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Merchant William Kern General Store Daybook

Identifier: SC MS 0352

Scope and Contents

The day book/ledger is of rough, worn, stained paper with a heavier paper cover beautifully decorated with 12 colored images which seem to illustrate activities of people such as musicians, dog training, sailors at sea with mermaid, trainer of monkey with hoop, people at wall fountain, a black man carrying a basket, etc. The day book's cover has images and writing on it - front cover: "William Kern his writing Book in Towamensing Township Northampton County - Honesty guides the helm honesty ????. Eliza ????" (lots of numbers scattered over cover); the back cover has 6 images with the writing: "Towamensing Township Northampton County - to the Cave of the Bell - Everroad." The printed decoration has beneath the pattern of four rows of three vignettes each faintly printed Nurnberg ...C. Truningen, apparently this heavier paper cover was at one time in another form perhaps a page from an older manuscript. Within the pages of the daybook are additional items with William Kern's name: as election judge or estate administrator, list of sale of "the goods and chattles' of the deceased John Dreisbach 11th day of June 1832; three tallies certifying the election of Daniel Wentz (1806-1882) of Franklin Township who married Rebecca Dreisbach 1818 of Towamensing Township. In 1853 Wentz was elected school director of Franklin Township to serve 1853-1855 and later was popular in Carbon County as Justice of Peace for years near Parryville; one tattered German Schrift with another William Kern (?1751/56-1841/44) acknowledging his belief in God, Jesus and Mother Mary dated Magdeburg 1783 and three pieces of ephemera 1837-1844. Many of the pages are tattered and stained. The first page in the daybook begins with July 1827 and last page - inside of rear cover page written instructions "how to paper a room." The span of years noted in the day book ends with entries for 1844. The business dealings consist of extending credit for day work [weaving, setting up a clock, swingling flax by his wife, clothing, shoes, hiring out farm labor] or cash received or debit entries for items like butter or wood objects such as window sashes, chests, repairing wagons, sleds and tables or for the work of an apprentice. It appears that his business was cash and barter or exchange in kind. The handwriting in the daybook is not consistently of the same person throughout


  • Creation: 1827-1855


Access Restrictions

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

Use Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

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Biographical / Historical

Due to the time frame of the daybook, there is a confusion between Northampton County and Carbon County and Towamensing Township which was divided in 1768 into East Penn Township and again when Carbon County was created in 1843 out of Northampton County and Monroe County. Likewise, Franklin Township was created out of Old Towamensing Township which then became Upper and Lower Towamensing. William Kern was born in 1792 in Towamensing Township when it was in Northampton County, lived there according to tax rolls between 1843-44 and died 1856 in Carbon County's Towamensing Township. He was the son of William Jr. (1751/56-1841/46? served in Revolutionary War 1775-83 as Lieutenant) and Maria Salome (Baer) Kern. He had brothers: Peter, George, Michael. He married Elizabeth Dreisbach (1799-1868) in 1815, Parryville, Carbon County. She was a daughter of Yost Dreisbach (1764-1854) and Margaretha Solt Dreisbach who lived in Big Creek, Northampton County. Mrs. Kern did sewing for her husband's clients. From the entries in the daybook it can be determined that Kern was an entrepreneur not only doing carpentry work making tables, coffins, bedsteads, benches, sinks, sleds, clock cases, rifle lock, sideboards, etc but also hauled wood, hay, farming, building houses, repairing items such as a wash machines, tables, did day work for others farming, sowing, reaping, threshing, work at a forge, cidar mill, cutting wood, and became in 1843, 1852 Carbon County Commissioner, judge of elections in the 1850s along with H. Horn and Jonas Bowman as inspectors in the election of Daniel Wentz (1806-1882) who married Rebecca Dreisbach (1828 in Towamensing Township). Daniel Wentz in 1853 became a school director and was popular as a Justice of Peace around Parryville, Carbon County. In 1832 William Kern was the administrator to settle the estate of John Dreisbach (1792/97-1832) who was married to Elisabeth Blose/Bloss, and was his brother-in-law and client, likewise, in 1846 he was administrator of his nephew's estate, Thomas Arner (1814-1846 married to Celina Kerchner). Thomas Arner is listed among William Kern's entries as paying for John Arner's coffin, in 1833 working for a mason, in 1836 worked for Smith & Richards, wood millers. One can see the interconnection between the Arner, Kern and Wentz men were all related by marriage to Dreisbach women. Kern was literate and could write in English and German but his spelling is questionable. He understood the concept of Debit and Credit but did not know much about accounting practice. He dealt in cash as well as barter and exchange in kind. Based on the entries in his Daybook, Mr. Kern apparently employed Thomas Arner and several others for day work. As there is a repeat of the same names from generation to generation it is difficult to discern just which family member is involved because many overlap generations.


