, Turner Publishing Company, 1991, page 11.
21. Ibid.
22. Bernard J. Cigrand, Wikipedia, The free encyclopedia, <en.wikipedia.org> 
23. Hartford Courant, Jonathan F. Morris Obituary, January 31, 1899; Centennial History of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, 1889-1989, Sons of the American Revolution, Turner Publishing Company, 1991, page 11.
24. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume LIII, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, 1899, page 384. Digitized by Google, Google books, <https://books.google.com>
25. National Year Book 1914, The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, Compiled by A. Howard Clark, Secretary General and Registrar General, Press of Judd & Detweiler, Inc., Washington, D. C., pages 88-89. Digitized by Google, Google books, <https://books.google.com>
26. Ibid. page 93.
27. The Phrenological Journal, and Science of Health; Incorporated With The English Phrenological Magazine, Volume CVI, Old Series - Volume LVIII, New Series, December, 1898, Fowler & Wells Co., Publishers, New York, 1898, page 199. Digitized by Google, Google books, <https://books.google.com>
28. The Lebanon War Office: The History of the Building, and Report of the Celebration at Lebanon, Conn., Flag Day, June 15, 1891, In Commemoration of the War Office and of the Adoption of our National Flag, The Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, Press of The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, Hartford, Conn., 1891, page 20.
29. Ibid. page 64.
30. Ibid. 
31. Ibid. pages 66-67.
32. Centennial Heritage Facts, The SAR and the Origins of Flag Day, Compatriot Allen R. Yale, Connecticut Society, Centennial History of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution 1889-1989, National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, Turner Publishing Company, 1991, page 11.
33. The Lebanon War Office: The History of the Building, and Report of the Celebration at Lebanon, Conn., Flag Day, June 15, 1891, In Commemoration of the War Office and of the Adoption of our National Flag, The Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, Press of The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, Hartford, Conn., 1891, pages 70-71.
34. Ibid. page 71.
35. Centennial Heritage Facts, The SAR and the Origins of Flag Day, Compatriot Allen R. Yale, Connecticut Society, Centennial History of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution 1889-1989, National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, Turner Publishing Company, 1991, page 11.
36. June 14th is the 150th Anniversary of Connecticut Flag Day, Allen Ramsey, Assistant State Archivist, State Archives, Connecticut State Library, Hartford, Connecticut, 2012. <ctstatelibrary.org>
37. Ibid.
38. Ibid.
39. National Congress Sons of the American Revolution, Detroit, Mich., May 1, 1899, The Spirit of '76, Devoted to the Principles, Incidents, and Men on '76, and Colonial Times, Volume V, No. 10, Published Monthly by The Spirit of '76 Publishing Co., New York, June, 1899, pages 218-219. Digitized by Google, Google books, <https://books.google.com>
40. The Lebanon War Office: The History of the Building, and Report of the Celebration at Lebanon, Conn., Flag Day, June 15, 1891, In Commemoration of the War Office and of the Adoption of our National Flag, The Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, Press of The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, Hartford, Conn., 1891, page 27.
41. Ibid. 
42. Ibid. page 25.
43. The SAR Magazine, Summer, 1988, Vol. LXXXIII, No. 1, The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, Louisville, Kentucky, page 5.
44. Boat Flag of the USS Olympia, Naval History and Heritage Command, U.S. Navy, <history.navy.mil>





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





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