A vintage tannery business ledger in Somerset County, PA, from the 1840s, when the business was operated by Jehu McMillan and his family, has been brought to light, digitized and made publicly available online at no charge. Preserved by local farmer and collector Michael J. Miller, the volume was photographed page-by-page by Linda Marker of the Rockwood Area (PA) Historical Society. Jennifer Hurl, of the Meyersdale (PA) Public Library, consulted on the project.
The 180-year-old ledger lists the credits and debits of scores of individual customer accounts during the pre-Civil War years. Among them are myriad cousins of the Minerd-Minard-Miner-Minor, Younkin-Younken-Youngkin, Harbaugh, Ream and Hartzell families. A number of customers later migrated away as pioneer settlers of western states, with the pen and ink entries serving as a rare record of their brief early years in southwestern Pennsylvania.
The one-of-a-kind book opens a fascinating window into how much the farming community depended on a good tannery during the 1800s to transform their livestock hides into leather farm tools and footwear. It also gives insights into the political and religious leanings of the McMillan family owners.
A new Minerd.com page features excerpts, images and analysis of the ledger and customers at this link. The full library of images is available for viewing and download on the Rockwood Area Historical Society’s page on Rootsweb.com [PDF, 132 MB].