Greetings from frosty Easton! The cooler temps would make Frosty a happy snowman, except we did not get the snow that was forecast for us last weekend. No complaints from me!
In December 1866, Caleb Carr bought his monthly supply of groceries and other items. Thanks to an account book from the Ames Store, we know just what he purchased as well as what he paid for those items. Small account books, kept by stores (or personal books kept by someone to track household expenses) give us a window into the past. We can see what stores carried for their customers, and we can see what customers bought and how often they bought items. In this case, we have an account book from the 1860's that details what Caleb bought from the Ames Store each month. At the end of the month, the account would be settled, and a notation is made in the book to state just that. One would need to be a customer in good standing to continue to do business with that store.
Caleb Carr, Jr. (1797-1887) was the son of Caleb Carr, Sr. (1767-1839), and the grandson of Rev. Eseck Carr, who was the Baptist minister in Easton until the time of his death in 1794. Eseck, called to Easton from Warren, Rhode Island, may have been a grandson of Caleb Carr, who was governor of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation when he died in 1695. Caleb, Jr. worked as a shovel worker and lived in the Torrey House at 91 Main Street. He was known affectionately as "Uncle Caleb" to many in his later years. His sons John and Henry owned houses on Main Street, and other Carr's lived on Washington Street near the Stoughton Line.
Attached for you is a sample of two pages from this account book that detail purchases he made in November and December, 1866. He seems to be especially fond of crackers and cheese, and mackerel (probably dried). Among his shopping list one can find cheese, butter, apples, raisins, tea, and bread, all staples you would expect to find when shopping. But the Ames Store also carried a wide variety of "sundries" to meet other needs. Caleb also purchased gingham and flannel fabric, paper, a knife, oil, turpentine, and varnish.
The Ames Store was located on Shovel Shop property, nearly across from the current Ames Free Library, in an area now used for parking. Having a store on site with a wide selection of items to meet everyday needs was a convenient way to serve shovel workers and anyone else who desired to shop at the store. Some family accounts were continued for more than 100 years! It should be noted that although this was a "company store" there was no mandate for workers to use it. They could shop anywhere they chose for food or other items.
Stay well, and remember there are only 12 days left until Christmas! Make your shopping a little easier and check out our online store!
Curator: Frank Meninno