Office of the County Historian
Wolcott, New York
The old town of Wolcott was created in 1807 and included what are now the towns of Huron, Rose, Butler and Wolcott. It was, at that time, a part of Seneca County. Consisting of over 28,800 acres, the current town of Wolcott is composed of an undulating surface with a general incline toward the lake. Near the lake are several tracts of low marshland. Generally, the soil is a sandy and gravelly loam, which is well adapted to all kinds of farming and fruit growing.
The town was named after Gov. Oliver Wolcott of Massachusetts, one of the commissioners settling the controversy of the Massachusetts - New York boundaries. This established titles of lands in the area which had been in dispute.
In 1806, one of Wolcott's first settlers, Jonathan Melvin, purchased 500 acres in what would eventually become the village of Wolcott. Mr. Melvin built a gristmill and sawmill. In 1813, he built a frame house for his family and painted it black. He said the color reflected his personality. Apparently, this was not a fair assessment of himself, as he was known to be a very generous man. He donated land for a school and a church, and he was known to be very hospitable.
One of the landmarks of wolcott is the statue of "Venus Rising From the Sea" at the four corners in downtown Wolcott. She is made of cast iron and is one of only eight in America. The statue arrived in September 1913. It was felt that with the installation of a public water system in the village, there should be some kind of public drinking fountain "for both man and beast" at the site of the old town pump and four corners.
One of the very early industries in Wolcott was the production of iron. The Clinton Formation is an unusual band of iron across central New York State of the red hematite type. It runs directly across the northern border of Wayne County, and it was named for Gov. DeWitt Clinton.
One of the two principle location of the iron industry in Wayne County, the Wolcott furnace was located north of the village of Wolcott on what is now Furnace Road, along the west bank of Wolcott Creek. The second location was in the town of Ontario. The Wolcott furnace was put into operation in 1821. The iron was formed into castings and hauled to the Erie Canal at Clyde, once the canal became ready for operation. The furnace remained in operation until 1869 when the last run of iron making in Wolcott was completed.
Today, Wolcott has a population just under 4,700, and its main industries are fruit farming and food processing.
Wolcott Fountain, Wolcott 4-Corners
- In 1913 "Venus Rising From the Sea", along with her two Cupids was placed at the four corners in Wolcott at the site of the old town pump. Constructed of cast iron, the fountain has been a landmark in Wolcott for over eight decades.