Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Breakfast at Liverpool

It's April of 1836, and "Dr. Merchant" has left LaPorte, apparently, as he notes at the top of a fresh page (on the right-hand side) in his account book: "Town of Liverpool."

2017-11-28. AccB1835 006, 007
(Click on image to enlarge)
Image courtesy of the Hobart Historical Society.

A little history, from Howat's A Standard History of Lake County, Indiana, and the Calumet Region (1915):
Either in the later part of 1835, or the fore part of 1836, two Philadelphia men, John C. Davis and Henry Frederickson, and a Western promoter, John B. Chapman, blocked out the town. … The new town on Deep River obtained such notice that during the first sale of lots, which covered three days in 1836, the proprietors realized $16,000. Among the purchasers was John Wood, the builder of Wood's Mill on Deep River. He and a friend bought nine Liverpool lots for $2,000; and many years afterward, when Liverpool had been almost as completely erased from the county map as Indiana City, he would bring forth the deed to his "city property" as a unique relic. The paper was written by John B. Niles, then an attorney, and acknowledged before Judge Samuel C. Sample, of Porter County.
Goodspeed (1882) mentions the same three people — Davis, Frederickson, Chapman — and reprints a survey of the town dated January 30, 1836, by a Newton K. Smith. Ball (1904) gives Mr. Davis' first name as Nathaniel, not John — don't know what to make of that.

The first entry on the account-book page above is "To expenses down to Survey Town — [$]15." That suggests to me that the writer might have been one of the people involved in getting the town surveyed, i.e., John/Nathaniel Davis, Henry Frederickson, or John Chapman.

A few items further down, we find this entry from May 25, 1836: "John's Breakfast 18 ½ [cents]." We've already identified several Johns who could be at the nascent town of Liverpool in the spring of 1836 … but who among them needed his breakfast paid for by someone else? And who among them would have been referred to by his first name, at a time when first names were reserved for use by family members or close friends?

We know, of course, that George Earle had a son named John, who would have been about 3 years old in 1836. We also know that George Earle arrived in Liverpool in 1836 (per Ball) … but would he bring his toddler son to such a place?

If we go back a few pages in the account book, to LaPorte in 1835, we find transactions with "H. Fredrickson," "J.B. Chapman" and "J.C. Davis." Which suggests that the writer wasn't any of these three, but knew them.

… But I've gone off on a tangent and delayed my indexing work, so I'll shut up now. Mystery unsolved.


Anonymous said...

I believe, that like your finding of the "plans" to build a mill in Hobart are actual historic documents that are the real thing.... I had never heard that George Earle had a son John. But I am sure that he would have brought him to Hobart/Liverpool, regardless of age. Thank you for for your tireless work to bring the history of Hobart/Ainsworth into the present.

Is there any other history recorded of John Earle?

Ainsworthiana said...

There's some juicy tidbits about John Earle's nasty divorce later in the 19th century at the museum but I don't know that we have an organized bio of him or even of George Earle. You should probably ask the museum people, they would know better than I do. I tend to avoid the whole Earle topic because I prefer to discuss people nobody ever heard of. :)