1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

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 Jonathan Hopkins Records

 Textile manufacturer and merchant, of West Greenwich, R.I.

 Records, 1814-1826

 Size: 0.5 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 1090

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, February 2002

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Jonathan Hopkins (1784-1848) was born in West Greenwich, R.I., the son of Samuel and Phebe Hopkins. He married Diadama (1784-1839) and had at least five children: Olney Hopkins (1803-1834), Caty Whitman (1805-a1848), Sessions Hopkins (1810-1866), Luther Hopkins (1813-died young?) and Fanny Brown (1815-1888?).

            Jonathan may have operated a general store in Sturbridge, Massachusetts in 1814 and 1815, although he paid tax on land in West Greenwich in 1815. However, he returned to West Greenwich to operate a general store there in 1820. He was taxed in West Greenwich for a factory from 1822 to 1826. His will was recorded and probated in West Greenwich in 1848.


Arnold, James N. Vital Record of Rhode Island, 1636-1850: West Greenwich, 77. Providence, R.I.: Narragansett Historical Publishing Co., 1891.

Direct Tax Records, Kent and Washington Counties, 1815, in the Manuscripts Division of the Rhode Island Historical Society

Rhode Island Cemetery Database

Rhode Island Genealogical Register 5:1 (July 1982), 70 (will abstract)

West Greenwich Records Collection, Manuscripts Division, Rhode Island Historical Society

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Scope and content:

            This collection consists of five account books, and three related receipts found inserted within. All relate for the most part to a general store operated in West Greenwich in 1820 and 1821. Portions of four volumes are kept in a distinctive handwriting that suggests the outside fringe of literacy. A signature in volume 3 seems to connect this handwriting with Jonathan Hopkins. Other portions are written in a much neater hand, possibly by Hopkins' oldest son Olney Hopkins, who was 17 years old at the time and whose name appears on one of the receipts. In particular, Volume 2 is nearly incomprehensible, but the accounts are all summarized in another hand and carried over to the much neater Volume 3. Somebody apparently helped Hopkins get his books in order.

            The store was apparently connected with a textile mill. Many of the store's ledger accounts were paid off with cloth or mill work rather than with cash. For instance, on page 21 of volume 3, Stukely Matteson begins his account with a debt of $1.82, which "includes all the labor in the mill up to date." He is credited with $7.30 for weaving 243 1/2 yards of plaid, charged $8.00 for rent, charged for rum, eggs and finished yarn, and credited for "19 1/2 days work in mill." In the back of the book is a crudely written memorandum tallying the days worked by the children of John Nickels and Thomas Whitman in 1824.

            The initial pages of volume 1 are the records of a general store in Sturbridge, Massachusetts from 1814 and 1815. The handwriting is distinct from that of the later volumes, but several of the daybook accounts do have "Jon. Hopkins" written in the margins.

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            These five volumes were all apparently donated as part of the "Albert C. and Richard W. Greene Collection" which were donated before 1948. Four were found among an unprocessed portion of that collection, all bearing the same "K-GR" book tags that are consistent with the remainder of that collection. Volume 5 was found miscataloged among the related Stephen Arnold Papers (MSS 75), which also arrived with the Greene Papers. Albert C. Greene handled several legal cases for Hopkins in the 1820s, and Richard W. Greene handled one in 1830. Either one of them might have come into possession of these records in the course of a trial, or perhaps later as an executor of Hopkins' estate.

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Processing note:

            These records were not fully identified until 2002. Volume 1 was found in 1995 among unidentified and uncataloged account books, and was cataloged as a Jonathan Hopkins account book at that time. Volumes 2 and 3 were found in 2001 among the miscellaneous portion of the Greene Family Papers and cataloged at that time as Olney Hopkins account books. In 2002, the three volumes were found to be a cohesive set of books, and were brought together as one collection.

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Volume 1.

            Front part of book includes:

            "Mill estate" store accounts at Sturbridge [Mass.?], 1814-1815, 9 pages (unknown hand)

            Waste book, Sturbridge, 1815-1816, 6 pages (unknown hand)

            Ledger, Sturbridge, 1815-1816, 14 pages (unknown hand)

            Waste book, May-September 1820, West Greenwich, 36 pages (unknown hand)

            Waste book, May-August 1821. 14 pages, dated West Greenwich (in different hand)

            Ledger, 1821-1824. 36 pages, in the nearly illiterate hand of Jonathan Hopkins.

            Back part of book includes:

            Ledger entry signed by Jonathan Hopkins, 1823. 2 pages.

            Blank ledger accounts. 38 pages.

            43 blank pages.

            Miscellaneous accounts in the hand of Jonathan Hopkins, 1819-1825. 8 pages.

            "Account of filling spun on the mule by Benjamin Barber," 1821. 1 page.

Volume 2 (in box).

Ledger accounts and memoranda, 1820-1821. Mostly in the distinctive hand of Jonathan Hopkins. Some acounts re-posted to "Ledger A." (volume 3 of this collection)

Volume 3 (in box).

            In front of book:

"Ledger A," 1820-1821. First accounts posted May 23 1821. Some entries match with the May-September 1821 journal entries in volume 1, which are in the same hand. Some additions in Jonathan Hopkins' hand. 40 pages, indexed.

            In rear of book:

            Miscellaneous accounts, 1824-1826 and undated (in various hands). 12 pages.

Volume 4 (in box)

            In front of book:

Accounts with weavers, July 1820 - August 1821. In table format. For each of many dozens of weavers is given the date they were issued supplies, their name, "no. of yarn," "lb. put out," "skeins of warp," lb. returned," "yds returned," and "kind of cloth." Cloth types include plaid, shirting, stripes, checks, and bed tick. In unknown hand and later by Jonathan Hopkins. 16 pages.


In rear of book:

            Undated memoranda. 4 pages.

Volume 5 (in box)

Ledger accounts, 1820-1825. 30 pages. Several accounts re-posted to Ledger A (volume 3 of this collection). The handwriting matches some of the writing in the other volumes, although Jonathan Hopkins apparently did not contribute. Most of the accounts are undated, but apparently date from 1820 and 1821. One account, on the front page, was settled in 1825. The notation "West Greenwich" is written on the back page.

Folder 1 (in box).

            Loose receipts:

            Receipt for bale of cotton delivered to Jonathan Hopkins, 6/26/1824 (from vol. 1)

            Order for warp and filling from Nathan Cane to Olney Hopkins, 9/1/1826 (from vol. 3)

            "Delivered to Nathan Cane Yarn", undated (from vol. 3)

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Children - Employment - Rhode Island - West Greenwich

Company stores - Rhode Island - West Greenwich

General stores - Rhode Island - West Greenwich

Hopkins, Olney, 1803-1834

Nichols, John

Sturbridge, Mass. - Commerce

Textile industry - Rhode Island - West Greenwich

West Greenwich, R.I. - Commerce

Whitman, Thomas

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