YOUR SILENT NEIGHBORS, Russell Bristol, Collins Company Grinder
by David K. Leff
Town Poet Laureate and Deputy Town Historian
A Collins Company grinder for many years, Russell Bristol (1901-1953) was born in Canton Center. He served in the army during World War II. Unmarried, he lived with his sister Elizabeth Bristol Wagner and her family.
Bristol died heroically and tragically in a house fire at the Canton Center home he shared with the Wagners. It started shortly after midnight on Sunday April 12, 1953. After rescuing the older of his nephews, Bristol succumbed in an attempt to rescue the boy’s younger brother, seven-year-old Gerald, a second grader at Cherry Brook School. The two were found in each other’s arms only five feet from a first-floor window and three feet from the door.
Firefighters labored for four hours to control the flames, but only the charred frame of the house was left. The blaze was said to have started near an oil stove used for heating in the ell of the structure. Money, clothing, furniture, housing and other items were donated to help the survivors by the deeply pained Canton community.
A double funeral was held at the Canton Center Congregational Church, the Reverend Russell Angell officiating. There were no calling hours.
Russell Bristol is buried in the 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.