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Ledger, copy book, and commonplace book for this early Hanging Rock Iron Region settler in Jackson County (later Vinton County), Ohio
Clinton, Jackson County, Ohio, ca. 1828 to 1843. Worn, toned, somewhat spotted; in good condition.. Rough blue paper wrappers, approx. 13 x 8.5 inches, [40] unlined pages (first leaf detached, two leaves somewhat substantially clipped with some intentional loss). An exuberantly utilitarian piece of pioneer manuscript that ranges from trades for lard and days of work to copying out practical jokes or how to tell your fortune with cards, evidently kept by George Tarr (2/27/1809-3/2/1873), an early Ohio farmer born to Virginia natives John Tarr and Rebecca Zinn Tarr in Clinton Township, Jackson County (later Vinton County), Ohio in the southeastern Iron Region of the state. The manuscript is labeled in part in ink on the front wrapper, "George Tarr Ledger," and the ledger appears to have been neatly set up in 1828 either as an exercise book in bookkeeping or to record trades of work and goods between neighbors, but it was infrequently used until the early 1840s when Tarr begins with a legible but much less careful hand to debit and credit in great detail trades of goods and work with neighbors of which a partial list includes Caleb Sharp, John Frazee, Richard Habron, Samuel G. Washburn, various members of the "Zin" family, and a genealogical bombshell whose name is here given as Absalom Howdinshals (but who appears in various records as Absalom Houdeshelt, Houdesheldt, Howdysheldt, and Hendeshelt). Various census reports and public records place Tarr's farm and these various neighbors fairly precisely in Clinton Township, and this detailed ledger gives a deep if necessarily evocative look at the agricultural economy of the region--partnerships in wheat, payments for work in rye, purchases of beef, pork, hay, days of work, etc., but also butchering, blacksmithing work (making nails, sharpening a mattock), purchasing jugs and stoneware, drafts of notes for cattle, etc. But aside from the narly daily utility of this piece, Tarr also used this volume as a commonplace book of medical recipes and other curious texts, including a recipe for ink and one for an evident sort of calamine lotion, one for the "Cure for the Bite of any snake" (green horehound juice, a horehound poultice and a white ash bark bandage), as well as a remedy for rheumatism and one to "moderate puking in a pregnant woman" (peppermint, whisky and Columbo bitters--this recipe apparently taken from Gunn's Domestic Medicine). Even better perhaps than moderating puking are the recipes here included for two practical jokes. One of the jokes will leave a person with blackface: "Take a few nut-galls, bruise them to a verry fine powder, which strew nicely upon a towel, then put a little brown coperass [i.e. copperas, or iron sulfate] into a basin of water; this will soon dissolve, and leave the water perectly [for perfectly] transparent. After any person has washed in this water and wiped with the towel on which the galls have been strewed his hands and face will immediately become black but in a few days by washing with soap they will become clean." The other joke involves salt petre, cream of tartar, and sulphur punded together into a powder that you may put "in a paper in your pocket; you may then, at any time you please convey a grain in to a pipe of tobacco, and when it takes fire, it will [have] the report of a musket, but not break the pipe; or you may put as much as will lay upon your nail in any place upon little bits of paper and setting fire to it there will be the report of so many great guns but it will not produce any bad effects." Tarr also outlines a trick involving melting steel and antimony, as well as hints on how to decorate glasses using hot walnut sticks or feather tips, while the most extensive extract (nearly a page and a half) is "The art of Fortune telling by Cards," which appears to be copied verbatim from a text located in the expected online searches in two locations--in the English publication Astrologer's Magazine and Philosophical Miscellany (evidently also known as The Conjuror's Magazine) for August, 1791 and later in the cheap book Amateur Amusements by Professor Lorento (NY: Hurst & Co., copyright 1878). The transmission of this sort of amusement in the Ohio Valley--from London journal to rough commonplace ledger--seems somehow characteristic of the transmission of American popular culture from high to low.
      [Bookseller: Garrett Scott, Bookseller (ABAA)]
Last Found On: 2015-03-06           Check availability:      Biblio    


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