‘Over the Hill to the poorhouse.’
HE poor ye have always with you’ is amply exemplified in town records from the earliest times.
The meeting-house, the minister, and the town charges furnish the bulk of subject matter for the early books.
One cannot read these ancient documents without realizing the truth of a recent newspaper squib, ‘It is easier for one parent to support ten children than for ten children to support one parent.’
Children were often paid for boarding their aged fathers or mothers.
In one pitiful case several sons out of a large family absolutely refused to do anything for their mother's support.
For this article we have not gleaned from ancient records, but from a little book tucked away on an upper shelf at City Hall, inscribed on the first page, ‘Doings of the Overseers of the Poor for the Town of Medford
From this first page we learn that, at that time, there was no almshouse in use in the town, and the paupers were boarded out. We can imagine the comforts the poor creatures enjoyed when we read that the price paid for board was thirty-three cents a week in addition to whatever labor the dependent could furnish.
In the latter part of 1811 the town poor were returned to Medford
, where they had been quartered, and Leonard Buckman
took the contract to board the grown people at one dollar per week.
These were doubtless too decrepit to be capable of labor.
The annual report of the overseers in 1812 states that there were thirty-six persons supported by the town, beside children boarded in families.
The cost for the support of the town poor for the preceding year was $1359.80, ‘as near as can be calculated.’
December 3, 1812, Benjamin Young, as keeper of the new workhouse, was allowed for his services, and those of his wife, at the rate of two hundred fifty dollars per annum.