Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
George Cooley & Co. Ledger
Scope and Contents of the Collection
This ledger, begun by George Cooley in 1843 to record the accounts of his soap making business in the Cabotville section of Chicopee, was continued by Titus Chapin, an ardent abolitionist, and Mordecai Clough when they took over the business following Cooley's death (or departure) in 1848.
The ledger reveals that the business took payment in goods and services as well as in cash. The most frequently accepted goods were grease and ashes; also taken in were tallow, pork, scraps and skins, and candles. Some of the services bartered were repairing wagon, shoeing horse, fixing whippletree, making 30 boxes, and covering umbrella.
The business sold gallons, bars, and cakes of soap. Mount Holyoke Seminary bought 28 "fancy soaps". Also listed were shaving soap and hard or hand soap. In addition, sales sometimes included candles, butter, mop handles, molasses, apples and potatoes, squashes, satinet, cheese, cord wood, paint, and rosin.
Some of the listings were annotated with regard to the customer's character: Ashad Bartlett was seen as "bad and poor and fights with his wife", Norris Starkwether was "an honest man", and Miss L.B. Hunt "eloped with a man".
While certain accounts in the Chapin/Clough portion of the ledger are noted as being transferred to a new ledger, it is not known whether another preceded this one. The 1843 date coincides with the coming of many small businesses to Cabotville in connection with the growth of industries there at the time.