Canton Town History
Oxford County, Maine

a service of
V. F. Thomas Co. - 167 Thorne Mountain Road - Canton, Maine  04221
info@vfthomas.com

(updated 20 August 2019)

Welcome to a summary of the cultural history of the town of Canton, Oxford County, Maine. Each item below marks a highlight of Canton’s history. Sometimes a sentence or two is sufficient to convey what happened on a particular date. In other cases, a link is provided to take you to a page with more information. Following most entries [and in brackets] is an abbreviated reference to the source of the information. The full citations are at the bottom of this page.

How you can help: If you have additional information (including/especially images) or corrections, please e-mail info@vfthomas.com, or send what you have by traditional mail to the address at the top of this page.


A little work by each of us will save a lot of work for all of us.






In addition to the dates and events below, there are webpages about Canton’s
      cemeteries;
      census records (1800, 1810, 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880) with 1900 [in prep.];
      deeds;
      genealogy [includes surnames from other places];
      markers, monuments, and memorials;
      postal history; and
      tours [needs much work].


11,000–10,500 b.p. (before present) First indigenous persons (paleo Indians) in Maine

10,000 b.p.–approximately 1620 c.e. (common era) Indigenous people did not have written languages. Although much has been learned about their cultures, their “history” as that term is usually understood in European cultures is unknown to us. It was not until the period of contact that written material about their history/culture is known, and that is from the European perspective.

???–1775 The Anasagunticook tribe, with their “tribal capital” at what is now called Canton Point, lived in villages along the Androscoggin River (e.g., today’s Lisbon, Brunswick, Topsham, Lewiston, and Auburn). The names of a few individuals who lived at Canton Point are known to us because they signed one or more “treaties” with the English. They are:
   Tarumkin - chief sagamore of the Anasagunticooks; spokesman at 1675 conference at Teconnet (Winslow) and signer of 1678 Treaty of Casco, ending King Philip’s War.
   Kankamagus or Cancamigus - chief sagamore of Pennacook tribe (New Hampshire) who relocated with remnants of his tribe to Canton Point; became a sachem and later chief sagamore of Anasagunticooks. In Auburn in 1685 due to expected invasion, and signed Treaty of Portsmouth on 28 July 1714.
   Mesabomett - chief at Canton Point in 1703.
   Auyaummowett or Ausummowett or Jummaway- Captain and Councillor of Anasagunticooks; signed a letter to Governor Dummer that was dated at Richmond on 7 July 1727; chosen orator for tribes at 1727 Falmouth Conference; became chief sagamore of Anasagunticooks.
   Saawaramet - chief sagamore at Canton Point in 1749; principal signer for Anasagunticooks of 1749 Treaty of Falmouth; later moved with some members of his trib to land near Quebec.
   Mollocket (also Molly Ockett and more) - moved from Canton Point around 1755 to St. Francis tribe; later moved to Fryeburg, Andover, and Bethel; buried in Andover.

TO THINK ABOUT In 2021, the town of Canton will be celebrating its bicentennial—two hundred years of living on the landscape that is familiar to all of us. Some highlights of that history are mentioned below. Before the first white Europeans came to what is now Canton, the indigenous people, most recently the Anasagunticooks, had lived here for some 10,000 years. If highlights from their lives as a tribe (and families and individuals) were given an amount of space on this page proportional to the space given to the history of the European settlers, the length of what you would read above this paragraph would be 50 times as long as what is reported below.

1776 First persons of European origin arrived in Phipps Canada

1792 First persons of European origin arrived in the portion of Phipps Canada that is now Canton [Attwood (1946), p. 120.]

26 February 1795 Phipps Canada, which then included what is now Canton, incorporated as Town of Jay [Attwood (1946), p. 172.]

1814 First person of European origin, Gustavus Hayford, settled in village portion of Canton; Hayford moved from Hartford, built first log cabin, first frame house (1814), first saw mill, and first grist mill [Vashaw (1995), p. 1.]; also built dam on Whitney Brook [Vashaw (1995), p. 102.]

