Rigdon, Smith & Co., Ledger, 23 September 1836–2 August 1837
Rigdon, Smith & Co., Ledger, , Geauga Co., OH, 23 Sept. 1836–2 Aug. 1837; handwriting of and ; eighty-three pages; JS Collection, CHL.
Accounts for the Rigdon, Smith & Co. store in , Ohio were inscribed in a large, commercially produced ledger book measuring 14¼ × 9½ × 1¾ inches (36 × 24 × 4 cm) with leather-covered boards and pastedowns of marbled paper with grey body and blue and red veins. The ledger contains endpaper in the front and back of the volume and twenty-four gatherings of 10 leaves each, except for the last gathering, which contains 8 leaves, for a total of 238 leaves. The leaves, which measure 13½ × 8⅞ inches (34 × 23 cm), are ruled vertically with eight single red lines and three interspersed red double lines and horizontally with thirty-nine blue lines and one red double line at the bottom or top of the page, depending on the way the ledger sits. The book was originally used as a financial ledger for Rigdon, Smith & Co., beginning in September 1836; eighty-three pages were paginated and inscribed with account information for customers of that firm. In April 1839, the book was inverted and repurposed as a letterbook by JS’s scribe ; the back of the book for the mercantile firm was used as the front of the letterbook. This resulted in the index for the letterbook being inscribed on the same pages as earlier store accounts. The title page of the ledger side contains the inscription: “Rigdon, Smith & co | Chester | Sept: = 1836.” The spine of the book has a strip of red leather imprinted with “LEGER” in gilt lettering. A paper label from the Church Historian’s Office was attached to the spine; the label reads “LETTER 1838–43” with “LETTER” stenciled or hand-printed. The right side of the label is uneven, brittle, and apparently incomplete. The original inscription was probably “LETTERS | 1838–43”.
was a mercantile company composed of , JS, and possibly . The firm began operating a store in , Ohio—located six miles south of the main settlement of Latter-day Saints in , Ohio—in September 1836. The primary extant record for the firm’s store in is a ledger book, consisting of basic accounts with no detail about what was sold. Each entry in the ledger begins with a subscripted number before the amount of the transaction, and entries are often combined on the same line and separated by commas. This record was kept initially by , who worked as a clerk in the store; later accounting was done by , who finalized entries and closed accounts.
The ledger records consistent business from September 1836 to March 1837, with a significant decrease after this period, likely related to the financial panic of 1837, outstanding debts, and increasing opposition toward JS and the church.
The store closed in May 1837, but accounts in the extant store ledger were still being settled in June and July 1837. After the store closed, the record book used for the ledger was repurposed as a letterbook to record copies of JS correspondence. Two slips of paper in ’s handwriting were found in the record book. The first appears to be handwriting practice. The second is a promissory note to a merchant in Denmark, New York, that appears to be a personal debt of ’s and unrelated to his clerking for .
Rigdon, Smith & Co., Ledger, 23 Sept. 1836–2 Aug. 1837, title page. The Geauga County, Ohio, tax records for 1837 list the company’s merchant capital as $2,500, suggesting that the company was doing well before the financial panic of 1837 and resulting economic decline. (Geauga County, OH, Duplicate Tax Records, 1816–1850, Tax Record for 1837, p. 57, microfilm 20,261, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)