Monday, April 17, 2017

Nancy Campbell - Discovery of the first primary document containing this name?

I came upon the name of 'Nancy Campble' in the DayBook of Cadwallader Colden's store.  The store was located in Coldengham, New York.  The date of her visit to the store was October 1, 1768.

Many of you know I have been quite skeptical of the traditional names of Joel Campbell's wives. The main reason for my skepticism is that I have not seen any primary sources for them.  By 'primary sources' I mean original documents that were created by someone in her presence or at the time she lived.  In fact, I have not even seen any secondary documents. I consider 'secondary documents' to be records of people who might have seen a primary document or talked to a person who knew her. I would consider the legendary Benajah Campbell bible to be a secondary source, but I have never seen it.  It appears to be missing for the time being.

What we are left with are family genealogies that give a Nancy Leonard as the mother of Joel's children referencing missing secondary sources.

By 1768, Joel Campbell and his family were living close to Coldengham, New York. Joel was about thirty-three years old.

Cadwallader Colden Jr. kept a store that is believed to have been located close to his new mansion (the ruins of which still exist) in Coldengham, New York. Today, Coldengham is a hamlet in the Town of Montgomery. A DayBook of the transactions at that store in the years 1767-1768 resides in the New-York Historical Society. See recent post on the transcription of this document.

Joel Campbell, his brothers, and a sister were recorded as shopping at Colden's store in the 1767-1768 period.

Each store entry lists the person whose account would be charged and the person who picked up the items. In the entry for Nehemiah Carpenter of October 1, 1768, Nancy Campble was the recipient of the items (which were oddly not enumerated). The items were "p[e]r order" and cost 13 shillings and 6 pence.

October 1, 1768 Entry in Nehemiah Carpenter Account.  See top entry.

The majority of the Campbells who shopped at this store, are known to be related to Joel. So it is likely that this 'Nancy' is also related. Could she have been the mysterious Nancy Leonard?

Many other questions remain about this transaction.  Why was she picking up items for Mr. Carpenter who was a relatively wealthy member of the community? Could it be she was picking up cash from Carpenter's account in payment for a service? Based on other entries, I think not, as the clerks typically indicated when cash was disbursed.

Even more confusing is the last entry before this one. It was on the same day, immediately prior to Nancy's 'pick-up.' It was, however, recorded by a different clerk as the handwriting shows. The person visiting the store was the wife of Nehemiah Carpenter.  She picked up 3 pounds of cotton wool and 1/4 pounds of an illegible item.  [Feel free to add a comment below if you recognize this item.]

The entry just prior to Nancy Campble's entry. is also to Carpenter's account.

Did Nancy visit the store together with the wife of Nehemiah? It seems likely due to the proximity of their entries. Could Nancy have been in the employ of the Carpenters? Could she have been a seamstress who was to work with the 'cotton wool' purchased by Mrs. Carpenter? Caulfeild's dictionary describes the manufacture of cotton wool as follows: "The raw cotton, after having been passed through the 'willow,' 'blowing,' and 'scutching' machines, is spread out into broad, soft, fleece-like wadding, when it is wound on a roller. It is employed for lining garments, quilts, &c, being placed between the material and its lining, and then sewn and kept in position by diagonal runnings at even distances, called 'quilting.'" Perhaps Nancy was making some winter garments for the Carpenters using this material?

In summary, it appears we are related to a 'Nancy Campble' who could very well be the 'Nancy Leonard,' wife of Joel Campbell as given in traditional genealogies. This is the first time I have seen this name in a primary document, so I am quite elated.

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