YOUR SILENT NEIGHBORS, Jasper H. Bidwell, Businessman and Public Servant
Born in East Granby, Jasper H. Bidwell (1843-1915) came to Canton at age three and was living in Collinsville by the time he was eleven. At sixteen, he enlisted in the army early in the Civil War and was wounded at Antietam. Taken to the home of a German family behind rebel lines, he was eventually moved to a field hospital and then to Washington, D.C. Fellow Canton resident Rollin O. Humphrey found him suffering from a fever caused by his wounds and brought him back to Collinsville, saving his life.
After the war, Bidwell went to Titusville, Pennsylvania, where oil had been discovered, and got into business developing and promoting an oil drill. The concern was doing well until a flood wiped it out. He came back to Collinsville, and for a couple years went into the hardware business with his brother Daniel at what is now 122 Main Street. He then served four years as a clerk in the Collins Company office.
In 1883, Bidwell went into banking with Howard S. Collins, Samuel Collins’ son. Six years later he organized the Canton Trust Company and became president, a position he held until his death. He was town treasurer for seventeen years and judge of probate between 1889 and 1899. He was a member of the Village Lodge of Masons.
Bidwell was married and became a widower three times. He died at his Main Street home after a neurological illness of more than eight years that slowly robbed him of his ability to move around, and eventually of his ability to talk. The funeral was held at his home, and he requested no flowers be sent.
“He impressed all who came in contact with him as a man of splendid business capacity, bluff and hearty and a man upon whom you could rely through thick and thin,” according to the Farmington Valley Herald.
Jasper H. Bidwell is buried in the Village Cemetery, Collinsville.
“Your Silent Neighbors” introduces readers to people out of Canton’s past. It will appear on or about first and fifteenth of each month. Readers are encouraged to visit these gravesites and pay their respects to the people who have helped make our community what it is today. Any suggestions, questions, or corrections are welcome and should be addressed to Deputy Town Historian David Leff at email@example.com