The Archivist's Bulldog

Vol. 12 No. 21, Newsletter of the Maryland State Archives, November 23, 1998

by Robert Barnes and Pat Melville

Journals, ledgers, and other business records can provide information for economic studies and other historical topics and occasionally serve as sources of vital statistics. One such record is the Nathan Rigbie Ledger, dated 1772-1797, described as Harford County Register of Wills (Orphans Court Papers, Exhibits) [MSA C934-2]. The ledger was filed with the register of wills during the settlement of the estate of Rigbie, which spanned a number of years, specifically 1784 to 1802. It contains a partial index, covering surnames beginning with G through W.

Rigbie used the ledger to keep track of monetary transactions concerning his farms, mill, tannery, family needs, and estates he administered. After Rigbie's death, his executors continued the ledger entries to keep track of the various accounts and to record the financial aspects of settling his estate. The record includes business accounts of many Harford County residents, and of people from as far away as Frederick, Annapolis, Wilmington, Philadelphia, and Virginia. Many African Americans had accounts with Rigbie, including his slaves. These entries could shed light on economic activities of African Americans in the last quarter of the 18th century.

Nathan Rigbie was the son of Nathaniel and Cassandra (Coale) Rigbie, and was born 18 June 1723, and died in 1784 in Harford County. He married Sarah Giles, daughter of Jacob and Joanna Giles of Harford County. (For more on the Rigbie family, see "The Family of Colonel James Rigbie," by Henry Chandlee Forman, Maryland Historical Magazine XXXVII (1942), 69-78, reprinted in Maryland Genealogies (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980), II, 303-312). Rigbie was a Quaker, as revealed by the use of "thy" throughout the ledger and a notation about settling an account at a meeting.

Many ledger entries provide interesting tidbits about a variety of activities taking place during Rigbie's lifetime and aftewards. In August 1776 a creditor refused to accept paper currency in payment and requested the debt to stand and accumulate interest until the end of the war. The account was not settled until an agreement was reached with the creditor's executor in 1793. In the mid-1780s Continental certificates were taken to Philadelphia for sale. Some entries furnish information about buildings on Rigbie's farms, such as an addition to a barn for housing cows. A stone house was constructed in 1775.

Often the account statements contain occupational or personal information about the individual. Daniel Kenly was identified as a schoolmaster, John Stone as a weaver, Thomas M. Hullock as a cooper, Daniel Durbin as a carpenter, Francis Foster as a wagon maker, and Henry Brown as a merchant in Baltimore City. Marey Pew was described as the wife of Daniel Pew, John Cromwell of Cecil County as the man who married John Hammond Dorsey's daughter, John Smith as James Baxter's son-in-law, and Margaret Dallam as a widow.

Scattered throughout the ledger is information concerning the family of Nathan Rigbie, including transcripts from his bible and that of Nathaniel Giles. The Rigbie bible entries show the marriage of Nathan and Sarah in 1747, birth of daughter Cassandra in 1750, birth of daughter Hannah in 1753, birth of grandson Nathan Rigbie Sheredine in 1771, death of daughter Cassandra Sheredine in 1776, and death of wife Sarah in 1782. Also included are three lists of negroes. One shows the names and birth dates, 1740-1771, of twenty-four slaves owned by Nathan and Sarah Rigbie. A second list contains the names and birth dates, 1766-1773, of seven negroes who were born after their mothers were manumitted. The third list notes the names and birth dates, 1776-1782, of three negroes who were born before their mothers were freed.

The Giles bible mentions the marriage of Nathaniel and Sarah in 1762, births of four daughters between 1762 and 1772, death of Sarah in 1775, and death of Nathaniel in 1775. Nathan Rigbie became the executor of the estate of Nathaniel Giles and the guardian of his children. A memorandum of 1780 shows the distribution of personal property among the four daughters. The items for three of them were sent to Phildelphia by their aunt Sarah Rigbie.

Sections of the ledger dealing with the estate of Nathan Rigbie contain copies of inventories and accounts filed with register of wills, and supplemental information recorded by the executors. Included are the terms of sale for the real estate and personal property. A dispute ensued with the sale of land to James Rigbie, and was settled by an arbitration award in 1790. Sometime between 1784 and 1791 Rigbie's one surviving daughter, Hannah Johns, and her husband Skipwith Johns, died, leaving six daughters.

