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Bright Hope Furnace Ledger (1835-1836)

Furnace Creek, Greene County, Tennnessee


~ researched, transcribed, and provided by ~
A. Claude Ferguson

[This is a WIP - works in progress - being edited and coded into html by Sandra N. Ratledge for Tennessee Ties website only. Do not attach to family trees or copy and upload on any other websites. The entire transcription project was given to me by Claude Ferguson, for which I am deeply appreciative. Claude's transcription is painstakingly meticulous, indicative of a devoted researcher. He relates to my husband, Stephen Ratledge, through the Clowers family mentioned in this ledger. Links to the various pages will be provided at the bottom of the index page.]

The Bright Hope Iron Furnace was located on Furnace Branch in western Greene County, TN. The Bright Hope Ledger is the daily ledger of the company store at the furnace for part of the years of 1835 and 1836. The spine of the volume bears the name: Brown, Roberts & Co. 1835. The original Bright Hope Ledger is in the Rare Book Collection of Tusculum College, Greeneville, TN. The Bright Hope Ledger is hardbound, and it is 10 1/4 by 16 3/4-inches and 3-inches thick. It originally consisted of about 319 pages of recorded transactions for the period 26 January 1835 through 25 July 1836. Each page is numbered and bears the name Bright Hope with day of the week, date, month and year.

There was apparently a double entry system of bookkeeping at the Bright Hope Furnace consisting of a daily ledger and an individual account ledger. Each person has an account number that was probably the number of their page in an individual account ledger. Line entries were recorded in both British Shillings and Pence and United States Dollars and Cents. This suggests the monetary system was still in a state of transition some 60-years after the Declaration of Independence and 20-years after the War of 1812. Line and page totals were all recorded in dollars and cents, however.

Several pages have been removed from the ledger. The 243 pages remaining are numbered 1 and 2, 23 and 24, 77 - 118, and 123 - 319. There are two pages in the back of the ledger containing unrelated data. One lists the names and births of the Andrew R. Kiecher family entered after 1893 and the other contains the name J.P. Shields with an 1881 date.

Bright Hope Furnace was located in western Greene County, TN. A Historical Marker at the junction of U.S. Highway 321 and the county road to the Bright Hope area states (1988):

"Bright Hope Industries - North about one mi. on Furnace Creek was the Bright Hope Iron Works, built about 1830. Mining and smelting of iron ore and manufacturing of cast and wrought iron products were joined by a paper mill, pottery works, and several other establishments in an early industrial complex. The industries are believed to have failed as a result of the Panic of 1837, but their operations are still recalled in the place names of nereby Furnace Creek and Ore Bank."

Harry B. Roberts, in his Olden Times in Greene County, Vol. Two, private publication 1985, reports a Special Act of the Tennessee Legislature of 25 October 1813, incorporating an Iron Factory Company by owners named Easterly, Shields, Stephens and Gregg from Greene & Cocke County. These are family names of long standing in the area. Roberts reported that a forge was established on the Nolichucky River by John G. Brown just before or about 1830 and that John G. Brown owned the forge in the 1840's.

The Iron Manufacturer's Guide to the Furnaces, Forges and Rolling Mills in the United States by J.P. Lesley, John Wiley, 1859, lists the furnaces and forges of 1856. Under Charcoal Furnaces in East Tennessee is (page 75):

"271. Bright Hope Charcoal Furnace, originally owned by John Shields, is situated about eighteen miles west of Cleek's Forge in Greene County, Tennessee, was built about 1807, and ruined by a flood previous to 1837. A cupola furnace still in use marks the spot."

Under Bloomary Forges in Eastern Tennessee is (page 201):

"376. Brown's Bloomary Forge, situated twenty-one miles west of Click's Forge on Nolichucky river, Greene county East Tennessee, was built about 1827 and abandoned soon afterwards and is now in ruins." Lesley stated as follows about the facilities using brown hematite ores in his report of 1856:

"Greene County furnace H 271 (Bright Hope) is abandoned, but Click's, Alexander's, Mountain, Camp Creek, Snapp's and Paint Creek forges all use Cove Creek bank and Greenridge bank ores - - -. Kelly's, Allens's, Canada's, and Brown's forges are deserted."

Lesley's is the only report that Bright Hope Furnace was "ruined by a flood previous to 1837. - - -". The site on Furnace Branch does not seem flood prone. Perhaps this was the fate of the nearby Brown's Forge on the Nolichucky River.

The following from the records of the Greene County Court of Pleas give an insight into other activities in the Bright Hope Community of Greene County, Tennessee during the period of the ledger:

"Tuesday 6 June 1836 - - -
10. William P. Johnson is appointed Overseer of the public road in said County from Henry Dyches to Rhinehart's field and the following hands are appointed to work on Said road, to wit. Jesse Bowls, Daniel Hardbarger, Benjamin Radledge, Asberry Radledge, Thomas Radledge, John Henegar, Benton Henegar, Jacob Clowers, William Clowers, James Clowers, and James Shaw.

