Searching for a possible cane recipient

Bob Coughlin wrote us asking if we could help find out more about an ancestor that may have received the Boston Post Cane in Arlington:

I have been told that my great grandfather Arthur Coughlin  who died 11/5/29, born I think in 1843, maybe earlier, received the  cane for the Town of Arlington in the ’20’s.  I have no further info  on it and would appreciate hearing something about it and him, as he  seems to be the oldest Coughlin in my family history.

I have been told by my cousins, whom he lived with in the 20’s that he had received the cane for the Town of Arlington.  He died on Nov. 5, 1929, the month before I was born, and his name is Arthur J. Coughlin according to the grave stone.  I have been informed that he was born either in 1843 or 1837, probably the latter, if he received the cane.  I was hoping to get more info from the cousins, but they have been dying off, and the remaining one can’t find the historical data her sister had accumulated.  They were the O’Connell family from Arlington’s Norcross St., where he lived and died from.

If you have any information that might help Bob on his quest, please leave a comment here or send me an email and I’ll forward it to him.


End of year updates

Due to an exceptionally busy Fall, I fell behind with the updates from mid-October.  They are all now in their place and we’re just shy of 320 towns.

I appreciate all the updates, corrections and stories that come our way.  We share them all.

Happy Holidays from the Maynard Historical Society

Palmer Massachusetts locates its cane after a 50 year absence.

This cane likes to hide.   This is the second time it has been lost for 50 years!

Sarah Longden, who resides in Maine, recently opened a box belonging to her father who was a former Selectman in the Town of Palmer, Massachusetts.  Much to her surprise she found a cane that had been missing since 1952.

In a slightly ironic twist the last recipient of the cane, Daniel Splaine, received it in 1952 – 50 years after it was lost in 1909.   The Palmer Historical Commission is working to keep the cane safe from here forward.

Read more on this great find: Mass Live Article (pdf)

Thanks to John Sasur and the discoverer herself, Sarah Longden, for all the information on this great find.

Dover (Massachusetts) locates its cane!

Elisha Lee, President of the Dover Historical Society, informed us that Dover’s cane was recently discovered in an antique shop and was recovered by members of their Historical Society.   Where the cane has been will continue to be an ongoing research project.

Dover’s cane is known to have been originally presented to Asa Talbot, a dairy farmer, cabinet maker, and nine term Selectman born in Sharon on April 15, 1816. Mr. Talbot died in Dover on October 21, 1910 in his 94th year.

Another batch of updates

I keep trying to keep on top of the submissions, but life just keeps getting in the way. We’re so grateful for all the updates, photographs and stories we receive about the canes and the holders. We may be slow, but we’re careful with every bit of news you send our way.

Current tally: 309 towns

West Bridgewater, MA locates their long lost cane

[From a recent email we received]

You can add one more cane to your total!

Just this morning, the Town of West Bridgewater’s Boston Post Cane came to light! It had been uncovered in the former assembly hall for Town Meetings on the second floor of our historic Town Hall when renovations of that space took place several years ago to create badly needed office space and stored in the Building Inspector’s office unbeknownst to many.

It wasn’t until today however that the Town’s temporary Inspector showed it to me that I instantly knew what it was and further knew that former Selectman Judith Kinney and former Town Clerk Marion Leonard had been on a hunt for the cane for more than 25 years!

Now that it has been found, research will be undertaken to find out who may have been the last person to have it, others who may have had it at one time, and its future with the current Board of Selectmen. Reading through what other Towns have done with theirs, is inspiring and I am hopeful my Board of Selectmen will look towards preserving it physically (it is still sheathed in the original leather casing with handle!), while honoring the intent of the tradition’s founder Edwin Grozier in a suitable way.

Good Luck with finding the remaining 390+ canes.

Elizabeth D. Faricy
Board of Selectmen
Town of West Bridgewater

We’re past 300 towns!

This month we passed the 300 mark of towns that have reported updates on their canes. Our next milestone is 350, which would be the half-way mark to hearing about all 700 canes.

Thanks to all of the Historical Societies, Town Clerks, Selectmen, Town Officials, community and family members who have sent us updates on the canes throughout New England. Together we’ll continue the history of this odd, but charming New England tradition.

Mary Josephine Ray passes away at age 114

The Associated Press has reported that Westmoreland, NH resident Mary Josephine Ray has died at age 114, 294 days.

Born on Prince Edward Island in May 1895, she lived to be the oldest person in New Hampshire (ever), the oldest person in the United States, and the second oldest person in the world.

(via the AP and Yahoo! news, notified courtesy of Stephen Hoffman)

A whole slew of updates

Thanks to the many people who have sent us updates the past few months and patiently waited for the changes to be posted to the site. My apologies for the delays. I’ve made changes for all of the states and look forward to news of the cane in 2010.

We currently have information on 297 towns, so we’re looking to break the 300 mark this year.

Boston Post Cane Centennial

I often wonder if Mr. Grozier thought that his “publicity stunt” launched 100 years ago this month would turn into a New England tradition? But here we are and hundreds of towns continue to honor their eldest citizens with this simple, elegant award.

The centennial of the cane has raised awareness of the cane and its tradition. We’ve received dozens of updates from town clerks and historical societies. We’ve updated the state pages with these kindly provided updates (and corrections!). If I didn’t get back to you personally, Thank You for taking the time to send your town’s information.