The Green Family: Early Connecticut Newspaper Publishers
The first printing press in the American colonies, on which Stephen Day and his son, Matthew, began printing about 1639, was in the Massachusetts Bay colony. Ten years later, it was taken over by Samuel Green (I), who ran it for many years. He had sixteen children. Twenty-two of Samuel’s descendants (including three of his sons) and his wife’s brother became printers. The descendants that helped found, or took early part in the first five newspapers in Connecticut are shown below.
Samuel Green, son of Bartholomew Green
b. ca. 1615
m./1 Jane Banbury, daughter of Guy and Justice Banbury
m./2 Sarah Clark, daughter of Jonas Clark, 23 February 1662, Cambridge, MA
d. 1 January 1702
Samuel took over the press of Matthew Day in 1649. His children included:
+2. Timothy Green
Timothy Green, son of Samuel and Sarah (Clark) Green
b. about 1679
m./1 Mary Flint
m./2 Abigail Hill
d. 4 May 1757, New London, CT [Diary of Joshua Hempstead, p. 685]
Timothy Green settled in New London, Connecticut about 1714. He was the second printer in Connecticut. He had six sons, and five of them became printers. The two that figure most in Connecticut newspaper history were:
+3. Timothy Green
+4. Samuel Green
b. 12 December 1703, Boston, MA
d. October 1763, New London, CT [Inventory taken 4 Nov 1763, New London Probate File 2300]
Timothy left Boston, where he had been a printer, in 1752 and started the New London Summary, or the Weekly Advertiser in August 1758.
b. 21 April 1706, Boston, MA
m. Abigail Clark 12 November 1733, New London, CT [New London VRs, v. 2, p. 30]
d. 11 May 1752, New London, CT [Diary of Joshua Hempstead, p. 588]
Samuel was another of the five printer sons of Timothy Green (2). Of this Samuel’s ten children, three sons became printers:
+5. Thomas Green
+6. Timothy Green
+7. Samuel Green
b. 25 August 1735, New London, CT [New London VRs, v. 2, p. 30]
m./1 Desire Sanford 30 September 1761, New Haven, CT [Jacobus, Families of Ancient New Haven, p. 687]
m./2 Abigail —-, who died 20 September 1781, aged 37 [Jacobus, Families of Ancient New Haven, p. 687]
m./3 Abigail Jiles, 21 March 1782, New Haven, CT [Jacobus, Families of Ancient New Haven, p. 687]
d. before 26 May 1812
Thomas was a prolific Connecticut printer, publishing or helping to publish about four hundred items in his lifetime. He helped edit and print the first newspaper in the colony, the 1755 New Haven Gazette for its owner, Parker & Company. Then, seeing opportunities in Hartford, one of the centers of Connecticut government, he moved there and started the Connecticut Courant in 1764. Though the name has changed through the years, the newspaper is still in existence as the Hartford Courant, America’s longest continuous-running newspaper. Next, he and his brother Samuel (7) founded the Connecticut Journal in New Haven in 1767. While Thomas Green was publishing newspapers, he also published yearly almanacs, printed Connecticut laws as they were changed and issued, and did other printing jobs. Thomas Green was married three times, and by those marriages, had seven children including:
+8. Thomas Green, Jr.
b. 2 April 1737, New London, CT [New London VRs, v. 2, p. 31]
m. Rebecca Spooner 2 January 1763, New London, CT [New London VRs, v. 3, p. 23]
d. 10 March 1796, New London, CT [Hale Collection of CT Cemetery Inscriptions, vol. 89, cem. 312-1, p. 179]
He took over the Connecticut Gazette from his brother Thomas(5) in 1763, and changed the name to the New London Gazette.
b. 23 Nov 1743, New London, CT [New London VRs, v. 2, p. 72]
m. Abigail Hall, daughter of John and Abiah (Macumbaer) Hall [Jacobus, Families of Ancient New Haven, p. 688]
d. 13 February 1799, New Haven, CT [Jacobus, Families of Ancient New Haven, p. 688]
He helped his brother Thomas (5) found the Connecticut Journal in New Haven in 1767.
Thomas Green, Jr.
bp. 17 August 1766 [Jacobus, Families of Ancient New Haven, p. 688]
d. 6 April 1825, New Haven, Connecticut [Hale Collection of CT Cemetery Inscriptions, vol. 82, cem. 215-1, p. 173]
Thomas Green, Jr., joined his father, Thomas (5), and his uncle, Samuel (7) in working on the Connecticut Journal sometime after it was founded in 1767. He later took over the newspaper and continued it. It went through a number of title changes, but survived until 1987 as the Journal Courier. At that time, it was absorbed by the New Haven Register. It is not known if any of Thomas Green, Jr.’s children were in the newspaper business.
Anderson, Robert Charles. The Great Migration Begins. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995, v. II, pp. 809-810 [CSL call number F 3 .A53 1995].
Hempstead, Joshua. Diary of Joshua Hempstead of New London, Connecticut… New London: New London County Historical Society, 1901 [CSL call number F 104 .N7 N8 v. 1].
Meder, Mary Louise Dunham. Timothy Green III, Connecticut Printer, 1737-1796: His Life and Times. PhD. Dissertation, University of Michigan, 1964. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms [CSL call number 920 G8207M Mfilm].
Parkhurst, Charles Dyer. Early Families of New London and Vicinity. Hartford: Connecticut State Library, 1938, v. 12, pp. 129-137 [CSL call number F 104 .N7 P37 1938].
Hannah Bunce Watson Hudson: Woman Editor
When Ebenezer Watson, editor of the Connecticut Courant, died of Smallpox on 16 September 1777 he left the newspaper to his wife Hannah (Bunce) Watson. She was the first woman editor in Connecticut and one of the first dozen in the United States (the first was in South Carolina in 1732).
Hannah, daughter of Aaron and Hannah Bunce, was born 28 December 1749 and died in Hartford 27 September 1807. She married Ebenezer Watson 1 August 1771. His first wife had been Elizabeth Seymour, daughter of Richard Seymour.
A pamphlet published by the Hartford Courant in the History and Genealogy Unit’s vertical file relays the following story:
“The Courant’s circulation after the British capture of New York in 1776 “was equal to, if not greater, than that of any other paper printed on the Continent.
“Then came the blow: The Courant’s paper mill burned down. Some claimed that Tories, held prisoner in Hartford, set it afire. It was a crisis; paper was in very short supply with British ships cutting off all imports – The Courant had been printed even on wrapping paper occasionally before the mill was built.”
The day after the fire, Hannah and her new partner, George Goodwin, printed a “half sheet”. Then “she and the Widow Ledyard, co-owner of the mill, petitioned Connecticut’s legislature…for a loan to rebuild the mill.” Within a day, the legislature approved a state run lottery to support the rebuilding of the mill, and the Courant didn’t miss an issue.
Hannah later married again, to Barzillai Hudson on 11 February 1779. Under Hannah Hudson, the Courant advocated many moral and religious movements. Articles on temperance, cleanliness, scientific subjects, stories, and anecdotes appeared. The Courant began a daily publication in 1837, which is now called the Hartford Courant.
Howard, Alice Kennedy. Genealogy of the Bunce Family of Connecticut. [Marion, MA: A. K. Howard, 1971] [CSL call number CS 71 .B9373 1971].
“Valiant Widow Saved the Courant” in America’s Oldest Newspaper to Celebrate 200th Anniversary. [Hartford, 1964?].