Murfreesboro Historical Association Collection: J. T. Lewter Papers

Manuscript Collection #691-001
Murfreesboro Historical Association (Murfreesboro, N.C.); Lewter, J. T.
Physical description
15.793 Cubic Feet, 7 items , including patient accounts and medications, hired help accounts, and records for merchandise bought and sold.
Preferred Citation
Murfreesboro Historical Association Collection: J. T. Lewter Papers (#691-001), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1857-1887) including patients accounts, medications, hired help accounts, and records of merchandise bought and sold.

Biographical/historical information

John T. Lewter was a physician in Hertford County, N.C. Married and a property owner of some stature, he apparently had no children of his own. A will (not found in this collection) and account books indicate he was the guardian (1857-1868) for Lillian Vick, his wife's niece.

Scope and arrangement

The ledgers belonging to Dr. Lewter can be divided into three groups: (1) patient ledgers; (2) Negro accounts; and (3) personal merchandise ledgers and a daybook. Each ledger includes some information similar in type to that found in the other ledgers.

Patient ledgers begin in 1857 and continue through 1885. They are indexed by family name and entries include the date of the visit, name of the family member seen, a description of the visit which occasionally includes medicine prescribed and/or diagnosis, and cost of the visit and method of payment. Entries indicate that Lewter was paid both in cash and in kind. Medical visits to slaves are listed under the owner's family name in the first volume (1857-1869). Weather, time of day, and location of the family visited are mentioned infrequently.

The first volume (1857-1869) is almost entirely a notation of visits to patients. A perusal of the ledger reveals the medications most frequently prescribed include quinine, cough mixture, morphine, peragoric, bitters, purgative, laudanum, castor oil and magnesia; the most commonly treated illnesses were shingles, chills, worms, croup and diarrhea; and the most frequently used procedures include bleeding, cupping, extracting teeth, delivering babies (including the use of instruments) (pp. 80, 280), reducing the uterus (p. 245), vaccinating children and adults, setting fractures, lancing abcesses, and dressing wounds. Throughout all the patient ledgers, consultation with other doctors is frequently noted.

The last section of the first ledger (pp. 340-351) includes notations for taxes paid, tuition and board at the Chowan Female Institute (1861-1862) and Greensboro Female College (1862-1863), rents for land (1857-1868), Confederate tax, and payment and clothing for hired slaves (1857-1863).

A second medical volume (1862, 1865-1875) is arranged in the same fashion as the previous volume and includes notations for similar illnesses. Medications not previously mentioned include iron mixture (p. 57), epsom salts (p. 345), chloroform (p. 279), and iodine (p. 59). Also discussed are obstetrical procedures, including the delivery of placenta (pp. 85, 231). In addition, also noted is a discount for payment in greenbacks (p. 55) and the receipt of cash in greenbacks (p. 91). Unrelated to the medical notations are payment lists for work done by hired help, including washing (pp. 407, 433) and carpentry (1868), and a final entry (p. 440) noting cotton sold to Hymans & Dancy (1871-1872).

This second volume begins with listings for January - February 1862 (pp. 1-48) of sales of candles, sundries, flour, lard, beef, coffee, bacon, salt, turnips, and sugar to officers of the Confederate Army serving in the area. Also included in this section are purchases by Capt. Edward C. Yellowley of Co. G of the 8th Regiment of N.C. State Troops (pp. 15, 25), the selling of whiskey and sundries to an unnamed hospital (p. 23), the purchase of candles by a guard house (p. 27), cash accounts for Confederate officers (pp. 24-26), and payments received from the State of North Carolina and the Confederate States of America. (pp. 39, 41).

The final medical ledger (1871-1885) is arranged in the same fashion as those before. Diseases are mentioned by name including diptheria (p. 121) as well as ones previously noted in earlier ledgers. Other notations of interest include a procedure for the surgical removal of a tumor from a tongue (p. 84), vaginal examinations (p. 141), and the use of insurance (1870s, p. 90).

This third ledger also includes Lewter's personal agricultural accounts with such firms as Elliott Bros. (p. 396) for the sale of cotton and hay; Hymans and Dancy (p. 187) for the sale of cotton; and Vaughan, Barnes & Co. for the purchase of cotton bagging and ties and other agricultural supplies (pp. 400, 403, 442, 468-469); and more locally, the purchase of chickens (p. 477).

A volume of Negro accounts (1869-1881) is primarily concerned with hired farm help and their families. Family names are indexed and entries combine information on pay for the workers and what they received in terms of food and lodging, and medical accounts for their illnesses and those of their family members.

The remaining ledgers are a mixture of merchandise accounts (1877-1883; 1883-1887) and a daybook (1881-January 1883) which are concerned with agricultural purchases and sales from such companies as Landreth and Son, and the purchase of medical supplies, medications, and personal items such as cigarettes.

Administrative information
Custodial History

May 10, 1995, 7 volumes; Professional and merchandise ledgers (1851-1887) of Hertford County, N.C., medical doctor. Gift of Murfreesboro Historical Association, Murfreesboro, N.C.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Murfreesboro Historical Association

Processing information

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
Lewter, J. T.
African American agricultural laborers--North Carolina--Hertford County
Drugs--North Carolina--Hertford County
Patients--North Carolina--Hertford County
Physicians--North Carolina--Hertford County
North Carolina--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Economic aspects

Container list
Box 1 Medical Ledgers: 1857-1869; 1862, 1865-1875
Box 2 Medical Ledger, 1871-1885
Box 3 Merchandise Ledger, 1877-1883
Box 4 Negro Accounts, 1869-1881. Daybook, 1881-January 1883
Box 5 Merchandise Ledger, 1883-1887