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Your Silent Neighbors: Clair M. Elston, Last Collins Company President

August 15, 2017 Community, History No Comments

 

By David K. Leff 
Town Historian 

Clair M. Elston (1894-1978) was appointed president of the Collins Company in July 1956, and was the last to wear the mantle of Samuel Collins. He was a lifelong resident of Collinsville and his great-grandfather and father worked for the company.  Elston graduated from Yale in 1916 and joined Collins as a chemist in 1919. He was named assistant superintendent in 1921 and assistant general manager in 1927 before becoming vice president for manufacturing in 1941.

As vice president, Elston’s job was to run the production side of the business.  “To maintain Collins’ reputation for high quality and do it economically is the lifework . . . of fifty-one-year-old Clair Elston,” wrote Fortune magazine in 1946. “To keep the company’s costs down, Mr. Elston must practice all sorts of special economies.”  Although union president George Soucy complained to the Fortune journalist of low wages and long hours, he spoke “with particular warmth of Mr. Elston as a man who goes out of his way to help workers in difficult situations.”

Ever civic minded, Elston served as chairman of the Canton Board of Finance and was a Board of Education member.  He was a trustee and president of the Collinsville Savings Society and president of the Canton Library and Ratlum Mountain Fish and Game Club. … Continue Reading

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. … Continue Reading

Your Silent Neighbors: A. Arthur Vincent, Firefighter and WWII Veteran  

July 15, 2017 Community, History No Comments

By David K. Leff
Town Historian 

Arthur “Art” Vincent (1922-1987) served our country as the highest ranking enlisted man on a B-17 Flying Fortress in World War II, was a machinist with Pratt & Whitney Aircraft for 42 years, and a charter member of he Collinsville Volunteer Fire Department. He was killed in the line of duty at a fire department drill when struck by a vehicle driven by an 18-year-old who had been drinking.

Vincent was born in Central Falls Rhode Island, but lived in Collinsville most of his life and was a graduate of Canton High School. During the war, he was stationed in England as a member of 305th Bombardment Group of the 8th Air Force. He held the rank of sergeant. When the Collinsville Volunteer Fire Department was formed in 1966, after the Collins Company Fire Department was disbanded with the company’s closure, Vincent was among the first to join. He served the department as administrative captain and as lieutenant of the fire police. He had retired from Pratt & Whitney in 1983, and was 64 years old when he was killed.

In his role as a fire policeman, Vincent was directing traffic on July 12 along Albany Turnpike (Route 44) where the town’s then three fire departments were engaged in a training exercise, burning a building slated for demolition. It was a long drill and Vincent had been there most of the day, leaving only briefly to take his wife to church. Around 4:30 p.m., as firefighters were readying to leave the scene, he stepped into the westbound passing lane to stop traffic for a fire truck entering the road.  He was hit by the oncoming car while the truck was across both westbound lanes. Vincent was rushed to St. Francis Hospital by ambulance where he died in the emergency room from multiple trauma around 6 p.m. … Continue Reading

Collinsville Hot Set for Saturday, July 15

July 14, 2017 Community No Comments

Children have fun at the 2016 Collinsville Hot.
Photo by John Fitts

The third annual Collinsville Hot takes place from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 15, 2017. The event includes community yoga, live music, vendors, food, children’s activities, support for Canton’s Year of Mental Wellness, a food court with beer sales through 8 p.m., a late-night fire show and much more. See details at http://collinsvillehot.com/ or at the Collinsville Hot facebook page.

Buddy Deutsch is Canton’s Top Dog

July 6, 2017 Community No Comments

Buddy Deutsch with his proud humans, Gail and Barry.
Courtesy Photo

Submitted Release 

Buddy Deutsch is Canton’s newest top dog. He and his proud humans, Gail and Barry, stopped by the Town Hall Thursday to claim his basket of goodies and tag #1. Buddy was chosen at random among the 898 dogs who were registered on time (by June 30th). Buddy is a seven year old poodle/lab/setter mix who was rescued and adopted from Arkansas by the Deutschs at the age of 3 months old. He has grown up playing and exploring the trails of the Canton Land Conservation Trust properties and looks forward to meeting new friends at the planned Canton Dog Park.

