Horace “Doc” Brown (1822-1908) was born into a Massachusetts farming and blacksmithing family. He came to work for The Collins Company in 1847. He continued reporting to work for the next 60 years, first as a skilled machinist, then as the company’s chief mechanic, and in his later years doing light repair work on the second floor of the stone building which still stands beside the rail trail bridge over the Farmington River. When he died on a July morning, he’d worked longer for a single business than anyone in Connecticut.
Brown was companionable and loquacious and delighted in telling stories. He remembered attending the fiery speech given by John Brown (no relation) when the abolitionist came to Collinsville in 1857. Doc Brown assisted in making the pikes John Brown planned to use in his raid on the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia. He was “a splendid type of the self-reliant mechanic whose energy and ability has made possible such a concern as The Collins Company,” the Farmington Valley Herald wrote about Doc Brown on his death.
Doc Brown learned to ride a bicycle at age 80. A wiry man with a long white beard, he rode wearing a dark suit and wide-brimmed hat, his white shirt sporting an old-fashioned upturned collar and cravat. Until nearly 85, he bicycled to visit friends in Hartford, Bristol, Plainville, and other towns. Horace Brown 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.