Last night I was trying to fill in a few holes on my large family tree in ancestry.com. I was following a “shaking leaf” associated with Lillie Waldron (1874-1938), when I found that she married a man by the name of Oliver Eliot Wolcott. Since Wolcott, CT is my hometown and it was named after a man by the name of Oliver Scot Wolcott, I immediately wondered if there was a connection. The short answer is “yes,” but I’d like to document all the pieces that came together in this connection.
Piece #1 – The Russell-Waldron Connection
During my father’s late teen years, he lived in Waterbury with his grandfather and step-grandmother, Louis Russell (1871-1946) and Helen [Madigan] [Pulver] [Waldron] Russell (1868-1945). It was Louis’ second marriage and Helen’s third marriage, her second marriage having been to Lewis Waldron (1869-1917). But the connection to the Waldron was more than just this tenuous one through a long-past marriage. I have documented earlier (http://ramblinrussells.blogspot.com/2015/02/genealogy-story-louis-russell.html) how the Russell family and the Waldron family were connected.
Lewis Waldron was also my great-grandfather Louis Russell’s second cousin through their common great-grandparents Caleb and Almira [Beecher] Barton. So my great-grandfather was married to the former wife of his second cousin. But more importantly, Lewis Waldron and his sister Lillie Waldron are then my second cousin’s three times removed.
Piece #2 – The Wolcott Family
Simon Wolcott (1624-1687) was born in Tolland, England. His father, Henry (1578-1655) had come to the US around 1630 and after initially settling in Dorchester, MA had moved to CT in 1636-1637 and was one of the founders of Simsbury. Simon followed his father by emigrating about that same time where he also lived in Simsbury. In 1680 he moved to South Windsor. Simon had a large family (15 children!), among them Henry (1670-1747) and Roger (1679-1767).
Henry was one of the original proprietors of Tolland, CT (named after the family home in England). We will pick up his story with his son, Thomas, below in Piece #3.
Roger had a long career of service, including being Deputy Governor of the Colony of Connecticut, Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Connecticut, Major General in King George’s War, and Governor of Connecticut. His son, Oliver (1726-1797) was a signer of the Declaration of Independence as well as of the Articles of Confederation before it. He served as the Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut from 1786 until 1796 and then as Governor of Connecticut from 1796 until his death a year later. It was while serving as Lt. Governor where he presided over the Senate that he cast the tie-breaking vote to approve the separation of the town of Farmingbury from the towns of Southington [previously South Farmington] and Waterbury. In honor of this, the townspeople of Farmingbury renamed the town Wolcott.
Piece #3 – The Dutchess County Connection
My great-grandfather Louis was born in Kent, CT. But his father, Walter James Russell had moved there from just over the border in Dover, Dutchess County, NY. The Russell family had lived there for about 100 years (see http://ramblinrussells.blogspot.com/2016/09/genealogy-story-russell-family-migration.html).
A branch of the Wolcott family also lived in the same town/county. Thomas Wolcott (1702-1762), the son of Henry (1670-1747), was born in Tolland, CT, but after the death of his wife in 1738 he moved to Taghanik, NY. His oldest son, also Thomas (1726-1792) was only a young teen when the family moved to NY. When he married he purchased property in Amenia, NY, located in Dutchess County and adjacent to Dover. His son, Lt. Luke Wolcott (1755-1813) was born in Dover as well as the next several generations, Thomas (1774-1830), Thomas Judd (1802-1854), William Burton (1832-1909), and Oliver Elias (1868-1960). There are still members of the Wolcott family living in Dutchess County to this day.
Bringing the Pieces Together
The Russell and Wolcott families had lived in close proximity in Dover, NY for several decades (the Russell family being there from about 1720 until 1820 and the Wolcott family from about 1750). But I have not found any marriage connection there. However, in 1792 Oliver Elias Wolcott moved just a few miles east to Kent, CT when he married Lillie Waldron. That meant that my second cousin (3 times removed) married the first cousin (6 times removed) of Governor Oliver Wolcott.
There is the possibility of a further connection. The grandparents of my great-great-grandmother, (Lois Ann Cook (1855-1883) who was the wife of Walter James Russell (1852-1895)) are Levi Cook and Sally Burton (b. about 1790). But the wife of Thomas Judd Wolcott was Jane Burton (1807-1893). It’s possible that Jane and Sally are sisters, being the children of James Silas Burton (1770-1821) who was living in Dutchess County, NY where both Sally and Jane were also living at the time. However, there were four Burton families (all probably related) in the county at that time.
If this is true, then Thomas Judd Wolcott is my great*5 uncle. However, with the paucity of records from that time, this may be impossible to affirm.