Tuesday, March 17, 2015


As I said before, I found Amos Upton's probate file in the  Middlesex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1648-1871 at the website. Here's the image of the estate

Source: Middlesex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1648-1871.Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives.)

And here's John Adams Vinton's abstract of the inventory items on page 67 of The UptonMemorial:

Four cows and one calf, £12. One heifer two years old, and three heifers one year old, £5.15. A pair of steers three years old, £5.10. One horse, £4. Six sheep, £2.14. One swine, £1.10. Farming utensils, cart and wheels, plough, harrow, iron bar, axes, hoes, beetle and wedges, &c £6.3.3. Trunk and chest, £0.6. Men's wearing apparel, £5. Bed's furniture and other linen, £10. Chest of drawers and tables, £2.5. Spinning wheels and chairs, £0.9. One kettle, pot, dog-irons, trammels, &c, £3.1. Pewter flax-comb, chafing-dish, £1. Books, looking-glass, glass bottles, china ware, and other articles, £1.12. Corn and meat, £1.10. Saddle, bridle and gun, £0.16. Home stead, buildings and out lands, £408. Total, £471.11.3.

Besides one thousand dollars of the old emission left in the house of the testator and not valued.*

 At the bottom of the page is this footnote:

• Midd. Prob. Records, 61: 257. The Continental Congress of the United States, in order to carry on the war, had been compelled to issue enormous quantities of notes, or bills, amounting in the end to more than three hundred millions of dollars. This currency soon depreciated. In Dec, 1778, it stood at six of paper for one of gold. In Dec, 1779, it stood twenty-seven for one. In Dec, 1780, it was seventy fur one. In the autumn of 1781, when the foregoing inventory was made, this currency came down to five hundred for one, and was regarded as absolutely worthless.

So the $1000 dollars included in the inventory was probably only good to use for tinder
to help start a fire in the fireplace!

This probably explains why some of the estates of my ancestors who died after the
Revolutionary War give the value of their possessions in the old English currency values
of pounds and shillings rather than in the new American dollars. The American currency
was unstable and nearly worthless. It must have been a worrisome time for the citizens
of the new country!

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