1 Linear Feet (1 Volume in box)

Language of Materials



A 19th-century merchant's general store daybook featuring the pattern of commerce in the years 1827-1844 for an entrepreneur who was a carpenter, blacksmith, tradesman also became a judge of elections. Many names of customers in the ledger are family names that are still prominent in the Carbon and Northampton Counties of Pennsylvania.


A loose chronological arrangement of year, month, day.

Acquisition Information

Purchase, May 18, 2018.

Related Materials

SC MS 0351 Thomas Arner Estate, 1841-1846. SC MS 0205 Vermont General Store Daybook


Kern, Tilden. "Kern Family History." 1956, 1960.

Kern, William. Kerns Genealogy/ by William Kern, March 2007.

Roberts, Charles Rhoads; Stoudt, John Baer; Krick, Thomas H.; Dietrich, William J. "History of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania." Lehigh Valley Publishing Co., 1914, p. 18 [Arner Family], p. 640 [Kern Family], in Beyond Steel.

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. "Report on the Finances of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the year 1843 made to the Governor [David R. Porter] by the Auditor General [William F. Packer]."

Wentz, Richard W. "Descendants of Johann Jost Wentz." Brooklyn, New York, Binghamton Daily Republican 1884 [p. 75 Daniel Wentz]

Mathews, Alfred and Hungerford, Austin N. 1884. "History of the Counties of Lehigh and Carbon, Pennsylvania." Philadelphia: Everts & Richards.