1816 Second oldest house built, by Zeri Hayford [Vashaw (1995), p. 20.]

5 February 1821 Canton set off from Jay and incorporated [Attwood (1946), p. 120.]

28 March 1821 First town meeting, at Canton Point school [Vashaw (1995), p. 1.]

15 May 1821 Jay Point post office, which was established on 1817 October 9, became called the Canton post office (For more information about Canton’s postal history, click here.)

27 January 1823 Part of Canton set off to Jay [Attwood (1946), p. 120.] {repealed?}

3 February 1824 Part of Canton set off to Jay [Attwood (1946), p. 120.]

28 February 1824 Part of Canton set off to Jay [Attwood (1946), p. 120.]

4 March 1831 Part of Canton set off to Jay [Attwood (1946), p. 120.]

1832 Otis Hayford house built; became Ed Goding home, gutted by fire and torn down, now parking lot of Pinnacle Health and Rehab [Vashaw (1995), p. 20.]

25 February 1839 Part of Hartford annexed [Attwood (1946), p. 120.]

4 August 1842 North Hartford post office, which was established on 1825 January 28, became called the Canton Mills post office (For more information about Canton’s postal history, click here.)

20 February 1845 date of commission for A. Hayford as Justice of the Peace [Maine Register, 1852, p. 93.]

4 March 1847 date of commission for Elbr. G. Harlow as a Justice of the Peace and of the Quorum [Maine Register, 1852, p. 91.]

1 May 1848 date of commission for Corne. Holland as a Justice of the Peace and of the Quorum [Maine Register, 1852, p. 91.]

21 July 1848 date of commission for Ebenezer Harlow as a Justice of the Peace and of the Quorum [Maine Register, 1852, p. 91.]

12 June 1849 date of commission for Wm. Thompson as a Justice of the Peace and of the Quorum [Maine Register, 1852, p. 91.]

7 August 1849 date of commission for Benj. K. Swasey as a Justice of the Peace and of the Quorum [Maine Register, 1852, p. 91.]

1850 Selectmen: Caleb P. Holland, Ira Reynolds, John M. Deshon
Clerk and Treasurer: John Hersey

8 August 1850 Part of Hartford annexed [Attwood (1946), p. 120.]

1851 Clerk and Treasurer: John Hersey

1851–1852 Selectmen: Gideon Ellis, Ira Reynolds, Jacob Ludden

21 February 1851 date of commission for Horatio Austin as Coroner [Maine Register, 1852, p. 94.]

1852 Clerk and Treasurer: John M. Deshon
Deputy Sheriff: Horatio Austin [Maine Register, 1852, p. 94.]

1853–1854 Selectmen: Caleb P. Holland, George DeCoster, Granville Child
Clerk and Treasurer: John M. Deshon

1855 Selectmen: Ira L. Delano, Thomas C. Gurney, Amasa Huntress

1856 Selectmen: Ira L. Delano, Thomas C. Gurney, Hiram A. Ellis

1857 Selectmen: Thomas C. Gurney, H. A. Ellis, Sylvanus R. Treat

1858 Selectmen: Thomas C. Gurney, John McAllister, Ansel G. Staples

1859 Selectmen: H. A. Ellis, Elkanah Leonard, S. R. Treat

2 April 1859 Part of Canton set off to Peru [Attwood (1946), p. 120.]

1860 Selectmen: H. A. Ellis, Elkanah Leonard, John D. Hodge

1861 Selectmen: John McCollister, Jacob Ludden, Granville Child

1862–1864 Selectmen: H. A. Ellis, John D. Hodge, Farnum Austin

24 February 1864 Canton post office (formerly Jay Point post office) became called the Canton Point post office.
Canton Mills post office (formerly North Hartford post office) became called the Canton post office, and it is still in operation. (For more information about Canton’s postal history, click here.)

