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January 7, 2011

Shoemaker's Ledger, Lunenburg Nova Scotia

Several years ago I purchased an account book kept by a local shoemaker living in or near the communities of CrossCreek and Ritsey's Cove, Lunenburg Nova Scotia. There are no identifying notations to tell me who the shoemaker was, so I researched the names of his customers found in the book. I found them all living in CrossCreek and Ritsey's Cove so I assume the shoemaker lived nearby.

The entries I read date from 1897 to 1919. There may be some earlier or later - they are not in date order. Whoever kept the account book decided to keep track of money owed and paid by family. Each family has its own page (or pages) and shoe repairs and purchases are noted throughout the years the family used the service.

The shoemaker's ledger book is 17x7 inches and there are 212 pages covering 22 years.

It's a fascinating book as it names children and sometimes wives. The shoemaker noted who he made the shoes for, and their cost, putting everyone under the father's name. Sometimes he added a note as to who the father was - if it was a name shared by more than one man, he would put "xx son of yy" as the head of the house. So he might put James Jones son of Levi and then list all of the work he did for James Jones and family.

This shoemaker also sold prescription glasses and other items. He describes shoes and boots being made, being repaired and so on. As anl example, under the name Daniel Himmelman he has the date Feb. 10th 1897 and the notation "pair boots Albert" and the cost $1.75. So we know that Daniel's son Albert had boots made in Feb. 1897.

It seems many of the villagers kept running accounts with the Shoemaker, some for over a year before paying. When the items are paid for, he wrote a large PAID in script over the entire set of transactions.

His spellng is bad but it's not hard to figure what the names really are. Some villagers have many pages devoted to them. Leonard Oxner for example has a page starting in 1911 and ending 1914 with a final notation "Paid Jan 17, 1916"

In 1914 he repaired Leonard' s harness for 30 cents. In December 1911 he charged Alex Smith 10 cents for "putting on skates" for Arthur (the day after Christmas, I think we all know what Arthur got for Christmas that year!). Arthur must have been quite an active young lad, because he is listed several times between July 3, 1911 and Dec. 26 as having shoes patched, shoes repaired, shoes soled and heeled, shoes patched and the skates put on.

I have begun transcribing this 212 page ledger book. It's been difficult as I decided to list all transactions by date rather than by family name. So that means I have to go through every page pulling out the transactions for all families for January for every year (as an example).

Every Saturday I will try to post all the records for the preceeding week for all years for all families. Phew! That's a huge job as there are 22 years worth of records, so I can't promise I'll be able to keep up with it.

The first post is tomorrow, Jan. 8 and it will cover all services to inhabitants of the villages as noted by the shoemaker between Jan 1 and Jan 8 from 1897-1919.


Lori Thornton said...

What an interesting find! A little late for the Carolina loyalists who fled to Nova Scotia in which I'm interested, but interesting nonetheless.

Jennifer Wilhelmi, The Erudite Genealogist said...

This sounds like a fantastic project, very big, but so interesting! I look forward to seeing your transcriptions. --Jennifer

Anglers Rest said...

What great find. I shall look forward to your posts.

Julie said...

I want to thank you from all of us - those who read because it's interesting, those who will search and find or not find, and for those of us who will search and unintentionally find someone we are looking for. We cannot thank you enough for all the kindness and effort you are putting into this. You are touching lives in a way, no one else can. THANK YOU! - Julie Grant

Judy G. said...

What a wonderful find! My great grandfather was a cobbler too. He was from Aylesford, Kings County and my great grandmother came from New Germany, Lunenburg. How I wish someone had saved such a memento for me. Judy G.