With an account of the



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HISTORY

TOWN OF WOLCOTT


(CONNECTICUT)

FROM 1731 TO 1874,


WITH AN ACCOUNT OF THE


CENTENARY MEETING, SEPTEMBER IOTH AND IITH, 1873


AND WITH THE GENEALOGIES OF THE FAMILIES
OF THE TOWN.

BY REV. SAMUEL ORCUTT.


WATERBURY, CONN.:


PRESS OF THE AMERICAN PRINTING COMPANY.

1874-

TO THE FAMILIES
OF THK
ANCIENT PARISH OF FARMINGBURY.
NOW WOLCOTT,

AND THEIR DESCENDANTS AT HOME AND ABROAD,


1&l)t0 Work le Jn0crtbcl>,
WITH SINCERE RESPECT AND ESTEEM,
BY THE AUTHOR.

F


PREFACE.

My acquaintance with the Town of Wolcott began in

May, 1872. After preaching there a few Sabbaths, with

no expectation of continuing in the place, I became in-

terested in the history of the church by discovering that

its Centenary would occur in 1873. I soon after accept-

ed an invitation to supply the pulpit for one year. After

a few months' labor in the parish, the idea of writing a

brief history of the Congregational Church and Society

was entertained, and the work was commenced with the

expectation that it would not exceed two hundred pages.

From that beginning the present volume has grown, and

is, therefore, a little different in plan and style from what

it would have been if the original design had included so

large a field.
The work necessary to the making of this book has

been performed with the greatest pleasure, though pros-

ecuted, much of the time, under circumstances of disad-

vantage and discouragement. Now that it is done, I

have no apologies to offer ; nor have I any regrets to ex-

press, save that the people who form the subject of the

volume have not received from my pen as high com-

mendation as they deserve.


The labor has been performed within the space of two

years, and has rather aided than hindered parish duties.

In the commencement, it was as the Spring-time, full of

iv PREFACE.


buds and blossoms of hope ; but in the closing it has

seemed as Autumn. A shade of sadness has touched my

mind as I have taken leave of one and another, individu-

als and families, when they passed from study and re-

search ; for, after so much thought expended upon them,

it seemed as if they were friends and neighbors among

whom I had spent my days, and I was at last attending

their funeral services. The summing up of life, for each

one of them, has seemed written in great characters be-

fore the mind, in the proverbial expression : " Born, lived,

and died." And wherever the mind looks in review of the

past, the epitome of history seems recorded in the repe-

tition of this form. Yet in remembering the good of the

past (and in fulfilling the responsive feelings of the heart),

it is a comfort, if nothing more can be said, to repeat

this form, and in it cherish the memory of those who have

completed the routine of its unchangeable decrees :

" Born, lived, and died."


The style of the work is without ornament, because the

times and the character of the persons forming the sub-

ject-matter of the history are better represented thus

than otherwise. Of the times and circumstances through

which the early settlers passed, there can be but one

opinion : they were rigorously hard. Although the num-

ber who lived to be over three score and ten is large, yet

to most of them, life meant hard work with many priva-

tions, plain food with scanty allowance at times, little

clothing, and that of the plainest kind, restricted to the

fashion of two seasons. Of the character of these ances-

tors, a good summary, in a few words, is given by Dr.

Henry Bronson, in his History of Waterbury : " Individ-

ually, our Puritan ancestors were very much such men as


PREFACE. V


we are ; little better, no worse. They were bred in a rig-

orous age, and were exposed to peculiar hardships, dan-

gers, and temptations, Yet, on the whole, they, like us,

were average men."* In one thing, however, it seems to

me they have the pre-eminence, namely, in faithfulness

to moral and religious convictions. Modesty, honesty,

and integrity in the profession of the Christian religion,

might have been written over nearly every man's door,

to be read by all the world.
It will be observed that the genealogy of a few families

is wanting. The cause of this, in every case, is the want

of sufficient information to make a respectable represen-

tation of the family. The Blakeslee family was among the

first in the parish, but no records could be obtained until

it was too late to introduce them in their proper order.

