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Jabez Huntington, 1719-1786

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CT's RevWar Heritage, People & Stories

Jabez Huntington was born in Norwich, CT on August 17, 1719. After his graduation from Yale in 1741, he entered the West Indies trade and became wealthy. In 1742, he married Elizabeth Backus and they had two children. She died in 1745 and he married Hannah Williams in 1746. The couple had six children.

Jabez was elected as a representative to the General Assembly from 1750 to 1764. He served as the assembly’s clerk from 1757 to 1760 and as speaker from 1760 to 1764. He was appointed to the Governor’s Council in 1764. The following year he was one of seven council members that refused to take an oath to enforce the
Stamp Act. Starting in 1754, he held various ranks in the 3rd and 5th Regiments of Connecticut Militia. He was promoted to the rank of Major-General of all Connecticut Militia in 1776. He was one of the original members of the Council of Safety in 1775 and served until 1779. His business suffered during the war due to the capture of his vessels. As a result of overwork, he suffered a stroke in 1779 and remained in poor health until he died in Norwich on October 5, 1786.

The Council of Safety

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CT's RevWar Heritage, People & Stories

In 1775, Connecticut’s General Assembly was even more part-time than it is today, usually meeting only two or three times from May through September. After the Lexington Alarm in April, the Assembly recognized that Gov. Jonathan Trumbull would need to be able to act far more quickly in war time, and authorized the formation of a special committee of advisers handpicked by the governor to assist him. The Council of Safety, as it was called, held its first meeting on June 7, 1775, in Governor Trumbull’s storehouse in Lebanon, soon dubbed the War Office. Attending were Governor Trumbull, Deputy Governor Matthew Griswold, the Honorable Jabez Huntington, along with William Williams (serving as clerk), Nathaniel Wales, Jedediah Elderkin, Joshua West, and Benjamin Huntington (Esquires). At the first meeting they decided to send fifty barrels of gunpowder to brigadier generals Spencer and Putnam, leading the Connecticut troops at Boston. The powder would come from Connecticut’s public stores at Norwich, Windham, and Lebanon. Thus began the important role of Trumbull and the Council as a source of logistical support to Washington and the Continental army throughout the Revolutionary War.

In all, forty-seven men served on the Council from June 1775-November 1783. Here are their names, copied from a calligraphied list in the collection of the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, dated 1843:

Hon. Gov. Jonathan Trumbull

Matthew Griswold

Eliphalet Dyer

Jabez Huntington

Samuel Huntington

William Williams

Nathaniel Wales, Jr.

Jedidiah Elderkin

Joshua West

Benjamin Huntington

Richard Law (1776)

Titus Hosmer (1776)

William Hillhouse (1776)

Thomas Seymour

William Pitkin (1777)

Benjamin Payne (1777)

Daniel Sherman (1777)

Andrew Adams (1777)

Abraham Davenport (1777)

Jeremiah Wadsworth (1777)

Thaddeus Burr (1777)

James Wadsworth Jr.

Roger Sherman (1777)

Joseph Platt Cook(e)

Jesse Root

Samuel Bishop

Samuel Mott (1779)

Oliver Ellsworth

Col. Williams

Jedediah Strong

David Mumford

Samuel Bishop Jr.

John Canfield

Jabez Hungerford

Joseph Spencer (1780)

Jabez Perkins

Joshua Porter (1783)

Ebenezer Ledyard

Oliver Wolcott

Joseph Hopkins

Col. John Chester

Jeremiah Halsey

Roger Newberry

John Chandler

James Hillhouse (1782)

Thomas Mumford

Jabez Hamlin


Ezekial Williams, 1729-1818

Ezekial Williams, 1729-1818
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CT's RevWar Heritage, People & Stories

Ezekiel Williams, a successful merchant in Wethersfield, was born in Lebanon, the son of prominent First Church minister Solomon Williams and the brother of Declaration of Independence signer and Council of Safety member William Williams. Ezekiel Williams moved to Wethersfield in 1752, built a large house on the Broad Street Green in 1759 and, a year later, married Prudence Stoddard. In 1761 he joined the militia as a captain and in 1767 he was appointed Hartford County sheriff, a position he held for 22 years.

Strong support for the cause of independence seemed to run in this branch of the Williams family. In 1774, Williams led Wethersfield’s effort to provide supplies for blockaded Boston and was elected to the Committee of Correspondence. He also served on the Committee of Inspection seeking out Loyalist sympathizers and the Committee of the Pay-Table which audited Connecticut war accounts.

In May 1775, Williams was one of eleven men appointed to take charge of prisoners of war in the state and in 1777 he took full charge of such prisoners when he was appointed Commissary of Prisoners. This involved far more that being a jail warden, since most imprisoned officers and gentlemen were housed in private homes and were allowed (on the promise of good behavior or parole) to mingle freely within the community. Williams found safe housing, authorized travel permits, and carried out prisoner exchanges. He also managed the prison ships on which British and
Tory enlisted men were kept.

Eliphalet Dyer, 1721-1807

Eliphalet Dyer, 1721-1807
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CT's RevWar Heritage, People & Stories

Eliphalet Dyer was born in Windham, CT and graduated from Yale in 1740. He then studied law in Windham. Around 1745 he married Huldah Bowen. They had five sons and a daughter who married Joseph Trumbull.

In 1746 Dyer became a lawyer and a Justice of the Peace. He was a founder and active member of the Susquehannah Company including making an unsuccessful trip to England in 1763 to try and have the company’s title to land in Pennsylvania confirmed. He defended the company in the Connecticut legislature during his terms as deputy from 1742 to1762 and in the upper house from 1762 to 1784. In 1765, Dyer was one of the governor’s council who refused to witness the signing of the Stamp Tax oath.

Dyer was first sent to the Continental Congress in 1774 and continued to serve until 1783, except for 1776 and 1779. He was also appointed to the Council of Safety in 1775 and served until it was disbanded in 1783. Because of his militia experience during the French and Indian War, Dyer was offered a commission as brigadier general in the Continental Army but declined in order to continue his work in Congress and on the Council of Safety.

Abraham Davenport, 1716-1789

Abraham Davenport, 1716-1789
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Born in Stamford, Davenport graduated from Yale in 1732.His first wife was Elizabeth Huntington (daughter of Jabez
Huntington of Windham) whom he married in 1750. Elizabeth had five children before her death in 1773. In 1776 Davenport married Mrs. Martha Fitch.

Davenport served as a Stamford selectman from 1746 until 1777 and then served as town treasurer for two years as well as serving as a deacon in the First Congregational Church of Stamford from 1759 until 1789.

Davenport served as a representative in the General Assembly from 1747 to 1766 and was then elected to the upper house where he served until 1784. He served on the Council of Safety from 1777 until 1783. During the New York campaign, Davenport cared for sick soldiers returning home. He housed many in his own house and found housing and care for many more.