THE WOLCOTT FAMILY SOCIETY

Revised - January 2017


The Society of Descendants of Henry Wolcott was organized in 1906. According to its first constitution: "This organization shall be known as The Society of Descendants of Henry Wolcott. The purpose of this Society shall be the collection and preservation of records, papers, and other data of historic interest and value to the family; the compiling and bringing to date the genealogical records of the family; the preservation of family monuments and antiquities; and to bring the various members of the family into closer acquaintance by assembling in social enjoyment." The name of the organization was changed in 2004 to The Wolcott Family Society. Membership is open to all descendants of Wolcott/Walcott immigrants who came to America before 1700. There are currently over 600 active members.

Regular Membership is $30.00 for registration and first year's dues. Subsequent dues are $15.00 per year, and are used for printing and mailing the quarterly newsletter. Life Memberships are available with a one time fee and no dues. The Life Membership is based on age at time of enrollment: age 0-30 is $250.00; age 31-45 is $200.00; age 46-60 is $150.00; age 61-90 is $100. Members do not pay dues after they pass 90.

A membership application is linked to this web page. Click HERE to access it. The form can be filled in on your computer and then printed. The completed application should be returned with the appropriate fee to the Registrar, Holly J. Wolcott, P.O. Box 119, 102 Hough St., Dubois WY 82513, holly@dingscc.com.



The Society has held a national reunion every year since 1906, except in 1942-5 when World War II made travel difficult. The 2017 Wolcott Family Society reunion will be held August 11-13, at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. The reunion will be at the Westin Convention Center Hotel. Co-hosts for the reunion will be Buck and Sue Miller, batsons.nhsd@gmail.com.

 


 

The Society collects and preserves historical and genealogical data on the Wolcott, Woolcott, Walcott, Walcutt, Woollacott, Wilcott, etc. families. It publishes a three times yearly newsletter of family news and history, which is sent to all members whose dues are current. Genealogical information about these families was put into a computerized data base by Wolcott Society registrars, John Wolcott and Charles Waid. If you wish to provide information about descendants of any of these families to be added to the Wolcott Family Society database, you may e-mail the information to Holly J. Wolcott, P.O. Box 119, 102 Hough St., Dubois WY 82513, holly@dingscc.com.

The first genealogy of the family was prepared by Rev. Charles Robbins, pastor of Windsor CT, and finished in 1809. He sent it to Judge Frederick Wolcott of Litchfield. Some years later, the three sons of Frederick Wolcott, Joshua Huntington (1804-1891), Frederick Henry (1808-1883), and Charles Moseley Wolcott (1816-1889), encouraged their cousin, George Gibbs (1815-1873), to prepare a family genealogy for publication. According to Rev. Samuel Wolcott (1813-1886), who completed the work, George Gibbs "had made considerable progress, when in the midst of his investigations, he decided on removal to Oregon." Samuel "had been his constant correspondent, having been in a favorable situation to learn the early history of the family which, indeed, I (Samuel) had already traced in part; and the gentlemen at whose instance he had commenced the work desired me to take his papers and complete it." A letter written in 1849 by Samuel , described his efforts to collect data for a planned publication. At that time he said that he had gathered names and dates for some two thousand descendants of Henry Wolcott. The book when published, was called "The Wolcott Memorial". It gave only descendants of Henry Wolcott in the male lines.  The index of this book lists less than one thousand names, so probably the additional names he said he had collected were in female lines, or families that he could not connect to Henry Wolcott.  We know that one copy was given by the Wolcott family to Dr. Henry Pickering Walcott (1838-1932), who was not a descendant of Henry, so it appears certain that other family lines, although not included in this book, were collected as well.

Samuel said that the material began with an old document dated 1691 which gave information about several generations of Henry Wolcott's descendants, with later additions by Governor Roger Wolcott and his son, Erastus. This document later came into Samuel's possession.  Samuel says that he examined "other family registers and memorials…together with all the church, town, and probate records which could be supposed to throw any light on the subject." He "personally visited nearly every town and district in Connecticut and Massachusetts which had ever been the residence of any member of the family, and an extensive correspondence was prosecuted for two years with the various branches scattered through the country." This must have taken a great deal of the time and effort, quite a commitment for a person with full time employment as a Congregational minister.

