Bennehan Cameron’s Dry Goods Daybook (March 1885 – November 1886)
This daybook belonged to Bennehan Cameron and contains entries from March of 1885 to November of 1886. Sometime in the late 1880’s, Jake Cameron, Bennehan’s father gave Bennehan a portion of their family’s property in Stagville, North Carolina, just to the Northeast of Chapel Hill.This daybook contains transactions from Bennehan’s dry goods store. During this time period, dry goods would have consisted of clothing, clothing supplies, and household goods.Most of the entries in this artifact do not relate directly to food, but there are entries that do pertain to ingredients being purchased during the given time period.
The description of this item notes that “most goods were purchased by farm laborers who worked for the Camerons.”From the contents of the daybook it is possible to gather some general feel for what people in the Chapel Hill area may have been eating. On page 185 of the records, there are notes of people purchasing sugar, coffee, vinegar, salt, and soda.Using these ingredients, we are able to piece together a rough diet that laborers in the area may have been exposed to. The frequency of purchase of these items could also indicate the amounts of these ingredients that people were ingesting during a given time period.
These ingredients can also be compared with previous and subsequent daybooks to gain an understanding of the movement that these foods took. For example, if people bought more sugar during a given time period than another, we can infer a change in some environmental factor such as crop yields, climate, or dietary changes. The movement of goods proves to be important because it sheds light on the food pathways in and around Chapel Hill. In combination with people’s diets, food pathways provide important information as to what types of foods people would have been cooking and eating during these time periods. This record of purchases from Bennehan’s dry goods store provides useful information when developing a picture of how food existed and moved around Chapel Hill.
“STAGVILLE.” North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. Accessed October 2, 2018. http://ncmarkers.com/Markers.aspx?MarkerId=G-29.
“dry goods.” In Dictionary of Accounting, by S. M. H. Collin. 4th ed. A&C Black, 2007. http://libproxy.lib.unc.edu/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/acbaccount/dry_goods/0?institutionId=1724.
Cameron, Bennehan, and Duncan Cameron, III. Duncan Cameron III and Bennehan Cameron Daybooks, 1881-1886. Vol. 66. March 31, 1885 – November 13, 1886.