Family Account of Huntington's Tomb
On Sunday Oct. 19th 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 navel color guard from the Groton Sub. 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, 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, channels 3, 8 and 30.
On Monday Oct. 20th the tomb was opened prior to the start of the
restoration. There were; the restoration contractor, Nick Bellantoni the state
archeologist, Norwich Dept of Public Work personal, Bill Stanley, me 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 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 Esq.
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 commit at this time. I had
always read that Samuel had been born either July 3ed 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, not 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. I have an undeveloped photograph of Martha’s and will send
you what is engraved on it.
Channing M. Huntington II