By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — The town is seeking its oldest citizen.
The Derry Heritage Commission is looking for Derry’s oldest person to receive the Boston Post Cane.
The last cane recipient, Catherine Dion, died June 21, 2012, at the age of 110. She was awarded Derry’s longevity award for being the oldest citizen in 2009.
Now, the search is on for the next cane holder.
The Boston Post Cane began as a marketing program by Boston Post newspaper publisher Edwin Grozier. The newspaper gave 431 ebony canes to New England communities in 1909 to be awarded to each town’s oldest living resident.
Only men received the canes until 1930, then women had the chance to be honored for their longevity. Awarding the cane has been a New England tradition in the years since.
“Each town was allowed to make their own methods in determining who was the oldest person in their town,” Derry town historian Richard Holmes said.
By the mid-1900s, he said, many towns, including Derry, changed the rules to allow both men and women to receive the honor.
Derry’s first Post Cane came to town in September 1909, and was presented to the town’s oldest citizen, 92-year-old Patrick Gillespie. The first woman to receive the cane was believed to be Nellie Huckins, who was 98 years old in 1956.
Derry gives a replica of the original cane to its recipients.
The town’s original Boston Post Cane is on permanent display at the Derry Municipal Center.
The Heritage Commission has so far identified one person in town who is 105 years old.
Anyone who knows of someone living in Derry for at least five years and could qualify to receive the cane can contact the Heritage Commission in writing c/o of the Municipal Center, 14 Manning St., Derry, 03038; visit derry-nh.org or call 490-3051. All submissions must be received by March 29.