Sunday, March 24, 2019

Spring in Rural New England During the Founding Era: General Montgomery's Store

General Montogmery’s Store, 24 March 1793, Haverhill, NH
 What was happening in the small court town of Haverhill, NH. on this day in 1793? 
         It was a Sunday, and there were no purchases at General Montgomery’s store that day. Most of the townspeople were attending the Congregational Church, where Reverend Ethan Smith was delivering his sermon. General Montgomery (1764-February 21, 1825) and his family were seated in pews on the first floor; his store clerks in the gallery. [1]
Montgomery's shop with 19th century additions 
         Reverend Smith had visited the General’s shop two days earlier day to purchase “1 chamberpot” and "1 sugar bowle."  In subsequent visits, Smith's acquisitions are, not surprisingly, modest, given his remuneration from the congregation who supported his work.  For example, on April 1st, he acquires items important to his ministry – paper and ink powder –  along with an ivory comb, for the sum of 2 shillings. [2]
General John Montgomery 
Even the wealthiest man in town, General Montgomery, would run afoul of the church leaders, for riding on the Sabbath, and was called upon to ask forgiveness.  Church records observed that: "Brother John Montgomery sent in a confession to be read in public for his transgression in riding on two occasions on the Lord's day, with humble acknowledgement of his sin which was accepted. "
Page from the 1793 Daybook, Courtesy, Haverhill Historical Society
         On the following day, the shop was open as usual, ready to supply the townspeople with nails, grains, textiles, leather, buttons, coffee, and spirits.

The material in this post is from my next book project.
1. General Montgomery’s 1825 Grafton County probate inventory records that he held one pew (No.4) in the South Meeting House, lower floor, valued at $30.00 and also one in the gallery (No. 25) valued at $4.00, most likely for his clerks or apprentices.
2Rev. Smith was installed as pastor on 25 January 1792 and his requested "dimission" was in 1799. While gathering many new families to the Church, Rev. Smith's tenure was not with its troubles. Indeed, he was considered to be relatively strict and unyielding in his expectations. 
The townspeople were taxed £40 for Rev. Smith’s ministry and some would not pay this tax, citing the fact that the church was catering to the Piermont side of the town, among other reasons.

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