Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Timothy Cushing Account Books
Scope and Contents of the Collection
Cushing's accounts offer a fine record of the activities of a workaday carpenter during the first decades of the early American republic, reflecting both his remarkable industry and the flexibility with which he approached earning a living. The work undertaken by Cushing centers on two areas of activity -- carpentry and farm work -- but within those areas, the range of activities is quite broad. As a carpenter, Cushing set glass in windows, hung shutters, made coffins, hog troughs, and window seats; he worked on horse carts and sleds, barn doors, pulled down houses and framed them, made "a Little chair" and a table, painted sashes, hewed timber, made shingles, and worked on a dam. As a farm worker, he was regularly called upon to butcher calves and bullocks, to garden, mow hay, plow, make cider, and perform many other tasks, including making goose quill pens. The crops he records reflect the near-coastal setting: primarily flax, carrots, turnips, corn, and potatoes, with references throughout to cattle and sheep. During some periods, Cushing records selling fresh fish, including haddock and eels.
Both volumes are standard single column account books overlapping somewhat in date, with the second volume (only 22p. filled in) covering the latter years of Cushing's life, 1800-1806. Both volumes include records with creditors as well as debtors: John Wheelwright tanned calf and sheep skin for Cushing, while Adam Stowel and David Nichols kept Cushing with a regular supply of rum, sugar, and molasses.
Laid into the first volume are seventeen miscellaneous slips of paper containing accounts, manuscript pages from a surveying exercise book, and a small set of accounts, 1832-1833, recording labor performed by an unidentified member of a later generation. Several accounts in this sheaf are with members of the Sampson family, who were connected to the Cushings by marriage, however the identity of the record keeper remains uncertain. The second volume includes a small number of entries from 1844-1845, including poetical remembrances from Isaac (the youngest son of Timothy's son David) and his wife Rebecca (Whitney) Cushing of Ashby, Mass., to "sister Clara."