Ohio History Journal

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A Granville Cooper's Experience

A Granville Cooper's Experience

With Barter in the 1820's







Massachusetts, journeyed over the mountains to the west,

crossed the Ohio River, and settled near the center of the

infant state of Ohio. Today, Granville, Ohio, which is popu-

lated by some two thousand villagers and fourteen hundred

students of Denison University, still retains some character-

istics of her eastern heritage. One of the oldest buildings in

the village is the Old Stone Bank, which, with some modifi-

cation, has become the Granville Historical Museum. Relics,

tools, and furniture of the first settlers fill several rooms in

this little building; and, of more importance to the historian,

there are preserved here the records of early land transactions,

the minute books of the village clerks, and daybooks belong-

ing to the early merchants and craftsmen.

This modest article proposes to analyze the contents of a

ledger kept by Asa Shepardson, cooper and shinglemaker,

who lived and labored in Granville during the first half of the

nineteenth century. The justification for such a study is that

the cooper's record offers unusual insight into the system of

barter which developed as a mechanism for conducting busi-

ness in a region where money was painfully scarce. Barter,

defined as the simple exchange of commodities, is usually

associated with primitive economic situations. Before the


* Peter Fox Smith, a Denison University graduate of 1958, is a graduate student

at Harvard.