Wolcott History
Wolcott Historical Society

Wolcott Historical Society News - April 2022

By Florence Goodman

Wolcott Road has served as the main thoroughfare in our town from Waterbury to Bristol since 1934. This road has dramatically changed over the last 100 years; actually it ended at Center Street until 1934 when the State decided to extend it to the Bristol line. There are still signs in several spots that say "Old Wolcott Road." Most people who live on the western side of town drive this road on a daily basis and probably never think about the homes or roads that they pass each day. Several old homes are located on this road and this month I would like to share the history of one in particular which was recently sold; it is found at 185 Wolcott Road. This house has always intrigued me because of the way it juts out toward the road, but I never thought about its history until I started researching the soldiers from our town who served in WWI and found out that one of them had grown up in this home.

The Isaac Hough House is located on the western side of Wolcott Road slightly south of Nichols Road. The original 2-story Federal style post and beam structure was built in 1837 on a 15-acre tract of land. Land records indicate that Hough purchased the property from Erastus and Esther Atkins for $1200 on February 13, 1837; he lived in the house through the late 1850s. A single story wing was added to the house on the south side sometime toward the end of the 1800s. Records indicate that the John P and Sarah Ann Pratt Browne owned the property in 1890 when their son Charles P. Brown was born there on March 16th. Charles attended the Old Stone Schoolhouse, which was only a short walk from his home. During those childhood years Charles never realized that the training he received while growing up on a farm in Wolcott would affect his future. Charles attended high school in Waterbury and after graduation he worked for Scovill manufacturing Company in Waterbury until the war began.

On July 7, 1917 Charles enlisted in the Regular Army and served until August 12, 1919.

He trained at Fort Slocum, New York from July 8th to November 5th. He was then assigned to Supply Company, 12th regiment, 2nd division in Fort Myer, Virginia from November 5th to December 24th. He was stationed at Camp Hill, Newport News, Virginia from December 26, 1917 to February 16, 1918. He was promoted from private to Wag in January 1918. He left Newport News on February 16th and traveled to Arcadia. From Arcadia he sailed by way of Halifax along the northern route to the north coast of Ireland then down the coast to LaRochelle in western France. Because of his farm background Charles was assigned to caring for the mules on the ships going to Europe. During WWI mules were used as working animals.

On March 21, 1918 Charles was sent into action. He participated in engagements in Verdun and Toul Troyou, Chateau Thierry, Sousous, Marbache, St. Mihiel, Blanc Mont Argonne Musse and Army of Occupation without being wounded. He was discharged on August 14, 1919 and returned home to Wolcott to the family home and farm. Charles later married Cecelia and they lived in the family homestead on Wolcott Road where they raised their family. An old trunk filled with all his military supplies was placed in the attic of their home and it is remained there for years. Those memories and artifacts came to life one last time when his granddaughter, Frances Fairchild was kind enough to share it and the relics inside with the Historical Society. We placed the trunk and its contents on display at our booth at the Lions Fair in August 2017 when we did a display about the "WWI Soldiers that served from Wolcott." That old trunk and its contents were the highlight of our display. It contained his uniform with some very unique badges, his hat and helmet, as well as a gas mask and riding stirrups. We also found an old photo at the bottom of the trunk.

When I returned the trunk to Fran and her husband we discussed getting together so they could give me the complete Browne family history, but that never happened. Fran died of Covid in March of 2021 and her husband, Jim died in September of that same year. Last month when the "For Sale" sign went up in front of the house and the dumpster was also placed there memories of the trunk and the veteran who served so bravely during the first World War quickly came to my mind. My only hope was that the family Fran and Jim left behind found a great place for that old trunk and the wonderful history it held, and that it will be treasured for years to come. So the next time you drive past that old homestead at 185 Wolcott Road remember Charles Browne.

(Information for this article was taken from an "Honor Roll of WWI veterans" that hangs in the Historical Society museum; CT Military Questionnaires from Ancestry.com from Deb DuBois; >History of the Town of Wolcott, Connecticut From 1731 to 1874, by Samuel Orcutt; my Wolcott News article from September 2017; obituaries of Frances and James Fairchild found online)

Isaac Hough House

The Isaac Hough House is located on the western side of Wolcott Road slightly south of Nichols Road. This is where Charles Browne lived throughout his life.

Charles Browne's WWI trunk

Charles Browne's WWI trunk

helmet found inside the trunk

The helmet found inside the trunk.

canvas case, gas mask and canister

The canvas case, gas mask and canister

Charles Browne

Charles Browne in Germany on his horse

Woodtick Stone School

Woodtick Stone School prior to the 1898 addition to the building. Bessie Garrigus was the teacher. Some of the students (not in order) are: Almus Browne, Eva Tyrrell, Mac Norton, Iva Norton, Justine Browne, Charles Browne and Frank Burns.

To view past installments of the Historical Society News, click here.

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