A tanner, currier, and shoemaker, Benjamin Akin was born into a prominent Bristol County family in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, on May 18, 1715. With a prolific and well-connected family and successful in his own business endeavors, Akin attained some stature in Dartmouth. First appointed town clerk in 1745, he filled that office from 1754-1770 and again from 1776-1780, adding the title “Esq.” to his name by the 1760s. During the Revolutionary years, he served on the town’s public safety committee. He died on April 10, 1802.
The Akin ledger offers insight into the fortunes of an 18th-century artisan during the most productive years of his life, as well as into the structure of a local community in southeastern Massachusetts. The ledger includes accounts of with customers for tanning and currying of calf and sheepskin, day-book entries, and accounts with the Town of Dartmouth for services performed at Town Clerk.
Benjamin Akin was a tanner and currier born in the southeastern Massachusetts town of Dartmouth in 1715. His father, John, represented the town in the General Court in the 1720s and 1730s, and when Benjamin married the former Eunice Taber (1711-1762) in 1738, two important local families were united. Together Benjamin and Eunice had ten children, all of them apparently surviving childhood. Akin became a prominent Dartmouth citizen, rising to the office of town clerk in 1745 and serving in that office from 1754 to 1770 and 1776-1780. In the latter period, he also represented the town at several congresses bearing upon Dartmouth’s public safety during the American Revolution. Another sign of Akin’s prominence was the “Esq.” attached to his name in the 1760s.
The combination daybook and ledger offers insight into the fortunes of an 18th-century artisan during the most productive years of his life. Some ledger entries begin as early as 1737 (probably carried over from earlier volumes) and continue for customers until Akin was nearly fifty years old. While Akin carried debts on his books for long periods of time, many of the transactions were on a cash basis, although he did accept cords of wood, shoes, meat, hides, grain, cheese, molasses and other goods in exchange. In the 1750s, Akin’s business branched out to include shoemaking and shoe repairing. It is not clear from the book whether or not Akin was also employing journeymen or other members of his family, but given the volume of the business and his eventual acquisition of the title “esquire”, it is unlikely that he was doing all the work himself.
Two other items of interest are included in this daybook-ledger. The first concerns his brief notation (p. 144) of the earthquake which hit New England on 18 November 1755 (according to Akin at four in the morning). The second relates to the accounts he kept for his work as town clerk in the 1750s. These included payments for writing warrants, laying out highways, setting tax rates (p. 162), defending town’s suit against the selectmen of Rochester (p. 150), and “taking cear” [sic] of the poor (pp. 140, 156).
The daybook-ledger is arranged as follows:
pp. 1-126 contain double-entry ledger pages (note: this is actually over 250 pages since only the right-hand pages are numbered)
pp. 127-173 are filled with day-book entries, the earliest entries beginning in the rear
pp. 140, 144, 150, and 162 contain accounts with the Town of Dartmouth.
The collection is open for research.
Cite as: Benjamin Akin Daybook and Ledger (MS 204). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Acquired from Charles Apfelbaum, 1987.
Processed by Ken Fones-Wolf, September 1987.
- Dartmouth (Mass.)--History--18th century
- Akin, Benjamin, 1715-1802
- Akin, Eunice Taber, 1711-1762
Types of material
- Account books