An early family history written by Luther Trussell [1802-1888] indicates
that the first Trussell in the New England Colonies was Henry Trussell,
son of a Captain in the Royal Navy and grandson of a merchant in Liverpool,
England. Apparently the first Trussell did not come to the Colonies
of his own free will. Luther’s story follows:
"Henry Trussell was born at Liverpool England and he was the only son of Henry Trussell, a Captain of the Navy, and his grandfather was a merchant of that city. The means by which he came to this country may give us some idea of the manners of the age and the respect paid the laws.
"Being invited by a lad of his acquaintance belonging to a vessel to go on board one afternoon he complied and was treated with such uncommon attention that he soon forgot both time and place. Early the next morning he would have returned, but what was his surprise when instead of a crowded city he beheld from the deck nought but the blue sky and boundless ocean. To remonstrate was folly with such commanders. The vessel was on her way to Boston in the Colonies where she was bound on the passage. They were spoken by the vessel commanded by his father whom he saw and recognized from the deck. The vessel soon after arrived in port where, knowing the Captain's motive in bringing him was to sell him for his passage, he improved the first opportunity to take French leave of the Ship, Captain, and Crew, and in company with another person who left at the same time, wandered about the country for some time till they arrived at Haverhill, MA. Here he afterwards settled and married Hannah Wade. He then commanded a company at Cape Breton in 1745 where he died, age 50, a victim of the vindictive spirit of the inhabitants who poisoned their wells of water. He left two sons, Henry and Moses and two daughters. Henry settled at Bradford, MA and had two sons, Henry and Levi. Henry moved to Sutton, NH, in 1780 but died the next year without issue. Levi settled in Haverhill, MA. Moses settled in Plaistow, NH and married Jane Mills, an emigrant from Scotland. He died of consumption in 1759, leaving five sons and two daughters. John settled in Hopkinton, NH, James in Boscawen, NH, Joshua in Sedgwick, ME, Jacob, Danville, VT,
and Moses in New London, NH."
Henry and Ft. Louisbourg
The first Trussell I can document in Dad’s line is a certain Henry Trussell who married Martha Ring in 1688. Martha came from a prominent family in Rhode Island and Henry and Martha had two daughters and a son. They named the son Henry [b. 20 Apr 1695].
This second Henry married Hannah Weed in 1714 [or 15]. Henry was a Captain in the Colonial Army in 1745. At that time France was at war with Britain and, in that year, the New England Colonies, with Henry T. in tow, launched an assault on the Fort at Louisburg.
The famous Fort was located on Cape Breton Island, near the mouth of the St. LawrenceRiver for which it served as sentry, and it was heavily fortified. To everyone's surprise, the Colonial Expedition succeeded. The victory fired the Colonialists imagination. They had proved their strength. Unfortunately, after the victory, Captain Trussell and his unit died, reportedly
from poison the Indians put in the well that he and his troops were using for water. Even this unfortunate event had a positive outcome as
some of Captain Henry's children received land grants from the government
to compensate them for the loss.
Moses and Jane Trussell of Plaistow, NH
From the unfortunate Captain Henry we move to his son, Moses Trussell [b 1717] who married Jane Mills [m. 1739]. Moses and Jane had seven children, five boys and two girls. In order of seniority, the four oldest boys were John, Joshua, James, and Moses. They were married in Haverhill, MA in late 1739, and it is likely that they became involved in the Great Awakening, a profound movement in colonial Christian circles that had its peak between 1740 and 1742, when John Whitfield held huge revival meetings all over the colonies. The result was a division of the traditional Calvinist puritan churches [Presbyterian and Congregational] into the New Lights and the Old Lights. The New Lights stressed Johnathon
Edwards’ thesis that the Christian conversion experience is fundamentally an emotional rather than an intellectual experience. New Light services were characterized by a great deal of animation. The Free Will Baptists embraced this concept and as a group. Many of these New Light Christians moved north to New Hampshire. Moses and Jane settled in Plaistow, NH, right across the border from their original hometown of Haverhill, MA.
John Trussell, Moses' oldest son settled in Hopkinton, NH some time in the early 1760's. He appears to have been a central figure in the family, because several of his brothers also relocated to these environs. His brother Joshua must have followed soon as he was married to Betty Blaisdell in Hampstead, NH in 1764. Brother James married Abigail Davis. in Haverhill in late 1769, but by 1776 he was in living in nearby in Sandown, NH as well. When he was old enough, brother Moses also left home in Haverhill, MA and went to live with John and help him on his farm.
Moses Trussell and the Battle of Bunker Hill
Two of the sons of the Haverhill Moses are of special interest to us; James [b. 1745] and Moses [b. 1753]. The direct antecedent for our line is James Trussell and his third son was Amos Trussell [b 1785 in Warner, NH], my great, great grandfather.
