Monday, May 14, 2012

Joseph Jones' Sale Ad

Joseph Jones' 1855 sale ad
I wanted to share something here that got forwarded to me while back, and that I'm just now getting around to posting. It comes from the personal collection of Denis Hehman, of the Lower Red Clay Valley blog. Since it doesn't seem to specifically fit into the bounds of his blog, he's graciously allowed me to share it here with everyone. It's not (as far as I know) a particularly historically significant document, but it's interesting nonetheless. I haven't found a whole lot of information about, but I did recently find just enough to give it a bit of historical and geographical context.

What Denis has is a handwritten document from 1855 detailing an upcoming sale of personal property. For those who can't read the document (although the handwriting is impressively clear -- this coming from one whose handwriting is often illegible even to himself), I've transcribed it below:

Public Sale of personal property.

Will be sold at public sale at the residence of the subscriber in Mill Creek Hundred New Castle Co. Del. the following described goods and chattles to wit:
       One Dearborn and Harness
       Two feather beds and bedding
       Two pairs of bedsteads and one chest of drawers
       One Bureau and one Eight day clock
       One Cupboard, one Card Table. (?) and chairs
       One Stove, Tubs, Pots, and Kettles. Forks, Rakes, Spades, Shovels,
       barrels, boxes and bags
Besides many other articles too numerous to mention.
Sale to commence at 12 O'clock on Wednesday the 19th day of December, 1855.
                                                                            Terms, cash.
                                                                           Joseph Jones

I think what this is, is the handwritten copy for a newspaper classified ad for an estate sale for Joseph Jones' property. If I'm reading this properly, Jones is the "Subscriber" of the ad, so the sale is for his stuff, at his house. As you can imagine, trying to find information about some random guy named Jones 150 years ago is a bit of a challenge. However, I think I did find him, at least in two censuses. Below is Joseph (and listed in 1850, Rebecca) Jones in the 1840 and 1850 censuses for Mill Creek Hundred. As always, you can click on the image to see a larger version.

1840 Census

1850 Census

Most of the information comes from the 1850 Census, which was the first one to list everyone (not just head of household) and to have additional information. In 1850, Joseph was 67 and his wife Rebecca 66. That would make him 72 or 73 at the time of the 1855 sale. At this age, I think it's reasonable to assume that the Joneses were selling off many of their possessions because they were retiring and moving, possibly to live with a family member like a child or grandchild. And though the 1850 Census doesn't give too much information, I think it gives just enough for an educated guess as to where Joseph and Rebecca lived.

There are two clues on the census page that point toward a location. First is that Joseph is not listed as owning any real estate. This would mean that he was likely a tenant farmer, leasing a property from its owner. His position in the census just might tell us who that owner was. Listed directly before Joseph Jones was Rebecca Walker, who lived in and operated the Mermaid Tavern. We know that Walker owned a farm in addition to the tavern, and that no one else in her household was described as a farmer. This would seem to imply, in my mind at least, that Jones may have been working the Walker farm. You can see on the 1868 Beers map a property marked "Mrs. R. Walker" on the east side of Limestone Road, just north of the Mermaid. In a DelDOT Report (PDF) this property is referred to as the Bernard Glatz House Site. It was a tenant house owned by Walker and torn down sometime around 1912. It was located (as best as I can tell) just north of the professional buildings across from the Mermaid.

This, as I said, is just an educated guess as to the exact location of the Jones' residence. There's no question, though, that they lived somewhere very near the Mermaid. And thanks to Denis' keen eye in snatching up this document, we have a bit of an insight into the household of a mid-19th Century Mill Creek Hundred tenant farmer.


  1. You're right Scott..........I liked it because it give's insight to the mid 19th century household.
    It's amazing what we take for granted these days.

  2. This history information on this website is nothing less than incredible for a lot of reasons.