Born in Middleborough, Mass., in 1781, Artemas Cushman relocated to the central Vermont town of Braintree as a young man and spent decades as a carpenter and house joiner. He and his wife Phebe Spear raised a family of nine, one of whom (Artemas’ namesake) rose to local prominence as a officer in the state militia and representative in the state house and senate. Cushman died in Braintree in 1864.
Cushman’s small ledger is a fine record of the day-to-day work of an antebellum carpenter in rural Vermont. Part daybook and part account book, and often lacking in detail, Cushman’s entries document the work of a skilled artisan engaged in constructing or repairing houses, windmills, cider mills, bake houses, sheds, and barns, and at least one school. Occasionally, he applied his skills to smaller projects such as mending a wheel or making a wagon body or coffin, and less frequently he was compensated for manual labor (haying or planting). In a cash-poor economy, Cushman was typically repaid through an exchange of labor, or through commodities such as brandy, grain, or pork.
- Braintree (Vt.)--Economic conditions--19th century
Types of material
- Account books