Trumbull Woods was once a deserted farm that belonged to the James Ellsworth Estate. The overgrown orchards, natural springs, woodlands and wildflower filled meadow came to the attention of Dr. Harlan and Mrs. Dorothy Trumbull in 1935 while they were searching for a small parcel of land to provide “wholesome exercise and enjoyment” for themselves and their young son, Gordon. The Trumbulls were delighted by the wild beauty of the property and purchased the 47 acre parcel intending to use it as a retreat and nature preserve. Both of the Trumbulls were chemists so The Acres appealed to their keen interest in science and the natural world. They would spend the next 44 years dedicating countless weekends to clearing debris, growing numerous varieties of native plant life and cutting trails through the woodlands. They developed relationships with several naturalists who helped them identify the surrounding flora and fauna which lent to hours of plant observation and birdwatching.
In 1936 the Trumbull’s built a small summer cottage to serve as a casual gathering place “where hospitality and cheer could abound”. They shared the bounty of their apple trees and vegetable garden with friends and colleagues. Additionally, they hosted picnics, campfires, holiday dinners and nature walks.
Historically interesting are the accounts that Johnny Appleseed planted an apple tree here in 1837 and the children of abolitionist John Brown roamed these woods in the 1840s, collecting water from the spring that can be found beside the cottage. Just under the bridge next to the remaining fireplace, a stone can still be seen with the words HEALTH 1841 etched onto its surface. Reportedly, one of John Brown’s sons etched the words because the spring was safe to drink from. People drinking from untreated water sources during this period often became ill and died so this was a blessing for the Brown family who lived a primitive lifestyle in the woods.
The Acres would encounter some misfortune in years to come. In 1965, approximately 12 acres of meadowland and forest were destroyed when US Freeway 480 was built through the property. In 1971, the cottage was razed by the Hudson Fire Department at the request of Dr. Trumbull due to persistent vandalism. The stone fireplace where many merry evenings were spent still remains standing.
By 1978, the aging Trumbells decided to determine the fate of the remaining 20 acres of their beloved retreat. Both felt they had a “duty to posterity to pass on the physical and spiritual benefits they had enjoyed for nearly half their lives “ while owning The Acres. In 1979, the remaining property was deeded to the Hudson park system to be used and maintained as the Trumbull Woods Nature Preserve we enjoy today.