Samuel Huntington's Birth Date
New Evidence Revealed
By Channing M. Huntington II
On Sunday Oct. 19th, 2003 there was a small ceremony held at Samuel's tomb preliminary to it opening for its restoration starting on Monday, Oct. 20th. Attending were the Col. Jedidiah's color guard from the Samuel Huntington Chapter of the SAR, a Naval color guard from the Groton Submarine Base, the Norwich Town Manger, the color guard of the Norwich Police Force, Bill Stanley and Olive Buddington of the Norwich Historical Society, Channing Huntington II of the Huntington Family Association and the Gov. Samuel Huntington Trust and Truxton Broadhead of the Descendents of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. There were also many other spectators. The media was there: the Norwich Bulletin, the New London Day and television channels 3, 8 and 30.
On Monday Oct. 20th the tomb was opened prior to the start of the restoration. Present were the restoration contractor, State Archaeologist Nick Bellantoni, Norwich Department of Public Works personnel, Bill Stanley, myself, and lots of spectators. When the bricks sealing the small front entrance were removed, Nick Bellantoni and his assistant were the first to enter. I followed shortly thereafter. Samuel and Martha had been buried in wooden coffins that had nearly completely disintegrated. The coffins had been placed on a shelf of separated fieldstone slabs protruding from the walls. Their remains had fallen from the coffins on to several of the slabs and onto the tomb floor. The bones were completely separated one from another. Nick showed and explained the conditions within the tomb to me. He found two oval brass medallions on the floor that had been fastened to the coffins. I examined and photographed them in the tomb as well as outside the tomb in better light.
There was one for Samuel and one for Martha. Martha's could not be read but Samuel's could be read easily after being only brushed off. It read:
Samuel Huntington Esquire
Governor of the State of Connecticut
was born July 16th AD 1731,
and died January 5th AD 1796,
aged 64 years.
I noticed the date of his birth but made no comment at the time. I had always read that Samuel had been born either July 3rd or 4th 1731. This difference I had to check. The first place I checked was the Huntington Family Genealogical Memoirs. On page 543 it said that Samuel, 188.8.131.52.4. was born July 3, 1731. In Connecticut Congressman: Samuel Huntington, 1731-1796 by Larry R. Gerlach on page 8 it states, "Samuel Huntington's personal odyssey began on July 5, 1731." In the Appendix I Chronology on page 106 it states, "1731 July 5 born in Scotland, Windham County, Connecticut." In the Notes on page 108 it states, "1. Most authorities give Huntington's birth date as July 3, 1731; a few writers have given it variously as July 2, 1731, or July 2, 1732, or July 3, 1732. The original Windham vital records show that he was born in July 1731, but an inkblot obscures the date.
In Samuel Huntington and His Family by Albert E. Waugh, at length in pages 5 through 9 Waugh describes Samuel's family and his birth date. He mentions the inkblot in the Windham Vital Records, several other sources and the official records of the State of Connecticut. Samuel's birth date varies but there is no hard evidence that all can agree on.
I believe that now hard evidence to clear up the mystery has been found in Samuel's tomb. On Wednesday Oct. 12th I met with Nick Bellantoni at the Church and Allen Funeral Home. And again examined and photographed the medallions. I revealed my opinion and questions about the birth date to Nick and discussed it with him. He had a copy of Connecticut Congressman: Samuel Huntington, 1731-1796 by Larry R. Gerlach, which we checked. Samuel's finely engraved medallion clearly gives his birth date as July 16th, 1731. Unlike other birth date sources, this in not blotted, nor a guess or approximation based on flimsy evidence. The medallion was engraved with the date, July 16th, 1731 on information given by his family and peers. This is the most credible evidence and the only hard evidence that gives his birth date. I believe that the mystery of Samuel's birth date has been solved. He was born on July 16th, 1731 in the Society of Windham commonly called Scotland.
Both medallions were cleaned up and reattached to the coffins for the Nov. 24th re internment.
When cleaned up Martha's read:
Consort of Samuel Huntington,
Govenour of the State. Dyed
June 3d 1794 Aged 55
Channing M. Huntington II
By Lou Imholt
This note is intended for Channing M. Huntington II, but is not private in any sense.
Sir, thank you for your description of the re-interring of Samuel and Martha. Perhaps I can contribute to your birth-date considerations. Two of the dates considered may actually refer to the same day. In 1752 the British empire adopted the Gregorian calendar. To 'synchronize' their Calendar with that of Catholic Europe, they skipped 11 days in an exercise similar to Daylight Savings Time adjustments. Many people then living also adjusted their birthdate, so that their next one would be 365 days after their last one. George Washington is the most prominent example: In 1753 and afterward he considered his birthdate to be February 22, not February 11 as it had been before.
From the evidence available, I would have to assume that Samuel Huntington did the same. If so, he would have 'adjusted' his birth day from July 5 to July 16. Another thought related to the town records and their information is that an inkblot covering two digits might look different from that over a single digit.
Thanks for an informative report and for your consideration.
|The Huntington Homestead is owned and operated by the Governor Samuel Huntington Trust, Inc., P.O. Box 231, Scotland, CT 06264. A non-profit corporation formed in 1994, the Trust is authorized by the IRS to receive tax-exempt contributions. This site has been made possible by a grant from the Connecticut Society of the Cincinnati.|
|This page last modified on 01/19/2004.|