Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Accounts of M. Jones -- 1908-'09-'10


 I spent yesterday afternoon turning out the drawers of the secretary in the living room and removing lots of extraneous stuff - some of which belonged to my parents and to my grandparents who were the original owners of the secretary. There were piles of paper to recycle, old financial records to burn, and more pens and pencils than you would believe.

Virtue rewarded! Amidst all this clutter --  I found this little ledger which I picked up at an informal flea market in Marshall back in the  Seventies. It's an account book for the years 1908 - 1910,  kept by a student at some place he refers to as MC.  Maybe nearby Mars Hill College --  but quite possibly some place nearer to Black Mtn. as he seems to visit there the most.
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M.Jones kept very careful accounts -- of what he spent and what he earned. On one page he even categorizes his expenses as necessary or unnecessary.

He seems to have been working his way through college.On March 18, 1908, M. Jones spent 8 hours sodding the yard of a dorm -- for which he earned 80 cents. He continued working at this rate of pay, through out the month and into the next -- 2 hours here, three hours there, till he had earned $7.10.

He waited tables, swept floors, made ice cream, washed dishes, and 'cleaned up' -- all  at 10 cents and hour.

Also noted as money-making activities are fireing (chopping wood? feeding a furnace?) gardening, cutting corn, and rolling a tennis court.

How did M. Jones spend his money?  Here's a sampling: 1 car fare - 5 cents, 1 dinner - 25 cents,  1 box cagars (sic) - 5 cents, 4 bananas - 5 cents, 6 plugs tobacco, 50 cents, soda fountain - 50 cents, ticket to Black Mtn, - 10 cents, soda fountain - 25 cents, chewing gum - 2 cents.

But it wasn't all frivolity. There was the registration fee for a conference at a whopping $5 and another $5 for board at the conference. A trip to the dentist was $1 (and later 6 teeth filled for $5.)   His dinners generally cost 10 or 15 cents. He bought 3 collars for 30 cents, a suit for $4.50,  2 shirts for $1, a pair of shoes for $2, 6 handkerchiefs for 50 cents and a trunk for $5.

Learning cost money -- 6 candles for 10 cents, 1 notebook -5 cents, a lamp for 60 cents, a pint of oil for the lamp - 3 cents, 3 books rented for 70 cents, 2 pencils - 5 cents, Caesar - 75 cents. 2 bottles ink - 15 cents, 6 pen points- 5 cents, pen stock - 10 cents.


 Jones also kept track of his travels -- mostly by rail -- to Black Mountain, Asheville, Beaufort, Savannah, Cincinnati, New York City -- and then, rather surprisingly, to Panama -- Colon, Culebra, Corazal . . .

What in the world was M. Jones up to? 


20 comments:

Ms. A said...

Not sure what he was up to, but I'll bet there are more ledgers, somewhere, that have it all noted!

What a cool find!

Victoria said...

Gosh, don't you wish you could travel back in time and ask him? I bet Ms. A is right...if only you could somehow get those other ledgers!

June said...

What do you make of the page with the names and amounts?
Panama!?

Brian Miller said...

oh there is a story in there....what a cool find!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a fun read. I am reading a novel set in about the same time table, so it makes M. Jones' ledger even more interesting.
Sam

NCmountainwoman said...

I just love looking through old ledgers and diaries, even when I know nothing about the authors. It's always fun to speculate on their lives.

Vicki Lane said...

I'm trying to figure out where he was in college. He refers to it as M.C, and it's 46 miles by rail from Asheville...

I'm not sure about that page, June -- possibly sums received from or borrowed from those people. Or maybe...blackmail!

Maybe he was in a seminary and the trip to Panama was missionary work. Or maybe he was an engineer -- they were working on the Canal at this time.

Frances said...

Vicki, perhaps The Ledger of M. Jones will be a launchpad to a future novel?

xo

Barbara Rogers said...

Since it's so practical, I must ask a practical question. What is a Caesar at 75 cents? You seemed to know, so I hope you can answer... Less practically inclined thoughts do take me to the various seminaries in the area...which certainly would have outreach to other countries! There were also the hospitals and vacationers in the area in those days, as you already know. Kuddoes for such a great find!

Merisi said...

Extraordinary!
He must have been a very bright and inquisitive, hardworking fellow.

Merisi said...

P.S.:
A friend has been quite successful finding information about ancestors via the Mormon Church Geneology records. Maybe they have information about the ledge keeper, too?

Vicki Lane said...

Barb, I think that a Caesar was probably a Latin textbook -- Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic Wars was often used. (I had it myself in second year Latin -- in the late Fifties, I hasten to add.)

Jim Egerton said...

Wow, Hard working and sounds like some playful things he also bought. Maybe some old school records exist for that time frame.

Thanks for the post> I love a mystery

L. D. said...

I have a small one similar that a women had written. She told where she walked and the price of bread. It does reveal a lot about their lives as you scan through it. I don't know the person who wrote mine but she did live in the old house that my dad had torn down.

Esta said...

I would have said Montreat College, but that apparently wasn't founded until 1916. I love old archives like this. How fun.

Vicki Lane said...

Esta, I thought of that too and was disappointed to learn it wasn't founded till later.

Anonymous said...

I have a series of diaries written by my great aunt who, as a single woman, had a homestead on the prairie in the Dakotas. We were so excited when we found them. However, all she ever recorded was the weather and who visited so we know a lot about the meteorology of the mid-1800s and who she knew. That's about it.

Lynne in GA

Esta said...

I asked Mom and Dad, and they say it could very well have been Maryville College in TN. Some of the local boys went there, including my grandfather. There was an excellent train route that would have run from Black Mountain all the way through Marshall to Maryville. Possible?

Vicki Lane said...

Thanks, Esta! I'll check it out.

jennyfreckles said...

How fascinating. I wonder if someone will try to know us through our long-lost blogs one day?