7/16/1997 NOTES From The White County Historical Society Library

White County Historical Society Library
by Charlene Shields!
This article appeared in THE CARMI TIMES
July 16, 1997

Looked at an Old 1818 Ledger

After he had looked at an old 1818 ledger from a store in New Haven, in the 1950s, J. Robert Smith published an account of New Haven pioneer life. Last week, this column carried the first part of this article in which the author speculated about the activities of some of those pioneers. We continue where we left off last week:

"Thomas Dagley came picking his way down the road toward the store. Here he had brought his family from Kentucky in 1812. His son, Capt. Samuel Dagley, had come in 1811 and helped Joseph Boone build the fort. His daughter, Sarah, was Boone's wife. His daughter, Rebecca, married William Withrow; Hannah was married to Hugh Withrow and later to Robin Harris; and Ruth was the wife of Carter Smith.
The family moved into Boone's Fort at first because the Indians were still a menace, and the British were stirring them up more than ever as the War of 1812 neared. "On this particular day at a store, Thomas Dagley bought a pound of coffee, and the storekeeper entered a 50 cent charge in the ledger.
Carter Smith came in and bought for his wife, Ruth, a dozen needles for 12 1/2 cents and two ounces of indigo for 12 cents.
"In from Herald's Prairie in White County came Hosea Pearce, a newlywed. On Feb. 2, 1818, there had been a wilderness wedding. Hosea married Nancy O'Neal.
On April 5, he rode down to New Haven to buy his bride three yards of 'linnen' for $3.75, a bedspread for $2 and an oilcloth for 75 cents.
"Asa Webb appeared in one of his frequent trips from his home clearing just two miles from Shawneetown.
He traded often in New Haven because his daughter, Jane, lived there, the wife of Capt. Samuel Dagley.
Webb was hungry for meat, and he bought 77 l/4 pounds of bacon. His name went in the book again, charged with $7.72 1/2 for bacon and 37 cents for two ounces of tea.
"Mindful of his $7 credit for salt, Joseph Boone splurged on May 18 by buying a pound of coffee for 50 cents and three books, Lucy and Colin, a ballad by Thomas Tickell for 75 cents; Cowper's Poems, $1.25; and Self Indulgence, $1.25. Before he left, he purchased four yards of plaid chambray at 62 1/2 cents a yard for Samuel Dagley.
"In one day of trading at this pioneer store, there were 25 different customers, and sales totaled $30.98--a large amount of business for a wilderness trading post which drew its customers from miles around. On that same day, the merchant bought six hogs and paid $6.28 for them.
"Almost three years of trading were recorded in the ledger.
Most of the business was conducted by barter, since actual cash was scarce.
Coins were in denominations of 6 l/4 cents, 12 l/2 cents, 25 cents and 50 cents.
"Pioneers brought in their coonskins and traded them for supplies, each skin bringing 25 cents. Deerskins brought 12 1/2 cents a pound.
Hogs sold for four cents a pound in 1818, although the price went up and down according to the supply.
Many a pioneer brought in six or eight hogs, then did his trading at the post,
buying whisky at 31 1/4 cents a quart or $1.25 a gallon;
a jack knife for 37 1/2 cents,
sugar at 32 cents a pound,
corn 50 cents a bushel,
a pocket comb for 12 1/2 cents,
a looking glass for 87 1/2 cents,
wheat at $1 a bushel,
fish hooks at 37 1/2 cents a dozen,
a candlestick for 62 1/2 cents,
a skein of thread for 12 1/2 cents or a bottle of ground bark and whisky 'to cure the ague' for $1.50.
"Folks who could not afford to buy the prepared bark and whisky to fight chills and fever would buy a few ounces of ground bark, add a bottle of whisky, then mix their own medicine...."

(Continued next week. )
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