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Your Silent Neighbors: Albert C. Book, Collins Company Firefighter

August 1, 2017 Community, Health No Comments

By David K. Leff
Town Historian

Albert C. Book (1878-1906) was employed by the Collins Company as a “heater.” Also serving as a company firefighter, he was killed on Center Street when run over by a department hose cart just outside the firehouse at the corner of Main and Center Streets. On a Saturday evening in July, Book and fellow firefighters were practicing running with the hand cart in anticipation of a contest with the Unionville Hose Company the following week as part of Canton’s centennial celebration. Book was a bystander as the cart was hauled out of the firehouse, but at the insistence of his mates, he joined in the run.  Just after Book grabbed hold of the cart as it got up to speed, he stepped on the heel of the man in front of him and fell.  Before fellow members could stop the wagon, a wheel passed over Book’s abdomen.

He was able to get up and walk to the roadside where he collapsed on the grass. Dr. Paul Plummer was brought to the scene and “found the young man suffering intensely,” according to the Hartford Courant.  Two ribs were broken and the liver seriously damaged. He was carried into a house across the street where Dr. Plummer and others cared for him throughout the night. He rallied a little around 10 p.m., and it was thought he might pull through. But his condition worsened and he died at six o’clock the next morning.  “A shadow of gloom has been cast over the [centennial] celebration” by “the death of a promising young man,” a newspaper lamented.

Book was born in Sweden and came to this country at age five with his parents. He attended schools in Collinsville. He was twenty-eight years old when he died and the eldest of seven. Since his father’s death several years earlier, he had been head of his family supporting his mother and his siblings. “His brothers and sisters were given a good home and education until they were old enough to care for themselves,” the Courant wrote. He was a person “of good character, upright and generous to a fault,” another paper reported. “In the shop he was a skillful workman and was well liked by all his shopmates.”

Book’s funeral was held at the Swedish church. There were a large number of floral tributes including “a beautiful wreath” from the men who had been on the hose cart with him. Because of the accident, all hose running contests and similar events of the fire department were eliminated from the sports at the centennial celebration.

Albert C. Book is buried in the Village Cemetery, Collinsville.

“Your Silent Neighbors” introduces readers to people out of Canton’s past. It will appear on the first and fifteenth of each month.  Readers are encouraged to visit these gravesites and pay their respects to the people who have helped make our community what it is today. Any suggestions, questions, or corrections should be addressed to Town Historian David Leff at onktaadn@comcast.net

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