A large portion of the first book was taken up with correspondence of the two Governor Oliver Wolcotts, some in the possession of the Frederick Wolcott family and some which belonged to the Connecticut Historical Society. Some of this was correspondence with members of his family, and some with notable leaders of the time, George Washington, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, etc. The book also published for the first time seven letters written to Henry Wolcott, the immigrant, by relatives in England. Samuel mentions a small chest with the letters : "H. W." spelled out in brass nails on it, then in the possession of Henry Goodrich Wolcott (1853-1906).   This chest had held early family papers, including a deed to property in England, which George Gibbs had deposited with the Connecticut Historical Society. The deed is photocopied in the book.  This Latin manuscript dated 1618, conveyed two farms, a mill, orchards, meadow, and pasture at Tolland and Lydeard St. Lawrence, Somerset, from Robert Mynne to Henry's brother, Christopher.   It was undoubtedly these papers that induced the family to investigate their English roots.

Samuel says that Frederick H. Wolcott was the first American Wolcott to visit Tolland, and his two brothers later visited also. They hired Horatio G. Somerby, an American researcher, to search for information about the family in England.  Somerby reported in 1849 that he had found William and Thomas Wolcott at Tolland on the 1525 tax rolls, parish records giving Henry's baptism and marriage, and a dozen Wolcott wills. Somerby reported that he had "visited the old mill which belonged to the family at least three hundred years ago.  The house connected with the mill is the same which was standing then, and is a curious specimen of ancient architecture, both internally and externally.  The mill is also the original one, with a modern addition to one end. The house is now occupied by a laborer, and is rather a dilapidated condition." The house is now known as Watersmeet Farm, which I had the pleasure of visiting several years ago.  I then felt regret to find that half of the mill had been torn down, but perhaps it was the later addition that is gone, so it may more closely resemble the original.

The book gives a few engraved portraits, including a portrait of the author. It also has an engraving of a coat of arms, drawn by Somerby, calling them the Wolcott arms. The arms actually belonged to the Walcot family of Shropshire. Samuel says that these arms "which are of great antiquity, are identical with the Walcott arms, and indicate the historical identity of the families." DNA evidence indicates that this conjecture was mistaken.

Samuel's book was not published until 1881. Samuel writes: "It was thus compiled some thirty years since, with the expectation that it would then be issued from the press. Various causes interposed to prevent this; and now, after the lapse of another generation, its projectors and compiler being still spared, it goes to press under its original auspices. It has been carefully revised and some family papers of historic interest have been added….  But the loss of freshness is more than compensated by the greater completeness which has been gained; and though some who would have perused it with special interest have passed away, to the few in each generation for whom it has been specially compiled, its interest will increase and not diminish with the ages."  When the book was finally published, Frederick H. Wolcott held the copyright.  Three hundred copies of The Wolcott Memorial were privately printed, and most of them were distributed to family members by the Wolcott brothers.  These books probably had considerable influence on the formation of the Wolcott Society some fifteen years later, and laid the foundation for the four revisions of Wolcott genealogy books that have been published since then.

In 1912 a revised genealogy called the "Wolcott Genealogy", was compiled by George Chandler Wolcott, and published by the Wolcott Society. It included female lines, and Wolcotts and Walcott families not descended from Henry. A 1950 revision, also called "Wolcott Genealogy", was compiled for the Wolcott Society by A. Boehmer Rudd. Another revison called "Wolcott Family in America, 1578-1986" was compiled by Wolcott Society Registrar, Robert Charles Griffen, and Mitchell Alegre in 1986.  These first four books are no longer available.  A new 700 page genealogy was published by the Wolcott Society in 2002.  It was compiled by Society Registrar, John B. Wolcott, and Assistant Registrar and Database Manager, Charles V. Waid.  Because of the increased volume of data now in the Society’s records, the new book only covers the first seven generations of American Wolcotts, Walcotts and Wilcotts.  This latest book, "Wolcott Immigrants and Their Early Descendants", may be purchased by sending a check for $45.00 to The Wolcott Family Society Assistant Treasurer, Karen Moore, 9433 Meadowknoll Dr., Dallas TX 75243-6111.  Society members can order individualized printouts of descendants of any person in the latest book at 25 cents per page plus postage.

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