McHone Brothers (LLC) Collection of Houck Tannery Records, 1870-1913

Browse manuscript collections

Descriptive Summary

 

Repository: Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

Title: McHone Brothers (LLC) Collection of Houck Tannery Records, 1870-1913

Collection No.: SC 0172
Creator: Houck Tannery

Extent: 8 boxes; 6.7 cubic feet

Language: English

Abstract: This collection consists of 6.7 cubic feet of records documenting the operations of the Houck Tannery and the J.P. Houck Store in Harrisonburg, Virginia, from 1870-1913, chiefly from 1890 to 1913. The collection contains account ledgers, registries, correspondence, and financial and transportation documents that record this turn of the century industry.

 

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions: Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions: The copyright interests in this collection have been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collection Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (library-special@jmu.edu).

Preferred Citation: [identification of Item], [box #, folder #], McHone (LLC) Collection of Houck Tannery Records, 1870-1913, SC 0172, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.

Acquisition Information: Records were donated by the present building owner, McHone Brothers, LLC, in 2000. The collection was discovered in the late 1990s during renovations to the Houck Building on Court Square (71 South Main) in downtown Harrisonburg, the former offices of the Houck Tannery and store.
Processing Information: The collection was received on several long strands of heavy gauge wire totaling twenty linear feet which presented some difficulty due to their great weight and inherent instability. Documents had been punched onto the wire in chronological order which facilitated their arrangement but left edges exposed to a century's accumulation of grime and to damage by pests. As a practical matter rather than an ideal conservation practice, each article was wiped with an untreated flannel dust cloth rather than vacuumed under mesh to encourage the exposed and embrittled corners of documents to crumble away from their much cleaner cores.In order to streamline the process of applying collection numbers, Special Collections staff completed a large-scale renumbering campaign in 2017-2018. This collection was previously cataloged as SC 4044.

Bio/Historical Note:

Joseph P. Houck was born on April 4, 1839, in Allentown, Pennsylvania. In the spring of 1866 he went to work for Shenandoah Iron Works in Page County, Virginia. He was successful in the business for fourteen years. Around 1880, Houck and his family moved to Harrisonburg, Virginia, as he had significant business interests there. He had bought a controlling share of the Harrisonburg Steam Tannery in 1878, which soon was renamed the Houck Tannery. In 1879 he opened the Houck Store near Court Square which sold leather goods in addition to household goods and furnishings. Houck was a prominent member of the community, a member of the Rockingham Union Lodge, and secretary and treasurer of Valley Telephone. He died on June 16, 1908. Both the Tannery and the Store were passed on to his son, Joe (J.T.). The younger Houck sold the store to William B. Dutrow in 1913, but continued to own and operate the tannery until its close in the 1920s.

The tannery which came to be known as the Houck Tannery had a long history prior to its ownership by J.P. Houck. Local historian John Wayland noted in his 1949 book Historic Harrisonburg that sources indicate that as far back 1826, Joseph Cline had "carried on the tanyard now owned by Lowenback," and that George Conrad had later purchased Cline's "farm & the tanyard in town," although the date of that sale is not provided. Nonetheless, in 1871 J.A. Loewenbach owned and operated the tannery. That year, he constructed a new building for providing steam power, and in 1872 he had run a pipe from an unidentified spring in town to the tannery.

By 1878 ownership of the tannery was transferred to J.P. Houck. Although several tanneries operated in Rockingham County, Houck's was the largest. An 1880 census reports a capital investment of $75,000 and thirty employees in the tannery. The industry also supported significant numbers of workers who supplied and transported raw materials to the factory. A spur was laid from the Chesapeake and Western Railroad directly to the tannery warehouse to facilitate the tonnage of bark required for the manufacture of leather. In 1889 the tannery boasted a well that ran 600 feet deep. In addition, the tannery's powerful steam plant is credited with being the first provider of electricity in Harrisonburg. The city contracted with Houck in 1890 to power its street lights prior to the formation of the Harrisonburg Electric Commission. The factory ceased operation in the 1920s, and its 120 foot smokestack was demolished in 1929. A municipal parking deck now stands on the site. The sole remaining structure housed Whitesel-Sinton farm equipment in the 1930s, the armory until the 1950s, and the police department until its demolition in the early 1970s.

Scope and Content:

This collection consists of 6.7 cubic feet of records that document the daily purchases and sales of the Houck Tannery and the J.P. Houck Store in Harrisonburg, Virginia, from 1870-1913, chiefly from 1890 to 1913. The collection is arranged in five series: Account Ledgers and Registries, Communication, Financial Documents, Distribution/Transportation Documents, Images, and J.P. Houck Store. The first four series deal primarily with the Tannery; materials relating to the Store are housed in series five. References to the Tannery may be abbreviated JPHTC, while the Houck Store may be abbreviated JPHS.

