Friday, December 19, 2003
History of Carlisle's charitable funds shows a spirit of giving
Over the years the Town of Carlisle has been the beneficiary of three very generous, caring and thoughtful women, Mary A. Heald, Caroline E. Hill and Joanna Gleason. Each has established a fund for the town and it is appropriate in this season of giving that they receive recognition.
"I am so grateful these funds have been established," said Susan Evans, Outreach Coordinator for the Council on Aging (COA). "They have enabled the COA to help those in dire need. There are people in Carlisle who have financial difficulties and struggle to pay their bills as well as stay in town."
Not much is known in Carlisle about Mary A. Heald except that she was born in Westford, the daughter of George A. Parker and Sarah A. Winchester. She was the wife of John W. Heald and died May 10, 1928, in Chelmsford at age 77. One assumes she was a member of the large Heald family and maybe lived for a time in the Red Lion Tavern on West Street, as she is buried in Carlisle. According to the report in the treasurer's office, she gave, "$200 to the Town of Carlisle; the income of which is to be expended by the selectmen for the benefit of worthy poor in town." This wish is noted in her will filed at the Registry of Probate in Cambridge and was accepted by the 1929 Special Town Meeting in Carlisle as the "Mary A Heald Worthy Poor Fund."
The name of Caroline E. Hill is better known to Carlisleans because of the scholarships distributed to college students although this use developed from an interpretation of her will by Town Counsel in 1967.
Caroline E. Hill was born in Reading, the daughter of Caroline Tufts and Nathaniel Hill, and died in June 1967 in Chelmsford at the age of 93. She lived in Carlisle and also is buried here. According to Carlisle: Its History and Heritage by Ruth Chamberlin Wilkins, her father Nathaniel Hill was a member of the first Board of Appeals, set up the bylaws of the Carlisle Historical Society and gave the town a new flag pole and memorial tablet following the 1938 hurricane.
Her will is also located at the Registry of Probate in Cambridge. The Carlisle Treasurer's Report quotes an excerpt from her will,..." the principal thereof to be kept invested and the net income only to be expended in accordance with the direction of the Board of Selectmen of said Town in office from time to time for the financial assistance of any resident of said Town who is temporarily in financial difficulties and is deserving, and in the opinion of said Board, of such assistance."
Town Counsel Neil G. Melone gave an interpretation of the will in September of 1967. His interpretation states, "The Selectmen, of course, must be satisfied that the recipient meets three tests: That he or she 1) is a resident of the Town, 2) is temporarily in financial difficulties, and 3) is deserving of financial assistance. Whether a person is temporarily in financial difficulties that would be alleviated by a loan or gift for scholarship purposes would, it seems to me, depend on the facts of the individual case. The same is true of a determination by the Selectmen of the question whether a person is deserving of financial assistance." The principal of the Caroline E. Hill Legacy, $42,242.02, was accepted by Carlisle Special Town Meeting in May 1968.
The third benefactor, Joanna Gleason, is well known to Carlisle residents and her gifts have become Carlisle institutions. One can read in Wilkins' book that it was her generosity that enabled the Gleason Library to be built on land purchased for $500, and for the clock in memory of her mother and father to be placed in the steeple of the First Religious Society.
Joanna Gleason was born in Carlisle as the daughter of Jonas and Anna Parker and married John Gleason. She died in 1896 at the age of 76 and was buried in Sudbury. Her will states that the principal... "is to be kept safely invested and the income thereof to be annually distributed by the Selectmen for the time being, or under their direction in their discretion, among the needy inhabitants of that town, who are not paupers, such distribution to be made without distinction of nationality or religion..."
According to the Carlisle Town Treasurer, the estate paid the Town of Carlisle in November 1898 a principal total of $8,192.27 to be called the "Joanna Gleason Silent Poor Fund."
Sally Coulter, a member of the Caroline Hill Scholarship Committee, commented that there really are families in town who struggle with the huge gap between income and college expenses. "A divorce, death, illness or job loss can affect a family's ability to support a child in college," Coulter said.
Council on Aging Director Liz Jewell said, "These funds are a great resource. A person may find oneself in an emergency situation having difficulties with a limited income that is just too high to be eligible for the income requirements for state and federal poverty programs. Instead of falling between the cracks, there is the possibility of some help."
Over the years many townspeople have appreciated the generosity of these three women. The funds are a valuable resource for this town.
© 2003 The Carlisle Mosquito