Derby History Quiz

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Col. Holton Wood

Derby Public Library - an early print

Col. Holton Wood was not a native of Derby, in fact he was born in Montreal in 1859. However, Derby was his adopted home and his permanent resting place following his death in 1912. He came to Derby in 1887 to serve as the first vice president of the Derby street railway company, the first electric railway in New England. He became president of the company  a year later and served in that capacity until moving to Brookline, Mass. in 1899.

While he was in Derby, Wood was very active in the life of the community. He served as a director of the Ousatonic Water Company, Derby Gas and Electric Company, and the Birmingham National Bank. He was also president of the Home Trust Company and the Derby and Shelton Board of Trade. He also represented Derby in the general assembly. 

The Wood family was saddened when their 11 year old son, Harcourt, passed away in 1897. While living in Brookline in 1901, Col. Wood announced a memorial gift of a public library to the City of Derby along with an additional $5,000 gift for the purchase of books which was to be matched by a similar amount raised by the residents. The library was dedicated on December 27, 1902 and opened on February 13, 1903. On June 19 of every year the library observes Harcourt Wood's birthday.

The library's origin was the free reading room established in 1868. A movement to build a permanent free library started in 1896, and the grounds for the library were donated by the Sara Riggs Humphreys Chapter, D.A.R. The land was originally to be used for a permanent home for the society. In return for the land, the Society has permanent access to space in the library for its needs.

Col. Wood and his wife Alice are buried in Oak Cliff Cemetery.

Correct answers were received from: Marsha Pettingill, Randy Ritter, Raymond Petrillo, Marc J. Garofalo, John Rak, Tom Chebro, Paul & Maria Blackwood, Mary Lou Boroski, Jack Skelding, Rick Dunne, Tom Lenart and Clarence Douglass.

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