Friday, May 18, 2012

Current Research: Developing Evidence on the Haverhill Shoe Trade

The very fist entry in the Daybook for 17 March 1793 is in fact for sole leather, purchased by Avery Sanders.  Given Sanders “jack of all trades” status in the community (he also hired out his services via indentures for labor) and the small quantity purchased, one may speculate that he operated as a cobbler, repairing local foot wear rather than crafting it. (The 1790 Census reveals that he was the head of household and the only male, with three females.)  On the other hand, large quantities of sole leather are recorded throughout the year by several different purchasers, including traders from Bath and Landaff.  There is the occasional mention simply of a cost for “tanning” (several times associated with the Ladd family) and random mentions of shoes (but thus far, no reference to boots) appear with some frequency. The well-established and respected Ladd family had a tannery on the Oliverian Brook, in close proximity to the General’s various concerns. (Indeed today, a short walk from the Montgomery Store across the Brook takes the visitor to “Ladd Lane” and “Tannery Road.”)

According to Whitcher, Deacon Ladd notes Phineas Swan (1751- 16 January 1829) as a cordwainer in a deed. Not enough evidence has yet surfaced to establish a tradition of shoemaking, but certainly there is ample information in the Daybook to support significant repairs in leather and the raw materials were available. Further, the Daybook reveals that special order shoes were sold, as in the case of Phebe Ladd’s purchase of shoes at 6 shillings (2 days of a working man’s labor), from the General’s store.

Accessories such as “knit cotton hose” for Clark Woodward cost him dearly – at 5 shillings 9 pence – almost two days of a man's labor. Given the cost and description, plated shoe buckles were also in abundance in the town, standard during this time period, seen in the 11 June 1793 entries.

Courtesy, Smiling Fox Forge

Courtesy, Lynn Museum

For further information on period shoe buckles, see:

Courtesy, Historic Deerfield

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