As I’ve written about before, I love to attend Norwalk’s “Let Freedom Ring” program on Independence Day. This past 4th of July, the program included a special wreath-laying ceremony at the grave of Samuel Grumman, who was in the militia during the Revolutionary War.
After being led across the Mill Hill cemetery by Boy Scout Troop 222 color guard, we opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and listened as historian Madeleine Eckert told us the story of Samuel Grumman.
The following are some of the highlights:
- Samuel was born in 1725 at the site of 93 East Avenue in Norwalk.
- He married Elizabeth Keeler and they lived where 74 East Avenue is today.
- He owned a mill located on the Norwalk River, where 40 Cross Street is today (right around the corner from me!).
- He was the Town Clerk in Norwalk during the Revolution until the time of his death in 1804.
- In 1776, he enlisted in the 9th Regiment of the Connecticut militia under Jabez Gregory (who is also buried at Mill Hill), but never saw any military action.
- Samuel served on various Revolutionary War committees during 1778-1779.
- In 1779, when Norwalk found out that General Tryon would be attacking them, Samuel had the foresight to hide the town records in a safe place, protecting them from the Burning of Norwalk. Descendants of colonial Norwalkers owe a debt of gratitude to him.
- He died in 1804. Both he and his wife are buried at Mill Hill Cemetery. Elizabeth’s stone is broken in half, but is still legible. Samuel’s original stone has deteriorated with age.
Appropriately, current Town Clerk Richard McQuaid had the honor of laying a wreath at Samuel’s grave. Behind the decayed stone is a new marble marker for future generations to enjoy. “Taps” was played by Norwalk High School trumpeter Victoria Russo.
The program continued indoors at the old meeting house, where Mayor Harry Rilling remarked how much we owe to the patriots who fought back in the Revolution, right up through present times. Connecticut Senator Bob Duff pointed out how interesting it was to hear the stories behind the names of our current streets. He also marveled at the sacrifices our forefathers made, all due to following their passion to be free. Because they followed their passions then, we are able to follow our own passions today.
Richard McQuaid, in period dress, read excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, followed by the thirteen rings of the bell by Senator Duff as Mayor Rilling read off the names of each of the thirteen original states. Catherine Robinson, of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, then sang the National Anthem in a beautiful contralto voice.
If you’re ever in Norwalk, take some time to pay respects to some patriots here! The Norwalk River Valley Trail now runs through the Mill Hill historical site, and the path goes right past Samuel Grumman’s grave.