Papers (1873-1892) of owner of cotton firm, Farrar, Gaskill and Co., Tarboro, N.C. and Eure, Farrar and Co., Norfolk, Va., and Farrar and Jones, of New York, N.Y., including correspondence, letterbooks, ledgers, financial records, publications, political, balance sheets, commentary
Owen Cicero Farrar (1835-1891) began his career as a tobacco peddler with a large trade from Person to Hyde counties, N. C. Farrar moved to Tarboro, N.C., in the 1870s and established a general store which burned in 1885. His Tarboro partnerships as a general store merchant were variously named Farrar & Pippin (1873-1884), Farrar & Wright (1885-1886), and Farrar, Gaskill & Co. (1885-1891). This last partnership included Farrar, G. B. Wright, J. A. Weddell, E. T. Bynum, and James R. Gaskill. After Farrar's death, Farrar, Gaskill & Co. was liquidated.
Besides running general stores, Farrar also grew cotton and engaged in its sale and manufacture. From the mid-1870s, he held a joint cotton account with commission merchants March, Price and Co. of New York, and from the late 1870s with Hymans and Dancy of Norfolk, Va. In 1881, Farrar entered into partnership with George F. Jones as New York commission merchants under the name of Farrar and Jones, a company which held a seat on the New York Cotton Exchange. He also entered into partnership in 1882 with M. L. Eure and Theo. H. Price in Norfolk as general commission merchants. In 1884, Price withdrew and the company became Eure, Farrar and Co. After Farrar's death, the Norfolk company became Eure, Gregory and Co. until M. L. Eure left and joined the former New York firm of Farrar and Jones which then became Jones, Eure and Co. In addition, Farrar was the principal subscriber and president of the six-thousand-spindleTarboro Cotton Factory, which was constructed in 1888; and in 1887 he built the Hotel Farrar, a three-story, fifty-five-room hotel containing an office and six stores, in Tarboro.
Mills Lee Eure, a graduate of the University of North Carolina (1859), a Superior Court judge (1874-1882), and member of the N.C. House of Representatives (1865) and the N.C. Senate (1860-1864), ran the Norfolk office of Eure, Farrar & Co.
His many letters detail market conditions and fluctuations, cotton quality (1884-1891), the influence of the foreign markets of Liverpool and Bombay (1885-1886, 1890), bank failures and the establishment of new banks in Norfolk (1885), the problem of cotton pests (1885-1886), and the effect of weather on the cotton crop (1885-1891). Topics include the purchase of poor quality cotton (1886-1887), cotton prices (1884-1891), the effect of the declining silver market on cotton prices (1886), cotton exports from Bombay to Europe (1886), the destruction by fire of the cotton exchange warehouse in Norfolk, Va. (1889), a complaint about Farrar, Gaskill & Co.'s carelessness (1889), an admonishment to honesty in business (1889), and the general state of the economy (1884-1891). As general commission merchants, the Norfolk office also dealt in the purchase and sale of peanuts, which is discussed in the correspondence (1885, 1891).
George Jones writes from New York to Farrar about the situation of the New York cotton market (1884-1890), failures in the clothing business (1884), bank suspensions (1885), direct cotton sales to Liverpool (1886), and a fire in a commercial cotton press in New Orleans, La. (1887). He also notes a New York law making Saturday a half-day holiday (1887); moving of the Exchange to new quarters on Pearl St. (1885); and a snow storm that closed the Exchange for two days, leaving them without communication or transportation (1888). Relationships between Farrar's Norfolk and New York commission merchant companies are shown through consignment books and joint account books (1876-1889) as well as through correspondence. Documenting his partnerships with New York commission merchants are account books and consignment books (1876-1881) for March, Price & Co. and for Farrar and Jones (1881-1890). Records concerning his Norfolk commission merchant ventures include Hymans & Dancy account books (1879-1882); Eure, Farrar & Co. consignment books (1884-1891), account books (1886-1889), and memorandum of advances book (1887-1889); and Eure, Farrar & Price account books (1882-1883).
There also are many miscellaneous ledgers such as a volume of Owen Williams's financial records (1865-1871); a cashbook (1892-1893) for W. F. Hargrove; a guano ledger (1881) for Sharpe, Farrar & Baker; a volume of bills of lading (1891) for Hamilton Railroad & Lumber Co.; a volume (undated) concerning a Hodges & Powell auction; and unidentified cotton purchases and shipments ledgers (1877-1889).
Materials concerned with the general store activity include correspondence, letterbooks, financial records, orders, invoices, and ledgers for a wide variety of itemsfrom shoes and clothing to building materials, notions, cigars, and fertilizer. Farrar's Tarboro stores held joint accounts with his Norfolk and New York commission merchant companies and arranged for the purchase and shipment of local cotton to Norfolk. Shipments were sent by steamer from Washington, N.C., to Norfolk. A letter from M. L. Eure (1887) comments on the delays and damage to merchandise inherent in steamer transport and the expense of shipping due to wharfage, insurance claims, and other associated costs. He advised shipping cotton by railroad (1887), insisted on transportation other than steamer (1888), and complained of slow routes and delayed shipments from Tarboro (1889-1890). The effect of weather changes, storms, and droughts (1885-1886, 1890) are noted in relation to the cotton crop.
Numerous daybooks (1885-1891) for Farrar, Gaskill & Co. contain general store accounts often with journal notations. Guano books (1887-1891) reflect the purchase of fertilizer. Other ledgers contain invoices (1887-1891), notes and bills payable (1886-1887), an inventory (1889), daily listing of drafts (1887-1889), accounts (1885-1890), and cash sales (1887, 1889-1890). There are also letterbooks (1885-1892) and financial records files (1889-1891) concerning the operation of the company.
