Manuscript Group 81, Camp Family (Camptown, NJ) Record Books, 1752-1837 (Bulkdates: 1800-1830)


Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs

Manuscript Group 81, Camp Family (Camptown, NJ) Record Books, 1752-1837
(Bulk dates: 1800-1830), 2 linear feet / 22 volumes

Call Number: MG 81 + box & folder number (some materials are OS)



Daybooks, account books, ledgers, and other financial records kept by Joseph Camp (1710-1780), Caleb Camp (1732-1817), and Joseph Wheeler Camp (1784-1838) for their various business enterprises in Camptown (now Irvington), New Jersey.  Joseph Camp owned a sawmill on the Elizabeth River as early as 1748, and, beginning about 1752, operated a cider mill and distillery on what later came to be known as Vinegar Hill.  He also owned and operated a general store.  His son, Caleb, and his grandson, Joseph Wheeler Camp, continued and expanded these enterprises after 1780. Also includes a record book from  Stephen B. Camp’s general store in New York City called Baldwin & Camp, an account book tracing the money and services donated for the building of Camptown’s Schoolhouse in 1806-1810, a receipt book that Joseph W. Camp used as the executor of Caleb Camp’s estate in 1817-1818, and sheriff’s records presumably kept by a family member.

Biographical Note:

The Camp family were early settlers of the town west of Newark, New Jersey that was first referred to as The Farms or Newark West Farms, later called Camptown, and now known as Irvington, New Jersey.  In the 1740s, Joseph Camp (1710-1780) established and ran West Farms’ only general store, he acquired shares in the Great Swamps Sawmill on the Elizabeth River, and he ran a cider and vinegar mill and a distillery.

Caleb Camp (1732-1817), Joseph’s eldest son, helped his father in the store from an early age, eventually taking it over in 1771.  He also ran a gristmill and the sawmill; manufactured cider, vinegar, and spirits; financed a shipyard; sold timber from his many landholdings; and was a partner in a distilling company with Matthias Bruen. Caleb Camp also held many public offices from 1762-1812 including: overseer and surveyor of the highways, county freeholder, overseer of the poor, commissioner of tax appeals, judge of elections, town committeeman, town clerk, moderator of the annual town meeting, and high sheriff of Essex County.  He was elected to the New Jersey Provincial Congress in 1775, was one of New Jersey’s assemblymen from 1777-1781 and 1793, and was elected speaker of the Assembly in 1778.  He was also a trustee of the First Presbyterian Church of Newark.

Due to the deaths of his first two wives, Caleb Camp married three times, first to Sarah Johnson (1737-1762), then to Abigail Moore, the mother of his three sons, and lastly in 1813 to Lydia Cooper.  His sons were Jabez Johnson Camp (1766-1767), David Camp (1767-1803), and Joseph Wheeler Camp (1784-1838).

Joseph W. Camp also followed in the family businesses running the general store, the sawmill, the cider mill and the distillery.  Stephen B. Camp, probably Joseph W. Camp’s son, left Camptown and went into business with Isaac W. Baldwin, opening a general store called Baldwin & Camp in New York City.


Camp Family, Family File, The New Jersey Historical Society.

Shaw, William H. History of Essex and Hudson Counties, New Jersey (Everts & Peck: Phildelphia, 1884).

Siegel, Alan A. Out of Our Past: A History of Irvington, New Jersey (Irvington Centennial Committee: Irvington, New Jersey, 1974).

Provenance Note:

Four record books were transferred into this collection at the time of processing.  Manuscript Groups 80, 81, and 82 all related to the Camp Family and were probably part of one accession since their MG numbers were sequential.  MG 80, MG 82, and also MG 236 (made up of Joseph W. Camp’s 1806-1818 daybook) each consisted of one volume and were therefore joined with the larger Camp Family collection in MG 81.  The last of the volumes transferred, Joseph W. Camp’s 1797-1818 account book, was located in MG 146, Nichols Family Record books.  When these record books were transferred to MG 1012, Nichols Family Papers, the Camp volume was moved to this collection.  The original source of acquisition for these materials is unknown.

