III. Working in John Head's Shop: Family Ties; the Nature of His Businesses
The late aged John Warder, Esq., told me that in his younger days he never knew of more than five or six persons at most, in the whole city, who did not live on the same spot where they pursued their business, -- a convenience and benefit now so generally departed from by the general class of traders. Then wives and daughters very often served in the stores of their parents, and the retail dry good business was mostly in the hands of widows or maiden ladies.
John Warder to John Fanning Watson, prior to 182873
A. Craftsmen Becoming Merchants.
Although Head identified himself a "Joyner" at the time of death, his transactions and property development demonstrate that his commercial interests were not confined to a single trade. It was not an unusual circumstance of the period for individuals, especially Quakers, to style themselves as joiners and yet be large holders of real estate and "men of substance."80 Quakers, in particular, appeared to be attracted to the "sober virtues of the aspiring tradesman."81 Benjamin Franklin, an artisan himself, found Philadelphia's "Mechanics" to be esteemed by their fellow citizens because of the usefulness of their employment: "The People have a saying, that God Almighty is himself a Mechanic, the greatest in the Universe, and he is respected and admired more for the Variety, Ingenuity, and Utility of his Handiworks, than from Antiquity of his Family."82
It has been estimated that between 1700-1745, one out of every six Philadelphia artisans had amassed £300.83 A craftsman such as Head often acquired commercial skills in his initial trade that he could later transfer to expanding his business into other lines.84 For example, having taken in large quantities of various woods for his cabinetmaking, it is not surprising that Head's entries also show him to be a wholesaler of wood to others, including those involved in cabinetmaking, the building trades, or in the manufacture of brick and iron. The latter businesses required cords of wood as fuel for their kilns and ovens.85
As a supplier of substantial numbers of "Badstad[s]," and of the testers and curtains that went with them, Head may have found a ready introduction to the buying and selling of fabrics. Fabrics were imported in huge quantities by merchants such as James Logan and provided a frequent medium of exchange in Head's shop. The fabrics mentioned in his account book cover a wide range, from coarse to fine, and from plain to striped. They include: "Cambrik [cambric]," "Carsey [jersey?]," "Chaney [cheney]," "Coten [cotton]," "Coue Hide [cowhide]," "Crape [crepe]," "Doules [toile]," "Diper [diaper-pattern]," "Druget [drugget]," "Duroy [corduroy]," "flanel [flannel]," "Garlick [garleck]," "Leghther [leather]," "Linen," "Spakd Linen [speckled linen]," "Linzey woolsey," "muslen [muslin]," "osinbrig [osenbirk]," "Sarge [serge]," "Sholune [shalloon]," "Silk," "Stript hollon [striped Holland]," "Tape," "Twill," "Wan [?]," and "Woosted Wool [worsted wool]."86
One of John Head's sons and two of his sons-in-law were to style themselves hatters. John Head, Jr., "a short, chunky man" was "[o]riginally a hatter - and from dealing in furs he became a shipping merchant - and very wealthy."87 He advertised himself as a hatter," in Philadelphia, opposite to the Church."88 Jeremiah Warder had his own account with Head, Sr. since 1745, when he was debited for seventy-three "hat bloks."89 Benjamin Hooton had been debited by Head, Sr. for one hundred and five "hat bloks."90
Samuel Head's name appears only occasionally in his father's account book, but none of the entries show him actively engaged in his father's business.98 However, above the cover title, "John Head his Books of accounts," also appears the faint inscription "Samuel," together with some further wording, now indecipherable. It is thus possible that some of the entries in the account book may relate to business in which Samuel was involved. Samuel was a carpenter. As he was someone involved with the building trades, this may in part explain why several hundred entries throughout Head's book pertain to building supplies bought or sold by the firm.
