The Lusitania : Part 7 : Passengers of Distinction

Isaac Trumbull, 33, was, like C.T. Jeffery, the owner and president of an automobile manufacturing firm. He died aboard the Lusitania, and his car, the Trumbull, died with him.

Isaac Trumbull

Mr. Trumbull was a native of Hartford, Connecticut. He and his brother had operated the Trumbull Electric Company, of Plainville, and he was the founder, and treasurer of the Connecticut Electric Manufacturing Company. The Connecticut Electric Manufacturing Company outgrew its original plant in Bantam, Connecticut, and moved to an expanded complex in Bridgeport. Isaac, his wife, Bertha, and his teenaged daughter, Priscilla, relocated from Plainville to Bridgeport in late 1912 or early 1913.

Isaac Trumbull drew a yearly salary of approximately $10,000 from his manufacturing firm. He maintained a large number of shares of Connecticut Electric Manufacturing, but his dividend was reinvested into the company each year. Trumbull was an organizer of the American Cycle Car Company of Bridgeport, which was founded in 1913. The first car the fledgling company produced was the Trumbull. A cycle car was, basically, a motor cycle with a closed body and four tires. The Trumbull was an extremely small car, with rather jaunty, for 1913, lines. It was evidently successful enough to warrant a second year of production, and May 1915 found Isaac Trumbull aboard the Lusitania en route to England, where he hoped to open a new market for the American Cycle Car Company and its sole product, the Trumbull.

Isaac Trumbull

Isaac Trumbull did not survive and, as of yet, no references to him made by any of the survivors have surfaced. His body, #137, was identified and shipped back to Bridgeport, Connecticut. Joseph Trumbull, Isaac’s brother and business partner, issued a press release that was run, in its entirety, in several New England newspapers:

President John H. Trumbull of the Trumbull Electric Company of Plainville, brother of Isaac B. Trumbull of Bridgeport, who lost his life on the Lusitania, admitted Tuesday that the company is seriously considering the manufacture of rifles and other munitions of war for use by the allies against Germany, thus making possible the avenging of the death of Mr. Trumbull. The company is in a position to receive large war orders and the acquisition of adequate machinery to accomplish the manufacture of the implements and incidentally to avenge the death of Mr. Trumbull is being seriously considered. It has received opportunities to bid upon large supplies of rifles, shrapnel, and other munitions of war. The cost of the special machinery necessary is now being figured by the officers of the company. Mr. Trumbull regards the death of his brother and the other passengers on the Lusitania as deliberate murder. He does not believe, however, that the sinking of the vessel is sufficient cause for war on the part of the United States, and is inclined to criticize the naval authorities of England for their failure to have convoys for the ship.

The Trumbull automobile was discontinued before any of the 1915 models were assembled. Bertha and Priscilla Trumbull brought suit against Germany. They established before the Mixed Claims Commission that Isaac had drawn a salary of $10,000.00 per year from Connecticut Electric, and $10,000.00 per year from the American Cycle Car Company. Bertha was able to prove to the court’s satisfaction that she was allowed $6000.00 per year as her household budget. The commission eventually awarded Bertha Trumbull $50,000.00 and Priscilla Trumbull $25,000.00 as compensation for Isaac’s lost earning potential.

The Trumbull electric car was rare when new, but at least two are known to have survived, one of which is on display at the History of Trucking Museum in Middletown, Connecticut.