When you think “town records,” you may think of nothing more than mundane city information and tax records. But delving into 19th-century Hanover town records offers quite the surprise. We discovered a deed of indenture, signed by representatives of the town of Hanover, regarding the fate of a 4-year-old girl by the name of Martha Eastman. The town deemed her mother, Josephine, as “not employed in any lawful business” and unable to provide sufficiently for her daughter. During this era, it was not uncommon for the local government to contract the poor into work. Oftentimes, poor adults were provided with room and board, but were required to work off their debts, usually on a poor farm. There were no centralized child services; rather, the town would indenture children, such as Martha, with an individual or family who was willing to take them in.
To see the Deeds of Indenture for Martha and Moses, ask for the Hanover Town Records, DH-1, Box 10801, folder 18.
Posted for Regan Roberts '16 (congratulations!)