Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Peter F. Wheeler Account Books, 1832-1872

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, April 2012

Summary Information
Title: Peter F. Wheeler account books
Creator: Wheeler, Peter F., b. 1811
Inclusive dates: 1832-1872
Extent: 2 volumes
These two account books record the income and expenses of Peter F. Wheeler, a palm leaf splitter and farmer who lived in Grafton and Petersham, Massachusetts, in the mid-19th century. One volume primarily concerns the costs of finishing calfskins and other labor performed in Grafton between 1832 and 1847, and the second records Wheeler's finances between 1860 and 1872.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

2008. M-4664.1.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Peter F. Wheeler Account Books, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Peter F. Wheeler was born in Massachusetts on March 3, 1811, and lived in Grafton in the 1830s. He moved to Petersham, Massachusetts, before 1850, and worked as a palm leaf splitter, general laborer, and farmer. Palm leaf hat production was a local industry in Petersham. Wheeler and his wife Harriet had at least 4 children: Katie, Annie, Joel, and Stella.

Collection Scope and Content Note

These two account books record the income and expenses of Peter F. Wheeler, a palm leaf splitter and farmer who lived in Grafton and Petersham, Massachusetts, in the mid-19th century. The first volume (84 pages) primarily concerns the costs of finishing animal skins in Grafton, Massachusetts, between September 1832 and September 1849, and the second (170 pages) details Wheeler's finances, including the income he earned as a palm leaf splitter and general laborer.

Volume 1 primarily contains accounts related to the costs of numerous types of labor in Grafton, Massachusetts. The first 79 pages consist of personal accounts Peter F. Wheeler kept between September 1832 and September 1849, pertaining to the cost of working with animal hides. Pages 19 through 75 record Wheeler's accounts with "Captain Jona. Warren," for whom Wheeler finished boots, hides, and other leather products between September 1842 and April 1847. Three pages of accounts note Wheeler's work finishing calfskins and doing other labor in Grafton and Petersham between September 1847 and September 1849. These accounts are followed by 5 pages covering labor done by Samuel W. Flagg, Moses Hook, and Elisha W. Hinds between April 1844 and January 27, 1847, including a record of the days they were absent from work.

Volume 2 contains 170 pages of personal accounts Wheeler kept between February 1860 and October 1872, while he lived and worked in Petersham, Massachusetts. Most of these are double entry accounts that show Wheeler's credits and debits with farmers for whom he split palm leaves and worked as a farm laborer by hoeing, planting, plowing, and haying. He often received payment in foodstuffs, such as apples, potatoes, and butter, and in labor. Employers included Adin Tolman, Josiah B. Goddard, and Moses Gates, and in the late 1860s, Wheeler often worked on boards for the firm Eaton & Dunn. At least four accounts reflect women's expenses; in exchange for their labor, Wheeler provided clothing, whiskey, and similar items (pp. 36-37, 82-83, 102-103, 116-117, 128-129). The accounts on page 158 list the cost for sending mail in Denison, Iowa, between 1867 and 1872. Supplemental financial notes at the end of the volume include cash and other items received (pp. 151-157, July 5, 1867-October 31, 1872), cash paid (p. 160, November 1, 1866-July 6, 1872), taxes paid to Petersham, Massachusetts (p. 161, August 30, 1869-October 31, 1871), and expenses (pp. 166-170, May 7, 1862-May 3, 1864).

Sixteen notes and receipts are laid into the volume, including a page of genealogical information about Justus H. Tillman of Columbia, South Carolina, and two tax receipts from 1868 and 1872.

Subject Terms

    • Agricultural laborers--Massachusetts.
    • Farmers--Massachusetts.
    • Finance, Personal.
    • Grafton (Mass.)
    • Hides and skins industry.
    • Palms.
    • Petersham (Mass.)
    • Taxation--Massachusetts.
    Genre Terms:
    • Account books.
    • Receipts (financial records)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Peter F. Wheeler account books,  1832-1849 [series]
    Volume   1  
    Account book,  1832-1849
    Volume   2  
    Account book,  1860-1872
    Additional Descriptive Data

    "MHC Reconnaissance Survey Town Report: Petersham." 1984.