Yesterday, I decided to transcribe the inventory that was taken for John M Smith’s estate. Because the only census that I have for John was the 1830 census, there wasn’t much to know about John personally based on that. So what could I learn from the inventory? (I’m keeping the spellings used in the inventory.)
John and his family were believers. His inventory contained 2 Bibles, a Bible dictionary, Sunday books (I wish I knew what these were) and 2 volumes of “Josephess Works” who among other things, wrote about Jewish history and early Christianity.
John could read and was interested in history and politics. The inventory included “The History of the Late War” (Revolutionary War – written in 1832), “Kentucky Justice”, “The Constitution of the Cumberland” and “Robinsons History”. There were also “public documents” which I believe were the papers he received when he became a justice of the peace. Also listed were 4 books (no details), 3 grammar books and a medical book.
John and his family enjoyed music. The inventory included 5 music books, 3 hymn books and a dulcimer.
The furniture included 6 chairs, another set of 6 chairs, 1 armed chair and 4 common chairs, two square tables, a secretary (desk), a clock, a sugar desk, “cupboard furniture”, a cupboard, a folding table, a looking glass, a “bord and chamber pot”, a bedsted and furniture, and another listing for a bedsted and furniture. No sheets, blankets or pillows were listed like I see in some of the other inventories of the time period.
Items that I would consider kitchen items included several crocks, a churn, kettles, skillets, 2 pots, 2 ovens (like a dutch oven?), tea kettles, pails, buckets, wire sifter, meal tub, salt tub, grindstone, a gridiron and 2 pot racks. Two sets of silver spoons, but no knives or forks like I see in some of the other inventories of the time. He had a candle box, candles and tallow. I’d imagine they made their own candles. There was no type of lantern listed.
The inventory contained many items used for weaving. 4 pairs of weavers harness, many slays, 2 hackles, weavers spools, warping bars and a large spool rack. It lists 2 cotton wheels and I wonder if those are spinning wheels. There was a listing for “two flax and one real”. I’m not sure what that references, but I know it could be used for making fabric, so I’m placing it here. There was also some sheep shears, so the wool was probably spun into yarn.
I believe that John was a farmer. He had 5 plows, one shovel, a hoe, a flax break and barrel, several axes and hachets, one rye stack, two oat stacks, 7 1/2 bushels of oats, 2 wheat stacks, 23 bushels of wheat, 2 fields of corn, a cabbage patch, a sweet potato patch and an Irish potato patch. He had several sythes and reap hooks.
There was also a listing that I can’t read completely. It looks like fax and hoggshead and rye. Because there’s a listing for a still, I think the hogshead is a barrel of about 60-70 gallons.
Basic carpentry knowledge was a must for this time period. John owned a hammer saw set, a hand axe and draw knife, a whip saw, several augers, a cross cut saw, a saw and sundry tools.
His livestock included 5 colts, 2 mares, 1 bull, 4 steer, 4 heifers, 46 hogs, 42 sheep, 15 turkeys and 8 bee stands. He had many wagon parts, and one ox cart. He had 1 saddle, bridle and blanket.
John also owned a boat – which makes sense since he lived along the Cumberland River and Beaver Creek.
I was surprised to see no notes or receipts of any kind included in the inventory. “Neither a borrower or a lender be”? Also surprising to me was that there was no estate sale after the inventory. Could it be that the children just divided the items among themselves? There were still 3 children living at home at the time of John’s death. A 22 year old daughter and two sons between the ages of 15 and 20. Perhaps they kept everything in order to continue with the household? The inventory had been taken on Oct 1, 1835. Would there be a sale after the daughter got married 3 years later? She was married on 8 November, 1838 – would that be why the inventory wasn’t recorded until November 1838? I know that each of the boys lived with or next to siblings around this time and both of them passed away in the fall of 1840…I wish I understood the customs of the time better.
The administrator’s penal sum for John’s estate was $1000 and the total of the inventory was $989, so that makes sense to me. Five years later, the two youngest sons passed away. Solomon’s penal sum was $200, but Benjamin’s sum was $1100. Where is the inventory for Benjamin? In the 1840 tax list, Benjamin is listed directly Whatafter his brother, Elias. He owned no land or any taxable property. Why was his administrator asked to pay so much? I have not been able to find an inventory or sale for either of the two youngest brothers.
I have really enjoyed working on this project. I spent a lot of time researching the various items in the list and I added hyperlinks to the things I was finding in my document. That will help me remember what the items were.