Wolcott Historical Society News - January 2022
By Florence Goodman
I often refer to "Circles of Life" when I find connections in the people and places in our town past and present. Elton John sang about it, "In the circle of life, it's the wheel of fortune, it's the leap of faith, it's the band of hope, till we find our place, on the path unwinding, in the circle." Last month Lori James who lives in the Beach-Minor House posted a photo on Face Book. It was of an old envelope she had purchased from a letter sent to Henry Minor who lived in her house, the oldest historic home still standing in our town. This great piece of history past made me realize it was time to one again share the story of this house and the people who lived there.
Bound Line Road has played an important role in the historical development of our town. It served as the dividing line between the two towns, Farmington and Waterbury, from which our original settlement name, Farmingbury was derived. It is also the location of several historic homes in our town and that's where you will find the Beach-Minor House, which was built in 1773. This one and one half story post and beam cape is located at 512 Bound Line Road across from the Wolcott Library. Amazingly this old house, which is approaching 250 years of age has remained in excellent condition because the families dwelling there have maintained it for all those years.
John Beach was the original owner of the Beach-Minor House. In 1773, he had the house and barn built on land that he acquired from Samuel Brackett and Nathaniel Lewis, Jr., but he only lived in the house for a short period of time. The following year on April 14, 1774 he sold the house, barn and land to Joseph Minor of Lyme, Connecticut.
Joseph and his wife, Mary who was the daughter of Captain Samuel Upson lived in the house for forty years; all seven of their children were born in this house. They owned the house for 40 years until January 29, 1814, when their oldest son, Archibald and his wife Betsy Tuttle of Plymouth acquired the title, but Joseph and Mary still lived there. Mary Minor died on August 14, 1840 at age 82 and Joseph Minor died on April 8, 1845 at age 89.
Archibald and Betsy Minor had two children, Henry born in 1809 and Harriet who was born in 1811. Archibald was one of the most respected and honored citizens of Wolcott, having served the town in many offices over the years. He was the first in his family to serve in the honored position of Town Clerk for a total of twenty-four years from 1815-1839. Archibald died on March 10, 1877 at the age of 93.
Archibald and Betsy Minor's son, Henry married Sarah J. Clark of Waterbury and they too lived in the family house. In 1848 Henry became the second person in his family to be elected to the honored position of Town Clerk. He held that office for fifty-four years, until 1902. His name is on the envelope that was recently purchased by Lori. The family home served as the Town Clerk's office for a total of 79 years while father and son held the position. The property remained in the possession of the Minor family until the early 20th century. At a later date, Wilfred Warner, grandson of Wilfred V. Warner, another of Wolcott's Town Clerks, owned the property. Wilfred V. Warner was Town Clerk from 1905-1930.
In the 1950's the house was owned by the Pellegrini family and then sold to the Hunt Family. Records show the Hunt family owning the house in 1997. Daniel and Carrie Garrigus purchased the home from them in December of 2010 and made many renovations to the house, barn and the land. One of the most noticeable improvements was a front porch and a beautiful new cedar shingled roof. They also cleared the land to expose some of the original stonewalls and restored the garage/barn area. In November of 2018 the house was sold again to Lori James who has continued to restore and improve the house and grounds of this old historic property. We are fortunate that so many history-minded individuals have maintained the integrity and beauty of this beautiful home.
Another interesting connection in the circle of life of this house dates back to September 2016 when Victor DiRuggiero from Rhode Island donated an old bible originally belonging to Nancy Hall from Wolcott, Connecticut to the Wolcott Historical Society. Nancy Hall's Bible is inscribed on the inside cover, "Bought, May 28th, 1823"; she was 24 when she obtained the book. Also written on this page, "Died in Wolcott Aug 14th 1840 Mary Miner Wife of Joseph Miner Aged 82". Mary was Nancy's mother and Joseph was her father. Nancy grew up on the family homestead, which today is referred to as the "Beach-Minor House." Nancy had seven siblings. Her brother was Archibald and her nephew was Henry; as stated above they served as Town Clerks in our town. This old bible is housed at our Center School History Museum. The complete story of Nancy Hall and the bible can be found on our website: wolcotthistory.org.
Our town 's history is rich and beautiful and I never know when another connection may be brought back to the town for us all to enjoy. Thanks Lori for purchasing that old envelope and bringing it back to Wolcott and the Beach-Minor House where it belongs.
(Information for this article was taken from early Annual Reports for the Town of Wolcott, The 175th Anniversary 1796-1971> by John Washburne, The 1986 Historic Resources Inventory by Paul Loether and The History of Wolcott, Connecticut from 1731 to 1874 by Reverend Samuel Orcutt, Wolcott Community News articles written by Flo Goodman, December 2015 and November 2016)
The Beach Minor House located at 512 Bound Line Road. This house built in 1773 is the oldest house in Wolcott.
Garage and barn with stone wall along side the barn. The area was cleared to expose the old stonewall.
An old envelope sent to Henry Minor who lived in the Beach Minor House. Henry was Town Clerk in Wolcott from 1848 until 1902. Lori James, the present owner of the house purchased the envelope in 2021.
Showing the size of the well-worn bible that Nancy Hall bought in 1823.
One of the handwritten pages in Nancy Hall's bible.
Henry Minor was the Town Clerk in Wolcott from 1848 -1902. His home served as his office as well.
To view past installments of the Historical Society News, click here.