Source: Lawrence-Gulley General Store Records, 1903-1954, East Carolina Manuscript Collection
Staff Person: Martha Elmore
General store records are usually sizable collections which contain many cash books and ledgers. They contain a wealth of information concerning what items people were normally buying in a specific time period and how much these items cost. They can also be of interest to people searching for information about their ancestors because the account books list their customers by name and what they bought and the status of their bills. General store records are notoriously underused because they require a lot of time to peruse and are often in less than pristine shape due to being stored in outbuildings for many years before being donated to a Manuscript Collection.
The Lawrence-Gulley General Store Records were one of very first collections donated to the East Carolina Manuscript Collection (now a part of Special Collections in Joyner Library) — in fact, the fifth collection donated. This general store was located in the small town of Leggett in Edgecombe County, N.C., and was operated during the first half of the 20th Century by members of the Fountain and Lawrence families. The town is very small and in 2000 had a population of 77 people. Along with the store’s records, several catalogues were donated. The Staff Pick today is a page from one of those catalogues– the Hearne Bros. & Co., of Whitakers, N.C., Catalogue H-6 “Illustrating Coffin and Casket Hardware and Funeral Sundries.”
I couldn’t find a date on the catalogue but it appears to be around 1900 judging by the representative clothing styles. I have chosen page 76 of the catalogue which illustrates Knights of Pythias (illustration No. 134) and Masonic (illustration No.135) ornamental hardware for caskets. [Whitakers is a small town in Edgecombe and Nash counties, N.C., but is larger than Leggett with a population of 799 people in 2000.] To find out more about this collection, see the online finding aid at Lawrence-Gulley General Store Records, Collection #5.
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