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Lebanon is a town in New London Countymarker, Connecticutmarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 6,907 at the 2000 census. The town lies just to the northwest of Norwichmarker, north of New Londonmarker, and east of Hartfordmarker. The farming town is best known for its role in the American Revolution, where it was a major base of American operations, and its historic town Green, which is one of the largest in the nation and the only one still used partially for agriculture.

History

From Poquechaneed to Lebanon

Lebanon was originally settled by the Mohegan Indians, an Algonquin-speaking tribe that inhabited the upper Thames Valley in eastern Connecticut. The area was known as Poquechaneed, and used primarily for hunting.

The town of Lebanon has its origins with the settlers of Norwich, who wanted to expand beyond the “nine miles square” they had bought from the Mohegan sachem Uncas. In 1663, the first grant in the area was given in to Maj. John Mason, deputy governor of the Connecticut colony; the next year, Mason accepted northwest of Norwich. This area, known as "Pomakuck" or "Pomocook" by the Mohegans, is now the Goshen Hill area of Lebanon. In 1666, Connecticut granted an additional to the Rev. James Fitch, minister of Norwich, adjacent to Maj. Mason's land which was now known as Cedar Swamp. The Mohegans conferred their blessing on the grants by giving an additional seven-mile (11 km) strip to Maj. Mason's son in 1675, who split the land with the Rev. Fitch, his father-in-law. This area is now known as "Fitch and Mason's Mile," or just "The Mile." In 1692, Uncas' son, Sachem Oweneco, sold twenty-five miles to four men from Norwich and Stoningtonmarker (including Sam Mason, another son of Maj. Mason), known as the "Five Mile Purchase" or "Five Mile Square" (being five miles (8 km) on each side). With the Purchase, most of the modern-day town of Lebanon was established.

The town of Lebanon, Connecticut was incorporated by the General Assembly of the Connecticut Colony on October 10, 1700. The town's name was the idea of one of the Rev. Fitch's sons, because of "the height of the land, and a large cedar forest." Lebanon was the first town in Connecticut colony to be given a Biblical name.

"Heartbeat of the Revolution"

Connecticut’s war effort during the Revolutionary War was directed from the War Office on the Green and the adjacent home of Gov.marker Jonathan Trumbull Srmarker.

One of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, William Williams, was a native of Lebanon, and son-in-law to the governor, Jonathon Trumbull.

Jonathon Trumbull was the only British colonial governor to side with the rebel forces during the Revolution. Trumbull served as one of George Washington's chief quartermasters, convening a Council of Safety to manage the affairs of the Continental Army. The council met over 1,100 times, mostly in Trumbull's own house on the Lebanon Green. Trumbull was also paymaster general for the Northern Department of the Continental Army, and the first comptroller of the young nation's treasury during the war.

Trumbull's children were also influential in the war effort: Joseph Trumbull was a colonel in the Continental Army, Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. was secretary to George Washington, and John Trumbull served first as a soldier and then as Washington's personal aide during the war.

In the winter and spring of 1781 (from November 1780 to June 21, 1781), the French duc de Lauzun's Legion of Horse, comprising 220 soldiers, encamped in Lebanon. Though the legion became infamous later for disorderliness, dueling, and pillaging, they were generally well behaved,, and Lebanon saw only two officers executed by firing squad for attempted desertion. The local economy benefited from the troops' extended stay, but not significantly. In June, the soldiers rode off toward White Plainsmarker, New Yorkmarker. Lauzun remarked later in his memoirs, "Siberia alone can furnish any idea of Lebanon, which consists of a few huts scattered among vast forests.".

The importance of the Trumbull family and of Lebanon itself to the war effort earned the town the nickname "Heartbeat of the Revolution."

Into the 19th and 20th centuries

Joseph Trumbull, father of Jonathon Trumbull, Sr., brought livestock farming to the town in 1704, and by 1730 Lebanon had the largest meat-packing industry in Connecticut. Agriculture has since been the primary focus of the town. Lebanon entered a period of gentle decline after the Revolution; with the death of Jonathon Trumbull, Jr. in 1809, the Trumbull family left Lebanon and the town's political significance fell.

Nonetheless, as the towns around it commercialized and modernized, Lebanon maintained its focus on agriculture, and remained a dedicated farming town. It was this characteristic that brought a major wave of immigration in the early 20th century. After the expulsion of pacifist Mennonites from the Ukrainemarker in the mid-1800s, German farmers settled in the areas they had vacated. Political troubles in Russiamarker and the onset of the First World War encouraged many of these to flee to America. Karlswalde, a village near Ostrogmarker, saw its entire population leave. One emigrant, Philip Krause, settled in the Village Hill area of Lebanon. The town offered similar terrain and fertile farming ground, and by 1928, twelve families of Karlswalde had been moved to the Lebanon neighborhood. Many of these families are still present and active in Lebanon today, and exhibited a major influence on the town's culture.

