The Sumner Mansion Inn is a 5 bedroom, 5 bathroom brick Federal Style Mansion that was built in 1807 for David Hubbard Sumner in 1807. The mansion was the designed by Asher Benjamin, including the later addition to the house.

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Photo of the David H. Sumner Mansion. Date unknown. Photo credit: National Park Service & National Register of Historic Places. https://npgallery.nps.gov/pdfhost/docs/NRHP/Photos/89000027.pdf

David Hubbard Sumner was born 7 December 1776, in Claremont, NH, and he would be the 9th child of Col. Benjamin Sumner and Prudence Hubbard. Both his parents would stay behind in Claremont, NH, and are buried in the Union Cemetery in Sullivan county, Claremont, NH.

David Sumner would marry Martha Brandon Foxcroft, in 1805. They would reside with David’s parents till their home in Hartland, VT was finished. There they would join David’s brother, James Sumner, who had already begun business dealings in the town of Heartland. Martha’s life at the mansion would be short lived and she would die 27 March 1824. Her location of burial is not known, she is not found listed in local cemeteries, and she is not listed as buried in the same cemetery as her husband David.

On 25 April 1838 David Sumner remarried, and Wealthy Thomas of Hartland, VT would become Sumner’s second wife, together they had two children. Wealthy was born in 1811, and is listed as having been born in Windsor, VT. All records indicate that their daughter was named after Sumner’s late first wife.

Children of David H. Sumner and Wealthy Thomas:

  1. Martha Brandon Foxcroft, born 19 May 1840
  2. David H. Jr., born 8 November 1842

The parentage of both his wives is unknown. It hard to verify for Martha Brandon Foxcroft, with nothing being located for Wealthy Thomas. Both women have very common surnames for the time, and region. So tracing and tacking them has proven to be difficult.

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Sumner Mansion Inn as it looks today. Photo by: Sumner Mansion Inn. Photo accessible at: https://www.kayak.com/Hartland-Hotels-Sumner-Mansion-Inn.167402.ksp#photos

In the town of Hartland, David Sumner was a local merchant, where he ran a general store. He would eventually become a prominent member of Hartland, becoming captain of the militia, which had been formed in 1812. The following two years he would represent Hartland in the state legislature (1813 and 1814). He would also serve as a justice of the peace and a postmaster for the area for close to 20 years.

During it’s history Hartland was also called Sumner Village and Sumner Town. This was because David Sumner invested a lot of time and care into the development of Hartland. He would build roads, and bridge the Connecticut River. Sumner would also over see the establishment of local sawmills.

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Mansion plaque from the National Register of Historic Places. Photo credit: Sumner Mansion. https://sumnermansioninn.com/history/

 

David Sumner died 28 August 1867. He was survived by his wife Wealthy and his daughter Martha. Wealthy would pass away in 1887, 20 years after her husband, leaving the estate to her surviving child, Martha, and her husband. David and his wife Wealthy are buried in Hartland Village Cemetery, Windsor Co., Hartland, VT.

The mansion and estate would remain in the family until 1932.

David Sumner’s daughter, Martha would marry Benjamin Hinman Steele on 6 February 1860, they married on Benjamin’s 23rd birthday. Benjamin Steele was from Stanstead, Canada and was born 6 February 1837, to Sandford Steele and Mary Hinman. Benjamin would have an extensive academic career, studying at Norwich University in Norwich, Vermont and Dartmouth College, and was also a member of member of Psi Upsilon and Phi Beta Kappa Fraternities. He would begin studying law at the home of Hon. John P. Sartle of Barton, Vt, and in the winter of 1858 he would graduate LL.B. at Harvard Law School. In March of 1872 Benjamin Steele would head to New York city to seek medical treatments for his condition, Catarrh, a disease of the mucous membrane of the nasal passages, which made his job; having to speak to the public, trials, etc., difficult. In May of that year he returned home to Sumner mansion, no better then when he left, and just a few weeks later he set off for Minnesota; thinking the climate there would better suit him. Once there he stopped in Fairbault, and for a time he seemed to be improving, but would suffer attacks of his condition soon after.

