Lydia’s Picks June 2020

Sandy Spring Store Ledger, Account of Whitson Canby, April 15 – July 30, 1819

Store Ledger, 2013.0008.0001
As a kid, I absolutely loved the arrival of the new telephone book and spent hours browsing all the names, imagining the stories and connections among them. Maybe that is why I am so drawn to the incredible collection of Store Ledgers in our archives and all the stories they can tell. On April 15, 1819, Whitson Canby purchased just over 16 yards of fabric from Sandy Spring Store; a large amount indeed. What was happening in the Canby household at the time that warranted so much fabric? A wedding? Furnishings for a new home addition? Simply the time of year for sewing?  On the same day, he settled part of his account with $18.62 worth of earthenware from his pottery works which is equivalent to approximately $378 today.  Was this exchange of goods a long-standing arrangement or one-time occurrence? Were both parties in agreement or was there negotiation? How much of the economy of the early Sandy Spring neighborhood was based on barter systems like this? All these questions and this is just one page!

Travel Diary: Deborah Stabler, Summer, 1823

Travel Diary, 2000.0032.0003

At the age of 60yrs, Deborah Stabler undertook an arduous, several-week overland journey to Clearfield, Pennsylvania in the summer of 1823. She kept a diary that not only recorded the various Quaker Meetings they visited along the way but also vividly detailed the journey and landscapes they passed through. At the bottom of this specific page, she talks about fording a river and you can sense long-standing anxiety about doing so. I find this interesting because Deborah’s fear of river fording is as alien to me as my anxieties related to flying would have been to her. That said, her coping mechanism is all too familiar!


Letter from Sarah Miller Hallowell to Annie, July 23, 1857

Letter, 2000.0038.0006

In this letter, Sarah Miller Hallowell describes her honeymoon first in Lake George, New York, and then in Niagara Falls, Canada. Having grown up in Canada just 110 km (68 miles) from Niagara Falls, I was tickled to read about all the familiar sights and sounds as would anyone who has visited this area. From the letter, you can sense that Sarah is delighted to be a new bride, having an absolutely wonderful time, and shows off a very sweet sense of humor. When reading the letter, I couldn’t help but hope for a happy marriage for her in her coming years.

Letter: Richard (“Little Dick”) to Elza, undated

Letter, 1994.0005.0140

We believe this adorable note signed by “Little Dick” was written by Richard Bentley around 1864 to his sister Elza while they were separated during a scarlet fever outbreak.  With just a few scratches of a pencil, Little Dick breaks down over 150 years distance between the 5-year experience then and now when he delights in telling Elza that he “rode free (three) times ebry (every) day on the bicycle”!