Early American Economy

Through the early 1800’s most rural towns operated on a barter system whereby people did a variety of odd jobs as needed, hired people as needed, and bought/sold whatever was to hand.  Most farmers kept detailed account books to record who owed them ‘money’ and who they owed in turn.  Very little actual cash changed hands.  Here is an account from Ebenzer Brown of New Hartford in 1773.  He clearly had extra pasture to hand and was renting it for cattle, which were probably passing through on the way to a market.  He also seems to have had extra space in his house, putting up four men for a week.  He had a team of oxen that he hired out, presumably with himself as a drover.  Staves, perhaps for barrels, seems to have been a commodity as well at the time.

Ebenezer Brown 1773


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