Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Ebenezer Pope Ledger
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The ledger kept by Ebenezer Pope from 1810-1821 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts records the transactions transferred from the daybook of his blacksmithing business. Ebenezer Pope, originally from Lebanon, Connecticut, was considered one of the more prominent men active in town affairs from 1810-1830. Although little information on Pope and his family appears in the Great Barrington published vital statistics and town histories, there is an abundance of information concerning many of his customers.
Debit transactions included cash, services, and goods; as did credit transactions. On both debit and credit, labor services were frequently used. Pope hired out his temporary workers to several of his customers for special projects/tasks, and vice versa -- in many instances customers settled their outstanding bills with their own labor. There are several entries detailing this type of transaction, as well as entries of Pope hiring someone for a long period (i.e. - one year, 4 months) at a set wage. One example is entry #27 -- customer Aaron Wilcox, who began work for one year on Feb. 20, 1811 at the rate of $95. Among Wilcox's debits were: one pair of boots, coat and trim at (Reuben) Bacon's, paying Miss (Anna M.) Palmer for making pantaloons and jacket; and paying Mr. (Stephen) Sibley.
The more frequent debit entries included shoeing horse, hooping wagon wheel, fixing whippletree, sharpening ploughshare, hoes, scythes, axes, his horse to various places, and cash. As was previously mentioned the credit entries included cash, services, labor, and goods. Amongst the goods were several sundry items including bushels of corn, potatoes, and wheat; cider brandy; hog; veal; salt; turnip; oats; lbs. of tallow; candles; sheepskin; calfskin; molasses; Ingeon meal; as well as 14 old sheep, 3 lambs, and an ox. What is interesting about these particular credit items is that they rarely showed up on the debit side. It is possible that Pope either kept a separate ledger for such items or that he used a portion of them for personal consumption.
There is mention of four women and 2 or 3 black persons. The three women who are just briefly mentioned are Lucinda Woodworth, Miss Baldwin, and Ethel Jones (of Stockbridge). Lucinda Woodworth appears in the Great Barrington marriage census and is possibly the daughter of Major Dudley Woodworth, who also appears in the ledger, and sister of Edward P. Woodworth, Esq.
The fourth woman, who has quite an extensive ledger account, is Anna M. Palmer. Judging from her debit and credit transactions, as well as from the entries of other people in this ledger, we can assume that Ms. Palmer did quite a bit of seamstress work -- sewing pantaloons and jacket, etc. She also worked for Pope for 23 weeks at $1.00/wk.
The only definite account of a black person is entry #72 -- George Negro. It is a short account with debits of an ox, molasses, peck of Ingeon meal, and bushel of potatoes, for a total of $2.01, and paid off with 5 days worth of his labor. There are also several accounts in other people's entries of a "Negro" providing labor either from or for Pope.
Two other pertinent entries include Pope's notes on the 1812 building of the Great Barrington and Alford Turnpike (entry #109) and the notations of a couple of different persons boarding Miss Baldwin, who may have been a school teacher or who may have just lived in the building in which the school was housed. There is indication that this boarding may have been a temporary arrangement as work was being done on the school house.
Among the prominent/frequent names which appear both in the ledger and in Great Barrington histories are: