Oliver Wolcott

Oliver Wolcott Sr., 1726 - 1797
Engraving by F. B. Longaire
From a reduced copy of Ralph Earl's portrait
Engraving Commissioned by Wolcott's
grandaughter, Mrs. Laura Wolcott Gibbs
Oliver Wolcott was born on November 20, 1726. His father, Roger Wolcott, was one of the first governors of the colony of Connecticut. He had three brothers who survived childhood (Alexander, Josiah, and Erastus) and four sisters (Sarah, Hephzibah, Ursula, and Mariann). They lived in Windsor, Connecticut, where both of Oliver's parents grew up.

He graduate from Yale in 1747. Afterwards, he was a captain in the army and studied medicine with his brother Alexander. In 1751, he found his way to Litchfield once it was chosen as the county seat for Litchfield County. He was elected as the first Sheriff of Litchfield that same year. He was a representative of Litchfield in the General Assembly and was a member of the militia. In July of 1775, he served as a Commissioner of Indian Affairs for the Northern Department.

His Family

Lorraine (Laura) Collins Wolcott
Engraved by C.H. smith from a painting by
Ralph Earl in 1782 (This portrait is duplicated
from The Wolcott Memorial, 1881)
Oliver married Lorraine (or Laura, she was known by both names) Collins of Guilford, Connecticut, on January 21, 1755. Laura was the daughter of Capt. Daniel Collins of Guilford and, like Oliver, was a descendant from an early settler of New England. She was also distantly related to Timothy Collins, the first minister of Litchfield.

They had five children. Their first child, Oliver, died young. Oliver Jr. was born on January 11, 1760, followed by their daughter Laura, who was born on December 15, 1761. Mariann was born on February 16, 1765, and Frederick on November 2, 1761.

Their daughter Laura married William Moseley of Hartford in October of 1785. Four years later, in October of 1789, Mariann married Chauncey Goodrich of Hartford.

The Revolution

Oliver Wolcott, Sr.
Engraved by F. Halpin from a painting
by Ralph Earl in 1782. (This portrait is duplicated
from The Wolcott Memorial, 1881)
In the lead up to the Revolutionary War, Oliver served as a member of the Continental Congress for the state of Connecticut. In that capacity, he became one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence (Oliver Wolcott's signature appears in the right-most column, second from the bottom).

During the fighting of the Revolution, Oliver commanded fourteen regiments and was made a Brigadier General in early 1777. From February to July of 1778, he attended the Congress at Yorktown.

His home was also busy during the Revolution. Not only did George Washington stay there, but it was also the site of bullet manufacturing.

Political Career in Connecticut

Vest worn by Oliver Wolcott
at George Washington's Inauguration in 1789
In 1786, Oliver was elected Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut. It was a post he held for ten years. In 1787, he was a member of the Connecticut State Convention, which voted for the ratification of the Constitution of the United States. In 1796 he was a presidential elector (he voted for John Adams, who was elected President). That same year, the town of Wolcott, Connecticut was named after the Lieutenant Governor when he cast the deciding vote in the state legislature to incorporate the town.

Oliver then became the Governor of Connecticut after Governor Samuel Huntington died in office in early 1796. Oliver was reelected Governor and he died in office on December 1, 1797. He is buried in the East Cemetery in Litchfield (less than a mile down the road from the Historical Society).

Proclamation decreed by Oliver Wolcott as the Governor of Connecticut in Litchfield on Oct. 25, 1797.
It states the following: "I have therefore, with the Advice of the Council, and by the
Desire of the House of Representatives, thought proper to appoint, and do hereby
appoint, THURSDAY the sixteenth day of November next to be observed as a Day of public
THANKSGIVING and PRAYER to Almighty God, throughout this State;...."