Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why Wolves Don't Roam Dartmouth

We just acquired a very simple little document that says so much. On one side is a statement from the constable of Chesterfield, New Hampshire, attesting that Abner Ally brought to him on December 12, 1778, one dead adult male wolf. The other side is a receipt from Nicholas Gilman dated March 13, 1779, for ten pounds given to Abner Ally for killing a wolf.

Ten pounds! That was just a little less than a sergeant in the British army would have earned in a year. Abner Ally must have protected that scrap of paper very carefully for the long winter until he could collect his bounty (marked on the document with the hole punch).

This sent us searching into our copy of the first published laws of the newly formed state of New Hampshire from 1780. Sure enough, on November 28th, 1778 (just two weeks before Abner killed his wolf), the state passed a law offering a bounty of ten pounds for a full-grown wolf, and five pounds for a whelp.

The law fulfilled its intent. The state paid its last bounty in 1895 and wolves are only just now beginning to return to the area.

We are still cataloging this one, but we will link to the record soon.

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