The Beaver Center Store
Picture from the 1930's when it was owned by Lawrence and Kuhl
The time is February, October 1866; December 1867. If your relatives were in Beaver Township, they were probably buying their supplies from the Beaver Center Store.
Thanks to a donation from Paul Burgess, the Historical Soc. now has a ledger from the Beaver Center Store. The ledger and some school books were found in a box in the barn of Jack Hupcej of Jerusalem Hill Road, Beaver Twp. This box had been in the shed when his family bought the farm in the 1950's.
What were your relatives buying during the Civil War era in western Penna? Well they were drinking more tea than coffee. Tea was selling for $1.00 and coffee for $.60. In 1867 one person bought alcohol .. drinking or rubbing was not noted. In 1867, some were even buying lemonade. One person bought six bottles of pop.
The staples of flour, sugar, soda, rice, vinegar, molasses, pepper, salt crackers, and buck wheat were bought on a routine basis. Spices included ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins, and cloves. They were buying bluing and starch along with wash boards and wash tubs.
They were also buying a great deal of tobacco ($.50 amount unknown) and matches. A few were using snuff and one person was buying cigars.
A good deal of butter and eggs were both entering the store and leaving it. I would have thought most folk's would be churning their own butter, but the ledger proves otherwise. Folks were also buying soap, something that I would have thought they would have made on their own.
They were also buying cheese, honey, maple sugar and one person bought potatoes. They were also buying apples, dried apples, peaches, black berries, and lemons. A few times "meat" is listed as an item being sold. This was sometimes listed as "Pork". However, a great deal of codfish, and white fish were being sold.
Around the Christmas holiday, women were obviously receiving hooped skirts. Other than a number of candy purchases, nothing else stands out as being gifts. However, one item really stood out ... folks were buying oysters in November, 1866. The ledger doesn't tell me how many, only the cost. Oysters cost between $.10 and $3.30. The ledger does not indicate that these were or were not fresh oysters. My question was where and how were these oysters obtained. Were there fresh water oysters in Lake Erie, or were they transported from the Atlantic across land by the Erie Canal and Erie Extension Canal, or by ship to Lake Erie and then overland? The sale of crackers increased at the same time. Brings to mind oyster stew or scalloped oysters. Or maybe eating them directly on the crackers?
They were buying hoe handles, hoes, scoop shovels, hammer, pails, clothes pins, saws, files, whips, brooms, hinges, bolts, tacks and a lot of nails. The store was selling fruit jars to one person and baskets to a few others.
One cultivator was sold. They were even buying wall paper, spirits of turpentine, and paint. The store sold glass, window paper, and window rollers. Folks were using candies (not making them at home?), and buying chimneys (lamps) and chimney wicks along with a lot of oil. They were buying a few books and ink and paper. Several families bought spelling books. Not a whole lot of "shot" was being sold.
The store also carried fabric such as pants material, cambric, indigo, wool, burlap, muslin, calico, cotton, flannel, and silk. They had dress patterns, thread, braids, ribbons, buttons, sheeting, shirts, suspenders, hats, shoes, boots, wadding, needles, elastic, thimbles, belts, shoe strings, batting, and collars. What I found strange was most buttons were bought by the men. In fact, there are only a handful of women who were "buying" items in the store. Either that, or they bought and only the husband's name was given. Very few women were written in the ledger with their given name (Sarah Hammon, Mary DeWolfe, Abbey Doty, Clarsina Haney, Ellen Luth, Mary Moon, Ellen Turner, Sarah Welch). Others, Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Belknap were listed as such. The store was selling cotton yarn, combs, and one obviously "wealthy" family was buying cups, saucers, goblets, and pepper boxes,
The Beaver Center School Board was also purchasing items from the store; i.e., brooms, pails, chalk, glass, and putty.
Folks were paying their bills by cash, eggs, butter, chickens, geese, loads of hay, butternuts, silver spoons, smithing, team work, and wood to name a few items.
The ledger also shows that when folks were ill, they were buying cough medicine, pain killers, camphor, ointment, castor oil, condition powder, and pills. One of our relatives purchased a tooth brush and spectacles, along with the stove blacking.
Another thing I found interesting was the number of times in a week people were in the store shopping for one item. Leads me to believe that this was a "meeting place" for the area. It is also interesting to note that if one member of the family was in the store, they were accompanied with at least one other member of the family, usually a parent, child, brother, or father-in-law.
A lot of the items bought or listed in the ledger are "unreadable", meaning they are legible, but you just can't read the persons writing or the individual used their own method of recording items and without the "key" you are only guessing at what the item might be, What a wonderful find for a genealogist. Not only does it tell you that your relatives were in the area during a specific time, but you can also learn what some of their personal habits were. Brings life to your genealogy! We have indexed this book for those who are interested in Beaver Center genealogy. You can contact us at the Historical Society to get a general idea of what your folks were buying during this time period,
Beaver Center Store patrons buried
in the Beaver Center Cemetery
|BELKNAP, Asa Sr.||1790-1872||HAGUE, Jacob||1808-1889|
|BELKNAP, ASA Jr.||1829-1906||HAYFORD, Joab||1806-1877|
|BELKNAP, Henry||1851-1926||LEARNED, Abijah||1830-1918|
|CURTISS, George W.||1822||LEARNED, Harley||1823-1911|
|DeWOLF, Mary||1841-1888||LEAVITT, Lorritt||1799-1878|
|GATES, Clavin||1803-1882||PATTERSON, Joseph B.||1832-1947|
|GATES, George||1844-1926||RUDLER, Henry||1824-1907|
|GATES, Luther||1834-1916||TENANT, John||- -|
|GATES, William||1798-1869||THOMPSON, Charles||1818-1876|