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Boston Post Cane holder: Elizabeth "Betty" P. Grinnell

Since 2021, Washington's Boston Post Cane holder -- the oldest resident in town -- has been Elizabeth "Betty" P. Grinnell. Born in 1924, she is 97 in this photo. She remains the Boston Post Cane holder to this day. 

Betty Grinnell Boston Post cane holder 2021The town's original Boston Post Cane is on display at the town office, as it is only removed for photographs. Recipients include Minot Lenfest (1961), Coralyn Stickney (1964), Joseph Turffs (1974), Pearl Calkin (1977), Fred Ludwig (1979), Rex Prescott (1982), Harriet Jones (1985), Cicile Flanders (1986), Garrison Hadley (1988), Charles Nickles (1992), Carleton Weaver (1994), Adelma Bowes (2002), Estern Wellman (2009). Lillie Weissenburger (2011), Constance Johnston (2017), Elizabeth Grinnell (2021). 

From (abbreviated version): 

On August 2, 1909,  Mr. Edwin A. Grozier, publisher of the Boston Post, a newspaper, forwarded to the Board of Selectmen in 700 towns* (no cities included) in New England a gold-headed ebony cane with the request that it be presented with the compliments of the Boston Post to the oldest male citizen of the town, to be used by him as long as he lives (or moves from the town), and at his death handed down to the next oldest citizen of the town.  The cane would belong to the town and not the man who received it.

The canes were all made by J.F. Fradley and Co., a New York manufacturer, from ebony shipped in seven-foot lengths from the Congo in Africa.  They were cut to cane lengths, seasoned for six months, turned on lathes to the right thickness, coated and polished.  They had a 14-carat gold head two inches long, decorated by hand, and a ferruled tip.  The head was engraved with the inscription, — Presented by the Boston Post to the oldest citizen of (name of town)  — “To Be Transmitted”. The Board of Selectmen were to be the trustees of the cane and keep it always in the the hands of the oldest citizen. 

The custom of the Boston Post Cane took hold in those towns lucky enough to have canes. As years went by some of the canes were lost, stolen, taken out of town and not returned to the Selectmen or destroyed by accident.

In 1930, after considerable controversy, eligibility for the cane was opened to women as well.