Former Town Offices

posted Sep 19, 2019, 5:52 AM by Jason Hoch

A List of Town Offices (Mostly) No Longer With Us:

LIQUOR AGENT

Towns that allowed the sale of spirits taxed the publican who served the booze. People back then lied a lot and the Liquor Agent spied on the drinkers to make sure the town got their fair share of the proceeds.

DEER REEVE

The word “reeve” means a “minor town office.” Its etymology is not known but it comes from the Olde English. The Deer Reeve was the game warden.

HOG REEVE

In the old days people used to let their hogs run wild. Later, when people lived in bigger towns, they didn’t allow hogs to run everywhere. Pigs were dirty and ate all the vegetables out of your garden. The Hog Reeve rounded up all stray pigs and fined their owners fifty cents. Later the office became a joke. The voters would often elect the prissiest man in town Hog Reeve. In the 1850s Charlestown elected their minister, Dr. Whittaker, to this office. In some towns the most recently wed young man was elected Hog Reeve. People knew a good time back then.

POUND KEEPER

Like the Hog Reeve only with a broader view. This man was in charge of animals other than deer and pigs. Stray animals were brought to the town pound. Here the Pound Keeper collected fines from their owners when they came to get them. Big animals cost more to get out of the slammer than did small animals.

TITHING MEN

Officers who spied on their neighbors to make sure they were moral. They saw to it that people attended church and that they did not take the Lord’s name in vain. They were everywhere and acted like a little brother who tells Mommy that “Jessica said a swares!”

SEALER OF LIME AND BRICK

This guy inspected the brick to see that it was properly fired and to see that the preparation of mortar was up to standards.

SEALER OF LEATHER

Again, an inspector. This guy made sure that the tanner and currier did their jobs correctly. Also, a shoemaker could not make his own leather and a tanner could not make shoes; something about cutting corners.

SEALER OF WEIGHTS AND MEASURES

This officer inspected the local scales. Everyone back then was trying to get away with something.

FENCE VIEWER

In the old days anyone on the public thoroughfare was required to maintain a wall or fence on his property. This was to keep animals from straying into the fields. Also, building a certain amount of wall on a road was a way a person could pay their taxes. The Fence Viewer decided what this labor was worth and also saw to it that people maintained their fences. He also refereed in property disputes. In Peterborough they still elect Fence Viewers. This is considered fun in Peterborough.


From NH Magazine - March 2008 - https://www.nhmagazine.com/i-hate-town-meeting-3/

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