1865 Selectmen: H. A. Ellis, John D. Hodge, Otis Hayford Jr.

1866 Selectmen: H. A. Ellis, Thomas C. Gurney, Albion Thorne

1868 Selectmen: C. S. Brown, C. P. Holland, William Dunn

7 March 1868 Town vote to issue a Canton Railway Aid Debt $500 bond to the First National Bank of Portland, Maine (bond [image courtesy of Michael Strout])

1869 Selectmen: C. S. Brown, C. P. Holland, Charles T. Moulton

1870 Selectmen: [P. C.?] Holland, Charles T. Moulton, D. P. Stowell

1871 Selectmen: O. Hayford, A. G. Staples, Thomas Reynolds

1873 Selectmen: C. T. Moulton, B. C. Waite, G. Ellis

1874 Selectmen: H. A. Ellis, C. P. Holland, S. P. Adkins

1875 Selectmen: H. A. Ellis, C. P. Holland, I. B. Fuller

1876 Selectmen: H. A. Ellis, J. M. Holland, S. P. Adkins

1877 Selectmen: H. A. Ellis, William H. H. Washburn, S. P. Adkins

1878–1879 Selectmen: H. A. Ellis, A. P. Hutchinson, J. M. Holland

1879 Canton Steam Mill constructed, by Gilbert brothers [Vashaw (1995), p. 101.]
First issue of The Canton Telephone [files of Canton Historical Society]

1880 Selectmen: C. M. Holland, J. M. Holland, William H. H. Washburn

1881 Selectmen: J. M. Holland, William H. H. Washburn, Albert K. Foster

20 December 1881 Gilbertville post office opened [The Post Offices of Maine]

1882 Selectmen: William H. H. Washburn, A. K. Foster, O. Hayford

1883 Selectmen: J. M. Holland, A. Dunn, A. K. Foster

17 January 1883 Resurgence of The Canton Telephone

1884 Selectmen: J. M. Holland, A. Dunn, A. S. Hathaway

1885 Selectmen: J. M. Holland, A. K. Foster, Adelbert Delano

1886 Selectmen: A. Delano, O. F. Taylor, H. N. Campbell

1887 Selectmen: A. Delano, B. C. Waite, H. N. Campbell

1888 Selectmen: A. Delano, B. C. Waite, C. C. Ellis

1889 Selectmen: B. C. Waite, J. H. Burbank, C. C. Ellis

1890–1891 Selectmen: B. C. Waite, C. T. Bonney, W. W. Rose

year ending
18 February 1891
The Annual Report of the Selectmen[,] Assessors and Overseers of the Poor, Treasurer and Supervisor of Schools of the Town of Canton reported that the town raised $50 to build a “hearse house” and $500 to build a road, but the report did not say which road. A town expense during the year had been $3.00 for a “bounty on crows”.
   The selectmen were B. C. Waite, C. T. Bonney Jr., and W W. Rose. The Clerk and Treasurer was M. Peabody, and the Overseer of the Town Farm was L. O. Virgin.
   J. C. Swasey, the Supervisor of Schools, included in his report notes about two articles that were in the warrant: “An article has been inserted in the warrant, to set off a part of district No. 3 (Canton Point district) and annex to district No. 1.” and “An article has also been inserted in the warrant, to see what action the town will take toward building or repairing the school house in district No. 4. This school house (if it may be called such) is in a deplorable condition and I do not consider it safe for scholors [sic] to sit in it six hours a day in cold weather. The house has been in this condition for a long time, thus the article in the warrant.”

1892 Selectmen: C. T. Bonney Jr., W. K. Decoster, A. K. Foster

1893 Selectmen: A. Delano, William H. H. Washburn, D. W. Woodward

1894 Selectmen: William H. H. Washburn, A. K. Foster, D. W. Woodward

1895 Selectmen: William H. H. Washburn, S. M. Ludden, D. B. Dearborn

1896 Selectmen: William H. H. Washburn, C. F. Oldham, A. Delano

6 March 1896 Dam on Whitney Brook broke, Canton village flooded [Vashaw (1995), p. 156.]

1897–1898 Selectmen: William H. H. Washburn, C. F. Oldham, C. H. Ellis

1897 Opera House built by Odd Fellows; replaced Main Street Hotel (formerly known as the Barrows Central House, and before that the Bosworth Hotel); torn down in 1983. [Vashaw (1995), p. 10.] The Opera House was between what is now the post office and the Canton Variety (prior to the addition of the store/restaurant and gas pumps).

