Groton Bank--Notable People


Some Nationally known or Famous 18th and 19th Century Residents of Groton Bank

Wooden Shipbuilders


Capt. John Leeds, Groton Bank's earliest shipbuilder came from England about 1680, took over the ferry operation from his father-in-law, Cary Latham, in 1681-2 and also began building ships for coastal and tran-Atlantic trade.  The “Tryall” and  “Swallow” were two examples built on the east side of the Thames River.


Thomas Starr, a shipwright built the 67- ton square-sterned sloop "Sea Flower" about 1710 on the east bank of the Thames River in Groton.


William and Thomas Latham launched on Oct 4, 1716, “ye Groton sloop” from their Groton yard and in 1726 Thomas Latham build a 100-ton  sloop launched with the mast standing and fully rigged.


James Sterling and John Jeffery, took over John Leeds shipyard and in 1725 launched Jeffery’s “Great Ship”, a 720-ton merchantman, the largest in Colonial American, a record not broken for the next 50 years.  In 1733 they launched a 570-ton ship.


Samuel Moxley, Jr., built 11 large wooden vessels from 1850-1858.  They included the “Colonel Ledyard” and the “Samuel Moxley, Jr.”


Starr Brothers, built a number of ships at Groton Bank


Latham Brothers built 60 vessels beginning in 1807


William Furguson and son Charles Furguson, build many sailboats and yachts in the late 1800s in the yard behind their house, the Parke Avery House, at 137 Thames St.


Steel Ship and Submarine Builders


Eastern Shipbuilding Company (owned by James Hill), built and launched the largest steam/steel freighters in the world, the 21,000-ton  “Minnesota” and “Dakota” in 1903 and 1904, at what is today the northern end of the Electric Boat Shipyard.


Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics, on the southern edge of Groton Bank, built numerous submarines since the 1930s, including 74 fleet-type submarines in World War II and many nuclear submarines starting with the “Nautilus” launched in 1954. 




Thomas Mumford, a recognized patriot in the 1760s, Enz. Mumford served in the First Groton Bank Company.  He was also a member of the company of 11 men who in April 1775 began planning the successful taking of Fort Ticonderoga that occurred in May.   At the same time he was serving in the Connecticut General Assembly and was appointed to a group examining the points of defense and recommended the construction of a fortification at Groton Heights, the hill at Groton Bank that over looked the Thames Harbor.  He petitioned the legislature to achieve this and construction started that year. Involved in town, state and national policies he was appointed to Committees of the Continental Congress beginning in 1778.   In addition Mumford was a privateer whose ships along with those of other privateers in the Thames Harbor, were highly successful in capturing British shipping.  Not surprisingly Mumford’s “mansion” on the Thames River at Groton Bank was one of the structures burned by the British after the Battle on Sept. 6, 1781.  He moved to Norwich and sold part of the property to Dr. Amos Prentice on which the Dr. Amos Prentice/Mother Bailey House stands today.  


Col. William Ledyard, commander of colonial militia in Groton and New London.  Ledyard was killed by the British after surrendering Fort Griswold to them on September 6, 1781.


Ebenezer Ledyard, Esq., a brother of Col. William Ledyard,  negotiated with the British on September 6, 1781, offering himself as a hostage so the woulded would patriots would be left to be cared for in Groton.


Anna Warner Bailey (“Mother Bailey”), a heroin of the Revolutionary War battle of September 6, 1781 and the War of 1812.  She received national attention during the War of 1812 for the "peticoat incident".  When appoached by a soldier looking for cannon wadding on the street in front of her house, she removed her peticoat and give it to him. As a result of this patriotic deed she was later visited in her house (see above) by Presidents Jackson, Monroe and Van Buren as well as General Lafayette.  The local chapter of the DAR is named after her.


165 Patriots--who fought in the battle of Fort Griswold, 88 giving their lives in the Revolutionary War Battle of September 6, 1781.


Whaling Captains


Captain William H. Allen (1826-1907)—holds the record for the most successful voyage in the annals of the whaling industry.  He brought a cargo to New Bedford in 1866 and sold for  $417,000 breaking the record set a year earlier by Capt Ebenezer Morgan (see below).  Allen sailed out of both New London and New Bedford but resided for 50 years on Thames Street in Groton.