Court adjourned until Court in Course
M. Lincoln James Lotspeich Charles Gass James Robinson John Walker Jacob ? Brooks Casper Easterly Daniel Delany" Bk. 17a page 118
The names of John and Benton Henegar were lined through in the Record.

"Monday 6 June 1836 - - -
4. William Johnson, Overseer from Bright Hope Furnace to Peter Browns, and John Walker & Henry Dyche, Esq. are appointed to assign a list of hands to work under him.

5. John Bowls, Overseer from Bright Hope Furnace the fork of the road near Henry Dyche's, on the road leading to Warrensburg and John Walker and Henry Dyche, Esqr. are appointed to assign a list of hands to work on said road." Bk 17a page 120

"Monday 4 July 1836 - - -
8. John Bowls Overseer from Bright Hope Furnace to Brown's forge and ordered that John Walker and Henry Dyche, Esqr. assign a list of hands to work on said road and report to 3d Term of this Court.

9. Isaac Thompkins Overseer from Peter Brown's to Neilson's Ferry and ordered that John Walker and Henry Dyche, Esqr. assign a list of hands to work on said road and report thereof to 3rd Term of this Court.- - -" Bk 17a page 130

"Monday 2 Jan 1837 - - -
3. Andrew Smith Overseer from Henry Dyche's by Jacob Rhinehart's to Bright Hope Furnace and ordered that he have the following hands to work thereon to wit. William Clowers, Jacob Clowers, John Dyche, James Bracket, Timothy Pitman and Jesse Bowls and in case of the removal of any of the above hands, said Overseer is to have the liberty of making up the number from the furnace hands." Bk 17a page 181

This indicates there might have been some workers at the Bright Hope Furnace who were referred to as "furnace hands."

"State of Tennessee
The County Court continued and held for the County of Greene at the Court House in Greeneville on the first Monday (being the 3 C day) of July, 1837, were present the worshipful Charles Gass, Thomas Jones, Daniel Delaney, Mordecai Lincoln, Joseph Brown, Joseph Johnson and Casper Easterly, Esqs, Justices CC

The following persons are appointed Overseers of the following public roads in Greene County, to wit. - - -
5. Samuel Stinson, Overseer from Bright Hope Furnace to Brown's forge and ordered that he have the following hands to work thereon, viz. Samuel Stinson, William Stinson, Isaac Johnson, Jesse Boles, Jacob Boles, Joseph Hughes, William Saul, Claiborn Boyd, John Lutrell, William Johnson, A. Smyth, Sol. Steel, Joseph Rose, John Whittenburg, David Boles, George Boles and Daniel Boles - - -" Bk 17a pages 317 and 319

It is interesting to note here the spelling of Bowls in the 1836 actions and Boles in the 1837 court action.

Mordecai Lincoln was a member of the County Court that appointed members of the community road crew in 1837. Mordecai was the great uncle of President Abraham Lincoln. His brother Abraham was President Lincoln's grandfather. Mordecai had moved into Greeneville about 1819 after a visit to his other uncle Isaac in nearby Carter County, TN, from his home in Virginia. Mordecai was a tanner, harness maker, and shoemaker.

It seems probable that some of the Bright Hope iron works continued in operation after the panic of 1837. Several were recorded as working in the industries in the Censuses of 1840 and later. Daniel Boles was recorded as a foundry hand there in the census of 1870. They may have been working in the cupola furnace that was reported still in use at the site by Lesley in his 1856 report. Several of the Boles-Hogan-Ferguson family members who moved to Missouri cited Bright Hope Furnace as their place of origin in their biographies in A Reminiscent History of the Ozark Region, Goodspeed & Co., Chicago, 1894, as if some of the iron industry was still operational when they left the area in 1871.

Place names on the USGS Topographic Map of the 1930's of the area include Bright Hope, Bright Hope School, Furnace Branch, Ore Bank School, Hogan Pond, Whittenburg Church, Pine Grove Church, Timber Ridge Church, Luttrell Spring, Cochran Bend, and Evans Island on the Nolichucky River. The current County Road Map (1991) identifies roads serving the area as Bright Hope Rd., Hogan Rd., Orebank Rd., and Whittenburg Rd.

Real estate transactions of the Boles and their kin of the 1830's to 1870's were in the very near vicinity of the Bright Hope works. A brief examination of the area in October 1988 and April 1989 indicated the road from the works to Brown's Forge and to the boat landing below the treacherous waters of Evans Island for shipment to Knoxville via the Nolichucky and French Broad Rivers went by or through the Hogan and Boles farms. Some of the old route is now closed.

