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Collection Number: 05138-z

Collection Title: John Kirk Ledger, 1823-1844

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the section for more information.


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Size 11 items
Abstract John Kirk was a Harford County, Md., businessman who sold and rented merchandise, real estate, and slave labor. He died in 1831. The collection includes Kirk's account book and several poems that were tucked inside its pages. The account book, 1823-1844, includes an index of personal names of Harford County residents, lists of debits and credits, and some detail about what was purchased and rented and how repayment was made. The book also includes sworn oaths by Kirk to a Justice of the Peace testifying to the ledger's veracity.
Creator Kirk, John, d. 1831.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the John Kirk Papers #5138, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Purchased from Carmen Valentino of Philadelphia, Pa., in December 2003 (Acc. 99667).
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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John Kirk was a Harford County, Md., businessman in the 1820s. He co-owned the Harford Iron Furnace foundry, and conducted business with local individuals. He sold merchandise and real estate, and rented homes. Kirk also leased slaves for their labor.

The details of Kirk's personal life are relatively unknown, but he was ordained in the Churchville Presbyterian Church in 1829, and died on 5 January 1831.

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The collection contains an account book of John Kirk, Harford County, Md., businessman who co-owned the Harford Iron Furnace foundry, sold merchandise and real estate, rented homes, and also leased slaves for their labor. Also included are several poems that were tucked inside the pages of the account book. The account book, 1823-1844, includes an index of personal names of Harford County residents, lists of debits and credits, and some detail about what was purchased and rented and how repayment was made. The book also includes sworn oaths by Kirk to a Justice of the Peace testifying to the ledger's veracity.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Ledger, 1823-1844.

11 items.

The collection contains an account book of John Kirk, Harford County, Md., businessman who co-owned the Harford Iron Furnace foundry, sold merchandise and real estate, rented homes, and also leased slaves for their labor. Also included are several poems that were tucked inside the pages of the account book. The account book, 1823-1844, includes an index of personal names of Harford County residents, lists of debits and credits, and some detail about what was purchased and rented and how repayment was made. The book also includes sworn oaths by Kirk to a Justice of the Peace testifying to the ledger's veracity.

The ledger consists of a single account book, dated 1823 to 1844, and several clippings that were enclosed in its pages. Kirk used this 316-page ledger to record the debits and credits of those individuals with whom he did business. The beginning of the book features an alphabetical index of personal names, with references to the pages of the account book on which a list of each person's debts and credits can be found. The men and, occasionally, women who conducted business with Kirk were usually assigned a pair of pages. The left hand page was ued to record debts, and the right hand page was used to record "Contra," or repayment. On both sides, the items were listed in chronological order. Most of the debits and credits date between 1823 and 1830.

Many of the debts are characterized as only "merchandise," and instruct the reader to refer to the "Day Book" for more information. Unfortunately, this Day Book likely no longer exists. However, there are some more descriptive terms sprinkled within the debt pages. For example, on left hand folio page 100, the debts include "2 1/4 yd. cloth," "buttons and silk," "1 years rent of house," and "corn for Negro Natt." At several places in the ledger, the rental of a slave for his or her labor is noted. The repayments tended to be made in cash or by "a note of hand." A number of debtors repaid with goods and services, such as "mowing 2 days," "1 white steer," or "1 book case."

This ledger has several unusual features. Most notably, for each year between 1824 and 1830, Kirk swore before a Justice of the Peace that the contents of his book were "just and true." His full statement was written in the back of the book and signed by the Justice of the Peace. This oath is rather unusual in account books of this kind.

Also recorded in the book are a list of women's names and addresses, and two poems. The writer of these is unknown; possibly it was John Kirk or the person who made entries in the ledger after Kirk's death in 1831. The women's names and addresses are found on the page facing the sworn oaths at the back of the book, as well as on a blank page toward the end and on page 72. The poems can be found on page 78, and on a blank page at the back of the book.

Ten poems were found tucked into the pages of the ledger. These poems were all clipped from newpapers, some after Kirk's death, and range in tone from romantic to humorous. Whether Kirk himself saved some or all of these poems is unclear.

Folder 1

Ledger, 1823-1844 #05138-z, Series: "Ledger, 1823-1844." Folder 1

Folder 2

Enclosures: Clipped poems, undated #05138-z, Series: "Ledger, 1823-1844." Folder 2

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Processing Information

Processed by: Valerie Gillispie, June 2005

Encoded by: Valerie Gillispie, June 2005

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