Captain Ebenezer “Rattler” Morgan (1817-1890)—In 1865 he recorded the most profitable whaling voyage of his time profiting  more than $100,000 in 15 months.  He also planted the first American flag on Alaskan soil, securing a lucrative monopoly lease for the New London based Alaskan Commerial Company of which he was a major figure.


Captain James Monroe Buddington (1817-1908)—rescued the British ship “Resolute”, The Resolute Desk, Presidents Desk, in the Oval Office of the White House was made from her teak timbers and given by Queen Victoria as a gift to President Hayes.


Captain James Waterman Buddington (1839-1928)—was a cabin boy on the "George Henry" when his father James M. Buddington discovered the abandoned British ship the "Resolute" which had been sent to rescue the lost party of Sir John Franklin.    James W. was a whaler and sealer on 55 different vessels and Captain J. W. Buddington made last whaling voyage from New London harbor returning in 1909, essentially ending the whaling era in the U.S.


Captain Sidney O. Budington (1823-1888)—born in Center Groton, later lived in Pleasant Valley by the 1860s also owned propety in Groton Bank. In addition to his whaling adventures, he sailed in 1860 with Artic enthusiast Charles Frances Hall and brought several  Inuit Eskimos back to Groton.  In 1871 he was sailing master on for Hall's Polaris Expedition attemping to be first to reach the North Pole.


Captain Horace Manchester. Newbury (1841-1906)—a very successful whaler who in 1871 lost his ship in an Artic ice floe along with 30 other ships in what  was  termed the greatest destruction of whaling vessels in history.


Captain Charles E. Allen (1829-1883)—brother of William H. Allen would have in 1871 brought in a cargo valued larger than that of his brother William’s had his ship not been crushed in an ice floe; Charles E. was lost at sea in 1883.


Captain Sanford S. Miner (1836-1899)


Captain John O. Spicer (1835-1917)—lived  nearby to the south.


Captain Theophilus M. Brown (1824-1905)—lived just south of Groton Bank.


Captain Lorenzo Dow Baker (1815-1894)—a whaler originally of Mystic lived at Groton Bank (Broad Street) later in life.


Political figures


Congressman Noyes Barber (1781-1844)   Started working as a store clerk at  age 11 later becoming one of the largest buyers of farmer’s products  on the Thames River and carried on a considerable trade with the West Indies.  In the War of 1812, which he supported, he became a Major of Connecticut’s Eighth Regiment of Volunteers and while Commodore Decatur  was blockaded in New London Harbor he sometimes entertained him and his officers at his house on Thames St.  After two terms in the Connecticut Legislature he was nominated for Congress and elected to seven consecutive terms (1821-1835).  In Congress he was a Jeffersonian Republican supporting the Madison administration and the War of  1812. In 1824 the Electoral College failed elect a President and the House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson disrupting the Jeffersonian Republicans. Noyes Barber had voted for his friend John Quincy Adams, much to the dismay of his party but he continued to be returned to office by his constituents.  


Many members of the CT General Assembly




John Ledyard “the traveler” (1751-1788 Cario, Egypt), spent much of his childhood at Groton Bank.  He was a nephew of  Col. William Ledyard.  He went to England and sailed with Capt. Cook on his second voyage around the world about  which he published an account.  John Ledyard was regarded as the most traveled man in  the  18th century and is the subject of several books.





Abby D. Slocomb, Founder of Groton DAR and submitter of the design for the Connecticut state flag


Frederic Bill (              ), a local man who with his brother first became a book publisher, then made his fortune in linens in New York City, retired to Groton, and became a philanthropist giving the Community its first library, the Bill Memorial Library dedicated in 1890.  He also made substantial contributions to Connecticut College in New London, and the Groton Congregational Church.


Col. Hubbard D. Morgan (1804-    ) wood and lumber business, ship timber trade about age  25 enlisted  as member of the  Second Regiment  of the Horse Artillery of the Militia of Connecticut; About 1845 he and others experimented to extract oil from menhaden fish and set up the firm Morgan & Gallup which was highly successful.


Robert A. Gray—Civil War hero