Finding Aid 03

Chatham Historical Society

Genealogical and Personal Manuscript Collection



Volume: 8 linear feet

Provenance: Boxes 130-133 were the gift of Mrs. Morgan Keefe. Evidence within the collection appears to indicate they had been the property of Virginia Harding McGrath. The Chatham Historical Society purchased Boxes 149-161 from the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth in 2008.

Processed by Marilyn Coffin Brown 2008-2009



Andrew Harding (1836-1911) was born in Chatham to Barzillai and Patty Bangs Harding on Nov. 20, 1836.  He was their 14th child.  In 1860 he married Abigail Eldredge, daughter of Andrew HardingGideon and Elizabeth Eldredge.  After Abby died in 1865, Andrew married Avis A. Reynolds (1837-1896), daughter of Abel and Hannah Reynolds.  Their only child, Heman Andrew, was born in 1871.

Andrew operated a general store at 151 Main St, Chatham from 1865 until his death in 1911.  It was a Cape Cod landmark, a glorious hodgepodge selling everything but meats and “women’s gear.”  There were long benches called “anxious seats” where the old timers swapped yarns of wrecks and voyages.  It has been said that Joseph Lincoln, noted Cape Cod author, gathered material for his books by listening to these tales.  There was a potbellied stove in the middle and chalk over the door for drawing charts of bays and harbors. Everyone called him “Uncle Andrew” and when he died so many came to his funeral that men stood outside the church in the pouring rain.  From notes left by his granddaughter, Virginia, we know that Andrew was “ as kindly and inefficient a businessman who ever lived, who kept his books nonchalantly, his money in a sock, his pork barrel out on the porch and his faith in the trustworthiness of his fellow man.”

It was Andrew who gave the two Walter Eldredges the nicknames Good Walter and Bad Walter in order to keep their charge accounts correct.  Evidently Good Walter was the one who went to church.

The Chatham Historical Society also has the papers of Andrew’s son Heman, a prominent Cape Cod lawyer (X.7042) and his granddaughter, Virginia Harding McGrath (X.7128)



There are nineteen boxes in this collection. Most of the items pertain to Andrew Harding’s store at 151 Main St. in Chatham. Boxes 130 and 131 are all bills and receipts indicating the wide variety of merchandise sold. In Box 132 there are several ledgers, personal items like invitations and papers involving other business interests.  The majority of the items in Box 133 involve the settling of Andrew’s estate in 1911 by his son, Heman Andrew Harding. In 2008, the Chatham Historical Society purchased further materials from the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth. This collection consists of 27 journals and roughly 4000 documents in 13 boxes (149-157) and the inventory of the purchase is in Box 149. The majority are bills and receipts connected with the store or with various weir businesses. These are filed alphabetically by business name whereas the prior collection is filed chronologically.  Boxes 158-162 contain ledgers. Identified at a later date are 3 other store ledgers  (1867-1874). Of special interest is a list of a number of sea captains serving during this period. Stored in Box 163.

Note: The Chatham Historical Society also has collections for Heman Harding (Andrew’s son X.7043) and Virginia Harding McGrath (Andrew’s granddaughter  X.7123)

The collection begins with Box 130.  A few of the more interesting items in each folder are mentioned.

Box 130

  1. Store bills and receipts
  2. Store bills and receipts
  3. Store bills and receipts
  4. Store bills and receipts
  5. Store bills and receipts
  6. Store bills and receipts
  7. Store bills and receipts
  8. 6 bills and receipts from store, insurance policies for storehouse on Monomoy Beach and for boats, nets and fixings.
  9. Receipts –most are NY & Boston Dispatch Express Co.
  10. Store bills and receipts, letter to Andrew Harding from D.W. Nickerson thanking him for his letter about death of his wife.
  11. Store bills and receipts
  12. Store bills and receipts
  13. Store bills and receipts, Village and Gull Point Weir Co. Consolidated, Benj. L. Jones, Captain, Andrew Harding, Treasurer. Agreement to pay Charles Hammond $100
  14. Store bills and receipts
  15. Miscellaneous bills and accounts and receipts
  16. Store bills and receipts
  17. Store bills and receipts

