David F. Cushing Daybook

Overview: 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 daybook (1860) includes 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.

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Mercantile
Vermont

Background on David F. Cushing

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. The store, a white building with green piazza posts and shutters, eventually became one of the landmarks of Windham County, and in time, Cushing was joined in business by his sons David Jr. and Solon, who kept the store in the family into the twentieth century.

A deacon of the Congregational church, Cushing's 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.

Contents of Collection

The two volumes in this collection include a daybook from David F. Cushing's store (1860) and a receipt book relating to freight hauling (1851-1860). Cushing's daybook reflects 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 goods, Cushing regularly traveled to Boston by 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 receipt book is interesting primarily as an example of a book of printed forms. Each page consists of receipts for hailing freight printed "This certifies, that a load of ____ drove by Mr. ______ belonging to Mr. _____ sold to _____," with space for a careful record of the weight of goods hauled and date. The receipts were intended to be removed from the book, leaving stubs with corresponding information.

Administrative information

Access

The collection is open for research.

Language:

English

Provenance

Acquired from Charles Apfelbaum.

Processing Information

Processed by Ken Fones-Wolf, 1985.

Acknowledgments

Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Copyright and Use (More informationConnect to publication information)

Cite as: David F. Cushing Daybook (MS 248). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Search terms

Subjects

  • Barter--Vermnont--Cambridgeport--History--19th century--Sources.
  • Cambridgeport (Vt.)--Economic conditions--19th century--Sources.
  • Freight and freightage--Rates--Vermont--History--19th century--Sources.
  • General stores--Vermont--Cambridgeport--Finance--History--19th century--Sources.
  • Households--Vermont--Cambrigeport--History--19th century--Sources.

Link to similar SCUA collections

Names

  • Cushing, David F., 1814-1899.
  • Cushing, David F., 1814-1899--Finance, Personal.

Genre terms

  • Account books.