Canton Massachusetts, 1890

Canton is an active manufacturing and farming town, lying a little east of the centre of Norfolk County. The railroad station at South Canton (Canton Junction), on the Boston Providence Railroad, is 20 miles from Boston; and Ponkapoag Village, in the northeast part, is about 12 miles in a direct line. The latter and Canton are the post-offices; and the villages are the same, South Canton, Canton Corner, Dedham Road, Farms, Hardware, Springdale and Stone Factory.

On the northeast side lie the towns of Milton and Randolph, on the south and southwest are Stoughton and Sharon, and on the north-west is Dedham The general form of the territory is that of a common kite. Its assessed area is 11,488 acres, including the 2,039 acres of woodland. The rooks are gneissic and porphyritic; and the soil ranges through loam, sand and gravel The 63 farms, in 1885, yielded a product valued at $77,763.

The scenery of this town is varied and picturesque. There are elevations at the south and centre; and on the northeastern border is Blue Hill, which rises to a height of 635 feet, commanding a magnificent view of Boston, the islands in the harbor, and the ocean. It is the first land seen by mariners approaching the coast. Its base and sides are mostly clothed with maple, birch, oak, chestnut, pine and cedar; its name coming from the color it presents to the observer at a distance. The Fowl Meadows, which contain peat of an excellent quality, extend from Sharon to Hyde Park, along the whole northwestern border of the town; and through them runs the Neponset River, forming the divisional line between this town and Dedham Portions of this and of the marshes on the north of Ponkapoag Pond are devoted to cranberries. This pond is a beautiful expanse of 208 acres, well stored with fish. It lies on the Randolph line, sending a tributary through Ponkapoag Village northward to Neponset River. York and Steep brooks, affluents of the same river, furnish from their extensive reservoirs valuable motive power at South Canton.

The manufactories in this town consist of a branch shop of the Ames shovel factories, an iron foundery, copper works, one factory for making shoe-tools, two for cotton spinning rings, one for stove polish (Rising Sun), one making paper boxes, one for cotton, one for twine, one for fish4ines, one for oil-cloth, six for fancy woollens, and one for silk goods. The last employs about 400 persons; the copper works and the iron works each about 309. The value of the textiles made in 1885 was $1,338,640 . and the aggregate value of the manufactures was $2,703,327. The Neponset National Bank has a capital of $250,000. The Canton Institution for Savings, at the close of last year, held deposits to the amount of $553,682. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $3,540,727, and the tax-rate $14 on $1,000. The population in 1885 was 4,380, of whom 980 were voters.

Canton has a graded school system, with eight school-houses valued at $23,300. The Canton public library contains about 10,000 volumes; and the Ladies' Sewing Circle Library has upwards of 3,000. The "Canton Journal" distributes the weekly news and serves the interests of the town.

The Baptist society was organized in 1814, the Congregationalist in 1828. Other churches are the Unitarian, the Universalist and the Roman Catholic.

This town was detached from the northerly part of Stoughton and incorporated February 23, 1797. In 1847 part of its territory was returned to Stoughton. The Indian name of the place was Ponkapoag. Here John Eliot had an Indian church, consisting of natives dwelling around the pond.

Canton added 350 men to the Union forces in the late war, which was 23 above its quota Twenty-nine of these perished in the service. The climate of this town is salubrious and agreeable, the Blue Hills protecting a considerable territory from the northeast winds. The roads are numerously bordered with elms of large size, and shaded in some parts by original forest, making pleasant summer drives. Hon. F.M. Ames and T. B. Aldrich have residences here, which they occupy in the summer months. This town is also the home of Hon. Elijah Morse, well known to the people of Massachusetts.

Of the eminent men of the past, Canton can claim as her own, Major-General Richard Gridley (1711-1796), General Stephen Badlam (1751-1815), Benjamin Bussey (1757-1842), Commodore John Downes (1784-1854).

Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890, p. 220-222