Town Clerk Debbie Allen Grover, Richard Baston and his son Clark Baston in 2014. Grover has worked to restore local historic documents that Clark found in his father’s home after he died last May. Contributed / Debbie Allen Grover

Clark Baston of North Yarmouth came across some interesting documents about the town in the home of his late father, Richard, after the former town fire chief’s death last year. Some of them dated back to 1897.

“They go to town meetings, make notes in the report and then bring it home and put it in the attic in the box with the rest of them,” Baston said. “We had a pretty extensive collection.”

Old North Yarmouth annual reports were among the documents Clark Baston donated to the town. Contributed / Debbie Allen Grover

He gave the collection to the town, including town council meeting minutes, birth, death and marriage lists, and teachers’ salaries, and with Town Clerk Debbie Allen Grover’s help, pieces of North Yarmouth’s history have been preserved.

“It’s important to preserve our history; it tells the tale of what’s to come,” Grover said. “It’s been an ongoing project of mine, preserving old documents like agendas and minutes. Older paper has changed over time and it decays. That history would vanish if we didn’t do something.”

With $9,787 from North Yarmouth’s preservation reserve fund, the documents were sent to a conservation lab based out of Texas.

There’s a “wealth of information” in the documents, said Katie Murphy, president of the North Yarmouth Historical Society. The collection also includes reports from committees and boards, paperwork involving the change from the one-room schoolhouse to North Yarmouth’s consolidated Memorial School in 1950 and a record of payments to residents for clearing the roads of snow.


“Not only is this all great information, but some of the original report covers are beautiful,” Murphy said. “The town was always careful with a dollar so the reports aren’t fancy by any means, but the early ones were printed by letterpress and ornate type blocks and display type gave the covers a decorative touch. That’s a small point, but it makes the research extra enjoyable.”

Murphy praised the diligence of former town clerks dating back to the early 1800s for their record-keeping, and said Grover “is an amazing steward of North Yarmouth’s historical record.”

The preserved annual town reports. Contributed / Debbie Allen Grover

The Baston family’s roots in North Yarmouth can be traced all the way back to 1680.

In recent years, Richard Baston was the town’s fire chief for about 21 years and worked on the cemetery commission. His father served on the Select Board, as did his wife, Roslyn. Son Clark is the road commissioner for North Yarmouth Public Works.

Baston said he was more than happy to have the documents given back to the town.

“I’ve been here for over 60 years. It’s just what we do; look out for the town,” Baston said.

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