Arrangement:

The collection is arranged in five series:
Series 1: Account Ledgers and Registries, 1870-1895
Series 2: Communication, 1900-1912
Series 3: Financial Documents, 1891-1912
Series 4: Distribution/Transportation Documents, 1893-1913
Series 5: J. P. Houck Store, 1898-1912
Items within each series are arranged alphabetically by topic or locality, then chronologically. Original pagination retained.

Bibliography:

Barb, Mia, 1991. Tanbark Industry in the Shenandoah Valley, Oral History Interviews, SdArch 4. Carrier Library Special Collections, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.

Bolgiano, Chris. 1999. "Tanbark Harvesting as an Economic and Environmental Factor in Appalachia." [S.1.:s.n.], 1999. Presented at [the] Shenandoah Valley Regional Studies Seminar, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va., January 22, 1999.

Coakley, Sherry L. 1991. "The Old Tannery." Harrisonburg Rockingham Historical Society Newsletter 13(1): 1-2.

"History of Rockingham—Houck Tannery." Daily News-Record, 28 February 1959.

Lathrop, J.M. An Atlas of Shenandoah and Page Counties, Virginia; from actual surveys by J.M. Lathrop and B.N. Griffing. Strasburg, Va.: GP Hammond Pub., 1991. Originally published as: Philadelphia, Pa.: D.J. Lake & Co., 1885.

"Mr. Dutrow's 20th Anniversary." Harrisonburg Daily News, 11 March 1908.

Price, C.G. Sr. "My Recollections of Harrisonburg at the turn of the century." Rockingham Recorder III:1, April 1979.

"Dutrow Buys Houck Store." Daily News-Record, 11 July 1913.

Suter, Scott Hamilton, and Cheryl Lyon. Images of America: Harrisonburg. Chicago: Arcadia Press, 2003.

Suter, Scott Hamilton, and Cheryl Lyon. Places, Faces & Traces: Historical Photographs of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. Dayton, Va.: Silver Lake Mill, 2005.

Wayland, John W. Historic Harrisonburg. Staunton, Va.: McClure Print. Co., 1949.

Related Material:

West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company Logging Photographs, 1927-1931, SC 0130, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.

Contents:

Series 1: Account Ledgers and Registries, 1870-1895

Series 1, Account Ledgers and Registries, 1870-1895, consists of a bound register (1870-1884), account ledger, and check stub registry. The register lists names alphabetically by race, date registered, and age. Initially presumed to have been an employee register, many of the names listed were prominent local citizens and/or businessmen who were not in the employ of the tannery; therefore it is likely that this was an unofficial voter register that somehow came to be housed in the same building as the tannery records, and may in fact have had nothing to do with the tannery itself.

Folder Title
Box : Folder
Employee/Contractor Register, 1870-1884
1:1
Transcription of Register, undated
1:2
Account Ledger, September 1892-October 1895
1:3
Check stub registry, June 1890-May 1892
1:4

Series 2: Communication, 1900-1912

Series 2, Communication, 1900-1912, includes business and payroll correspondence, telegrams and telegraphs, arranged alphabetically by topic, then chronologically. Several of the items in payroll correspondence are undated handwritten notes from employees or contract laborers, requesting that their pay be sent home with another individual.

Folder Title
Box : Folder
Business correspondence, 1901-1912
1:5
Payroll correspondence, From supervisors to Houck, 1900
1:6
Payroll correspondence, From supervisors to Houck, February 1901-October 1901
1:7
Payroll correspondence, From supervisors to Houck, May 1902-December 1904
1:8
Payroll correspondence, From supervisors to Houck, January 1905-December 1907
1:9
Payroll correspondence, From supervisors to Houck, 1908-1911, undated
1:10
Payroll correspondence, From employees, December 1901-August 1905
1:11
Payroll correspondence, From employees, 1906-1907
1:12
Payroll correspondence, From employees, 1908
1:13
Payroll correspondence, From employees, 1909
1:14
Payroll correspondence, From employees, 1910
1:15
Payroll correspondence, From employees, 1911
1:16
Payroll correspondence, From employees, 1912
1:17
Payroll correspondence, From employees, undated
1:18
Telegrams and telegraphs, September 1900-June 9, 1908
1:19

Series 3: Financial Documents, 1891-1912

Series 3, Financial Documents, 1891-1912, is largely composed of receipts and paperwork regarding transactions and regular operating expenses, arranged alphabetically by topic, then chronologically. Topics include cash accounts, expense accounts, and payroll information for Brandiwine [Brandywine], W.V., insurance and utility payments, tax and legal issues, cancelled checks, tannery receipts and vouchers, money orders (from Southern Express & Adams Express) and Houck Store receipts. Oversized materials that have been placed in an oversized box are noted in the contents list.

