Lebanon, Connecticut One Place Study

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Studying the events, people, and history of the Town of Lebanon in Connecticut.


Boundary Changes

In 1804, the town of Columbia had a population of about 600 and was set off from Lebanon. [1]

Pre-European Era

The land situated in the present-day town of Lebanon was originally known as Poquechanneeg and belonged to Uncas, a chieftan of the Mohegan Indians who separated from the Pequot tribe in the early 17th century. Uncas befriended colonial settlers and assisted them during the Pequot War. He developed friendships with Major John Mason and other Connecticut leaders, enabling the Mohegans to maintain political autonomy and control over their land. [2]

Colonial Times

The Founding

Major John Mason was the first proprietor of land within the limits of present-day Lebanon. In 1663 the General Assembly of the Colony of Connecticut gave him 500 acres of unoccupied territory of his choice for his meritorious services. At that time the town of Norwich stretched to the line that now divides Franklin and Lebanon. Mason selected land just across this line in an area known as Pomakuk, lying today in the society of Goshen. This land was formally conveyed to him in 1665. His son-in-law, Reverend James Fitch, received 120 acres of adjoining land from the General Assembly in 1666. [1]

The end of King Philip's War in 1678 marked an expansion of colonial settlement in the region. The first major grant occurred in 1687 when the Mohegan chieftain Owaneco, son and successor of Uncas, gave "the Mile", a one-mile wide strip of land adjacent to and paralleling the northwest boundary of Norwich stretching about seven miles. [1] [3]

In 1692, Oweneco sold and conveyed a tract adjoining and northwest of "the Mile" to four proprietors, Captain Samuel Mason, Captain John Stanton, Captain Benjamin Brewster, and Mr. John Birchard. This transaction was later known as "the Five Mile Purchase." The initial four proprietors determined that The Mile and Five Mile Purchase should form the main part of a plantation and laid out Town Street through the center. The land along Town Street was divided into 42-acre lots with second and third lots lying behind and in other unoccupied parts of the town. Every person taking a lot was entitled to a lot of the other divisions, suggesting an interest in the streams and meadows nearby. The residential area was situated on an alder swamp, leading the settlers to erect homes on the dry ground of the edge of slopes extending back on each side, resulting in a swampy boundary between dwellings about 30 rods wide.[1]

The Five Mile Purchase was not formally recognized until 1692, when the General Assembly simultaneously conveyed all of the four proprietors' rights and interests to 51 individuals who had taken lots and most of whom had inhabited there starting in 1695. These individuals primarily came from Norwich, Northampton, and other places in Connecticut and Massachusetts. In 1697 the first four proprietors selected one of the prize lots on Town Street to be held by a future minister. This site stood directly across from the meeting house where the inhabitants held their first meeting in 1698. [1]

In 1700, Oweneco and Abimelech (a fellow Indian chief) sold the lands adjoining north and northwest of the Five Mile Purchase to William Clark and Josiah Dewey. These various tracts of land combined with two small sections (the "gore" and the "mile and a quarter property") constituted the original territory of the town of Lebanon. Lebanon was formally organized into a town in the Fall of 1700, and the church was embodied November 27th when Joseph Parsons was ordained pastor of the church and minister of the town. [1]

Although the town was organized in 1700, it did not send deputies to the General Assembly until the May session of 1705, probably because the colonial government had not yet required it to bear any portion of the public expense until a tax was levied at the October session in 1704. [1]

Stamp Act

In October 1765, Governor Thomas Fitch called upon his "Assistants" to administer his oath to enforce the Stamp Act. Jonathan Trumbull (the younger) objected despite Fitch's demands for allegiance to British Crown. Trumbull balked at the Act's derogation of the colonists' rights and privileges as English subjects, reminding Fitch of their responsibility "to promote the public good and peace of Connecticut, and to maintain all its lawful privileges." Trumbull went a step further by refusing to witness the oath when five assistants prepared for its administration, taking his hat and hastening from the chamber as the leader of the dissenters. This courageous act convinced the colonists to make him their first magistrate, and he was chosen governor in 1769. His governorship was preceded by fourteen terms as Lebanon's deputy to the General Assembly, three of which he served as Speaker; 22 years as Assistant; one year as side judge; 17 years as chief judge of the County Court of Windham County; and 19 years as Judge of Probate for the Windham District. He was elected once as an assistant judge, and four times as Chief Justice of the Superior Court of the Colony; and for fours years had been Deputy Governor. Trumbull held the office of Governor for a total 14 years. [1]


The first settlers had common corn lots, which they jointly cleared, fenced, and guarded. Deer and wild turkeys were abundant and provided much of the protein in their diets. [1]

Lebanon's industry was born at the turn of the 18th century when the town offered Joseph Parsons, father of the minister, 120 acres to construct a grist mill given that he would maintain it for ten years. The first saw mill was built on a tract known as "Burnt Swamp." [1]

