Have you ever discovered something in plain view yet you never really noticed it? I found such a situation, a road sign, as you turn onto Rt. 16 towards Colchester entitled “Henry Champion Highway.” Some questions – who was Henry Champion and why is a highway named for him? There seem to be at least four Henry Champion’s, the most prominent being father, Henry, Jr., aka Colonel Henry Champion, and his son Henry III, an officer in the American Revolution.
Henry Champion III was born in Westchester (the western section of Colchester) at his family’s magnificent Federal style house (located near intersection of Rt. 16 on Rt. 149). Although not an East Hampton resident, Westchester, a part of Colchester, had close ties locally as the Champion's owned various properties in Chatham. The Champions also owned several parcels in Chatham.
Born in 1751, Champion entered into service in the Continental Army at the Lexington Alarm, served as Ensign for 22 days before being promoted to 2nd Lieutenant of Eighth Company, Second Regiment on April 26, 1775. In May in became a 1st Lieutenant and was one of the men who fought at Bunker Hill. Promoted to Adjutant on the staff of Col. Samuel Wyllys, he became of the First Connecticut Line. In July 1779, Champion was detached from his old regiment and appointing Acting Major of the First Battalion Light Brigade, organized by General George Washington to attempt the capture of Stony Point on the Hudson. This corps was composed of men picked from all regiments and under direct command of General Washington.
Major Champion continued his military career until the close of the Revolutionary War, returning home to Westchester and entered life in politics. The designation “General” was likely an honorary title of respect conferred for the meritorious service during the Revolution. Champion, with a partner, Moses Cleaveland, dabbled in land development in the Western Reserve and founded current day Cleveland.