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Jonas Davis account book and diary

Identifier: MSS 0096-Item 0006

Scope and Contents

This volume is an account book and diary kept by Jonas Davis, a farmer and resident of Temple, New Hampshire, between 1849 and 1859.

The first section of this volume contains account information for subscribers to three periodicals: The Rambler, The Ploughman, and The Olive Branch. It is possible that these were the shortened titles of The New England Farmer and Boston Rambler, The Massachusetts Ploughman, and The Boston Olive Branch, popular New England publications in this period. The accounts are organized by periodical and then by the town where the subscriber resided. Most of the subscribers lived in Massachusetts, but several resided in Connecticut, and at least one lived in Troy, New York. Davis may have been a subscription sales agent for these periodicals. All of the subscriptions were recorded in 1849, although some subscribers paid their debts in 1850. Lists of the towns where the subscribers of each periodical resided can be found at the end of the volume.

The “Diary of Jonas Davis” begins on page 41. Despite the title, the following entries primarily record Davis’s payments for goods and services and cash he received. Subsequent pages of this financial “diary” are entitled “Amount money received and paid” and “Account of Articles Bot &c.” Davis frequently traveled to the nearby towns of Wilton, Mason, and New Ipswich, New Hampshire to sell livestock and produce and to purchase store goods, such as tobacco, nutmeg, sugar and tea. Davis also recorded a large number of payments to laborers on his farm, as well as expenditures for taxes, postage, newspapers, and gifts to family members. Davis commenced these accounts on January 1, 1855, and maintained a chronological record of expenditures until October 8, 1859.

Interspersed with Davis’s financial accounts are notes about family activities, brief descriptions of the weather, and news regarding friends and neighbors. Davis frequently sent money and goods to his daughters Abbie, Elvira, Minerva, and Caroline. It appears that several of his children moved to the West in the 1850s. On May 17, 1856, Davis noted that his daughter Caroline’s family “started for the West,” and that he paid her $20, “ten of it was paid for her Sofa & three & half for her center table & six & half as a present together with ten Dolls I paid her before.” When Alonzo Sawtelle and his family headed for the West later that year, Davis paid for their miniatures, suggesting that they were also family members.

The volume is bound in marbled paper over boards with a black spine. The name “DAVIS” is printed on a label affixed to the spine. The volume contains 142 pages of blue lined paper. Only about 115 pages were used to record accounts or diary entries. An inscription on the front flyleaf reads “Diary of Jonas Davis 1855-1859/See Page 41.” On the back flyleaf there is a list of livestock and produce Davis sold and the payments he received between 1856 and 1857.


  • Creation: 1849 January 1-1859 October 8


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Information

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical Note

Jonas Davis was born in Holden, Massachusetts, on April 3, 1792, the son of Jonas Davis and Ruth Stearns Davis. Davis married Hephzibah Cutter on July 7, 1817, in the town of Temple, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire. It appears that the couple and their family lived in Temple for the rest of their lives. Jonas Davis’s account book and diary mentions several family members, including his brother Freeman Davis and his daughters Abbie, Elvira, Martha, and Minerva. On January 30, 1855, Davis noted that he had received money from Alonzo Sawtelle, who acted as his agent in settling his son Elnathan Davis’s estate. Elthnathan Davis died in 1852. Jonas Davis recorded making frequent trips to nearby towns, including New Ipswich, Wilton, and Mason, New Hampshire. Several of his daughters resided in Lowell, Massachusetts. On September 2, 1858, Davis traveled to Boston to purchase three plots of land. Jonas Davis died on his eightieth birthday, April 3, 1872.

United States Federal Census for 1850 (accessed via on January 22, 2018)United States Federal Census for 1860 (accessed via on January 22, 2018) New Hampshire Marriage Records Index, 1637-1947 (accessed via on January 22, 2018)Information derived from the collection.


1 volume : 142 pages ; 21 cm


This volume is an account book and diary kept by Jonas Davis, a farmer and resident of Temple, New Hampshire, between 1849 and 1859.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, 1957

Related Materials in this Repository

This item forms part of MSS 0096 Account Books and Ledgers collection.

Shelving Summary

Item 0006: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0096

Processing Information

Processed by Marrette Pearsall, 2012. Further processing and encoding by Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger, January 2018.

Finding aid for Jonas Davis account book and diary
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2018 January 23
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

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