The Canton Historical Society raised over $1200 by simply selling OPJ (other people's junk.) On a stunningly beautiful September morning, dozens of volunteers arrived early in the morning to setup an old fashioned yard sale on the lawn of the Canton Public Library. Under the direction of Carol Munson, there was a flash of vim and vigor as tables and tents arose to help create the day. Funds raised will go towards the cost of restoring and preserving the Cranes Guard's Flag - one of the oldest militia flags in the Commonwealth.
The Canton Historical Society held a special exhibit at the Canton Public Library as a way to showcase the breadth of nationally recognized artifacts from the collection. On display, the public had a firsthand opportunity to see the Martha Howard Whole Cloth Quilt which is the oldest and perhaps finest of its kind in America. The exhibit was the brainchild of Marie Gibbs, who has tirelessly devoted her passion and energy to preserving our early textile collection. In addition to two quilts., the exhibit also featured the premiere of the Martha Howard Petticoat which had been conserved through a generous grant by the Canton Community Preservation Act (CPA). The petticoat, dating to the early 1820's, had most recently been painstakingly preserved by Windsor Conservation in Dover, MA. The process took almost a year, and now is a resplendent example of a period dress that was made by one of Canton's leading citizens.
Also on display was the 1822 Crane's Guards Drum that had been conserved by the Society two years ago. By the side of the drum the Society chose to share the Crane's Guard Flag which is the subject of a 2016 CPA Grant that will conserve and protect this nearly two hundred year-old silk militia flag. The importance of this artifact is that it depicts one of the earliest painted military flags with the Great Seal of Massachusetts on its face. On the obverse is a scene of the Canton Militia mustering at a meeting house with the Great Blue Hill in the background. The flag, once conserved, will be a primary source for scholars and researchers hoping to glean an in-depth understanding of early militias in New England.
Also on display were a series of rare textile samplers., maps and important colonial documents. All of the items were either candidates for preservation or had been recently preserved by experts. The breadth of the collection on display helped illuminate the importance of preserving our local history in the context of regional and national connections. The Canton Historical Society is proud to share our stories and artifacts with a greater audience, and the public display certainly made great strides in connecting the donations, grants, and gifts with a wider public and the citizens of Canton.
Early musical instruments featured at the MFA
On the evening of April 6th, Darcy Kuronen, Curator of Musical Instruments at the MFA, presented a look at the invention and development of the harmonica in the early 1800’s. On hand for demonstration and examination were some rare examples of “mouth organs” by James Wheatstone of London and James Bazin of Canton, Massachusetts. Mr. Kuronen borrowed James Bazin’s early reed creations from the Canton Historical Society for the demonstration. Darcy actually played tunes with these early instruments.
We know Bazin (pronounced Bay-Zahn) continued to develop more intricate and larger reed instruments. In our museum we have several Bazin collectibles including a small harp, 2 organ piano fortes from 1853, couple of reed based lap organs and of course his rare pitch pipe, first harmonica and two trumpet harmonicas. We are told Mr. Bazin played his reed trumpet accompanying the choir at the Unitarian Church in Canton Corner. It is claimed that you could hear his music a mile away!
Contemporary harmonicas were also discussed and demonstrated by jazz harmonists, Mike Turk. Mike entertained the audience with wonderful tunes from his latest harmonica.
Learn more about James Bazin, and next time you are at the Histy - ask to hear one of the earliest reed instruments in America.
The Canton Historical Society’s Annual Meeting was held Sunday, April 10th. Our guest speaker was Judge Marc Kantrowitz. Marc introduced us to his latest book, Old Whiskey and Young Women: American True Crime Tales of Murder, Sex and Scandal. Marc spoke about some of the famous and titillating cases of early 20th century that you will read about. A few he mentioned involved Hollywood superstars, Fatty Arbuncle, Errol Flynn, Lana Turner, Jean Howard. In his book we will read of the real Norman Bates of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Psycho. Marc noted that these notorious cases, once so famous, are now totally forgotten. He remembers when the OJ Simpson case captured us all but in another 50-75 years will be forgotten. Marc likes to write about these past exciting, but sometimes repulsive events that people know little about. He likes to show readers that people are generally the same today as they were 100’s of years ago. He said, “Things don’t change, people don’t change, and the media doesn’t change.”
Marc was once the Associate Justice for the Massachusetts Appeals Court and one of the most highly published judges in the Commonwealth. You can read more of Marc’s crime cases that gripped the nation in the 50’s, 60’s or 100 years ago in the monthly column he writes for the “Patriot Ledger” and “Lawyers Weekly.”
Quarterly Meeting Features Trip to PRH Site
The day was bright, the colors vivid, and wonderful company gathered at the Paul Revere Heritage Site to get a private "behind the scenes" tour of the Paul Revere Heritage Site at the former Plymouth Rubber factory complex. The members only tour was arranged by George Comeau, a member of the Paul Revere Heritage Advisory Commission. "We spent about an hour and a half touring the site and getting an up-close view of the ongoing adaptive reuse of the Joseph Warren Revere Barn and the Copper Rolling Mill," said Comeau. Also conducting the tour was James Roache a curator at the Histy with a deep knowledge of the site. Jeremy Comeau was on hand to help visitors a better understanding of the development agreement, timing for the project, and potential uses.
More than twenty members attended the tour which was complete with cider and donuts. A perfect autumn day that brought members back to 1801 when Paul Revere came to Canton to begin the copper industry in America. The Canton Historical Society will be an important partner in the ongoing efforts to transform this hazardous site into a 9 acre park, cultural and historical attraction and one America's most historic sites tied to post-colonial industry.
Take a look at the tour and some of the buildings in their present state.
New Display Spaces at Canton Public Library
The Canton Historical Society and the Canton Public Library have joined up to allow the public access to an exciting new look into Canton's History. In the historic front of the library between the Founders Hall and the two Hemenway Reading Rooms are beautiful oak cases that now house a rotating display for the collections of the Canton Historical Society.
These new display cases will change quarterly and will help give the public a glimpse of the amazing collections at the Society. The inaugural display features souvenir china with historic images from sites around Canton, as well as a display of period postcards from the early 20th century. The china is particular is extremely rare and was commissioned by the Unitarian Ladies Sewing Circle and dates to 1893. You can read more about the history of this china and the ladies who raised money for social causes.
The cases were paid for by a donation from the Canton Historical Society and the Canton Public Library Ed Bolster Local History Fund.
In July Canton Historical Society members completed three photograph albums of every Canton High School Graduate since 1869, the very first graduating class. The albums were compiled by members Susan O’Neill and Marie Duffy. A presentation of the albums was made to the following: Jim Halley, president of the Canton High School Almuni Association Mark Lague, director of the Canton Public Library, and Paul Mitcheroney, President of the CHS.
The albums are now available at each location. The funds for the research and compilation of these records were from Paul R. Matthews Charitable Foundation. Matthews served on the Canton School Committee and played an important role in the development and education of the students of Canton.
The Canton Historical Society is grateful to Suzanne Matthews and the Paul R. Matthews Charitable Foundation for their grant to complete this project.
The 2014 Annual Picnic was held on Sunday, July 13th and over 150 people joined in to celebrate the collections at the Canton Historical Society. Special thanks to our sponsors: HP Hood, Shaw's Russka Pickles, and Pepsi Bottling. Also, the dozens of volunteers who make this event possible.
It was a terrific day and one of the best of the year. People played lawn games, ate Hoodsies (remember the wooden stick?) and enjoyed the company of friends.
An occasional compendium of news and happenings at the Histy and historic preservation in Canton.