Finding Aid: Valley Town Account Book, 1850-1871, PC.AB.59


Finding Aid: Valley Town Account Book, 1850-1871, PC.AB.59


The Valley Town general store was located in Valley Town (Cherokee County) near present-day Andrews. It was in operation from approximately 1850 to 1871. Its proprietors were not explicitly identified. Merchandise included cloth, animal skins, shoes, sewing essentials, hardware, furnishings, building materials, ammunition, and food staples. In addition to being a general store, the location served as a post office and wayside inn. Attached to this finding aid is a partial index of customers, including one native American who remained in the valley after the removal of the Cherokee.

Descriptive Summary

Valley Town Account Book, 1850-1871
Call Number
Valley Town General Store
1.00 volumes
State Archives of North Carolina

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  1. Collection Contents

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Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Private Collections: Account Books, PC.AB.59, Valley Town Store Account Book, 1850-1871, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC, USA.

Collection Overview

This ledger records transactions for the Valley Town Store from 1850 to 1871. Customers were early Caucasian settlers of Cherokee County, as well as one Native American who remained in the county after the removal of the Cherokee tribe. Merchandise sold at the Valley Town store included clothing and fabric, e. g. cotton, shirting, buckram, bed ticking, ribbon, yarn, and thread. Shoes and finished accessories, such as buckles and umbrellas, could be purchased there also. Feathers were available in large quantities, as were skins of cattle, mink, muskrat, and deer. Food staples for animals and humans were supplied; corn, fruit, and chestnuts were sold by the bushel. Kitchen and hardware items included cooking pots, farm implements, horse tack, and building supplies. Copperas, presumably for making ink or pigments, was provided. First aid supplies appear to have been limited to camphor and menthol.

A combination of cash and barter systems were used. Bartered services such as hauling goods by wagon, shucking corn, killing hogs, cutting one tree, and building a house were noted. Payment was sometimes made in the form of gold dust. Occasionally, customers were identified by a generic description, such as "boarding house customer" or "Valley Town Division customer." Corporate customers included Grady & Nicholson; Nicholson, Reaves & Wynn; Ramsaur & Brittian (sic); Turn Pike Road; and Walker & Whitaker.

The Valley Town store served as a post office. In addition, the proprietors documented travelers who stayed overnight. Although the inn was not named, there is evidence to suggest that these entries relate to Walker's Inn in Valley Town, a National Register property which was built approximately 1844.

Note: A sampling of persons/customers' names can be found in the paper finding aid for this collection located in the Search Room of the State Archives of North Carolina.

Arrangement Note

This volume has entries for debits and credits, arranged by name or descriptive phrase, then date.


The Valley Town community is located in northeastern Cherokee County. In 1837, the land was part of Macon County and the settlement itself was called Jamesville. In 1839, a new county was formed named Cherokee, after the native American tribe which had owned the land. Within a few years, the town was renamed Valley Town for the Valley River. With the advent of the railroad in 1891, the post office relocated and a new town center was established approximately one mile west of the original settlement. The town's name was changed to Andrews at that time.

Three generations of the Scott-Walker family handled the mail for the Valley Town community. William Walker (1812-1864?) was the postmaster from 1846 until the outbreak of the Civil War. Little is known about the Confederate post office. After the Civil War, Mary M. Trenkle Scott (1805-1888), William's mother-in-law, served as postmistress for a little more than a year. She was succeeded by her daughter, Margaret Jane Scott Walker (1826-1899) for a brief stint. In 1874, William Pitt Walker (1847-1916), son of William and Margaret, became postmaster.

Although the account book does not expressly identify the store owners, it may help to tell the story of two families of entrepreneurs who purchased land and moved to the area after the Cherokee removal. William Walker was listed as a merchant in Valley Town in the 1850 Census; presumably, he traveled with William Pitt Waugh (1775-1852) from Wilkes County to purchase land and establish a trading post there. Walker and his wife Margaret were also known as proprietors of Walker's Inn, which was established in Valley Town approximately 1844. The inn became a popular stage coach stop for people traveling between Franklin and Murphy. The presence of boarding, retail, and postal entries in the account book suggests a strong tie to the Walker family.

The Walker's son, William Pitt Walker [also Pitt or W. P.] is listed near the back of the book, not as a regular customer but as one who might have enjoyed a special relationship with the store's owner. Young Pitt appears to have followed in his father's footsteps. His occupation was identified as store clerk in the 1870 Census and huckster in the 1880 Census, which indicates he may have become a street stall vendor or peddler by that time.

