Submitted by Elizabeth Malloy, Haddam Historical Society
(July 14, 2022) — Jonathan Cone was born in Haddam in 1726 and was the great-grandson of original proprietor, Daniel Cone. He grew up in a large family with ten siblings and was a member of the Congregational Church.
In 1759 he married Elizabeth Smith of Haddam and they had two sons, Samuel and Oliver, and two daughters, Hannah and Zillah. Jonathan was a seaman by profession and sailed the coastal waters of the English Colonies. His wife was pregnant with their fifth child when he left port in New London in the fall of 1765 for a voyage up the east coast toward Maine.
His ship was wrecked off the Isle of Shoals, near Portsmouth, New Hampshire and it was reported that Jonathan Cone died at sea. His death was recorded in Connecticut Death Records and a gravestone in the Tylerville/Shailerville Cemetery states that Jonathan Cone was “lost at sea” in 1765.
His wife, Elizabeth, was pregnant with their fifth child, a son, Jonathan who was born in May of 1766. This boy never knew his father.
However, it appears that Jonathan did not perish at sea and actually landed in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and settled in the town of Campton, New Hampshire. In 1773 he married Elizabeth Bartlett of Newbury, Massachusetts, eight years after he disappeared from Haddam. He and his new wife had four children including a son named Jonathan born 13 years after his other son Jonathan was born in Connecticut. It is possible that Jonathan, Sr. never knew he had another child in Connecticut as a namesake.
Jonathan’s widow in Connecticut never remarried and lived to age 73 never knowing her husband had started a new life in New Hampshire.
Why did Cone disappear? Why did he leave his family behind?
One possible answer is that he had a number of outstanding lawsuits and judgments against him for owing money. The local sheriff had been granted permission to take Jonathan into custody for owing considerable sums to Humphrey Lyons and Elijah Ackley of East Haddam. His widow, Elizabeth, ultimately had to sell off property to pay his debts.
Was Jonathan ever concerned he would get caught? Possibly not, as communication was very poor and Campton, New Hampshire was far away from Haddam. The fact that both wives were named Elizabeth may have added to the deception.
Recently the Haddam Historical Society mailed out our town-wide annual appeal. If you enjoy reading these Haddam stories and support our mission to “preserve, collect, interpret and promote the history and heritage of Haddam,” please consider donating today. These funds help support the Thankful Arnold House Museum, collections care, and programming. You can also make an online donation at www.haddamhistory.org.