Not every ledger or other accounting record will contain so much incidental, especially genealogical, information. The thorough researcher may consider using these resources to complement other data derived from more conventional sources.

by Nancy Bramucci

MSA SC5019: Civil Defense Collection, 1955-1958. Civil Defense Pamphlets: Conelrad 640/1240; District of Columbia Interim Voluntary Evacuation Plan; Facts About Fallout Protection; First Aid; Between You and Disaster: For Your Survival -- A Civil Defense Home Food Storage Program; What To Do Now About Emergency Sanitation At Home; Home Protection Exercises; Grandma's Pantry Goes on Wheels; Revised Civil Defense Air Raid Instructions; Civil Defense Technical Bulletin, May 1958.

 MSA SC5020: Emmanuel Episcopal Church Collection, 1994. Emmanuel Day, a collection of speeches delivered by the parish historian on the anniversary of the founding of Emmanuel Episcopal Church. Also includes short oral histories of some of the older parishioners. Book was assembled for the 150th anniversary of the church.

 MSA SC5021: A Royal Visit Collection, 1984. Booklet, Maryland's 350th Anniversary: A Royal Visit, printed to commemerate the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Kent to Maryland for Charter Day, June 21-23, 1984. Published by the Maryland Heritage Committee.

 MSA SC5022: Judge Robert C. Murphy Collection, n.d. Reproduction Chinese scroll painting by Tung Pang-Ta of a corner of the West Lake of Hangchow.

 MSA SC5023: Plainfield Public Library Collection, 1905. Wanted Poster from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad police offering a $100.00 reward for the arrest of Joe Sweeny and Frank Howell.

 MSA SC5024: Nicholson Memorial Tablet Collection, 1900. Solicitation for subscriptions by the Colonial Dames in order to create a memorial tablet to Governor Francis Nicholson at Johns Hopkins; Letter from Col. Frank Markoe of the 5th Regiment Infantry of the Maryland National Guard to Mrs. William Reed of the Colonial Dames offering to supply flags for the dedication of the tablet.

 MSA SC5025: Booklovers Club Collection, 1993-1997. Booklovers Club programs, 1993-1994, Rivers and 1996-1997, Women of Influence.

 MSA SC 5026: Fort Frederick Collection, 1918-1934. Materials relating to Fort Frederick: Fort Frederick: Maryland's Historic Vacation Camp, published by the Title Guarantee and Trust Co, Baltimore, 1923; Fort Frederick, Washington County, Maryland, 1756, by Leonore Hamilton Wilson; page proofs for article, "Fort Frederick," by W. McCulloh Brown; photographs taken on May 7, 1934 by W. McCulloh Brown of Fort Frederick; postcards of Fort Frederick made from photographs taken by W. McCulloh Brown in 1918.

 MSA SC 5027: Kauffman Collection, n.d. Civilian Conservation Corps tokens, 32 five cent tokens and 17 ten cent tokens. Restricted.

 MSA SC 5028: Kimmel Collection, 1934-1935. Two certificates of discharge from the Civilian Conservation Corps for Charles F. Ruby, April 20, 1934 and August 26, 1935.

 MSA SC 5029: Rossi Collection, 1798. 1798 penny. Restricted.

 MSA SC 503l: St. Mary's County Map Collection, 1963. Maps of St. Mary's County from the Chronicles of St. Mary's.

 MSA SC 5033: Todd Collection, n. d. Geneological notes on the Todd family.

 MSA SC 5035: Martin Luther Lutheran Church Collection, 1890-1980. Church records, Martin Luther Lutheran Church, Baltimore: baptisms, 1940-1976; confirmations, 1940-1972; marriages, 1936-1982; deaths, 1940-1976. Films M11826-M11827

MSA SC 5065: Windsor Collection, 1864. Certificate of Rebecca Windsor claiming compensation for her slave Levi T. Jones, who enlisted in the 19th U.S.C.T., Co. D.

MSA SC 5066: Du Pont Collection, n.d. Application for the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in Maryland proving descent
from Nicholas Goldsborough and Lady Jane Lowe Sewall; other information about the Sewall and Barnett Families.

Founded 1987

Edward C. Papenfuse, State Archivist
Patricia V. Melville, Editor
Mimi Calver, Assistant Editor
Lynne MacAdam, Production Editor
Rita Molter, Circulation

The Maryland State Archives is an independent agency in the Office of Governor Parris N. Glendening and is advised by the Hall of Records Commission. The Chairman of the Hall of Records Commission is the Honorable Robert Mack Bell, Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals.

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