Benedict Arnold – Stop 4

    Lathrop Manor

    circa 1660-1745, 380 Washington Street Norwich, CT

    Please note, this is a private residence and is not open to the public

    The Arnold Family’s Troubles

    Hannah Waterman Arnold nurtured her children with a gentle, but firm hand and instructed her son to “always choose that your companions be your betters, that by their good example you may learn.” Benedict attended school in Montville, but in 1752, he was sent to a private school under Hannah’s relative, Dr. Cogswell, in Canterbury. Since young Benedict was from a respectable family, it was the expectation that he would further his studies at Yale. Hannah was a pious woman and instructed Cogswell to attend to her son’s religious education.

    Sadly, the Arnold family suffered a series of losses beginning with Benedict’s younger brother Absalom in 1750 at age three, followed by his two sisters Elizabeth and Mary in 1753, nineteen days apart from each other. His sister Hannah was the only other sibling to survive to adulthood.

    Arnold’s parents would never recover from this devastation. His father, Captain Arnold, relied on alcohol to numb the pain which not only ruined the family’s finances, but it brought a mark of public shame on the Arnold family. With his father out of work and virtually penniless, a young 14-year-old Arnold was removed from private schooling as the family could no longer afford it; any hopes of him receiving a gentleman’s education were lost.

    The Lathrop Brothers 

    Dr. Daniel Lathrop and his younger brother, Joshua Lathrop, operated an apothecary shop in Norwich; it was the only apothecary shop between Boston and New York at the time. The brothers imported medicine, fruits, wines, and fine goods from overseas and often traveled to Europe to select their inventory. Dr. Lathrop married Jerusha Talcott and the couple had three boys, but tragically, all three succumbed to fatal diseases in infancy. Since Captain Arnold’s ill health prevented him from teaching his son the family mercantile business, Hannah Waterman Arnold asked her cousins, the Lathrop brothers, to engage young Benedict as an apprentice. Arnold apprenticed with the Lathrop brothers from roughly 1754-1761 and he impressed them with his skill. The Lathrop brothers made Arnold their junior business associate in New Haven, and he was sent out on trading voyages to the West Indies and London where he gained valuable skills as a mariner. While under the guidance of the Lathrop brothers, Arnold learned how to operate a business, and what it took to become a self-starter.

    The home is a center hall house with a c. 1900 “Library” ell on the right side. The main structure is a mid-18th century, gambrel roofed, center hall twin chimney house. A fire in 1818 resulted in the removal of the twin chimneys and the construction of the current four chimneys.

    More Noteworthy Residents of Lathrop Manor…

    Ezekiel Huntley was the Lathrop’s gardener. His daughter, Lydia, fell under the maternal care of Mrs. Lathrop. Lydia Huntley was born in Norwich in 1791 and attended the East District School, which was progressive because it taught both boys and girls. Lydia was treated as a member of the Lathrop family and benefited from the privileges it provided. Lydia opened a school for girls in Norwich in 1811, but took her school to Hartford when she married Charles Sigourney, a wealthy merchant, in 1819. Lydia Huntley Sigourney was a prolific poet and published her first volume of poetry in 1815 called Moral Pieces in Prose and Verse in which she wrote about her upbringing in Norwich. After Mrs. Lathrop’s death in 1806, the Huntleys moved to a home in “Little Plain,” then joined their daughter in Hartford.

    Another literary giant to live in Lathrop Manor was pronounced feminist, social reformist and author Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Born in Hartford in 1860, Gilman is well known for her short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” which details a woman’s decent into madness and is often compared to the deterioration of her marriage to Charles Walter Stetson. After divorcing Stetson in 1894 and sending their daughter Katharine to live with Stetson and his new wife, she reconnected with her cousin Houghton Gilman and the two were married in 1900. They moved back to Houghton’s native Norwich in 1922 and lived in Lathop Manor until Houghton’s death in 1934. After his death, Gilman moved to California to be with her daughter. Shortly after, Gilman was diagnosed with an incurable breast cancer and she chose to take her own life in 1935.

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