Manuscript Group 99, Ralph Doremus (1797-1886), Merchant and farmer


Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs

Manuscript Group 99, Ralph Doremus (1797-1886), Merchant and farmer
Record books, 1830-1855, 0.5 linear foot / 4 volumes
Call Number: MG 99 + Box number


Financial records of a cloth and dry-goods merchant in Paterson, New Jersey.  Roelof Jacobus (Ralph) Doremus maintained his store on the west side of Main Street between Broadway and Van Houten Street.  He served as town clerk of Saddle River Township, 1828-1831, and later as accountant of the Paterson Fire Association.  I 1837, he was elected to the appeals court.  The panic of 1837 forced him to retire from business, devoting himself thereafter to the care of his considerable farming property.

Gift of Salome Doremus Nelson and William Nelson, 1911.

Biographical Note:

Roelof Jacobus Doremus was born on July 16, 1797 to Susanna Jacobus Jones (1767-1840) and Petres Doremus (1773-1846), a farmer in Mountain View, Passaic County, New Jersey.  Roelof, or Ralph, left his parents’ home at an early age and was soon hired by a dry goods store in New York City.  After earning a clerkship, he left to establish his own store in Paterson, New Jersey, where he sold cloth and dry goods.

On June 1, 1825, Ralph Doremus married Catharine Van Houten (1806-1874), the daughter of Jannetje Garritse (1774-1855) and Gerrebrand Van Houten (1770-1831), the president of Paterson Bank.  The couple built their homestead at 115-121 Water Street in Paterson, where on July 15, 1828, their twin sons, Henry C. and Francis E. were born.

Ralph Doremus served as the town clerk of Saddle River Township from 1828-1831, and in 1837 was elected a judge of the Court of Appeals.  He was also a member and patron of the Second Reformed Church of Paterson and was involved with the Paterson Fire Association, serving as its accountant in 1830 and as a member of Engine Company No. 5 in 1835.

A few years after the Panic of 1837, Doremus closed his store and focused on his extensive farmlands.  He died on November 18, 1886.

See Doremus Family Tree.


Nelson, William. History of the City of Paterson and the County of Passaic, New Jersey (The Press Printing and Publishing Co.: Paterson, NJ, 1901), pgs. 253-254, 357, 370, 378, 382.

Provenance Note:

The daybooks were the gift of Salome Doremus Nelson in January, 1911, and the record book and petty ledger that of her husband, William Nelson in May of that same year.

Scope and Content Note:

The record books consist of four volumes, dating from 1830-1855, that contain accounts and daily transaction entries for Ralph Doremus’s store, farm, and smokehouse.  The volumes also contain accounts for debts owed to Doremus after the Panic of 1837, and document his attempts to collect on them.

There are two daybooks from Doremus’s Paterson dry goods store, which document the daily selling of such items as cloth, buttons, and handkerchiefs from 1836-1843.  The collection also contains a petty ledger, inscribed “Commenced on October 1, 1839” that has alphabetical entries for customers with the amount they owe.  In the back of this volume there are some entries documenting promissory notes owed and paid by various men from 1840-1843.  The final volume contains scattered records for all of Doremus’s businesses, including farm accounts and daybook entries for such products as oats, shingles, and pasture for a horse; a list of cases for debts owed to Doremus and the amount of money awarded; and accounts for various meats from a smokehouse.

Related Collections:

See the papers/records of other merchants.

See the papers/records of other farmers.

Box List:

Box Title Date
1 Daybook for the store 1836-1840
Box Title Date
2 Daybook for the store 1840-1843
Box Title Date
3 Petty Ledger, probably for the store (also contains list of notes received 1840-1843) 1839
Box Title Date
4 Record book that contains: daybook entries for the farm; list of money received in debt cases; accounts for the farm; accounts for the smokehouse 1830-1855

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