Owen Cicero Farrar Papers

Manuscript Collection #584
Farrar, Owen Cicero
Physical description
24.72 Cubic Feet, 1250 items , consisting of correspondence, letterbooks, ledgers, and financial records.
Preferred Citation
Owen Cicero Farrar Papers (#584), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

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

Biographical/historical information

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.

Scope and arrangement

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).

Administrative information
Custodial History

November 15, 1989, 5 cubic feet and 110 volumes; Records (1877-1891) of Edgecombe County, N.C., cotton merchant, including correspondence, letterbooks, accounts, ledgers, and other records for Farrar, Gaskill and Co. of Tarboro; Eure, Farrar and Co. of Norfolk, Virginia; and Farrar and Jones Co. of New York, N.Y. Gift of Mrs. Mary M. Martin, Tarboro, N.C.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Mary M. Martin

Processing information

Processed by M. Boccaccio, July 1990

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
Farrar, Owen Cicero, 1835-1891
Corporate Names
Eure, Farrar, and Company
Farrar and Jones Company
Farrar, Gaskill, and Company
Cotton trade--New York (State)--New York (N.Y.)
Cotton trade--North Carolina--Tarboro
Cotton trade--Virginia--Norfolk (Va.)
General stores--New York (State)--New York (N.Y.)
General stores--North Carolina--Tarboro
General stores--Virginia--Norfolk (Va.)