Vast quantities of brick, stone, lime, lath, and "scantlen" [scantling], in particular, are recorded as being transacted. Both brick and stone were used as building materials for Philadelphia houses. But Kalm tells us that "the former are more commonly used, since bricks are made before the town, and are well burnt." Bricks were made from the clay pits located in the northwest side of town. Head got well over a hundred thousand "Briks" from brickmakers, such as Abram Cox and members of the Coates family. Many also came from the bricklayers working on his own properties. Indeed, most bricks credited by Head appear to be for his own needs.99
Head, perhaps through Samuel, also seems to have been heavily involved in supplying the builders of the day. On 8/1/35, John Coats was debited £0-4-6, "To scafels [scaffolds] poles and - 3 pound Rop[e]s."100 Another builder supplied by Head was fellow joiner Edmund Woolley. Woolley, the contractor for Head's house, later became master carpenter and designer of the Pennsylvania State House.101 Lime, a big seller by the "Bushel" or "pak," was sold from Head's "Siler [cellar]."102 Kalm noted that "[v]ery good lime is burnt every where hereabouts, for masonry."103 Starting in 1730, sash "lights" or "glas" were also sold by Head, perhaps an outgrowth of the many he bought for his own construction needs.104 Head also sold tools.105 Samuel Head was still on Mulberry Street (now called Arch Street) as of 1760.106
With few exceptions, no carpentry appears to have been performed by the Head shop. The £4-0-0 charged Jeremiah Warder, on 4/20/46, "To Building his stable at his paster [pasture]," may have been a special commission for a family member.107 All of the other carpentry jobs are credits, usually for work done at Head's residences or premises. None mention Samuel Head. Whatever role Samuel Head may have played in his father's business, there is documented evidence that he was employed elsewhere by 1745.108
B. Thomas Maule.
By 1742, Maule seems to have been working for his own account, as a joiner. Head's debit entries for Maule that year show the latter taking in "2 Clockcas freeses [blind fretwork]," at £0-3-0 [4/28/42]; "2 payer Buts Joynts," at £0-3-0 [6/20/42]; "a parsel of Bords and scantlen [scantling]," at £2-17-0, and "2 handles," at £0-0-10 [9/10/42]; "walnut plank sold him," at £1-6-4, and "292 foot of pine Bord", at £1-0-4 [11/10/42]; and "a parsel of Walnut", at £2-0-0 [12/19/42]. The "sold" entry is unusual, as it would have been redundant for Head to have noted that on a debit page. Maybe Head wanted to differentiate this walnut from wood previously given gratis to Maule, perhaps while he worked for Head. In 1743, Maule buys more wood from Head, "58 foot of walnut Bord," at £0-9-10 [2/21/43]. Maule may have specialized in clockcases, as he buys an additional "ClockCas frees," at £0-1-6 [4/21/43].110 As Head made his last clockcases in that year,111 Maule may have simply been buying up Head's unused stock for later resale.112 In 1744, Maule was married.113
By 1746, Maule described himself as a "Joiner in Front Street," when he sought the return of his runaway "Apprentice Boy," William Holland. He still described himself as a joiner in 1748, selling "Most sorts of joiners work," but he also advertises various hardware, tools, and even "fine salt, and chocolate." In May, 1749, while advertising furniture hardware and a "large assortment of other ironmongery ware," Maule maintained that he "follows his trade as a joiner;" moreover, he was confident that he could "furnish...the best curled walnut or mapple joiner's work that can be had." But there may have been a change in the nature of his business later that year. On July 27, 1749, he no longer described himself as a joiner at his "removed" location on Second street, near the church," but appears exclusively involved in selling hardware, as well as "sundry sorts of dry goods," and even "mens shoe and knee buckles, by the dozen." By November 1749, he was also selling a "large assortment of pewter." By 1750, Maule seems firmly engrossed in the hardware business, as his Second Street business was advertised as "at the sign of the cross cut saw." Finally, in 1756, John Head, Jr. advertised that Maule was "late of this city," and that all of his accounts were being settled. John Head, Jr.'s advertisement may indicate the persistence of a relationship between Maule and the Head family, as does Maule's previous inventorying of the effects of John Head, Sr.114
C. The End of Head's Furniture Production.
Maule appears to have been the immediate beneficiary of Head's decision. On 10/7/44, Maule became the new owner of "a Joyners Bench" from Head (perhaps Head's own), at £0-12-0. Between 1744-1747, Maule also bought from Head large quantities of "Till Loks," "handles & scuchens [escutcheons]," and "drawer loks and som Kies."119 Head's sons and sons-in-law also appear to have become more fully engaged either in other business at Head's shop or elsewhere. In 1745, Samuel Head shows up as doing carpentry work with Joseph Webb. In 1746-1747, Jeremiah Warder first appears as ordering shirts from John Head's establishment. On 7/24/48, Head also recorded selling another son-in-law, Benjamin Hooton, "2247 foot of Sader and pine Bord at Sundre times use[d] In his Shop and house," at £10-4-0; and "1422 foot of Scantlen reduced used in his shop and house at s/6 per hundred," at £4-5-0.120 Head, arguably, would not have parted with the sort of essential joiner materials and supplies he had sold to Maule and Hooton, had he further use for them.121
