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.