Wolcott History
Wolcott Historical Society

Wolcott Historical Society News - January 2024

By Florence Goodman

Over the years I have shared the early history of the five cemeteries that are found in our town; they are Edgewood, Rose Hill/Pike's Hill, Northeast, Southeast and Woodtick. Of the five only Edgewood and Woodtick are still used today. The other three are located on property no longer owned by the town, but because they are historic burial grounds the town still maintains them.

It's amazing how much history can be acquired by visiting local cemeteries. Historic burying grounds hold a wealth of information about its residents, wars, epidemics, or disasters that might have affected the town and its people. Early tombstones have many intriguing inscriptions and designs carved into them. Symbols found on these stones portray various meanings. For example, the tulip symbolizes immortality, and the peacock represents eternity. Historians feel that tombstones carved prior to 1800 were an art form. Early New England stonecutters made stones with a variety of designs and symbols and were time consuming to produce; thus, as time went on designs and stones became more simplified. This is obvious as you look at stones produced after 1805.

Cemeteries have always intrigued me; my father would take my sister and I to Calvary Cemetery in Waterbury to place flowers on the family tombstones several times a year, so I knew it well, but the cemetery that I loved most was Edgewood Cemetery on Bound Line Road in our town. In the mid-1950s my friend Nancy and I would walk by it on our weekly jaunt to the library, which at that time was housed in the Town Hall. This cemetery was not the cemetery of choice for residents burying their loved ones; thus, as we passed this cemetery it was always a bit scary. The tall evergreens that bordered the road hung below the stonewall and they always seem to cast an eerie feeling upon it. Sometimes we would stop to look at the old tombstones, but most of the time we quickly ran past it. Over the years the Cemetery Association brought this historic 1764 cemetery back to life and residents once again began burying loved ones there. The demand for plots increased to the point that the association needed to purchase more land surrounding it. It was finally getting the appreciation it deserved and that much needed upkeep began and has continued today.

In June of 1994 on a misty, cloudy morning an anchor that had steadied a U.S. Navy destroyer at the Groton Submarine Base was dedicated in the Edgewood Cemetery. More than sixty people attended the ceremony, me included. At that time, Bill Gauthier and Charlie Robinson were the caretakers of the cemetery and they had been trying to get an anchor as a memorial to all military veterans buried at sea as well as those who went to sea and survived. They wanted a place for military families to pause for prayer and remember their loved ones. Bill contacted a former high school graduate, Admiral Kevin Delaney who was Commander in Chief of the U.S Navy's Atlantic Fleet. Kevin was instrumental in helping them achieve their goal. On that dedication day Kevin stated, "It's a very special honor for me to return to Wolcott to dedicate this memorial to all those individuals who have fared the sea from Merchant Marines to U.S. Navy. When I passed by here this morning, I couldn't help but remember when I was a young boy in the Little League and Boy Scouts and participating in the Memorial Day Parade. We'd end up in this cemetery paying tribute to all those that made the greatest sacrifice for their country."

On that day, townspeople and dignitaries alike participated or stood and listened to this heartwarming dedication. Mayor Eugene Migliaro, Reverend Frank Haggard, pastor of the Congregational Church, Reverend Victor Guerrera, pastor of St. Pius X Church, and Edgewood Cemetery Board members were there. That day is forever etched in my mind not only because of the dedication, but as a memory of the high school classmate who always remembered his roots.

Rear Admiral Kevin Delaney was a highly decorated officer. Of the 98 awards and decorations that he received over the course of his distinguished career, 64 were for combat action. They included the Silver Star Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, 11 Single Action Air Medals, 26 Strike/Fight Air Medals and six Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Crosses. He was also awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal and four awards of the Legion of Merit. Kevin passed away at age 68 on April 7, 2015, in Jacksonville, Florida following a lengthy illness. Kevin's parents were Mildred and John Delaney (former French teacher at Wolcott High School). Kevin was survived by his wife, Pat, to whom he was married for 46 years and three daughters, Kelly, Diane and Seana and five grandsons. He may be gone but will not be forgotten!

Next to the flagpole on a slab of granite surrounded by thick white painted chain links sits the gray anchor that will always remind me of him. In front of the anchor is another granite slab with a bronze plaque engraved with the "Hymn of the Sea." Several years ago, in December I receive a beautiful "Wreaths Across America" wreath from Kevin's daughter, Kelly who lives in Jacksonville, Florida. When that wreath arrived, I knew exactly where I needed to place it, on the anchor in his memory. Now, I look forward to the arrival of that wreath in December because it brings back those memories of Kevin and his service to our town and our country. It also reminds me of the time of year that a most recent tradition takes place at Edgewood and Woodtick cemeteries "Wreaths Across America." This is a wonderful way to honor veterans buried in these cemeteries; thank you to all who made it possible. This celebration took place on December 16, 2023.

(Information for this article was taken from Wolcott Community News articles written by Flo Goodman, November and December 2019 and January 2021 and a 6-26-94 newspaper article from the Republican-American by Robyn Adama, "Anchor memorial worth wait"; Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville.com 4-15-2015)

anchor at Edgewood Cemetery

The anchor at Edgewood Cemetery with the "Wreath Across America" wreath on it.

anchor next to the flagpole

The anchor next to the flagpole in the cemetery.

Rear Admiral Kevin Delany

Rear Admiral Kevin Delany, native of Wolcott.

Edgewood Cemetery sign

Edgewood Cemetery sign donated by the Wolcott Historical Society.

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

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