Finding Aid: Hardy Whitford Account Book, 1832-1841, PC.AB.85


Finding Aid: Hardy Whitford Account Book, 1832-1841, PC.AB.85


The Hardy Whitford general store was operating In New Bern from 1818, or earlier, until about 1841. Hardy Whitford (1793-1841) was the sole proprietor.
This volume is a ledger which itemizes transactions by customers' names. The store merchandise included cloth, apparel, household wares, building materials, hardware items, food staples, spirits, and tobacco products. Hauling and shoe mending services were provided by slaves and indentured servants. Attached to the paper finding aid in the State Archives Search Room is a partial index of customers' names for the Hardy Whitford Store.

Descriptive Summary

Hardy Whitford Account Book, 1832-1841
Call Number
Whitford family
1.00 volumes
State Archives of North Carolina

Series Quick Links

  1. Collection Contents

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], Private Collections: Account Books, PC.AB.85, Hardy Whitford Account Book, 1832-1841, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC, USA.

Collection Overview

This ledger represents daily transactions of a store located in New Bern. The front page may contain the autographs of three generations of Whitford men.
The Hardy Whitford Store flourished from approximately 1818 to 1841. Whitford received goods from New York and Philadelphia regularly. Presumably he held interests in the shipping or cargo business.
Items sold in the store included a variety of cloth, ready-to-wear accessories, shoes, sewing essentials, combs, soap, household wares for bedroom and kitchen, hardware items, food staples, spirits, and tobacco products. Building materials such as bricks, shingles, planks, screws, varnish, and carpeting were supplied. Hauling services for building materials and heavy loads were offered. Occasional luxuries, such as chocolate, brass buttons, and silk bonnets could be found. Sometimes, customers used the barter system to pay for their purchases.
In addition, the store served as a location for a shoe business. Indenture contracts reveal that Whitford had two young indentured servants learning the shoemaking trade from him. It appears there may have been shoes made or altered for specific customers and their families. There are numerous transactions in the account book which refer to mending shoes as well.
Whitford's business (es) relied on slave labor. Whitford hired out two of his male slaves, David and Peter, to the Commissioners of New Bern for a building project in 1837 and 1838. The ledger reveals that these men supplied a total of 209 days of labor, often working six days a week at physically demanding jobs. They hauled an engine, 5,000 shingles, 5,500 bricks, and many pounds of nails and lumber.

Arrangement Note

This volume is arranged by name, then date. An alphabetical index of names can be found near the front of the volume.


Hardy Whitford (c. 1793-1841) was one of ten children born to David and Ann (Nancy) Stilley Whitford. He fought in the War of 1812. Whitford married Mary James Clark on 23 December 1820. They had four children: William, Hardy, John, and Elizabeth. Their third son, John D. Whitford (1825-1910) rose to prominence in the city of New Bern and the state of North Carolina.
Whitford's household incorporated six slaves and two free persons of color. Indenture contracts identify the latter as two young male children, John Wilson and George Hicks. Whitford agreed to teach these children the trade of shoemaking.
On 4 February 1818, Elijah Clark and John W. Clark sold land and property to Hardy Whitford and Increase Bradley for the sum of $1,500. The real estate was designated as lot 112 on the corner of Union and East Front Streets. It included a house, a store, a wharf, and the unexpired lease of the waterfront. Whether this was the beginning of Whitford's store or an expansion of an existing business is not known. On 12 February 1818, John Clark sold a large quantity of goods from New York City to Hardy Whitford for a total of $1,098.09. Other invoices and bills of sale indicate regular trade thereafter with merchants in New York and Philadelphia. In 1824, Whitford and his father-in-law Elijah Clark purchased the Schooner Rufus King for a sum of $1,500, presumably for importing and exporting goods.
Whitford's third son, John D. Whitford, served as mayor of New Bern and later president of the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad. He was a Confederate soldier, state legislator, businessman, and local historian. As a partner in Whitman, Dill and Company, he served as an agent to Murry, Ferris and Company, which established successful steamship trade between New York and New Bern in the late 1860s.

Contents of the Collection

Collection Contents
Ledger, 1832-1841

This single volume is leather bound. The binding is worn and missing most of its spine. The volume was clearly identified, apparently by the storekeeper, as the "4th Ledger". The number 8 is inked on the front cover but the significance of this number, if any, is not known. The front page appears to capture the autographs of three generations of Whitford men: Hardy, John D., and Reid Whitford (born 1855). The date September 1910 appears below Reid's name. This date coincides with John D. Whitford's date of death.

The earliest transaction date entered is the 25 October 1832 and the last is the 3 March 1841. The total number of pages is 342, with most being hand numbered at the top left of each verso (LH) and the top right of each recto (RH). The numbers 92, 125-224, and 404 are omitted while the number 237 appears twice. The last two pages are not numbered. The pages are pre-printed with unlabeled columns; the storekeeper used these columns to separate month, date, item description, dollars, and cents. On each page, debits are listed on the left half and credits are listed on the right half.

A table from the 30 November 30 1840 Raleigh Record is pasted inside the front cover; it provides a breakdown of the Harrison-Van Buren presidential election results for North Carolina by county. Below this is another slip of paper with instructions for measuring timber. An alphabetical index of customer's names with lettered tabs can be found near the front of the book. Measurement of volume in inches: 10 1/2 x 16 1/2 x 2 1/4

Subject Headings

  • Whitford, Hardy, 1793-1841
  • Whitford, John D., (John Dalton), 1825-1910
  • Whitford, Reid, 1855-
  • Hardy Whitford
  • Brick trade--North Carolina--New Bern
  • General stores--North Carolina--Craven County
  • Grocery trade--North Carolina--New Bern
  • Lumber trade--North Carolina--New Bern
  • Retail trade--North Carolina--New Bern
  • Indentured servants
  • Slave labor
  • Slavery--Economic aspects--North Carolina
  • Merchants
  • Stores, Mercantile
  • Business
  • Consumer Goods
  • Craven County (N.C.)
  • New Bern (N.C.)
  • Account books
  • Grocers--North Carolina--New Bern
  • Shoemakers--North Carolina--New Bern
  • Acquisitions Information


    Processing Information

  • Finding aid prepared by Lea Walker, January 2013. Revised and updated by Fran Tracy-Walls, September 2019, for publication in Discover Online Catalog (DOC).