Folder Title
Box : Folder
Canceled checks, 1891-1908, undated
1:20
Cash account tabulations, 1908
1:21
Cash account tabulations, 1909
1:22
Cash account tabulations, 1910
1:23
Cash account tabulations, 1911
1:24
Cash account tabulations, 1912, undated
1:25
Cash accounts, Brandywine, West Virginia, October 1902-December 1902
2:1
Cash accounts, Brandywine, West Virginia, January 1903-April 1903
2:2
Cash accounts, Brandywine, West Virginia, May 1903-December 1903
2:3
Cash accounts, Brandywine, West Virginia, 1904
2:4
Cash accounts, Brandywine, West Virginia, January 1905-September 1905
2:5
Collection Vouchers, Stiegel Lumber Co, June 1903, May-July 1906
2:6
Expense accounts, Brandywine, July 1900-December 1901
2:7
Expense accounts, Brandywine, Expense accounts, Brandywine, January 1902-October 1902
2:8
Money orders, January 1903-December 1909
2:9
Insurance premium statements, 1902-1913
2:10
Legal documents and tax receipts, December 24, 1894-June 12, 1908
2:11
Payroll information, Brandywine, West Virginia, March 1903-December 1903
OV 1:2
Payroll information, Brandywine, West Virginia, January 1904-March 1905
OV 1:3
Payroll information, Brandywine, West Virginia, October 1902-September 1905
2:12
Promissory notes, JPHTC owed to others, June 1891-July 1898
3:1
Promissory notes, JPHTC owed to others, August 1898-July 1905
3:2
Promissory notes, JPHTC owed to self, October 29, 1900-April 1, 1908, undated
3:3
General receipts, bought of JPHS by JPHTC, September 1903-June 1906
3:4
General receipts, received of JPHTC, August 1900-1901
3:5
General receipts, received of JPHTC, 1902
3:6
General receipts, received of JPHTC, 1903
3:7
General receipts, received of JPHTC, 1904-June 1905, undated
3:8
General receipts, received of JPHTC, July 1905-1906
3:9
General receipts, received of JPHTC, 1907-January 1908, June 1911
3:10
General receipts, leather, 1900-1901
3:11
General receipts, leather, 1902
3:12
General receipts, leather, 1903-1904
3:13
General receipts, leather, 1904-1908
3:14
Miscellaneous notes and receipts, 1892-1900
3:15
Miscellaneous notes and receipts, 1901
3:16
Miscellaneous notes and receipts, 1902
3:17
Miscellaneous notes and receipts, 1903
3:18
Miscellaneous notes and receipts, 1904
3:19
Miscellaneous notes and receipts, 1905
3:20
Miscellaneous notes and receipts, 1906
3:21
Miscellaneous notes and receipts, 1907
3:22
Miscellaneous notes and receipts, 1908-1912
3:23
Miscellaneous notes and receipts, oversize, 1903, undated
OV 1:1
Miscellaneous notes and receipts, undated
3:24
Post office, 1900-1910
3:25
Utility/rent, October 1900-April 1910
3:26
Vouchers, JPHTC, July 1900-December 1900
3:27
Vouchers, JPHTC, January 1901-May 1901
3:28
Vouchers, JPHTC, June 1901-September 1901
3:29
Vouchers, JPHTC, October 1901-December 1901
3:30
Vouchers, JPHTC, January 1902-March 1902
3:31
Vouchers, JPHTC, April 1902-June 1902
3:32
Vouchers, JPHTC, July 1902-October 1902
3:33
Vouchers, JPHTC, November 1902-December 1902
3:34
Vouchers, JPHTC, January 1903-March 1903
3:35
Vouchers, JPHTC, April 1903-June 1903
3:36
Vouchers, JPHTC, July 1903
4:1
Vouchers, JPHTC, August 1903-September 1903
4:2
Vouchers, JPHTC, October 1903-December 1903
4:3
Vouchers, JPHTC, January 1904-February 1904
4:4
Vouchers, JPHTC, March 1904-April 1904
4:5
Vouchers, JPHTC, May 1904-July 1904
4:6
Vouchers, JPHTC, August 1904-September 1904
4:7
Vouchers, JPHTC, October 1904-December 1904
4:8
Vouchers, JPHTC, January 1905-April 1905
4:9
Vouchers, JPHTC, May 1905-August 1905
4:10
Vouchers, JPHTC, September 1905-October 1905
4:11
Vouchers, JPHTC, November 1905-December 1905
4:12
Vouchers, JPHTC, January 1906-March 1906
4:13
Vouchers, JPHTC, April 1906-June 1906
4:14
Vouchers, JPHTC, July 1906-October 1906
4:15
Vouchers, JPHTC, November 1906-December 1906
4:16
Vouchers, JPHTC, January 1907-March 1907
4:17
Vouchers, JPHTC, April 1907-June 1907
4:18
Vouchers, JPHTC, July 1907-October 1907
4:19
Vouchers, JPHTC, November 1907-December 1907
4:20
Vouchers, JPHTC, January 1908-May 1908
4:21
Vouchers, JPHTC, June 1908-September 1908
4:22
Vouchers, JPHTC, October 1908-December 1908
4:23

