Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Voting Precincts, 1893

At the Middleborough town meeting in 1891, residents voted to divide the town into two voting precincts under the provisions of Chapter 423 of the Acts of 1890 (the "Election Act of 1890"). The action was taken upon the basis of a petition, presumably by residents of North Middleborough which was created Precinct One, with the remainder of the town, including Middleborough center, becoming Precinct Two. As part of their duties, the registrars of voters were required to interview those seeking registration as voters, a task which necessitated their appearance within each precinct. Apparently, the initial foray to North Middleborough following the creation of Precinct One was fraught with inconvenience. The following year's jaunt, in the depth of winter was no less successful as indicated by this clipping from the Middleboro Gazette believed to date from 1893.

Isn’t it possible that it was a mistake to have divided the town of Middleboro into two voting precincts? It at least appears to have been a mistake to mark the first precinct set off from the main territory number one. Having been set off and a precinct with all its paraphernalia established it soon began to be found that it was not so very convenient or useful as anticipated. On making their visit to precinct number one, the registrars found that they had a wearisome time of it; they could not get a meal of victuals anywhere in the precinct, and one of them, who had left his house without his usual breakfast, was quite ill from long fasting, and could not eat his supper, but was compelled to seek his couch for the night. This year, yesterday, the registrars, in compliance with the law, visited precinct number one again. After their first experience they have since carried their food with them, therefore they were well provided in that matter, but the roads were in bad shape, and travelling difficult. The four men, Nathan King, Charles T. Thatcher, Charles H. Carpenter, and Thomas C. Collins, started out with a stout horse and covered carriage from Otis Briggs’ stable. After crossing the railroad track and getting out on to the less frequented road where no carriages had preceded them, the horse had much hard work to draw his load, and, with frequent stops, made slow progress, until at last, Mr. Carpenter and Mr. Collins decided to relieve him by walking; the roadway was rough, uneven, and decidedly uncomfortable for walking. Mr. Collins pushed on ahead and was making better progress than the horse with his light load. Mr. Carpenter was behind the carriage, making such progress, as he could. It was not long before Mr. Collins was attracted by a shout, and looking back saw Mr. Carpenter needed his help. He returned and found him unable to walk farther alone, being ill. He helped him to the carriage and saw him comfortably fixed, and then trudged along again on foot. At twenty minutes to one o’clock the registrars arrived at their destination, took their seats and rested, got help for Mr. Carpenter, who soon somewhat recovered. After due sojourn, and finding no business to be transacted, they began to discuss ways and means of getting home. A kind resident came to their assistance and procured a two-seated sleigh, and they congratulated themselves over their probable easy journey home. They were all seated and had comfortably adjusted the lap-robes and started out, homeward bound. Not far had they proceed when the sleigh struck a deep cut in the snow, and one side went up while the other side went down, and the inmates went overboard rolling into the snow easily, and there they laid. The driver, Mr. Collins, hung to the reins, the horse behaved well, the capsized registrars recovered their equilibrium without injury, and righted the vehicle, and journeyed on, arriving home safely and glad to get here. So much for precinct number one; a full day for four registrars, a hired team, an expense of ten or fifteen dollars, and not an item of business!

Illustration:
Register & Vote stamp, United States Postal Service, designer V. S. McCloskey, engraver R. M. Bower, Scott catalog number 1249, 1964

1 comments:

Wendy said...

What an adventure!

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