The 1815 Hance Store Ledger is probably the most prized of all the artifacts held by the Newbern museum because it documents purchases made at the store that was located within the structure that today houses the museum. Henry Hance’s store served travelers along the Wilderness Road, as well as residents of early Newbern.
Parker explains that Adam Hance, Newbern’s founder and the father of the storekeeper, was a frequent customer at the Hance Store throughout 1816.
“Adam Hance bought items ranging from putty, molasses, slate, and butter, to coffee, shoes, nails, and lead,” she notes. “And while this is just a sample of the goods available in Henry Hance’s store, the variety of items indicates what life and culture were like in Newbern at the beginning of the 19th century.
Parker, a history major at Radford University, did this work as part of an independent study offered by the university in partnership with the museum. She transcribed parts of the ledger, analyzing the purchasing habits and means of payment for costumers at the Hance Store.
“Ledgers allow you to make inferences about the social class, gender, and job of the customers based on their purchases,” she said. “So doing research with ledgers can be like solving a puzzle. You are usually able to discover various connections between customers, and those discoveries can really enhance local research.”
Parker worked as an intern at the museum during the 2013-2014 school year, writing a bi-weekly column in the Southwest Times and putting together the first ever Women’s History Month exhibit at the museum.