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Your Silent Neighbors: Ida Gridley Case, M.D.

April 15, 2017 Community, History No Comments

Dr. Ida Gridley Case is buried in Dyer Cemetery, Canton.

By David K. Leff
Town Historian 

Female doctors were rare in the late nineteenth century so it’s remarkable that Ida Gridley Case (1862-1904) not only practiced medicine in small village like Collinsville, but that she was a native of Canton.  Case became a member of the Canton Center Congregational Church in 1876, graduated from Collinsville High School in 1880, and then from Wesleyan University in Middletown in 1884.  She taught at a private school in Canton Center for a while and then began studying medicine with a couple of Collinsville doctors.

Case attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Boston and later did post graduate work at the Collegeof Physicians in New York.  She specialized in diseases of the eye and ear and “was considered by the profession one of the best experts in the state,” according to The Hartford Times.  She delivered papers on her specialty at meetings in New York, Philadelphia and Hartford. … Continue Reading

Your Silent Neighbors: Charles A. Anderson, Steel Maker

April 1, 2017 Community, History No Comments

By David Leff
Town Historian  

Charles A. Anderson (1864-1937) was a steel maker for the Collins Company for 31 years, retiring in 1932.  He was born in Ostergotdland, Sweden.  Married to his wife Matilda for over 50 years, they had two children.  He was a member of the Swedish Pilgrim Church on Center Street.  He died at home after a short illness.  The funeral was held at the Anderson house on River Road with the pastor of his church officiating.  Though there is nothing particularly remarkable about his life, Anderson was one of many hardworking, family oriented immigrants who made Collinsville a vibrant community during the first half of the twentieth century.

Charles A. Anderson was carried by seven pallbearers and is buried in Southwest Cemetery, Canton.

“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

Your Silent Neighbors: Ralph Cox, Village Doctor

March 15, 2017 Community, History No Comments

By David Leff
Town Historian 

Doctor Ralph Cox (1876-1961) began practice in Collinsville in 1902 and continued seeing patients until his death.  He was drawn to Collinsville from his native Nova Scotia because his father, originally a shipwright, had found employment as a blacksmith with The Collins Company.  The boyish-looking doctor with smooth skin and dark, neatly combed hair married a Collinsville girl in 1905 and purchased the house at 2 The Green where he both lived and saw patients.

Dr. Cox practiced in the days of house calls, and his first mode of transportation was a bicycle, then a horse, and finally an automobile, of which he had only the fourth one in the village, an Overland.

During his first year of practice he rode his bike one night from Collinsville to Plainville when a desperate mother couldn’t locate another doctor to tend to her son who had a deep cut on his leg.  When the youthful Cox arrived, the woman refused to have a “boy doctor” look at her son.  He managed to talk her into examining the laceration and before she knew it, he had patched the wound.  The family was still among his patients 50 years later.

Dr. Cox was a man of courage.  When called to the old Collins mansion in 1912 where a deranged Hartford firefighter had shot his wife, he did not just retreat when his life was threatened at gunpoint.  He went back across the river for reinforcements and then endured a hail of bullets until the gunman ran out of ammunition.  Though the house was engulfed in flames, Dr. Cox, with others, assisted the wounded woman to his car.  He treated the bullet wounds and allowed her to convalesce at his house.  A man of great warmth and humanity, he would become known for bringing accident victims and sufferers from mental disorders into his home. … Continue Reading

Your Silent Neighbors: Charles A. Farnham, Heroic Banker

March 1, 2017 Community, History No Comments

By David Leff 
Town Historian 

Charles A. Farnham (1851-1939) came to Collinsville in 1872 and worked for the Collins Company for 43 years, retiring in 1916.  He served as president of the Collinsville savings Society from 1917 to 1938.  For many years he was superintendent and treasurer of the Collinsville Water Company.

