Merrick Gay Account Books, 1844-1849
Call no.: MS 242
Owner of a general store and a woolen factory, postmaster, town clerk, and state senator from Gaysville in Stockbridge, Vermont. Daybooks document accounts and transactions with individuals, businesses, Town of Stockbridge, and Narrows School District, method and form of payment (cash and goods), and Gay’s purchases, including labor costs for hauling his freight.
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.
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).
The collection is open for research.
Cite as: Merrick Gay Daybooks (MS 242). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Acquired from Charles Apfelbaum.
Processed by Ken Fones-Wolf.
- Barter--Vermont--Gaysville--History--19th century
- Blanchard, Solomon, b. ca. 1816
- Books--Prices--Vermont--History--19th century
- Claremont Manufacturing Company--History
- Freight and freightage--Rates--Vermont--History--19th century
- Gaysville (Vt.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Gaysville (Vt.)--Rural conditions--19th century
- Gaysville Forge Company--History
- Gaysville Manufacturing Company--History
- General stores--Vermont--Gaysville
- Narrows School District--History
- Stockbridge (Vt.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Waller, Israel
- Gay, Merrick, 1802-1866
Types of material
- Account books