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Thomas Ballance Family Account Books, 1845-1851


The Far Creek and Middletown general stores [variant spellings: Fair Creek and Middleton] operated in Hyde County from approximately 1845 to 1851. The proprietors were members of the Thomas Ballance family. This collection consists of two ledgers, which itemize transactions by customers' names, and four day books, which itemize transactions by date. Recorded merchandise includes food staples, cookware, clothing, hardware, and buggy equipment. Attached to this finding aid are partial indexes of customers from the two different store locations.

Title

Thomas Ballance Family Account Books, 1845-1851

Collection Number

PC.AB.70

Date(s)

1845-1851

Language

English

Physical Description
2 ledgers and 4 day books with a total of 1,686 pages less pages overwritten and cut
Physical Description
Volumes
6.00
Abstract

The Far Creek and Middletown general stores [variant spellings: Fair Creek and Middleton] operated in Hyde County from approximately 1845 to 1851. The proprietors were members of the Thomas Ballance family. This collection consists of two ledgers, which itemize transactions by customers' names, and four day books, which itemize transactions by date. Recorded merchandise includes food staples, cookware, clothing, hardware, and buggy equipment. Attached to this finding aid are partial indexes of customers from the two different store locations.

Creator

Ballance family

Repository

State Archives of North Carolina


The two ledgers have entries for debits and credits, arranged first by name and then by date. The four day books are arranged by date, then name.


Available for research


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.


Finding Aid prepared by Lea Walker, August 2013


The Ballance Stores operated in Hyde County, North Carolina in the thriving antebellum communities of Far Creek and Middletown, often called Fair Creek and Middleton. The stores appear to have been active between 1845 and 1851.

Thomas Ballance Sr. (approximately 1798-1853) owned a warehouse and shipping business in Middletown. He owned the schooner Walter Merchant from at least 1845 to 1847; he employed several other schooners as needed. Thomas and his wife, Dinah Elizabeth Spencer Ballance (approximately 1800-) had seven children by the time the 1850 Census was taken. Five of the children were blind, including the three oldest sons. The eldest son, William P. Ballance (approximately 1825-), was described as a merchant, while his next youngest brothers, Thomas P. Ballance Jr. (approximately 1827-) and Caleb S. Ballance (approximately 1828-1890) were both listed as clerks. Some of the account books indicate that William had the primary responsibility for the stores under the guidance of his father. Given the clerical employment of Thomas and Caleb, it seems likely that they had some hand in the family businesses as well.

Also listed in the Ballance household were two Spencer men: a son-in-law, Pelege P. Spencer (approximately 1821-) who was married to the eldest daughter, Mary Ann Ballance (approximately1821-) and Frederick Spencer (approximately 1827-). Frederick's exact relationship is unknown but given the Spencer name, he may have been related to the family either through the wife or son-in-law of Thomas Ballance Sr. Pelege was a mechanic, which probably meant that he repaired wagons, while Frederick was a clerk. It is not clear whether these men participated in the family businesses but their occupations make it a distinct possibility.

William Balance's inexperience appears to have caused friction between his father and him. Volume 70.5 records a settlement between William Ballance and Thomas Ballance Sr. [?] when William was just twenty-one years old. On 10 March 1846, the Far Creek store and its contents were valued at $3,441.44. Thomas Ballance Sr. [?] agreed to pay all of William Ballance's debts accumulated in New York and elsewhere. In exchange, William was required to sacrifice the value of his services and profits in the store, estimated at $2,000, along with a note for the remaining $1,441.44. On 12 June 1846, it was recorded in Volume 70.6 that William P. Ballance "removed his washing to Middleton," which implied that he had packed all his belongings and moved. Thomas Ballance, presumably the father, acquired the store's scales and weights at that time. Although records show that William worked in the Middleton store, he seems to have had difficulties there also, as evidenced by the note in Volume 70.2 that "Wm P. Ballance commenced in Seth Gibbs Store House 17 June 1848 per Thomas Ballance's orders."

