Wolcottville

It is not always easy to understand places in Connecticut. Although there are 169 towns and cities in Connecticut there are also 476 villages within these towns with different names than the town as a whole. This leads for some confusion even today especially when you have urban areas like Winsted and Willimantic which are Burroughs within other towns, Winchester and Windham respectively.

Torrington although less confusing today, has a very confusing past. When one reads the histories and reports about Torrington we run into the interesting subject of Wolcottville. This area which runs with a southern border somewhere between Elton Street and the Gulf Stream which lies just beyond East Lawton Street; then bounded to the west by High Street; to the north by approximately Forest Street; and to the east, just east of the intersection of New Harwinton Road and Torringford West.

Below is a part of a map of Torrington showing the Wolcottville section of town.

Wolcottville Map

 

Below is a drawing of Wolcottville. The image has been rotated to better represent north/south.

Wolcottville 1875

 

Now that we know where it is lets discuss what it is. This is open to some debate and actually has lead to a long, sometimes heated, if always friendly discussion over it in the Torrington Connecticut group in Facebook. Some feel that Wolcottville was the main area that later became Torrington, with Torrington itself representing outlying areas that merged with Wolcottville and kept its name while dooming the name Wolcottville to obscurity. There is ample support for this opinion including a reference in the Encyclopedia Britanica which states this “The village went by several names including Mast Swamp (1747), New Orleans Village (1806), and Wolcottville (1813), …… In 1881 the village changed its name to Torrington. …….The borough of Torrington, incorporated from the village in 1887, became a city in 1923; city and town were consolidated the same year.” There are several other historical records that make reference to Wolcottville with some indication that it was separate from Torrington or was the name instead of Torrington for the area.

Now that I have given at least some representation of the other side of the discussion (if you want to read more go to the Facebook Torrington Connecticut Group and look for a very long discussion started by Steven Sokolow that begins with ”
For those that don’t know Torrington was once known as Wolcottville. “), let me tell you what I believe to be the history.

Torrington was named May, 1732, from Torrington in Devonshire and was incorporated Oct., 1740 as a town.  I have found maps as early as 1755 that identify Torrington. Below is a portion of the Connecticut map from 1755.

1755 map of Torrington Area

 

Maps from 1766 through 1799 still identify Torrington with no identification of any of the villages within the town. In 1812 a map identifies Torringford within the town of Torrington , but still no reference to Wolcottville.
Torrington Map 1812
But by this 1851 map below Wolcottville is featured along with other Torrington villages including Torringford, Daytonville, Newfield, Torrington Hollow and Burville. Wolcottville became so successful that it apparently became interchangeable with Torrington if not more prominent. Since much of the areas manufacturing were in the village of Wolcottville. The one thing though that seems consistent with almost all of these is that Wolcotville was identified as a village versus a town.
Torrington Map 1851
By 1923 the confusion came to an end. Torrington was incorporated as a City and Wolcottville disappeared into history and Facebook debates.