The Wolcott House
VISIT THE WOLCOTT HOUSE;
A MAUMEE VALLEY LANDMARK
Built by James and Mary Wells Wolcott, this handsome Federal/Classic Revival home overlooks the Maumee River where Wolcott built his steamships and operated a Forwarding and Commission warehouse on the wharves below. Originally constructed as a 2-room log house , the building evolved into a 14 room “mansion” by 1836.
Shipping and shipbuilding were at their height on the Maumee River and, by the 1830’s, the promise of a canal linking Lake Erie and western outposts was drawing eastern speculators and entrepreneurs into the valley, a prosperous time for the Wolcotts and many of their neighbors. The Wolcott House and furnishings depict the lifestyles and decorative arts of the early founders/entrepreneurs who dominated the economic, political and social environment during the early to mid-1800’s. Explore the rooms of the Wolcott House, furnished in the Empire and Federal style, which were both desirable and available to “middle class” residents of the Maumee Valley and learn more about the Wolcott family and their close association with the history of our nation. (See the homepage for tour hours)
HISTORY OF THE WOLCOTT FAMILY
The Wolcott family is a blending of cultures - New England, Southern and Native American. James Wolcott, (b.1789) member of a prominent Connecticut family and related to a Signer of the Declaration of Independence and two governors of that state, emigrated to Ohio, as did many of his contemporaries, in search of a fortune. After a brief stay in Delaware, he moved on to Missouri , Mo. where he met Mary Wells.
Mary had her own distinguished lineage as the grandaughter of the Miami Chief Little Turtle who played an important role in the Indian Wars of the 1790’s. Mary ‘s mother, Sweet Breeze, a daughter of Little Turtle, married famous frontiersman, William Wells who, as a youth, was captured by Indians near his frontier home ( present day Louisville, Kentucky) and adopted by Chief Porcupine. He later became a scout for General Anthony Wayne and was with him at the Battle of Fallen Timbers (Maumee, Ohio) and served as interpreter at the signing of the Greenville Treaty. Appointed an Indian Agent at Fort Wayne, he worked with Little Turtle to achieve peace and understanding between the two cultures. Mary’s mother, Sweet Breeze, died c. 1804, and Mary and her siblings were sent to live with William’s brother, Samuel Wells, a prominent early settler in Louisville, Kentucky. At the outset of the War of 1812, William Wells was tragically killed while escorting the fleeing inhabitants of Fort Dearborn (Chicago). Thus, Mary spent most of her childhood growing up in her uncle’s plantation home before the family moved to St. Charles, Mo.where she met and married James Wolcott in 1821. Following James’s entrepreneur instincts, the family moved to Mercer County, Ohio where the first two of seven children was born.
As reports of the profitable shipping trade on the Maumee River and the prospect of a canal reached into the hinterland, Wolcott purchased 300 acres along the Maumee River where he engaged in merchandising, ship building and land speculation. He became a prominent citizen, president of the first Maumee City Council and Mayor of Maumee. He was a founder of the Lucas County Whig Party and was appointed a Judge of the Common Pleas Court, earning him the courtesy title of “Judge”. Mary and James would have seven children - William Wells, Robert Fulton,(who drowned in the Maumee River at age 12), Mary Ann (Gilbert), Henry Clay, Frederick (killed in the Civil War, ) , James Monroe and Emily (died in infancy). Mary Wells Wolcott died in 1843. Her daughter Mary Ann and Mary Ann's husband, Smith Gilbert managed the household and cared for Jame Wolcott until his death in 1873. Mary Ann's daughter Fredericka and husband, William Hull, became the next caretakers of the family home and their daughter, Rilla was the last family resident. In 1957, Rilla left the home to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church with the wish that it might become a memorial to the early settlers of the Maumee Valley. The City of Maumee purchased the property . Maumee Valley Historical Society oversees the operation of the Wolcott House and the additional structures on the site.
Home Ownership: James and Mary Wolcott - b.1789 to d.1873, Mary Ann Wolcott Gilbert - b.1827 to d.1891, Fredricka Gilbert Hull - b.1850 to d.1934, and Rilla E. Hull - b.1880 to d.1957.
Wolcott Heritage Center
1035 River Road
Maumee, Ohio 43537