Little is known about the three brothers in their later years. William P. Ballance was described as a retail dealer in the New Bern district about 1865 but seemed to vanish from public record after this date. Thomas P. Ballance Jr. and Caleb S. Ballance lived and farmed together as adults, according to the 1870 and 1880 Censuses. Caleb was also assessed taxes for distilling cider brandy. In his 1890 will, Caleb left half of his estate to his nephew, Thomas B. Spencer (1849-1936?) and the other half in trust to his nephew, Thomas D. Davis (1878-1933).

At some point, local inhabitants began referring to the Thomas Balance Sr. family as the "blind Ballances," perhaps to distinguish them from the many other Ballance families living in the area. In the late twentieth century, Huron Jefferson Gibbs (1903-1999) and his wife, Mildred Lee Burrus Gibbs (1908-2005) operated the Gibbs-Spencer store in Middletown. They believed it was one of the original Ballance store buildings, which had been re-located about a quarter of a mile from its antebellum site. There is some architectural and genealogical evidence to support this claim. The Gibbs family and others continued to refer to this historic building as the "blind Ballance store" throughout the twentieth century.


[Identification of item], Private Collections: Account Books, PC.AB.70, Thomas Ballance Family Account Books, 1846-1851, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC, USA.


Unknown


 Creator Information

Additional information on the creators of the account book may be found under alternate spellings of the family name, including:

Balance family


These account books record transactions of stores located in Hyde County. The businesses are known as the Middletown and Far Creek stores [variant spellings: Middleton and Fair Creek].

Foodstuffs available at the two stores included salt, sugar, molasses, honey, spices, flour, vinegar, eggs, cheese, corn, potatoes, and lettuce. An assortment of fruits, such as muskmelons, tamarinds, oranges, lemons, figs, apples, and raisins were offered. Treats included nuts, especially filberts, and crackers, sugar biscuits, ginger cake, and candy.

Cloth, ready-made clothing, and personal grooming items were often described in some detail. Shoes varied from "coarse shoes" to "fine shoes", e. g. "Morroca shoes for wife," "calfskin shoes for wife," and "fine calf boots." Silk hats, panama hats, bonnet ribbons, cloth caps, and fur hats were popular items. Cologne, hair comb sets, razor strops, toothbrushes, cakes of soap, umbrellas, coats, vests, and money purses were all available.

Regular trade with Wilmington, New York, and Charleston seems to have increased the variety of items available in the two stores, when compared with other stores in North Carolina during this time period. Some of the more unusual items were destined for the home or for family conveyances. These included oil cloth carpeting, waffle irons, looking glasses, coffee mills, willow cradles, buggy topping, and buggy carpeting.


Volumes 70.5 and 70.6 have been merged with the other four volumes in PC.AB.70 because all six volumes are related to the same family businesses. Previously, these two volumes were designated PC.AB.284 and PC.AB.124, respectively.


Ballance Family Papers (#690), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA; Claudia R. Brown and Diane E. Lea,  Landmarks of Hyde County, North Carolina: The Mainland and Ocracoke Island, ed. J. Daniel Pezzoni (Engelhard, N.C.: Hyde County Historical and Genealogical Society, 2007); Estate of Thomas Ballance, 1853, Hyde County Estates Records, State Archives, Division of Archives and History, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; National Register of Historic Places, Lake Landing Historic District, Hyde County, N.C., National Register # 86000786 [from http://www.hpo.ncdcr.gov/nr/HY0633.pdf]; North Carolina Death Certificates, 1909-1975 [from www.ancestry.com];  North Carolina Gazetteer, University of North Carolina Press, 2010 s.v. Far Creek and Middleton; Martha Rebecca Swindell and Romulus Sanderson Spencer Jr.  In Memory of ...; An Index to Hyde County Cemeteries (Fairfield, N.C.: Hyde History, 1973); "Engelhard Rotary Honors Couple," Abstracts of Newspaper Articles for Hyde County, N.C., 1955-1992, #9 [from http://files.usgwarchives.net/nc/hyde/newspapers]; "Birthday Dinner Honors Parishioners," Abstracts of Newspaper Articles for Hyde County, N.C., 1992-1998, #10 [from http://files.usgwarchives.net/nc/hyde/newspapers]; United States Census: 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910 [from www.ancestry.com]; United States Internal Revenue Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918 [from www.ancestry.com]; Will of Caleb S. Ballance, 1890, Hyde County Original Wills, Book 11, p.229 (microfilm), State Archives, Division of Archives and History, Raleigh.


