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No. 2 FEBRUARY 2003


Agreement dated April 1, 1843, between Stephen T. Finch and Samuel Eber, guardian of Sarah Ann Stephenson, aged 14 years.

The adoption of the Ordinance of 1787 by the federal government provided for the legal establishment of the first governmental unit in Ohio, the township. When Ohio became a state in 1803, the township became a political subdivision of state government. Its powers were granted by the state legislature, and its functions were directed by the state of Ohio. One of its powers, granted in 1804, was overseeing the care of the "poor." Ohio's poor laws included establishing contracts for indentured servants and apprenticeships for children under the age of 18. Township trustees also were empowered to contract out the care of residents who were unable to provide for themselves. Under Ohio law, care of the poor was assigned to the lowest bidder. The laws were modeled after those of eastern states. In turn, states formed from the Northwest Territory based their poor laws on those of Ohio. In 1850, Ohio passed statutes directing that orphans be removed from almshouses and placed in institutions specifically dedicated to their care.

Many of these records have failed to survive, but the agreements regarding apprenticeships and indentured servants for Green Creek Township, Sandusky County, Ohio, were recorded in a single volume. The ledger contains a chronological record of 28 contracts entered into by township officials between the years 1834 and 1876. Abstracts of these contracts appear in the description of this collection of records.