Wolcott Historical Society History for August 2015
By Florence Goodman
The Wolcott Historical Society sends a special "Thank You" to everyone who attended or made a donation to our Annual Garden Tour; it was a great success because of your support. We look forward to seeing you all again next year!!
Wolcott is fortunate to still have a quaint picturesque green that serves as the center of our town. The homes that surround this historic triangular-shaped park have been here for several hundred years. This month I will revisit the history of our town green and the first monument that adorned it.
Prior to the building of the first meetinghouse the original northern portions of the green, including the site of the present Congregational Church and parsonage were originally used as a commons by the town's early settlers. The origin of this picture-postcard green began in June of 1772, when Joseph Atkins granted two acres of land for the site of the Congregational Church and a green. In 1800 Michael Harrison donated additional land for the green and in 1801 Charles Upson gave land for the eastern portion of the green. Later in 1808 Asaph Hotchkiss gave the remaining portion of the land that makes up our green. The original Meetinghouse was completed in 1773 and located on Bound Line Road not Center Street. This first church was built so that half of it was in Waterbury and the other half in Farmington because Bound Line Road was the dividing line between those two towns; hence the name of our first settlement, Farmingbury. That structure stood proudly on our green until December 11, 1839 when it burned to the ground. The present structure, which is located on the north side of Center Street facing the green, was completed on January 18, 1843. Today this Greek Revival-style, post-and-beam frame structure is the focal point of our town center and is architecturally significant as the only example of a mid 19th-century church in our town.
Memories of our green span centuries. A former resident, Mrs. Mary R. Carter who was born in our town in 1840 had this to say about our town center, "There were two churches, a schoolhouse, two stores and a blacksmith shop forming the nucleus of the town center. On the west of the Congregational Church there was a pound, so called, where roaming cattle causing damage to property were confined until redeemed for the price of one dollar for each animal." Elaine King, a former town clerk who grew up on the green had this to say, "The town used to be so peaceful, open and quiet, everyone used to congregate on the green and people really felt a sense of a community." My personal memory of the green dates back to the mid-1950's when the Wolcott Library was housed in a single room at the Town Hall. My friend Nancy and I would take our weekly walk to the library then meet friends and socialize on the green for the afternoon. Although the school, stores, pound and blacksmith shops are long gone, the simple beauty of our green remains along with our wonderful memories.
The first monument to be placed on the green was made from a shaft of granite depicting a soldier facing the Congregational Church. It was erected in the center of the green in 1916 and dedicated on July 4th of that year. This monument was designed to honor the veterans of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War and was presented to the town by Leverette D. Kenea of Thomaston, but whose family roots began in Farmingbury. His grandfather, John Jordan Kenea fought in the Revolutionary War as a soldier from our town. Four remaining Civil War veterans from our town unveiled the statue on that day in July 1916; they were Mr. Hill, J. Henry Garrigus, George Garthwaite and George Cole. A quote from a reporter who attended the dedication stated, "It is in memory of these men and others who went from Wolcott to serve their country that this granite shaft with its silent sentinel is erected on the green beside the flagpole where the colors of our country wave on all holidays. It is in memory of these men that every year the members of the G.A.R*, Sons of Veterans and Relief Corps from Southington go to Wolcott to hold memorial services and decorate graves of the dead. And it is in memory of these men especially, that people will celebrate this Fourth of July by exercises fitting for the occasion by unveiling this monument." The list of soldiers who served in the Revolution are: John B. Alcox, John Alcox, Samuel Alcox, James Alcox, Soloman Alcox, Joseph Beecher, James Bailey, Benjamin Bement, Isaac Bronson, John Bucher, Obed Doolittle, Judah Frisbie, Issac Hopkins, Joel Hotchkiss, Levi Johnson, John J. Kenea, Nathaniel Lewis, Joseph Minor, Moses Pond, Eli Rice and Jeremiah Scarritt. In the War of 1812: William Bartholomew, John Branson, Luther Hotchkiss, Harvey Hotchkiss, Joshua Minor, Archibald Minor, Elihu Moulthrup and Martin Upson. In the Civil War: Burritt Alcott, James P. Alcott, Newton A. Alcott, Luther Bailey, James V. Bailey, Moses Bradley John Bronson, John P. Brown, William Brown, Francis Churchill, Levi B. Downes, David Frisbie, Frederick Harrison, Mark Harrison, Sherman Moulthrup, Thomas Slade, Samuel M. Sperry, Lucius Tuttle, Elihu Moulthrup, Burritt Norton, Lucian Upson, Mr. Hill, J. Henry Garrigus, George Garthwaite and George Cole.
I recently found two articles from the Waterbury Republican written in 1916 discussing the celebration that was held on our town green for the dedication of this magnificent statue. In these articles they discussed the festivities that were planned for that celebration, as well as the dignitaries that were in attendance. July Fourth 2016 will mark the 100 Anniversary of the dedication of our soldier on the green monument and the Historical Society and the Town of Wolcott will be hosting a celebration. It is only in the planning stages at this time, but if you have ideas or would like to volunteer to help with the planning of this event, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Mayor's office. Let's make this a celebration special for the men from Wolcott who served our country in those early wars for which it represents.
*G.A.R.= Grand Army of the Republic
(Much of the information for this article was taken from articles in the Sunday Republican, Waterbury, CT July 5, 1916 and The Republican, July 6, 1916, The Meeting House Atop of Ben's Hill by John Washburne, Wolcott, Connecticut 175th Anniversary booklet 1796-1971 by John Washburne, and The 1986 Historic Resources Inventory by J.P. Loether, The History of Wolcott, Connecticut from 1731 to 1874 by Reverend Samuel Orcutt)
Soldier on the Green Statue circa 1923.
Flag on the Green 2015.
Soldier on the Green Statue 1916.
Beecher Memorial, Congregational Church and monument circa 1920s.
A July 2015 picture of statue.
Wolcott Drum Band October 15, 1922. This band was organized in the northeast part of Waterbury, then known as Farmingbury in 1767. (L to R) Arthur Harrison, Homer Atkins, Edgar Moultrop, Rev. Charles Toleman, Linus Norton, Newell Moulthrop, (his drum was captured by the Confederates at Irish Bend, La. in 1863) Harley Norton, Frederick C. Moulthrop, Charles S. Tuttle and Charles S. Miller
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