  • Account books
  • General stores--North Carolina--Hyde County
  • General stores--North Carolina--Valuation
  • Grocery trade--North Carolina--Far Creek
  • Grocery trade--North Carolina--Middletown
  • Retail trade--North Carolina--Far Creek
  • Retail trade--North Carolina--Middletown
  • Fair Creek (N.C.)
  • Far Creek (N.C.)
  • Hyde County (N.C.)
  • Lake Landing Historic District (N.C.)
  • Middleton (N.C.)
  • Middletown (N.C.)
  • Grocers--North Carolina--Far Creek
  • Grocers--North Carolina--Middletown

This volume is a ledger for the Far Creek store. It appears to be missing its leather covers and is bound only with paperboard. Its leather spine and paperboard front cover have separated from the rest of it. There is considerable damage to the book from water and pests, causing some writing to be illegible. The first few and last few pages are stuck together, rendering the marble end pages barely visible and making it impossible to examine or count pages in these sections. The book is identified as "W. P. Ballance Book this Dec. 13th 1848, Far Creek" near the front. The front matter includes an alphabetical index with the alphabet stamped in ink; the letters L-Z have worn away but most of the index to names is intact. The earliest legible date entered is 24 April 1845 and the latest legible date is 19 June 1850. The total number of separated pages that can be counted is 254, with most being hand numbered at the top left of each verso (LH) and the top right of each recto (RH). Measurement of volume in inches: 8 3/8 x 12 1/2 x 1

This volume is a ledger for the Middletown store. It is leather bound with marble end pages. Approximately the top fifth of the spine is missing. The front cover is blocked with a double rectangular design. The book is labeled "W.P. Ballance" or "Wm. P. Ballance" in numerous places at the front and back. Front matter includes an alphabetical index of customers and a listing of boarders and boarding rates in the area, including people boarding with neighbors. The earliest date entered is 20 December 1846 and the latest date is 13 July 1850. The total number of pages is 390, with most being hand numbered at the top left of each verso (LH) and the top right of each recto (RH). Some pages are folded and there are a few inserts throughout the book. Measurement of volume: 8 1/2 x 14 x 1 1/2

This volume is a day book for the Far Creek and Middletown stores. The leather appears to be worn away from the paperboard covers and leather spine. The book is labeled "W.P. Ballance" and "Fair Creek Day Book." The earliest date entered is 2 November 1847 and the latest date is 14 May 1851. The total number of pages is 450, with only 71 being numbered near the front at the top left of each verso (LH) and the top right of each recto (RH). Measurement of volume in inches: 6 1/2 x 16 x 1 3/4

This volume is a day book for the Middletown store. It is missing its front and back covers. The earliest date entered is 8 January 1847 and the latest date is 20 January 1848. There are 336 unnumbered pages. Measurement of volume in inches: 8 1/4 x 12 3/4 x 1 3/8

This volume is a day book for the Far Creek store. The leather appears to be worn away from the paperboard front cover; the back cover is missing. Pages are stuck together and are therefore impossible to examine, without conservation. The book is labeled "William P. Ballance" and "His Day Book" thrice near the front. The earliest date entered is 20 June 1845 and the latest date is 27 June 1846. The pages are not numbered; the total number of separated pages that can be counted is 168. Measurement of volume in inches: 7 1/4 x 15 1/4 x 1

This volume is a day book for the Far Creek store. The front cover is missing and the leather is worn away from the paperboard back cover. The marble end papers at the back are stuck to the paperboard and are therefore impossible to examine, without conservation. The earliest date entered is 30 June 1846 and the latest date is 27 November 1846. The pages are not numbered; the total number of separated pages that can be counted is 88. Measurement of volume in inches: 6 3/8 x 15 1/2 x 1/2