It was February 4, 1903, Town Meeting day in Guilford. Groups of men, who seem to have been dressed in their best clothes, were gathered in front of the Town Hall, presently the Guilford Historical Society Museum.
The area was littered with horses, buggies and wagons. One buggy was parked on the lawn of the house presently owned by Walter Greenleaf, very near a young tree which could be the large elm now growing there. Someone on foot appears to have been coming from the hotel that occupied the corner of Center Road and Carpenter Hill Road. A colorful scene!
Women probably weren't attending Town Meeting. It would be another seventeen years before they were allowed to vote. If the ladies were involved in any way, they would be preparing oyster stew, the chosen main course for Town Meeting Dinners of that era. Those dinners were cooked and served in The Ladies Aid Building, the house where Bob and Laura Tucker live today.
At ten o'clock a.m. the meeting-goers entered the Town Hall and the meeting was called to order. Articles voted on were similar to those currently considered. Town and School meetings weren't separate as they are today. Files at the Town Clerk's office show that all voting took place during the meeting. At the assembly's end, everyone attending not only knew how the town was to be run in the following year, but who would be doing the running.
Articles 1, 2 and 3 of the 1903 warrant had to do with electing a moderator, town clerk, and auditors. Under Article 4 the body 'voted to place its Public Burial Ground in charge of Commissioners', and elected five men to those positions. Article 5 filled various town seats. Three of those that no longer exists are: fence viewers, overseer of the poor and surveyors of wood and lumber.
The roster of officials in 1903's Town Report lists Superintendent of Schools. At that time superintendents were town officials, sometimes women. It would be interesting to know what credentials were required. No mention is made of anyone being elected to this slot, even though all other listed officials were elected. Could it be that the School Directors appointed someone? One wonders if a woman could not be elected to a public office.
Article 6 considered, 'should licenses be granted for the sale of intoxicating liquors in this town?' The meeting minutes read: Box turnout at 3 o'clock p.m., 89 yes, 66 no.'
Article 7 passed, directing that taxes be collected through the Treasurer.
Action on Article 8:
Article 9: Other business:
Guilford's Town Meeting minutes record action taken on Warrant Articles to know what influenced voters' decisions at the 1903 meeting would be very interesting. That debates, heated at times, took place, is a given. After all, discussion is one of Town Meetings' purposes; it was one hundred years ago, is still today, and let us hope will be that way for another century.
It was February 4, 1903, Town Meeting day in Guilford, Groups of men, who seemed to have been dressed in their best clothes, were gathered in front of the Town Hall, presently the Guilford Historical Society Museum.