The town's growth, however, was stunted due to uncertainty and controversies regarding the bounds and titles to land, resulting in frequent appeals for relief to the Assembly. The "great difficulties and trouble" spreading throughout Lebanon led them to appoint a surveyor in 1704 to run the south line of the Five Mile Purchase to better establish the boundary with the town of Colchester. Several inhabitants complained of "sundry difficulties and inconveniences" respecting land ownership. Much of the confusion was rooted in overlapping property descriptions during the original transfers from Mohegan chieftains that had occurred decades earlier. In 1705 the General Assembly passed a broad healing act, referring to the deed of Oweneco to the four proprietors, and to the deed of these proprietors to the 51 individuals. [1]

While trade networks and historical cooperation facilitated peaceful interaction with the surrounding native population, wild animals threatened the safety of residents for multiple decades. As late as 1730 the town offered £10 bounties for full-grown wolves. Colonel James Clark recalled drawing his feet up upon his horse's saddle when returning from Norwich at night to protect them from wolves, which could be heard barking and howling in thickets along the road. [1]

Lebanon experienced great prosperity starting in the 1730s and leading up to the Revolution. Many well-established families moved and operated within the town's borders. Captain Joseph Trumbull came from Suffield about 1704, purchasing Reverend Joseph Parsons' place. He evidently had little means at the time, mortgaging the property for £340. He employed himself in planting and trading and eventually purchased a cargo ship for his business. He was often called to Boston, sometimes going as a drover, and would attempt to visit Reverend Wells who was a former pastor of Lebanon. The Reverend, however, would avoid Trumball due to his plain and dusty attire compared to the Boston elite. When Wells later paid a visit to Lebanon, Trumbull refused to shake hands, saying, "If you don't know me in Boston, I don't know you in Lebanon." [1]

Trumbull's son, the future governor, attended Harvard in 1727 and went into the mercantile business with his father. He, and the firms that he belonged to, owned ships which traded from England, Germany, and the West Indies, and transported cargoes at New London, Stonington, and Haddam on the Connecticut river. [1]

As trade boomed, Lebanon emerged as an important producer of cloth, leather, boots, shoes, saddles, harnesses, axes, hoes, scythes, and barrels. The industry was so engrained in the culture that among the town officers appointed every year was a leather inspector. [1]

Jonathan Trumbull was locally appointed to obtain from the General Assembly leave to hold and regulate fairs and market days, which were held twice a year. [1]


Jonathan Trumbull (the younger) also active in establishing a school in the area in 1743, which was controlled by 12 proprietors and was kept for 37 years by Master Nathan Tisdale. Its reputation spread quickly and attracted scholars from the West Indies, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and a host of northern colonies. [1]

The availability of liberal education propelled more than 120 native sons and daughters to obtain college degrees. [1]

Revolutionary Era

In December 1767 a letter was received from the selectmen of Boston in response to "oppressive and ruinous duties laid on various articles" imposed at their port. The letter was read at the Lebanon town meeting on December 7th and requested nearby communities to "devise such measures and means, as may more effectually tend to promote and encourage industry, economy, and manufactures." [1]

The call for help was well received around the town, and support intensified in March 1770 after the Boston Massacre. In response, the Lebanon freemen passed the following declaration:

"The inhabitants of the Town of Lebanon in full Town-meeting assembled, this 9th day of April, 1770, --now and ever impressed with the deepest and most affectionate Loyalty to his excellent Majesty, George the 3d, the rightful king and sovereign of Great Britain, and of the English American Colonies,--and also being most tenderly attached to and tenacious of the previous Rights and Liberties to which, as English subjects, we are by birth and by the British constitution entitled, and which have also (been) dearly earned by the treasures and blood of our fore-fathers, and transmitted as their most valuable Legacy to us their children: In these circumstances, we view with the most sincere grief, concern, and anxiety the sufferings and distresses to which this country is subjected and exposed,--in consequence of measures planned by a few artful, designing men, unhappily of too much influence; and adopted by the Parliament of Great Britain;--the action and tendency of which is to deprive these Colonies of their free and happy constitutions, and reduce them to a state of bondage;--Measures which as the event will more fully show,--equally hurtful and pernicious to the British nation;--particularly we deplore the unhappy fate of the town of Boston, in being so long subjected to a grievous imposition of a standing army quartered upon them,--induced by the false and malicious representations of the late governor Hutchinson and others of odious and detestable memory;--which, though they have not been able, agreeable to the designs of our enemies, to awe the inhabitants or the country into a tame surrender of these liberties,--have been the authors of a great variety of Evils and Distresses to that most loyal people, and lately (the 5th of March last) of the barbarous Murder of a number of the inhabitants of that Town. But in the midst of these calamities, we have occasion to rejoice in the union and harmony which continues to prevail throughout the American Colonies, and in their firm and fixed attachment to the principles of Loyalty and Liberty:--and Do hereby declare our high approbation and grateful acknowledgement of the generous self-denying and truly Patriotic spirit and Conduct of the respectable Merchants through the Colonies,--in refusing to import British manufactures into this distracted and impoverished country, until it shall be relieved of these Burdens and Grievances,--of which we so justly complain; and while we esteem and respect those who have made so generous and noble a sacrifice, as true friends and lovers of their country, We also abhor and detest the Principles and Conduct of the Few, who from sordid motives, have refused to come into so salutary a measure, and Do hereby declare and Resolve that they and their merchandise shall be treated by us with the contempt and Neglect, which their unworthy Behavior most justly deserves: and We do further Declare and Resolve, that we will to the utmost of our Power incourage, countenance, and promote all kinds of useful manufactures in the country and among ourselves,--to the end that we may soon be able, by a proper use of the Bounties of Providence in the rich production of the American soil, to furnish ourselves with the necessaries and comforts of life,--without any longer depending for them on the Mother country;--who are also putting it out of our power, and seem to have forgotten her relation; and to prefer the hazard of obtaining from us the forced and unnatural submission of slaves,--to the certain, durable, free, cheerful, and immensely advantageous Dependence and subjection of Children."[1]

