Rhode Island

News about Boston Post Canes for towns in Rhode Island (RI)


Barrington received a cane, but it has gone missing. (via Sandra Matuschka, April 2003)


Bristol received a cane, but it has gone missing. (via Sandra Matuschka, April 2003)


Charlestown continues the tradition. Charlestown also has a Boston Post Cane. It is currently sitting in the Town Clerk’s office.

May 14, 2012: Edna Mashi, age 99, was presented a replica of Charlestown’s cane.  (via David Mashi, Edna’s son — who remembers seeing the actual cane being awarded to one of his neighbors.)

Oct 2002: The last time they tried to “give the cane” and actively sought the oldest resident, there were no takers. That was several years ago. They may try again. (via Jodi P. LaCroix, Charlestown Town Clerk)


The Town of Coventry Rhode Island has a cane. It hasnt been given out since the 1990’s. It is currently mounted in the Town Hall along with a plaque of some of the recipients.


Cumberland’s cane is on display in the Cumberland Public Library.  It is not known if they continue the tradition.

Mar 2015: The town’s cane is in the public library (via email from Celeste Dyer)

East Greenwich

East Greenwich’s original Boston Post Cane is in a case for safekeeping in the clerk’s office at Town Hall. Recipients of the cane receive a replica.  The tradition was resurrected in 2004 when the Town Clerk found the cane in a poster tube.

October 2013:  Claire Sharpe, age 103, has received East Greenwich’s cane.  Claire Sharpe was born in Providence on April 1, 1910. For 65 years, she lived in Cranston where she raised her family before moving with her daughter to E. Greenwich in 1980. She worked for the Imperial Printing & Finishing Company and the Paramount Line. Her final employment was with the Rhode Island Hospital School of Nursing. Mrs. Sharpe was a loyal member of St. Paul’s Church for 70 years and a current member of Our Lady of Mercy parish for 33 years. For many years, Claire was a volunteer who taught religious education in both parishes. She also was a leader in the Camp Fire Girls and a volunteer at St. Joseph’s Hospital. At the age of 80, Claire became a Eucharistic minister at Our Lady of Mercy parish. ? Claire has been blessed over the years with a loving family. She is the mother of three daughters; Roberta (Warwick), Kathleen with whom she lives, Paula (Chicago) and two grandchildren. She is the widow of Howard F. Sharpe. ?(from the proclamation awarding the cane to Claire via Leigh Botello, East Greenwich Town Clerk)

Dec 2012: Dorothy May, 104, died in December 2012 after holding the cane for three years.

Selma S. Larson, the oldest town resident at 97 in 1982, gave up the cane when she moved from East Greenwich, according to the official roll of recipients maintained by the Town Clerk’s office.   It was returned to the town in October 1983 and then apparently stored away.

Benjamin Crompton, 95, received the cane from the East Greenwich Town Council on Oct. 28, 1909. On his death more than three years later, the cane was presented to Caleb Vaughn, 96, on Jan. 30, 1913. Then the cane disappeared until 1940 and was not presented again until it was handed to Peter Zubee, 89, on June 26, 1941. He held the cane for nearly seven years.

The condition that only men could receive the cane was rescinded in 1930, and women became eligible to receive it. The first woman in East Greenwich to receive the cane was Amanda Bergstrom, 95, on March 21, 1952. The next man to receive it after five consecutive female cane holders was Dr. Joseph Ladd, 95, on March 30, 1972. Ladd was the first superintendent of the former Joseph Ladd School in Exeter.

When Ladd died in 1972, the cane returned to the town’s oldest women. Annie Loomis received the cane on Oct. 18, 1974 and held it until her death in 1981 when the cane was presented to Larson.

(East Greenwich history via article in Independent Newspapers, April 2013)


The Town of Exeter continues the tradition of transmitting the Boston Cane to its oldest resident. Recipients receive a replica. The original is housed in a glass case in Council Chambers.

Jul 2015: Exeter’s most recent recipient is Alyce Schartner, born May 12, 1915.  (via email from Lynn Hawkins, Town Clerk)


The Town of Foster continues the tradition.  The cane itself has been retired to a display case in Town Hall.  Recipients of the cane receive a plaque.  (via Carol Lyons, Planning Clerk, Town of Foster and email from Raymond Wolf)


Glocester has found the history back to 1982 when the cane was actively given out. They currently have a volunteer researching old records searching for earlier receipients. Since 1982 there have been 7 recipient of the cane, the most recent held the cane since 1994. As she has recently died, Glocester will be seeking a new recipient in January 2003. The Town Clerk made a velvet sleeve with gold cord ties and keeps the cane in the vault. They almost lost the cane when giving it to a family. They are researching manufacturing copies of the cane to give out in lieu of the original. (via Jean Fecteau, Town Clerk,  Oct 2002)


Hopkinton continues the tradition.  Hopkinton has their original cane, but after the original got lost from 2009 to 2012 (it was discovered in a vault in the town hall), Hopkinton decided to hold on to the original and gives out a replica.

