Wolcott Historical Society News - March 2022
By Florence Goodman
In my January 2022 article I wrote about the history of the Beach Minor House, the oldest house still standing in our town. At that time I was missing a date in the progression as to who lived in the house, but I found out thanks to a post on Facebook. So I need to make a correction from that article which should have read, " In the 1950's the Pellegrini family owned the Beach-Minor house, but in 1958 or '59 they sold the property to the grandson of Wilfred V. Warner, also named Wilfred V. Warner. The Warner family lived in the house until 1968 when it was sold to the Hunt Family. (I recently received this information from Chip Warner, who also lived in the house at that time. He and Wilfred Warner were Minnie Warner Bergen's sons.
After completing that January article I felt that there was more to be shared about the Town Clerks who served our town since its incorporation. With that said, this month I will give you the history of these dedicated and faithful officials from 1796 until present day. It was May 9, 1796 when the State of Connecticut's General Assembly voted that the Parish of Farmingbury officially be incorporated as a distinct town apart from the towns of Waterbury and Southington and that it shall be part of New Haven County and called Wolcott. It was also ordered on that day the inhabitants of the newly established town hold a town meeting on June 13, 1796 for the purpose of appointing town officers. The General Assembly required that a public sign be posted five days prior to that date and Mr. Aaron Harrison serve as the moderator of the meeting. At that first town meeting held on June 13th Mr. Aaron Harrison chose men to serve in many positions, but first on the list and probably the most important was Town Clerk.
Over the past 225 years our town has only had twelve Town Clerks. That says volumes (no pun intended) about the character and dedication of these faithful officials. Our first Town Clerk was Isaac Bronson who had no party affiliation at that time. He served in this position from 1796 until 1815. Deacon Isaac Bronson was born in Wolcott on July 19, 1761. It was said that he inherited the characteristics of the Waterbury Bronson families because he was a man of strength and decision of intellectual and moral qualities and upon these qualities he built his life. He reside most of his life in Wolcott Center with his wife Thankful (Clark) and their children. He was deacon of the church from 1805 until his death in 1845. Samuel Orcutt stated, "He was one of the most active and highly esteemed men in the Society, church and town." He is buried in Edgewood Cemetery.
In 1815 Archibald Minor was elected to the office of Town Clerk and served in that position until 1839. He was born in 1784 a mile north of the town center in his father's homestead, the Beach Minor Home. He married Betsy Tuttle of Plymouth and they had two children, Henry born in 1809 and Harriet 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. He is buried at Edgewood Cemetery.
Levi Moulthrop was our third Town Clerk serving in that position from 1839 to 1841. He was born in Wolcott in 1811. He married Charlotte S. Stocking in 1841 and they had three children. Our fourth and fifth Town Clerks were Isaac Huff who served from 1841 to 1842 and Joseph Sperry who served from 1842 to 1848. I have no other information on Isaac Huff. Joseph Sperry came to Wolcott from Cheshire. He was very active in the Society and the town offices. He married Abigail Tuttle of Wolcott. He died in 1871 at the age of 71.
Our sixth Town Clerk was Henry Minor who was the son of Archibald and Betsy and born in 1809. He served in that office from 1848 to 1902. , Henry married Sarah J. Clark of Waterbury and they too lived in the family house north of the Center. Henry was the second person in his family to be elected to that honored position. He held the position for fifty-four years, until 1902. The family home served as the Town Clerk's office for a total of 79 years while father and son held the position. Henry died in 1902 at the age of 92 and is buried in Edgewood Cemetery.
John R.S. Todd was the seventh man to hold the office from 1902 until 1905. The Todd family settled in Wolcott in the late 1700s and farmed the land and ran a sawmill in the Todd Road area. The Todd house is located at the corner of Todd Road and Garrigus Court. John Robert Streat Todd (1846-1942) lived his whole life on this farm where he was born and died at age 96. There is a large barn on the property that he built in 1876. The barn was used to keep prize oxen and donkeys. John owned and operated a sawmill, which was built in 1848 by Streat Todd and Thomas Lewis. It was located on Lily Brook, which runs into Lily Lake. He had a large wood and lumber business that supplied all "muffle" wood for the Waterbury brass mills' furnaces. He sold hundreds of chestnut telephone poles and railroad ties before the blight killed the trees. John Robert Streat Todd was one of Wolcott's leading landowners and businessmen. The eighth person to hold the office of Town Clerk was Wilfred V. Warner. He held the office from 1905 to 1930.
In 1930 the first woman took over the position of Town Clerk; Minnie Warner had served as Assistant Town Clerk for two years prior to her election. She was our ninth Town Clerk and Wilfred Warner's daughter-in-law. Minnie Warner Bergen served this honorable position from 1930 to November 7,1978. Minnie was born in South Kent and came to Wolcott at age 17 in 1920. She taught in the one room West School on Spindle Hill and in the Center School. She gave up teaching when her first son was born. During her first twenty-five years as Town Clerk her office was in her home on the corner of Bound Line Road and Center Street. She said people coming in and out of her home for business was not a problem because the population was only 1000 so it wasn't busy. As the town grew her office moved next door to the Center School where the town added a vault room to store documents. She remained in that building for eight years and then her office was moved to the Town Hall. Minnie died on Election Day in 1978 after serving for forty-eight years.
Minnie Bergen's daughter, Elaine King had served as her Assistant Town Clerk for many years and Elaine went on to serve as Town Clerk from 1978 until 2006, a total of twenty-eight years; Elaine was our tenth Town Clerk. The Warner, Bergin and King families served as Town Clerks in our town for 100 years. A quote from Deb Slater when she was working with Elaine sums up the type of person she was. Elaine told Deb, "It doesn't cost anything to be nice."
In 2006 Elaine King's Assistant Town Clerk, Deborah Slater took over the office as Town Clerk number eleven. She served until her retirement in December 2017. In January 2018 Karen Mowad who was elected in the previous November elections took over the position as our twelfth Town Clerk. Karen has learned from the best and continues to serve our town today as a dedicated official. Women have held this esteemed position since 1930 when Minnie became the town's first female Town Clerk. This honorable office requires knowledge, dedication, and faithfulness to the town and its records. Wolcott has been fortunate to have such faithful officials in this very important office.
(Information for this article was taken from early Annual Reports for the Town of Wolcott;" The 175th Anniversary 1796-1971" by John Washburne; "The History of Wolcott, Connecticut from 1731 to 1874 by Reverend Samuel Orcutt; a January 2022 conversation with Chip Warmer from Saco, Maine who filled in some of the gaps about ownership of the Beach-Minor House from1958-1968; a FaceTime conversation with Deborah Slater February 2022; Waterbury Sunday Republican, May 18, 1975, by Tony Pavone)
The Isaac Bronson tombstone at Edgewood Cemetery.
The Archibald Minor tombstone at Edgewood Cemetery.
The Henry Minor tombstone at Edgewood Cemetery.
John R. S. Todd with family and friends out for a Sunday drive. This photo was taken circa 1900 in front of the Todd home on the corner of Todd Road and Garrigus Court. John held many elective offices in town including Town Clerk and Selectman.
Minnie Bergen had the honor of swearing in Wolcott's first Mayor, Edward J. Bagley Jr. in 1971.
Elaine King, Assistant Town Clerk, standing next to her mother Minnie Bergen, Town Clerk in 1975.
Karen Mowad, our present Town Clerk, Mary Morrone, Municipal Officer and Deborah Slater, retired Town Clerk.
To view past installments of the Historical Society News, click here.