Wolcott Historical Society News - October 2010
By Florence Goodman
In this edition I will discuss the farms in the West District of the town. This district was located in the Clinton Hill/Wakelee School area and had large tracts of land belonging to Alcott, Norton, Lane, Wiard, Castle, and the Andrews families. Some of the later farms in this region were Upson, Peterson, Bryant, Lane, and Churchelow.
John Alcott settled on Spindle Hill in 1731 on 117 acres of land that he purchased from Deacon Josiah Rogers from Branford. At the time, this area was a wilderness, but he built a log house for his new bride and began to clear the land for farming. Over time he acquired 1200+ acres of land, much of which he gave to his five sons. The Alcott name is found on deeds from several houses on Spindle Hill and Beach Roads. The house on the corner of those two roads was built for Solomon Alcott, son of John, in 1790 and is on the site of the original log cabin. The Solomon Alcott house and barn at 348 Beach Road are still in existence today. This site is also the birthplace of Amos Bronson Alcott.
In the 1930s, Bill Tyrrell's Dairy Farm was located on the corner of Beach Road and Ellen Avenue next to the Solomon Alcott House. Farther down Beach Road, house #209 was the George Alcott House and farm, which was erected circa 1830. When the property was sold in 1857 it contained fifty acres of land, a house, barn, and blacksmith shop.
The Andrews's Farm began at the intersection of Spindle Hill, Clinton Hill, and Andrews Roads and was referred to as "Prospect Hill." This large tract of land was where several Andrew family members built their homes and farmed the land. The Martin Andrews Farm was located at 339 Spindle Hill Road just down from the intersection of Clinton Hill and Andrews Roads. The farmhouse was the original Obed Alcott House built in 1802 on 13 acres of land that was given to him by his father David Alcott. Obed donated a portion of his land to be used for the West School. In 1834, Martin Andrews purchased this house and land. This house remained in the Andrews family through the 1860s. Much of the Andrew's farmland on Andrews and Clinton Hill Roads remained in the family until the early 1950s.
The Churchelow Farm was found on Spindle Hill Road where the Sports Complex is located today. In 1935, this large tract of land that made up the farm covered parts of Alcott Road down to Beach Road and all the way up to Andrews Road. The Churchelow family raised pigs and milking cows on the farm. The pig field and pens were located on the corner of Spindle Hill and Alcott Roads and the cow barn was found on Spindle Hill Road. In spite of a fire in the mid 1950s that destroyed the cow barn, they continued to raise pigs until the 1980s.
An interesting fact about this farmland was that in the 1930s, there was a landing field for small planes on the pastureland on Spindle Hill Road, which was made by Alexander and Michael Churchelow and friend, Joseph Shea. The airfield also contained a hanger and air sock. The men flew a single motor propeller-driven monoplane and a converted OX3 Parks 2-seater biplane. Many neighborhood kids loved watching the planes taking off and landing there. Alexander was an instructor in the Air Force during WWII and after the War was a commercial pilot for Northwest Airlines. All three men maintained their pilotŐs license until their deaths.
The James Alcott Farm, referred to as Sunnyside, was found at the intersection of Spindle Hill and Mad River Roads. James Alcott built this farmhouse, a saltbox, in 1774. James was also a son of John Alcott, one of the early settlers on Spindle Hill. In the late 1800s, Evelyn Upson purchased the house and farm and lived there until his death in 1918. In that same year, Carl and Helma Peterson purchased the farmhouse at 621 Spindle Hill Road, the Seth Thomas house at 36 Peterson Lane, and about 150 acres of land along Spindle Hill and Mad River Roads. They established the Peterson Dairy Farm in 1923 and it was in operation into the early 1960s when a fire destroyed the large dairy barn
The Lane Farm was located at 695 Spindle Hill Road and was the home to three generations of Lanes. The farmhouse and 54 acres of land was purchased from Issac Alcott by his niece, Millicent and her husband, Nathaniel Lane. They lived in the house in the late 1700s until Anson Lane took over the property and lived there until 1859. At that time, Albert Lane purchased the farm and lived there with his family through the early 1900s. Over the years the Lanes acquired over 250 acres of land. The Lane Farm was a dairy farm and Albert sold various dairy products to the locals. He also raised corn and apples, and in the winter sold ice. In 1939, the farm was sold to Mrs. Theriault and in 1952, Alexander Churchelow purchased the property. In 1957, his daughter, Marlene Churchelow Tosun took over the property and still lives there today.
(Information for this article was taken from The History of Wolcott, Connecticut from 1731 to 1874 by Samuel Orcutt, 1986 Historic Resources Inventory by Paul Loether, Wolcott Connecticut 175th Anniversary by John Washburne, and an interview with Marlene Tosun by Flo Goodman, July 2010.)
James Alcott Farm in 1900 when it was owned by Evelyn Upson. Large barn in the foreground burned down in the 1960s when it was Peterson's Dairy.
Andrews Family on the farm on Spindle Hill Road.
Lane barn circa 1900.
Lane house and barn.
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