Like W. P. Walker, the name of James Warner Cooper (1832-1899) heads an extensive listing in the back of the Valley Town account book, implying some relationship other than customer with the Valley Town store. Secondary sources indicate that J. W. Cooper's father, Thomas Jefferson Cooper (1804-1890), acquired land in Cheoah Valley with the help of William Holland Thomas (1805-1893), for the purpose of establishing a trading post there. Cheoah Valley was in Cherokee County at that time; the settlement was located near present-day Robbinsville, which is now in Graham County. The 1850s Census describes Thomas as a dry goods merchant, while listing his eighteen-year-old son James [or J. W.] as a farmer.

The Civil War disrupted commerce and daily life for the Walkers and Coopers. The store appears to have operated on a very limited basis in the 1860s. Records of boarding activities and retail sales occur on consecutive lines, suggesting that Margaret, her young sons, and a few slaves kept the enterprise going while the men were away fighting. In 1862, William P. Waugh's executors in Pennsylvania claimed that William Walker owed the Waugh estate $2,732.94. They sent a subpoena to the Cherokee County sheriff to have Walker appear in Wilkes County court. It is unclear whether this case was ever resolved.

Secondary sources imply that William Walker was either murdered by Union sympathizers in October 1864 or captured by Union soldiers, subsequently dying as a prisoner of war in Camp Douglas, Illinois in November 1864. However, there is not enough primary evidence to substantiate either claim. The eldest Walker son, Charles Agnew Walker (1845-1925), fought with Colonel William Holland Thomas, as did Captain Thomas J. Cooper and Captain J. W. Cooper.

J. Wiley King (1843-1910) may have become a partner in Thomas J. Cooper's business, after wedding Cooper's daughter, Elmina (1841-1930) in 1866. According to the 1870 Census, King was a dry goods merchant in Cheoah Township. By 1870, J. W. Cooper had become a dry goods merchant and retailer also. The account book reveals that J. W. Cooper was sending quantities of goods from the Valley Town store to Cheoah in the early 1870s. His debit listing reveals he withdrew over $2,700 in cash from the Valley Town enterprise. Later the Cheoah Valley store was purchased by W. P. Walker and his brother, George Benjamin Walker (1855-1928). Further research is needed to clarify the business dealings of the Cooper and Walker families with one another.

On 18 October 1876, W. P. Walker married Sarah [Sallie] Johnson (1850-1928) from Tusquittee in Clay County. The couple had two children. By the early 1890s, W. P. Walker had built a new general store in the town of Andrews. He also established the Merchants and Manufacturers Bank there and became its president. His brother, George B. Walker, continued to operate the Robbinsville store; later, he became a vice-president at the bank in Andrews and served as a state legislator. Meanwhile Cooper and his wife, Emily Isabella Henry Cooper (1837-1894), were thriving in the town of Murphy, with a general store, a law practice, and possibly a lumber operation. By the time of his death in 1899, J. W. Cooper had either advanced or bequeathed $10,000 worth of real estate and cash to each of his eight surviving children.

Note: William Walker should not be confused with Lt. Col. William C. Walker, also of Cherokee County, who led a battalion in Thomas's Legion during the Civil War and was murdered by outlaws or guerillas while home on sick leave in January 1864.

Contents of the Collection

Collection Contents
Ledger, 1850-1871

This volume is leather bound and is identified as a ledger on the spine. The earliest date entered is 20 May 1850 and the last is 6 January 1871. The total number of pages is 580, with most being hand numbered at the top left of each verso (LH) and the top right of each recto (RH). Some pages are torn. Measurement of volume in inches: 8 x l2 1/2 x 2 1/4

Subject Headings

  • Cooper Family
  • Walker Family
  • Walker's Inn
  • North Carolina Store
  • Account books
  • General stores--North Carolina--Cherokee County
  • Grocery trade--North Carolina--Andrews
  • Grocery trade--North Carolina--Valley Town
  • Post office stations and branches--North Carolina--History
  • Retail trade--North Carolina--Andrews
  • Retail trade--North Carolina--Valley Town
  • Taverns (Inns)--North Carolina--Cherokee County
  • Business
  • Stores, Mercantile
  • Consumer Goods
  • Merchants
  • Andrews (Cherokee County, N. C.)
  • Cherokee County (N.C.)
  • Valley Town (Cherokee County, N.C.)
  • Valley Town (Andrews) (N.C.)
  • Grocers--North Carolina--Andrews
  • Grocers--North Carolina--Valley Town
  • Hotelkeepers--North Carolina--Andrews
  • Hotelkeepers--North Carolina--Valley Town
  • Acquisitions Information

    Transferred from the Georgia Archives to the North Carolina State Archives (later State Archives of North Carolina), 1963

    Processing Information

  • Finding aid by Lea Walker, June 2013. Updated by Fran Tracy-Walls, August 2019, for publication in Discover Online Catalog (DOC).