The Boston Post Cane

boston post cane

The year 2009 marked the 100th anniversary of the Boston Post Cane. The story behind the Boston Post Cane is as follows: In 1909, Edwin Atkins Grozier of the Boston Post newspaper initiated a campaign to recognize the oldest resident in each New England Town. Mr. Grozier distributed approximately 700 Boston Post canes to the selectmen of various Towns throughout Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. No canes seem to have been distributed to Connecticut or Vermont. These canes were to be awarded to the oldest resident of each Town to recognize the vigor and longevity of the people of New England and then, upon their passing, transmitted to the “newest” oldest resident. The canes were made by J. F. Fradley and Company of New York from African ebony imported from the Congo. The wood was lacquered and then finished with fine French varnish and finally an ornate golden head was affixed to the top, hence the “gold-headed” name sometimes used to refer to the cane. 

Twenty-one canes were given to Towns in Rhode Island. Over the years however, many canes have been lost, misplaced, or accidentally destroyed so that as of 2002 only twelve Rhode Island canes were still in existence. In 1909, Mr. Albert Blackmar became the first resident of Foster to receive the Boston Post cane. Mr. Blackmar, who was 97 years old at the time, was born in Foster on June 13, 1812 when James Madison was President of the United States. He held the cane from 1909 until his passing in October 1913. 

Over the years the Foster cane had been badly damaged, especially damaged was the golden head. Earlier in 2007, the Council enlisted Vangel Jewelers to undertake the restoration of this historic artifact and today it can be found on display in the Town Clerk’s office. Unfortunately due to the ravages of time, the fragility of the cane, and the cost of restoration, the Town of Foster officially retired the cane itself in November of 2007. The oldest resident of Foster will continue to be formally recognized and awarded the honorary title “Holder of the Boston Post Cane.”