A serious-looking and dignified gentleman, Farnham was present when the bank was robbed in May 1935 by three armed gunman who made off with just over $2,000.  At age 84, infirm and slightly deaf, Farnham was ordered by the thieves to get down on the floor with the other employees.  Fearing his weak heart would prevent him from getting up again, he gravely shook his head “no.”  Instead he sat in a chair.  “Regardless of what you fellows do,” he announced defiantly, “I’m going to sit here and take one of these pills.”  Pulling a small box from his pocket, Farnham opened it and swallowed the medication.  The robbery was the talk of the town, but it was the elderly bank president’s resolute bravery in facing down the brazen gunmen that dominated conversation. … Continue Reading

Your Silent Neighbors: Ada Johnson, Explosion Victim

February 15, 2017 Community, History No Comments

By David Leff 
Town Historian  

Ada Elizabeth Johnson (1888-1933) died in what the Farmington Valley Herald called “the most tragic accident to occur here in many years.”  She was a 1906 graduate of Collinsville High School and afterward completed studies at Hutsinger Business College in Hartford.  She was employed in a couple different offices for over a dozen years and spent her last decade as clerk of the Canton probate court.  She also did work in the Canton town clerk’s office, according to one news report.

Johnson never married and lived with her parents on Johnson Place in Collinsville.  On February 14, 1933, Johnson was at home in a closed room off the kitchen cleaning some clothes in gasoline.  While putting them through an electric wringer there was an explosion that blew out every window of the house and was heard a quarter-mile away.  The house then caught fire, practically destroying the rear of the structure and two upper stories.

Johnson was pulled from the conflagration by a neighbor and immediately treated by Doctor Ralph Cox, who lived on The Green.  She was so seriously burned that she could not be transported to a hospital and died at a neighbor’s home that evening.  She was conscious long enough to tell the doctor how the accident happened. … Continue Reading

Your Silent Neighbors: Ulrich Haury

February 1, 2017 Community, History No Comments

By David K. Leff 
Canton Town Historian 

Ulrich Haury (1834-1903) was born in Reinpfalz, Germany, one of seven children.  He attended public school in his native country and served six years in its army.  He is one of many immigrants who made Collinsville a vibrant, and even somewhat cosmopolitan community, in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Haury came to this country in 1862 and almost immediately found work in the plow stocking department of The Collins Company.  In 1871 he started in the grocery business with another resident of the village and became quite prosperous.  Eventually, his son William joined the firm.  He later became vice president of the Collinsville Savings Society, served eight years on the town “board of relief,” and was nominated as a Democrat for state representative, although he was defeated at the polls.  In his later years, he was much sought after for business advice.

Haury was a stern looking man with a long goatee.  He was described as having “a jovial disposition, generous nature and Christian character, and was held in respect by all his townsmen.”  His means enabled him to dispense charity, which he did without fanfare.  He was a “most indulgent father and kind husband, ever devoted to his family circle.” … Continue Reading

Your Silent Neighbors: John Felter, ‘Died by Murderer’s Hand’

January 15, 2017 Community, History No Comments

By David K. Leff
Town Historian 

“Died by Murderer’s Hand” reads the lichen-encrusted brownstone pillar erected to John Felter (1825-1875).  Felter was of German extraction and operated a boarding house just over the Canton line in Burlington with his wife Caroline, who owned the building.  Killed in his own home, he was one of three who would die from stabbings received on the night of April 16, 1875 in one of the most grisly episodes ever witnessed in Collinsville.

“Crazed with liquor,” as The Hartford Courant reported, Collins Company grinder Anton Linburg entered the room in Felter’s house where fellow worker Andre Johnson boarded.  Johnson had been sick in bed several days.  Brandishing a knife hidden under his coat, Linburg fatally stabbed the bedridden man.  On hearing a noise, Felter entered the room and was knifed so many times by the infuriated Linburg that he died almost instantly.  At the sound of her husband’s cries, Caroline Felter went to the room only to be cut severely in the hip.  The murderer then stabbed himself and went to his own room where he slit his throat.  Linburg lay in bed for some time with his wounds when a doctor from Winsted arrived to examine him.  With “great effort” the dying man “raised himself up” and “grasped the knife lying on the floor beside him and threw it with as much strength as he could command at the doctor, but missed his aim and fell back dead.” … Continue Reading

