Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Poor You Will Always Have With You ~ The Bridgton Town Farm in 1940

Bridgton Historical Society

Very soon after the 1940 Census was released this spring, I started browsing through the census for Bridgton, Maine. I had a couple of surnames to look for, as this was my paternal grandfather's birthplace.  Libby was one of them. What I found was the beginning of my education into a small New England town's role in taking care of its poor.

The last person on this page, Libby, Blanche M., is listed as an inmate.  On closer inspection,  I discovered she was an inmate at the Bridgton Town Farm.  Blanche M. (Seavey) Libby was my great aunt.

A quick Google search on the Bridgton Town Farm gave me an announcement of a presentation given a year ago at the Bridgton Historical Society by Prof. Margaret Reimer of the University of Southern Maine. I made contact with Margaret this spring, and we arranged to meet during my vacation in Maine this summer.

Last Friday, I met Margaret at the Bridgton Historical Society, where she dedicated two whole hours to describing the history of the Farm in Bridgton, as well as its place in the New England culture of charitable care of the poor. She generously showed me the evolution of the Farm through its Reports to the Town, recorded in the Annual Reports of the Town of Bridgton.  It was extremely interesting and I learned a great deal. I was thrilled to be given a copy of her presentation, "Bridgton's Town Farm: A Great Idea Gone Wrong." *

By 1940-41, the Bridgton Town Farm, as well as its service to the poor of Bridgton, Maine, was in its waning years.

As the above report reveals, "Mrs Blanche Libby" eventually moved away from the Farm, and ultimately Bridgton altogether.  She ended up in Connecticut at some point, where she died and is buried.

One of her three children, George Dalton Libby, was the first recipient of the Medal of Honor in Korea and is buried at Arlington Cemetery.

* PowerPoint presentation used in a program entitled "Feeding the Poor: Bridgton's Town Farm," given at the Bridgton Historical Society on August 16, 2011 by University of Southern Maine English professor Margaret Reimer.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Pam,

    I appreciate your work especially now that I am beginning to understand the intangible value of knowing your roots. I was looking through the web for any information that could lead me to finding out who my great grandfather is. I am a Filipino but my grandfather is half Filipino, and half American.

    I wonder if your cousin George Dalton Libby is the American soldier who is the father of my deceased grandfather.

    Please don't hesitate to reach me for any confirmation or clarifications about why I think he could be my dad's long lost grandfather.

    Michael Dave Libby