Collecting area: Mercantile

Rankin, Joseph

Joseph Rankin Papers

1832-1866
1 box 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 147

A dry goods merchant and chair maker in Erving, Massachusetts, Joseph Rankin dealt in a variety of goods from Boston to Hartford, selling chairs as far away as New York City and Chicago. Rankin’s store supplied the essentials: produce, hardware, news, and gossip.

This collection contains an assortment of correspondence and receipts documenting the nature of business in small town Massachusetts, with small glimpses of the growth of the furniture trade in Franklin County.

Subjects

Cabinetmakers--Massachusetts--ErvingDry goods--Massachusetts--ErvingErving (Mass.)--HistoryMerchants--Massachusetts--Erving
Shearer, James

James Shearer Daybook

1836-1838
1 vol. 0.1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 418 bd

During the late 1830s, James Shearer operated a general store near Palmer, Massachusetts, trading in the gamut of dry goods and commodities that made up the country trade in Massachusetts, from dried fish, butter, rum, and brandy, to soap, nails, chalk, cloth, sugar, molasses, spices, coffee, and tea. Although some customers paid their accounts in cash, most appear bartered goods (e.g, with butter) or services (carting).

The Shearer daybook contains detailed records the transactions of a general store located in or near Palmer, Mass., during the years surrounding the financial panic of 1837. The volume is attributed to Shearer based on a single signature on the last page of the volume, closing out a lengthy account with J. Sedgwick. Although Shearer cannot be identified with certainty, it appears likely that he was a member of the prolific Shearer family of Palmer in Hampden County.

Subjects

General stores--Massachusetts--PalmerPalmer (Mass.)--History

Contributors

Shearer, James

Types of material

Daybooks
Shreve and Earl

Shreve and Earl Account Book

1807-1809
1 vol. 0.1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 625 bd

In the first decade of the nineteenth century, the firm of Shreve and Earl operated in Burlington County, New Jersey, trading in a range of sundries from molasses, sugar, and butter to fabrics and spices. They also sold large quantities of liquor, suggesting that they may have operated as wholesalers of whiskey and spirits.

Kept in standard double column format, the Shreve and Earl account book documents two years of a fairly extensive retail operation, probably located in Burlington County, N.J. The principals in the business are possibly Alexander Shreve (1769-1854), husband of Mary H. Earl, and his son Joshua, along with Alexander’s brothers-in-law Thomas and Caleb Earl. Several accounts are notable for the relatively large quantities of alcohol recorded: of 33 entries for Reuben Gauntt, for example, 29 are for either whiskey or spirits and one for molasses and coffee.

Subjects

General stores--New JerseyLiquor industry--New JerseyNew Hanover (N.J.)--Economic conditions--19th century

Contributors

Shreve and EarlShreve, Alexander, 1769-1854

Types of material

Account books
Smith, Lewis

Lewis Smith Account Book

1784-1828
2 folders 0.15 linear feet
Call no.: MS 085 b

A resident of Northampton, Mass., directly across the Connecticut River from South Hadley, Lewis Smith ran a substantial farm during the early decades of the nineteenth century. Settling in the village of Smith’s Ferry shortly after service in the American Revolution, Smith owned a part stake in a sawmill and produced and traded in an array of farm products, from grains and vegetables to grain, beef, and pork. A producer of apples and owner of his own mill, he produced large quantities of cider and vinegar.

In a standard double-column account book kept somewhat erratically, Lewis Smith recorded an extensive exchange of goods and services befitting a prosperous Northamptonite. Smith sold an array of goods he produced, from apples to dairy products, grain, beef, lard, and tallow, with cider from his mill (and briefly brandy) being the most consistent producer of revenue.

Subjects

Cider industry--Massachusetts--NorthamptonFarmers--Massachusetts--NorthamptonNorthampton (Mass.)--History

Types of material

Account books
Stone, John

John Stone Ledger

1836-1842
1 vol. 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 247 bd

A native of Barnstable County, Mass., John Stone was born on July 18, 1809, and spent the entirety of his brief life in the town of North Dennis. A general storekeeper and merchant who dealt in lumber and building materials, Stone married Elizabeth Downes on Dec. 8, 1832, only to see her die barely a year later. He married a second time to Isabella Nickerson Thomas (ca.1838?), with whom he had one son, John M. Stone, in 1839. Just 34 when he passed, John Stone died on May 18, 1843.

This volume is comprised of a number of miscellaneous accounts kept by Stone, and because there are no page numbers, the exact nature of the book is difficult to discern, however these include inventories of goods (apparently at Stone’s store) and some records of expenditures.

