Day Book of Henry Bedinger
In 1775, Henry Bedinger (1753-1843), a Continental Army private, joined the Beeline March to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to aid General George Washington. From Cambridge Bedinger went to New York in 1777 where British forces captured him at the Battle of King’s Bridge. He remained a prisoner to 1781. After the war Bedinger returned to Shepherdstown. There he was a storekeeper, town postmaster, county clerk, and delegate to the Virginia House of Delegates. In 1798 he relocated from Shepherdstown to Martinsburg where he lived until he died in 1843.
In about 1785, Bedinger built a two-and-a-half story brick home and store at the southwest corner of German and Princess Streets, Shepherdstown. There he stocked his store with merchandise ordered from suppliers in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Alexandria. His Invoice Book of 1785 to 1796 includes names of those suppliers and what Bedinger ordered from them. The Invoice Book reveals detailed quantities and varieties of imported coffees and teas, brass and iron hardware, textiles, and ceramics. A Day Book from 1794 to 1801 shows daily sales by objects and buyer. The Day Book documents who bought what, prices charged, and modes of payment. Both records are valuable sources to researchers of western Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley.
The Invoice Book and Day Book are in Special Collections of the Swem Library, College of William and Mary (W&M). W&M bought the books on April 19, 1938 from C[harles] J[ennings] Carrier (1886-1956), a collector of historical materials of the Shenandoah Valley from Bridgewater, Virginia.
Two published sources that help describe storekeeping in the late 1700s and early 1800s are: Ann Smart Martin, Buying into the World of Goods (2008), Johns Hopkins Press; and Diane Wenger, A Country Storekeeper in Pennsylvania (2008) Pennsylvania State University Press.