At the August 1770 town meeting, the freedmen agreed to send delegates to a general meeting of the mercantile and landed interests at New Haven to discuss the support of the "non-Importation Agreement," and the disconcerting conduct of New York's violation thereof. [1]

During the winter of 1777, William Williams dedicated himself to the colonial cause with his words, actions, and financial resources. He sent beef, cattle, and gold to Valley Forge with the message that, "If independence should be established, he should get his pay, if not, the loss would be of no account to him." [1]

Town Statistics

YearValue Taxable InhabitantsDeputy (May)Deputy (October)
1705£3,73690William ClarkSamuel Huntington
1706£4,390105John SpragueWilliam Clark
1775 £41,600
1876 $1,185,047

Note: The number of taxable persons is not provided in public records after 1707.

In 1756, Lebanon had a population of 3,171 white and 103 blacks. Only five towns in the Colony had a larger population. The number of inhabitants increased to 3,841 whites and 119 blacks by 1774, but this marked the population peak for nearly 200 years. Growth stagnated during the Revolutionary War, with 3,837 whites and 94 blacks in 1784. [1]

Land Transactions

DateGrantor GranteeAcresPricePrice Per Acre
01 Apr 1747Pineo, PeterChappell, Elijah50£590£11.8
01 Apr 1747Pineo, JamesChappell, Elijah2/3£10£15
24 Dec 1788Lyman, EzekielChappell, Amaziah35£50£1.43
27 Jan 1791Chappell, AmaziahTrumbull, David19£65£3.42


A military company called a "train band" was established when the town was organized in 1700, and the earliest mention of a commissioned officer is in May 1702 when John Mason was in May 1702 when John Mason, Jeremiah Fitch, Joseph Bradford were appointed Captain, Lieutenant, and Ensign, respectively, of the train band. A second train band was organized in 1708. Oral tradition has been passed down that the Abel house served as a makeshift fort for inhabitants to garrison in times of danger. [1]

While Lebanon itself remained friendly with the native population, other frontier towns in Connecticut and Massachusetts often relied on military assistance. In 1704 residents of Lebanon were present in Hampshire, Massachusetts during the Deerfield Massacre. In 1709 Jedediah Strong, an original settler of this town, was killed in an expedition against the natives near Albany. That same year Lebanon filled her quota of 11 men who joined Queen Ann's war on an expedition in Canada. The British Crown also called colonial men into the Spanish War of 1739, King George's War (1744), and the French and Indian War (1755-1763). The constant conflict forced the colonists to learn how to raise, equip, and supply troops as well as how to tax themselves to pay for these efforts. [1]

In 1739, Jonathan Trumbull was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel of a regiment raised for an expedition against Canada. He eventually became a Colonel and acquired experience in recruiting, furnishing, and moving troops. [1]

Revolutionary War

Chappell, AmaziahPrivate17771780-
Martin, JosephPrivate1776--
Treadway, JonathonPrivate1776--


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 Early Lebanon, An Historical Address Delivered in Lebanon, Conn. by Request of the National Centennial, 04 July 1876, Orlo Daniel Hine, published in 1880, accessed online at Ancestry.com on 04 June 2020.
  2. Before the Colonies, Lebanon, Connecticut, Preserving Our History and Agriculture, accessed online at https://www.lebanontownhall.org/history-lebanon-ct/pages/colonies on 04 June 2020.
  3. Genealogy and social history, the early settlement of Lebanon, Connecticutt, as a case study. Robert Charles Anderson's Masters Thesis, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Masters 1983, p. 4, accessed online at scholarworks.umass.edu.

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Comments: 3

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I would like to help ! I grew up in Columbia and know quite a bit about their overlapping histories, and am also a genealogist with access to many data sources.
posted by Lauren Millerd
Thank you very much for your interest in this project. Feel free to private message me so we can discuss ideas for collaboration!
posted by Wes Miller