Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Opinion

June 20, 2013

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Editor’s note: Bill Wolcott’s column was cut off in Sunday’s edition of the US&J. That entire column appears here today. Tom Valley’s column will return next Thursday.

You probably won’t find Robert B. Wolcott on Google or Yahoo — not my Robert B. Wolcott. Mostly he was just a husband and father.

He was a Christian, farmer, miller, craftsman, volunteer fireman, friend, trusted role model and other things. Each of his eight kids probably saw him in a different way.

Robert, as he was called by his siblings, was one of 10 kids. He was born on a hilly farm in Wyoming County. Somehow, his father John Wolcott built a handsome home, with a big red barn across the rocky road. I’m guessing the Wolcotts did more than scratch out a living, working dawn to dark, but grandpa was kicked by a horse and died of pneumonia in 1929. Dad didn’t talk much about it. Robert was 13 or 14 when his father died.

John Wolcott had 10 kids. All the descendants of Henry Wolcott, who came over on the boat in 1630, had lots of kids. Henry, Henry, Samuel, Samuel, Samuel, Elisha, Elisha, Daniel, John, John, John and dad had an average of eight kids. There’s thousands of Wolcott cousins all over the place, some in Niagara County.

I have three children. If dad and mom stopped at three, I wouldn’t be me. I was No. 4. There would be no John (Billy), Marjory, Richard, Michael or Patrick; only Mary, Monica and Bobby. There would not be dozens of nieces and nephews, probably not a dozen.

It was normal to have big families in the day. Dads today wonder how dads of yesterday supported them.

Robert Braithwaite Wolcott (We don’t know how my grandparents came up with dad’s middle name) moved to the city in the middle of the Depression and somehow got a job. He was good at what he did and smart. We heard from family members that he could have been a doctor. I think he worked at Dunlop Tire and Rubber in Tonawanda before he got a job as a miller at Buffalo Flour Mill.

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