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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 Originally made in small quantities in a skillet, after trial and error Griswold succeeded in producing about two dozen rolls of salve at a time.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

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. 

Your Silent Neighbors: Albert E. Johnson, WWI Hero

June 1, 2017 Community, History No Comments

By David K. Leff 
Canton Town Historian 

Albert E. Johnson (1892-1918) was wounded in action on April 20, 1918, climbing out of a trench and “going over the top,” as one newspaper put it, at the battle of Seicheprey, a small village in northeastern France. He died in a Red Cross hospital on May 8 at age 25.  It was a brutal battle involving inexperienced American troops surprised by seasoned Germans.  It is said that by the time the fighting was over the next day, not a single building or tree in Seicheprey was left intact.  Although the Americans had held their ground, it was at great cost.

Johnson was born in Collinsville on August 7, 1892 and graduated with honors from Collinsville High School in 1911 where he was salutatorian of his class. He got a degree from Yale in 1914.  After college, he worked as an engineer for the Connecticut Company, the principal trolley operator in the state. He began his military service in 1916 with the New Haven Grays, a guard unit, and was assigned for a time to the Mexican border. He was discharged from the guard and joined the federal service to accept a commission as a first lieutenant on August 5, 1917. … Continue Reading

Your Silent Neighbors: John C. Meconkey, Mr. Canton

May 15, 2017 Community, History No Comments

John C. Meconkey is buried in the Village Cemetery, Collinsville.

By David K. Leff 
Town Historian 

 Canton has been blessed with many civic minded residents.  But perhaps none has been more dedicated to this community than John C. Meconkey (1901- 1978).  He came to Collinsville as a boy of ten from Weston, Connecticut a couple of years before the start of World War I, his father having gotten a job with the company as a laborer.

Meconkey was college trained in engineering and went to work for Collins, eventually rising to purchasing agent, responsible for buying everything from coal and steel, to paint and cutting oil, lathes and office paper.

Meconkey didn’t just bury himself in business.  He threw himself into the life of the community.  He served on the school board from 1949 to 1962.  He was a member of the library board, including two terms as chairman.  When the old Center Street library didn’t have a children’s section, he was instrumental in getting space cleared in the basement for the purpose.  Eventually, an addition built to house the children’s collection was named for him.  The children’s wing in the current library is also dedicated to Meconkey, and his picture hangs in the entryway.  It depicts a bespectacled older man with a high domed forehead and kindly eyes.

Named as town auditor in 1928, Meconkey served until 1940, authoring the annual town report for years.  From 1928 to until 1940 he was deputy Republican registrar.  Afterward he served as registrar until 1964.  He was on the planning commission, and a member of the Republican Town Committee for 43 years.  A man of deep and abiding faith, Meconkey served as a deacon of the Collinsville Congregational Church for 20 years and afterward was named deacon emeritus.  He served as a board member of the Visiting Nurses Association.  He helped found the Canton Camera Club.

… Continue Reading

Your Silent Neighbors: Walter S. Case, Longtime Postmaster

Walter S. Case is buried in the Baptist Cemetery on Canton Springs Road, Canton.

By David Leff 
Town Historian 

Walter S. Case (1859-1941) took over the Canton Center General Store from George Lamphier in 1893 and became postmaster in 1898, a position he was to hold until 1940.  He was born in Barkhamsted and married Susie Church in 1890.  They were the parents of three sons and a daughter.  He was an avid Republican in politics and a Mason.  In his later years, he was a distinguished old fashioned-looking gentleman who wore glasses with round lenses and smoked a pipe.  He died a couple days before he and his wife were to celebrate their fifty-first anniversary.  After he retired, sons Gordon and Byron took over the store with the former as postmaster.  Case’s funeral was held at his Canton Center home with the pastor of the Canton Center Congregational Church officiating.

Walter S. Case is buried in the Baptist Cemetery on Canton Springs Road, 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: 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

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Upcoming Events

Jun
28
Wed
8:30 am Daily Mass @ St. Patrick Church
Daily Mass @ St. Patrick Church
Jun 28 @ 8:30 am
 
10:30 am Wii Bowling at Canton Senior Center @ Canton Community Center
Wii Bowling at Canton Senior Center @ Canton Community Center
Jun 28 @ 10:30 am
Have you ever wished you could continue to bowl without putting on bowling shoes or lugging a heavy ball?  You’re in LUCK!!  Join the Canton Senior Center Wii Bowling Team, The Canton Rollers.  Show off your bowling skills or learn new ones at the Senior Center.  Mondays at 1:30pm, Wednesdays ...
11:30 am Blood Pressure Clinic @ Library/Community Center Senior Room
Blood Pressure Clinic @ Library/Community Center Senior Room
Jun 28 @ 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
The Farmington Valley Visiting Nurse Association offers free blood pressures screenings on the following days: Second Tuesday of Every Month Canton Town Hall 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Every Wednesday Canton Community Senior Center – Senior Room 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. These clinics are open to people of all ...
Jun
29
Thu
9:00 am Wii Bowling @ Canton Senior Center
Wii Bowling @ Canton Senior Center
Jun 29 @ 9:00 am
Have you ever wished you could continue to bowl without putting on bowling shoes or lugging a heavy ball?  You’re in LUCK!!  Join the Canton Senior Center Wii Bowling Team, The Canton Rollers.  Show off your bowling skills or learn new ones at the Senior Center.  Mondays at 1:30pm, Wednesdays ...