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Waugh and Finley Account Books, 1815-1828, 1838


The Waugh and Finley general store operated in Wilkesboro [formerly Wilkesborough] in Wilkes County, N.C. from 1807 to 1845. The proprietors were William Pitt Waugh and his nephew, John Finley. This collection consists of four day books and miscellaneous inserts. Recorded merchandise includes food staples, cookware, clothing, stationery, books, postage, and hardware. Attached to this finding aid are partial indexes of customers' names from two distinct time periods.

Title

Waugh and Finley Account Books, 1815-1828, 1838

Collection Number

PC.AB.80

Date(s)

1815-1828 or -1838

Language

English

Physical Description
4 day books for a total of 4 bound volumes, 1,602 pages less pages overwritten and cut
Physical Description
Volumes
4.00
Abstract

The Waugh and Finley general store operated in Wilkesboro [formerly Wilkesborough] in Wilkes County, N.C. from 1807 to 1845. The proprietors were William Pitt Waugh and his nephew, John Finley. This collection consists of four day books and miscellaneous inserts. Recorded merchandise includes food staples, cookware, clothing, stationery, books, postage, and hardware. Attached to this finding aid are partial indexes of customers' names from two distinct time periods.

Physical Location

Loose-leaf inserts found in volumes 80.3 and 80.4 are filed together in one box, immediately after the four account books.

Creator

Waugh family

Creator

Finley family

Creator

Finley, John

Creator

Waugh, William Pitt

Repository

State Archives of North Carolina


The four day books are arranged by date, then name, in order of transaction. Monthly post sheets [miscellaneous inserts from volumes 80.3 and 80.4] are organized by month, then alphabetically by last name. One ledger sheet [miscellaneous insert from volume 80.3] is organized alphabetically by last name (H-P only).


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.


Processed by Lea Walker, October 2013

Finding aid by Lea Walker, November 2013


The Waugh and Finley Store operated in Wilkesboro [formerly Wilkesborough] in Wilkes County, North Carolina. In 1807, Waugh and Finley established this successful business that would thrive for thirty-eight years. In May 1845, the two men dissolved their partnership but continued to operate stores independently in Wilkesboro. These account books are a record of Waugh and Finley Store transactions from the 1815-1827 period.

The Waugh family settled first in York County [later Adams County], Pennsylvania. Around 1803, William Pitt Waugh (1775-1852) moved with several brothers to Wilkes County, North Carolina. Waugh obtained slaves and land in Moravian Falls, where he built a house and a mill. His nephew, John Finley (1778-1865), arrived from Virginia a couple of years later and followed his uncle's lead in the acquisition of property. In 1807, the two men became merchants together, initially renting an existing store in Wilkesboro from James Patton (1756-1845). The rental agreement ended in 1814 but the partnership flourished. The two men hired Finley's nephew and Waugh's great nephew, Samuel Finley Patterson (1799-1874), who served as clerk in their store until about 1820. Patterson would later gain prominence as state treasurer and president of the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad. Subsequently, the men hired Waugh's great nephew, William Waugh Peden (approximately 1815-1844) as their clerk.

Waugh served as a justice of the peace; some entries in the day book refer to cases and appeals. The store also functioned as a post office. Waugh was postmaster from at least 1832 to 1844, but possibly began his postal service as early as 1807. Finley replaced him from 1844 to 1845.

Finley married Ellen or Elenor Tate (1782-1852). The couple had six children but only four of them survived to adulthood and were named in Finley's will. Finley and his wife were both buried at Presbyterian Cemetery in Wilkesboro.

Waugh was also buried at Presbyterian Cemetery. At the time of his death, Waugh was a wealthy bachelor who owned land in Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. He divided his wealth between his surviving brothers, nephews and nieces, and great nephews and nieces. He made a special bequest to W. W. Peden's widow and children, providing them with $1,000, a house and lot in Wilkesboro, and proceeds from the sale of land in Carol County, Pennsylvania. In addition, he cancelled their balances on account and specified that they should receive food staples from the store for a year.