August 2013: Hopkinton recently presented its cane to 96 year-old Cecile O’Keefe during a Town Council meeting.   (article in  Wicked Local Watertown via Stephen Hoffman)


Jamestown received a cane, but it has gone missing. (via Sandra Matuschka, April 2003)

Little Compton

Dorothy T. Almy received Little Compton’s cane on December 8, 2005. (via Laurie Pratt, Dorothy is Laurie’s great aunt)  Dorothy passed away on December 3, 2008, 10 days prior to her 103rd birthday.

As of November 2004, the current holder of the Little Compton cane is Grace Case, 100, of Adamsville.(source) Anne M. Sylvia, 99, became the 26th resident of Little Compton to receive the Boston Post Cane. (via Sandra Matuschka, April 2003)


Middletown has their cane and continues the tradition. (via Sandra Matuschka, April 2003)


June 2012: Narragansett’s cane has been found!  It was found in a home and the town is trying to get ownership of the cane.  (via Dean Hoxsie, Acting Town Manager).

New Shoreham

New Shoreham (on Block Island) continues the tradition and has a record of 19 receipients since 1909. (via email from Fiona Fitzpatrick, New Shoreham Town Clerk – May 2005)

Nov 2013:  Arthur “Bo” Rose was awarded New Shoreham’s cane on his 92nd birthday,  Nov. 16, 2013.

September 1, 2010: New Shoreham, RI’s Boston Post Cane will be awarded to Walter Gasner, the 24th recipient on record. Dr. Gasner is 98.  (via email from Fiona Fitzpatrick, Town Clerk)

North Kingstown

North Kingstown continues the tradition.

Jun 2016: bpc-new-kingstown-ri-2016North Kingstown has awarded their cane to Alvin Noss Jr., age 102. Noss remembers when horse-drawn buggies were more common than automobiles and when sacks of potatoes would be delivered to his door each week. Though he is a native of Rhode Island and not a character in a science fiction novel, Noss is as close to a real-life time machine as anything one might find in a novel by H.G. Wells. Noss was born in 1914 in Slocum, a small village in North Kingstown sometimes referred to as “Little Nebraska” because of its acres of rolling farmland. He still lives there, in his childhood home, with his wife, Rosie, to whom he’s been married for 70 years. According to Panciera, entering his house “is like stepping into a time warp,” as it and the garage are filled with artifacts from ages past, including a desk from Slocum’s former one-room schoolhouse. Noss is anything but behind the technological times, however. An electrical engineer from the University of Rhode Island, who served as a radio operator in Europe during World War II, Noss is as tech savvy as someone 80 years his junior, Panciera said. When she found a postcard depicting a place in the woods called Split Rock, for example, she could not find a record of it on a map. Noss, who had hiked there once as a teenager, used satellite imaging to determine its coordinates, an example of his “functional-creative” abilities, Panciera said, which allow him to “solve everything” that might get in his way. Though Panciera had known Noss for years, he is “extremely private,” she said. They became friends when Panciera became involved in a local history project and his exceptional memory proved invaluable as she created a library display about Slocum for the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission conference. Noss remembered newspaper prices, identified people in photographs, and recalled countless other details of early 20th century life in Slocum. He once dated a black-and-white photo of Yawgoo Bakes by noticing that the grass had not been cut with a lawnmower, but rather chewed down by a herd of sheep. Noss is his own “living history museum,” Panciera said. The world of history Noss can recount is vanishing, however. Panciera described him as “the last leaf on the tree.” The train station at the end of Indian Corner Road, for example, where his father worked, closed down 88 years ago. The 40 farmers who used to work Slocum’s fields have dwindled to just one. Even Slocum’s primary crop has changed from potatoes to sod. Noss remains, however, sharp and active, and with his time machine of a memory can put some of the leaves back on the tree and transport his friends and family to a world moved by horse-drawn buggies. (article by Emmett Schlenz, The Independent, photo courtesy Donna Panciera via email from Stephen Hoffman)


Portsmouth has their cane and continues the tradition. (via Sandra Matuschka, April 2003)

January 2011: Henry Williams, holder of Portsmouth’s cane, passed away at the age of 97 on January 22, 2011. (via email from Stephen Hoffman)

April 2009: Henry Williams, age 95, has become Portsmouth’s 20th recipient of the Boston Post Cane.  Mr. Williams attributes his longevity to his wonderful family.  A World War II Navy veteran, Henry worked as a carpenter for local builders and the Portsmouth DPW.  The Williams have two children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.  [article]  (via email from Marj)

Barbara Ramsbottom held Portsmouth’s cane until September 2008 when she passed away at age 105.


Tiverton received a cane, but it has gone missing. (via Sandra Matuschka, April 2003)


Westport has their cane and continues the tradition. (via Sandra Matuschka, April 2003)