New from Old Natchez - the Collections

John C. Schwartz Papers, 1848-1898 (bulk: 1863-1888)
Addition of 13 manuscript volumes and ca. 2 linear feet

J.C. (John Conrad) Schwartz immigrated to America in 1839, arriving in Baltimore. In 1863 he purchased a hardware business in Natchez from Armand Perault, though he had apparently been in Natchez before then. He operated the store until his retirement in 1890, at which time he left the business to his son, John Edward Schwartz, and his son-in-law, Robert Percy Schwartz. He was also president of the Rosalie Cotton Mills, vice-president of the NJ&CRR (probably the Natchez-Jackson and Clinton or Columbus Railroad), and a leader in the community. He owned land and buildings in Natchez.

The accretion consists primarily of manuscript volumes, including cashbooks (1863-1875), daybooks (1859-1876), an invoice book (1884-1885), ledgers (1852-1891), and a letterbook (1875). Volumes give cash sales, accounts with customers, and rents collected for properties. Unbound materials include correspondence with suppliers, printed advertisements and price lists. Legal papers and financial records relate to Schwartz's acquisition of land and businesses. The accretion adds to Schwartz materials (53 manuscript volumes and over 6300 items) already in the Louisiana & Lower Mississippi Valley Collections that comprise similar materials, dating 1859 to 1897.

Notes on the images:

1. Pages from volume 1A, a cashbook (1863-1891) giving monthly totals of cash sales during the Civil War and the early years of Reconstruction.
     Federal forces landed at Natchez and occupied the town on July 13, 1863, without incident. They used the town primarily as a supply base for mounting forays into southwest Mississippi and eastern Louisiana. By July 1864, 5706 men were assigned to the post at Natchez, including more than 3500 African-Americans from surrounding plantations who were either employed by the Army as laborers or who had been recruited for military service (Coussons, p. 39).
     With merchants largely dependent on the surrounding plantations for business, and those plantations idle as former slaves flocked to the occupying army in Natchez, commerce declined precipitously, as the Schwartz volume shows. In 1864, planters who were willing to take the oath of allegiance were allowed to resume shipping cotton, and newly arrived northern lessees also began planting. As a result, trade picked up, though inflation also accounts for the increased cash sales recorded by Schwartz in 1864. The economic situation gradually improved during the remainder of the war as trade restrictions were relaxed in light of the Confederacy's decline, increasing supplies and lowering prices (Coussons, p. 64-74). Natchez enjoyed relative prosperity after the war as Northern merchants infused capital into the community (Harris, p. 222).

Home | Collections