1899 Selectmen: William H. H. Washburn, E. W. Howe, J. M. Johnson

1900 Selectmen: A. Delano, E. W. Howe, J. M. Johnson

year ending
18 February 1902
Selectmen: B. C. Waite, C. F. Oldham, S. B. Ellis
Clerk and Treasurer: J. W. Thompson
School Committee: John K. Forham, Nathan Reynolds, W. A. Lucas
Collector and Constable: Otis M. Richardson
 
  In addition to the High School, the following school districts were mentioned in the town report:
   District 1 - Wyman
   District 2 - Village
   District 3 - Canton Point
   District 4 - Mountain
   District 8 - Pine Woods
   District 10 - Carver
   District 11 - Gilbertville
From the Superintendent’s Report:
   “Attendance has been good, the total enrollment for the year is approximately 208 and the average attendance about 175. With the exception of the Mountain School, none have suffered from epidemic and the weather has generally favored the attendance upon school duties. … [The Mountain School] had not been running more than 3 weeks in the fall … when diphtheria broke out in the neighborhood and the health authorities closed the school.”

22 September 1902 Meadowview post office opened [The Post Offices of Maine]

year ending
18 February 1903
Selectmen: B. C. Waite, E. E. Caldwell, D. B. Dearborn
Clerk and Treasurer: J. W. Thompson
School Committee: Nathan Reynolds, W. A. Lucas, John Briggs
Collector and Constable: Otis M. Richardson

1904 Selectmen: E. E. Caldwell, W. W. Blanchard, F. W. Morse

year ending
20 February 1906
Selectmen: E. E. Caldwell, C. R. Ellis, Henry T. Tirrell
Clerk and Treasurer: G. L. Wadlin
Superintendent of Schools: Henry Tirrell
School Committee: C. T. Bonney, F. E. Rowe, O. M. Richardson
Collector and Constable: Otis M. Richardson

5 March 1906 Article 12 (of town meeting warrant): To see what sum of money the town will vote to raise for permanent sidewalks and direct how the same shall be expended.
Article 17: To see if the town will vote to prohibit sliding in the streets of Canton village, or act anything relating thereto.

year ending
20 February 1908
Selectmen, Assessors, and Overseers of Poor: M. A. Waite, S. B. Ellis, A. F. Hayford
Clerk and Treasurer: George L. Wadlin
Collector: A. F. Russell
Superintendent of Schools: John C. Parlin
Superintending School Committee: John Briggs, F. W. Morse, A. J. Barrett
Board of Health: W. L. Roberts, O. M. Richardson, R. E. McCollister

year ending
20 February 1909
Selectmen: M. A. Waite, S. B. Ellis, A. F. Hayford
Clerk and Treasurer: George L. Wadlin
Collector: A. F. Russell
Superintendent of Schools: J. W. Taylor
School Committee: F. W. Morse, A. J. Barrett, J. H. Dailey
Board of Health: W. L. Roberts, R. E. McCollister

year ending
20 February 1910
Selectmen: M. A. Waite, S. B. Ellis, Ellis Delano
Clerk and Treasurer: George L. Wadlin
Collector: John Briggs
Superintendent of Schools: J. W. Taylor
School Committee: A. J. Barrett, J. H. Dailey, F. W. Morse
Board of Health: W. L. Roberts, R. E. McCollister, John Briggs

1908 Bradbury Memorial Chapel built; money for construction left by Albion E. Bradbury; dedicated 1909 June 25 [Vashaw (1995), p. 53.]

