YOUR SILENT NEIGHBORS, Corinne Beckwith Bidwell, Philanthropist
by David K. Leff
Town Poet Laureate and Deputy Town Historian
Born in Bristol where her father was storekeeper for the Bristol Copper Mine, Corinne Beckwith Bidwell (1853-1902) moved to Canton with her parents as a young girl. She went to school in Canton and later graduated from Norwich Free Academy. She married Jasper H. Bidwell in 1872. He later became president of the Canton Trust Company. The couple had no children, but Corinne’s nephew Oliver, a Hartford attorney, lived with her since he was a child and was treated like a son.
She “was a noble and charitable woman,” wrote one newspaper, “strong in her convictions of right and wrong, and a great friend to the poor and needy.” Late in life she came into an inheritance allowing her to make gifts that often were known only to the recipients.
Mrs. Bidwell had been in good health until close to the end of her life when she developed heart trouble. The day before her death, she went to the Valley House where she took her meals, but had difficulty making it home. The next day she had intense pain, but was more comfortable at night. She died around midnight after a bout of heavy breathing that startled her husband. She passed away just as he reached her.
News of Mrs. Bidwell’s death “came as a terrible shock” to her many friends who knew nothing of her illness. The funeral was held at her home.
Corinne Beckwith Bidwell is buried in Dyer Cemetery, Canton.
“Your Silent Neighbors” introduces readers to people out of Canton’s past. Readers are encouraged to visit these gravesites and pay their respects to the people who have helped make our community what it is today.