Box 131

  • Store bills and receipts
  • Store bills and receipts
  • Store bills and receipts
  • Store bills and receipts
  • Store bills and receipts showing variety of merchandise sold including:
    • Oiled clothing
    • Headache powder
    • Rope and twine
    • Paint and varnish
    • Nuts and screws
    • Sugar
    • Pilot crackers
    • Sarsaparilla
    • Anchors
    • Canning jars
    • Oranges and lemons
    • Ice picks
    • Tea
    • Clothespins

Box 132

      A. Miscellaneous:

           Letter and reply re: rent of west front of house, $7.00 per month.

           Tax bill, 1911

           Bills and receipts

           Cemetery lot bill, 1911

      B.  Sheet of stamps of various countries’ coats of arms

  • Chatham High School graduation invitations, 1888-89

           Theta Delta Chi banquet invitation, 1892

           Gamma Phi Beta invitation

  • Statement of the Monomoy Weir Fishing Company, 1884
  • Pilot Boat receipts

Signatures: Washington Bearse

                    Benj. Patterson

                    W.H. Patterson

                    Oscar Gould

                    James F. Smith

  • Andrew Harding v Durkee

Capt. W.S. Durkee in account with A. Harding

Letters from Martha Durkee of Brookline, Ma. regarding rent payments

  • Heman Harding settling father’s estate

     Letter from Edward Smith re: bill, 1900

     Willie H. Gould account

     S.E. Wheeler receipt

     Swordfish account, 1911

     James Kent account

     Bills for nails and other items

     Prices of Atlas Roofing

  • Fire insurance policy, Barnstable County Mutual Fire Ins. Co., dwelling on Main St., Chatham
  • Envelope with Heman Harding’s notations about weir accounts
  • Bills

     Receipts for repairs on Pilot boat

     Rent on boat house 1889-1890, $2.50, Solomon Atwood

     Ledger, boat business

         Partners: A. Harding

                         Jos. Bloomer

                         S. Atwood

                              Wm Bearse

                               L. Gould

                               A. Reynolds

                               T. Holway

  • 1928 account book with only a few pages filled in

      Household expenses—November

     June—weather notations

     Unknown handwriting

  • Ledger for cranberry bog account, 1898

Examined by Heman Harding, 1911, in settlement of father’s estate

  • 4 account books

1879, 1888—ice business

1879-80, 1878-79—seem to involve clams

     Sheet of Ice House figures


                    W. Bearse

  • Harding

O. Gould

                               L.C. Wing

                               R.F. Tinkham

  • Account book

House rent

Letter from nephew, H.F. Eldredge of Portsmouth, N.H., 1887

Letter mentions start of Chatham Railroad

Bills for work done by F.F. Bearse

Notations by Heman Harding settling estate

  • Fire Kindler’s account book

     Post cards ordering “cones”—sold by barrel


  • Account books for ice business—Village Ice House

Notice of auction, Sept. 1886, to be held at Andrew Harding store

Paper showing wages paid to O.M. Gould and W.S. Bearse

Bill from Alphonse Mayo, 1884, moving and stripping Ice House, 20 cents an hour

Bills for plowing ice and carting hay


Box 133

  • Account book

Account pages

Settlement with Uncle Bill (Ben Mallowes’ son) July 12, 1899

House account, 1908

F.F. Bearse, house rent to Oct. 1, 1911

Shares in boats and cables

1/16 share Sea Fox, empty envelope, July 17, 1911, engine installed, B. L. Jones receipt

Heman Harding’s handwriting on envelopes

  • Empty envelopes with amounts paid on outside
  • Empty bill envelopes with amount paid on outside
  • Store

Bills from Carpenter Morton Co., paints and varnishes

Papers with account information by Heman Harding settling estate

  • Heman A. Harding’s booking off of Andrew’s last Day Book sheets

Names include “Good” and “Bad” Walter Eldredges

  • Heman A. Harding settling estate

Lists of accounts due

Daily pages numbered by HAH

  • Fish voyages of Andrew Harding

Envelope with account sheets

  • Lists made by Heman A. Harding while settling his father’s estate

List 2 supercedes List 1.