25 June 1909 Bradbury Memorial Chapel dedicated (see 1908 above for construction) [Vashaw (1995), p. 53.]

14 August 1909 Meadowview post office closed [The Post Offices of Maine]

30 November 1909 Gilbertville post office closed [The Post Offices of Maine]

year ending
20 February 1911
Selectmen: M. A. Waite, S. B. Ellis, Ellis Delano
Clerk and Treasurer: George L. Wadlin
Collector: John Briggs
Superintendent of Schools: W. B. Woodbury
School Committee: J. H. Dailey, F. W. Morse, George L. Wadlin
Board of Health: W. L. Roberts, John Briggs, John N. Foye

August 1910 dedication of Civil War Monument [Vashaw (1995), p. 58.]

year ending
20 February 1912
Selectmen: M. A. Waite, S. B. Ellis, George H. Johnson
Clerk and Treasurer: George L. Wadlin
Collector: John Briggs
Superintendent of Schools: C. H. Abbott
School Committee: George L. Wadlin, F. W. Morse, J. H. Dailey
Board of Health: John Briggs, John N. Foye, W. L. Roberts

23 September 1911 Gilbertville post office re-opened [The Post Offices of Maine]

year ending
20 February 1914
Selectmen: C. T. Bonney, George H. Johnson, J. A. Reynolds
Clerk and Treasurer: George L. Wadlin
Collectors: D. A. Fletcher, John Briggs
Superintendent of Schools: C. H. Abbott
School Committee: J. H. Dailey, F. W. Morse, G. L. Wadlin
Board of Health: W. L. Roberts, John Briggs, John N. Foye
 
  From report of road commissioners:
   In presenting this report, I [L. D. Small] wish to say a few words in explanation of the overdraw in my apportionment
   On account of frequent rains and deep frosts we found the culverts and ditches full of ice and roads badly washed which caused an unusual amount of labor to put them in a safe condition.
   We have also rebuilt three new bridges.

year ending
15 February 1915
Selectmen: George H. Johnson, C. W. Walker, A. S. Bicknell
Clerk and Treasurer: George L. Wadlin
Collector: John Briggs
Superintendents of Schools: C. H. Abbott, L. W. Blaisdell
School Committee: F. W. Morse, G. L. Wadlin, B. E. Patterson
Board of Health: W. L. Roberts, John N. Foye, John Briggs

year ending
20 February 1921
Selectmen: D. A. Bisbee, F. L. Walker, A. L. Tirrell
Clerk and Treasurer: George L. Wadlin
Tax Collector: George B. Barrows
Superintendent of Schools: T. A. DeCosta
School Committee: Dr. F. W. Morse, B. L. Adams, Dr. R. W. Bicknell
Health Officer: George B. Barrows
Fire Warden: J. G. Davis
Road Commissioner: H. E. Hall
 
  Warrant, Article 23:
   To see what action the town will take relative to celebrating the one-hundredth anniversary of its incorporation and raise a sum of money for the same.

year ending
20 January 1922
Selectmen, Assessors, Overseers of Poor, and Fire Wardens: A. L. Tirrell, C. W. Walker, J. H. Pulsifer
Clerk and Treasurer: George L. Wadlin
Tax Collectors: George B. Barrows, John Briggs
Superintendents of Schools: T. A. DeCoster, F. H. Bate
School Committee: Dr. R. W. Bicknell, Dr. F. W. Morse, F. M. Oliver, B. E. Patterson
Health Officers: George B. Barrows. F. R. Hines
Constables: George B. Barrows, C. L. Hall
Sealers of Weights and Measures: H. F. Richardson, G. B. Barrows
 
  Some expenses paid from “Miscellaneous Account”:
   $4.00 to F. R. Hines for “taking horse from river and burying”
   $5.00 to George B. Barrows and $25.00 to F. R. Hines for “care of tramps”

1927 Flood

15 February 1933 Gilbertville post office closed [The Post Offices of Maine]

1936 Flood

31 January 1940 Canton Point post office closed [The Post Offices of Maine]

1953 Flood

1978 Flood

1 April 1987 Flood

2016 Our legacy (woods; near Whitney Brook)





Sources:
   Attwood, Stanley Bearce. 1946. The Length and Breadth of Maine. Orono: University of Maine Press.
   The Maine Register, and State Reference Book. 1852. Hallowell: Masters, Smith & Company, 1852.
   The Post Offices of Maine: A Rarity Guide. 1995. The Maine Philatelic Society. Cumberland, Maine.
   Vashaw, Norman A. 1995. What Was Ain’t What Is. Canton: Country Press Printing.