Wolcott Historical Society News - May 2019
By Florence Goodman
In January, when I started writing about important women of Wolcott, I stated that when I think of early women in our town several names pop into my head and one of those names was Jane Woodard. After the article was published in the Wolcott News, I would meet people and they would say, " I remember Jane Woodward when she taught in Wolcott or I remember Jane Woodward's paintings." I too remembered Mrs. Woodward the teacher and painter, but when I wrote that article I was thinking of Jane Woodard, the mother of my classmate, Cynthia and a strong woman who was a community volunteer and involved in Wolcott politics. So this month, I'd like to share with you the stories of these two incredible ladies: Jane Woodward and Jane Woodard.
Let me start with Jane Hart Woodward teacher and artist. Jane was born on June 11, 1911 in Bristol, Connecticut to Irish immigrants Mary and Thomas Hart. She grew up in Bristol where her father was a yard goods salesman. Her grandfather was a carver who carved the faces on Sessions clocks that were built in Forestville and Bristol, Connecticut. He also carved furniture in the 1920s for wealthy families. So, I think she definitely had creativity running through her veins. Jane attended schools in Bristol and then went on to receive her teaching degree at New Britain Normal School. After graduation, she returned to her hometown to begin her teaching career at Patterson School. She later taught at another school in East Bristol.
Jane married Paul Edwin Woodward in 1940 and they had three children Thomas, Mary Ellen and David; their first son was born in Bristol in June of 1941. Jane and her husband moved to Wolcott in December of that same year. Their cape cod style home was set back on Wolcott Road just before Woodtick Road. (Driving by that house I think of "Mrs. Woodward" a fourth grade teacher at Alcott School in the 1950s.) In 1953 once her children were of school age, Jane began teaching at the newly built Alcott School. During her early years of teaching in Wolcott, the schools were on double sessions and teachers had to teach both sessions of almost forty students each. These days were long and hard and the pay was low. Jane was instrumental in starting the first teachers' union in Wolcott. She continued teaching in Wolcott schools until her retirement; Jane taught for over thirty-five years. Besides a love for teaching Jane also loved to paint and after her retirement she was able to enjoy these talents. Her husband also enjoyed the arts and together they shared their talents with others. Jane's husband Paul died in June of 1982, but Jane continued to share her talents for many years after. Jane Hart Woodward died in February of 1996, but left with us her love for teaching and painting. You can find one of her paintings hanging upstairs in Town Hall.
Jane Carlson Woodard was a woman ahead of her time probably because of a strong, independent role model, her mother, Elna who emigrated from Sweden in the early 1900s alone, at age sixteen. She instilled in her daughters that you could achieve anything you set out to do. Jane's father, John, also a Swedish immigrant arrived in Waterbury in those early years of 1900. John and Elna (Karlson) Carlson were married in Waterbury and had four children. Jane and her twin brother were born on April 23, 1919 and were raised there. She attended schools in Oakville and graduated from Crosby High School.
Jane married George Woodard during World War II and they had three daughters. She gave birth to her first child while her husband was fighting overseas. She gave birth to her second child in 1946 and shortly after they moved to Wolcott to the Hitchcock Lake area on Farview Avenue. Their last daughter was born there. They remained in that home until their retirement when they relocated to South Palm Beach, Florida.
Jane was a career woman when most of her contemporaries were involved in caring for their home and family. She was a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother and friend to all. Jane left her mark on our state and town serving on many committees as a leader. She was vice-chairman and honorary member of the Republican Town Committee and Republican State Central Committee. She was active in the political arena in Wolcott as well, serving as town treasurer, deputy registrar of voters, Zoning Board of Appeals and president of the Republican Women's Club. She served as executive secretary to our first Mayor, Edward Bagley. Jane also served on the 175th Anniversary Committee for our town as a member of the Wolcott Historical Society. At the state level, she was a delegate at the CT Constitutional Convention in 1965 where she assisted in rewriting our Constitution; her name is engraved on a plaque in the State's Capitol.
Jane Woodard raised the bar high and served as an example of what an individual can achieve with perseverance, dedication and commitment to what is right and good for all. From humble and difficult beginnings to a life of service to her family, town and state, Jane was an inspiration to all.
In 2017 a Charitable Fund was established by an anonymous donor to honor the achievements and memory of Jane Woodard. Grants will be made to charitable organizations and individuals in need. https://www.mainstreetfoundation.org/jane-woodard-charitable-fund
(Information on Jane Woodward from David Woodward in March 2019 in a phone conversation and Ancestry.com. Thank you to Caroline Pecka for connecting me with David. The information and pictures for Jane Woodard came from her daughters and a 1986 obituary of Jane Woodard)
Young Jane Woodward
Jane Woodward, the artist
Jane and Paul Woodward posing at an art display. (Source: Waterbury Republican-American)
This painting by Jane Woodward in 1991 hangs upstairs in the Town Hall.
Mayor Edward Bagley, Jr. (far left) installs new officers of the Republican Women's Club. They are from left to right: Rosemary Scappini, president; Marion Murolo, secretary; and Jane Woodard, vice president. (Source: Waterbury Republican-American)
Friday, November 4, 1960 - Republican organization honors the following women: (left to right) Minnie Bergen, Eva Tyrrell, Jane Woodard, Frances Brennan and Rose Costello. (Source: Waterbury Republican-American)
Members of the Wolcott Historical Society dress for the 175th Anniversary Celebration. Jane Woodard is the third person from the left.
To view past installments of the Historical Society News, click here.