Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Jacob and John E. Newland Account Book
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The account book kept by Jacob Newland and later John E. Newland of Mansfield, Massachusetts, between 1798 and 1849, details much about the work of these farmers and their interaction with neighbors in eastern Mansfield during the early nineteenth century.
The customers, most of whom seem to have been fellow-farmers, made frequent use of the Newlands' animals and animal-drawn vehicles (carriage, "waggon," "slay") for riding and working, in addition to purchasing products, using the Newlands' labor, and leasing pasture land. Products included "inglish hay," linseed oil, "brown bred," corn, pork, lamb pelt, butter, lard, vinegar, wood, "portaters," oats, milk, white beans, and lime. Labor items included plowing; shingling; splitting hoops; brick laying; drawing wood, stones, rails, dung, clay, or cider; "fetching"; helping to kill hogs, calves, and cows; making nails; chopping wood; carrying a letter; and setting horse and ox shoes.
Many paid in cash, but many others bartered their own or their family members' labor (plowing, shearing sheep, making shoes, haying, planting, hoeing, thrashing, picking, weeding, chopping wood, repairing chairs), or the use of their animals, or products (iron and steel, baskets, cloth, and quarts of oil).
A few of the customers can be identified as prominent Mansfield citizens: Benjamin Billings was a physician; Ebenezer Williams was a large landholder active in town and parish matters; and Edward Kingman was a representative to the General Court, a selectman, justice of the peace, and keeper of "Old Lamb Tavern" in Boston. The Daniel Cobb family represented in these pages were forebears of the Justin Cobb family of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
While the last nearly two-thirds of the account book is blank, the last few pages include some vital records for family and townsfolk as well as significant dates for the Newlands' business: "Black hors died August 29th, 1837, aged 14; bought my covered wagon March 1833; Simeon Snow (a major customer) moved away...; bought my ox waggon of Berude Drake October 3, 1846."
In addition to its use for farmers' accounts, the book served as a leaf press, a scrapbook for newspaper items bearing upon WCTU (Woman's Christian Temperance Union) and other temperance activities in the region, other social events and anniversaries, children's sayings, very short romantic fiction, and a copybook for poetry. There is also, among a few similar loose items tucked into the pages, a drawing of trim for petticoat and "draws."