The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Cushing, David F., 1814-1899

David F. Cushing Records

3 vols. 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 248 bd

Born in Newfane, Vermont in 1814, David F. Cushing journeyed to West Medway, Massachusetts, at the age of sixteen to learn the tailor’s trade. There he met and married Polly Adams (b. 1821), who gave birth to their son, Winfield, in 1843, the first of at least nine children. Shortly after starting his family, Cushing returned home to Vermont, establishing a general store in the village of Cambridgeport, situated on the border of Grafton and Rockingham. He enjoyed considerable success in his work, rising from being listed as a “retail dealer” in the early years to a merchant; by 1860, Cushing owned real estate valued at $4,000 and personal property worth $7,000. A deacon of the Congregational church, his frequent appointment as a postmaster hints at a degree of political connection within the community to accompany his financial and personal success. He remained active in his store for 56 years until his death in 1899.

Cushing’s daybooks (1860) include lists of stock, how he acquired his goods, and the method and form of payment (cash or exchange of goods and services). The receipt book, comprised of printed forms, records freight hauling activities, with records of the freight (usually hay or oxen), weight, and date.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

David F. Cushing was born in Newfane, Vermont in 1814. At the age of 16, he journeyed to West Medway, Massachusetts where he learned the tailor’s trade. There, he met and married Polly Adams (b. 1821), who gave birth to their first son Winfield in 1843. Shortly after his son’s birth, Cushing returned to Vermont, establishing a general store in the village of Cambridgeport on the border of Grafton and Rockingham. He remained in business there for the next 56 years until his death in 1899.

In 1860, at the time of the daybooks, Cushing had a household of eleven. It included his wife Polly; daughter Mary (age 12); sons Alverton (14), David Jr. (6), James (4), and Solon (3 months); a clerk, Frederick Barker (16); a domestic, Julia McQuade (16); Sally Brigham (66); and a schoolteacher/boarder, Lucy Eaton (20). Of his total of nine children, Cushing outlived five; he also outlived his wife by two years. In 1860, Cushing owned real estate valued at $4,000 and personal property worth $7,000. In addition to his general store, Cushing served as the postmaster of Cambridgeport and was deacon of the Congregational church.

Cushing’s daybooks reflect a fairly standard business in a small, rural community, relying on exchange as much as on cash. His stock, according to his own reminiscences noted in Lyman Hayes’s History of the Town of Rockingham (1907), “comprised almost everything from a barrel of flour to a needle”. To acquire his goods, he regularly traveled to Boston in an old-fashioned stagecoach, and he paid high rates for the transportation of his goods. Cushing also believed in taking care of his own business, having been “behind the counter nearly every day” since he started the store. The store, which eventually became one of the landmarks of Windham County, was a white building with green piazza posts and shutters. In time, Cushing was joined in the business by his sons David Jr. and Solon, who kept the store in the family into the twentieth century.

Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

Cite as: David F. Cushing Daybooks (MS 248). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

History of the Collection

Acquired from Charles Apfelbaum.

Processing Information

Processed by Ken Fones-Wolf, 1985.

Additional Information
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Barter--Vermont--Cambridgeport--19th centuryCambridgeport (Vt.)--Economic conditions--19th centuryFreight and freightage--Rates--Vermont--19th centuryGeneral stores--Vermont--Cambridgeport


Cushing, David F., 1814-1899

Types of material

Account booksDaybooks