I have hope of including them in the history of another

town where their number is larger than in Wolcott. The

Ponds and the Baileys were influential and leading fami-

lies for some years. They are all now gone from the

town, and no records have been obtained of them. A

few families early in the parish, disappeared so soon that

no connected account of them could be obtained. Also,

a few came in about 1800, tarried a few years, then joined

the grand army which for two or three generations has

been steadily marching Westward.


The limited number of subscribers, and hence of copies

printed, has compelled the laying aside of all illustrations,

after considerable preparation had been made for their

publication. This has been to myself and others a source

of great regret.
In acknowledging my obligations to the very kind
* Page 323.

vi PREFACE.


friends who have rendered special aid in this work, it is

pleasant to say that -all have cheerfully contributed infor-

mation and encouragement as they were able, and have

urged that the book be made as perfect as possible, even

though the price of it should be increased. In fulfilling

this last desire its publication has been delayed nearly six

months.
I am specially indebted to Rev. Joseph Anderson, pas-

tor of the First Congregational Church of Waterbury,

who has taken much interest in the work from the first,

and has rendered very valuable assistance. Also, to

Frederick B. Dakin, Esq., of the Waterbury American, a

practical book-maker, under whose supervision the vol-

ume was printed. The following persons have also ren-

dered special service to the work : Messrs. A. Bronson

Alcott, Frank B. Sanborn, and William Ellery Channing,

of Concord, Mass. ; Judge William E. Curtiss, of New

York ; Hon. Leman W. Cutler, of Watertown ; Hon.

Birdsey G. Northrop, of New Haven ; E. Bronson Cook,

Esq., Editor of the Waterbury American ; Hon. Elihu

Burritt, of New Britain ; Rev. William H. Moore, of Ber-

lin ; Rev. Heman R. Timlow, and Messrs. Gad Andrews,

Simeon H. Norton, and Isaac Burritt, of Southington ;

Rev. William R. Eastman, of Plantsville ; the late Ralph

L. Smith, Esq., of Guilford ; Mr. Aaron G. Atkins, of

Chenango County, N. Y. ; Mr. Lucas C. Hotchkiss, of

Meriden ; Mrs. Lucina Holmes and Mrs. Lucina Lindsley,

of Waterbury.

WATERBURY, November loth, 1874.


CONTENTS.


CHAPTER I.


FIRST SOCIETY IN WOLCOTT.
First Settlers Formation of the First Society Assembly Act Warn-

ings First Meeting Adjourned Meetings.


CHAPTER II.
BUILDING A MEETING HOUSE.
Committee to Stick the Stake Notification Order of the Court The

Deed The House Built Officers Chosen in 1770, 1771, 1772, 1773,

1774
CHAPTER III.
OBTAINING A PASTOR.
Grant of a Tax First Call, Mr. Jackson -/Second Call, Mr. Gillet Or-

ganization of the Church Declarations First Members The Ordi-

nation of Mr. Gillet.
CHAPTER IV.
/MR. GILLET'S MINISTRY.
Graduate of Yale His Father A Library Church Discipline Revi-

val Results, Repairs on Meeting House, Singing, Additions Mr. Gil-

let at Home His Salary He closes his Labors Doings of the Coun-

cil.
CHAPTER V.

MR. WOODWARD'S MINISTRY.
The Call Letter of Acceptance Subscription His Labors Comple-

tion of the Meeting House Dedication Mr. Woodward's Salary

Rate Bill His Death.
CHAPTER VI.
REV. MR. HART'S AND REV. MR. KEYS' MINISTRY.
The Call His Ordination The Ball His Labors His Death Mr.

viii CONTENTS.


