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Gay, Merrick, 1802-1866

Merrick Gay Account Books

1 box 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 242

A successful merchant from Gaysville, Vermont, Merrick Gay (1802-1866) operated a general store in his village for many years, later establishing a woolen factory. Gay served his community variously as postmaster, town clerk, and state senator.

These two daybooks document Gay’s business transactions with local individuals and firms and with the Town of Stockbridge and Narrows School District. The entries record the name of each customer, the method and form of payment (cash and goods), and Gay’s purchases, including labor costs for hauling freight.

Biographical Note

Merrick Gay was born in Vermont in 1802. He was one of seven children of Daniel Gay, who built a brick factory on the White River in the northeast corner of the town of Stockbridge, Vermont, in 1832, giving the name of Gaysville to the small village. Merrick married Sarah Whitcomb in the late 1820s, thus joining together two prominent Stockbridge families. Merrick and Sarah Gay eventually had six children of their own.

In the 1840s, Merrick Gay was a prosperous Gaysville merchant, amassing an estate worth nearly $17,000 by 1850. Some time during the next decade, he also began a small woolen factory, increasing his worth to about $23,000 by 1860. As one of the most prominent Gaysville citizens, Merrick Gay helped establish the local post office, served as postmaster for thirty years, as town clerk for twenty-two years, and as a state senator for two years. He died in 1866 at the age of 64. His second son, Nelson, who had joined Gay in business in the 1850s, succeeded his father in several of these activities.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The two daybooks document Gay’s general store business in the last half of the 1840s, apparently just at the start of his mercantile business or just as he began to implement a daybook and ledger system. The numbers in “Journal A” next to customer transactions on the first pages are in consecutive order beginning with 1, and probably correspond to page numbers in a set of customer ledgers. In the two volumes there were approximately 400 different accounts listed.

Although most of Gay’s accounts were with individuals, there are several entries for the Town of Stockbridge (Vermont), for the Narrows School District (in Gaysville), and for a few local businesses (the Gaysville Manufacturing Company, the Claremont Manufacturing Company, and the Gaysville Forge Company). In general, the transactions are fairly routine; Gay sold nearly everything and he received in payment a variety of commodities (beef, cheese, rags, coal, ashes, butter, hay, shingles, brooms, and cloth) in addition to cash, suggesting the rural Vermont community in which he lived. However, Gay also purchased large numbers of books (see v. 2, page 483), perhaps as an agent for the local school.

It appears that most of the labor for which he paid involved the hauling of freight, principally by Captain A. Perkins and Fred Gilson. In addition, there are entries for payment to Solomon Blanchard, a shoemaker, for $43 in 1847, and to Israel Waller for one year’s work in 1848 ($150).

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The collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Merrick Gay Daybooks (MS 242). 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.

Additional Information

Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.



Barter--Vermont--Gaysville--History--19th centuryBlanchard, Solomon, b. ca. 1816Books--Prices--Vermont--History--19th centuryClaremont Manufacturing Company--HistoryFreight and freightage--Rates--Vermont--History--19th centuryGaysville (Vt.)--Economic conditions--19th centuryGaysville (Vt.)--Rural conditions--19th centuryGaysville Forge Company--HistoryGaysville Manufacturing Company--HistoryGeneral stores--Vermont--GaysvilleNarrows School District--HistoryStockbridge (Vt.)--Economic conditions--19th centuryWaller, Israel


Gay, Merrick, 1802-1866

Types of material

Account booksDaybooks