List 2 covers Ledgers 1,2,3,4 and Day Books 1-7

  • Day Book listings

Note by Heman A. Harding: verifications by Andrew Harding of his books of accounts so far as unpaid bills were concerned.  “These sheets were found by me in the front of various books.” Signed by HAH January 27, 1912

Box 149—A

Letter from Old Yarmouth Historical Society and inventory of papers purchased from them in 2008. Also a record of Chatham census listings for Andrew Harding from 1850-1900.

2 folders of bills and receipts. Many are from Atwood & Co. wholesale fish dealers in Boston. (1883-1908). Also 2 insurance policies for store, fish house, nets and boats.

Box 150--Ba-Bo

3 folders of bills and receipts. There are 8 insurance policies from Barnstable County Mutual Fire Ins. Co. (1881-1900). There is a page from a journal of F. Bloomer Weir Co. showing sales of fish, 1878.

Box 151--Br-Bu & C

3 folders of bills and receipts. Weir permit for Andrew Harding, Benj. Mallows etc. signed by Chatham Selectmen. 1897.  Bill for food for Chatham Life Saving Station. 1889

Box 152--D, E, F, G & H

5 folders. In folder E there is an invitation to the wedding of Nettie A. Eldredge, daughter of H. Fisher Eldredge, to James Shaw and a personal note of thanks from Nettie, 1895.  Folder G contains a bill from Dr. Benj. Gifford, 1905.

Box 153--H, I, J, K & L

5 folders. In folder H there are 5 insurance policies, Home Ins. Co. In folder I there is a license to be a retail dealer, U.S. Internal Revenue and a form from the Commissioners on Inland Fisheries. In folder J there is a contract for Charles Jones for charter of his vessel, Schooner Anna B. Jacobs, to Village Weir Co. for the season for $200, 1878. Samuel Joseph was paid $108. for cooking, 1888.

Box 154--M, N & O

3 folders. In folder M there is a statement dated 1883 for Monomoy Weir Fishing Co. showing a profit of $16,340.

Box 155--P. R and S

3 folders. In folder P there are bills from Plymouth Cordage Co. and an interesting bill for the pilot boat Pocahontas, 1851. There is a letter to Andrew Harding from Everett Patterson about selling his share of Village Weir Co., 1881. Receipt for $300, Capt. Leander Gould. In folder R there is a letter of sympathy on death of wife, Avis from niece, Ada E. Reynolds. Bill for $3.00 for 3 visits to Dr. F.A. Rogers, 1896.

Box 156--T,U,V,W & Y

5 folders of company bills and receipts and 6 folders of railroad receipts. New York Boston Dispatch Express, Old Colony Railroad, Cape Cod Railroad, New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, Cape Cod Central Railroad and a folder of miscellaneous railroad receipts.

Box 157—Miscellaneous receipts

  1. Village and Gull Point Weir Co.   Rent land Monomoy Pt. $3.00 1884-85
  2. Post office and banking receipts.
  3. Miscellaneous accounts and receipts
  4. More miscellaneous receipts, one on a piece of shingle
  5. Personal documents

