Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?
These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.
Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...
...seems to be working so far
Friday, February 13, 2009
1909--2009: Only The Names And Expenditures Have Changed
We had a lot of fences to view in 1909.
Residents were taxed as today. Expenditures were spent. John O. Nichols was paid $4.35 for his services at a forest fire here in town. He was just of several paid for their services at the fire.
New England Telephone was paid $1.00 for tolls, and George Seaton received $3.50 for the use of his well. The Tree Warden had a budget of $10.00 that year, and he spent it. A new sidewalk at the North Cemetery was built for $275.02, $24.98 less than what was appropriated. Other sidewalks in town fared the same way, and were built, or repaired for less than appropriated.
The amount appropriated for street lighting was $900.00, and only $554.80 was spent, and $250.00 was appropriated for the "Suppression of the Illegal Sale of Liquor". Eight men were paid from this budget for their services in this regard, and they had $99.65 left over. Probably because they remembered to return the kegs after their meetings.
The Burial of Soldiers, one James M. Scarborough cost only 37.00, and the amount was returned by the State.
The appropriation for the schools was $3500.00, and with other unspent balances from previous years, came to a total of $5859.02. From that total a number of men and women were paid to care for each of the eight schools. Eugene Boudry was paid $13.75 for the care of school No. 8, Snell Manufacturing was paid $210.92 for coal, A.D. Barnes was paid $6.55 for sawing wood for the schools..
The highest teachers salary was paid to Nellie M. Chase at School No. 1. She was paid $418.00 for the year. Elizabeth Ogilvie was paid only $48.00. There was $227.99 unspent dollars left over at the years end. Obviously, there was no teachers unions back in 1912.
The schools seemed to warrant the most attention. $134.50 was spent on repairs to all of the schools for things such as repairs to a pump, new glass, and labor. Books and supplies came in at $539.82 with $43.78 left over.
The property of the town was small, and listed on its own page in the annual report. The town Hall was valued at $5000.00. The hearse house, hearse, and harness was valued at $500.00. Four pair of handcuffs were valued at $15.00. The schools were worth $25000.00.
All the receipts taken in by the town were listed in the Town Report as well. $3.00 for goods sold from "pest house", $10.00 for a pool license, $6.00 for a pedlers license, $624.00 received from the State for transportation of paupers.
I wonder where they were being transported to? Brimfield?
The Report of the Overseers of the Poor was long and exact. Everyone from the local doctor, merchant, barber, and other in town were paid for their time, and goods supplied to the Almshouse. The names of people supported at the Almshouse were listed along with the number of weeks they were there. So much for privacy. The number of "tramps" lodged there was 11, and were required to cut wood for two and a half hours to pay for their keep.
The Highway Surveyors report took two and half pages. They were overdrawn by $108.05, but received a total of $37.25 in donations from three people for improvements for the highways, and street cleaning. A number of ongoing repairs were made around town that year. Union Road was repaired, and a number of bridges were fixed as well. Only $22.15 was spent from the Snow Budget with $227.85 left over. Must have been mild winter, or just too cold to go out and scrape the roads.
In 1909 there were 14 marriages in town, 41 deaths, and 55 births. the number of licensed male dogs was 189 at $2.00 each, and the number of females was only 7 at $5.00 each. Seems that some folks found it cheaper to have a male dog, even if they were female. I don't think we had Dog Viewer in 1909 to confirm the dogs sex.
The last part of the Town Report is a detailed report on the schools, cemetery, and library. The report of the school tells of the course of study, exhibits, health reports, and statistics. the number of books at the library and the expenditures was listed, as was the obvious statistics of the Cemetery Committee.
The Town Warrant for 1909 is very interesting. Although 100 years have passed, many of the same kind of articles that were listed in 1909 have a familiar ring to them. There were articles to repair the sidewalks in Fiskdale from the hotel to the Post Office and in front of the house of George Holley on the road leading to Brookfield, by the schoolhouse. There was another article to see if the town would provide some way to carry off the surface water on the highway in front of the house of E.D. Brown. An article to widen the arch bridge in Sturbridge Center, and another to replace the wooden manhole grates with ones made of iron.
Article 26 was placed to see if the town would authorize the selectmen to paint the town hall, inside and out, provide a new ceiling in he lower hall, and to fit the hall to comply with the demands of the inspector of public buildings. The requested sum was for $750.00.
There was even an article to see if the town would elect to light the street lamps for the coming year, and to contract with the Webster & Southbridge Electric Light Company.
So much has changed since 1909, but so little has changed as well.