Keys Urgent Invitations The Council Dr. Beecher's Sermon

Sunday School Efficiency of the Church Mr. Keys' Resignation and

Dismissal.
CHAPTER VII.
WITHOUT A PASTOR.
The Meeting House full Payment of Debts Improvement in Singing
Deacon Isaac Bronson His Gratuitous Labors Five Years Journal

of Rev. Erastus Scranton The Revival Dr. Win. A. Alcott Sun-

day School Procuring a Bell Subscription Improvement of the

Meeting House Rev. Nathan Shaw Rev. Seth Sacket Rev. W. F.

Vail Pew-holders according to Age.
CHAPTER VIII.
MINISTRY OF REVDS. J. D. CHAPMAN AND AARON C. BEACH.
Anti-slavery Burning of the Meeting House Second Society Organized
Efforts to Rebuild the Church A Council Called, its Findings Mr.

Chapman Dismissed Difficulties Settled Rev. Zephaniah Swift

Rev. A. C. Beach His Settlement His Labors His Dismissal.
CHAPTER IX.
REVDS. STEPHEN ROGERS, LENT S. HOUGH, W. C. FISKE.
Mr. Rogers' Settlement His Illness He Resigns Rev. Lent S,

Hough Letter of Commendation A Communion Service Revised

Articles of Faith Mr. Hough Closes his Labors Rev. Mr. Fiske

He Resigns after Three Years Rev. S. Orcuit The Home Missionary

Society.
CHAPTER X.
OFFICERS AND MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH.
The List of Ministers List of Deacons Clerks of the Church Moder-

ators Clerks of the Society Treasurers Prudential Committees

School Committes Members of the Church.

PART II. THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH.

CHAPTER I.
ORGANIZATION OF THE SOCIETY.
Episcopalians Early in Wolcott Withdrawal from the First Society

Call for the First Meeting Minutes of the First Meeting Officers

Building a House of Worship A Site Given by the Town The

House Built.


CONTENTS. IX


CHAPTER II.
ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH.
Early Records A List of Ministers Clerks Society Committees

Wardens Vestry Men.


PART III. CIVIL HISTORY.

CHAPTER I.
THE TOWN INCORPORATED.
Votes of the Society A Memorial Act of the Assembly The Poor

First Town Meeting Hills of Wolcott Streams in Wolcott.


CHAPTER II.
THE FIRST SETTLERS.
Farmington Part Waterbury Part Wolcott Center in 1800 The

Public Green The Will Place Atkins' Will Woodtick Hotels

Highways.
CHAPTER III.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
The Districts Expenses Will of Addin Lewis Whipping Post Law

Small Pox Burying Grounds Yankee Peddlers Taxes.


CHAPTER IV.
ROLL OF HONOR.
List of Freemen Town Officers State Officers Revolutionary Sol-

diers Soldiers in the Late War.


PART IV. BIOGRAPHY.


John Alcock, .

Capt. John Alcox,

A. Bronson Alcott, .

Dr. Wm. A. Alcott.

Rev. Wm. P. Alcott.

Joseph Atkins, Senr..

Dea. Joseph Atkins,

Rev. A. C. Beach,

Rev. J. W. Beach, .

Dea. Isaac Bronson,

B


PAGE.

231
233

235

265


2 7 3

279


280

PAGE
Timothy Bradley, . . 298


Rev. James D. Chapman, 300
Rev. W. C. Fiske, . 302
Judah Frisbie, 33
/Rev. Alexander Gillet, . 313
, Rev. Timothy Gillet, . 322
Dea. Aaron Harrison, . 326
Rev. Lucas Hart, . . 33
Lucas C. Hotchkiss, . 332
Rev. Lent S. Hough, . 336

CONTENTS.


Capt. Heman Hall,

Ephraim Hall,

Dr. Ambrose Ives,

Rev. John Keys,

Simeon H. Norton,

Dr. John Potter,

PAGE.
338

340

342
344



347

350

Rev. Nathan Shaw,

Seth Thomas, .

