New England's settlement laws dictated which town or county was responsible for supporting individuals in cases of hardship. Until the settlement laws of Maine were repealed in 1973, Maine's town officials and taxpayers were often legally obligated to support people whose connections with the town were largely historical One such case involved members of the Walker family, some of whom collected poor relief from the town of Otisfield from 1863 to 1968 even though the individuals receiving aid lived in the town for a total of less than seven years. Maine's archaic settlement laws persisted into the late twentieth century because of the need to balance the interests of the towns with the needs of the poor; the state's economic situation, and the time-honored state-town relationship. Jean F. Hankins is an independent historian and archivist of the Otisfield Historical Society. Her earlier essay on the Otisfield poor; A Cage for John Sawyer also published in Maine History, received the Maine Historical Society's James Phinney Baxter Prize in 1994.
Hankins, Jean F.. "“Every Town Shall Maintain Their Own Poor”: New England’s Settlement Laws." Maine History 39, 3 (2000): 168-185. https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/mainehistoryjournal/vol39/iss3/3