Scope and Content Note:

This collection is made up of the business record books of Joseph Camp (1710-1780), Caleb Camp (1732-1817), Joseph Wheeler Camp (1784-1838), and Stephen B. Camp.  The volumes run from 1752-1837 with bulk dates of 1800-1830 and document the Camp Family’s various businesses: the general store, the sawmill, cider mill, and distillery.  Although the books have been arranged by singular owners, each son worked for his father with the result that the ledgers may have been used by more than one person.  The majority of the volumes are account books and daybooks that either trace all business transactions (including those of the store, the mills, and the distillery) or the sale of one product (either cider, spirits, or apples).

Account book entries are by person and are usually indexed.  Each account usually has a debit and a credit side, and each entry specifies date, purchase/job, and price.  Since hard money was in short supply, townspeople often bartered for store goods, mill products, or use of the mill with farm products, labor, or other items.  Typical entries in the volumes include the purchase or trade of Indian corn, buckwheat, lumber, spirits, cider, vinegar, potatoes, wheat, and flour, or include such jobs as carting stones, repairing barrels, making trousers, schooling children, or sawing planks.

Daybooks entries are chronological and specify person, purchase/job, and either price or amount bought.  The Cider, Spirits, and sometime Apple books trace the amount bought of a particular item, measured in barrels for cider; in gallons, quarts, and pints for spirits; and in bushels for apples.  The Apple books in this collection sometimes trace all store and mill business transactions.

The collection also contains record books from Caleb Camp and Matthias Bruen’s distilling business and from Stephen B. Camp’s general store Baldwin & Camp, which was located in New York City.  There is also an account book tracing the money and services donated for the building of Camptown’s Schoolhouse in 1806-1810, a receipt book that Joseph W. Camp used as the executor of Caleb Camp’s estate in 1817-1818, and a record book for auctions conducted by Joseph W. Camp in 1833-1834.

Related Collections:

Manuscript Group 79, Caleb W. Bruen (1768-1846), Cabinetmaker and distiller, Record books
Manuscript Group 302, Osgood and Company Records: Contains Baldwin & Camp records

Container List:

Title Dates Box Folder
Caleb Camp:      
Account Book – Joseph and Caleb Camp(?) 1752-1797 1 1
Account Book A 1762-1786 4
Account Book B 1783-1795 4
Account Book C 1791-1817 5
Account Book, Apples 1800-1810 6
Daybook 1814-1817 1 2
Daybook, Spirits – Caleb David Camp & M. Bruen Company, Distillers 1798-1812 7
Daybook, Cider – Caleb David Camp & M. Bruen Company, Distillers 1798-1827 7
Alphabetical Index for Account Book A n.d. 3 2
Alphabetical Index for Account Book B ca.1794 3 3
Alphabetical Index to “Writs and other Process” served by David Ross or William Halsted as Debt Sheriffs n.d. 1 3
Joseph W. Camp:      
Account Book 1797-1818 8
Account Book / Daybook, Spirits 1806-1807 /1812-1814 2 1
Daybook 1806-1818 9
Account Book, Apples 1810-1822 6
Daybook, Apples 1810-1822 9
Receipt Book – Joseph W. Camp, executor of Caleb Camp 1817-1818 1 4
Account Book 1822-1829 3 1
Vendue Sale Record Book 1833-1834 1 5
Stephen B. Camp & H. Camp:      
Daybook- H. Camp (?) 1804-1806 1 6
Camptown Schoolhouse Account Book /Daybook – Stephen B. Camp 1806-1810/1827-1837 2 2
Baldwin & Camp (Stephen B. Camp):   10
-Invoice book 1825-1826    
-Receipts 1825-1836, n.d.    
-Accounts 1822, 1825-1826    
-Promissory Note 1825    

Processed by Kim Charlton

January 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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