General David Humphreys House (1698)

December 10th, 2008 Posted in Ansonia, Colonial, Houses

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Located across from the Old Episcopal Burying Ground, on Elm Street in Ansonia, is the house where General David Humphreys was born in 1752. The house was built in 1698 to be the home of the new Congregational Minister of the Town of Derby (Ansonia was then part of Derby). It was first occupied by the Reverend John James, who sold the house in 1706 to the Reverend Joseph Moss. In 1735, the Reverend Daniel Humphreys bought the house from Joseph Moss’s widow, Abigail Moss. At some point in the 1730s, the house was enlarged to roughly its current size. Humphreys was a Congregational minister, but lived across the street from Derby’s Episcopal church, with its cemetery. Later, when Derby’s second Episcopal Church was built down the street to replace the original smaller building, the old church building was moved across Elm Street and attached to the Humphreys House for use as a summer kitchen. Rev. Humphreys died in 1787. His son, David Humphreys, never owned the house, but visited it as his family’s ancestral homestead. During the Revolutionary War, David Humphreys served as an aide-de-camp and close adviser to George Washington and, after the Battle of Yorktown, he was honored by receiving the surrendered British standards and presenting them to Congress. After the War, Humphreys served as a diplomat in Europe and General Tadeusz Kosciuszko, the Polish Revolutionary hero, visited him at the house on Elm Street. Returning from Spain, Humphreys brought back with him America’s first Merino sheep, going on to found the Humphreysville (now Seymour), where wool textiles were manufactured. David Humphreys was also a poet and a member of the literary group known as the “Hartford Wits.” His writings were collected in The Miscellaneous Works of David Humphreys (1804).

The house was not owned by David Humphreys, but by his brother Elijah, who had married Anna Mansfield, the daughter of the Episcopal minister, Richard Mansfield. Elijah, who died at sea, willed the house to his son, Elijah, Jr., who sold it to his sister, Betsey, and her husband, Thomas Vose, a sea captain and business partner of David Humphreys. The house had other owners over the years, eventually being converted into three apartments. Preserved by the Humphreys House Association, in 1961 the house was turned over to the Derby Historical Society. Restored beginning in 1976, it was first opened to the public as a museum in 1980.

  1. 2 Responses to “General David Humphreys House (1698)”

  2. By justjim on Dec 10, 2008

    Just wanted someone to know how much I have been enjoying this site after discovering it 2 weeks ago- very well researched & VERY interesting!! Thank you so much for taking the time to do such a great job!

  3. By Lori on Sep 16, 2013

    I love this site, too–I moved to Texas from Connecticut in 1989, and being able to see all of these lovely old colonial houses again is a real treat. Thank you!

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