Series 4: Distribution and Transportation Documents, 1893-1913

Series 4, Distribution and Transportation Documents, 1893-1913, constitutes the bulk of the collection and represents regular transactions that occurred during production at the Tannery. These are further divided into eight subseries, based on transaction type. These subseries are arranged alphabetically by location or railway, then chronologically.

Folder Title
Box : Folder
Freight Bills and Receipts, B&O, 1900-1901
4:24
Freight Bills and Receipts, B&O, 1902
4:25
Freight Bills and Receipts, B&O, 1903
4:26
Freight Bills and Receipts, B&O, 1904
4:27
Freight Bills and Receipts, B&O, 1905-1908
4:28
Freight Bills and Receipts, B&O, Receipts for switching, Agents' receipts, 1906-1907
4:29
Freight Bills and Receipts, B&O, Receipts for switching, April 1905-1906
4:30
Freight Bills and Receipts, B&O, Receipts for switching, 1907
4:31
Freight Bills and Receipts, B&O, Receipts for switching, 1908
4:32
Freight Bills and Receipts, C&W, 1901
4:33
Freight Bills and Receipts, C&W, 1902
4:34
Freight Bills and Receipts, C&W, 1903
4:35
Freight Bills and Receipts, C&W, 1904
4:36
Freight Bills and Receipts, C&W, 1905-April 1906
4:37
Freight Bills and Receipts, C&W, April 1906-December 1906
4:38
Freight Bills and Receipts, C&W, January 1907-June 1907
5:1
Freight Bills and Receipts, C&W, July 1907-December 1907
5:2
Freight Bills and Receipts, C&W, 1908, 1911
5:3
Freight Bills and Receipts, Southern Railway Co., 1898-1900
5:4
Freight Bills and Receipts, Southern Railway Co., 1901
5:5
Freight Bills and Receipts, Southern Railway Co., January 1902-March 1902
5:6
Freight Bills and Receipts, Southern Railway Co., April 1902-September 1902
5:7
Freight Bills and Receipts, Southern Railway Co., October 1902-December 1902
5:8
Freight Bills and Receipts, Southern Railway Co., January 1903-April 1903
5:9
Freight Bills and Receipts, Southern Railway Co., May 1903-October 1903
5:10
Freight Bills and Receipts, Southern Railway Co., November 1903-December 1903
5:11
Freight Bills and Receipts, Southern Railway Co., January 1904-April 1904
5:12
Freight Bills and Receipts, Southern Railway Co., May 1904-August 1904
5:13
Freight Bills and Receipts, Southern Railway Co., September 1904-December 1904
5:14
Freight Bills and Receipts, Southern Railway Co., 1905
5:15
Freight Bills and Receipts, Southern Railway Co., 1906
5:16
Freight Bills and Receipts, Southern Railway Co., 1907
5:17
Freight Bills and Receipts, Southern Railway Co., 1908
5:18
Freight Bills and Receipts, Southern Railway Co., 1909-1913, undated
5:19
Freight Bills and Receipts, Valley Railroad, 1902
5:20
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Train Load, Broadway, September 1902-1904
6:1
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Train Load, Broadway, 1905-1908
6:2
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Train Load, Broadway, February 19090-February 1913
6:3
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Train Load, Edinburg, August 1900-1910
6:4
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Train Load, Edinburg, 1911-February 1913
6:5
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Train Load, Mt. Jackson, August 1900-January 1913
6:6
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Train Load, Stokesville, April 1902-September 1903
6:7
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Train Load, Stokesville, 1904
6:8
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Train Load, Stokesville, 1905
6:9
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Train Load, Stokesville, 1906
6:10
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Train Load, Stokesville, 1907
6:11
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Train Load, Stokesville, 1908
6:12
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Train Load, Stokesville, 1909
6:13
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Train Load, Stokesville, 1910
6:14
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Train Load, Stokesville, 1911
6:15
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Train Load, Stokesville, 1912-January 1913, undated
6:16
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Train Load, Miscellaneous In-State, Aqua-Keezletown, undated
6:17
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Train Load, Miscellaneous In-State, Lexington-Spotswood, undated
6:18
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Train Load, Miscellaneous In-State, Spring Creek-Woodstock, undated
6:19
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Train Load, Out-of-State, unknown, undated
6:20
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Wagon Weight, Edinburg, August 1900-May 1901
6:21
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Wagon Weight, Harrisonburg, 1900
6:22
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Wagon Weight, Harrisonburg, 1901
6:23
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Wagon Weight, Harrisonburg, 1902
6:24
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Wagon Weight, Harrisonburg, 1903
6:25
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Wagon Weight, Harrisonburg, 1904
6:26
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Wagon Weight, Harrisonburg, 1905
7:1
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Wagon Weight, Harrisonburg, 1906
7:2
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Wagon Weight, Harrisonburg, 1907
7:3
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Bark by Wagon Weight, Harrisonburg, 1908
7:4
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Extract, 1901-1903
7:5
Receipts for Hauling Chestnut Oak Extract, 1904-1905
7:6
Receipts for Hauling Corn, Hay, etc., 1902-1905
7:7
Reports of bark cars unloaded, September 1903-1906
7:8
Reports of bark cars unloaded, 1907
7:9
Reports of bark cars unloaded, 1908-1909
7:10
Reports of wagon bark received, Broadway, August 1900-December 1900
7:11
Reports of wagon bark received, Edinburg, August 1900-May 1901
7:12
Reports of wagon bark received, Stokesville, June 1902-October 1903, undated
7:13
Reports of wagon bark received, unknown/miscellaneous locations, 1893, undated
7:14
Time reports, Big River, 1906-1908
7:15
Time reports, Briery Branch, 1906-1908
7:16
Time reports, Little River and Loose Tract, 1906-1908
7:17
Time reports, Stokesville, 1906-1908
7:18
Time reports, Miscellaneous statements and reports, 1906-1908
7:19

