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Sam Collins Mansion

A Look at Canton’s Past

Sam Collins built his 23-room mansion overlooking the Farmington river and his factory in 1851 on the site where the Calvary Cemetery is now located.  He lived there until his death in 1871, and following the death of his wife, it was sold. 

For a while it was used as a sanatorium. 

Later, under new ownership, a tragedy occurred when the estranged husband of the daughter who was living there with her parents and infant child came out from Hartford on the train, armed with a gun with the intent to abduct the child and shoot his wife. 

The grandmother had sequestered the baby, but he did shoot his wife, though not fatally. In a shoot-out outside, he was injured by local officials who arrived at the scene, and was taken away as mentally unstable. 

However, he had set fire to the house, and it burned to the ground.  It was the middle of winter, the river was frozen, and the manually operated fire engine (now in the museum) could not pump any water. 

The land was later acquired by the Metropolitan District Commission, when negotiations were underway in the early 1900s for the construction of the Nepaug Dam, necessitating the removal of homes and cemeteries. 

St. John’s Catholic cemetery was moved to this site, and the land was then turned over to St. Patrick Church and became Calvary Cemetery. The Protestant cemetery was moved and became what is now Southwest Cemetery on Simonds Avenue.

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