Seth P. Norton (1823-1867) “began life with the Collins Company as a book-keeper, and grew up with the business of that enterprising concern,” according to the Hartford Courant. He came to Collinsville in spring 1847 and eventually became one of the most trusted people in the village.
When the Collinsville Savings Society was formed in 1853, Norton was an incorporator and made first treasurer. That same year the town meeting appointed him to a committee studying establishment of a town poor farm. In 1855 the town meeting made him pound keeper and in 1862 he served on a committee distributing bonuses to enlisting soldiers. At the Collinsville Cemetery Association’s first meeting in 1850, Norton was made president. By the late 1850s he was the postmaster. In 1858 Samuel Collins appointed Norton company agent, giving him power to sign and endorse checks. The year afterward he became judge of probate. In 1865 he was elected state representative, and two years later when the Farmington River Power Company was created to oversee the Collins Company’s newly built reservoir in Otis, Massachusetts, Norton was elected its first president. Clearly Norton was trusted in business, government and finance. “Noble hearted and obliging to all,” was how the Courant described him.
Norton died suddenly of typhoid fever and congestion of the lungs. Shortly afterward, the Collinsville Saving Society’s trustees found discrepancies in the deposit accounts and a significant sum was missing. The books Norton had kept from the bank’s inception were so confused and vague as to be useless. Apparently, he had lent a lot of money and borrowed heavily, including from the Collinsville Savings Society from which he was forbidden by law to borrow. What happened to the money will never be known. Norton did not live a princely life and died insolvent. Seth Norton is buried in the Village Cemetery, Collinsville.
“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.