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Alma Store Ledger

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Joined: 17 Mar 2009
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Location: Liverpool, NY

PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:39 pm    Post subject: Alma Store Ledger Reply with quote

Chris Kappelman gave my brother Don an old ledger from an early Alma store. It contains entries for every business day between May 2, 1901 and June 30, 1905 (a total of 462 pages). An excerpt is shown below.

Each entry identifies the person that charged something to his/her account and the category of the item(s) purchased. It also identifies payments made on the account balance. Occasionally, an entry would be crossed out and marked ‘Pd’, probably when a customer decided to pay cash rather than charge the item. Payments on one’s account were either made in cash or by trading produce, etc. to the store (e.g. “by eggs”). Often, people would return shoes for credit. The store also purchased hides. Periodically, a statement would be prepared from the ledger identifying the purchases that were made, as shown in the following figure. (This statement was being prepared for Otto Hemme.)

The check mark was made to the left of an entry in the ledger either when the statement was made out or when payment was received. Starting in 1902, an initial was added after the purchase. These initials were either C, W, L, or H and later A or O. One theory is that this was the initial of the clerk, possibly to identify the sale if there was some question about it.

Unfortunately, the first 40 pages are missing, so the store could not be identified. The people and organizations listed are clearly from the Alma area. The wide variety of merchandise that is noted indicates that it was a general department store. Dun’s 1905 Community & Business Directory for Missouri lists the following Alma businesses at that time.

The best guess is that the book came from the Deke & Kappelman Department Store. One entry indicates a payment for rent made by A. ONeal/Geo. Albin. According to the 1900 census, Geo. Albin, his wife, and six children were living in the village of Alma at that time. Was there an apartment in the store building?

This ledger makes interesting reading. The variety of items sold was impressive, including food, tobacco, wine, candy, clothing, housewares, hardware, clock & watch repair, gasoline and oil. The names of customers give a picture of the people living in the area, although it only includes those who charged their purchases. There are some unusual items, such as sardines bought by the barrel. You can tell which men used pipe tobacco vs. cigars or chewing tobacco (‘twist’). A number of entries indicate when the Alma band purchased gasoline or when they purchased items for a summer picnic. The city of Alma and the Lutheran Church were regular customers. A number of items were charged by Alma Telephone Co. in Dec. 1904, so they had telephone service in Alma by then.
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