IV. Head's Real Property.
A. The Extent of Head's Real Estate Holdings.
According to the Cresson memoranda, the house in which John Head lived and died no longer survived as of 1874. It had stood on the North side of Arch Street [which Head consistently referred to as Mulberry Street], 40 feet East of Third Street, on a lot measuring 20 by 110 feet.123 Confirming those dimensions is Head's will. It left the property to his daughter Martha Lawrence, and further described it as "my House and Lot or piece of ground in Mulberry Street wherein I now dwell, Joyning to Mary Pounds Lott...." Martha also got Head's house and lot on Third Street, adjoining the house of carpenter Hugh Hughes, measuring 15 feet in front and going back 40 feet. At the rear, it was contiguous to the West side of his first bequest to her.124
Head's son Samuel was to be paid ground rent for those two properties by Martha. Samuel also was given the ground rent from a third property, described as a "Lott in third street which I sold some Years agoe to Joseph and John Thornhill." A fourth property and ground rent therefrom also went to Samuel, described as "half my Lot or piece of Ground in Mulberry Street joining to the House I sold to George Smith," the half measuring 17 feet in front and going back 51 feet. The other half of that lot, which adjoined Edward Warner's house, went to John Head, Jr.125
A fifth property, "my House in Mulberry Street joining to the Widow Legays," measuring 19 by 110 feet with another 20 feet of lot in back, went to daughter Rebecca Jones. (Head's will notes that he had previously sold the widow a room over the alley and a lot, and a "privilege," i.e., an easement, in the alley to get to the lot.) Another daughter, Esther Baker, got a sixth property, "my House and Lot or piece of Ground in Cherry Street," as well as "my quarter part of the Share of the pump over the way...." A seventh property, on the Frankford Road, was originally parceled out in four bequests by the will. But by a superseding codicil, it ended up all going to daughter Mary Warder, whose husband Jeremiah owned the adjacent property.126
B. Rents Paid and Received.
C. Construction at Head's Houses.
1. Earliest Construction.
The earliest construction entry is for a repair job. Bangman Rods [Benjamin Rhoades?] charged £3-6-0, on 8/1/20, "To : The Wallen up a pes [piece] of a Siler by an Irishman."129 By the next year, Head seems to have progressed from his cellar to his roof, as he was buying substantial quantities of shingles.130 Shingles of white cedar were found to rot less than other woods. Because they were so light, many built their houses of extremely thin walls. By Kalm's visit, the cedar trees were nearly all gone, as they had not been replanted. Kalm expressed concern that, as cedar shingle roofs decayed and heavier materials, such as tiles, were substituted, Philadelphia houses might have to be rebuilt.131
Edward Worner [Warner] was engaged "To measuren on[e] Tennement [dwelling]," and credited £0-4-6, on 1/3/23.132 A Mulberry Street neighbor at the time of the Head's death, Warner would later describe himself as "House-Carpenter."133
The first express reference to Head having a "Home," as well as additional houses, is on 3/8/23, when Thomas Williams charged £4-16-6, "To ye WorkmanShip of plasteren ye 2 kitchens & chambers ouer Home and ye Little Houses."134 The "2 Lod Bord [loads of board]" hauled by William Rakstraw [Rakestraw] two weeks later may have also been for this project. Rakestraw kept his board yard on Water Street, near Vine.135 More shingles were bought soon after, including from Charles Read, who had advertised "Very Good Season'd Pine boards and Cedar Shingles to be sold by Charles Read opposite to Mr. Thomas Masters at the Corner of the Front and market Streets in Philadelphia...."136
Carpenter Edmund Woolley was supposed to do the work but, by the time he showed up, the shingles were already up. Not one to permit a tardy contractor from getting the advantage of him, Head got an £8-10-0 allowance, on 12/22/23, against what he had originally agreed to pay.137 Woolley charged Head eighteen shillings a square foot for doing the work that he did do, but Head didn't credit him until Edward Warner and Joseph Cross had confirmed the extent of that work. The total came to £31-14-6 and was credited on 1/3/24.138
Work continued in high gear. That same month, party fences were erected for another Head neighbor, James Brown.139 Brickwork, lathwork and sashlights followed, priced "to the penny" by Head.140 Brisk business at Head's shop may have necessitated the provision of "2 payer Banches [benches] at ye dore."141
2. "Ye Pomp."
