YOUR SILENT NEIGHBORS, Warren Canfield Humphrey, Merchant, Public Servant
by David K. Leff
Town Poet Laureate and Deputy Town Historian
Born in Canton Center where he grew up on the West Road family farm, Warren Canfield Humphrey (1811-1896) attended local schools and Westfield Academy. Early in life, he displayed musical talent and became chorister for the Canton Center Congregational Church at age 18, a position he held for four decades. He later played the violin in the church orchestra and sang in the choir for 60 years. He served as a church deacon for a decade.
Humphrey ran a general store in Canton Center, and became postmaster in 1867. He was Canton’s state representative in 1859 and 1872, and was a justice of the peace for many years.
An ardent abolitionist from an early age, he attended an 1835 anti-slavery convention in Hartford that was attacked by an angry mob. He is said to have escaped the violence through a window, according to a piece written by the late Dr. Lawrence Carlton.
When 40 men refused to pay annual church pew rents because of Rev. Jarius Burt’s sermons against slavery, drink, and Freemasonry, Humphrey bought up all the pews securing the minister’s salary and requiring the men to come to Humphrey to buy back their seats in church.
Humphrey joined the Village Lodge of Masons during the Civil War. He was married and was twice a widower. His third wife, Henrietta R. Bidwell, lived until 1920. He had no children.
Warren Canfield Humphrey is buried in the Canton Center Cemetery.
“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.