Samuel R. Fowle moved to Washington, N.C., in 1815 and entered the mercantile business, apparently taking over a store that already existed. He dealt in general merchandise and naval stores both as a retailer and as a shipper. In the mid 1800s, the firm shipped goods to Boston, New York, and the West Indies. The company remained in business for almost 150 years and constituted one of the major mercantile and shipping firms in coastal North Carolina. For related material see S. R. Fowle & Son Company Records (Collection #460).
Ledgers provide daily accounts of sales of general merchandise, including the customer's name, items purchased, and prices during the years 1799-1801, 1826-1829, 1831-1833, 1835-1849, and 1858-1861. A 1911-1917 ledger lists the Samuel R. Fowle Company's purchases of shoes, grocery items, and hardware from various companies. The ledger also records expenses for the upkeep of stables.
Company purchases of naval stores, including tar and turpentine, are recorded from 1833-1842. Sales of naval stores are noted in general merchandise records. Financial status and payments received from customers are revealed in daily records of cash on hand (1840-1847, 1849-1851) and deposits with the Day Bank of Cape Fear in Washington, N.C. (1842-1847).
References to shipping are scattered. In the 1842-1847 ledger, voyages by the brig
ADELINE to New York and the West Indies during 1842-1843 are recorded. Merchandise shipped and expenses of the voyages are noted. In a miscellaneous daybook, trade with New York, Boston, and the West Indies (1848-1850) includes names of captains, departure and return dates, merchandise, and computations. The brig
EDWARD TILLETT and schooners
NORTH CAROLINA are frequently mentioned. A miscellaneous daybook lists contacts in the West Indies and records labor costs in the lumber trade for 1852.