Egg ledgers

How many of you could suddenly go from “comfortable” to barely getting by (maybe by raising chickens) and still raise a family? Consider the sacrifices of our parents and grandparents and save your pennies. Ledgers, which show income and expenses for many local families, are kept at the genealogy library and are available to the public for research.

Our economy had to do with the price of eggs! In 1923, a Laurelville resident sold 30 dozen eggs for 40 cents per dozen or $12. Careful records were kept showing every dime spent and every dime collected.

In all, he sold 147 dozen eggs during the month of January. He also received $6.50 from working and $1 from his church. This amount for eggs was down by 20 cents a dozen from the eggs he sold in 1918.

By 1931, the big depression had hit the country and his eggs were now only worth 27 cents per dozen. In January of that year, he sold 625 dozen eggs, but made only $153.15, considerably less than he would have made from that number of eggs in 1923. His other income was also less, so he sold some of his chickens to make up the difference.

Such was the totals each month in his carefully calculated journals. One might think a family of three could not survive long on such income. This amazing family contributed to church and Sunday school, paid for washing and ironing, subscribed to the local paper and purchased groceries. Occasionally, the wife sold a rag rug or cream, but at the end of the month, the books showed a profit, maybe of only a few cents.

Those folks who made their way through the depression knew the value of a penny. Their children saw their struggle and that of their neighbors and it made them leery of not having a nest egg, trusting banks or spending what you don’t have.

Darlene Weaver is the director of the Pickaway County Historical & Genealogical Library.

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