Monday, January 18, 2016

The Mystery of One-Eye Nelson

In the archives of the Hobart Historical Society museum, in a box labeled (among other things) "Shearer and Emery, Coal Dealers," I found an interesting ledger detailing coal purchases in the early part of the 20th century. Whoever kept the ledger* often spelled purchasers' names phonetically, and when he didn't know or couldn't recall the buyer's first name, he sometimes just wrote an identifying characteristic, such as "lady" or "old" or, in this case, "one eye":

2016-1-18. One Eye Nelson
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

Who was this unfortunate coal buyer? We have checked all the Nelson obituaries we could find — but an obituary would not necessarily mention an old injury. I have looked at all the local Nelson WWI Draft Cards without finding this physical disqualification — but Mr. Nelson may have been over draft age or out of the area, if indeed he lived to see World War I (I'm guessing he was male; a lady with one eye is still a lady). The time period covered by the coal ledger is beyond living memory. So at present I can't restore Mr. Nelson to the dignity of a Christian name.

But I'll keep an … watch for any further information.

*With no name stamped or written on the ledger to identify the seller, I'm not sure who exactly he was. While the ledger no doubt was donated by a Shearer or an Emery, as far as I know Calvin Shearer and Paul Emery first became business partners in 1917. My guess is that the seller in these 1905-08 transactions was a predecessor of the Shearer & Emery firm, such as Calvin Shearer doing business solo, or the partnership of Shearer & Barnes.

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