Finding Aid of the Joseph Cooper Dail Store Account Books, 1894-1941, PC.AB.539


Finding Aid of the Joseph Cooper Dail Store Account Books, 1894-1941, PC.AB.539


Joseph Cooper Dail (1872-1940) was a native of Chowan County. He first worked in a mercantile store in Winfall (Perquimans Co.) in 1897. The following year he began working in a mercantile store in Edenton (Chowan County), then purchased the store in 1903.This set of 26 account books includes the following: thirteen volumes variously labeled as daybooks, order books, or annual books involving sales; charges, and orders; five volumes labeled as double entry ledgers, two volumes labeled as single entry ledgers; three small, soft bound, memorandum books containing inventories or lists of medications; and three other volumes including lists of old, unpaid accounts, supplies, or produce orders, etc.

Descriptive Summary

Joseph Cooper Dail Store Account Books, 1894-1941
Call Number
Dail, Joseph Cooper
3.00 boxes
State Archives of North Carolina

Restrictions on Access & Use

Access Restrictions

Available for research.

Use Restrictions

Copyright is retained by the authors of these materials, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law (Title 17 US Code). Individual researchers are responsible for using these materials in conformance with copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], PC.AB.539.1-25, Joseph Cooper Dail Store Account Books, 1897-1941, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC, USA.

Collection Overview

This collection represents financial records of a retail grocer, Joseph Cooper Dail, who first worked in a general merchandise store in Winfall, N.C., then later worked in, and finally owned a retail store named the J. C. Dail Grocery. Included among the account books are the following: six volumes labeled as double entry ledgers, two volumes labeled as single entry ledgers; three small, soft bound, pocket memorandum books containing inventories or lists of medications; twelve volumes variously labeled as daybooks, order books, or annual books and with entries recording sales, charges, and orders; and three other volumes including lists of old, unpaid accounts, supplies, or produce orders, etc. As a whole, the books show that Mr. Dail offered a fairly wide range of grocery and household items. Items sold included many types of staples, cured and salted meat, fish, candies, produce, and other types of foods. He also sold remedies such as Lydia Pinkham pills and Bateman drops. Additionally, he accepted items for trade, for example, eggs exchanged for groceries, candy, Cokes, or kerosene. Some of the ledgers include the names of local citizens who died or were ill, weather reports, visits from his children, car repairs, taxes, repair bills, some references to world news, and so forth.

Arrangement Note

Arranged by type of material.

Biographical/Historical Note

Joseph Cooper Dail was born in Chowan County on 17 November 1872, a son of Martha A. Boyce Dail (1850-1950) and Nathan D. Dail (1843-1877). Nathan Dail died leaving his widow and three young children, of whom Joseph was the eldest. By 1897 Joseph was working in a store in Winfall (Perquimans County). That same year he married Christian Eliza (Kate) Hobbs (1878-1959).

In 1898 Mr. Dail began working in a grocery store in Edenton (Chowan County), and subsequently purchased the store in 1903. According to census records, Dail and his wife, Kate, became the parents of five children, Eugenia E., born ca. 1899; Ida M., born, ca. 1902; Leroy Joseph, born ca. 1904; Kate E., born, ca. 1907; and Nathan D. born ca. 1912.

Described in the , Edenton of that period had a population of 3,046 and boasted a total of seventeen grocery stores. (The total number of grocery stores, however, was a little less by 1912. The years of this collection from 1894-1941 represent a time when almost every town and community enjoyed the presence of one or often several small neighborhood stores, each owned by a grocer who took a personal interest in the neighborhood and the customers.

According to family accounts, Joseph Dail employed two clerks, including one named Ekron White. Mr. Dail's wife and sons also helped in the store, with the sons delivering items to customers by bicycle. One service provided by the store to the community was allowing customers to make long distance calls. Under this system, a record book was kept of all such calls and callers were charged accordingly.

Mr. Dail died on 18 August 1940. He was buried in Beaver Hill Cemetery, in Edenton. One of his sons inherited the store, but it was subsequently rented out then later sold.

Contents of the Collection

1. Ledgers, 1894-1941


Includes various account books maintained by Joseph C. Dail in the course of his work in the retail grocery trade, 1894 until his death in 1940. There are some entries by others in 1941. The six volumes that have covers stamped or embossed with the designation double entry generally have the following pattern: they contains entries of transactions with store suppliers, with charges and dates on the left side, and payment by check, dates, and all relevant discounts and credits on the right side. Most supplies were listed as Merchandise (Mdse.), though there are various listings of commodities such as flour, milk, eggs, oranges, raisins, soap, vaseline, snuff, buttons, burlap, gas and oil (for the ledgers after 1920), and so forth. Names and towns or cities of the suppliers are written as headings at the tops of pages. There are at least partial indexes in the front of the volume. Suppliers were typically from Edenton, Elizabeth City, Richmond, Va., Norfolk, Va., and Baltimore, Md. The other types of account books are twelve orders and charges books; three small pocket memo books that were used to list inventory and supplies on hand; and three books of old accounts, presumably unpaid. There are twenty-six volumes in total, 1894-1941.

Ledger, Double Entry,1894-1901
Ledger, Double Entry,1902-1907
Ledger, Double Entry,1907-1912
Ledger, Double Entry,1912-1919
Ledger, Double Entry,1924-1931
Ledger, Double Entry,1924-1931
Ledger labeled as Single Entry,1928-1939
Ledger labeled as single entry,1939-January 1941

2. Sales, Charges and Memo Books, 1894-1941

Sales/Charges Book, June 1918-May 1919
Produce and Purchases of Eggs from Customers,1919-1921
Sales/Charges Book, April 1919- May 1920
Sales/Charges Book, October 1919-July 1921
Sales/Order Book, December 1920-June 1927
Sales/Charges Book, March 1921-February 1922
Sales/Orders Book, February 1922-September 1922
Sales/Charges Book, September 1922-May 1923
Sales/Charges Book, July 1927-October 1929
Sales/Charges Book, March 1929-June 1930
Sales/Charges Book, June 1930-July 1931
Sales/Charges Book, September 1932-July 1933
Pocket Memo Book, 1907-1911
Pocket Memo Book, 1912-1913; 1916-1917
Pocket Memo Book, 1919-1922

3. Unpaid Accounts and Annual Sales Books, 1894-1941

Old Debts and Annual Sales Book,1898-1916
Old Accounts Book,1903-1936
Old Accounts Book,1922-1923

Subject Headings

  • Dail, Joseph Cooper
  • Retail trade--North Carolina--Edenton
  • Grocery trade--North Carolina--Edenton
  • Account books
  • Chowan County (N.C.)
  • Edenton (N.C.)
  • Perquimans County (N.C.)
  • Winfall (N.C.)
  • Acquisitions Information

    Gift from Barbara Dail Whiteman, Raleigh, NC, 2008

    Processing Information

  • Processed by Fran Tracy-Walls, 2008; 2011; Encoded by Fran Tracy-Walls, June 2011; additional encoding by Lea Walker, October 2016; edited for publication in DOC by Fran Tracy-Walls, April 2020.