A Guide to the
The Warden Ledger Collection, 1806-1880 (bulk1806)
Compiled by: Trevor Alvord, Kathryn Barela, and Mark Purington April 2011
Revised by Julia Merkel, April 2011
Repository: Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University
Title: The Warden Ledger Collection,1806 -1880
Collection No.: SC# 5023
This collection consists of three digital documents; one ledger and two estate appraisal documents from the antebellum and gilded periods of American history. The ledger documents significant commerce in early antebellum Hardy County, then Virginia (now West Virginia). The two estate documents are from homes of individuals who lived in Augusta County Virginia.
Must submit an application to quote or publish from this collection.
[Identification of Item], Warden Ledger Collection, SC# 5023, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University
The digital rights to the material were anonymously donated in October 2010.
The two appraisal documents were contained in the ledger, all of which have been held in the donor family's possession until the time of donation to James Madison University. The originals were returned to the owner after a digital copy was made.
Digitization of the Nimord Warden buisness ledger was made with an EOS Canon Digital Rebel XT 8 megapixel w/ EX Sigma 50 mm F2.8 DG Macro lens, copystand illuminated w/ 4 GE 100watt Reveal incandescent bulbs, edited in AdobePhotoshop 5.0, with archival copies saved to 72 ppi LZW tiff. Digitized by Julia Merkel, December 2010.
The two appraisal documents: "A List of the Property Appraised of the Estate of Samuel Harnsberger December 26th, 1857" and "Mother’s Sale Bill 5th November 1880", were scanned by an EPSON Expression 10000XL set at 600dpi. The images were edited using Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 and saved as high quality jpg's. A high-resolution tiff file was also created as the archival file. Digitized by Trevor Alvord, April 2011.
The Warden family traces its history back to the earliest days of European settlement in the Shenandoah Valley. Records indicate a direct genealogical line to Jost Hite, believed to be one of the first European settlers. The family initially settled along the Lost River in Hardy County in the early 18th century when that county was still part of the commonwealth of Virginia. The family grew and prospered as farmers and merchants, as indicated by the 1806 ledger, which records regular trade transactions with ships bound for France, London, Dublin, Spain and the West Indies. Among the commodities purchased were French wines, sugar and rum from Barbados and Irish linens. Export items included finished leather, ox hides and tallow for making candles.
The Nimrod Warden ledger accounts for business activities in Hardy County near Winchester, Virginia. This ledgers' historical significance directly correlates to the Shenandoah Valley and to the large industries that the Valley is known for today. The ledger describes the inventory for a business which appears to be that of a substantial wholesaler. The contents of this ledger illuminate national and international trade activities preceding the War of 1812, specifically the trade embargo. Even though the business accounted for in the Nimrod Warden ledger operated in harsh conditions of trade and was not located at a major port such as Boston it still thrived in commerce using the backdrop of the Shenandoah Valley. The monetary amounts in the ledger are in pounds sterling, demonstrating that even thirty years after the start of the revolutionary war the American trade industry still used pounds.
Scope and Content
The Warden Ledger Collection consists of three digital documents compiling 174 images. The main ledger (Nimrod Warden) is 13.5 inches long and 8.5 inches wide. The name Nimrod Warden appears on the cover page of the ledger, it does not indicate if he was the owner or the bookkeeper. The words "Hardy County" appear at the top of almost every page and the dates covered are January 24 through December 24, 1806. This ledger gives a detailed accounting of the state of international trade between Jeffersonian America and Napoleonic Europe at the dawn of the 19th century.
Included in the collection is an appraisal of the estate of Samuel Harnsberger of Augusta County, dated December 26, 1857. Handwritten notes (added in the 20th century) identify Samuel Harnsberger as the grandfather of Warden C. Parkins, Sr., who was directly descended from the Warden family. The ledger is an accounting of Mr. Harnsberger's estate, which included livestock, furniture, farm equipment, and several pages of promissory notes for personal loans made by Mr. Harnsberger. One page of the ledger lists the names of twenty-five slaves of various ages. The 1850 US census lists seventeen slaves owned by Samuel Harnsberger of Augusta County. Noted Shenandoah Valley historian John Wayland identifies a Samuel Harnsberger as a director of the Valley Turnpike Company, a public/private venture that developed a commercial route from Staunton to Winchester in the late 1830s which is still in service today as Virginia Route 11. The Harnsberger ledger includes a heading for "55 shares of Turnpike stock" .
The final ledger, dated November 5, 1880, also appears to be an accounting of an estate sale for the household goods of an unnamed woman. At the top of the first page is written "Mother's sale bill," and in a later note, possibly written with a felt-tipped pen, is the name "Susan Clagett Warden?" which has been crossed out. Genealogical records show that Susan Clagett Warden was a great-grandmother to Warden Parkins, mentioned in the Harnsberger ledger. Several of the items were purchased by Jacob and J.M. Warden, who are possibly Susan Warden's husband and brother-in-law, James McCoy Warden, respectively. Their mother, Lucinda Van Nort Warden passed away in April, 1880, and is very likely the "Mother" noted on the ledger. This accounting, like the Harnsberger sale, give a detailed look into the lives of Shenandoah Valley residents in the mid- to late-19th century.
The digital images of the collection are arranged in the same order as the original ledger.
Location of Originals
Original Ledger is retained by the donor, 2011.
Click on the links below to view the digital version.