Waugh and Finley were wealthy entrepreneurs with extensive business interests in several states. It is believed that they aided many junior partners or agents who were just getting established in the mercantile business. In Waugh's case, this is substantiated in part by the account books at the State Archives, as well as surviving records in other repositories. One such store was in Jefferson [formerly Jeffersonton] known as Waugh, Poe, and Murchison or Waugh and Murchison. It was sometimes called Ashe Store, due to its location in Ashe County. Transactions and a bill of sale for this store appear in the Waugh and Finley account book.

Another link in Waugh's group is the Waugh and Harper Store, which was built at a crossroads in Burke County [later Caldwell County]. James Harper (1799-1879), a native of Pennsylvania, moved to North Carolina approximately 1827. He became Waugh's business partner. In 1833, he married Waugh's great niece, Caroline Ellen Finley (1808-1867) in Augusta, Virginia. In addition, Harper served as postmaster of his small community, initially known as Harper's Store [later Lenoir]. Waugh and Harper transactions appear in the Waugh and Finley account books.

Another possible link in the Waugh group is the Valleytown Store in Cherokee County, N.C. It is known that Waugh purchased tracts of Cherokee land on the Valley River. In 1844, William Walker of Wilkes County, N.C. married Margaret Jane Scott, a native of Adams County, Pennsylvania. The couple moved to Cherokee County to establish an inn and trading post in Valleytown. In 1862, Waugh's executors claimed that William Walker owed the Waugh estate $2,732.94, sending a subpoena to the Cherokee County sheriff to have Walker appear in Wilkes County. It is unclear if this case was resolved.


[Identification of item], Private Collections: Account Books, PC.AB.80, Waugh and Finley Account Books, 1815-1838, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC, USA.


Donated by Miss Annie Finley (1860-1933), granddaughter of John Finley, from North Wilkesboro, N.C. Accessioned on 1 August 1931.


 Related Materials:

An account book for Waugh and Finley is located in the John Finley Papers, 1810-1861, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University, Durham.

Account books and records relating to Waugh's other business ventures can be found in multiple repositories as follows:

Private Collections: Account Books, PC.AB.59, Valley Town Store Account Book,1850-1871, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh

Harper Family Account Books, #2908, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

A.C.392: Harper-Beall Family Papers, W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University, Boone


These volumes record transactions of a store located in Wilkes County. The business was known as the Waugh and Finley Store. It is believed to have operated continuously from 1807 to 1845.

Foodstuffs available at the store included sugar in loaf form, salt, spices, apples, pork, coffee, cider, and spirits. Ready-made clothing and accessories included umbrellas, stockings, slippers, shoes, moccasins, gloves, and shawls. Many types of cloth and trim were available, such as homespun, muslin, calico, cambric, gingham, shirting, linen, flannel, silk, ribbons, buttons, and coat trimmings.