3. Glazier, Mathematician, and Inventor Thomas Godfrey.
Franklin, who boarded with Godfrey for a time, stated that Godfrey "lived in Part of my House with his Wife and Children, and had one Side of the Shop for his Glazier's Business, tho' he worked little, being always absorbed in his Mathematics."145 By 1740, Godfrey was advertising "to teach NAVIGATION, ASTRONOMY, and other parts of the MATHEMATICKS, at his House in Second Street."146 Godfrey was later to become celebrated as a mathematician and inventor, his natural talents being recognized and nurtured by James Logan, among others. His obituary noted his accomplishments: "...Mr. THOMAS GODFREY, who had an uncommon Genius for all kinds of Mathematical Learning, with which he was extreamly well acquainted. He invented the New Reflecting Quadrant, used in Navigation."147
4. Continued Property Development.
In 1727, carpenter Joseph Rakstraw [Rakestraw] started doing work for Head. His labor charge was £0-7-6, "By one days workan." He, too, made "166 Sash Lights." In the meantime, Thomas Rakstraw [Rakestraw] delivered "seven Lode of Ston[e]." That stone may have gone to "Worlen [walling] a Little house 24 foot at 20," for which mason Cristhofer [Christopher] Thompson charged a flat £2-0-0.149
Interior paintwork soon commenced. Charls [Charles] Hansly [Hansley] got £0-5-0, on 2/19/27, "By white washen Two romes," and £0-0-9, on 3/28/27, "By preimen a bade Cornish [priming a bedroom cornice]."150 Although lime from Philadelphia's "Pale grey fine limestone" was abundant, and much used for masonry, "better for white-washing" was the lime made near the seashore from oyster shells and brought to town in winter.151 This may have been what Hansley applied.
Exterior work also progressed. On 3/11/27, William Shute was credited £0-2-6 for hauling "2 Lode of Shingles."152 Moses Coats of the bricklaying Coatses was also on the job with a helper. His per diem was £0-2-6.153 By 8/28/27, Joseph Cross and Edward Warner were called back to confirm Woolley's work on the project. Woolley earned £30-13-0 and, for measuring, Warner £0-4-3.154
Work continued the following year. For "Glasen - 166 Sash Lights at d/11" each, Samuel Simons got £7-12-0.155 The "1 mo. 1728" was particularly busy. Thompson was back on the job with help, charging by the flat rate for the specific task of "Layen - 3 harthes & Tilen 3 Chimnes," and by the day for unspecified work. His crew included his son and an unnamed "nagro." Thompson's third method of charging was by the yard. He got six pence per yard, or £1-0-0, "By - forty yards of paven," the following month.156 That was the same price per yard that Hansley charged for "Larth Work [lathwork]," but twice as much as he got for "Brik Work."157
Several months later, another mason was engaged, James Sewer. Apparently a specialist in stone pavements, he paved "the front of our four houses" and "ye alle[y] - 8 yards."158 Sewer may have used soapstone, a stone commonly used to cope areas built of brick, including courtyards and cellar doors sloping towards the street.159 Two months later, on 7/20/28, carpenter Joseph Rakestraw was back for flooring work, which he charged out at six shilling per square foot.160
5. The Thirty-four Foot Well.
6. The Oven, the Jack, and the Spit.
7. More Plastering and Bricklaying.
From 8/3/29-4/15/30, Head was charged by John Walten for hauling brick, shingles, a load of earth, and two loads of sand. All of this material may have been in connection with the new work that Thompson had undertaken with respect to digging two "Little" houses, one 30 foot deep, the other 31 foot deep. These required more brick and stonework, on the part of Thompson, and "plasteren ye Kitchin" by Hansly.165
By 1731, Cristhofer Thompson may have had an association with Thomas Redman, as the former's account was credited for a small amount of brickwork performed by Redman that year. More brickwork and lathwork followed in 1732 by Thomas Pearse.166
8. Ship Carver Anthony Wilkinson & a "Marvel Harth."
9. "Shingeln" and Windows.
