1851 New Hampshire Highway Tax Form - Manual Labor to Pay Part of Tax
This is an 1851 letter from the Selectmen of Pelham, New Hampshire to Daniel Gage, the 'Surveyor of Highways in Said County, to collect a highway tax from those landowners whose land borders the new highway. As you read the body of the letter, which is under the list of names of landowners to be contacted, you will see that the men are expected to work off half of their tax at $0.10 an hour for themselves, $0.10 and hour for a 'yoke' of oxen or a pair of horses, or the use of a cart at $0.04 an hour. If the landowner could not or would not work then they were expected to pay the tax in full. If they did not pay the tax within 14 days, then 'goods and chattels' were to be collected under distress to pay off the tax.
I have never seen such a letter sent to landowners to provide for a new highway. This is how roads were built before city, county, state, or federal taxes were collected from citizens to pay for the upkeep of our infrastructure.