Lake County Ohio GenWeb

Luther Trumbull

Contributed by Joseph C. Hager, Ph.D. & Mary Susan Spence, RN, 4th great-grandchildren of Luther Trumbull and Lucy Kent.

Luther Trumbull (1787-1840) was born in Suffield (Hartford), Connecticut, on July 9, 1787, second child of a Revolutionary War soldier, Luther Trumbull (1759-1852), and his wife Margery Huxley (1761-1844). Luther was a descendant of the Trumbull/Trumble family of Rowley, Massachusetts/Suffield, Connecticut (Luther - Levi - Ephraim - Judah - John). John Trumble (abt.1600-1657), Luther's 4th great-grandfather, arrived in the Massachusetts colony in 1639 probably from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Northumberland, a Puritan and a cooper by trade. John was the progenitor of the most extensive American Trumbull clan, a distinguished family of Connecticut Yankees. Luther's third cousin once removed, and second of four Trumbull governors of Connecticut, Jonathan Trumbull, Jr., was the namesake of Trumbull County, Ohio, (1800) out of which the other Western Reserve counties, including Lake (1840), were later carved. For more information about the Trumbull/Trumble family see their web site: Luther's mother was a member of two other well known colonial New England families, the Huxleys and Spencers.

In 1808, Luther married Lucy Kent (1781-abt.1856), and shortly after, left Suffield and moved west to the town of Johnsburg, Warren County, New York, near the residences of his uncles, Alexander Trumble and Nathaniel Trumble. He is recorded there with Lucy and child in an 1810 census.

In Johnsburg, Luther learned his vocational skills as a builder and miller, and he also served briefly as a soldier during the War of 1812 in the Second Division of Detached Militia of New York, Third Brigade, 7th Regiment of Infantry (James Green commanding). Luther entered as a private and received a promotion to sergeant, and is listed as a volunteer in service of the Federal Government in the United States Combined Military Service Records of the War of 1812.

Luther had the same pioneering attitude that brought his family to America, as well as a zest for developing new establishments on the frontier. About 1815, he moved to Groton, Tompkins County, NY, in the Finger Lakes region, where his father and family had relocated about 1812. Luther volunteered again for the New York Militia in the 88th Regiment of Infantry from Tompkins County, where he became an officer. The Council of Appointment assigned him the rank of Lieutenant in 1819, Captain in 1821, and Colonel before he left New York. Luther, and his father, are recorded in Groton in the 1820 U.S. Census and the 1825 Census of New York State. The book Landmarks of Tompkins County, New York (J.H. Selkreg; 1894, Chapter 18) says:

However, bearing still further on the subject of pioneership in Groton, Nelson Trumble states that his ancestor, Luther Trumble, settled about one mile north of Groton village between 1790 and 1800. Luther Trumble, son of the pioneer just mentioned, was afterward prominently connected with the building up of Groton village and its locality, and other members of the family became well known in the early history of the town.
In the geographical center of the town, on both east and west sides of Owasco Inlet, and on lots 65, 66, 75 and 76, is located the pleasant village of Groton. ... Luther Trumble Jr., erected a fulling mill on the Inlet; also built several dwellings and stores at the Corners about the same time, so that the year 1825 found a prosperous village established.

Luther became an entrepeneur, a builder of commercial and residential properties, and a light industrialist. According to The History of Tompkins County, New York (H.B. Pierce, Everts & Ensign, Philadelphia, 1879, p. 202):

Luther was colonel of one of the old militia regiments, and an active business man and builder. He erected the first fulling-mill down at the "Willows," in 1818, and the dwelling since used by Levi Thomas as a grocery-store. In 1820, he built the store since owned by the Adams brothers, and also the house south of Goodyear's Hall. In 1825 he built a tavern, since occupied by A. Woodbury as a dwelling; and Mrs. Jas. Gibb's house for a store, which was filled with goods by him ....

At least by 1827, Luther had determined to move to Madison, Lake County, Ohio where he acquired a mill site on the Grand River. There he put his skills to work, building a grain mill with an undershot waterwheel, and a woolen factory to add to the saw mill he acquired in the land deal. According to the book History of Geauga and Lake Counties, Ohio (A.G. Riddle, Williams Bros., Philadelphia, 1878, p.232):

Col. Luther Trumbull came from Groton, Tompkins County, New York, to Madison in 1827, and after purchasing of Kellogg & Stratton a site for a grist mill, on south bank of Grand river, returned for his family, which he brought the following year. Immediately afterwards he erected the mill, and subsequently, in 1830 or 1831, built a woolen factory here also. These mills, together with a saw mill, which had been built previous to his settlement, were destroyed by fire in 1843, and two men burned to death. Colonel Trumbull was a large landholder also, owning some four hundred acres. Of his family of six children, three are now living, viz.: Aretas, in La Salle county, Illinois; Harriet, widow of John Gill, and Mrs. Homer Griswold, both of whom reside in Madison. The colonel died in August, 1840, and his widow in 1856 or 1857.

