Texas Store Account Ledgers - 3 Vols. - 1933-1940
[TEXAS – Store Account Ledgers] Group of three 14” x 9” ruled-line ledgers bound in three quarter leather detailing a general store’s accounts (1933-1940) in rural Texas during the Depression. Although there is no outright evidence as to the proprietor of the store or its location, internal evidence suggests they belonged to a store operated by J.F. Birdwell of Frio County, Texas, perhaps in Divot. The ledgers came from a member of the C.S. Weathersby family, who thought they may have belonged to him. Weathersby is listed on the Frio County tax rolls as having 330 acres and brand registration records show that he registered brands in 1896, 1898, and 1902 with his location listed as Dilley (Frio County), Texas, which is nine miles distant from Divot. However, C.S. Weathersby has an account entry in the 1933-1934 ledger which implies he traded at the store rather than being the proprietor. Two loose pieces found in the ledgers relate to J.F. Birdwell, including a check made out to him from someone with an account in the ledgers. From that, it appears as if Birdwell was the proprietor of the general store, not Weathersby. There are account entries for the Leona School District, the Leona Telephone Co., and the Divot PTA, all associated with the Dilley / Divot region of Frio County. One of the major accounts relates to J.J. King who established a store in the rural community of Leona Settlement along the Leona River in 1908. He changed the name of the town to Kingsville. When the community applied for a post office in 1910, they submitted the name of Pivot (because of its location), but the U.S. Postal Service erred and recorded the name Divot. Internal evidence suggests that King still owned the store in the 1930s since his account was credited monthly for $15 lodging and $35 rent. The accounts for the Leona school district and the Divot PTA seem to confirm that the ledgers were from a store in Divot. The community was a center for the agricultural activity of the region (cattle ranching, cotton, peanuts, & watermelons). However, Divot’s population has never been large and remained under 20 residents for years. Today very few people live there. There are several interesting components of these Depression Era account books worthy of some scholarly attention. One is the mix of nationalities as indicated by the surnames on the accounts, including many Hispanic names. Each ledger has an index of account holders arranged alphabetically by surname. Others include the type and quantity of items being sold and the way accounts were credited. Besides the traditional method of payment, such as by cash or check, many accounts were reconciled by goods and services. Bushels of peanuts, corn, hourly work, tractor work, hogs and cattle were sources of credit for goods purchased at the store. The account ledgers offer a great opportunity to study a small, rural community in southwest Texas working to make ends meet during the Depression. The three ledgers cover the period from 1933 through 1940 (1933-1934, 1936-1939, and 1938-1940) and together contain more than 750 pages of itemized accounts handwritten in pencil. The ledger for 1935 entries is missing. Although the covers of the ledgers are a little rough, the interior pages are in VG+ condition and the writing is very legible.