Wolcott History
Wolcott Historical Society

Wolcott Historical Society News - May 2008

By Florence Goodman

Throughout history it has been a tradition to name buildings after prominent people and such is the case with our three elementary schools. Alcott School is named for Amos Bronson Alcott, Frisbie School for Judah Frisbie, Wakelee School for Robert A. Wakelee, and Tyrrell Middle School, which was originally an elementary school, for Eva M. Tyrrell. In this edition I would like to introduce you to the very special lady for which Tyrrell was named.

Eva M. Tyrrell 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 the first woman in the town elected to serve on the school board. 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. They are as follows: 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.

Mrs. Tyrrell cuts the ribbon

April 3, 1966: Mrs. Tyrrell cuts the ribbon opening Tyrrell School.

Mrs. Tyrrell retires

February 1968: Mrs. Tyrrell retires after reporting the news for over 50 years.

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