Wolcott Historical Society News - November 2018
By Florence Goodman
Before I begin this month's article I'd like to make an addition to last month's article on the W.E. Tyrrell Farm. I was fortunate to speak with Janet Marti-Belanger-Johnson and she reminded me that she was Polly Marti's daughter. She shared that her grandfather William Tyrrell ran the farm on Beach Road until his death in 1947. After William's death the farm continued operations and was managed by Edwin H. Mearing. In 1951 the barn was destroyed by fire and the dairy closed. She also mentioned that both William and Selena are buried in Edgewood Cemetery. Thanks so much Janet for filling in the rest of the blanks about this great old dairy farm on Beach Road.
If you have ever gone hiking on any of the 825 miles of the Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail System that runs throughout our state, then you are familiar with the blue markings on the trees as you hike along these trails. Have you ever wondered who has kept these trails cleared and marked so you know your way throughout your hike? I have, but I never knew much about it. Well this month I'd like to share an interesting history of a man from Waterbury (although much of his family lived in Wolcott) who spent over thirty years maintaining these trails so we could enjoy them. That man was Harold Granger Pierpont.
The Pierpont family owned a large section of land in the east end of Waterbury not far from the Wolcott line where Mort Pierpont ran a dairy farm called Maple Hill Dairy. It was located where Crosby High School stands today and the family name lives on through the road that connects Meriden Road to East Main Street.
Harold Granger Pierpont was born in Waterbury on March 3, 1898. He was the eighth child of Wilson and Annie (Merrill) Pierpont. Shortly after he was born, Harold's mother died from childbirth complications and he was sent to live with foster parents in Prospect. His foster parents, Sam and Hattie Nichols, owned a farm and that is where Harold spent his early years. He attended Prospect's one-room schoolhouse until 8th grade.
In 1919 Harold married Sara Blackman from Prospect. Sara and Harold both worked in factories in Waterbury and Harold also worked at his cousin's dairy as a milkman so they settled in the East End section of Waterbury. In 1924 they moved into a new house on East Main Street next to East Farms School where they raised their five children, Clarence (better known as Zeke), Alice, Sylvia, Richard, and Violet. Three of their five children lived in Wolcott with their families for over sixty years.
Harold was an excellent worker at the many jobs that he held throughout his life, but the one job he enjoyed most was that of volunteering for the Connecticut Forest and Park Association (CFPA). This came about in a unique way. In 1938 Harold and his twelve-year-old son went on a three-day hike of the Metacomet Trail in Meriden. The condition of the trail was so bad that they had to blaze their own trail. Once home, Harold wrote to the CFPA to inform them of the condition of the trail and to volunteer his services in maintaining them. This was the beginning of a thirty-year relationship with the Connecticut Forest and Park Association of creating and maintaining 125 miles of hiking trails. Harold was first assigned a five-mile section of the Quinnipiac Trail, which he easily managed so then he was placed in charge of the trail from Bethany Mountain Road in Cheshire to its end in Wolcott at Grand Junction on Woodtick Road at Atwood's Farm. There is a tree that still stands on the property that is referred to as the Grand Junction tree, which was named so because it was the spot where the Mattatuck, Quinnipiac, and Tunxis Trails all met.
In 1941 Harold was offered the position of Trail Chairman for the Waterbury section of Blue-Blazed Trails. He was now responsible for the Quinnipiac Trail and the Mattatuck Trail from Wolcott to the Naugatuck River, including all connection trails. Over time, Harold was responsible for maintaining over 100 miles of the trail system as well as deciding where new trails were needed and choosing the proper location to include ridgeline views from the hilltops. In the 1940s and 1950s Harold also volunteered with the Connecticut Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club. This included maintaining that section of the Appalachian Trail. In 1955 and 1956 he served as chairman of the Mt. Riga Committee, which oversaw the creation of the Appalachian Mountain Club's Northwest Camp near the border of Massachusetts.
Harold served as a custodian for some time at East Farms School where he maintained a garden and also gave nature talks to the students. After his death the students planted four trees and placed a stone memorial there in his memory.
In the words of his grandson, Rob Pierpont, "Harold was a quiet, humble man, but very passionate about his work on the trails. He did his best to encourage people to get out and use the trails, even sending 'press releases' to the local paper. In 1968 The Waterbury Republican published a story about local trails, and Harold's involvement with them."
Sadly, on November 2, 1969, Harold passed away after falling from a ladder at his home. Today the trails that he loved and worked hard to maintain are still being enjoyed by hundreds of people on a regular basis and we have Harold to thank. This quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson states it best, "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
On October 20, 2018, Harold Granger Pierpont was inducted into the Silas Bronson Library Waterbury Hall of Fame at the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, Connecticut. A special thank you to his grandsons, Rob Pierpont and Alan Russell for their help with this article.
(Information for this article was taken from a biography of Harold Pierpont by Rob Pierpont; a biography of Harold Pierpont from Silas Bronson Library; several email from Alan Russell; and Pierpont/Russell history/photos from Ancestry.com, with Alan's permission)
Harold and Sara Pierpont in 1959.
The Pierpont family in 1930. Starting at the top and moving in a U: Alice [Tucker], Richard (Dick), Violet [Semeraro], Sylvia [Russell] and Clarence (Zeke).
Harold Granger Pierpont on Maple Hill Dairy where Crosby High School is today.
Harold Pierpont in 1946.
The Grand Junction tree along Woodtick Road near the red barn on Atwood's farm. It was named so because it was the spot where the Mattatuck, Quinnipiac and Tunxis Trails all met.
East Farms School honored Harold's memory by planting four Japanese yews and placing a memorial plaque at the school. (A Coviello photo from the Rep-Am)
This plaque was placed at East Farms School in Harold's memory. Today the school is renamed Generalli School.
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