Biographies

Notable Trinity people include: the famous Rev. Harry Croswell, a man seminal to the expansion of the Episcopal Church in New Haven, and to both freedom of the press and freedom of religion in America; Mrs. Lucy Boardman, the greatest woman philanthropist in the 19th century; and the President Rev. Samuel Johnson, founder of 25 churches in Connecticut, and Columbia University.  For those interested in press, graphic design, fonts, clocks, and other early American inventions and crafts, Issac Doolittle, Amos Doolittle, and Abel Bell were early contributors in all these areas.

Biographies of Notable Trinity People

 

Enos “Bishop” Alling (April 19, 1719 – September 11, 1779) was born in New Haven, the grandson of a Founder and Treasurer of Yale, from which he graduated in 1746.  He was a prosperous merchant, a member of the 1764 Connecticut General Assembly, and a Justice of the Peace from 1771. Around 1747, he converted from the Congregational  church to join the Church of EnArchitecture - Trinity First Church Munson Paintinggland, where he was so was zealous in the cause of the Episcopal Church in early America that his contemporaries gave him the honorary title of ”Bishop Alling”. He was the largest benefactor of the early Trinity Church, paying 10 pounds a year himself towards the Rector’s salary, and selling the parish the original plot of land for the wooden first Trinity Church at a deep discount. He along with Isaac Doolittle were the Trinity Warden who guided the building of the first church, and put the famous gold crown on top of its steeple. But he is also remembered for his vigor, dignity, and “sweetness”.  He died at age 61, childless, but universally Architecture - Detail of crown from Trinity First Church Munson Paintingrespected.  His gravestone, one of those removed from the Green in 1813, reads, “In memory of Enos Alling, Esg., Merchant who Received a liberal Education in Yale Collage, Became an industrious and useful member of Civil Society, and in a course of an extensive and successful commerce, He proved himself the man of Integrity, Virtue, and Honor.  He was a Member of the Episcopal Society for Propagating the Gospel In Foreign Parts, and died universally respected.” You may visit him at Grove Street Cemetery, Cypress Ave., lot 1.

Henry Austin (December 4, 1804 – December 17, 1891). Austin was a prominent nineteenth century American Architect, and the designer of Trinity Church Home, Chapel, and Parish School.   He was born in Mt. Carmel, Connecticut. At age 15 he worked as a carpenter, but while working in the office of the architect Ithiel Town in New Haven, he used Itheil Town’s extensive architectural library to further his own training in architecture. He was a Freemason for over fifty years, and may have been responsible for the masonic images added in the chapel extension of 1884. In 1836, Austin opened an office of his own in New Haven. He worked in a range of styles, century, including Gothic Revival, Greek Revival, Italian/Tuscan, Egyptian and Indian/Moorish Revival styles.  He is best known today as designing the great Egyptian style brownstone gateway of Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven. He designed design a library for Yale College – now Dwight Hall – modeled after King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England. He designed churches in Gothic revival and Italianate styles, the New Haven City Hall and the old Railway Station at the intersection of Union and Chapel Streets (which burned down in 1894): in the latter design, the low placement of the tracks caused the terminal to fill with smoke from the trains. A child is quoted as saying to his father on arriving in the station “Dad, is this hell?” The father replied “No, son, this is New Haven.” It was converted into a market in 1874 and was eventually destroyed by a disastrous fire (after a few renovations in the 80s) in 1894. The Morse-Libby House (Victoria Mansion) in Portland, ME, is considered one of Austin’s best works and the culminating design of the “Italianate Villa Style”. Biograpny - Trinity Home George Street Cover lo-resHe designed for Trinity on the Green three buildings on one plot in downtown New Haven on George Street: a “Parish School of Trinity Church” building with apartments for the teachers and a chaplain, a “Trinity Church Home” for the elderly, and between these two buildings, “Trinity Chapel”; two of these survive today as the home of the Salvation Army in New Haven. He designed so many private homes in New Haven that it was said that almost every street in New Haven bore buildings reflecting Austin’s “Tuscan” or “Italian” hallmark design. He trained so many men in the fifty-five years of his professional life, he was known locally as the “Father of Architects.” He is buried at Grove Street Cemetery, at stop 41 of the Eminent People tour.

Biography - Mrs. Lucy Boardman headshotBoardman, William and Lucy Click on the link for a discussion of the wealthy Boardman family, and in particular Lucy Boardman, perhaps the greatest the greatest woman philanthropist in nineteen century Connecticut, if not America.  She not only donated to Trinity, but to Yale, the city of New Haven, Yale Hospital, and dozens of charities; the Whitney Center for the Humanities at Yale, the former Trinity Parish House, was just one result of her donations.

