Canton Historical Society


Canton Historical Society
Organized In 1871



The Canton Historical Society was organized in March, 1871. It was an outgrowth of the Gibbon Club, a group composed of men who had met for several years to read ancient history. These gentlemen, mostly natives of Canton, decided to form an historical society to obtain and preserve all material that would throw light upon the history of the town.

Theirs was an ambitious undertaking for they proposed to transcribe all records, not copied; to take a copy of the inscriptions on all the older gravestones in the Town; to obtain all documents, sermons, diaries, account books, town and school reports - anything that would give an indication of the life, character, or times of Canton persons.

Daniel T. V. Huntoon, on whose "History of the Town of Canton" we rely so heavily, was elected the first president in 1871 and Frederic Endicott was the first secretary.

Soon after its organization the Society instituted an annual Fast-Day Walk, when some portion of the Town was visited and all the old maps and deeds of that section were produced. Traditions of the past were discussed and usually a family familiar with the part of Town being reviewed would accompany the group, which thought nothing of a long tramp to view old cellar-holes and the sites of ancient farmhouses. (The present members of the Society occasionally renew the old tradition of visiting historical sections of the Town.)

The Society's first appeal to the residents to save items of historical value could have been written today - perhaps by the 175th Anniversary Committee when it was stirring up memories of the past. The timeless words from the Society founders were:

"We want to treasure up all the old traditions from the time of the Indians to the present day. We should like, above all things, to rummage in forsaken attics, to ransack those mouldering papers which the good wife has declared time and time again she will sell to the ragman. We have reason to believe that bushels of this old stuff are yearly given to the flames, and we desire to save it, and that immediately; for if we of the present generation allow these precious memorials of the past to be lost, no industry, no wealth can supply the deficiency."