CANTON — While packaging town books, documents and equipment in boxes to move them into Canton’s new Town Office on Route 108, town officials discovered several long-lost historical items.

Administrator Scotty Kilbreth, a selectman in the 1980s, and Selectman Brian Keene rediscovered the find Wednesday night that Keene and Selectman Robert Walker Jr. found last week when they moved a bookshelf.

He said Keene and Walker were working near the bookcase at the back of the meeting room and mused that the bookcase didn’t look very deep.

“So they pulled out the bookcase and lo and behold, the whole backside of that bookcase was full of documents,” Kilbreth said. “So last night, Brian and I pulled it out and we started pulling documents out, and I said, ‘A lot of this goes back to 1989 and a lot of this is my handwriting.'”

It piqued the interest of Town Clerk Kathy Walker who was also in the office Wednesday night.

“Then, all of a sudden, I looked and I said, ‘Gee, there’s an old book there,'” Kilbreth said. “I picked it up and lo and behold, it’s Book No. 1.”

Book No. 1 is Canton’s oldest and first book of town records that basically incorporated the town in 1821.

“So where’s your whip and your satchel and your hat, Indiana Jones?” Selectmen Chairman Donny Hutchins asked Kilbreth. The room erupted into laughter. “You found the Holy Grail!”

“It was the Holy Grail and it was awesome!” Kilbreth said. “Kathy was screaming, ‘Oh, my God! Oh, my God!”

Kilbreth and Walker first learned of the book and its importance last summer.

“Last July, we had a genealogist in the office here and he was going through our old records,” Kilbreth told Hutchins, Keene and Selectmen Russell Webb and the audience of two residents at Thursday night’s board meeting.

The man’s name was Greg Childs, an American who lives in France, he said. “He was very courteous. He’s a real nice guy, smart guy.”

“I guess his family was from Canton at one time,” he said. “The selectmen (at the time) were going to put his great-granddad on the town farm for nonpayment of taxes and he punched one of them, and I said, ‘Well, I guess some things never change.’ Not that anybody’s ever punched you guys.”

Kilbreth said Charles gave him his recommendation for the archiving of town records after having looked at Canton’s records at the Canton Historical Society. He couldn’t find Book No. 1.

“He told us if we came across this book to notify him,” Kilbreth said. “He said, ‘I’ll get a charter plane from Paris, France, to come to Canton.'”

Kilbreth called the genealogist, who was equally surprised and initially said he would charter a plane and fly to Canton to examine its contents. But then he changed his mind and said he would return in July.

“It’s got the original three selectmen’s names in it, the first town meeting; it’s pretty amazing,” Keene said.

“Canton was part of Oxford County at the time and you could read it just as plain as a book,” Kilbreth said. “And also, when he does get here, Kathy and I want to ask him if there is any way we can restore the book. That book right there is worth whatever it takes to get that binding back in shape.”

Selectmen agreed.

“It was absolutely thrilling to read it though,” Kilbreth said. “Why it was behind that bookcase, we don’t know.”

“It got put in the safe,” Keene said. “I was told to guard it with my life.”

They also found “a ton of deeds” and a couple of old maps for the town’s cemeteries stating which veterans were buried where, Kilbreth said.

Keene said one was for the old Meadowview Cemetery, which shows every plot, including marking out the graves of veterans from the War of 1812 and the Civil War. It also shows the shape of each monument for easy identification.

Keene said town officials will photograph the find, “which also had a ton of old pictures,” and show them in a slide show at town meeting in June.”

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Edit (4/11/15): The genealogist’s last name is Childs, not Charles.


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