Able Buell (1742–1822) was a silversmith, jewelry designer, engraver, surveyor, engineer, die cutter, armorer, inventor, auctioneer, ship owner, mill operator, mint master, textile miller, and counterfeiter. Biography - Able Buell Map of America from LOC exhibitionHe is the subject of a 2013 Library of Congress exhibition “Mapping a New Nation”. He is also known as the first type manufacturer in the United States, partnering with Isaac Doolittle to launch the domestic press manufacturing industry. Around 1774, he began engraving diplomas for Yale College. In 1784, Buell published A New and correct Map of the United States of North America Layd down from the latest Observations and best Authorities agreeable to the Peace of 1783; it was the first map of the new United States created and printed by an American. Born in Killingworth, Connecticut, he moved to New Haven, and though there is no record of his marriage at TrinityBiography - Able Buell silver mark, there is a record that he and his wife Aletta or “Letty” buried their daughter Deborah under the first Trinity Church on October 15, 1772. He is the subject of two biographies, including Abel Buell of Connecticut: Silversmith, Type Founder & Engraver. New Haven, Wesleyan University Press, 1958 – a copy of which is found in just about every public library in Connecticut.  He was the apprentice of warden and vestryman of Trinity Church, the silversmith Ebenezer Chitterden.

Ebenezer Chitterden (1726 – 1812) was an early American silversmith.  He was born in Madison in 1726; he became a silversmith, and worked in Madison until moving to New Haven in 1770, possibly in company with his son-in-law and apprentice, Abel Buel. Biography - Ebenezer Chitterden beaker at TrinityWe are told that “He was a man of excellent connections. His mother was a sister of Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson, of Stratford, father of Episcopacy in Connecticut, as he is called, and first president of King’s College, now Columbia University, New York, and his brother Thomas was the first governor of Vermont. He was quite intimately associated as a skilled mechanic and friend with Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton-gin, and for many years he was either warden or vestryman of Trinity Church, New Haven. He died in 1812.” Chittenden produced more individual, surviving silver pieces, than any other silversmith in Connecticut.  A sauce boat is may be found in in an article on Connecticut Silversmith’s .  A spoon of his with his initials E.C. is in the keeping of the The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Rev. Dr. Harry Croswell, D.D. (1778 – 1855)  was the longtime Rector of Trinity Church, an important figure in Federalist era politics, a hero in the struggle over freedom of the press in America, a major influence on the separation of church and state in America, an important figure in the history of New Haven and Trinity College, Hartford, an important figure in the history of race and the Negro struggle for equality in the pre-Civil War Episcopal church, and the author of a 5,000 page diary discussed in THE REV. HARRY CROSWELL, D.D, AND HIS DIARY, by Yale Historian Franklin Bowditch Dexter. 2008_EX02_01 011His 1839 portrait by the American painter Henry Inman (1801-1846), Reverend Harry Croswell, D.D. (1778-1858), seen on the right, is by courtesy of the Amherst College Collection. Another portrait of Harry Croswell hangs in the upper room at Trinity Church, where he can watch over vestry Meetings.  He died at age 79, and is buried in the Croswell family plot at Grove Street Cemetery,along with Judge Frederick P. Croswell (died age 51), George Croswell (age 19), Jane Croswell (age 7), infant Mary P. Croswell, journalist Sherman Croswell (age 57), wife Susan Croswell (age 76) and Rev. Dr. William F. Croswell (age 47).Biography - Croswell pre 1938 gravestone The sorrowing church erected a great monument, which was sadly destroyed in the hurricane of 1938, but a description and sketch has been preserved: “The larger monument seen in the annexed engraving, is that of Rev. Dr. Croswell, the late Rector of Trinity Church; the smaller one by its side, surmounted by a cross, is that of his son, Rev. William Croswell, D. D. On it were inscribed: “[East side]Harry Croswell, D. D., Rector of Trinity Church, died March 13, 1858, aged 79 years. Susan, the wife of Harry, Croswell, D. D., died July 19, 1855, aged ’76 years. [North side] Frederick Croswell, died July 11, 1863. [South side] Sherman Croswell, died March 4, 1859, aged 57 years.  On the stone cross to the right marking his son’s grave is: Rev. William Croswell, D. D., Founder and Rector of the Church of the Advent, Boston, died Nov. 5, 1851, aged 47, “Faithful unto death”.  A simple replacement stone (with the wrong birth date) replaced it. You can find the Croswell family at 17 Locust Ave. Better preserved from the elements is the memorial inside of Trinity Church, on a large tablet in black and white granite on the left side as you exit from the nave into the vestibule. Translated from Latin, it reads: “Harry Croswell, Doctor in Divinity. For more than forty-three years Rector of the Parish of Trinity Church. Born June 16, A. D. 1778, died March 13, 1858. In veneration and love for his memory, the Parish, to whose welfare so much of his long life was devoted, here records his fidelity to the cause of God, to the ministry of consolation, and to the faith once delivered to the Saints.”

