I have Ledger of Amos Gereof Ledyard, CT 1827-1851
- This CD-ROM contains an electronic image reproduction of a ledger book kept between the years
1827 and 1851 by Amos Gere (aka Geer) who lived in the vicinity of Ledyard, Connecticut. He was a farmer and a treasurer of the Congregational Church. In his ledger he records transactions with his friends and neighbors in which he sells them a wide variety of goods and
services. They in turn pay him in other goods and services, rather than cash in most cases.
This makes this ledger of particular interest; not only do we learn what Gere was able to grow or craft, we also learn the skills and occupations of his partners in trade.
Identifying the owner and residence of old ledgers such as this is frequently a challenge, and this one was no exception. A brief examination of the volume provided no
immediate identification for its author; no clear statement of ownership appears at the front of the volume, and when accounts are settled the author did not sign them (as is sometimes the case). However, we did note that the name "Eliza B. Geer" appears on several pages where it
is out of context, in odd positions, and even upside down on the page, as if a child had gotten
hold of the book and was practicing her autograph.
A more detailed examination shows that patrons were frequently charged for labor
with entries such as "myself and Jacob plowing," or "1/2 day James digging potatoes." The
people named are never given surnames, but there is a strong suggestion that they are
members of the author's household, either family members, servants or employees. Likewise,
there are numerous instances where the writer is paid by means of "boots for Jacob and
James," "sundries for Eliza," etc. which reinforces that suggestion. The names which appear
most often in this context are all very common names, except for one, namely, "Hamilton."
Finally, near the end of the book there is a single entry where an account was signed when it
was settled at Ledyard in April 1850 by "Amos Gere." Thus, the internal evidence suggests
that this ledger belonged to a man named Amos Gere or Geer who probably had a large family
including a dependent named "Hamilton." Reference to the Geer genealogy shows that there
was an Amos Geer, farmer, born at Ledyard, Conn., in 1772 when it was known as North
Groton. He married Prudence Allyn and had a large family which matches the ledger entries
very well, including a son Alexander Hamilton (1), so the identity of the owner is established.
Further research has shown that "Hamilton" married Cordelia Comstock of nearby
Montville, Conn., and died in So. Toledo, OH in 1879 (2).
That Amos Gere lived in Ledyard, Connecticut is also confirmed by internal evidence.
The ledger contains several pages headed "Second Society Groton" which contained entries
concerned with sums for pew rents and the salary for "Mr. Tuttle," who was apparently the
minister. This clearly suggests the author lived in Groton, but that is unlikely because Groton is also frequently listed as a destination, as when a horse was rented out for some one to ride
to Groton. This mystery is clarified late in the book when the account for the "Second Society
Groton" is carried forward from page 125 to page 143 with the name on the account changed
to "Congregational Society Ledyard." The name of the minister and the people supporting the
church do not change at this point, so it is clear that the writer was based in Ledyard, and that
the church he served was a daughter of the church in Groton, and had simply changed its name
at this point.
Other destinations frequently mentioned are Norwich, Mystic, and New London, but
Ledyard is never mentioned as a destination. By consulting an atlas one finds that all these
towns, as well as many less well-known towns named in the text do indeed all lie in the
vicinity of Ledyard. In addition, on rare occasions when a horse or wagon was rented the
writer noted the mileage to the destination. Thus we learn that the writer was based about 8-9
miles from both Norwich and Mystic which is completely consistent with Ledyard being his
The entries in this ledger are primarily in ink and one hand with a reasonably legible
penmanship. The entries portray a man who provided a wide range of goods and services. At
times he was clearly selling his labor harvesting grains, or ploughing fields. At other times he
sells corn brooms (which he presumably made), and farm produce such as potatoes, onions,
and parsnips. In 1846 he tells us he hired Lewis Perkins and Calvin Gallup to work for him,
but for the most part the labor seems to have been provided by the various members of his
own large family.
While a business ledger might seem like rather dry reading, the more time you send
with one, the more fascinating it can become. Gere kept accounts with many people over the
years. He probably did business on a cash basis with a great many more who unfortunately
remain nameless. Nevertheless, from this ledger you can learn which of his neighbors and
relatives he trusted well enough to extend them credit(!), and what they purchased from him.
In many instances he was paid in goods or labor instead of cash. Thus we infer that Jesse
Chapman was a blacksmith, the appropriately named Briar Brown was a wool carder, Jesse
Smith was a cooper, Col. Roswell Allyn was a shoemaker, Noyes Holmes dressed cloth, etc.
A work of this nature does not contain a great deal of genealogical data per se, but
interesting inferences can sometimes be drawn by reading between the lines. At the very least,
it shows people living in a certain area at a particular point in time, and doing specific things.
For example, in this ledger we are told who rented pews in the Congregational Church in
Ledyard over an extended period of time. In 1830 Capt. Joseph W. Brewster is charged for a
load of wood delivered to Mr. Burgess; are they related? In 1829 part of the bill of Sarah
Williams was paid by "your father W'ms;" was Sarah an old maid? In 1831 James Gere, Esq.
was charged 17 cents for a peck of onions delivered "to your father" who was obviously living
at that time. In 1832 Joseph S. Allyn was charged 28 cents for a "mare for Thankful to ride to
Mystic 7 miles;" was Thankful perhaps his wife?
All things considered, this volume provides an interesting glimpse into life in
the Ledyard, Connecticut area in the first half of the nineteenth century. Much more can
undoubtedly be read between the lines of this ledger with careful study and comparisons with
other sources. The surnames which appear most frequently are: Allyn, Avery, Bill(s), Brown,
Chapman, Gallup, Geer/Gere, Latham, Morgan, Rogers, Smith, Spicer, and Williams.
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