Wolcott Historical Society News - October 2017
By Florence Goodman
As I watched the devastation that hurricanes Harvey and Irma caused in Texas, Florida and other the southern states in our country and the islands of the Caribbean, it reminded me of the destruction you see during a war. I wondered just how many of our Wolcott WWI veterans saw those "horrors of war."
Last month I thanked several people who have helped with uncovering information about these veterans and I'd like to do the same this month. Elaine Martinelli loaned me the two scrapbooks filled with newspaper articles that the Homewood family compiled during the years 1906 to the early 1930s. These books revealed a wealth of information and even some pictures of our veterans. These articles helped connect some of the dots. Next, I shared this information with Deb DuBois who has "Ancestry.com fever" and we were off and running. Her research has continued to uncover new information on many of these veterans; I can't thank her enough for her hard work.
This month I will share stories about three more veterans, but before I do, I want to share part of a letter that Arthur Boulanger wrote to his mother from a French hospital bed after he was wounded. He stated, "I got it in my right shoulder, but am coming along all right. We get good care here... the nurses are good to us, just like the hospitals in the states. Don't forget me in your prayers. The doctor says I will be up and about in two weeks. I get blue lying here and know if you were here I would be better in two days. I was talking to Charles Browne. He is in the artillery... Mother please don't worry, your soldier boy is a sergeant now." (Information from Waterbury paper, August 7, 1918) a picture of Arthur Boulanger is included.
Another interesting bit of information was found while looking through Charles P. Browne's WWI trunk. It was a picture of him next to an army tank and Fran Fairchild, his granddaughter was able to have her nephew Chaz give us some information on the tank. He stated, "This was a Renault FT, which was developed by French Industrialist Louis Renault and considered one of the first modern tanks in history. It first entered military service while serving French forces in the Second Battle of the Marne. After this battle they became the hallmark of the French and American tank corps. It stands out from the British Mark series of tanks with its turrets, which become a primary feature of all tanks since. Although, American companies were given license to produce such tanks from Renault's company, they could not meet the need for armored combat vehicles for the war effort. The American military was forced to borrow these tanks from the French for combat operations in France during World War I." Charles had two relatives that also served in WWI; their stories follow.
George Eldred Browne enlisted into the Army on July 7, 1917 at the age of twenty-two. He served in France with the 117th Engineers of the 42nd division. He made the rank of corporal during the time he spent serving his country. Corporal George E. Browne was gassed near Grand Pre, France. He was discharged on February 18, 1919. George E. Browne was born in Wolcott, Connecticut on March 22, 1894. He grew up in Wolcott and attended the old stone Woodtick School on Nichols Road along with many of his family members. George worked as a civil engineer and railway clerk before he enlisted into the military. After the war George worked at the Waterbury Reservoir in the office. In August 1919, George married Martha Ingersoll Johnson who was a teacher in East Morris. After the marriage, they left for an automobile trip through New England. When they returned to Wolcott they stayed with friends at Skilton Cottage on East Street.
Donald C. Browne was commissioned into the Regular Army Student Army Training Camp in Storrs as a private on November 2, 1918. He was seventeen years of age and a student at Storrs Agricultural College and never left the college to serve. He was discharged in December 17, 1918. Donald was born on October 18, 1899 in Wolcott, Connecticut. Donald worked as a clerk at Scovill Manufacturing Company in Waterbury and as a storeroom keeper after his discharge. He went on to become one of the first members of the Connecticut State Police; he was officer number 28 in our state. Donald had a sense of humor because on his Connecticut Military Discharge Questionnaire from February 2, 1920, he wrote, "I think that military training is very good for any young man and as for my call, I think I was not called."
Albert James Homewood is the last veteran I will discuss this month. He was commissioned on September 5, 1918 in New Haven, Connecticut. Albert was part of the 23rd Company, 152nd Regiment in the Depot Brigade. The purpose of the Depot Brigade was to train replacements for the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) and to train the men sent to camps by local draft boards. Albert only served in the Army a short time and was discharged on December 3, 1918 at Camp Upton, NY with a 10% disability. We were fortunate to have Albert's original survival kit on display at our booth at the Lion's Fair. Albert was born on November 17, 1895 in Wolcott. His parents were William Henry and Frances Ella (Alcott) Homewood. The Homewood family established their Happy Hollow farm in 1873. They raised milking cows and chickens, boarded horses and grew crops and hay. Albert grew up on the farm and farmed the land his whole life. Since Albert's mother was an Alcott, his cousins were Amos Bronson and Louisa May Alcott. Albert married Edna Colman Leach on March 15, 1919. Albert and Edna were members of the Wolcott Congregational Church and the Wolcott Grange. Albert died in 1978 at the age of 83 and is buried in the West Cemetery in Bristol.
(Information for this article was taken from an Honor Roll of WWI veterans that hangs in the Historical Society's Museum; Ancestry.com research by Deb DuBois, information from Fran Fairchild and a 1978 obituary of Albert Homewood, a July 1917 article, a March and April article from 1919 and a 1918 article on Arthur Boulanger from the Waterbury Republican-American)
Charles Browne standing in front of an Army tank in France.
Charles, Sarah, Donald or George E. Browne
Woodtick Stone School prior to the 1898 addition to the building. Bessie Garrigus was the teacher. Some of the students are Almus Browne, Eva Tyrrell, Mac Norton, Iva Norton, Justine Browne, Charles Browne and Frank Burns.
Albert James Homewood
Frances Ella Alcott Homewood, Albert's mother
Members of the Alcott/Homewood family in 1907
William Henry Homewood, Albert's father
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