Massena, NY: 1812. Softcover. Dates: 1812-1829. Small 4to. 12 pp. Stitched. Very good. Item #1871
Primary source material for the study of animals as property in rural America at the turn of the 19th-century. This small but fascinating manuscript is of a type that is rarely encountered. It describes the distinctive markings of animals belonging to 47 different owners, all residing in an upstate New York village located on the Canadian border. The MS entries are dated from April 7, 1812 to June 13, 1829. The compiler of the MS was the Town Clerk, J.B. Andrews, Jr.
Our MS pre-dates by more than 30 years the first American Brand Book that is described by William Reese in "Brand Books in the Princeton Collections of Western Americana,” PULC LXVII, 2 (Winter, 2006): pp. 237-251. We quote:
"The history of the printed brand book in the United States begins in Utah in 1850, concurrent with the founding of the Mormon colony at Great Salt Lake and the establishment of a printing press there. This work—known as the “Deseret Brand Book,” although there is no title page and only a caption title reading, “List of Recorded Brands”—is one of the first Utah imprints and one of the great rarities of Western Americana." (p. 242).
The 1810 New York State Census records just 144 families in Massena; that the present MS record owners' marks for one third of the town is extraordinary. Some of the MS entries include:
"Ebenezar Hitchcock's Mark is a Swallow fork on each ear. Recorded April 7th, 1812."
"Jacob Chase's Mark is a Crop off the Right Ear and a Slit in the Same Ear. Recorded April 7th, 1812."
"Rodwick Messenger's Mark a Slope on the upper side of the left Ear and the same on the under side of the right Ear. Recorded April 4th, 1818."
On the final leaf is a certified attestation that a "deep red heifer calf without any white about it" came into the enclosure of one James Abellwood on 20 Dec. 1828. Evidently the calf had no owner's markings about it either, thereby attesting to the importance of such a document as this.