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Photo credit: Sumner Mansion. https://sumnermansioninn.com/lodging/

Benjamin H. Steele died in Fairbault, MN on 13 July 1873. He was 36 years old. He was survived by his wife, Martha Sumner, and their children.

Children of Martha Sumner and Benjamin H. Steele:

  1. Mary Steele
  2. David Steele

David H. Sumner Jr., the son and second child of David Sumner, died in August of 1867. Some sources list his death as the 18th of August, while others list it as the 29th. David H. Sumner Jr.’s place of burial is unknown and he is not listed in an local cemeteries.

Today David Sumner’s mansion is an Inn and event center. The rooms of the Inn are dedicated to the former residents of the mansion and to the architect of the home, Asher Benjamin. The mansions library is dedicated to Asher Benjamin.

The David H. Sumner Suite:

Photo credit: Sumner Mansion. https://sumnermansioninn.com/lodging/

The Justice and Martha (Sumner) Steele Suite:

Photo credit: Sumner Mansion. https://sumnermansioninn.com/lodging/

The Lafayette Suite:

This suite was named for the Marquis de Lafayette, who was a frequent visitor to Vermont. David Sumner and the Marquis de Lafayette had become friends while Sumner was a representative for Vermont. His visit was described in some detail in his travel schedule, and he would have stayed at the mansion in 1825.

Travel Schedule/log of visit to the mansion:

June 27 — Lafayette arrived late (approximately 10PM) in Claremont NH.

June 28 – In the early morning (8AM), Lafayette crossed into Vermont at the Cornish Bridge. He travelled north, and his party stopped at the home of David H. Sumner for the evening.

June 29th He left Hartland and passed through Woodstock at 11AM took a stagecoach through the mountains to Barnard and Royalton. He passed through Randolph, VT, here he is said to have met a young Justin S Morrill and Senator Dudley Chase. He was escorted by Governor Cornelius P. Van Ness and others through Barre, Vermont to large festivities in Montpelier held in his honor that included speeches by supreme Court Judge Elijah Paine and others. He spent the night in Montpelier at The Pavilion, an historic and politically important structure. 

Photo credit: Sumner Mansion. https://sumnermansioninn.com/lodging/

The Sumner Mansion also hosts special events throughout the year, and has been home to many beautiful weddings over the years. The the rear wing of the mansion hosts the solarium and library/ball room, which is a beautiful setting for a wedding.

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Library and ballroom. Sumner Mansion. Photo credit: Sumner mansion. https://sumnermansioninn.com/lodging/

Bibliography

“Photos of David H. Sumner Mansion.” National Register of Historic Places. https://npgallery.nps.gov/pdfhost/docs/NRHP/Photos/89000027.pdf.

Franco, Jan. “Col Benjamin Sumner.” Find a Grave. February 01, 2009. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=33448276.

Ledoux, Tom. “Steele, Benjamin Hinman.” http://vermontcivilwar.org/. 2017. http://vermontcivilwar.org/state/get.php?input=5640.

Appleton, William Sumner. Record of The Descendants of William Sumner of Dorchester, Mass., 1636. Boston, MA: David Clapp & Son Printers, 1879.

Aldrich, Lewis Cass, and Frank R. Holmes, eds. History of Windsor County Vermont. Syracuse, NY: D. Mason and Co., Publishers, 1891.

Child, Hamilton, comp. Gazetteer and Business Directory of Windsor County, Vt., for 1883-84. Vol. 1. Syracuse, NY: Printed at The Journal Office, 1891.

“History of the Mansion.” https://sumnermansioninn.com/. https://sumnermansioninn.com/history/.

“American Antiquarian Society Manuscript Collections .” Americanantiquarian.org. 2005. http://www.americanantiquarian.org/Findingaids/david_hubbard_sumner.pdf.

“Wealthy (Thomas) Sumner – Hartland Village cemetery.” http://hartlandhistory.org/. http://hartlandhistory.org/stone_detail.php?recno=2785.

“David H Sumner – Hartland Village cemetery.” http://hartlandhistory.org/. http://hartlandhistory.org/stone_detail.php?recno=2784.

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