Near the close of the year 1806, there was some discussion as to the method of supporting those who needed assistance from the town. As some of the citizens were in favor of providing a house, where all needing aid might be taken care of, it was thought advisable to have the matter discussed in open town meeting. A meeting was accordingly held on the 19th of January, 1807, "to see if the town will by of the mind to build a work-house" for the above purpose, and if so, "then to determine what method the town will take to build it."" It was voted, to build a work-house, forty by thirty-two feet, one story high, and to cut the timber for said house on the parsonage land in the town-the timber to be cut under the direction of Jeremiah Hobbs, Samuel Brown, Jr. and Jonathan Philbrick. It was also voted, that the boards purchased for the building be sawed under the direction of Edmund James. At an adjourned meeting, on the 9th of February, a building committee was chosen, consisting of the three men chosen to cut the timber, together with Josiah Shaw, Jonathan Marston, Jr., Moses Perkins and Josiah Dow. They were directed to select a site for the house and to build it at the cheapest rate practicable. The meeting was then adjourned to the 10th day of March, at 12 o'clock. This was the annual town-meeting day. "Met according to adjournment and voted, to dissolve the meeting." And so, after all this preparation, the plan fell through.
It was then voted, "not to choose overseers of the poor for the present year, but that the poor be let out, as usual." This method of caring for them, designated on the records and in common speech by the heartless-seeming phrase, putting them up at auction, was pursued for many years, and indeed, with some exceptions, until by act of the General Court, the count assumed the support of all paupers, and removed all but a few aged and infirm to a county farm, at Brentwood, purchased in 1868. By this method, the care of the poor was given to those who would receive them into their homes for the smallest weekly payment. It was, in fact, an auction, generally at the annual town meeting, but sometimes, at the discretion of the selectmen; but it was heartless only in mane. People rendered dependent by reason of age, disease or misfortune, were more comfortably housed and kindly cared for in private families than they could have been in any other way. Sympathy for the unfortunate characterizes this people in a high degree; and some of these poor being once received, were kept for years, and even through life, and tenderly laid to rest. A few, not wholly dependent, had little homes of their own, with such assistance from the town as their needs required.
In 1809, John Dow, James Leavitt and Jonathan Marston, Jr., were chosen a committee, to take the whole matter of the condition and support of the poor into consideration. They reported at some length on individual cases, one of which is as follows: "As it respects Mrs. Burdoo, considering her advanced age and her exposedness to take cold, if she continue in her house, and the expense of hauling her wood, we think it best to put her in a family, where she can be taken proper care of till spring. Mr. Josiah Dearborn has offered to take her at four shillings per week. She has been at Mr. Dearborn's house about a fortnight."
This Mrs. Burdoo was Dinah, widow of Philip Burdoo, among the last of the old-time negroes in this town. Dinah Small, perhaps widow or sister of Cæsar, who died from exposure in the army, in 1777, was married, on the 9th of January, 1783, to Philip Burdoo, of Moultonbourough. It has been asserted that they were slaves of Gen. Jonathan Moulton, which may have been true of Philip, who came from one of the townships granted to the General; but Dinah, certainly, was a slave of William Godfrey, of North Hampton, whose granddaughter, Mrs. Fanny Lane, now above ninety years of age, knows of her service there. Philip was afterwards employed at Dearborn's tavern. He died January 6, 1806. Dinah had a little house a few rods east of the centre school-house, where she spun and knit and lived contentedly. When she became enfeebled by age, she was cared for by the town, and died at Dea. John Lamprey's, January 11, 1825, aged ninety-two years.
Some Negro And Indian Slaves
Shirk, the negro of Stephen Hussey, found dead-inquest March 17, 1672.
"Jack, an Indian man," sold to Edward Shaw, by Dr. Edmund Toppan, September 30, 1731.
A "Negro woman of Mrs. Freese's" died, January 15, 1736, aged 30 years.
A "Negro girl, her daughter," died January 16, 1736, aged 6 years.
"Cæsar, ye Negro of Widow Godfrey," baptized March 7, 1736.
"Prince, a Negro boy of Mr. Griffith's," died February 4, 1738, aged 10 years.
"Simon, ye Negro boy of Dr. Jackson," baptized April 23, 1738.
A negro boy of Mrs. Toppans died March 11, 1740, aged 2 years. -"fitts."
"Flora, a Negro girl of Widow Toppan's," baptized June 7, 1741.
"Jenny, a Negro girl of Ward & Joanna Cotton's," baptized June 7, 1741. Jenny died April 5, 1751, aged 40 years.
"Jock, ye Negro Servant of Doctor Sargent," baptized June 14, 1741.
"Fortunatus, a Negro lad of Abner Fogg's," baptized October 11, 1741.
"Flora, a Negro girl of Dr. Emery," died March 27, 1756. "Cæsar, a Negro man of Capt. Jeremiah Marston," died of old age, April 10, 1766.
Cæsar Small, a mulatto, died April 21, 1777, aged 50 or 60-"camp disorder."
Neb Miller, a negro slave of Col. Christopher Toppan.
Ben Thompson, slave of Capt. Jonathan Marston. It is said that Capt. Marston's father (Elisha) gave each of his children a slave.
"Phillis White, colored, widow of Archelaus, died August 14, 1830." The graves of Phillis White and three other negroes, probably her family, are in a field belonging to Mr. Aiken S. Coffin.