 Adams Sentinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), 10 June 1844; J. Jay Anderson,  Wilkes County Sketches (Wilkesboro, N.C.: Anderson, 1978); catalog entry, John Finley Papers, 1810-1861, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University, Durham; cemetery records of Annie Finley, Ellen Tate Finley, John Finley, Nathaniel Gordon, Caroline Ellen Harper, James Harper, and William P. Waugh [from findagrave.com]; death certificate of Cora Cowles Gaither, 1931, North Carolina Death Certificates, 1919-1975;  Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, s.v. "Samuel Finley Patterson"; estate of William P. Waugh, 1852, Wilkes County Estates Records, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh; John Finley to William P. Waugh, 10 May 1845, Wilkes County Deeds, Book T, pp. 24-25 (microfilm), State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh; Johnson J. Hayes,  The Land of Wilkes (Wilkesboro, N.C.: Wilkes County Historical Society, 1962); Thomas F. Hickerson,  Happy Valley (Durham, N.C.: Seeman Printery, Inc., 1940); marriage record of John Finley and Elenor Tate, 1807, Augusta County, Virginia Marriages, 1740-1850 [from Ancestry.com]; marriage record of John Tate Finley and Sarah Ann Gordon, 1846, Wilkes County, North Carolina Marriage Collection, 1741-2004 [from Ancestry.com]; marriage record of James Harper and Caroline Ellen Finley, 1833, Augusta County, Virginia Marriages, 1740-1850 [from Ancestry.com];  North Carolina Gazetteer, University of North Carolina Press, 2010 s.v. "Moravian Falls," "Wilkesboro"; James Patton, 1850,  Biography of James Patton, Documenting the American South, University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1996; online finding aid, Harper Family Account Books, #2908, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; online finding aid, Jones and Patterson Family Papers #578, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; online finding aid, A.C.392: Harper-Beall Family Papers, W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University, Boone; Vernon Stroupe et al,  Post Offices and Postmasters of North Carolina: Colonial to USPS (Charlotte, N.C.: North Carolina Postal History Society, 1996); will of John Finley, 1866, Wilkes County Original Wills, Book 5, p. 428 (microfilm), State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh; will of William P. Waugh, 1852, Wilkes County Original Wills, Book 5, p. 72 (microfilm), State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh; Wilson, Leonard, ed.  Makers of America: Biographies of Leading Men of Thought and Action, Vol. 2. (Washington: B. F. Johnson, 1916) s.v. John Legerwood Patterson [from Google Books]; United States Census [from Ancestry.com]: 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860


  • Account books
  • General stores--North Carolina--Wilkes County
  • Grocery trade--North Carolina--Wilkesboro
  • Post office stations and branches--North Carolina--History
  • Post offices--North Carolina
  • Retail trade--North Carolina--Wilkesboro
  • Wilkes County (N.C.)
  • Wilkesboro (N.C.)
  • Wilkesborough (N.C.)
  • Grocers--North Carolina--Wilkesboro

This volume is a day book with leather binding. The front cover is missing. The earliest date entered is 15 May 1815 and the latest date is 22 April 1819. The total number of pages is 536, 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: 10 x 15 x 2 5/16

This volume is a day book. Most of its leather binding has worn away, revealing the underlying paperboard and decorative paper cover, which has alternating vertical rust lines and vertical stripes of blue carets. The earliest date entered is 16 January 1819 and the latest date is 8 September 1819. There are 272 pages with most being hand numbered at the top left of each verso (LH) and the top right of each recto (RH). One insert in the book appears to relate to court cases. Measurement of volume in inches: 6 1/2 x 15 x 1

This volume is a day book with marble end pages. The leather cover is blocked with a key design; the spine has repeated rows of interlocking ovals. The earliest date entered is May 1819 and the latest date is May 1825. The total number of pages is 522, 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: 10 x 15 x 2 5/16

FOLDER 1, PC.AB.80.3
Miscellaneous inserts [4 pieces] including a hand-stitched monthly post sheet booklet [24 pages], a ledger sheet, drafts of slave bills of sale, and a draft of a character reference for a post rider
1819-1828 or -1838, undated

This volume is a day book. Most of its leather binding has worn away, revealing the underlying paperboard and decorative paper cover, which has alternating green and ivory squares. The earliest date entered is 2 December 1826 and the latest date is 19 May 1827. There are 272 pages with most being hand numbered at the top left of each verso (LH) and the top right of each recto (RH). Front matter includes some genealogical information about the Finley family and other families related by marriage. This includes a store customer, Nathaniel Gordon (about 1784-1829), whose daughter married Finley's son. Pasted into the front inside cover is an obituary from the  North Wilkesboro Patriot reporting the death of Cora (nee Cowles) Gaither (1877-1931) of Newton, N.C., whose sister married a Finley of Wilkes County. Measurement of volume in inches: 10 x 15 x 2

FOLDER 2, PC.AB.80.4
Miscellaneous inserts [2 pieces] including a hand-stitched monthly post sheet booklet [160 pages] and a letter from Philadelphia
1826-1837