Elizabeth Jarvis Colt ("The First Lady of Hartford")

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Elizabeth Jarvis Colt ("The First Lady of Hartford")'s Geni Profile

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Elizabeth Hart Colt (Jarvis)

Birthplace: Old Saybrook, Middlesex County, Connecticut, United States
Death: August 23, 1905 (78)
Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island, United States (Effects of paralysis)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of William Jarvis and Elizabeth Miller Jarvis
Wife of Colonel Samuel Colt
Mother of Caldwell Hart Colt and Elizabeth Colt
Sister of Hettie Hart Beach; Richard William Hart Jarvis; Frances Amelia Jarvis; Frederica Augusta Jarvis; Mary Louisa Jarvis and 3 others

Managed by: Amanda Driffen Brooke
Last Updated:

About Elizabeth Jarvis Colt ("The First Lady of Hartford")


Elizabeth Jarvis Colt (October 5, 1826 – August 23, 1905, born Elizabeth Hart Jarvis), was the widow and heir of firearms manufacturer Samuel Colt, founder of Colt's Manufacturing Company.

Early life

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

She met Samuel Colt in 1851 in Newport, Rhode Island, and the two were married in 1856. The couple resided at Armsmear.

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.

In 1861, Samuel Colt died from complications associated with gout and left Elizabeth a pregnant widow. Seven months after his death the baby was stillborn.

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

She sold her interest in Colt's Manufacturing Company in 1901. She was involved in society life in Hartford, CT and President of the Hartford Women's Auxiliary.

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.

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Elizabeth Jarvis Colt ("The First Lady of Hartford")'s Timeline

October 5, 1826
Old Saybrook, Middlesex County, Connecticut, United States
November 24, 1858
Age 32
Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut, United States
March 1860
Age 33
Hartford, Hartford, CT, United States
August 23, 1905
Age 78
Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island, United States