Wolcott Historical Society News - May 2010
By Florence Goodman
Last month's edition began a series of articles about "Old Farms of Wolcott." I started with several farms found in the North East District of town. One of those farms was the Edgar Norton Farm and I want to make a correction about that farm. It was a dairy farm, not a berry farm (my hearing is not what it used to be).
In this edition, I will begin to discuss some of the farms in the Wolcott District. This district covered a very large area in the center of town, but it also included land extending over to the eastern border of Wolcott. The 1868 map included the family names of Pritchard, Minor, Hotchkiss, Carter, Somers, Sperry, Warner, Hough, Moulthrop, Finch, Porter, Butler, Bailey, Hall, Upson, and Ferry. Many of these old farms were sold or abandoned in the late 1800s as people moved to the cities to work in the factories. During the 1930s and 40s, the Depression forced people to move back into rural areas where they could grow their own food and the cost of living was cheaper; thus the increase in so many sustenance farms in our town.
The Miles Upson house located at 1089 Woodtick Road was built between 1843-1845 and included a 50-acre tract of land. In 1924, the Lyman Atwood family purchased the house and property. Lyman Atwood was a subsistence farmer; he had a full-time job in Waterbury with Gulf Oil Company, but raised animals and crops on the farm for everyday family needs.
Just south of Atwood's farm on Woodtick Road were Myslanka's and Wabuda's farms. Myslanka's farm was located on the same side of the road as the Atwood farm just across from Lindsley Drive. They raised chickens on the farm and sold the chickens and eggs to local markets. The Myslankas purchased the farm from Art Cole who was the originator of the chicken farm. He raised a special variety of chickens and sold their eggs weekly to the Hall Brothers Hatchery in Middletown.
South of Myslanka's farm, covering both sides of Woodtick Road almost to the intersection of Center Street was Wabuda's farm, which covered 75 acres of land. Marcus and Sadie Wabuda emigrated from the Russia/Austria area around 1898 and after living in Pennsylvania, New York City, Shelton, Litchfield, and Waterbury, they finally purchased land in Wolcott in 1931. They had five sons and two daughters who grew up on this sustenance farm. One of the sons, William, ran Wabuda's Dairy, a small dairy farm on the property for several years. Like other farmers in Wolcott, Marcus Wabuda had a full-time job and he and his family worked the farm before and after work or school. Some time after World War II in the early 1950s, Marcus and Sadie decided to leave farm life behind them and moved back to Waterbury. They divided up the farmland amongst the five sons and by 1953 it was no longer a working farm.
At the intersection of Center Street and Woodtick Road begins another grouping of small farms. On the corner of Center Street and Woodtick Road was George Cole's Farm. The house on this property was built using the timbers from the original Episcopal Church that was located on the Town Green. Across the street from George Cole's house was the Mark Tuttle House, which was built circa 1845 and later sold to Mark Hough and in 1907, sold to George Cole's son, George H. Cole. Both of these farms were sustenance farms.
A short trip up Center Street from Woodtick Road brought you to Homewood's Happy Hollow Farm, which was established in 1873 by Albert Homewood. His sons, James, Richard, and Albin Homewood and their families worked hard over the years on this 40-acre farm. Mr. Therkildsen, whose farm was next to Homewood's property, also helped out on the farm. Besides chickens, they had several milking cows, boarded horses, raised various crops, and cut hay. Each of the brothers had full-time jobs, but worked the farm before and after work.
In 2002, after the last brother, Richard, died his son, Rick, and nephew, Bill, alternated farm duties while working full-time jobs to keep the farm going. They have rebuilt several of the barns and although they currently do not have any large livestock, they hope to re-establish raising cows on the property in the near future. They presently have about 25 egg-laying chickens, which are maintained with organic feed. They also still cut hay in the fields. This farm is one of two working farms that remain in our town today.
I will continue discussing several other farms in the Wolcott Center District in the June edition. They are Bergen's Sunny Hill Dairy, Merriman's Farm, Captain Nathaniel Lewis Farm, and Maple Hill Farm. If you have pictures or information about any Wolcott farms, please contact me at 203-879-9818 of email me at fjgtdg at gmail.com
(Information for this article was taken from interviews with Clarence Atwood, Steven Wubuda, Fred Weik, Rick Homewood, and videos of Dick Homewood from 2001 and Clarence Atwood from 1990.)
Our Schoolhouse Museum is open by appointment only during the winter months. Anyone interested in visiting the Museum, please call Loretta Leonard at 203-879-4310 or Flo Goodman 203-879-9818. Our meetings are held on the first Thursday of each month at the Old Stone School on Nichols Road at 6:30 PM.
Our Annual Garden Tour will be held on July 10 with a rain date of July 12. If you are interested in showing off your gardens, let us know.
Wabuda's bottle cap. It would be placed on top of glass bottle to seal the bottle.
Original barn from Homewood's Happy Hollow Farm on Center Street.
Mark Tuttle House built 1845 on 463 Center Street. It was also owned by the Hough, Cole, and DuBois famlies. Today, it is owned by the Hughes family.
George Cole farmhouse on Center Street. This house was built using timbers from the original Episcopal Church on the Green where Town Hall is today.
One of the new barns at Homewood's Happy Hollow Farm on Center Street.
Clarence Atwood riding the family tractor, 1937.
Atwood home on 1089 Woodtick Road, early 1900s.
To view past installments of the Wolcott Historical Society News, click here.