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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

Your Silent Neighbors: Edward Hale Sears

November 19, 2016 Community, History No Comments

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By David K. Leff 

Like a character in a Horatio Alger story, Edward Hale Sears (1846-1907) rose through the ranks of the Collins Company from fifteen year-old temporary employee to President.  Even when elevated to the head of the company, he was visible in the shops and became not only the most powerful man in the village but, perhaps, the best loved as well.

Sears moved to Collinsville with his family in 1859 at age 13 when his father took a job as head of the company steel department.  By the time he entered Collinsville High school, he was an earnest student, excellent in mathematics and with an artistic and mechanical bent.  His chief recreation was designing and making toys for himself and his younger brothers.  By twelve he had built a miniature locomotive of wood that ran on the steam supplied by his mother’s teakettle. … Continue Reading

Gallery of Trees Kicks off With Nov. 19 Gala

November 17, 2016 Community, History No Comments

By John Fitts 

The Canton Historical Society’s Annual Gallery of Trees and Unique Boutique kicks off with an opening gala the evening of Nov. 19.

At the event people will be treated to a festive atmosphere will approximately 100 trees decorated by local businesses and residents. Visitors can participate in a teacup auction for a chance to bring one home, while enjoying food, drinks and live music.

The Gallery of Trees is a major fundraiser for the Canton Historical Museum’s building fund. In the past several years the museum has undergone major renovations, code work and upgrades to help protect the collections.

Last year 73 trees were donated to the effort, which generated nearly $10,000.

“With some many more trees hopefully it will be even bigger (this year),” said museum volunteer Sharon Brainard. … Continue Reading

First Selectman’s Corner: A Special Piece of Canton History

Leslee Hill

Leslee B. Hill

Dear Residents,

As we look forward to Veterans’ Day on November 11th, I wanted to share with you some news regarding a special piece of Canton history.   Many Canton residents may remember the former Collins Memorial Library building on Center Street.  This building was paid for by Mrs. Howard Collins (Helen), widow of Samuel Collins’ son, on land donated to the Canton Soldiers Memorial Association by Jasper Bidwell.  Mr. Bidwell was Canton’s first Civil War volunteer, and the library was built in memory of Canton’s soldiers and sailors, and was dedicated on Veterans’ Day, 1920.  Two bronze plaques were installed on the library; one was in memory of Howard Collins, and the other was dedicated to Canton veterans.  When the new library opened in 2000, the plaques were removed and put into storage in the Margaret “Peg” Perry History Room.

Recently, David Leff, our Town Historian, brought to my attention the existence of these plaques and their historical significance.  He suggested the Veterans’ Memorial plaque be installed in a prominent location in town, and rededicated.   We chose a site at the base of the flag pole at the edge of the Town Hall parking lot, in front of the Board of Education offices.  … Continue Reading

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Upcoming Events

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9:00 am Wii Bowling @ Canton Senior Center
Wii Bowling @ Canton Senior Center
Jul 27 @ 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 ...
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7:30 am Rotary Club of Avon-Canton @ Avon Old Farms Hotel
Rotary Club of Avon-Canton @ Avon Old Farms Hotel
Jul 28 @ 7:30 am
The Rotary Club Meets Fridays at 7:30 AM Avon Old Farms Hotel 279 Avon Mountain Rd. Avon, CT  06001 United States – See more at: http://portal.clubrunner.ca/5482#sthash.qE3T9Hoe.dpuf
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Open Mic @ LaSalle Market
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Friday Night Jazz @ La Trattoria
Jul 28 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
 Every Friday night, entertainment in the Lounge