The University of Maine's Fogler Library, in collaboration with the Maine State Library, is creating an online database of Maine Town Reports.
Like many states, each city and town in Maine has long been required to publish annual reports that list all the financial details of the town and provide a lot of other information besides. These annual reports can be gold mines to genealogists as they often provide clues about the activities of the town's residents.
For instance, the 1873 annual report for Bangor, Maine, lists such items as:
[received] from Abram Woodard, billiard table license $10.00 (which indicates Mr. Woodard ran a pool hall or a business with a single pool table)
[received from] Rev. John Murphy, for rent of City Hall 14 weeks, from Oct. 27, 1872, to Jan. 27, 1873 $65.00
Received of Joseph Brown, City Agent, on account of sales of liquors during the year from Mar. 14, 1872, to Mar. 7, 1873, to credit of City Agency.... $14,947.47
[received] of Elijah Low, Chief Engineer of Fire Department, for sale of one horse to George R. Lancaster $130.00
I was also amused to find the following in the Caribou town report for 1893:
Expense of Tramp, R. R. Ticket, etc. $1.65
Unfortunately, the name of the tramp isn't mentioned, but he certainly must have been unwelcome if the town fathers purchased a one-way train ticket out of town for him!
I also found numerous entries for abatement of taxes in which the bill was not paid because the person was deceased. This provides an excellent clue as to dates of death that might not be found elsewhere. We can assume the person was alive when the tax bill was issued but died before the bill was paid. This indicates a date of death probably within the previous year of the report.
You can find much, much more information in town reports.
The Maine Town Reports Digital Project is a work in progress. Not all towns and all years are yet available, but new reports are being added often. If you don't find what you want right now, write an entry in your calendar to return in a few months and check again.
The Maine Town Reports Digital Project may be found at http://www.library.umaine.edu/townreport/
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