Images of Canton: CHS Graduation

July 5, 2017 Community, Schools No Comments

Canton High School hosted its graduation ceremony June 23. Below are some photos from the ceremony. Photos, which will scroll automatically, can be viewed in full-screen mode at https://johnfitts.smugmug.com/CHS-Graduation-2017/

 

Your Silent Neighbors: Zera Hinman, Mail Carrier

July 1, 2017 Community, History No Comments

By David K. Leff
Canton Town Historian

Zera Hinman (1859-1923) was the first rural mail carrier out of Collinsville.  He died in the performance of his duties less than a month before he was to turn 64.

Hinman was born on March 3, 1859 in his family home.  He attended school in Canton, and was married in 1884 to Jennie Hinman of Ohio.  He worked the ancestral farm until 1906 when he sold it and joined the postal service, moving to Collinsville on the west side of the river.  “He was one of the most useful citizens of Collinsville and was better known to more people than any man living in the village,” according to one newspaper.

Hinman had not been his usual self for a week, but that did not deter him from his route.  On February 19, 1923, he stopped at the home of Irwin Mills in Canton Center, took out a bundle of mail and remarked to Mills that he was not feeling very well.  On reaching for a second bundle, he collapsed.  The coroner found apoplexy (stroke) as the cause of death.

Hinman was survived by his wife and two sons.  He was a Mason and a member of the Cawasa Grange.  His friend, Mrs. Ida L. A. Pattison, wrote that “his was a sunny jovial nature and always had a cordial greeting for one whenever he met them, and his character and spirit ever endeared him to his family, relatives and other friends. . . . His place on the R. F. D. Route after 17 years of service will be hard to fill and it is there that he will be sadly missed as well as in his home.” … Continue Reading

Your Silent Neighbors: Chauncey Griswold, Pharmaceutical Manufacturer

June 15, 2017 Community, History No Comments

By David K. Leff
Canton Town Historian

Chauncey Griswold (1792-1864) was a schoolteacher who serendipitously became a maker of medicines beginning in 1841. He was born in what is now Canton or Bloomfield (the record is unclear), one of thirteen children. At age 24, he married Ruth Mills whose father had suggested the name “Canton” when the town was created in 1806. He is said to have taught school in Ithaca, New York, Hartford and Wethersfield.

One Independence Day, a son of Griswold was badly burned by gunpowder that ignited in his pocket, according to Dr. Larry Carlton’s story in the book Canton Remembers. Having heard of a man two or three miles distant who had a salve good for burns, he obtained some. The results were so good that Griswold supposedly purchased the formula for $5. Originally made in small quantities in a skillet, after trial and error Griswold succeeded in producing about two dozen rolls of salve at a time.  Nevertheless, “his wife often told him that if he expected to get their living from making that stuff, she guessed they would go hungry more than once,” Dr. Carlton wrote. … Continue Reading

Letter to the Editor: The Ballad of Vinnie Forte

To the Editor:

We have lived in the wonderful town of Canton since 2009. My son Vincent, now 10, was just 2 years old. The town features great schools, neighbors, services, community and easy commute to my office in West Hartford. What a country.

Quickly Vinnie made friends. In fact, from 2009 to 2016 emerged a core group of buddies we started calling the “wolf pack.”

Sadly, over the last 14 months, five members of the “pack” are gone.

No, it’s nothing tragic. They all moved – three to Florida, one to Texas and, most recently, Pennsylvania. This is where I could rip into the sad economic reality of Connecticut, but that is not my point. … Continue Reading

Canton Historical Museum Participating in Open House Day

June 6, 2017 Community, History No Comments

Submitted Release 

The Canton Historical Museum at 11 Front St. in Collinsville is participating in the Connecticut Open House Day from 1 to 4 p.m.  June 10. Admission will be free.

Visitors can view Collins Axe Company tools and history; Civil and Victorian Era items; recreations of a barbershop, general store and bridal parlor as well as an antique fire engine and train diorama. Several Farmington Valley Railway Society members will be present to answer questions about the latter. 

The museum also has some new exhibits featuring cameras, men’s and ladies’ hats, and additional bridal gowns ranging from 1850 to 1940. 

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