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Lancaster Lateral Canal Company Ledger

Manuscript Collection No.45

Overview | Biography | Scope and Content | Container List


Provenance: The Lancaster Lateral Canal Company Ledger was purchased by the Ohio University Department of Archives and Special Collections on October 10, 1985. Carolyn Copper processed this ledger in October, 1985.

Property Rights: The Ohio University Library owns the property rights to this ledger.

Copyrights: The Ohio University Library claims the copyrights and/or literary rights as may apply to this ledger. Access: This ledger is open under the rules and regulations of the Ohio University Library.

Photoduplication: The Ohio University Library will entertain requests to photocopy reasonable amounts of material from the collection for the convenience of individual researchers.

Citation: Researchers are requested to cite collection name,collection number, and Ohio University Library in all footnotes and bibliographical references.

Galbreath, C. B., Ohio's Canals. The Springfield Publishing
Co.Springfield, Ohio, 1910.
Scheiber, Harry N., Ohio Canal Era: A Case Study of
Government and the Economy, 1820 - 1861. The Ohio University Press. Athens, Ohio, 1969.
Trevorrow, Frank W., Ohio's Canals, History - Description -
Biography. Frank W. Trevorrow, 1973.
Way, Frederick Jr., Way's Pocket Directory, 1848 -
1983. Ohio University Press. Athens, Ohio, 1983.
Ohio Canal Commission, "Report of the Canal Commissioners.
To the General Assembly of the State of Ohio," 1828 - 1829. (Government Documents).
Canal Commission 15th Annual Report (1839).
LancasterLateral Canal Company Minute Books, pp. 5, 15 - 17, 31 - 32 (OHS).
The Ohio State Archeological and Historical Society. History
of the Ohio Canals, Their Construction, Cost, Use, and Partial Abandonment.

John T. Brasee Papers. Ohio Historical Society Coll. 15 (See enclosed inventory.)

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In the summer of 1820, Charles Haines of New York wrote to Governor Ethan Allen Brown of Ohio on the subject of prospects for construction of an "Ohio Canal" which might be built between Lake Erie and the Ohio River. Following the nationwide financial panic of 1819 and the continued depression into 1821 and 1822, Ohio's political leaders were pessimistic that funding for such a project would be available. However,after much debate, the state's leaders became aware that an improvement in transportation such as a canal between Lake Erie and the Ohio River could boost the economy through internal trade and higher production.

Construction of the Ohio Canal was approved in February,1825. The canal routes approved for construction were a Cleveland to Columbus route, passing through towns such as Akron,Massilon, and Newark and a route from Columbus to Portsmouth passing through Circleville and Chillicothe.

During the "Transportation Movement" (1825 - 1838) the demand rose for more efficient transportation throughout the entire state, not only in the eastern and southern sections. During this period, 10 proposals were presented to the Ohio state legislature for new railroads and canal extensions. Among these was a proposal for the Hocking Valley Canal route which would run from Lancaster (Lancaster Lateral Canal) through to Logan and Athens. Athens at this time had extensive deposits of salt and coal but cheap reliable transportation for these commodities was not available.

Land for the Hocking Valley Canal route was purchased by the state of Ohio; approval for its construction passed the state legislature in 1836. The route of the canal incorporated the old Lancaster Lateral Canal (bought by the state in 1838) and a 56 mile extension southeast to Athens. Because of major changes in engineering plans, sickness among laborers, and the bankruptcy of many contractors, the line did not reach the salt and coal region near Athens until 1842. The complete 56 mile line was opened a year later.

The Lancaster Lateral Canal was therefore the predecessor of the Hocking Valley Canal; to be exact, the construction of the Lateral Canal had been proposed in 1825 when the Ohio Canal was approved. The merchants of Lancaster (in 1825) obtained a charter for a private company to construct the "Lancaster Lateral Canal" between the main canal route and their town. The town's newspaper encouraged the construction of the canal by warning the people of Lancaster that unless the canal were built, all of the town's trade would be diverted to Newark (on the main route).Lancaster's own future would then hold only "decay, ruins and desolation." However, it wasn't until 1831 that private investors, most of whom were Lancaster merchants and millers, presented sufficient funding to begin construction. With the aid of short term loans from the local Lancaster bank, the Lateral Canal was built in 1834 at a cost of $37,000.*

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The Lancaster Lateral Canal Company covers a period of 15 years, 1839 - 1854. The ledger contains 167 pages of accounts of shipments on various canal boats. The majority of shipments are from Lancaster to Cleveland and/or Lancaster to Portsmouth. No reference to Athens is made. According to ledger accounts, trading was done primarily with: Finch - Columbus,M. and G. Gilbert - Portsmouth, Faber and Weiss - Cleveland,Hubby and Hughes - Cleveland, George Kauffman and Brasse -unknown, Potts, Young & Davis - New Orleans, B. F. Conway -Portsmouth, and Samuel Campbell - Akron. Wheat was the main product being shipped to these merchants.

Entries in the ledger include: the date of shipment, the name of the master of the canal boat, the name of the canal boat, the number of bushels of wheat shipped, who the product was being shipped to, and the price per barrel of wheat that the merchant would have to pay.

The ledger contains several loose items on pages 31, 113, 153, and in the back cover. These items appear as all other journal entries do. Pages 154 through 164 contain a short list that describes the amount (of wheat) shipped, amount the merchant received, and payment received from Oct. - Dec., 1839, Jan. -Aug., 1840, and Oct. - Dec., 1840.

*The exact date of the Canal Completion is questionable. Other references post the date as Feb. 8, 1826 (a difference of 8 years).

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Box 1 - Lancaster Lateral Canal Company Ledger, 1839 - 1854. 31 X 20 cm. Ledger bound in brown marbled boards. 167 pp. Ca. 400 entries.

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