Wolcott Historical Society News - February 2019
By Florence Goodman
This month I will continue with my series about "Important women of Wolcott" with a discussion of two more early women that lived in our town: Eva M. Tyrrell and Rose Wakelee Badger.
I will begin with Eva M. Tyrrell for which Tyrrell School was named. She was known as "Mrs. Wolcott" because of her knowledge of the town, and because she was the town correspondent for the Waterbury Republican American newspaper for over fifty years. She was also a charter member of many civic organizations. She was born in 1884 and lived in Wolcott most of her life. Her roots go back to 1750, the year her ancestors, the Hall family settled in the town.
In 1905 her husband, Charles, built their home on the corner of Todd and Woodtick Roads. It became the "unofficial center" of Wolcott activities. The house started out with two rooms, but over time was expanded to ten rooms. The Tyrrell house was also used as a Republican center during election time with runners going between the house and Frisbie School to give the latest voting results.
Charles and Eva had two daughters of their own, but also raised numerous foster children. Both of their daughters were involved with the Wolcott School system, Mrs. Rose Klitka, as a school nurse and Mrs. William Dumschatt as a school cafeteria employee.
In 1918, Eva was one of two women elected to serve on the Board of Education in the town; she served as secretary and Rose E. Wakelee served as chairman. This was quite an accomplishment since women had not yet earned the right to vote. She was already well on her way to becoming a topnotch newspaper reporter, but at this time almost lost her job because she refused to cover a story about a court case involving a young Wolcott boy. It seems that the boy who attended the Northeast School became angry with his teacher after she had disciplined him. The boy shredded his teacher's galoshes (boots) in the school hallway and was arrested on minor charges for his actions. Mrs. Tyrrell said she knew the boy and his family for years and refused to write a story on these charges. She told her editor that if he wanted the story badly enough to send a reporter and he responded that it might cost her the job, but she didn't change her mind and she didn't lose her job. This story is an example of Eva Tyrrell's strong character.
Mrs. Tyrrell's list of civic activities throughout her years in Wolcott is impressive. The committees on which she served were: charter member of the Wolcott Republican Women's Club, the Wolcott Women's Club, the Wolcott Historical Society, and Woodtick School PTA, and a founder of the Ladies Fire Auxiliary, Company 1. She was also a member of the Wolcott Grange, the Wolcott Agricultural Society, vice-president of the Woodtick Cemetery Association, and a member of the Wolcott Congregational Church. In governmental affairs she served as a member of the Woodtick School Building Committee, the Library Board of Directors, and was a probation officer of the municipal court, serving for sixteen years.
Eva M. Tyrrell loved her town and devoted a lifetime helping it to grow. To show their appreciation for her devotion to the town and for her many years of service to the town, Tyrrell School was named in her honor. She died in September 1968 at the age of 84.
Rose Elizabeth Andrews was born on November 14, 1883 on Spindle Hill in Wolcott, Connecticut. Her parents were Martin Luther Andrews Jr. and Florence Edith Porter. Rose came from a very large family being number seven of the eight girls and six boys born to her parents. She received her elementary education in the one-room West School located on Spindle Hill Road; she then went on to complete her high school education in Waterbury and graduated from Crosby High School. At 17 years of age Rose became a schoolteacher. She taught school in Wolcott for three years at the North School (Cedar Swamp School) and South School (Hitchcock Lake area).
In April of 1903, at the age of 19, Rose married John Bement Wakelee. They lived on the Wakelee farm in a house on Wolcott Road for many years. Rose and John Wakelee had three children: Florence Edith (1903), Celinda Janet (1906) and John Bement, Jr. (1909). Their children grew up in that house on Wolcott Road where Rose loved to garden and work on the farm. She raised three cows from birth and had several hogs, chickens and horses. I was surprised to read that Rose never learned how to milk a cow so she would have her son do that for her.
Rose loved her town and was very involved in many town organizations and several local government jobs. She was one of the first women in Wolcott to hold a public office being appointed as town auditor in 1918 and later served as town treasurer. Also in 1918 she was elected to serve on the Board of Education along with Eva Tyrrell. Rose also served as library director and Republican town vice chairman.
Rose's husband, John who served as the town's foreman of the roads for 30 years died on November 9, 1939, but that did not stop this strong women from continuing her work as a public servant. From 1942 to 1952, Rose served as tax collector in Wolcott for a total of twelve years. She was the first woman from Wolcott to be elected to the Connecticut General Assembly, where she served from 1943-1949 and as House Chairman in 1947. While serving in the General Assembly Rose concentrated on road maintenance which was something she knew was important from her husband's work as road foreman. She was also active on the cemetery board in town and worked to improve the grounds of the town cemeteries. Rose had served Wolcott in more official capacities than any other woman in town.
Rose was an active member of various organizations throughout her life. She belonged to the Wolcott Women's Club, the Ladies Aid Society of the Congregational Church, the Republican League, the Wolcott Grange and the Mattatuck Historical Society. Rose loved Wolcott's rich history and was a charter member of the Wolcott Historical Society. She wrote numerous history articles and brochures on the History of Wolcott as well as completing a genealogy of the "Andrews and Wakelee families from 1650 to 1947".
In 1953 Rose married Claude V. Badger, a long time resident of Wolcott. Claude was an active member of the Republican Party and like Rose he served as town treasurer and tax collector for many years. Rose Andrews Wakelee Badger died on April 13, 1966 at the age of 82.
There are several other women who served our town and their stories are still to be written: Minnie Warner Bergin, Jane Woodard, Margaret Hall, and all those young women who taught in our one-room schools. Do you know a woman who lived and or worked in Wolcott that I have forgotten? Please contact me at our website: wolcotthistory.org
(Information for this article was taken from October 24, 1941, May 15, 1958, April 3,1966 and Sept 11, 1966 newspaper articles from the Waterbury Republican-American; Waterbury Sunday Republican February 11, 1968; Andrews/Wakelee pages of Ancestry.com compliments of Ellie Packer and photographs from Ellie Packer; 1961 article on Wolcott History written by Rose Wakelee Badger in "The Waterbury Suburban Directory").
Eva M. Tyrrell, reporter, on the phone.
Eva Tyrrell cutting the ribbon at Tyrrell Elementary School. (4/3/66 Waterbury Republican photo)
Eva M. Tyrrell's 80th birthday.
Tyrrell house located at 396 Woodtick Road. (Flo Goodman photo)
Rose E. Andrews, 1899. (Ellie Packer photo)
Rose E. Andrews, teacher standing in back row with her class at Cedar Swamp School in 1901. (Ellie Packer photo)
John and Rose Wakelee at the Wakelee farm on Wolcott Road. (Ellie Packer photo)
Rose A. Wakelee honored as new tax collector in 1941. (Ellie Packer photo)
Mr. & Mrs. Claude Badger in 1953. (Ellie Packer photo)
This Wakelee house was located on Wolcott Road, but has since been taken down. (Deb DuBois photo)
Back view of Wakelee house with barn next to it. Approximately where Heritage Hill development is found today. (Deb DuBois photo)
The old barn that was next to the Wakelee house on Wolcott Road. (Deb DuBois photo)
To view past installments of the Historical Society News, click here.