Manuscript Group 309, David Alling (1773-1855), Chair maker Records, 1801-1857

Archives Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs

Manuscript Group 309, David Alling (1773-1855), Chair maker

Records, 1801-1857, 1.0 linear feet / 12 volumes
Call Number: MG 309 + Box and folder number



Daybooks, account books, and receipts books; papers relating to Alling’s estate. In his shop on Broad Street in Newark, New Jersey, Alling manufactured chairs for sale locally and for shipment through the port of New York to the southern United States and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Biographical Note:

David Alling, the son of Mary Clisbie (1749-1792) and Isaac Alling (1749-1819) was born on September 17, 1773. Like his father, he became a chair maker in Newark, New Jersey and set up home and shop at 345-347 Broad Street. He established a reputation as a “fancy” chair maker and ran a successful business, shipping his product to southern markets as far as Buenos Aires, Argentina and eventually hiring large numbers of craftsmen to work in his factory.

On April 2, 1802 David Alling married Nancy Ball (1779-1815). Nancy and David had three children together, Mary C. (1805-1878), Stephen B. (1808-1861), and Isaac A. (1814-1890), before Nancy’s death in 1815. David Alling married a second time, on November 25, 1817, to Eunice Roberts (1787-1864), with whom he had three more children: Joseph C. (1819-1895), David W. (1820-1883), and Horace (b. 1822). He died on February 25, 1855.


Allen, George P. A History and Genealogical Record of the Alling-Allens of New Haven, Connecticut: The Descendants of Roger Alling, First, and John Alling, Sen., From 1630 to the Present Time (Press of Price, Lee & Adkins Co.: New Haven, CT, 1899), pg. 63.

Van Hoesen, Walter Hamilton. Crafts and Craftsmen of New Jersey (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Associated University Presses, Inc., 1943), pg. 95.

White, Margaret E. The Decorative Arts of Early New Jersey (D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., Princeton, NJ, 1964), pgs. 118-120.

Provenance Note:

The source of the record books is unknown. The apprentice account book was donated at a later time than the other four volumes in the collection.

Scope and Content Note:

The records consist of account books, daybooks, and record books from David Alling’s chair making business and estate. The collection dates from 1801-1857, consists of twelve volumes, and measures approximately 1.0 linear feet.

The records include five account books, the first of which contains most of the daily account records from Alling’s business. This volume dates from 1803-1851 and lists date, job, and price in each customer’s account. Most jobs involve the making, matting, molding, painting, or varnishing of stools, chairs, and rocking chairs.

The remaining account books in the collection were used for particular purposes or customers, such as the book solely for the account of Moses Lyon, and another containing mostly accounts with Alling’s sons. The final two volumes track southern shipments and employee’s work hours. The former of these contains accounts documenting chairs shipped, on what vessels they traveled, and their destination. Alling’s southern customers included such firms as Meeker & Clark, Robert Stewart, Lyons & Merchant, J. W. Meeker & Co., Elias B. Crane, and O. J. Hayes & Co. He shipped to such places as Savannah, Georgia; Norfolk, Virginia; Mobile, Alabama; and Buenos Aires, Argentina. The final volume is labeled “Book for keeping account of Apprentices work” and contains accounts listing the rate at which each worker is paid (i.e. “13.00 per week”), the days and weeks he worked, and how much he is owed.

The collection also contains two daybooks, dating from 1826-1854. These volumes document Alling’s daily business through chronological entries consisting of customer name, job, and price. There are also three receipt books dating from 1803-1856 documenting money received from Alling for bills, purchases, or notes; and a record book containing a small number of accounts, records of “bills not settled,” and business orders. These records are from various time periods and are not extensive.

The final volume contains financial records from David Alling’s estate, including a complete inventory of Alling’s “moveable property…finished & unfinished chairs & chair stuff & tools in shop & lumber & flagg, etc, etc.”

Related Collections:

Manuscript Group 435, Alling Brothers & Company Records

Manuscript Group 482, Alling-Campfield Family (Newark, NJ) Papers

Painting, Artist Unknown. “House and Shop of David Alling,” Oil on canvas, ca. 1830s, Gift of Mrs. Clarence Willis Alling, Call number (museum collections): 1928.5

See other chair maker records.

Item List:




Account book (indexed) 1803-1851 1 (os)
Account book Moses Lyon / Cash book 1815-1818 / 1855-1857 2 1
Account book Shipping accounts 1826-1835 2 2
Account book Mostly accounts with his son 1855 2 1
Account book “Apprentices work” 1852-1853 2 3
Daybook 1826-1836 3 (os)
Daybook 1836-1854 2 4
Receipt book 1803-1824 4 1
Receipt book 1824-1844 4 1
Receipt book 1844-1856 4 1
Record book containing: 4 1
– Account book 1806-1809
– Records of “bills not settled” 1801-1804
– Orders 1833-1838
Inventory and accounts of the estate of David Alling 1855 2 5

Processed by Kim Charlton, December 2000 as part of the “Farm to City” project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

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