As I noted back here, when Isaac Chauncey Wyman died in 1910, he left most of his fortune to his alma mater, Princeton College. Newspapers immediately reported that the bequest could be worth up to $10 million. Within a few weeks that figure came down to $2 million. Still, in 1910 that was real money.
Along with Wyman’s money and far-flung real estate, Princeton received some of his antiques, including the gun he told people his grandfather had owned. Woburn researcher Chris Hurley found it mounted alongside a powder horn and sword in a display case in Wyman House, a university residence (shown above) that happens to stand on part of the Revolutionary battlefield.
From lock to mouth the barrel appears to be four feet long. I have no idea if this gun actually dates from the Revolution, or has any other identifying marks. However, Chris Hurley noted that the sign mounted in the same room has this to say:
JOHN WYMAN of Salem, Massachusetts, who had used this musket and powder horn in the French and Indian War, gave them to his son Isaac Wyman in 1776 and gave Washington £8000 to equip the brigade in which his son enlistedJust two years before, Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts said that Isaac Chauncy Wyman’s paternal grandfather was Hezekiah Wyman, not John. The memoir of him published in 1910 by the New England Historic Genealogical Society says the same. (Those two volumes were produced under the supervision of the same man, so they’re not independent sources.)
ISAAC WYMAN, his son, when a boy of sixteen, carried this musket, powder horn, and sword here on this field where he fought in the Battle of Princeton under Washington, January 3, 1777.
ISAAC CHAUNCEY WYMAN, Isaac Wyman’s son, Princeton 1848, died at an advanced old age on May 18, 1910, and bequeathed most of his estate to the Graduate College, which stands on the battlefield of Princeton.
It’s possible that the Princeton sign is mistaken about the grandfather’s first name. But the £8000 gift to Washington is a new detail, not in any other article about the Wymans that I’ve found. (Nor is there any mention of it in Washington’s papers or other sources.)
The Princeton sign also says that Isaac Wyman was “a boy of sixteen” at the Battle of Princeton on 3 Jan 1777, meaning he was almost certainly born in 1760. Which conflicts with both birth years stated in the Wyman genealogies published between 1895 and 1910.
So it looks very much like Isaac Chauncey Wyman had no idea who his paternal grandfather was, but believed he must have been a hero in the French & Indian War and the Revolutionary War, and carried that gun.
Similarly, it looks like Isaac Chauncey Wyman had very little idea who his father was, but believed he must have been a hero of the Revolutionary War, and carried that gun.
Isaac Chauncey Wyman was obviously not a reliable source of family lore about Hezekiah Wyman, or anyone else. He may well not have even been descended from that man. Thus, what he or his biographers wrote has little or no bearing on the question of what Hezekiah Wyman did on 19 Apr 1775.
[ADDENDUM: After a reader request, I’m posting a photo of the musket in its case by Chris Hurley, with permission from folks at Princeton. Click on the picture for a larger image. Obviously, this isn’t an ideal way to examine a gun, but it’s the best we can do from afar. And the likelihood that Hezekiah Wyman used this gun to pick off regulars on 19 Apr 1775 is infinitesimal anyway.]
TOMORROW: Closing remarks on Isaac Chauncey Wyman.