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Thomas Evans and Benjamin T. Biggs farm account book

Identifier: MSS 0096-Item 0010

Scope and Contents

This farm account book was kept by Dr. Thomas Evans and Benjamin T. Biggs of Pencader Hundred, Delaware, between 1792 and 1869.

The account book was first kept by Thomas Evans, a farmer and doctor in Pencader Hundred, starting in 1792. The first several pages of the volume list Evans’s creditors and debtors included in the volume with the corresponding page numbers for their accounts. Individuals listed include William Cooch, Robert Middleton, William Simonton, Black David, Susanna Camblin, and Free Jack. Evans utilized a double-entry system to keep accounts, recording debts and credit payments on facing pages. Many individuals were indebted to Evans for medical treatments administered to themselves, family members, and servants. Evans often treated patients with calomel, jalap, ipecac, opium, and liquid laudanum and appears to have administered a large number of emetics. Evans also provided a number of other goods and services to his neighbors, including farm produce, livestock, boarding, and hauling. Evans’s debtors paid him in cash, notes, and a variety of goods. Many people paid their debts or earned wages from Evans by planting and harvesting crops, spinning thread, and weaving. Following Evans’s death in 1796, his estate continued to settle his accounts in the volume until at least 1800. Several pages near the back of the volume include remaining debts to the Estate of Dr. Thomas Evans “as appears on the face of his books.”

Benjamin T. Biggs began recording his own accounts in the volume around 1847, using both the volume’s blank pages and unused space on pages with Evans’s accounts. Biggs recorded single-entry accounts, most of which related to the exchange of farm produce and labor. Biggs also recorded several memoranda, mostly between himself and those he hired to work on his farm. Amongst the entries by Evans, Biggs recorded several diary entries and even copied out a rough draft of a letter to the president regarding taxation on bonds, mortgages and machinery. Biggs’s brother, Sewell C. Biggs, and Albert J. Whittaker of Trenton, New Jersey, also copied their names on a few pages in the volume. Towards the back of the volume, Biggs recorded recipes for curing hams and making sausages. Several loose items belonging to Biggs have been laid into the volume. These include an order for Benjamin and Sewell Briggs to pay James P. Elias, correspondence regarding the sale of farm produce, and a land agreement. Biggs’s entries and ephemera date from 1847 to 1869.

This volume is bound in brown leather with five raised bands on the spine. A red leather spine label reads “DAY BOOK” in gilt letters. The front and back covers of the volume feature tooled decoration forming rectangular designs. There are several handwritten notations in ink on the front cover, most of which are illegible. One reads “SCB,” which possibly stands for Sewell C. Briggs. Handwritten notations on the back cover read “LEDGER C” and “1796.” A handwritten inscription on the inside of the front cover reads “Thomas Evans 1794.” The volume contains 314 pages of laid paper, many with handwritten notations in black ink.


  • Creation: 1792-1800, 1847-1869


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

This farm account book was kept by both Thomas Evans and Benjamin T. Biggs of Pencader Hundred, Delaware, although their recordkeeping activities occurred about fifty years apart. Evans, a farmer and doctor in the region, kept accounts regarding his farm and medical practice from about 1792 until his death in September 1796. The administrators of his estate continued to settle debts in the account book until at least 1800.

Benjamin Thomas Biggs began keeping accounts in the book around 1847. Born on October 1, 1821, near Summit Bridge, New Castle County Delaware, Biggs was educated at Pennington Seminary in New Jersey and Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. He was commissioned a major during the Mexican War, but never saw active duty. Biggs entered politics in 1853, as a member of the Delaware Constitutional Convention. He ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1860, however nine years later he was successful, and served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1869 to 1873. He also served as a delegate to the 1872 Democratic National Convention, and served as director of the Kent and Queen Anne's Railroad. On November 2, 1886, he won election as Governor of Delaware, and on January 18, 1887, he was sworn into office. On January 20, 1891 Biggs left office, retiring from public service, and returning to his agricultural interests. Governor Benjamin T. Biggs died on December 25, 1893, and is buried at the Bethel Cemetery near Chesapeake City, Maryland.

Apart from geographic proximity, the connection between Evans and Biggs is unknown.

Thomas Evans will, proved September 29, 1796, Delaware, Wills and Probate Records, 1676-1971 (accessed via on June 4, 2018) United States Federal Census for 1850 (accessed via on June 4, 2018) National Governors Association website, “Governor Benjamin Thomas Biggs” (accessed June 4, 2018) Directory of the United States Congress website, “Biggs, Benjamin Thomas, (1821 - 1893)” (accessed June 4, 2018) derived from the collection.


1 volume : 314 pages ; 32 cm


This farm account book was kept by Dr. Thomas Evans and Benjamin T. Biggs of Pencader Hundred, Delaware, between 1792 and 1869.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, 1972

Related Materials in this Repository

MSS 0098, F0063, Benjamin T. Biggs papers, Special Collections, University of Delaware Library, Newark, Delaware.

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

Shelving Summary

Item 0010: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0096

Processing Information

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

Finding aid for Thomas Evans and Benjamin T. Biggs farm account book
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2018 June 5
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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

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA