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Pennsylvania Wool Industry Ledger

Identifier: SC MS 0217

Scope and Contents

The collection material is arranged in ledger format with a number of loose pieces of paper that resemble receipts. What is interesting is the orthography of the spelling of surnames (e.g. Cambell for Campbell, Coober for Cooper, Snyter for Snyder, Wever for Weaver) and services offered by the mill – carding of the wool fleece into yarn and fulling of the woven textile, as well as selling grains and livestock. No mention is made of the process for producing worsted wool. There are several samples of handwriting indicating different clerks making the entries and also blue ink is used for some of the entries rather than just sepia colored ink. Also included in the ledger are contracts for salaries paid to workers – the men were paid more than women for generally same amount of time but description of the work being paid for is not described.


  • Creation: 1820-1863


Language of Materials

Entries are written in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Collection housed remotely. Users need to contact 24 hours in advance.

Biographical / Historical

Although producing woolen textiles on the American frontier was expensive, it was considered better than importing the woolen fabric from England. As early as 1708, 75% of woolens consumed in the northeast colonies were home- produced. Nearly every farmstead produced woven goods because colonial products avoided the tariffs on English imports. To process woolen textiles more efficiently, a mill for carding and fulling of the wool usually was established in the locality. The person attributed to producing this ledger is a Samuel Lantz (1783-1863) who married a Magdelina Martz. They are associated to Northumberland County. Mr. Lantz was also involved with Augusta Township in Northumberland County in an official capacity as possibly a township clerk administrating estates and sale of property. Lantz’s wool business was relatively unusual in this area of rural Pennsylvania. His extensive accounts attest to the frequency with which his Northumberland County neighbors used his services to card their wool and full textiles woven from the processed wool. Most of the wool and cloth accounts date 1820 to 1850. Later entries include grain sales, labor contracts, receipts for labor and agricultural produce income. Although there appears to be several handwritings, what is assumed as Lantz’s handwriting is a modified form of German cursive script and orthography (e.g. weet for wheat; woll for wool; pait for paid; carting for carding; gratet for graded; Snyter for Snyder) testify to his Pennsylvania-German cultural heritage. Although there were several Samuel Lantzes in the time frame of this ledger listed for this part of central Pennsylvania, the main entries in the ledger end in 1863 the same year listed for the death of the Samuel Lantz (1783-1863) this ledger is attributed to. The raising of sheep primarily for wool is a frontier farming activity. The advent of the Civil War changed the homestead wool industry into an urban activity. The ledger lists numerous surnames such as Fry, Martz, Miller, Snyder, Wolverton, Yohe which appear in the “Floyds’ Northumberland County Genealogy.”

Chronology [optional]
  • Roughly 1820 to 1863 entries within alphabetical arrangement. Ledger creation

Chronology [optional]

Roughly 1820 to 1863 entries within alphabetical arrangement.
Ledger creation


1 volume; 40 cm.


This early 19th century ledger displays a number of Lehigh Valley family surnames which can offer an interesting insight for local genealogy. The main entries illustrate the business of wool textiles in the extended Lehigh Valley region regarding the costs paid and the amounts of wool processed in the carding and fulling mill business as well as other agricultural products such as grains and livestock. Also interesting notations were made regarding the difference in wages paid to men and women. This ledger represents the Lantz mill in Augusta Township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.


The material is generally arranged alphabetically and chronologically except for the loose papers possibly passing as receipts.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Ledger was purchased in 2011.


No additions anticipated.

Related Materials

Achorn, Albert Hopkins. 1917. Wool Industry of the United States. Thesis. A178w. Lehigh University.

Bell, Herbert C. editor. 1891. History of Northumberland County Pennsylvania. Chicago, Il: Brown, Runk & Co. Publisher.

Floyd, J. L. 1911. Genealogical and Biographical Annals of Northumberland County.

Physical Description

1 volume; 40 cm.


Finding Aid of the Pennsylvania Wool Industry Ledger
William Ying
December 6, 2010
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA
610-758-6091 (Fax)