James and Moses are also of special interest because they lived through the revolutionary war. In 1776, James was 31 and Moses was 23. Both supported the revolution. James was one of the signers of the “Sandown Petition”, a petition circulated in Rockingham Co., New Hampshire in 1776 supporting the Declaration of Independence. His younger brother, Moses, actually fought in the war, losing his right arm at the Battle of Bunker Hill. As the family story would have it, James, who was unable to go, lent his musket to Moses who was anxious to do his patriotic duty.
Moses enlisted on April 23, 1775, most likely out of zeal generated about hearing of the Concord-Lexington Battle four days earlier, a battle which opened the Revolutionary War when several Americans were killed by the British. Moses enlisted as a private and became a member of Captain Isaac Baldwin’s company of Colonel John Stark’s New Hampshire Regiment.
Moses’ enlistment was not long-lived as less than sixty days after he joined he found himself in the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775. Under the command of Col. Prescott, the untrained colonials had moved to the summit of Breed’s Hill across the Charles River from Boston. The Colonials dug entrenchments and the following morning the British under the command of General Gage stormed the hill in three waves, the Redcoats being covered by artillery fire from Boston and from ships in the harbor. It was on this occasion, that General Putnam gave the famous order, “Don’t shoot until you can see the whites of their eyes.”
Two of the British attacks were repulsed, but the colonists ran out of ammunition after the third attack and made an orderly retreat using their muskets as clubs. It was the first real battle of the Revolutionary War, and it was the bloodiest. The colonials lost almost 400 men and the British lost more than 1000, nearly two of every five of those Gage ordered into the battle!
Moses fared well in the battle until, after a successful retreat, he volunteered to join a small group who went back up the hill to rescue their fallen officer. During that unsuccessful exercise Moses lost his left arm when he was hit by artillery fire, ending his brief military career. The following is a description Moses wrote of his experience at the Battle of Bunker Hill:
“... [I enlisted]... into the Company of Capt. Baldwin, Col. Stark’s Regiment in the year of 1775 on the seventeenth of June, being invited to join the reinforcements: going to Bunker Hill. Cheerfully went in and after standing the severe fire of the Enemy till ordered to retreat, making the best of my way off escaped over the Neck safely, when hearing that Capt. Baldwin, was left behind; and fearing, that, as he was wounded, he would fall into the hands of the cruel and barbarous enemy, a motion was made for returning to find him, if possible, I, with several others, being zealously affected, towards such a gallant and brave officer ( notwithstanding the severity of the enemy’s fire, across the Charleston Neck) and in my search, had the misfortune, by a shot, from the enemy, to lose my left hand; being shot far off; that it having only a little skin and a few tendons left, in this situation I returned to Plowed Hill where a surgeon cut the
tendons and skin remaining off.”
Moses’ injury ended his participation in the war, but he went on to become a prominent citizen in New Hampshire where he taught school. He also served as Selectman for Dunbarton, NH for 17 years. In the fall of 1803 he purchased 80 acres in the area of what was later to become New London, NH and cleared the land and lived in a small cabin with his family while he put aside the cash required to build a new home. In 1807, Moses arranged for his brother-in-law, Robert Knowlton, to build the family a new home. Moses is known as the founder of New London, NH. This Trussell family home, still preserved, is a local historical monument called, “the Trussell House”. Moses died in New London, NH in 1849 at age 96.
Moses' Brother James
James Trussell, ultimately settled in Boscawen, NH where he made a living as a farmer. He and Abigail had eight children, three daughters, four sons and one infant who died young. James died at age 81 in the middle of the winter of 1826 having sold his property to his third son, Amos for $100. His wife, Abigail, lived on until the winter of 1837 when she died at age 87. The fact that James was able to plan ahead regarding the disposal of his property suggests that he had the early signs of a disease that he knew was likely to be terminal. A disease such as cancer, or even more likely, tuberculosis.
At the time, James and Abigail were living with their son Amos and his family. Amos’ oldest daughter Mary recalls what family life was like
in a letter she wrote in 1898:
"I remember so well the time my Grandfather and Grandmother Trussell
passed away. The way I know is because brother Shorah was six months old the same month in which Grandfather died and I was nearly six years older than Brother Shorah (I am now seventy-eight since last October 5th). Grandmother Trussell died the winter after I was 17 years of age. She was in her 87th year. There were 8 children in Grand father’s family. Elizabeth, the oldest, (We always called her Aunt Betsy) unmarried, lived with and took care of her parents (we all lived in the same house) though my father gave them a supply of grain, so much wheat, rye, corn, kept a cow and some sheep on the farm for their use, etc. etc."
James's son Moses Jr. lived nearby with his wife Sally Flanders and they had a large family. The cousins spent a lot of time together before Amos and Laura emigrated to Ohio. During that period Amos’ brother James and his wife were also frequent visitors, though they had no children. That old farmhouse must have been pretty crowded much
of the time.