Rev. Benoni Upson, D. D.,

Rev. Henry E. L. Upson,

Rev. Israel B. Woodward,

PAGE.
351

352

354


356

358

PART V. THE CENTENARY MEETING.
Opening of the Meeting, ........ 377
Remarks by Rev. A. C. Beach, . 378
" " A. Bronson Alcott, 379
" " Editor E. B. Cook, 3?>i
" " Hon. B. G. Northrop, 383
" Rev. W. H. Moore 386
" " Simeon H. Norton 389
List of Aged Persons, ........ 396
The Centenary Poem, ......... 399
\Volcott People removed to Meriden, ..... 403
Isaac Burritt's remarks, ......... 404
Hon. Elihu Burritt's remarks, ....... 410
Antiquities, ........... 414
Judge W. E. Curtiss' remarks, ....... 415
George W. Seward's ' ... ..... 416
Dea. Samuel Holmes' " .... ... 417
Rev. Mr. Hillard's " . .418

PART VI. GENEALOGIES OF FAMI I.I/.S.


r\<;v..

Alcott.


425

Atkins,


439

Barnes,


446

Bartholomew,

449

Beecher, .



45<>

Bradley,

453

Brocketl,



456

Brooks,


457

Bronson, .

458

Brown,


464

Byington,

45

Carter,


467

Hall. .


1 1 arnson.

Higgins,

Hitchcock.

Hopkins.


PAGE.


471
47 2

473


475

477


480

482


4^5

490
497

499

CONTENTS.


XI

/llotchkiss,

Hough,


Johnson, .

Kenea,


Lane,

Lewis, .

Lindsley,

Merrill,

Minor,

Moulthrop,



Munson, .

Nichols,

Norton,

Pardee,


Parker, .

Peck, .


Plumb, .

Potter, .

Pritchard,

Richards,


I'AOK.


502

Rogers,


506

Root, .


508

Rose,


509

Scarritt,

511

Seward,


513

Slater, .

519

Smith,


520

Somers,


521

Sperry,


525

Stevens,

523

Sutliff,



529

Thomas,


531

Todd,


536

Tuttle, .

5j8

Twitchell,



540

Upson, .

541

Wakelee,



544

Warner,


545

Welton,


543

Wiard .

PAGE.
550
552
553

555


556
556
557

558
559

560
56i
563

564
57o

575

578


59 2

400
590


607

INTRODUCTION.


Amidst the rugged hills in the northernmost corner of

New Haven County, just on the edge of the extensive

granitic district which spreads through the western part

of Connecticut, lies the town of Wolcott. It covers an

area measuring six miles from north to south, by about

three from east to west, and contains within its limits

higher ground than any that lies south of it in the State.

In its external features it is a good representative of

those rural towns of New England which have failed, for

whatever reason, to keep abreast of the age in its

rapid onward movement. On the plateau at the center

of the town stand two churches of that nondescript style

of architecture so often seen amidst New England hills ;

one of them in good repair, through the kindness of out-

side friends, the other closed and going to decay. The

Green which lies between these edifices is skirted by

dwelling-houses, which have the look of having seen bet-

ter times, amongst these the remains of a flourishing

country store, and of an equally flourishing tavern. There

is the same look of incipient decay upon many of the

houses of the town, some of which are still waiting for

their first coat of paint. To one who wanders up and

down these hills, on a sunless Autumn afternoon, the ef-

fect is monotonous and depressing, and even in the pleas-

antest Summer days there is but little that is interesting

in these remnants of a farm life which must, at its best,

have been unusually prosaic and dreary.


