The Wakelees of Wolcott
The following are excerpts from various
sources concerning the Wakelee family of Wolcott.
Another patriot not to go unmentioned
was David Wakelee, the son of Ebenezer and as a resident of the Big Plains
in southwest Wolcott. Born in 1754 he died in 1821. He was the father of
eight children. His name appears as one of the original founders of the
With such brevity it would be remiss to
fail to include some mention of David's participation as a soldier in the
War of the Revolution.
David Wakelee enlisted in the Continental
Army in the fall of the year of 1781. He served in Captain Roswell Ransom's
Continental Team Service as a wagoner not as a soldier of the front line.
His company nonetheless was an essential unit that sustained the infantry
that preceded it, with provisions and arms. Rumbling over the Virginia
cart paths that eventually led to the front lines, the wagon train was
constantly harassed by mounted troops of British raiders. It was during
one of these forays that a sabre-swinging red coat chose David as a victim
for destruction. He succeeded in drawing first blood with a glancing blow
off the chin of the teamster. The enraged David responded with a well-directed
bayonet thrust dispatching his assailant. The horse, saddle and sabreóthe
prizes of battleófell to the victor and when the war terminated shortly
after, David Wakelee returned to Farmingbury with them.
This incident is officially recorded within
the walls of the National Archives and Record Section of the General Service
Administration, Washington, D. C. and on the application of Mary Parker
Wakelee, widow of David, for a pension. Included on Pension No.5581 is
a sworn affidavit as to David Wakelee's military record, supplied by John
J. Kenea of Wolcott, who had enlisted at age 15 in David's unit.
David built the house in 1835 where his
direct descendant Robert A. Wakelee former first Selectman of Wolcott resided
until May of 1971 when the Wakelee homestead was gutted by fire. We are
all thankful that "Bob," as he is affectionately known to all, was not
Wolcott was served well by "Selectman
Bob" who held that position for 33 years.
(from Wolcott, Connecticut, 175th Anniversary,
1796-1971, by John H. Washburne)
One of the greatest changes to take place
has been the retirement from town offices of many members of the older
generation, who have been faithful servants of the people for many years.
Among these are Robert A. Wakelee, who was elected second selectman for
the first time on October 7, 1912. Again in 1919 and 1920 Mr. Wakelee was
returned to the same office, but in 1921 to 1933 was elected first selectman,
with the exception of the year 1923. The next seven years found J. Arthur
Bergen and Elmer W. Coe in the offices of selectmen, but in 1941 and 1942
Mr. Wakelee held office as third selectman. In 1943 he again took the office
of first selectman, which he held until October 5, 1959, a period of 16
years, making a total of 33 years spent on the highest board of town officials.
Mr. Wakelee retired this year with high honors. He also served two terms
in the General Assembly.
(from Old Wolcott by Rose Wakelee
Adopting a policy of naming new schools
after living persons, the Building Committee selected the name of Robert
A. Wakelee who had served as Selectman for twenty-five years, and at different
times represented the town in the General Assembly. As a member of several
school building committees he has taken an active part in constructing
Wolcott's new schools.
(from A Salute to Two Centuries of
Education in Wolcott Connecticut)
ROBERT E. (sic) WAKELEE NAMED FOR 1960
WOLCOTT - Robert A. Wakelee, first selectman
of Wolcott for more than 30 years, until his retirement two years ago,
has been chosen to receive thc Billy Peterson Post, American Legion, Americanism
Award for 1960, according to an announcement by Post Comdr. Thomas F. Brennan
Selections of Mr. Wakelee for the award
in recognition of hLs exemplications of the qualities of good citizenship
and of his service to the community, state and nation, was made at a meeting
of the veterans' organizations Wednesday evening in the Courtroom at the
Mr. Wakelee is the third person named
to receive the Billy Peterson Post Americanism Award. Previous recipients
were Charles Rietdyke, now Wolcott's first selectman and Mrs. Charles H.
Tyrell, local correspondent for thc Republican and American for nearly
45 years. Henry P. Kaliss, junior post commander, and chairman of the post's
Americanism committee, indicated that plans for the presentation of the
award will not be definitely scheduled as yet, since Mr. Wakelee is now
a patient in Waterbury Hospital.
After attending the opening ceremonies
in connection with the opening of the Robert A. Wakelee grammar school
Monday, he was injured while supervising snow removal operations during
the recent snow storm.
Mr. Wakelee's long, unselfish service
to tbe community over the past three decades was cited in support of his
nomination for the award. During this period, Wolcott has proved to be
one of the fastest growing communities in the state.
Native of Wolcott
Mr. Wakelee was born in Wolcott Jan. 17,
1885, and has lived his entire life here. He attended the old Stone school
on Nichols Rd. He was married to the late Eva Ketchen, daughter of Rev.
Charles P. Ketchen, pastor of the Wolcott Congregational Church, and Mrs.
He has three children, Robert C. Wakelee,
Wolcott's florist. Mrs. Helen Wakelee Welton, Maryland and Mrs, Martha
Wakelee Garrigus, Wolcott. Mrs. Wakelee died in 1920. He also has one grandchild,
Miss Marcia Garrigus.
In Apri1 1934, he married Mrs. Sybil Nordlund
of Waterbury and has one stepson, John Nordlund of Michigan. Besides being
selectman for so many years, he served three terms in the General Assembly
and has been a member of the Republican Town Committee for many years,
the Wolcott Lions Club, Wolcott Historical Society, Wolcott Grange and
Chamber of Commerce, and also a member of all school building committees,
except for the one school building named for him. He is civic-minded and
always interested in anything, large or small, that helps his town.
(from the Waterbury Republican-American,
December 20, 1960)
FORMER LEADER IN WOLCOTT DIES
WOLCOTT ó Robert A. Wakelee, 88, who oversaw
the growth of Wolcott from a sleepy little town to a bustling suburb during
his 32 years as selectman, died Sunday at Waterbury Hospital after a short
Mr. Wakelee was born Jan. 1, 1885, son
of the late James and Ella (Rose) Wakelee. He lived in Wolcott all of his
life attending public schools. At the time of his death, he lived at 16
Wolcott had only 700 residents when Mr.
Wakelee was first elected selectman in 1919. By the time he resigned, after
32 years of being a selectman and first selectman in 1958, the town
had grown to more than 8,000.
Mr. Wakelee also represented Wolcott in
the General Assembly from 1928 to 1932, was a former member of the Republican
and Town Committee and the Wolcott Grange, and served on many town boards
In 1960 the Robert A Wakelee School was
named in his honor. Wakelee performed the groundbreaking ceremony in February
of that year and when the classrooms were opened that December, he stood
in front of the school, a cigar clamped in his mouth, and passing out lollipops
to the school's first students.
He leaves a son, Robert of Wolcott: a
stepson, John Nordlund of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., two daughters, Mrs. Willis
Wolton of Baltimore, Md., and Mrs. John Garrigus of Wolcott: and two grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday
at 2 p.m. at the Della Vecchia Funeral Home, 690 Woodtick Road, with thc
Rev. Benjamin Hammond of Mill Plain Union Church officiating. Burial will
be in Woodtick Cemetery. Friends may call at the funeral home Tuesday from
2 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m.
(from the Waterbury Republican-American,
April 2, 1973)