In this letter a group of citizens of Haverhill ask the Overseers of the Poor to take the property of Ephraim Colby and use the income derived from it to support Mr Colby and his family at the poor farm. They believe since he has been known as a drunkard that he is unable to care for his children and is also posing a fire hazard to the town.
To The Overseers of the Poor of the Town of Haverhill, greeting
We, the undersigners are of the opinion that it would be in the interest of this town to take what little property Ephraim Colby has now in his hands under the care and direction of the Selectmen or overseers of the Poor as it is our opinion that it will soon be spent and gone. He is a man that makes such free use of ardent spirits1 that he is disqualified for labor a considerable part of his time and we think it would be better for him and his family to be moved to the poor house and put under the care and direction of the keeper of said house. He has three children which we think have suffered much the winter past for want of proper care taken of them. They appear to (be) likely spritely children2 if they could have good bringing up (and) might make useful members of society, but (for) the manner they have been dealt with for this year or two past. They must be miserable, as the examples set before them are bad. Unless some care can be taken of them, they must and will we think be brought up in ignorance and idleness.
We, therefore, request you to take our request into consideration and act as your wisdom and judgement may direct.
May 2nd 1829
Note; we would further say that by the irregular conduct of said Colby & his wife, we are much exposed to fire. We have been alarmed by the cry of fire which have caught in his house by earliness several times within one year.
John John Sawyer
William D. S. Chase
1 Ardent spirits = alcohol
2 Spritely children = active children
Letter to the Overseers of the Poor (1829). The Haverhill Public Library, Special Collections, Haverhill, MA.
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