The Liberty Hill neighborhood was the commercial center of town for most of the 19th century and into the 20th. Holding the town's post office, as well as two general stores, it was Lebanon's primary link to the larger Connecticut and New England communities. The area maintained its importance into the 1930s and 1940s. The greater availability of telephones in private residences, the improvement of roads and the introduction of highways, and the increase of personal cars for commuting to surrounding towns, all meant that individuals had less need to restrict themselves to close-by conveniences. Liberty Hill nonetheless remains one of Lebanon's primary neighborhoods.

Lebanon saw no less than 10% of its residents leave to fight in the Second World War. The Memorial Day parade is still one of the town's largest annual celebrations.

Lebanon today

Economically, the town has large agricultural and service sectors, the largest employers being farms and the school system. KofKoff Egg Farms, Connecticut's largest egg producer, maintains a farm in the town. The Lebanon Country Fair, seasonally the earliest fair held in Connecticut, is known for its agricultural shows. The Lebanon School District is responsible for the town's three schools, including Lyman Memorial High School, with total enrollment of over 1500 students. The town's historic Common, or Green, is a mile in length and the largest in the nation. It is the site of many of Lebanon's most prominent past citizens' homes, including Gov. Trumbull and William Beaumont. Three churches (First Congregational Church of Lebanon, Lebanon Baptist Church and Saint Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church) are also located on the Lebanon Green. The Redeemer Lutheran Church is located at the "Village Hill" area of town, with the Lebanon Bible Church and Goshen Congregational Church located in the "Goshen" area of town. A town museum was recently constructed as well.

Notable residents, present and past

Gov.
Jonathan Trumbull


Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 55.2 square miles (143.1 km²), of which, 54.1 square miles (140.1 km²) of it is land and 1.1 square miles (2.9 km²) of it (2.05%) is water. Gates Hill, at , is the highest point in the town and in New London County.

Principal communities

  • Exeter
  • Goshen Hill
  • Lebanon center
  • Leonard Bridge
  • Liberty Hill


Other minor named locations in the town are Babcock Hill, Bush Hill, Chestnut Hill, Cook Hill, Coreyville, Kick Hill, Mason Hill, Scott Hill, Standish Hill, and Village Hill.

Demographics

The town seal
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,907 people, 2,446 households, and 1,934 families residing in the town. The population density was 127.6 people per square mile (49.3/km²). There were 2,820 housing units at an average density of 52.1/sq mi (20.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 96.89% White, 0.81% African American, 0.39% Native American, 0.26% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.49% from other races, and 1.10% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.65% of the population.

There were 2,446 households out of which 38.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.4% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.9% were non-families. 15.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.77 and the average family size was 3.09.

In the town the population was spread out with 28.0% under the age of 18, 5.5% from 18 to 24, 31.0% from 25 to 44, 26.0% from 45 to 64, and 9.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 101.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.2 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $61,173, and the median income for a family was $63,198. Males had a median income of $45,952 versus $35,594 for females. The per capita income for the town was $25,784. About 1.5% of families and 2.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.0% of those under age 18 and 3.7% of those age 65 or over.

Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 25, 2005
Party Active Voters Inactive Voters Total Voters Percentage

Republican 1,195 40 1,235 25.72%

Democratic 1,178 49 1,227 25.56%

Unaffiliated 2,216 119 2,335 48.64%

Minor Parties 4 0 4 0.08%
Total 4,593 208 4,801 100%


References

  1. Alicia Wayland, Ed Tollman, Claire S. Krause, Images of America: Lebanon. (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2004). p. 7
  2. Lebanon Town Hall: History of Lebanon, CT
  3. M.E. Perkins, Old Houses of the Ancient Town of Norwich, 1660-1800 [1895], p. 97
  4. Lebanon Town Hall: History of Lebanon, CT
  5. Town of Lebanon website: Revolutionary War Office War Office page of the Trumbull Town Hall Web site, accessed July 22, 2006
  6. [1] Selig, Robert A, "The Duc de Lauzun and his Legion: Rochambeau's most troublesome, colorful soldiers," at AmericanRevolution.org Web site, retrieved August 1, 2006
  7. Ifkovic, John W., Connecticut's Nationalist Revolutionary: Jonathan Trumbull, Junior, 1977, American Revolution Bicentennial Commission of Connecticut, The New Era Printing Company Inc., Deep River, Connecticut, p. 55; Ifkovic cites Ricketts, Rowland Jr., "The French in Lebanon, 1780-1781," The Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin, XXXVI (January 1971), pp. 23-31
  8. Alicia Wayland, Ed Tollman, Claire S. Krause, Images of America: Lebanon. (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2004). p. 57
  9. Lebanon Town Hall: History of Lebanon, CT
  10. Alicia Wayland, Ed Tollman, Claire S. Krause, Images of America: Lebanon. (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2004). p. 69
  11. Alicia Wayland, Ed Tollman, Claire S. Krause, Images of America: Lebanon. (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2004). p. 31-32
  12. Alicia Wayland, Ed Tollman, Claire S. Krause, Images of America: Lebanon. (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2004). p. 99


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