Not alone in its external appearance, but also in its

INTRODUCTION. xiii


history, is Wolcott a fair specimen of the rural towns of

Connecticut. There are the same noteworthy features in

its earlier period ; there is the same steady growth up to

a certain point ; and then, after the transition from agri-

culture to manufactures has fully set in in the State at

large, there is the same gradual decline. The hills of

Wolcott, although lying midway between Farmington

and the ManJian or Meadows of the Naugatuck, received

scarcely a passing thought from the pioneers who settled

Waterbury, and whose chief attraction in this quarter

consisted in the open meadow-land which they had here

discovered stretching along both sides of the river. The

first permanent settlement by the Farmington colonists

was made in the valley, and it was only by slow degrees

that the population spread backward from the central

basin, and extended up the hills. In course of time,

however, as more land for farming purposes was required,

the hill country came to be occupied, and the territory

lying between Farmington and Waterbury (and there-

fore called Farming-bury, according to the old Connecti-

cut method of constructing place-names), naturally took

the precedence in this respect. As early as 1731, there

were residents within the limits of what is now called

Wolcott, but it was not until eighty-two years after the

First Church in Waterbury was organized that a separate

church was established in Farmingbury ; and not until

1796 was Farmingbury incorporated as a town, and named

Wolcott (after the Lieutenant-Governor, who, as Speaker

of the Assembly, gave it the benefit of his casting vote).

Attaining to the dignity of a separate existence so

shortly before the great transition which has been referred

to began, the period during which Wolcott could be con-

sidered a flourishing town was necessarily brief. As ap-

pears from several statements in the following pages, it

attained its highest prosperity during the first decade of the

present century. The parish \vas then one of the strong-

est in the county ; the Society had over two hundred tax-

xiv INTRODUCTION.


payers on its list, and the attendance at public worship

was so large that the meeting-house was habitually

crowded. But the population of the town, which num-

bered nine hundred and fifty-two in 1810, diminished

steadily from decade to decade, until, in 1870, it num-

bered only four hundred and ninety-one ; so that at the

last census Wolcott was in respect of population one of

the three smallest towns in Connecticut. The population

of Waterbury, on the other hand, which in 1800 numbered

3256, but which in 1810 had been reduced to 2784, or less

than three times that of Wolcott, received within the next

ten years a fresh impulse from the development of new

industries within the limits of the town, and has continued

to increase from year to year, until it now numbers over

fifteen thousand, and is therefore thirty times as great

as that of Wolcott. In comparison, then, with its sister

town, not only, but in comparison with most of the towns

in the State, Wolcott seems, even to its own inhabitants,

insignificant, so much so that the author of this volume

was, in the course of his inquiries, frequently greeted with

the remark, "What can you find here of which to make

a history? What can you say of Wolcott the last

place on earth that will interest anybody ?" It was dif-

ficult, indeed, to make people feel that such a place could

have a history which any practical person would care to

hear about. But this goodly volume, with its varied con-

tents, proves not only that the old town upon the hills,

now in its decadence, has a history, but that its history is

of great interest and value, partly because of the exam-

pie its people have set of quiet, heroic living, and partly

because of the impress it has made on the character and

career of the nation by the men it has sent forth into

other parts of the land.
In view of this last-mentioned fact, it is eminently

proper that so large a part of this volume should be occu-

pied with biographical sketches of men born and reared

on the Wolcott hills. These sketches constitute one of


INTRODUCTION. XV


the most interesting and valuable portions of the book.

In the biographies of such men as the Rev. Messrs. Gillet

and Woodward, Deacons Aaron Harrison and Isaac Bron-

son, Dr. Ambrose Ives, Seth Thomas, Judah Frisbie a

soldier of the Revolution and, especially, Dr. William

A. Alcott and Mr. A. Bronson Alcott, we find represent-

ed the utmost diversity of experiences and the most

varied types of character. Some of these were remark-

able for their intellectual ability, others for their enter-

prise, others for their philanthropic spirit or their piety ;

but, in the case of most of them, their broad and fruitful

lives were in striking contrast with the sterile country

and the contracted sphere in which they had their birth

and training. In none of these men is the contrast more

marked than in him whose biography fills the largest

space in the following pages, but who still lingers

amongst us, Mr. Bronson Alcott of Concord. It is a

strange transformation, that by which the farmer boy of

Spindle Hill, having served his time as a peddler of Yan-

kee notions in eastern Virginia, becomes the father of ed-

ucational reform in America, a leader of the Transcend-

ental school of New England philosophers, the intimate

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