Some place names in the Bright Hope Ledger with page number are as follows:

Greeneville 287, Col. Neilsons 299, Knoxville 95 & 270, Embries 264, Parrotsville 312, English's (?) 306, Ross's Landing 294, hendersons 23, Whites Creek, Peter Davis's 312, to the south 286, Wists 230, Brighthope Furnace & Cupola 299, Emerye's Boat 86, Coaling Ground 100, at Boat 295, Furnace 89, Bent of River 160, Ore bank 251, bent River 169, Pot House 245, Boating 305, Whittenburgs Mill 90, on the River 287, Mouth of River 306.

The nature of the transactions provides a brief window into individual and community life of 1835-36. We see the prices for food and clothing for the time in comparison with earnings. Clothing materials and supplies were frequent entries and include muslin, lace, silk, shirting, Irish, flax and toe linen, calico, cotton flannel, bed ticking, broad cloth, jain (jean), linsy, needles, thimbles, thread, ribbon, yarn, knitting pins, indigo, patterns, and buttons. Medicines named are castor oil, Godfry's cordial, Bateman's drots, camphor, paregoric, and opedeldock.

The community was quite literate. Books included the Bible, hymnals, spelling books, almanac, Hail's United States History, and Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan. Some customers bought paper by the quire (24 sheets) at frequent intervals. Some paid for "schooling" for their children. They bought trumpets and Jews' harps for music. The men folks liked their cider in season and whiskey when it was available. They bought flintlock rifles, flints, and powder, especially in the winter hunting season.

How one would like to see the coat that future-President Andrew Johnson made for David Boles (May 29, 1835 entry), the coat he made for John Luttrell (September 9, 1839 entry), the fine shoes of John Luttrell and fine hats of Jessee and Mrs. Boles for July 4, 1835 and the fur hat that Betsy Boles bought for her son David on December 19, 1835! One would also like to have the three Jews' harps that Betsy bought for David on August 22, 1835. How one would like to have the "rifle gun and pouch" that Jessee Bowles purchased for $14.00 on 6 July 1835!

A contrast in lifestyles is evident between the bachelor John Luttrell and the single mother Sarah "Sally" Ann BOLES Hogan with her four young children and the widow Elizabeth "Betsy" CLOWERS Boles and her remaining minor children. John Luttrell purchased vanity clothing and shoes (with taps), tobacco and whiskey while Betsy CLOWERS Boles purchased sewing supplies and material, clothing, and food. Betsy rented out her minor children (David and Daniel) to work for others as was the practice in those days. Sally Ann BOLES Hogan did sewing and washing for others (December 18, 1835 and April 21, 1836).

The transactions name many items manufactured at Bright Hope. Iron products were pig iron, Franklin stoves, Carolina ovens, skillets, fish pans, kettles, pots, flat irons, grid irons, horseshoes, plows, sets of iron for wagon boxes, fan wheels, cranks, bark mills, water mill parts, mandrels, corn shellers, hinges, nails, and screws. The operation required much charcoal which was produced by resident colliers from locally cut cordwood. There is quite a listing of lumber products in the entry for Andrew Smyth and William Reece of June 24, 1836. The entries for May through July of 1836 indicate a major change in ownership or operation was underway. Some of the buildings and machinery are identified in the transactions.

Ledger entries have been transcribed in an effort to maintain the spelling and form of the original. Spelling has been retained in this transcription as recorded in the ledger as much as possible. Some spelling of names and items differ according to the scribe making the entry and the variances have been retained in most instances. Several entries have not been interpreted and they are identified with a (?) symbol. Errors exist and perhaps they can now be identified and corrected.

Some symbols differ due to keyboard limitations. They are as follows:

1. ? is used as the symbol for a shilling, a British monetary unit. Thus, 1 shilling = $.16; 2 shilling = $.33; 3 shilling = $.50; 6 shilling = $1.00; 7 shilling = $1.25; and 9 shilling = $1.50.
2. a as a superscript is used in the ledger as the symbol for a pence, another British monetary unit: Thus, 1 pence = $.01375; 4 pence = $.06; 6 pence = $.08; 9 pence = $.12, etc.
3. ~ is used for the weight of 1-pound in the ledger. # is used in the transcription.
4. B and B. are used in the ledger for bushel.
5. ?s for a double-s was often used in the ledger in such as Je?see for Jessee; Mane?s for Maness; Rufsell for Russell; a?sum.d for assumed; and Brafs for Brass. The modern double-s is used in the transcription.
6. "do" is used in the ledger as the ditto mark would be used to indicate repeat of part of the previous entry.

This site is dedicated to the memory of my mother Beulah Cline Nipper, a beautiful product of the Knobs.

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