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LUCRETIA DEMING FAMILY ACCOUNT BOOK, 
JANUARY 1, 1883 - APRIL 27, 1887 #173

( .1 Cubic feet; [.5] DB)

by: Robert S. Harding & Grace Angle, 1985

Biography

Lucretia Deming was born in Litchfield, Connecticut on August 13, 1804 and died in New York City on April 29, 1887. She was the youngest of eight children of Julius Deming and Dorothy Champion Deming, his cousin. Julius Deming served through the Revolutionary War under his uncle, Colonel Henry Champion, Principal Assistant Commissary General for the department of the east. Captain Julius Deming accompanied the convoy which crossed the Hudson and delivered the supplies to Valley Forge that saved General Washington's troops from starvation. He also carried the funds to Philadelphia to pay the New England forces. On one occasion the sum was so large (pay and arrears) that a troop of horses escorted him.

    In 1790 Julius Deming began to build the family mansion in Litchfield, Connecticut. The architect, William Sprats, was also responsible for a number of noteworthy buildings in Connecticut and along the Hudson River. The Deming house later became known as the Lindens because of a double row of trees planted by Lucretia Deming. It remained in the family for an unbroken period of one hundred and twenty years - from 1790 until 1910. Upon Lucretia Deming's death the estate was inherited by her nephew, Julius Deming Perkins, the surviving son of her sister Clarissa and Julius Deming's oldest grand-son.

    The account book records expenses for the Lindens and the New York winter home (9 W. 20th) for the last years of Lucretia Deming's life. Both the household accounts and a description of the family homes and their furnishings in the Litchfield Historical Society give evidence of gracious living and substantial wealth. The only references to its source speak of Julius Deming as a businessman and merchant. He left a large fortune at his death on January 23, 1838.

    Lucretia Deming was one of the early pupils of Miss Pierce's famous School for Young Ladies. According to family records in the Litchfield Historical Society she led a sheltered, upright and pleasant life, in Litchfield in the summer and New York City in the winter. She loved flowers, made serious study of botany and gave special attention to the flower garden which bloomed from May until December. The novels of Sir Walter Scott, popular when she was young, were favorites of hers as were the sermons and prayers of Dr. Lyman Beecher.

    Miss Deming, her sister Mary and her brother Charles lived together in the family homes. Mary died in 1847; Charles in 1852. Her nephew and niece and their families were frequent visitors in both Litchfield and New York. Mr. and Mrs. Julius Deming Perkins and their children spent their winters with Miss Deming in her New York home. Every autumn Mr. and Mrs. Quincy with their little son and daughter visited the family home in Litchfield before returning to their own town house for the winter.

    The Litchfield Enquirer of May 5, 1887, a few days after Miss Deming's death stated, "...Her excellent native abilities had been so cultivated by reading and observation, that her judgement in practical matters was almost unerring and in public affairs, especially English politics, she took great interest and was well informed to the last day of her life. Her thoughts were expressed in clear and concise language...."

Scope and Content

    This is a single household account book, for the period from January 1, 1883 through April 27, 1887, maintained by Lucretia Deming until two days before her death. The final entry is $120.05 for the payment of Litchfield property taxes.

    The accounts record daily expenditures in substantial detail, i.e oysters, candy, bread, oil, Century Magazine, etc. There are also regular entries by firm name only, i.e. Park and Tilford, New York City Ice Company, Belden Brothers, and Grannis and Elmore, a dry goods store.  Pew rent is recorded for a Congregational Church in Litchfield and for a Presbyterian Church in New York City. There are entries for the wages of servants, both male and female, several of whom accompanied her from Litchfield to New York and return, as well as summary records of each servant's wages by month and year.

    Memoranda in the back of the book are mostly New York addresses for dentists, cabinet makers, dress makers, charities, employment bureaus. There are a number of names and addresses not otherwise identified, probably those of friends.

    One entry of June 15, 1883 describes the origin of several young hickory trees on the south side of the home lot (Litchfield) as "...nuts from land once owned by Julius Deming, Esq."

    Entries are handwritten in ink and are clear and readable. Some of the pages are loosening but the ledger is in generally good condition.

Provenance

    The account book was in the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana.  Several other household account books, a record of income and investments, two bank books and a forty-eight page Quarto of the visits of Miss Deming's friends are in the Litchfield Historical Society, P.O. Box 385, Litchfield, Connecticut 06759.

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