From a Barbour County Scrapbook
Clippings from the Barbour Democrat

submitted by Linda Graham.

Old Daybook Reveals Early Life in Barbour Community
Names of Pioneer Families Listed in Records of Store Business

By L.G. ZINN
An old daybook kept by a merchant by the name of REGER at what was then known as Volga, in Barbour County, reveals some interesting things in regard to the people who lived in that and surrounding communities during 1857 and 1858. From the large number of customers and names found in this book, Mr. REGER must have conducted a very large store and handled about everything that his patrons wanted wither to buy or sell. And from the large amount of business he did, he must have had about the only store of its kind in the counties of Barbour, Harrison, and part of Upshur at that time. We find the names of such men as the WARDs, WOODFORDS, GAWTHROPS, REGERS, ROGERS, TOLBERTS (now spelled TALBOTT), SIMONS, CHRISLIPS, HALLS, ARNOLDS, and many other of the familiar names now to be found in this locality. In fact, with few exceptions, this book reads about the same as a directory of the county would at the present time. We even find a few of the first settlers' names in that book, the PRINGLES.

Price Interesting
But the most interesting thing in its pages are the prices paid for merchandise at that time and the kind of merchandise bought and sold. Many of the articles are never heard of today. They have gone completely out of existence or at least can be found only after a long search. We find in its pages that one of the most numerous purchases was candle wicking and one of the things that the farmers often sold or traded was tallow. Old rags seemed to be much in demand at that time. Just what they were used for I do not know. Maybe some of the older men can enlighten us, but in nearly every account will be found an entry of so many pounds of rags at two cents a pound. Folks of that day must have used syrup or molasses as it was called then in the place of sugar, for we find more purchases of molasses than we do sugar. Molasses was found on nearly every account at eighty-seven cents to $1 a gallon. Another item most of us today would not understand was paste-board, now known as cardboard, but what it was used for would be a mystery to our young folks. This pasteboard was used as a stiffener for the women's bonnets. I can remember yet seeing my mother taking the pasteboard out of her's and my sister's bonnets before washing them. The term cotton wadding is often used. This was cotton goods used to hold the ball tight in the old muzzle-loading guns. We also see many purchases of powder and lead, and no and then some farmer bought a bullet mold. There does not seem to have been any sale of guns. Evidently they were made by gunsmiths and sold directly.

Merchant Banker
The merchant seems to have been a sort of banker as well as merchant, for we often find such entries as "cash borrowed and cash deposited." These entries were carried just the same as a purchase of a sale of anything else. Prices of farm products were found to be very low and although some of the merchandise bought by the people was high, some of it was correspondingly low and in comparison with the same things today, there was about the same difference. We find that butter sold at never more than twelve cents and eggs at from eight cents to ten cents. Corn was never more than fifty cents a bushel, oats twenty-five cents a bushel and wheat from eighty cents to $1 a bushel. Potatoes sold for fifty cents a bushel while a live turkey only brought thirty-seven cents. Then we find that coffee never cost more that 16 2/3 cents a pound, sugar fifteen cents a bag , tobacco fifteen cents a pound, rice nine cents a pound and tea $1 a pound. Bleached muslin cost nine cents a yard while calico was from twelve to fourteen cents a yard and homemade linen cloth sold for twenty-five cents a yard. The merchant in that day was a druggist as well as grocer, and we find that he sold all the common drugs and patent remedies used at that time. We find that nearly everyone purchased at some time a bottle of Trey's Vermafuge. This used to be a standard remedy. We find them buying alum and coperas. I can remember when we were all expected to take a course of coperas every spring to tone up our system. This was one of the worst doses that I ever remember taking. Everyone then purchased asafitida. This was worn around the neck in a little cloth bag and was supposed to ward off colds and many other diseases.


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