Stephen F. Austin State University

An Old Account Book, 1856-1863 (September 2016)


By Ann Middleton

Hamiter has long been a well-known surname in Bossier Parish history. The August 12, 1948 issue of The Bossier Banner gave an account of a ledger that had been kept by John Hamiter from 1856-1863.

Coming from Haynesville, Georgia, in 1845, John Hamiter and his wife Patience Hodges Hamiter settled in North Bossier Parish on what was then known as the Leesville and Shreveport Military Road, part of a mail route running from Washington, Arkansas to Natchitoches, Louisiana. He purchased a large body of land and engaged in many enterprises. He called his plantation "Oak Hill."

During the Civil War military personnel often stopped at Oak Hill for refreshments. While a night's lodging, one dollar for each man or horse, remained the same from 1856-1863, the cost of shoeing a horse rose from four dollars in 1856 to ten dollars in 1863.

Besides his blacksmith shop John Hamiter operated a sawmill, grist mill, shoe shop and commissary. His ledger reflected charges for all of these operations. Often the charges were paid with Confederate money and much of Hamiter's cotton and beef was taken over by the Confederate States and paid for with government notes. One entry in 1862 noted that cotton that was sent to Shreveport, then by boat to Baton Rouge, sold for ten cents a pound.

The most common entries made for dry goods were for omaburgh (a coarse linen cloth), linseys (coarse twill or plain woven fabrics of cotton and wool), cottonade (a stout fabric of cotton), cheap shoes and hats. Most charges for shoes ranged from $1.50 to $1.75 per pair. One especially interesting entry was of a sale to Dr. William Searcy in 1858 when he purchased an overcoat at $16.00, boots at $4.00 and eighteen yards of fine shirting at 12 ½ cents per yard.

Corn and peas advanced from 75 cents in 1856 to $2.50 per bushel in 1863. Lard soared from 15 to 50 cents per pound.

In 1863, nails were one dollar per pound, but lumber was only 1 ½ cents per foot. Wool sold for one dollar per pound, cow hides eleven dollars and deer hides three dollars each. A day's hauling with an ox team was five dollars.

According to the account book, business transactions of all kinds had decreased a great deal by the year 1863. There were more entries for blacksmith shop work than anything else.

There was no income tax, but there was a heavy military tax. The Confederate State government also sold bonds, some of which bore 7 per cent interest-a grand investment if they could have been collected.

Death ended the record kept by John Hamiter in early 1864. He was laid to rest in the family burial plot at his plantation home, as was the custom in those days.

Visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center to learn more about Bossier Parish history, and visit to find out what we are working on at the Historical Center.