Amos Doolittle (May 8, 1754 – February 2, 1832) was a copper engraver, silversmith, mapmaker, publisher, “tune book” printer, political cartoonist, founding member of the New Haven Mechanic Society, tax assessor, and member of the Masonic Fraternity, who is listed as author or illustrator of over 185 books, 100 Maps, 6 Musical scores, and other formats – with a total of 330 media listing him as “author”. But he is best known as “The Paul Revere of Connecticut”, as he was a silversmith who not only fought in the Revolutionary War, but engraved four copper scenes of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, images that appear in just about every book on the American Revolution. He is the subject of two biographies, one in a paper by Rev. William Beardsley, titled An Old New Haven Engraver and his Work: Amos Doolittle (1910), and a fine illustrated book by Donald C. O’Brien, Amos Doolittle: Engraver of the New Republic. A member of the famous Trinity Doolittle family, he was married in 1797 at Trinity Church to Phebe Tuttle, just around the corner from his printing shop in New Haven.He is buried at Grove Street Cemetery, at stop 51 of the Eminent People tour.

Isaac Doolittle (1721 – 1800) was New Haven’s first “ Ingenious Mechanic”. He is best known as the first person to build a printing press in America in 1769, which was a major milestone in American publishing. He was founding member of Trinity Church New Haven, and was perhaps the wealthiest and most important of the founders who helped build the first or wooden Trinity Church in 1752-3. He was variously a silversmith, a brass founder who manufactured the first brass wheel clocks in America – including hall or “grandfather” clocks – and who cast high-quality brass church bells, a silver watch maker, an instrument maker who created brass surveyor’s instruments and mariner’s’ compasses, a printer, a “sealer of weights and measures”, a “collector” of New Haven, and a grist miller. He was a fervent patriot and member of the New Haven Committee of Correspondence, who built two gun-power mills in New Haven during the Revolutionary War to support the Connecticut’s state militia.

Rev. Bela Hubbard (1739 – 1812) was yet another disciple of the Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson of Stratford, Connecticut. After traveling to England for ordination (in the same ship as the future Bishop Jarvis), Rev. Hubbard officiated as a missionary priest for the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts at Guilford and Killingworth until 1767 when the Venerable Society appointed him their missionary at New Haven and West Haven. He divided his labors equally between these two places until the Revolution – which despite some stormy times due to the British invasion of New Haven, he and his church weathered fairly well. After that period, until 1791, he gave only a quarter of his time to West Haven; and from 1791 until his death in 1812, he spent his time almost entirely in New Haven.  He is known at trinity as the first minister to keep records.

Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson (1696 – 1772).  Best perhaps called the “American President Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson” to avoid confusion with the better known Dr. Samuel Johnson of London, this American Johnson founded Trinity Church parish in 1723. Johnson was a renowned teacher, a brilliant language scholar, a pillar tutor of Yale in its darkest hour, a notorious convert to Anglicism, a missionary priest of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts with pastoral responsibly for about one-third of the Colony of Connecticut including Trinity parish New Haven, Rector of Christ Church, Stratford, Connecticut from 1723 until his death in 1772 – save for the years he was President of King’s College – the founder of Stratford’s well-regarded parish school and college preparatory boarding school, and the founder of some 25 Connecticut Anglican parishes, for which he is known as “The Father of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut”. He was a student of the idealist philosopher George Berkeley, and became himself the greatest American philosopher of his day. He was the most learned man in Colonial America, and the man that introduced Enlightenment ideas and authors into the American college curriculum. He was the author of 34 books, including the first American textbook on philosophy, the first American-authored and domestically printed English Grammar and Hebrew grammar, a popular children’s catechism, and numerous sermons and controversial religious works. He was the founder and first President of King’s College (now Columbia University), leading it from 1755 to 1763: while residing in New York, he was also Assistant Rector of Trinity Church, New York City. He is buried in the Johnson family vault near Christ Church, Stratford.  There is a August 17 feast day of the Episcopal Church remembering him, his friend Timothy Culter, and his disciple Thomas Bradbury Chandler.

Nathan Smith (1770 –1835) was a member of Trinity who is commemorated by a plaque above the side altar. Smith was born in Woodbury, Connecticut, and origionaly was a tinker.  He then studied law with his brother and at Litchfield Law School in 1790, was admitted to the bar in 1792, and began practicing law in New Haven.  In 1808 Smith received an honorary master’s from Yale. He was also an co-founder along with Harry Croswell of Washington College, later known as Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.  He was a well known member of the Toleration Party, acting as prosecuting attorney  for New Haven County from 1817 until his death in 1835.  He was elected to the United States Senate and  served from March 4, 1833, until his death.
Ithiel Town (October 3, 1784 – June 13, 1844) was the architect of the 1815 Trinity Church building.  He was a seminal and influential American architect, and made major contributions to the Federal, revivalist Greek and Gothic architectural styles. He was also fond of geometrical triangles and golden ratios. For more on this early American Architect, see Itheil Town. Architect of Trinity Church by Joe Dzeda.