    1. Wedding announcement, Edith Crowell Farmer to Heman Andrew   Harding. 1907

    2. Sympathy notes on death of Avis from Martha W. Durkee and Mrs. J.B. Greenalgh, 1896

   3. Undated letter to Avis from Emmie in Leominster

   4. Letter to Andrew from friend Jonas Emery, Saco, Maine, 1868

   5. Cards involving the Bulau family, Indiana and Minnesota, 1940

   6. Heman Harding’s Harvard grades and Class Day ticket, 1894-96

   7. Letter from Andrew’s sister Fannie to wife, Avis, 1896

   8. Letter to Andrew from Fannie on death of Avis 1897

   9. Receipt signed Willis H. Nickerson from Village & Gull Point Weir Co.    1902

  10. Will of Barzillai Stetson. Andrew Harding one of 3 trustees.  1875

  11. Empty envelope noting bills paid in settling Andrew’s estate by son, Heman

  12. Letter from nephew Heman Eldredge, Portsmouth, mentioning Marcellus Eldredge being ill, 1863

  13. Invitation from H. Fisher Eldredge to wedding of his daughter, Nettie to James Shaw, 1895

  14. Letter of thanks from Nettie for wedding gift. 1895

Box 158

A.  6 ledgers

       1. 1851-1857 removing cargo from wrecks. AH is 15 years old in 1851

       2. 1858-1862 notes on mixing paint

       3. 1859 expense record

       4. 1859-61 expenses including hiring a horse

       5. 1860-64 day book for painting business. 1860 worked on Chatham Lights

       6. 1861 expenses. 6 lbs of butter, $1.50

B.  Ledger (1857-1862)  This appears to be record of personal items bought.  Mention of Schooner Favorite.  1861 paid Jonathan Ellis for killing calf $.50

C.  Ledger (1854-55) Record of work done painting, whitewashing, digging   cellar. Shows expenditures for board of $1.50 a week, hiring a horse to go blackberrying, buying overalls etc.

D.  5 ledgers

       1. Pilot boat expenses, 1863

 2. Expenses 1863-64.

 3. 1864. Painting journal. Buying oil, white lead, Paris green, yellow, varnish. Moves a building $25.

 4. 1864-1866. Painting.

       5. 1867. Building a house? Paying people quite large sums

E. 4 ledgers

      1. 1878 Journal of a fishing voyage.  Measurements for placing of weir poles. Mention of Francis Bloomer and Leander Gould.
      2. 1878 April-June. Fish record listing many schooners.
      3. 1880. May fish journal
      4. 1884. Village Weir Co. April 23-May 28, 1884

Box 159

  1. 2 ledgers and 1 booklet

1. 1879. Selling fish to various schooners, April-June.

2. 1885. Expenses for store. Chase & Sanborn, rope, twine.

3. 1895. Fertilizer advertising booklet with columns of numbers in Harding’s handwriting.

  1. 2 ledgers with many Chatham names

           1. 1888 and 1892. Gull Point Weir Co.

      2. 1877-1893. Village Weir Co. Various handwritings.

  1. Village Weir Co. journal. 1885-1891. Most entries are not by Andrew Harding. Gives weather report as well as fish taken. Also schooner names.
  2. 2 Ledgers.

  1. 1886-1891. Store journal.

  2. 1903, 1907-1908. Only a few pages used, most concerning renting skiffs. $1.00 a day and $5.00 for the season. Both ledgers have notes by Heman Harding made while settling his father’s estate.

  1. Notebook belonging to Andrew’s granddaughter, Virginia Harding McGrath. Genealogy information (no Chatham names). Information on Stonehenge, Westminster Abbey, New Forest and Stratford-on-Avon.

Box 160

 3 Ledgers

  • Store daybook, 1880-1882.
  • Daybook, 1889-1898.  Gift of Virginia Harding McGrath.
  • Daybook, 1898-1909.

Box 161

 3 ledgers.

    A. 1894. Just a few pages used. Transferring accounts to ledger #1.

    B. Account book. n.d. Customers listed alphabetically by first name with page number where account is located.

C. Journal for painting business Andrew had before he opened his store. Listed on outside of folder are items purchased. Mention of Schooner Favorite.

Box 162

2 ledgers for store and 1 folder listing names of schooners, people, captains, items sold and other interesting information.



Box 163

Ledger #3. Andrew Harding’s store, 1873-1884

Page 685 has note “not used by Andrew Harding from hereon”. Signed HAH, Dec. 28, 1911