Elizabeth Jarvis Colt
|Elizabeth Hart Jarvis Colt|
|Born||Elizabeth Hart Jarvis
October 5, 1826
Saybrook, Connecticut, United States
|Died||August 23, 1905
Newport, Rhode Island, United States
|Children||Caldwell Hart Colt|
|Relatives||John C. Colt, Richard Jarvis|
Elizabeth Hart Jarvis was born in Saybrook, Connecticut to Reverend William Jarvis, an Episcopal Minister, and Elizabeth Jarvis. She was the eldest of five children in an affluent and socially prominent family.
Marriage to Samuel Colt
The Colts had four children. Two died in infancy, a daughter named Elizabeth died at the age of three. One sibling, Caldwell, survived to adulthood, but drowned at sea at the age of 34.[verification needed]
At the helm of Colt
Following her husband's death in 1862, she inherited a controlling interest in the manufacturing company (worth $3.5 million at the time and closer to $200 million in today's money), and played a key role in rebuilding the main armory following arson in 1864. Her brother, Richard Jarvis took over as president of the company in 1865 following the death of Elisha K. Root and the two transitioned the company from the end of the American Civil War through the early 20th century seeing the evolution from percussion revolvers to cartridge revolvers to semiautomatic pistols and machineguns.
Colt served for 22 years as the president of the Union for Home Work; an organization that provided daycare for the children of working mothers. She became the first President of the Hartford Soldiers Aid Society and in 1869 organized the first Suffragette convention in Connecticut. For these actions she was dubbed "The First Lady of Hartford".
In 1867 she had an Episcopal church designed by Edward Tuckerman Potter built as a memorial to her husband and the three children they lost. The church's architecture contains guns and gun-smithing tools sculpted in marble to commemorate her husband's life as an arms maker. In 1896 a parish house was built on the site as a memorial to their son, Caldwell who died in 1894. In 1975 the Church of the Good Shepherd and Parish House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Retirement and death
Colt died of paralysis in Newport, Rhode Island on August 23, 1905. The Hartford Courant ran a full page obituary of Colt on the front page of the newspaper the following day calling her the "First Lady of Connecticut". It was the first time that the newspaper recognized the death of a woman in this manner.
In her will, Elizabeth Colt left a collection of nearly 1,000 objects, artworks, firearms and documents to the Wadsworth Atheneum as well as a fund to build the Colt Memorial. The Elizabeth Hart Jarvis Colt Memorial Wing was the first American museum wing bearing the name of a woman patron.
- Phelps, M. William (3 September 2013). The Devil's Right Hand: The Tragic Story of the Colt Family Curse. Lyons Press. p. 236. ISBN 978-0-7627-8846-0.
- Convention, Episcopal Church. Diocese of Connecticut. (1905). Journal of the Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Connecticut. The Diocese. p. 320.
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- Boynton, Cynthia Wolfe (4 March 2014). "Elizabeth Colt, First Lady of Hartford". Remarkable Women of Hartford. The History Press. pp. 43–52. ISBN 978-1-62619-320-8.
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- Smith, Anthony (2 November 2004). Machine Gun: The Story of the Men and the Weapon That Changed the Face of War. St. Martin's Press. pp. 52–53. ISBN 978-0-312-93477-4.
- Grant, Ellsworth S. (1982). The Colt legacy: the Colt Armory in Hartford, 1855-1980. Mowbray Co. pp. 22, 58. ISBN 978-0-917218-17-0.
- "Church of the Good Shepherd and Parish House" (PDF). US Department of the Interior. p. 2. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
- "Elizabeth Hart Jarvis Colt", Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame. Accessed April 30, 2014.
- "Program to Highlight Legacy of Elizabeth Colt". 23 February 2010.
- Wertkin, Gerard C. (15 January 2004). Encyclopedia of American Folk Art. Routledge. p. 539. ISBN 978-1-135-95614-1.