Hon. Peter Olcott was born at Bolton, Connecticut, April 25, 1733; married Sarah, daughter of Peletiah Mills, Esq., of Windsor, Conn., October 11, 1759, and removed to that place in 1772. That year or the following one he came to Norwich, Vermont.
He was the oldest of his parents’ four children (two sons and two daughters), and the only one of them to come to Norwich to reside.
Mr. Olcott‘s name first appears in the town records of Norwich in 1773, when he was chosen one of the overseers of the poor, at the annual March meeting. He early took a leading part in public affairs in his new home. He was elected to the most important town offices, and soon came to be regarded as one of the leading men of the place.
It is probable that he was a man of considerable means when he came to Norwich, which, united with his superior talents, gave him a commanding influence in the community. The next year (1774) the annual town meeting was held at his house, and such meetings continued to be so held until 1779, after which they were held at the meeting house, except in severe winter weather.
Probably his influence was potent in fixing the location of the first meeting house very near to his residence and upon land which he gave for a site. He also gave the land for the old burying ground adjoining.
Mr. Olcott was the first justice of the peace in town, being chosen to that office at a special town meeting called for that purpose April 7, 1778. In 1777 he was colonel of the militia, and was summoned to Bennington with half of his regiment by the Vermont Council of Safety sitting at that place, a few days previous to the battle there August 16, 1777, but not soon enough to participate in it. He was engaged with the American Army in the operations that resulted in the surrender of Burgoyne.
The following offices were held by Mr. Olcott: Judge of County Court, 1781; Lieutenant Governor of the state, 1790-91-92 and 1793 Councilor, 1778-81 to 1791; Representative in the General Assembly 1778 and 1801; Commissioner of Sequestration of Tory property, 1777 Colonel of the Fourth Regiment of Vermont Militia, 1776 to 1781 Brigadier General, Third Brigade in the same service, 1781 to 1788 and Trustee of Dartmouth College, 1788 to 1808.
He died at the home of his son, Mills Olcott, at Hanover, New Hampshire, September 12, 1808, aged seventy-five years. His children were:
- Pelatiah Mills Olcott, born October 19, 1762, and died March 30, 1773.
- Peter Olcott, Jr., born April 16, 1764, and died March 9, 1773.
- Timothy Olcott, born June 29, 1766, and died in 1799, at Charleston, South Carolina, buried at Norwich.
- Roswell O. Olcott, April 11, 1768, and died in Broome, Canada, June 24, 1841.
- Sarah Olcott, born December 9, 1769, married Colonel Jasper Murdock, January 18, 1786, and died July 13, 1788, leaving an infant child.
- Sarah Jane Olcott, born June 5, of the same year, who became the wife of Honorable George Blake or Boston, Mass., June 25, 1810. Mrs. Blake died in 1825 or 1826.
- Margaret Olcott, baptized May 17, 1772, became Jasper Murdock‘s second wife. She died without issue April 25, 1796.
- Mills Olcott, born at Norwich May 21, 1774, married Sarah, daughter of Colonel Asa Porter of Haverhill, New Hampshire, December 15, 1800; settled at Hanover, N. H., as a lawyer in 1800, and died there July 11, 1845.
- Martha Olcott, born at Norwich September 25, 1779, married Benjamin Porter, a son of Colonel Asa Porter of Newbury, Vermont, October 26, 1800, and had eight children. She died at Hanover, New Hampshire, May 4, 1825.
Governor Olcott was of direct descent from Thomas Olcott, the progenitor of the family in this country, who was among the earliest settlers in Hartford, Connecticut, to which place he removed about 1635, from near Cambridge, Massachusetts, and there engaged in mercantile pursuits. His wife’s maiden name was Porter. Thomas Olcott died in 1654, aged forty-five years.
Deacon Timothy Olcott (born in 1677), a great-grandson of Thomas Olcott, lived in Bolton, Connecticut, and his son Titus was born there in 1705. The latter married Damaris Marshall (widow) October 5, 1731, and died October 9, 1774. He was the father of Peter Olcott, the subject of this sketch.