Your Silent Neighbors: John D. Andrews

January 1, 2017 Community, History No Comments

dsc_1394By David K. Leff
Town Historian 

Despite his birth in the first half of the nineteenth century, John D. Andrews (1833-1910) had a very twenty-first century career change when he went from factory foreman to banker. Born in Ashford, Massachusetts, he came to work for The Collins Company in 1858.  In 1869 he was put in charge of the machete department and held that position until he resigned in June of 1891.  Having served on the board of trustees of the Collinsville Savings Society for a number of years, he was appointed secretary and treasurer of the bank on his retirement from Collins. He held the banking position for seventeen years.

Andrews was a Mason and a member of the Collinsville Congregational Church.  Never physically robust, he enjoyed outdoor sports and carefully watched his health.  An image out of his later years shows a man with a penetrating gaze, neatly combed gray hair, and a bushy Van Dyke beard.  He was widely read and politically active.  The Hartford Courant described him as “a man of liberal mind and . . . eminently just in his opinion of men and affairs.” … Continue Reading

Your Silent Neighbors: Charles Blair

December 15, 2016 Community, History No Comments

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By David K. Leff

On a blustery March day in 1857, Charles Blair, then head of the Collins Company forge shop, stepped into a local store on Main Street in Collinsville and was suddenly and unexpectedly caught up in the most divisive moment of American history—the Civil War.  In George Polk’s drug store Blair met militant abolitionist John Brown who had spoken in town the night before.  The encounter would lead to the Collins Company making pikes for Brown that, to everyone’s surprise, he would later use in a raid on the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry,Virginia, an attempt to start a slave revolt.  In 1859, Brown would hang for his efforts.  Blair would be subpoenaed by Congress not long afterward.  Suspicious senators harshly questioned his relationship with Brown and his intentions in producing arms to aid in an insurrection against the government of the United States.

Amherst, Massachusetts born in 1812, Charles Blair came to work at the Collins Company in 1832 as a “helper.”  He retired from Collins in 1876, having long been superintendent of the works.  An ardent supporter of Lincoln, he worked hard to produce material for the Union war effort, including swords and bayonets.   A civic-minded individual, he held various offices, including state representative.  The Hartford Courant called him “a man thoroughly trusted by all who know him” and “a public spirited man and useful citizen.”  Nevertheless, despite long service with the Collins Company and many good works, Charles Blair went to his grave knowing he would be best remembered for his dealings with John Brown, a chapter in his life he thought best forgotten. … Continue Reading

Your Silent Neighbors: Anne Jean (Silver) Seger

December 1, 2016 Community, History No Comments

dsc_0288By David K. Leff 

Anne Jean (Silver) Seger (1921-2008) was the Canton Center postmistress for 33 years until her retirement in 1995.  Growing up on a farm in Avon as the middle of eleven children, she attended a one room schoolhouse.  The stone silo on West Avon Road in Avon is all that remains of the family’s Mountain View Farm, which once produced hay and vegetables and was home to cows and chickens.

Popular at Farmington High School (then attended by Avon children), Seger graduated in 1939.  In 1947 she married Clifford Seger after a few years of courtship and moved to his family’s farm on Barbourtown Road inCanton.   Although the Segers were childless, Anne took care of the Canton Center postmaster’s children and eventually became his office assistant.  Upon her boss’s retirement, Seger was given charge of the post office.

Seger was gregarious, warm and well liked.  She was the go-to person for the latest news in the community and she knew everyone.  “She never learned to drive, and walked one and a half miles to work in the dark in the morning, even in her 70s,” the late Sam Humphrey, Canton’s first selectman in the 1980s, told the Hartford Courant.   Working long hours, she had a strong work ethic.  Her career ended after she broke her hip in 1995. … Continue Reading

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