Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Noah Lyman Strong Account Book
Scope and Contents of the Collection
Noah Lyman Strong (1807-1893) ran a sawmill and gristmill on a farm in Southampton, Massachusetts that he bought from his father Phineas in 1847. Eventually he moved to Westfield, Massachusetts where he owned a number of tenements and other real estate as depicted in the pages of his account book. Strong served as a State Representative in 1848-1849 and subsequently as a State Senator from Hampshire County.
The gristmill he owned ground mainly rye, corn, buckwheat, and provender, as these accounts show. Sometimes Strong leased the mill to others. The sawmill turned out pickets, posts and railings for fences; clapboards, joists, siding, lath, partitions, ribs, and shingles for buildings; and sometimes the odd item--1 board for a mop. These materials were paid for either in cash or by barter for goods (once, The Cyclopedia of History) or services (usually sawing or hauling).
The real estate records are particularly interesting: they reveal details about house building in the mid nineteenth century, housing for transients, in Westfield, and tenants themselves, among whom were some identified by Strong as deaf, "colored," or widowed.
There are many intriguing miscellaneous personal records in these accounts in addition to the central business records already mentioned. In 1854, for example, Strong became the guardian of a niece and nephew, Elizabeth and Alexander, children of his late brother Alexander, whose widow was murdered by her second husband. The children came north from Vicksburg, Texas, slave owners and students. The records show their school, clothing, board, and travel expenses for the years 1854-1860.
Strong assumed responsibility for his father-in-law, Henry Fowler, as well. There are accounts for Fowler's last years of life, his care, his funeral, and the dispensation of his estate. There are also estate records for Anson Clapp, possibly a cousin of Strong's.
Other personal and miscellaneous records to be found in the account book include Strong family genealogy; town of Westfield agreements and expenses; a list of U.S. bonds Strong bought; descriptions of lands in Michigan he probably owned; money lent and borrowed; property division by arbitration between Strong and his brother Phineas; a cholera remedy; a marriage notice for Henry Clapp and Mme de Gonsalis Huet of Malta in Paris; and mission expenses in China. There are also records of work Strong did on behalf of railroad companies, usually as an arbitrator in land-taking situations.
A few loose sheets have been removed to a folder. Among these is a letter form Josie E.S. to Susie describing a woman entrepreneur in Lowell named "Captain somebody" whose business was moving families. The letter also mentions the sermons of Professor Phelps who taught at Smith College and was a brother of Elizabeth Stuart Phelps. Additionally, it includes descriptions of the writer's brother's two-week vacation at home from Yale and the influences of his classmates and school upon him.