Subjects

General stores--Massachusetts--North DennisLumber trade--Massachusetts--North DennisMerchants--Massachusetts--North DennisNorth Dennis (Mass.)--History

Types of material

Ledgers (Account books)
Thompson, William

William Thompson Account Book

1861-1862
1 folder 0.1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 097

During the years of the Civil War, George Dodge and Co. operated a general store, possibly in Worcester County, Mass., selling a range of personal consumables.

This diminutive account book includes records of personal purchases by William Thompson at a general store operated by George Dodge and Co. Beginning in Dec. 1861, Thompson purchased small quantities of goods such as coffee, fish, pork, flour and rye meal, bed cord and suspenders, indigo, molasses, and butter, settling his accounts in January 1864.

Subjects

General stores--Massachusetts

Contributors

Thompson, William

Types of material

Account books
Tilton, Hannah

Hannah Tilton Account Book

1845-1885
1 vol. 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 250 bd

Born into a working class family from New Bedford, Mass., in Nov. 1829, Hannah Sisson was the daughter of a cooper Job Tilton and his wife Patience, and was raised in the multigenerational home owned by her grandparents John and Nancy Tilton. In April 1853, Hannah married George Oliver Tilton, a farmer from Chilmark on Martha’s Vineyard, and moved to the island.

The first 340 pages of this daybook detail the daily transactions of a general store in New Bedford between 1845 and 1847. The store traded in very small quantities of consumable goods, ranging from a gallon of molasses to 150 crackers, a pound of butter, a peck of potatoes or apples, flour, pork, and fish. Most purchases were for less than a dollar.

Acquired from Charles Apfelbaum, 1987

Subjects

General stores--Massachusetts--New BedfordNew Bedford (Mass.)--History

Types of material

Daybooks
Toppan, C. S.

C.S. Toppan Account Book

1845-1861
1 vol. 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 084

A wealthy merchant from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Includes details of his ventures in ship owning and his investments in manufacturing companies and real estate. Also contains total assets of his “property in possession” as of January 1845, and lists of debtors, including men, women, businesses, religious groups, and political groups.

Subjects

Debtor and creditor--New Hampshire--Portsmouth--History--19th centuryInventories of decedents' estates--New Hampshire--PortsmouthMerchants--New Hampshire--Portsmouth--Economic conditions--19th centuryPortsmouth (N.H.)--Economic conditions--19th centuryShipowners--New Hampshire--Portsmouth--Economic conditions--19th centuryToppan, C. S. (Christopher S.)--Estate

Contributors

Toppan, C. S. (Christopher S.)

Types of material

Account books
Van Dusen, J. M.

J.M. Van Dusen Ledgers

1865-1910
5 vols. 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 188 bd

Tinsmith and plumber from Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Mentions items he repaired and cleaned (stoves, furnaces, pots, pans, tinware, glassware, and crockery), goods sold (lamps, wash basins, kitchen utensils, shovels, fuel, and furnaces), occasional mention of payment with goods, lists of suppliers, and lists of customers, many of whom were prominent people in the community.

Acquired from Charles Apfelbaum, 1987

Subjects

Business enterprises--Massachusetts--Stockbridge--History--19th centuryHeating--Equipment and supplies--HistoryHouse furnishings--Massachusetts--Stockbridge--HistoryPlumbers--Massachusetts--Stockbridge--Economic conditions--19th centuryPlumbing--Equipment and supplies--HistoryStockbridge (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th centuryTinsmiths--Massachusetts--Stockbridge--Economic conditions--19th century

Contributors

J.M. Van Dusen Plumbing and Heating Co.Van Dusen, J. M.

Types of material

Account books
Wanton, Gideon, 1693-1767

Gideon and John Wanton Cashbook

1753-1759
1 vol. 0.2 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1114

Gideon Wanton, a two-time governor of colonial Rhode Island, and his son John were Quaker merchants from Newport. During the middle years of the eighteenth century, they carried on an active trade who took an active part in the triangular trade.

This diminutive cash account book offers a window onto the business ventures of a powerful Newport Quaker family during the mid-eighteenth century. Kept during a five-year period, 1753-1759, the book contains terse records of cash expenditures in exchange for goods and services to Gideon and John Wanton. Records of the coastwise trade in commodities such as pork, flour, and mackerel to Philadelphia and other ports accompany notices of molasses from Surinam and rum. The lack of payments relating directly to enslaved people is likely the result of the sale of the human cargo in the West Indies prior to returning to Newport.

Acquired from Garrett Scott, Jan. 2020

Subjects

Merchants--Rhode IslandNewport (R.I.)--History--18th centurySlave trade--Rhode Island

Contributors

Wanton, John, 1729-1799

Types of material

Cashbooks