January 15, 2010 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

Teasel: 1. A plant of the genus Dipsacus, comprising herbs with prickly leaves and flower-heads; esp. fullers’ teasel, D. fullonum, the heads of which have hooked prickles between the flowers, and are used for teasing cloth (see 2); and wild teasel, D. sylvestris, held by some to be the original type, but having straight instead of hooked prickles.
~Oxford English Dictionary (online)

Archival practices have changed over the years. No longer is it acceptable to put a sticker directly on an account book, as we find far too often here at CHS. However, had the sticker on the cover of Ira Wells’ account book not informed me of the contents, I’m not sure I would have picked up on the several mentions of teazles (as he spelled it).

Ira Wells (1783-1857) was a farmer in East Windsor, Connecticut. His account book dates between 1833 and 1869. It was most likely it was taken over by his son, Hezekiah Lathrop Wells (1819-1899), after his death.  In the account book he mentions many crops with which we are still familiar, such as potatoes, apples, corn, and oats.  As you can see from the images below, Ira Wells and the people who worked with him were also active in growing, buying, and selling teazles, a crop unfamiliar to most of us.

Buying teazles

Buying teazles from Mr. Watson, October 13, 1835. Ms 65725.

Working with Teazles

These two pages show all the work that went into the teazle crop. April - September 1834. Ms 65725.

Wells seems to have continued growing this crop for a while. Entries in the spring of 1844 show that he was still weeding the teazles, and was also weeding tobacco, a crop that continues to be grown in the area today.

The entry for this account book will be added to our online catalog early in February. You are welcome to visit our research center and take a look at any time! If you are interested in this branch of the Wells family, we also have Hezekiah’s account book (1851-1865, Ms 65725/Account Books) and diaries (1839-1849, Ms 65726).

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