This mill site was active late in the nineteenth century, passing to Luther's son Aretus, then to Nathaniel Blakely, who was the father of Fanny W. Blakely, the wife of Luther's grandson, Francis Ely Gill. According to a Painesville Telegraph article of 1905 titled Old South Mill Is Being Torn Down:

The old Trumbull Mill on Grand River at South Madison is being torn down. The original mill was built about the year 1817, by Colonel Luther Trumbull, a pioneer of this section of country. A saw mill had previously been built, and soon after quite a large woolen factory was built. As they were the only factories of the kind in quite a large section of the country a very large business was done up to about 1842, when they were all burned on a cold winter night in January. Two men who were working in the woolen factory lost their lives in the fire. The present grist mill and saw mill were soon rebuilt by Aretus Trumbull, son of the colonel, who had recently died. The woolen factory was never rebuilt. In the first years of the War of the Rebellion the property was sold to Blakely and Woolever, thus passing out of the Trumbull family.
The dam is gone, the great pond is drained, the wheels that formerly ran day and night for months at a time without the water being turned off, are broken off and destroyed. The third generation sees the work of the old pioneers destroyed by the eternal march of the progress of the age in which we live.

Today, the crumbling foundations of the old mill and site of the mill pond on Grand River can still be detected in Hidden Valley Park in South Madison, Ohio. The area of this mill, according to the Painesville Telegraph, was called the Hollow and was at one time the residence of several prominent figures, including the painter Caroline Ransom, and the youthful Dr. D. W. Bliss, later President Garfield's chief physician at his death. Interestingly, according to History of Tompkins County, the location of Luther's buildings in Groton, NY, was nicknamed "Groton Hollow."

Luther and Lucy Trumbull had 6 children: Aretus (1809-?) married Lovilla Williams; Laura (1811-?) married E. B. Griswold; Cynthia (1813-1833) married Peleg Randall; an unknown daughter; Harriet (1815-1885) married John Seymour Gill (1809-1853); and Nathaniel Trumbull (1824-?).

Aretus Trumbull married Lovilla (alternately, Julia Ann) Williams and moved to Illinois. His son, Luther Aretus Trumbull, owned a groceries and supplies store in Painesville about 1880.

In regard to Laura Trumbull, the Biographical History of Ashtabula, Geauga, and Lake Counties (p. 891) says:

E. B. Griswold . . . his father-in-law, Colonel Luther Trumbull, had come here in 1823, and had started a cloth mill on the Grand River. Of his wife, we record that her maiden name was Laura Trumbull and that she was a native of Connecticut. Her father was a colonel in the War of 1812. Besides the mill before referred to, he was the owner of nearly 800 acreas of land in this county. He died here in 1840.

Cynthia Trumbull married Peleg Randall, descendant of the Randall family of Easton and Weymouth, MA, but she died shortly after. According to A Biographical History of Robert Randall and his Descendants (W. L. Chaffin, 1909, p. 117), Peleg was trained as a millwright and built many of the mills of Geauga, Lake, Ashtabula, and Trumbull Counties, and:

He m. 1st, Jan. 17, 1833, Cynthia Trumbull, b. Aug. 7, 1813; d. July 26, 1833, dau. of Col. Luther and Lucy (Kent). No children.

As for Harriet Trumbull, her obituary in the Painesville Telegraph of 1/29/1885 states:

Gill - In South Madison, January 8, 1885, Mrs. H. Gill, aged 69. Mrs. Gill was the daughter of Col. Luther and Lucy Trumbull; was a native of Groton, Thomkins County, N.Y.; accompanied her parents to Madison, Ohio, in 1829, where she has since resided. In 1835 she was married to John S. Gill, who died in 1855, leaving her a widow with six children, four of whom survive her. She was for more than half a century a member of the M. E. Church (Methodist), a practical Christian, ever constant and true in the discharge of duty. She met death calmly and fearlessly and with unfaltering trust in Him ....

Luther Trumbull was an ambitious man whose skills enhanced the economic base of Madison by providing a mill for its farmers' grains, a market for its ranchers' wool, and lumber for construction in the Madison area. He was a pioneer of the industrial potential of Madison Township and Lake County, together with other developers such as the bog iron miners, smelters, and forges. Whatever further plans he contemplated were cut short by his early death at age 53 in August,1840.

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Last updated 7 May 2003

Content © 2003 by Joseph C. Hager
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