Wolcott History
Wolcott Historical Society

Wolcott Historical Society News - July 2010

By Florence Goodman

In this edition, I will move onto the farms in the South District. This district covered the southern section of town, which is bordered by Waterbury, Cheshire, and Southington; it is the Hitchcock Lake/Tyrrell School area. Some family names in this district were Todd, Upson, Finch, Hitchcock, Humiston, Chapman, and Foley. The farms that I will discuss in this district are the Foley Farm, Todd Farm, DellaBella's Mushroom Farm, and Maplewood Farm.

Foley's Farm was located on County Road where the present Southington Reservoir is today. This farm existed prior to the 1930s and Falls Brook ran through the property. Foley Farm was demolished when the Southington Reservoir was built. The farmhouse was located where the water company house used to be on the hill above the dam and the fields were where the reservoir is presently located. Their outhouse was across County Road on the hill.

The Todd Farm included the Robert S. Todd House, which is located on the southwest corner of Todd Road and Garrigus Court and built in 1855/56. Robert Todd acquired the property from his father, Streat Todd. There is also a large barn on the property that was built in 1876 by John Todd. The barn was used to keep prize oxen and donkeys. The Todd family owned large portions of land in the area including a sawmill, which was built in 1848 by Streat Todd and Thomas Lewis and located on Lily Brook, which runs into Lily Lake. Robert Todd was one of Wolcott's leading landowners and businessmen.

DellaBella's Mushroom Farm was located where the present Lily Lake Inn is found today. This property was probably part of the Todd Farm. The DellaBella family operated the mushroom farm for many years in the mid-1900s.

The origin of Maplewood Farm has a long history dating back to 1690 when Thomas Judd came up Southington Mountain and built a log cabin in the area of Farview Avenue and Meriden Road. In the mid-1700s Judd moved to Waterbury and his daughter, Ruth and her husband Thomas Upson took over the homestead. Over time, the Upsons acquired large tracts of land all around that area; the property was passed down to family members who farmed the land. This land covered the area of Todd and Meriden Roads and Garrigus Court (which was originally called Maplewood Road) and down Meriden Road into Waterbury.

J. Henry Garrigus, who was born in Morristown, New Jersey, arrived in Waterbury in 1856 at the age of 18 and began working in a sash and blind factory for the Waterbury Lumber Company. In 1861, he enlisted in Company E Eighth Connecticut Volunteer Infantry from Waterbury. He was promoted to corporal in July of 1862 and later became sergeant. He served until 1865 when he was honorably discharged.

When he returned to the North, J. Henry established his home in Wolcott and on December 24, 1865, he married Sophronia Upson. J. Henry Garrigus and his new bride moved onto the Maplewood Farm with the Upson family and eventually took it over.

J. Henry Garrigus was a contractor and carpenter in his early years so building structures on the farm was in his nature. He and his wife, Sophronia, raised nine children on this farm. The farm met the needs of this large family. They raised cows, pigs, and chickens, and grew fruit trees, and many garden crops. One of the daughters, Fanny Elizabeth, wrote, "Recollections of Living on the Farm" where she comments about life on the farm. She writes, "Fuel consisted of wood, which was cut on the farm. There was plenty of snow and a neighbor came by with an oxen and sled with logs attached to the sides to clear the snow, and sleigh rides were a way of traveling around town. There were dried herbs in the attic for remedies and sickness. No need to consult a doctor often." Her recollections show that farm life was simplistic yet hard, and families were very close and needed to help each other.

J. Henry was very active in public life in Wolcott and in 1889, he was elected by the Republican Party to represent the town in the Connecticut Legislature. J. Henry died in 1919 at the age of 81 and his wife, Sophronia died in 1933 at the age of 91.

Over time, much of the farmland was sold off for housing developments and in 1955, John and Lucille Garrigus purchased the farmhouse, which is the third one that was built on the original foundation because the other two burned down. At that time they drilled a well and added indoor plumbing. Many family members have built houses on the remaining property and if you drive up Garrigus Court from Todd Road you will see a beautiful white gate at the entrance to the property with the name "MAPLEWOOD FARM CIRCA 1865," which was a gift to Lucille and John Garrigus from their family.

If you have pictures or information about any Wolcott farms, please contact me at 203-879-9818 of email me at fjgtdg at gmail.com

(Information for this article was taken from interviews with Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Lago, Mrs. Lucille Garrigus, and from from The History of Wolcott, Connecticut from 1731 to 1874 by Samuel Orcutt, 1986 Historic Resources Inventory by Paul Loether, and Wolcott, Connecticut 175th Anniversary 1796-1971 by John Washburne.)

Our Schoolhouse Museum is open by appointment only during the winter, spring, and summer months. Anyone interested in visiting the Museum, please call Loretta Leonard at 203-879-4310 or Flo Goodman 203-879-9818. Our meetings are held on the first Thursday of each month at the Old Stone School on Nichols Road at 6:30 PM.

Our Annual Garden Tour will be held on July 10 with a rain date of July 11. You will be able to view beautiful gardens in Wolcott. Tickets ($10.00) will be sold the day of the tour and beforehand. Call Flo Goodman for information (203-879-9818).

Upson House

Original Upson House on Maplewood Farm that burned circa 1859.

Maplewood Farm house #2

Second house built on Maplewood Farm by J. Henry Garrigus circa 1865. Was struck by lightning and burned down in May of 1919.

Maplewood Farm house #3

Third house built on Maplewood farm for Sophronia Garrigus in 1920. It is owned by Lucille Garrigus.

J. Henry Garrigus

J. Henry Garrigus born March 25, 1838, and died on February 14, 1919. He married Sophronia Upson on December 24, 1865.

New entrance to Maplewood Farm.

New entrance to Maplewood Farm.

Original entrance to Maplewood Farm.

Original entrance to Maplewood Farm.

To view past installments of the Wolcott Historical Society News, click here.

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