Personal and Family Names Mentioned

Kern, William (1792-1856, Kern, Elizabeth (Dreisbach) (1799-1868), Kern, John (came to William Kern to learn carpentry, possibly a nephew), Kern, Joseph (worked for William Kern), Wentz, Daniel (1806-1882), Dreisbach, Daniel (1796-1881), Dreisbach Kern, Elisabeth (1799-1868), Dreisbach, Jost (Yost) (1764-1854), Dreisbach, John (1797/92?-1832/50?), Andres, Jacob, Anthony Jr, John (forgeman), Anthony, Nathan, Antony, James, Arner, Jacob (father of Daniel, Jonas & Thomas Arner), Arner, Anna Maria (Dreisbach) (1791-1863) (mother of Daniel, Jonas & Thomas Arner), Arner, Daniel, Arner, Jonas, Arner, Robert, Arner, Salinda (b. March 20, 1825 to stay with Kerns until she is 18, possibly a sister of Thomas Arner) -- Arner, Salinda Kerchner (Mrs. Thomas Arner) -- Arner, Thomas (1814-1846) Balliert/Balliet?, Stephen Bauman, Henry D. Bauman, Peter Bean, Daniel Bean, Elixander?/Alexander Bean, Ellie Bean, Joseph Beer, Captain George Beer, Jacob Beltz, Caty (Catherine?) Beltz, Nicholas Berlean, Abraham Beyer, David Belferd/Belford?, Charles Bittenbender, William Blohs, Caty [widow] Blohs, Daniel Blohs, Nicholas Bloss, Daniel Bloss Dreisbach, Elisabeth Bloss, Peter Bock, George Bortlemay, Christian Bower, Gotleap?(Gottlieb?) Bowman, Jonas Bowman, John D. Bowman Jr., John Brink, widow Brobst, Frantz/Frans Brotzman, Abraham Brown, Charles Brown, John Brown, Peter Buchman, Frederic Bush, George Christman, Charles Conner, Richart Correll, John Craig, Thomas Cutz, Charles Derhammer, George Deterline/Diterline, William Dick, James Dinkey, Charles Eastman, Daniel Ely, Alexander George, Jonas Gilham, Asbury Glose/Glase?, John Greenswige, Tobias Gumpert, Samuel Hagenbuch, John Hahn, John Hand, Henry Hantz, Daniel Harleman, Abraham Harleman, John Hartman, Abraham Hartman, Daniel Hartman, Elesabeth/Elizabeth? Haugenbuch, Ruben Heimbach, John (owned with David Heimbach - Maria Iron Works) Heimbach, Sally [widow] Heller, David (tanner, Carbon County. Grandfather came from German 1770 and was a tanner)) Hendrick, James Herman, John (schoolmaster) Hester, Laurence Horn, Christian Horn, H/W? Horn/ven Horn, Lewis Hunter, John R. Jinkens, Capt. Keaner, John Keberling, Daniel Keiner, Daniel Keiper, John Kelchner, Susan Kemry, Theadore(Theodore) Kerchner, Benjamin Kerchner, Jacob Kibler, Henry Kiener, John Kleintop, Lewis Kline, George Koch, Henry Krum, John Krum, Lidy Krum, Thomas Kuntz, Jacob Lattermore, Samuel Lentz, John Lichtewatten/Lichtenwalter?, John Lilly, William Long, Christian Lucas/Luckas, Abraham McDaniel, Robert McGee, Moses Merckley/Marckley/Mickley?, Jonah Mickley, William Metz, John Miller, David Minder, Frederich Minner, Levi Minnich, Christian Minnich, Henry Moyer, Elisabeth Moyer, George Moyer, Isaac Moyer, John Moyer, Peter Muffly, John Mussleman/Musselman, Peter Nemsy, Mr. Nonnemacher/Nonnemaker/Nunnemacher, Samuel Olewine/Ohlwine, George Olewine, Michal Peter, Casper Peter, Henry Reichart, Joseph Reiner, John Remely, Henry (supervisor of roads and bridges) Remely, Michal Ritter, Daniel Roth, Jost Ruchsty, Frederic Sand, Daniel Sander, David Schnyder (Schneider), Frederic Schnell,John Schnell, William Schwab, John Seibengooth, John Seiple, Samuel Shackler, Jacob Shafer, David H. Shafer Jr, David Shall(?), Leah Shearer, Henry Shnyder, Thomas Shut, John Sigengood, John Sicher, Philip Sigfried, Andrew Smith, Abraham Snyder, Sally Snyder, Steven/Stephen Solt, Daniel Solt, Jacob Solt, John J. Solt, Paul Solt, Widow Susan Sower, Michal Stine, John Stetler, Charles Stem/Stern, Peter Straub/Stroub?, Theobald Stroub, David Strohl, John Strohl, Nicholas Strohl, Peter Swab, Jacob Swab, Rebecca Swarthwood, Peter Swartz, Vendle(Wendell?) Trebee/Treby, Christian Twining, Jonathan Vertz(Wertz?), Peter Wagner Jr, George Walb, John Walk, Daniel Walk, George Walk, William Walls, John Weiss, Antony S. Weiss, Francis Weiss, Thomas Werstler, George Williams, Charles Wingert, Joseph Zegenfuss, Jacob Zerby

Corporate Names and Businesses Mentioned

David Heimbach & Son Stem & Heimbach Boat Company [Peter Stem/Stern Heinbach Boatpartnership] Daniel Stemler & Jacob Kuntz Co. (sawmill) John R. Hunter & Miller Co. (grinders/gristmill?) Smith & Richards Co. (wood/sawmill - Thomas Arner worked 1836) Beaver Meadows & Parryville Co. Beaver Meadows Railroad Co. Steven Balli(a)rt & Helfrich

Merchant William Kern General Store Daybook
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Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
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