Simeon Bartlett Account Books, 1792-1867.
Call no.: MS 175 bd
Freight hauler, farmer, sawmill owner, and possibly a hatmaker from Williamsburg, Massachusetts.
The first volume of Bartlett’s accounts includes records of Bartlett’s income, sales and exchange of goods and services, and details about his employees and family (such as family births, deaths, and marriages). Volume 2 contains lists of hat purchases, lists of teachers and their pay, his participation in town affairs, and a number of lyrics to Civil War songs.
Simeon Bartlett (b. 1764), lived in Williamsburg,
Massachusetts from 1797 to 1832 and married Elisabeth Bunt in
1793. They had five children: Harriet (1794-1821), Sapphire
(b. 1796), Ashbel Baker (1798-1832), Betsy (b. 1800), and
Simeon (b. 1803). The family may have moved to Williamsburg
in April, 1797 , as his book entry dated April 23 reads, “Then
we moved into John _____ House at Williamsburg.” On the 24th
Bartlett wrote “Had when I came to Williamsburg 5 bushel Rock
Salt which went to the family.” Originally, the Bartlett
family came from Martha’s Vineyard, as did others mentioned
in these accounts: Mayhew, Manter, Hillman.
Bartlett’s account books suggest his varied sources of
income. At first, he primarily hauled freight, sometimes
Hartford and Middletown, Connecticut were on his route. Some
pages in this portion of the book have “company business”
written sideways at the edge of the page. Elnathan Webster
seems to have worked for him in 1795, as does Silas Strong in
1796. Customers were Aaron Rice, Joseph Clapp, and Captain
Later entries suggest Bartlett was foremost a farmer,
raising and selling or exchanging agricultural products with
his neighbors, but moving eventually to focus on his woodlots
and sawmill. He also occasionally made miscellaneous repairs
for others. From 1806 to 1813 he rented two seats in his pew
to Captain Coffin for one dollar each per year.
While Bartlett recorded a number of details about his
employees and his family (“Ashbel started with John Manter
for Pitsfield gone fore days”) and kept records of some
family births, deaths, and marriages, there is scarcely a
hint of the story told briefly by Phyllis Baker Deming in her
history of Williamsburg; Ashbel committed suicide in June
1832 because his father objected to his marrying Lucretia
Jones, whom the younger brother Simeon eventually married
anyway. Bartlett does note “June 1832, Then my poor Ashbel
died” and there are only two entries in Volume I following
Ashbel’s death–one business transaction in August and a 1839
notation of brother Julius’ death. Many pages are blank
following the August entry, suggesting the interruption of
business as usual.
Volume 2, it would appear, served varied purposes to three
generations of Bartletts and, perhaps, an unrelated
individual who sold hats. The hat accounts are for 1818-1819
in South Hadley; the hatmaker remains unidentified, but it
does not seem to be Simeon Bartlett. Most purchases were for
either felt hats or “napt” (napped) hats–one was brushed,
the other not. Customers also frequently paid for the
brushing and banding of hats. There are occasional requests
for “small white hats” or a “boy’s hat” or, additionally,
leather for shoes, wool, morocco shoes, a broom, rabbit
skins, or wood.
This volume also reflects Simeon Bartlett’s participation
in town affairs; one loose leaf inserted in it was addressed
to Bartlett as a surveyor of highways in 1816 from the
selectmen assigning him certain roads. He also appears to
have been on the School Committee in 1830 when he lists the
teachers (Abigail Hunt, Susannah Babcock, and Mr. Clapp) and
their pay, some of it from his own pocket later
A later listing (1865-1867) of the members of three
schools in Williamsburg–W.W. Mitchell’s, E. Cooke’s, and
A.E. Ives’, assisted by Nellie Nash–must have been made by
another generation. The Simeon Bartlett of Volume 1 is
actually listed in the federal census as Simeon Bartlett
Junior. His father (who must have been Simeon Bartlett)
appears occasionally in Volume 1; the son Simeon (brother of
Ashbel) was known, too, as simply Simeon Bartlett. He appears
in the 1850 census at age 45, a farmer married to
In 1864, a number of friends (perhaps those of Simeon
Bartlett III’s children) wrote out the lyrics to songs,
mostly about the Civil War, including: “The Bonnie Blue Flag”
(Hattie Bodman, Northampton); “Darkie Song” (Mary Crosby,
Southampton); “Ellsworth’s Avengers” (Maggie Peck,
Birmingham, CT); “When the Cruel War is Over” (Ellen Abells,
Hatfield); “The Song of Ulysses Grant” (Larue Johnson,
Colrain); “When Johnnie Comes Marching Home,” “The Battle Cry
of Freedom,” and “Babylon is Fallen” (Daniel Wright,
Williamsburg); “Tenting on the Old Campground” (Hannah
Everett, Cummington); “Just Before the Battle, Mother” and
“Just After the Battle” (Mrs. Mary Sweet, Hatfield); “Tobacco
Song”; and “Darling Nellie Gray” (C.H. Bartlett).
There are also seemingly doodled lists of names and towns,
among which is “Mr. Clarence E. Brown, Agricultural College,
The collection is open for research.
Cite as: Simeon Bartlett Account Books (MS 175). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Acquired from Charles Apfelbaum.
Processed by Linda Seidman, 2002.
- Clapp, Joseph
- Hat trade--Massachusetts--South Hadley
- Lyman, Joseph
- Rice, Aaron
- Songs, English
- United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Songs and music
- Williamsburg (Mass.)--Economic conditions
- Bartlett, Simeon, b. 1764
Types of material
- Account books