Series 5: J.P. Houck Store, 1898-1912

Series 5, J.P. Houck Store, 1898-1912, consists of materials that can be attributed specifically to transactions pertaining to the J.P. Houck Store, such as bills of lading for wholesale goods, customer charges, and freight and shipping receipts. These are arranged topically, then chronologically. The bulk of this series contains bills of lading for goods shipped to the Store [non-Virginia bills of lading], and bills of lading for goods shipped from the Houck Store to other locations in Virginia [Virginia bills of lading]. These are arranged by railway/company.

Folder Title
Box : Folder
Bills of Lading [Non-Virginia], B&O Railroad Company, April 1898-1905
7:20
Bills of Lading [Non-Virginia], B&O Railroad Company, 1906
7:21
Bills of Lading [Non-Virginia], B&O Railroad Company, January 1907-July 1907, 1909
7:22
Bills of Lading [Non-Virginia], B&O Southwestern Railroad Company, December 1901-1904
7:23
Bills of Lading [Non-Virginia], Chicago Great Western Railway, July 1905-April 1906
7:24
Bills of Lading [Non-Virginia], Pennsylvania Railroad Co., March 1902-February 1907
7:25
Bills of Lading [Non-Virginia], Seaboard Airline Railway, September 1902-September 1904
7:26
Bills of Lading [Non-Virginia], Southern Railway Company, August 1900-September 1911
7:27
Bills of Lading [Non-Virginia], United States Express Company, December 1901-October 1903
7:28
Bills of Lading [Non-Virginia], Miscellaneous Railroads, 1902-1912
7:29
Bills of Lading [Virginia], Adams Express Company, December 1901-November 1908
7:30
Bills of Lading [Virginia], Miscellaneous Railroads, 1902-1911
7:31
Charge tickets, May 1908-January 1911
7:32
Freight and Shipping Receipts, 1901-1902
7:33
Freight and Shipping Receipts, 1903
7:34
Freight and Shipping Receipts, 1904
7:35

Compiled by: Chris Bolgiano, Katherine Carr, Tracy Harter, Andréa Hillebrenner, Maggie Keller, Julia Merkel, Erica Morrison, Jodie Tsou, and Sarah Vaughan, 2002-2007