Laura Collins Wolcott
Wife of Oliver Wolcott, Signer of the Declaration of Independence
1732 – 1794 A.D.
Laura Collins, who was married to Oliver Wolcott, in January 1759, was the daughter of Captain Daniel and Lois Cornwall Collins of Guilford, Connecticut. She was a fine type of New England girl, brought up in the manner of Connecticut girls of well-to-do families of that day. The National Cyclopedia of American Biography says of her: “She was a woman of almost masculine strength of mind, energetic and thrifty; and while Governor Wolcott was away from home, attended to the management of their farm, educated their younger children, and made it possible for her husband to devote his energies to his country.
Her husband was the youngest son of Roger Wolcott, a former governor of the State and was thirty-three years old at the time of their marriage, ten years the senior of the bride he brought to his home in the old town of Litchfield. He graduated from Yale College, and had served as captain of a company of his own raising in the wars of the northern frontiers, under a commission from Governor George Clinton of New York. He studied medicine under Dr. Alexander Wolcott of Windsor. He had never practised [sic], however, as the General Assembly created the new county of Litchfield in 1771, and appointed him sheriff. This office he still held at the time of his marriage. It was fortunate for the material interests of Oliver Wolcott that his young wife was “of almost masculine strength of mind, energetic and thrifty,” as he had so many public matters to look after that his own affairs must have suffered. He continued in the militia, rising rank by rank until he was major-general. In 1774 he was elected to the council and continued a member until his election as Lieutenant-Governor in 1786. A large part of the time that he was a member of the Continental Congress he was also in the field with the army or engaged in recruiting and organising [sic] troops for the army. In 1796, he was elected Governor and continued in that office until his death. During many of these years, almost the entire burden of directing his domestic affairs rested on teh shoulders of his wife. Extracts from the letters, which he wrote to her during his absence, throw an interesting light upon the characters of both Laura Wolcott and her husband – rather upon hers by influence, as her letters to him are not preserved while the letters he wrote to her are most of them in possession of the descendants.
Mr. Wolcott wrote in March, 1777: “I have this instant rec;d a Letter from Dr. Smith, of the 12th, wherein he tells me that you and the children have been inoculated for the Small Pox and that he apprehended you were so far thro’ it as to be out of Danger, Causalities excepted…I perceive that Mariana has had it bad – he wrote, very hard. I am heartily sorry for what the little Child has suffered, and very much want to see her. If she has by this lost some of her Beauty, which I hope she has not, yet I well know she might spare much of it and still retain as much as most of her sex possesses.”
The patriotism of Laura Wolcott was in keeping with that of her husband. Her home was thrown open at all times to those who were in any way aiding the cause. And while Oliver Wolcott gave freely of his money for patriotic purposes, she furnished blankets, stockings, and supplies from their farm for the army, almost continuously. Laura Wolcott did not live to see her husband in the governor’s chair, passing away in April, 1894, in the fifty-eighth year of her age. Governor Wolcott Died in 1797, aged seventy-one years. Five children were born to Laura Wolcott and her husband, three sons and two daughters. One son died in infancy.
Reference: The Pioneer Mothers of America: A Record of the More Notable Women of the Early Days of the Country, and Particularly of the Colonial and Revolutionary Periods by Harry Clinton Green and Mary Wolcott Green, A.B. Third Volume, Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.