Town Reports:

Did you recently pick up this year’s town report? It’s an interesting look at what happened in your town during a specific calendar year. It’s also a wonderful genealogical resource – well, the older ones are.

Like most things, town reports have changed over time. Because, of course, your town government has changed.

When towns were smaller, there were more names in the town report. It was common for all births, marriages and deaths to be listed in the town report.

But, of course, the town report is mostly a financial report. So, if your ancestor or relative did any work for the town, their name is probably listed. Work could be as simple as making a gate for the cemetery, or building a fence at the town common. Tradesmen and craftsmen were often called upon to support the town with their skills.

In addition, schools and other municipal functions were reported annually. I reviewed a local town report from the 18060’s in which the Board of Education report listed all the students with perfect attendance. Yes, I found some relatives at ages 8, 10, and 12 in that report!

Having wealthy or very poor ancestors or relatives increases the chance of finding their names in a town report.  Before federal government programs, a town was financially responsible for its residents.

Often, the very wealthy are named for their contributions towards support of the neediest in town. Correspondingly, those in need are listed with what they received from the town, perhaps some firewood or a family meal.

Naturally, many names are included in a town report because the person served the municipality in some way. Typically, their service was in correlation to their trade or profession.  Aha – a potential clue to their occupation.

So, peruse this year’s town report and then look at ones for the towns where your ancestors lived to learn more about the years of their lives!

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