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An old account Book.

by Helen T. Wild.
ONE of the well-known figures about town previous to 1851 was Mr. Aaron Blanchard, the sexton of the Second Congregational Church. He was a tailor by trade, but to this occupation he added the care of the church building and the reading room in the old Tufts house, corner of High and Forest street.

His account book, which is the property of the Medford Historical Society, is interesting, giving hints as it does of the customs of other days. He used it not only to keep a record of his business, but wrote in it items pertaining to the church. In connection with his other duties, he tolled the bell for funerals, and the names of those for whom he performed this sad office, from 1827 to 1847, while he was sexton, are duly recorded. His business records are from 1815 to 1848.

Now when the old church building is being remodelled for commercial purposes, the list of movables which belonged to the church in Mr. Blanchard's time adds another item of interest to the history of the edifice.

Forty-six settees accommodated the Sunday-school. Fifteen Japan lamps, and four glass lamps on brass stands lighted the vestry. The reading desk was provided with a Bible, cushion, and singing books.

The church was lighted by twenty-four brass lamps and tins (reflectors?) six glass lamps and brass stands were ‘for the pulpit.’ One mahogany table and two [p. 103] chairs, coverings for pulpit and curtains, one Bible and two hymn books, two contribution boxes, two stoves, and a fire set with brass knobs completed the furnishings. The top of the stove in the meeting house was thirty-seven and a half inches long and twenty-two wide. Sometimes, Mr. Blanchard records, lectures were given in the church on secular subjects. Under date of Oct. 11, 1833, he writes: ‘Lecture in vestry by M. Fowle on rocks, shark's jaws, mountains &c.’ In Mr. Blanchard's day people manufactured their own ink, and Mr. Blanchard, who was a fine penman, made his very carefully by the following receipt: 2 oz. nut gall, 1 do. Copperas, 1/2 do. gum arabic to 1 qt. Rain Water.

Among Mr. Blanchard's friends and patrons were Governor Brooks, John Bishop, Benjamin and Dudley Hall, Dr. Daniel Swan and his brother Joseph, Rev. Charles Brooks, Major John Wade, Turrell Tufts, and others. In 1815 Mr. John Bishop, Richard Hall, Major Wade, and Samuel Kidder still wore small clothes. In 1820 Major Wade was charged ‘for seating and repairing small clothes 37’ It is said that Major Wade was the last man in Medford to wear the ruffled shirt, small clothes, and shoe buckles of the colonial period. Mr. Blanchard's price for making a surtout coat was three dollars. In 1815 a ‘great coat’ was provided with silver hooks and rings. Dr. Swan's had a large cape and velvet collar.

In 1816 Mr. Benjamin Floyd, 3d had a ‘swelled edge coat, and a pair of trimd pantaloons.’

Making a bound vest cost twice as much as a plain one.

When pockets were put into coats there was an extra charge made.

Breast pockets were mentioned in 1817.

Vests which were buttoned were especially noted. One set of buttons often did duty on several coats. ‘thrible gilt buttons @ 4 shillings a dozen’ would wear out more than one. Hooks and eyes were first mentioned [p. 104] in 1817. Rev. Converse Francis in 1818 is charged for a black silk coat. In 1818 Mr. Francis Kidder rejoiced in a military coat with gilt buttons which cost him a dollar more than a surtout coat for the making. He also had a coat made from a surtout, and was by no means alone in wearing made-over clothing. One of his neighbors had ‘gilt buttons put on his old coat,’ and another had his surtout turned. Turell Tufts, one of the wealthiest men in town, had his Camlet coat turned.

In his tailor shop Mr. Blanchard kept an assortment of handkerchiefs, stays, and braces, and he often accommodated his patrons by making their winter underwear.

He must have derived much pleasure and intellectual profit from his work at the reading room; he certainly made little financially, as his salary for one year and eleven months was forty-nine dollars. In the reading room he was found dead one morning in December, 1850. His epitaph reads: ‘As thy servant was busy here and there he was gone.’

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