Thomas Elliott - General Merchant

Chateauguay Basin, Quebec

Account Book

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Thomas Elliott Account BookView of typical page

In 2005, a very large old book was found in the basement of a house in Beauharnois whose residents were moving to smaller quarters. On examination, it was found to be the accounts ledger book of Thomas Elliott (1827-1907), a native of Roxboroughshire, Scotland, who operated a general store in the Village of Chateauguay Basin from the early 1850s until he died. This book covered the date range of 1858-1910. It measures 18in x 12in x 4in and has 600+ pages of which 430pages are used.

The book appears to contain the accounts for those persons who were dealing on credit and cash transactions were probably not entered in it. In addition to the entries in the book, there are a large number of loose documents interleaved with the pages of the book. Most of them are associated with the names that appear on the page within which they are interleaved. These documents comprise promissary notes (some with names of persons pledging a security bond), detailed lists of purchases, notarized papers re: loans, rentals, real estate sales, etc, court papers where persons were sued to recover debts, and other notes.

From a genealogical standpoint, many of the names in the book and on the accompanying documents have references to family relationships such as son of, son-in-law of, brother of, dit (alias) as well as references to where they lived, their neighbors, their occupations, etc. Many of the entries in the book are accounts of natives from the neighbouring Kahnawake Indian Reserve and these entries are particularly interesting as they often gave both their mohawk name and their "christian" name. Considering that the mohawks did not appear to have the european concept of family or surnames and their "last" name changed in every generation, the family connections shown in the accounts can be very useful in tracing native family trees.

All the names that appear in the book and in the titles of the accompanying documents have been indexed. Where there are cross references or "dit" names, both names have been entered in the index. Each entry does show any alternative names, cross references and family relationships that appear on the page or in the accompanying documents. One problem with the names that are written in this account book is that the majority of them appear to be spelt phonetically as if it was an anglophone writing it with little knowledge of the correct or accepted spelling. This is very obvious with the french names but most likely apply to the native names as well. The names have been entered in the index the exact way it is spelt in the book even where it is obvious what the proper french spelling should be. The only exception is in cases where the spelling on the accompanying documents, signatures, etc differ from the ledger entry, the spelling that is closest to the proper name is used. So don't just look for modern spelling when searching for leads in the index. Verbalize the sound of the names from the spelling, for example "Bodin" = Beaudin, Oger = Auger, Burdo = Bourdeau, etc. Browsing the index is the most useful way of researching a name.

The book has been donated to the Chateauguay Municipal Library where it can be accessed by researchers. The chief librarian is trying to have the book accepted by the Archives National du Quebec where it can be better conserved for the future. Meanwhile it is available for inspection (under supervision to protect the contents) at the Chateauguay Municipal Library, 15 Maple St, Chateauguay, QC.


Name Index

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©2005-7 Burton Lang Rev: 2007/01/28