Williard E. Stone
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1794 MIDDLETOWN, DELAWARE -FROM ACCOUNTING RECORDS*
Abstract: The economic life, customs and importance of 1794 Middletown, Del-aware are interpreted from the accounting ledgers of a general store and a blacksmith shop.
A customers ledger covering the period 1794 to 1801 presents a picture of economic life at the turn of the century in an east-ern U.S. village. The ledger, now in the possession of Mr. H. F. Green, proprietor of St. Augustine's Oldest Store Museum, was found by his mother 75 years ago in Smyrna, Delaware. The first two-thirds of this ledger contains the customers' accounts of 1794 to 1796 for a general store operated by Reynolds and Clark, Merchants. The last third contains the 1799 to 1801 accounts of John Reynolds and Com-pany, a blacksmith shop. John Reynolds, Esq. was an enterprising man; he was an attorney, a partner in the general store, owner of a blacksmith shop, operated a charcoal kiln and was an early banker for many of the local citizens. The ledger contains no direct infor-mation locating the two enterprises but Reynolds was on the tax list of Appoquinimink Hundred (township) which included Middletown. This and transaction references such as "to cash per Middletown day book" place the store in Middletown, Delaware. The location of the blacksmith shop could not be determined but probably was in a nearby but different village from the store because only 19 of the 95 customers of the blacksmith shop were among the 125 customers of the store.
Middletown is located 22 miles south of Wilmington and approxi-mately 50 miles from Philadelphia. (Fig.1) By 1799 a stage coach line, carrying the mail, made daily runs from Dover through Middle-town and Wilmington to Philadelphia.1 The first U.S. census (1781)
1Based on a paper given at the Southeastern AAA meetings at the University of Tennessee, April 30, 1977.