Bridgewater (Mass.) Merchant's Daybook

Perched at the western boundary of Plymouth County, Bridgewater, Massachusetts, grew rapidly during the antebellum period, spurred by the growth of its industry. During the mid-nineteenth century, the town's most valuable products revolved around the local iron industry, with large manufacturers like Lazell, Perkins, and Co. producing iron and heavy machinery as early as 1810.

The daybook of this unidentified trader and merchant in Bridgewater, Mass., reveals the quickening pace of economic activity connected to the burgeoning Plymouth County iron industry. While many of the transactions at the store are small purchases of consumable goods such as flour, fabric, sugar, tobacco, meats, and molasses, more substantial purchases ae interspersed throughout for bar iron, nails, metal plates, and other manufactured metal items.

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Background

Perched at the western boundary of Plymouth County, Bridgewater, Massachusetts, grew rapidly during the antebellum period, spurred by the growth of its industry. During the mid-nineteenth century, the town's most valuable products revolved around the local iron industry, with large manufacturers like Lazell, Perkins, and Co. producing iron and heavy machinery as early as 1810.

Contents of Collection

The daybook of this unidentified trader and merchant in Bridgewater, Mass., reveals the quickening pace of economic activity connected to the burgeoning Plymouth County iron industry. While many of the transactions at the store are small purchases of consumable goods such as flour, fabric, sugar, tobacco, meats, and molasses, more substantial purchases ae interspersed throughout for bar iron, nails, metal plates, and other manufactured metal items. For instance, on September 23, 1837, Horatio Leonard bought 49 bars of iron for $229, an amount that dwarfed most purchases on that day. Four days later, the firm of French and Coffin bought a hydrostatic press for $1400. This was evidently a transaction where the storeowner acted as purchasing agent, probably reflecting his ability to handle large sums of cash or credit.

Although the owner of this volume is unknown, the surprising number and value of transactions recorded in such a short time suggests his importance to the expansion of manufacturing in the region. Interspersed among the many transactions for pennies worth of calico or raisins are much larger accounts. On September 29th, the volume's owner recorded notes payable to Bristol County Bank of $1,349, to Thomas Coggeshall of $970, and to J. Lund of $114. That same day, he recorded notes receivable from A. Mason & Co. of $726, from the Taunton Bank of $884, from Cushing and Ames of $2,000, and from the Bristol County Bank of $1,478.

Among the businesses recorded in this merchant's transactions were the Marshfield Manufacturing Co.; the Fall River Iron Works; Stickney & Noyes; Stetson Cobb & Co.; Weymouth Iron Co.; Kingman & Small; Fobes, Cole & Thayer; Witherell Arms; Eddy & Hathaway; and Calvin Washburn & Co. The daybook thus reflects the geographic as well as the economic expansion of the merchant's trade due to his involvement in marketing manufactures.

Administrative information

Access

The collection is open for research.

Language:

English

Provenance

Acquired from Charles Apfelbaum, 1987.

Processing Information

Processed by I. Eliot Wentworth, July 2017.

Copyright and Use (More informationConnect to publication information)

Cite as: Bridgewater (Mass.) Merchant's Daybook (MS 222 bd). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Search terms

Subjects

  • Bridgewater (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • General stores--Massachusetts--Bridgewater
  • Iron industry and trade--Massachusetts--Bridgewater
  • Plymouth County (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century

Link to similar SCUA collections

Genre terms

  • Daybooks