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Gilmanton NH News

May 18, 2016

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Steve Taylor On Poor Farms At Gilmanton Historical Society May 24


Steve Taylor, returns to Gilmanton on Tuesday evening, May 24, to tell us about Poor Houses and Town Farms, the Hard Row for Paupers. The program, at Old Town Hall in Gilmanton Iron Works, begins at 7:30.  Social hour and refreshments begin at 7 pm.  The Society’s museum will be open at 7 pm.


From its earliest settlements New Hampshire has struggled with issues surrounding the treatment of its poor. The early Northeastern colonies followed the lead of England’s 1601 Poor Law, which imposed compulsory taxes for maintenance of the poor but made no distinction between the “vagrant, vicious poor” and the helpless, and honest poor. This confusion persisted for generations and led directly to establishment in most of the state’s towns of alms houses and poor farms and, later, county institutions which would collectively come to form a dark chapter in New Hampshire history. Steve Taylor will examine how paupers were treated in these facilities and how reformers eventually succeeded in closing them down.


Steve Taylor is an independent scholar, farmer, journalist and longtime public official. With his sons, Taylor operates a dairy, maple syrup and cheese making enterprise in Meriden Village. He has been a newspaper reporter and editor, and served for 25 years as NH’s commissioner of agriculture. Taylor was the founding executive director of the NH Humanities Council and is a lifelong student of the state’s rural culture.


This program is the first in the Gilmanton Historical Society’s 2016 summer series.  Programs are offered on the 4th Tuesday of each month, May through September.  In June the program is Parlor Music in 19th Century New England.  The July program features historic homes of Gilmanton.  In August Pat Clarke tells us about Gilmanton in World War II.  On Saturday, August 13, the Society will lead a tour of Gilmanton’s first village, Lower Gilmanton, including the Kelley Corner School and the First Baptist Church.  The final program in September brings a tribute to Sarah Josepha Hale.


The programs are free and open to the public.  Donations to support the work of the Society are always welcome.






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