Contracts, Leases, and Bonds (Lawrence, MA)

The contracts, specifications, agreements, leases, and bonds in this collection came into the Library together.  The majority of the manuscripts were folded, with some information written on the outside.  The bonds were listed as “bonds only”.  These were kept together even though there were a few other items with them.   Every item in this collection is some kind of legal document.  Bonds were mostly agreements with city officials for the performance of various jobs like constable or undertaker.  It appears that these positions were reviewed annually and the resultant document had paper seals or postage stamps affixed to them. 

The documents are contracts, bonds, etc. between the City of Lawrence and one individual or sometimes a corporate body.  These were also only with the City directly not with separate departments.  The early ones and many of the later ones were entirely hand written, but as the years past printed forms were used particularly where there were a number of bonds done every year for certain positions. 

This collection is an interesting look into city government in mid 19th century America.  Lawrence was much of a boom town in 1847 and you can tell what the needs were as the population grew.  By the time Lawrence was a city in 1853 it needed more constables (police) and was organizing the sale and consumption of “intoxicating beverages” by selling Liquor agents licenses for $500 per year limiting the use to “medicinal, chemical, and mechanical purposes.”   The researcher can also see the slow introduction of Irish sir names both as constables and undertakers and in other positions, though Yankee names still predominate.  

Note a few things of interest: lease 1.19 comes from the Franklin Chapter of the Order of United Americans which was a Know-nothing organization; 6.15, 16, 17 are bonds with three communities in Massachusetts (Brighton, Boston, and Newton) were paying $105 per person to use Lawrence men for their draft quotas in the Civil War; and the 1848 agreement to build Town Hall which would, of course, become City Hall.

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