Jackson, James
Colonial Era - 18th Century Business Ledgers of the General Store of James Jackson, Montgomery Township, Orange County, New York, 1763-1797

Two volumes, folio, 366 and 344 manuscript pages, Volume One bound in leather, Volume Two in wrappers, both volumes are very worn at edges, corners, spines, covers, Volume One lacks spine, Volume Two, spine chipped, text block stained throughout. Text block of volume one coming apart, several leaves have worming, some holes, tears, some loss of text, entries in both volumes written in ink, in a legible hand, Volume One dated 1763 to 1797 (mostly 1780s), entries in Volume Two dated 1785-1790.

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The two ledgers show the transactions of Jackson with his many customers in the Montgomery Township area. He sells a full range of commodities, everything from rum and tea, to nails and linen, to tobacco and foodstuffs. There is no index, but there are over 700 manuscript pages of entries, multiple entries on each page. In the earlier volume there is an attempt at double entry bookkeeping, however, that seems to have fallen by the wayside and the entries simply record whatever transaction takes place. The amounts are not brought forward.

The volumes are interesting for documenting the early economy in the area during the Colonial and Revolutionary Era time periods. Orange County’s location between the Hudson and Delaware Rivers led to its strategic importance during the Revolutionary War. General George Washington spent more time at his Newburgh headquarters than anywhere else during the war, and he considered West Point to be the most important strategic position in America.

       James Jackson

    James Jackson is found in the 1790 Census in the town of Montgomery in Ulster County, New York. The census records him as having in his household 2 free white males under 16, 4 free white males over 16, 3 white females, and 3 slaves, for a total of 12 in the household. The household would seem to be made up of Jackson (born prior to 1774), his two sons (born between 1774 and 1790), his wife, 2 daughters, 2 indentured servants, lodgers, or possibly older sons, and 3 slaves.

    When the 1800 Census was taken, James Jackson is now enumerated in Montgomery Township, Orange County, New York, it is the same location as previously, but the borders of the Ulster and Orange County changed so that Montgomery was now located in Orange County. Jackson is listed as being married and perhaps having two sons between the ages of 16-25, which matches the 1790 Census, and two daughters, one under 10, the other between 16 and 25, which again matches with the 1790 Census. His wife was born sometime between 1756 and 1774. Jackson himself appears to have been born prior to 1745. The household perhaps had 1 indentured servant or lodger, and also 2 slaves, for a total of 9 in the household. Jackson and his wife were the only people in the house over 25 years old.

The early town of Montgomery began as a patent to Henry Wileman, the first settler, in 1710. He was the first of a group of Palatine Germans to emigrate and settle land around what is now the village of Montgomery.

The town was originally established as "Hanover" in 1772, but became the Town of Montgomery in 1782. Montgomery is bordered on the east by the Town of Newburgh and on the north by the Town of Shawangunk in Ulster County. The Town of Crawford is to the west. The towns of Wallkill, Hamptonburgh and New Windsor, from west to east, border on the south.

On the 1790 Census, Montgomery was in Ulster County, but after 1798 it was located in Orange County. The eastern portion of Montgomery Township, before the erection of Hamptonburgh, was settled by Irish immigrants, who located in the extensive neighborhood called Neelytown, and its vicinity, among whom were the Blakes, Eagers, Neeleys, Barbers, Booths, and others. All of these names show up as customers of James Jackson in these ledgers.

Neelytown was an old neighborhood on both sides of the town line - Montgomery and Hamptonburgh townships. Hamptonburgh was directly south of Campbell's Hall, and is the site of the settlement made by William Bull. It is four miles from Goshen.

The Neelytown section adjoins the Goodwill neighborhood on the south, it was named for the large, and, influential Neely family which appears to have been active in bringing in the early settlers. It was settled before 1726. In that year the names of John Neely and Thomas Neely appear as actual settlers. At that time Charles Booth who purchased 1,000 acres of land had built his first house, his two sons, Charles and George Booth, lived with him.

William Eager with his sons, William and Thomas, came to Neelytown in 1741. Other early settlers in this section were James McCobb, who located at a very early date on the Sherwood farm, later “Nestledown”; Tames Houston, William Young, Captain Alexander Trimble, 1764; Patrick Barber, 1764; Captain James McBride and Rev. Robert Annan, 1765, as well as William Jackson and James Jackson. It is about this time (1763) that the dates in the ledgers begin.

A number of people listed in the 1800 Census for this section of Orange Township are also listed as being customers of James Jackson, their names are attached to accounts in this ledger.

James Jackson shows up on a tax list for Montgomery Township in 1799. He is listed as having $2570 in real estate and $361 personal estate, and having to pay a tax of $2.93. He was listed next to William Jackson, possibly his father, or brother, who had real estate of $4018 and personal estate of $864, making him one of the wealthier men of the area. Jackson also shows up in the tax list for 1800 and 1801 as well.


Jackson also shows up in the 1810 Census at Montgomery. In 1810 he still owned three slaves. The 1820 Census seems to show his son, also of the same name, James Jackson (the father) seems to have died sometime between 1810 and 1820.

The militia of the Revolution was organized by an act of the Provincial Convention passed August 22, 1775. Ulster County was divided into four regimental districts. The second district comprised the precincts of New Windsor, Hanover and Wallkill. At first there were twelve companies in the regiment, of which Hanover furnished five, commanded by Captain Matthew Felter, William Jackson, James Milliken, John J. Graham and John Gillespie. In 1777 the number of companies was reduced to nine, four of which were in Hanover, under Captains Felter, Milliken, Hendrik Van Keuren and James McBride.

William Jackson and James Jackson are both seen as subscribers that supported the founding of the Montgomery Academy in then Ulster County, New York, in 1787. James Jackson acted as an overseer of the poor in 1760s and overseer of the roads in 1770s.