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Ledyard Memorial at Groton


Bill Memorial Library
Bill Memorial Library

A few years ago, a book was published1 that started Groton Town officials thinking about doing something to celebrate the man who is referred to as "John Ledyard the Traveler". He was, after all, born in Groton, and the Ledyards were a prominent family in this area.

A relative, Colonel William Ledyard, was the commander of Fort Griswold in Groton that was taken by the British late in the Revolutionary War. The town to the north of Groton is called Ledyard.

The plans were several years in the making. Finally, the Town commissioned a plaque and a small pink granite stone and approached the board of the Bill Memorial Library which is situated in the oldest area of Groton (Groton Bank) where Ledyard was born. The board was delighted to have the memorial located on library property which, interestingly, sits very close to Fort Griswold.

The event itself, held on the beautiful September 14 afternoon in 2009, was attended by Town and City officials, Library officials, our wonderful Town Historian Carol Kimball, author James Zug, and members of the public.

The memorial itself is small and low to the ground and sits in front of the library to the right of the entrance.

The inscription reads:

John Ledyard
1751 - 1789
A world traveler who was born near here.
Urged President Jefferson to have Lewis and Clark explore the west coast.
Traveled with Captain Cook on his final voyage around the world.
He then walked around much of the world and died in Egypt before he could explore Africa.

I highly recommend Zug's book if you have not read it. He also published another one about John Ledyard.2

I hope you like my photos.

Janet Downs, Deputy Town Clerk, Groton, CT, USA


  1. Zug, James. American Traveler: the Life and Adventures of John Ledyard, the Man who Dreamed of Walking the World. Basic Books. 2005. Reviewed in Cook's Log, page 41, vol. 28, no. 2 (2005).
  2. Zug, James. The Last Voyage of Captain Cook: The Collected Writings of John Ledyard. National Geographic. 2005. Reviewed in Cook's Log, page 43, vol. 28, no. 3 (2005).

Ledyard Memorial
Ledyard Memorial

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 34, volume 33, number 2 (2010).

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