Head is very specific, however, in recording the £4-0-0 credit to John Coster, on 7/5/35, "By Shingeln my house in Mulbery Street." Coster also got £3-0-0, on 3/8/36, "By maken Shuter for - Ten Windo[w]s."170
10. More Houses.
Thomas Carrall [Carroll?] was paid for substantial amounts of plastering, lathwork and brickwork, between 3/30/37-6/5/37. Additional lathwork and plastering by him was credited on 4/16/38. 174
A week later, on 4/24/38, Head credited several loads of "Bats and Cl[i]nkers" from brickmaker James Stoops [Stoopes]. Bats were bricks with one end whole and the other broken. They may may have been used as headers or under plasterwork, as a source of economy. Clinkers, which were bricks overburned in the kiln, would have been more decorative as headers. These suggests that Head's external brickwork may have had a Flemish-bond pattern of glazed headers or something even more elaborate.175 Other, less productive, uses for bats were as missiles, such as the "brick bats" thrown through the windows of Andrew Farrell, the tanner, by "some evil minded persons."176
On 4/2/39, Joseph Thornhill got £12-0-0, "By finishen Three Squar Storys of my hous on the north sid of mulbry Street." This also gives some idea of the configuration of each floor. This was probably the house for which William Vallecot charged Head £6-0-0, on 6/9/39, "By plasteren part of my house a gree with him by ye Lump." Joseph Rakestraw made 104 sashlights, credited on 8/16/39, which may also have been used there.177
From 3/10/39-6/0/45, Thomas Badson was credited a total of £9-5-6, for hauling all manner of construction material, including shingles, "mould[ing?]," brick, stone, scantling, boards, and sand. Such diverse hauling over so long a period is difficult to apportion to a single project. In payment, Badson got 50 bushels of lime and, on 4/18/39, 144 sashlights, glazed and painted.178
Another Head property was referred to in the £8-5-9 credit to Joseph Marshall, on 12/14/39, "By Brik Laid In my house next to the Bell - 13825 [13,825 bricks]- agreed."179 The "Bell," a tavern, was one of many in Head's neighborhood. Quaker Philadelphia was known as a city of taverns. It had more per capita than either Paris or Rotterdam.180 Plastering done by Thomas Pars the following month, and brickwork and lathwork by William Vallecot and Joseph Thornhill's making of "2 windows and a dore," in the following seven months, may all have related to this property.282 There is no indication as to whether the proximity of "the Bell" impeded the work. Just three years before, it was reported that "a Plaisterer of this City drank a Gallon of what is call'd Cyder-Royal, (being three-fourths Cyder and one Quarter Apple-Spirit) in two Hours and half, upon a trifling Wager; which prov'd fatal to him, for he fell Speechless and died before Night."182
Head and his neighboring property owners "at the Northerly End" of Philadelphia became so concerned with the potential danger of having the Powder House in their midst that they petitioned the Assembly to relocate it, when sailmaker William Chancellor's daughter, Elizabeth, applied for renewal of its lease.183
11. "My hause apon Frankford rode."
In an undated entry, John Karr was credited £8-7-1, "By the Layen of Sixteen Thousand and Seven hundred and Eleven Brik at my hause apon Frankford rode as we agreed Ten Shillings pr Thousand." This must have been about the time or before Head's 4/27-6/13/40 cash payments to Karr began.186 The carpentry work was performed by Joseph Thornhill and his crew, and included stairs and flooring.187
Later credit entries pertaining to construction also appear, but lacking context, it is difficult to ascribe them to the Frankford Road house or to one of Head's urban properties. They include credits for "John Smith at noriss plantation," on 5/23/42, "By horlen one Lode of shingles;" Joseph Rakestraw, in 9/0/42, "By - 12 sashlights;" Anthony Wilkinson, on 10/4/45, for another "marvel harth;" and Thomas Pars, on 9/14/46, 5/22/48, 4/28/49, and 5/19/50, for much hundreds of yards of brickwork, lathwork, and plastering.188
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