During Andover at Work in the 1820s, the Andover Historical Society’s annual 3rd grade school program, students visit the Kidder & Swift General Store. This store, once located in downtown Andover, was owned by Dr. Nathaniel Swift and his partner Francis Kidder. As students are introduced to life in the 1820s they visit several stations including the farm to gather eggs that they use to trade with the store owner.
In the store children learn about cash and credit as it was in the 1820s. In the 1700s, most people lived on farms and produced what they needed including food, clothing, and housewares. When a family member needed to purchase something, they usually bought it on credit, trading goods or services. Store owners would record transactions in ledgers or account books. The system of credit and exchange was reliable for those who knew the store owner and were trustworthy to pay their debts. Not enough coins were minted throughout the country at the time, so trading was a common practice.
As commerce and manufacturing expanded the use of paper money increased. Credit and exchange was less reliable in certain situations, for instance if a stranger or newcomer came to the store looking for credit. Banks were opening throughout the country, including the Andover Bank in 1826. A group of business men including Dr. Nathaniel Swift and Amos Blanchard (owner of the Blanchard House at 97 Main Street) gathered pledges from community members to purchase stock in the bank. When enough stock had been purchased, the group submitted a petition to the state legislature. Once approved by the legislature and signed by the governor, the group of stockholders could determine the by-laws of the bank. Dr. Nathaniel Swift was chosen as Director of the bank and Amos Blanchard the cashier.
The bank printed paper notes, like the one seen in this blog. It was a basically a promise by the bank to pay the holder of a note in gold or silver specie or hard coin.
During Andover at Work in the 1820s, students bring eggs to the store to trade, for a peppermint candy after signing their name with a quill pen in the store account book. They also take home a copy of a $3 bank note from the Andover bank.
Andover at Work in the 1820s is one of the many programs available at the Andover Historical Society that looks into Andover’s history using artifacts and stories of those who lived here. To learn more about Andover at Work in the 1820s or any other programs, call 978-475-2236.