Container list
Box 1 Correspondence, 1876-March 1885
Box 2 Correspondence, April-December 1885
Box 3 Correspondence, January-July 1886
Box 4 Correspondence, August 1886-April 1887
Box 5 Correspondence, May-December 1887
Box 6 Correspondence, January-September 1888
Box 7 Correspondence, October 1888-February 1889
Box 8 Correspondence, March-December 1889
Box 9 Correspondence, January 1890-January 1891
Box 10 Correspondence, February-March 1891; Letterbooks, O. C. Farrar, 1884-1885; Farrar, Gaskill & Co., 1885-1887
Box 11 Letterbooks: Farrar, Gaskill & Co., February 1887-May 1888
Box 12 Letterbooks: Farrar, Gaskill & Co., May 1888-April 1890
Box 13 Letterbooks: Farrar, Gaskill & Co., April 1890-February 1892; Tarboro Cotton Factory, March 1889-April 1891
Box 14 Letterbooks: Farrar, Wright & Co., April 1885-February 1887
Box 15 Eure, Farrar & Price: Account Sales, 1882-1883.Eure, Farrar & Co.: Account Sales 1884
Box 16 Eure, Farrar & Co.: Account Sales, 1885-1887
Box 17 Eure, Farrar & Co.: Account Sales, 1887-1888
Box 18 Eure, Farrar & Co.: Account Sales, 1888-1891
Box 19 Farrar & Jones: Account Sales, 1882-1891
Box 20 Farrar & Pippin: Financial Records, 1882-1887.Farrar, Wright & Co.: Financial Records, 1886-1888.Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Financial Records, 1889-1891.O. C. Farrar: Financial Records, 1877-1890.March, Price & Co.: Financial Records, 1889.Tarboro Cotton Factory: Financial Records, 1888-1890.Fertilizer Accounts, 1886; Miscellaneous Accounts, 1881-1890; Legal Documents, 1888-1890; Printed Material
Box 21 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Daybook, January-May 1885
Box 22 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Daybook, May-September 1885
Box 23 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Daybook, October-December 1886
Box 24 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Daybook, January-April 1887
Box 25 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Daybook, April-July 1887
Box 26 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Daybook, July-October 1887
Box 27 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Daybook, October 1887-January 1888
Box 28 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Daybook, January-April 1888
Box 29 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Daybook, April-July 1888
Box 30 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Daybook, October 1888-February 1889
Box 31 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Daybook, February-May 1889
Box 32 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Daybook, May-August 1889
Box 33 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Daybook, August-December 1889
Box 34 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Daybook, December 1889-February 1890
Box 35 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Daybook, February-May 1890
Box 36 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Daybook, May-August 1890
Box 37 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Daybook, August-November 1890
Box 38 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Daybook, November 1890-April 1891
Box 39 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Guano Book, 1887
Box 40 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Guano Book, 1888
Box 41 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Guano Book, 1889
Box 42 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Guano Book, 1891
Box 43 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Cashbook, 1887
Box 44 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Cashbook, 1889-1890
Box 45 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Account Book, 1885-1890
Box 46 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Cotton & Drafts, 1887-1889
Box 47 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Inventory, 1889
Box 48 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Notes & Bills Payable, December 1886-1887
Box 49 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Invoices, 1887
Box 50 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Invoices, 1888-1889
Box 51 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Invoices, 1890
Box 52 Farrar, Gaskill & Co.: Invoices, 1890-1891
Box 53 Farrar & Pippin: Ledger, 1882-1883
Box 54 Farrar & Pippin: Ledger, 1883
Box 55 Farrar & Pippin: Merchandise Ledger, 1882-1884
Box 56 Farrar & Pippin: Daybook, January-May 1882
Box 57 Farrar & Pippin: Daybook, May-September 1882
Box 58 Farrar & Pippin: Daybook, September 1882-January 1883
Box 59 Farrar & Pippin: Daybook, January-May 1883
Box 60 Farrar & Pippin: Daybook, May-September 1883
Box 61 Farrar & Pippin: Daybook, September-November 1883
Box 62 Farrar & Pippin: Petty Cashbook, 1873
Box 63 Farrar & Pippin: Cashbook, 1882
Box 64 Farrar & Pippin: Cashbook, 1882-March 1883
Box 65 Farrar & Pippin: Account Book, December 1873-1880
Box 66 Farrar & Pippin: Inventory, 1884
Box 67 O. C. Farrar & W. M. Pippin: Lien Ledger, 1881; Account, 1882
Box 68 Farrar & Pippin: Invoices, 1882-1883
Box 69 Farrar & Pippin: Invoices, September-November 1883
Box 70 Farrar, Wright & Co.: Ledger, 1886
Box 71 Farrar, Wright & Co.: Cashbook, 1886-March 1887
Box 72 Farrar, Wright & Co.: Daybook, January, April 1886
Box 73 Farrar, Wright & Co.: Daybook, September-October 1886
Box 74 Farrar, Wright & Co.: Daybook, April-June 1886
Box 75 Farrar, Wright & Co.: Daybook, June-September 1886
Box 76 Farrar, Wright & Co.: Draft Accounts, April 1885-February 1887
Box 77 Farrar, Wright & Co.: Inventory, 1885
Box 78 Farrar, Wright & Co.: Notes & Bills Payable, 1886
Box 79 Farrar, Wright & Co.: Invoices, 1885-1886
Box 80 Farrar, Wright & Co.: Invoices, 1885-1886
Box 81 Farrar, Wright & Co.: Invoices, 1885-1886
Box 82 O. C. Farrar: Ledger, 1885-1886
Box 83 O. C. Farrar & Co.: Ledger, 1875-1876
Box 84 O. C. Farrar & Co.: Ledger, 1878-1882
Box 85 O. C. Farrar: Cashbook, June 1885-October 1886
Box 86 O. C. Farrar: Daybook, August 1881-March 1882
Box 87 O. C. Farrar: Daybook, March 1882-July 1883
Box 88 O. C. Farrar: Daybook, May-September 1884
Box 89 O. C. Farrar: Daybook, September 1884-January 1885
Box 90 O. C. Farrar: Daybook, September-December 1885
Box 91 O. C. Farrar: Daybook, December 1885-June 1887
Box 92 O. C. Farrar: Daybook, June 1887-January 1889
Box 93 Hodges & Powell auction, undatedand Farrar Inventory of General Merchandise, undated; Eure, Farrar & Co.: Joint Accounts, 1886-1889; Consignment Books, September 1884-1886
Box 94 Eure, Farrar & Co.: Consignment Books, October 1889-1891; Memorandum of Advances, 1887-1889.Eure, Farrar & Price: Joint Accounts, 1882-1883
Box 95 Eure, Farrar & Price: Joint Accounts, October-December 1883.Ledger titled Cotton Shipped to Baltimore & Norfolk 1879.Farrar & Jones: Consignments, 1881-1890; Joint Accounts, 1881-1883
Box 96 Ledger, 1884-1885; March, Price & Co.: Joint Accounts, 1876-1877
Box 97 March, Price & Co.: Joint Accounts, 1876-1880; Consignments, 1879-1880
Box 98 March, Price & Co.: Joint Accounts, 1880-1881; Consignments, 1881.Hymans & Dancy: Joint Accounts, 1879-1881
Box 99 Hymans & Dancy: Joint Accounts, November 1881-January 1882.Tarboro Cotton Factory: Cotton Purchased, 1888-1889; Cotton Received, 1889.W. F. Hargrove: Cashbook, December 1892-May 1893.Sharpe, Farrar & Baker: Guano Ledger, 1881.J. W. & Wm. Pippin: Tenant Ledger, 1880-1882
Box 100 Owen Williams Financial Records, 1865-1871; Tenant Ledger, 1891; Fertilizer Ledger, 1885
Box 101 Fertilizer Books, 1886-1887, 1890; Hands accounts at Brickyard Ledger, 1886
Box 102 Liens and Collateral Ledger, 1891; Consignment Book, 1878-1879; Cotton Bought Ledger, September 1888-March 1889; Cotton Shipped Ledger, 1877-1878
Box 103 Hamilton Railroad & Lumber Co.: Bills of Lading, 1891
Box 104 Inventory, 1881-1882, 1886, 1888-1889
Box 105 Inventory, 1888-1890; Payroll, 1888, 1891
Box 106 Notes Ledger, 1888; Orderbook, 1886, undated; Index, undated
Box 107 Cashbook, June 1878-October 1879
Box 108 Cashbook, 1879-1880
Box 109 Cashbook, October 1880-November 1881
Box 110 Cashbook, 1883-1884
Box 111 Cashbook, 1884-January 1885
Box 112 Cashbook, December 1887-July 1889
Box 113 Cashbook, 1890-November 1892
Box 114 Cashbook, 1891
Box 115 Account Book, March-January, undated
Box 116 Account Book, August 1889-September 1890
Box 117 Account Book, 1886
Box 118 Daybook, June-November 1879
Box 119 Daybook, November 1879-March 1880
Box 120 Daybook, February-June 1879
Box 121 Daybook, November 1880-March 1881
Box 122 Daybook, April-August 1881
Box 123 Daybook, August-December 1883
Box 124 Daybook, April-October 1881
Box 125 Ledger, 1874-1875
Box 126 Ledger, 1877-1878
Box 127 Ledger, 1877-1881
Box 128 Ledger, 1879-1880
Box 129 Ledgers, 1882-1884
Box 130 Ledger, 1887-1889; Merchants Retail Commercial Agency of Chicago migratory debtors list, 1892; Cotton Movement and Fluctuations, 1885-1890
Folder os1 Balance Sheets, 1884-1886