Charles H. Post ran a well established general store in the center of Hebron, Connecticut. Recently, his fourth day book made its way back to Connecticut from Savannah, Georgia, thanks to a gracious donor. We have a large collection of account books, but it never fails to amaze me what people had available in the 1830s in a relatively small town. On one day, May 7, 1829, Post sold:
4 small combs, 1- 1/2 yards broad cloth, 11- 1/2 yards of cotton stripe,2 silk handkerchiefs, 1 pound of tea, 1 yard of fillet, 1/2 yard of padding, 1 yard brown linen, 1-4/12 dozen coat buttons, 2 skeins of silk, 1/4 gallon of rum, one palmetto hat, 1/4 gallon of whiskey, 2-1/2 yards of ribbon, 4 yards of calico, 5 yards of gingham, 4 pounds of flour, 16 pairs of stockings, 5 yards of gingham, 3 cotton handkerchiefs, 1 belt ribbon, 1/2 pound of tea, another 5-3/4 yards of gingham, and 1 peck of peas.
This account book is actually a day book in which Post entered transactions on a daily basis and later transferred the data into a ledger arranged by person, listing all debts and credits. You can sometimes tell what a person was planning by looking at the types of materials purchased over the course of a month or so. With a day book, one can only surmise. For example, why did someone need 16 pairs of stockings? Was he the keeper of the alms house or of a school? Or did he have a large family? To find the answers, you could do some research on the purchaser and build a more complete story. That is what makes research fun–putting pieces together and solving riddles. Anyone up for a challenge?
If you would like to see Mr. Post’s day book, ask for Ms 101681 when you come to the Research Center.