Wolcott Historical Society History for July 2014
By Florence Goodman
Last month I stated that I had completed all of Clarence Atwood's handwritten memories about life in Wolcott in 1930; well, I was mistaken. Clarence had also written a few stories about several men that he remembered while growing up in town. So this month I will begin to share them with you and continue over the next few months. I found the stories amusing and I hope you will too.
Clarence's list of thirteen men was called, "Wolcott Helpers 1930." The men on his list were Arthur Harrison [Frank Arthur Harrison], Wiley Pritchard, Cliff Millard, Edie Garthwaite, Joseph Bronson, William Klilka, Louis MacCormack, Charlie Penniman, Lester Dingwell, Harry Bergen, William Garrigus, Clark Hare and Byron Loucks. I am sorry to say that he only composed stories about five of the men on the list, so those are the ones I will share.
"Arthur Harrison was the man of steady habits. He was known first off as a long time drummer in the Mattatuck Drum Band - never smiled much, but he felt no need to impress anyone. He lived with his wife, Mabel on his little farm - sraised a couple of milk cows and depended upon a neighbor to pick up his milk can each morning and deliver it to the dairy. He saw little need, and nothing to recommend daylight savings time, so he ran on standard time year around. He often said, 'the only money he made in the dairy business was the nickel back on each feed bag.' Mr. Harrison was an excellent builder of stonewalls, well known throughout the town for his work. He worked with a helper whose duty was to keep him supplied with rocks. He set up lines where the wall was to be and dug a shallow trench for footing for the wall. Then picking up a rock, he turned it and viewed it from all sides - if necessary; he gave it a rap with one of his many and various hammers. Eventually satisfied he placed it on the wall with perhaps another tap to settle it in place. His walls tapered to a narrow top, but were square and solid. At lunchtime, he repaired to a shady spot with his little quart tin pail and a sandwich. The pail invariably contained hard cider for which he was famous. At four thirty, he picked up his tools, put them away and walked home. He never owned a car or learned to drive."
As I read through this short expose' on Arthur Harrison, it jarred my memory about two stories I had written several years ago. Clarence mentioned that Arthur was an avid drummer in the Mattatuck Drum Band so I looked back to that story and found a great picture of the band members on the Town Green. I will include that picture below. I also remembered an impressive stonewall around the "Tuttle" house, which is located on our Green next to the Town Hall. That 1792 historic house had many owners throughout its history and had fallen into disarray; in 1918 the house was sold to Miss Emily Tuttle Morris who set about restoring it. She hired Mr. Frank Arthur Harrison, better known as "Art" to build the beautiful stonewall which surrounds the house and Episcopal Church. Several pictures are included below. Lastly, I checked the genealogy section of Samuel Orcutt's History of Wolcott book and found that Arthur's grandfather, Henry Harrison lived at 388 Center Street and later Arthur and his family lived in the house. This house was purchased by the Therkildsen family around 1954 and has been in their family ever since. I have included an early picture of the house that was provided by Don Therkildsen.
As I was searching through Orcutt's genealogy section, I found several interesting tidbits about the Harrison family. Firstly, Arthur's great, great grandfather, Mark Harrison was a supporter of Seth Thomas's idea of improving the roads in town so Seth could build his clock factory in Wolcott, which did not happen, too bad for us!! Secondly, his great grandfather, Stephen Harrison was celebrated for having the most remarkable tenor voice ever heard in Wolcott; and he sang in two church choirs. And, finally, there is also a David Harrison House located in the Historic District; this was Arthur's great, great granduncle.
I hope that this interesting story adds to your understanding of life in rural Wolcott in 1930.
(Information for this article was taken from hand written stories of "Wolcott Helpers 1930" by Clarence Atwood, a phone conversation with Don Therkildsen, and Samuel Orcutt, The History of the Town of Wolcott From 1731 to 1874).
This picture was taken in front of the Old Town Hall in 1922. Arthur Harrison is the first man on the left. The original Band was organized in 1767.
This is the Harrison House today located at 388 Center Street. It is still in the Therkildsen family.
Don Therkildsen in front of the house in the early 1960s.(Picture provided by Don.)
Tuttle House on the Green; stonewall made by Arthur Harrison.
Stonewall by the Episcopal Church.
This stonewall in front of the Tuttle House and along side of the Town Hall was made by Arthur Harrison.
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