The Farrar & Pippin general merchant partnership is represented by financial records (1882-1887); ledgers, daybooks, cashbooks (1873-1884); an account book (1873-1880); an inventory ledger (1884); a lien ledger (1881); and invoice ledgers (1882-1883). There are financial records (1886-1888) and a letterbook (1885-1887) for the firm of Farrar, Wright & Co.; as well as a ledger, cashbook and daybooks (1886-1887); a ledger listing drafts (1885-1887); an inventory ledger (1885); a ledger for notes and bills payable (1886); and invoice ledgers (1885-1886).
There also are ten ledgers in O. C. Farrar's name covering the years 1884-1889 as well as two ledgers for O. C. Farrar & Co. (1875-1881) concerning mainly general merchandise accounts and some cotton purchases and sales.
The collection also contains a large number of cashbooks, daybooks, and other ledgers from the late 1870s through the early 1890s as well as fertilizer account books (1885-1890) that are not identified as to company but are presumably related to Farrar.
A tenant ledger (1880-1882) for J. W. and Wm. Pippin contains a payroll and lists the amount of cotton picked and tenant supplies purchased. An unidentified tenant ledger (1891) lists meal and board expenses and tenant laborer absences in addition to laborers' pay.
Letterbooks and correspondence of the Tarboro Cotton Factory (1888-1889) indicate equipment needs and specifications; out-of-state subscriptions; contracts for building, wiring, and steam power; and employment of a manager (1888).Correspondence with other mills (1889) gathered advice on equipment and operations. Drawings of bricks, sashes and various pieces of equipment are included in correspondence and a letterbook (1888-1889). The factory was in operation by mid-1889 and the letterbook reflects the numbers of workers by job type and salary (1889), shipments of yarn and bolts produced and sold (1890), and shipments of waste (1890). The factory's financial records include a payroll (1889) giving workers' names, time, pay rate, and amount of pay, and is grouped by function, i.e. cording, spinning and spooling. Ledgers (1888-1889) reflect cotton purchases and receipts. Lumber purchases for the factory and tenant housing are also noted in the material.
Farrar built the Hotel Farrar in Tarboro which opened in 1887. A letterbook shows that lumber and bricks were under contract in 1885. A laborers account book for a brickyard (1886), which could be associated with the construction of Hotel Farrar, gives laborers' names, work dates, number of bricks produced, and method of payment. Correspondence (1886-1887) contains a builder's proposal for a hotel; applications for hotel positions; the purchase of furniture for the hotel and stores; and the search for a manager.
Correspondence files document the activities of Farrar and Alex Walker, of Durham, N.C., in a project to drain a swamp, build a canal, and develop land near Dover, N.C., close to Tracy and Gum swamps (1885-1890). Letters from Walker to Farrar give detailed accounts of the progress and cost of draining the swamp, the plan to irrigate the land with a canal, and the need to get the Board of Education to act for the state on the incorporation of the canal (1886). Also discussed are cutting the canal, clearing the land, a contract (1888) for building what was apparently a sawmill, an offer on the timber and the sawmill, the leasing of forty-five acres, labor costs to clear the land (1889), Walker's desire to switch from growing corn and rice to raising cattle, and Farrar's desire to sell his interest (1890).
Farrar's letterbook (1890-1891) details his efforts to build and furnish a Baptist church in Tarboro. Letters document the purchase of building materials, selection of stained glass windows and pews, hiring of carpenters, the dimensions of the sanctuary and schoolroom, and choice of a Bible for the pulpit.
Other topics discussed in the correspondence and covered in the letterbooks concern education, county government, and politics. A letter from Farrar's nephew at the Davis School in La Grange, N.C. (1884-1885), reports on a prospective trip to the state Exposition, his need of Sunday shoes, and his study habits. School expenses for Farrar's daughter in Lynchburg, Va., also are noted (1886). Letterbooks for Farrar, Gaskill & Co. contain statements (1885-1887) for the white and colored school funds expenditures in Edgecombe County. Figures are listed by township, district, amounts received and apportioned, total funds, and amounts disbursed and on hand. Purchase of textbooks forthe graded schools also is noted (1888). Other county involvements documented in the letterbooks include reports of the treasurer of the Edgecombe County General Fund (1889-1890), which also included mention of the Fence Fund.
Political commentary concerns the possible creation of a new county from portions of Nash, Edgecombe, and Halifax counties (Feb. 1887), efforts to get political support for a postmaster's appointment (1885), the election of Grover Cleveland to the Presidency (1884) and the giving of a celebratory banquet (Dec. 1884) for Cleveland's campaign manager, Arthur Pue Gorman.
Publications include an 1892 Merchants Retail Commercial Agency of Chicago volume, which lists unsettled accounts and migratory debtors by state. A separate volume on cotton movements and fluctuations (1885-1890) written by Latham, Alexander & Co., New York bankers and commission merchants, gives statistics on the highs and lows of futures; movement of the crop in New York, other U.S. ports, Bombay, and Liverpool; receipts and exports from U.S. ports; and weekly movement of cotton at interior U.S. towns as well as other statistics.
An oversize file contains general store balance sheets (1884-1886).
Gift of Mrs. Mary M. Martin
Processed by M. Boccaccio, July 1990
Encoded by Apex Data Services
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.