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Historical Book of Indentured Servants

One of the unique historical books in the Recorder’s Office was a book of contracts from the mid 1800s. Many of these documents were indentured servant/apprenticeship contracts. In an effort to preserve the book for genealogical/historical research, former Recorder, Sharon Gingerich, scanned the pages and transcribed them. You will find them below, each one under two separate listings. The first listing identified as the name of the document is the actual scanned image. Underneath that is the translation.

At that time, trustees were "authorized and required by statute, with the assent of a Justice of the Peace, to bind out any orphan, destitute child, or the child of any poor person as servants or apprentices." Sometimes Overseers of the Poor were in charge of the contracts. Some Indentures were made because the families could not care for their children anymore – or they had been orphaned. The welfare of the township's residents truly was in the hands of their trustees or the appointed overseers.

If an Indenture was contracted because parents were unable to afford to care for the child, or because the child was poor or orphaned, it was stated in the contract. Other Indentures were for apprenticeships. There were even cases where Indentures/Apprenticeships were made with relatives.

Almost all of the indentures ended with a “payment.” At the end of James Eldred’s term, he was to receive one new Bible, two complete suits of common wearing apparel, and the value of one hundred dollars in cattle. These were pretty consistent terms of an Indenture. The master normally provided for the education of the servant during his/her term, and gave them a Bible, clothing and cows when they ended their service.

The women received the same – the only difference being the value/amount of the cattle/cow. Women normally received one cow, while the men got cattle! In turn, the servants had to agree to certain good behaviors and loyalty to their masters.

Sometimes, instead of an animal, they got a new set of tools for the trade of their indenture. There were indentures to learn the trades of printing, tanning and currying. In one instance when a young lady was indentured from the County Infirmary to learn the art of “good house keeping” she was to be given the Bible, clothing and a cow at the end of her indenture, but she was also to receive a "good" feather bed.

The first recorded Indenture we found was from 1835 and was contracted in Parkman Township between James Eldred and Julian C. Huntington.

While some Indentures clearly marked when the trustees were involved, the Eldred/Huntington Indenture did not. However, in doing further research from the Pioneer History book, it was found that Ebenezer Eldred had a log house on the south corner of public square which was thought to be part of a blacksmith shop and was known as the Eldred House. It seems that Mr. Eldred left town and the house went to decay. Perhaps he ran into financial difficulty and could not take his 13 year old son with him, or maybe that was commonly how young men learned a trade, which would explain the absence of the trustee’s signatures and seals.

Another interesting thing about many of the indentures is that the “masters” were from Painesville or Mentor. Lake County was part of Geauga at that time. We realized that this was a “missing” part of Lake County’s history, so we contacted Cynthia Turk from Lake County Gen Web. She added the Geauga/Lake County indentures and apprenticeships to her gen web site. She also helped us to understand and translate parts of the documents.


James Eldred to Julian C. Huntington

Handwriting Tr. 1/ 2

On February 10, 1825, James Eldred, son of Ebenezer Eldred, aged 13 was indentured to Julian C. Huntington – to serve him until his 21st birthday. James was to serve Julian’s lawful commands, obey him and keep his secrets. He was not to embezzle or waste the goods of his master and make sure that nobody else embezzled or wasted his master’s goods.; James was not to lend anything of his master’s without his master’s consent and he was not allowed to play cards or otherwise gamble. He was not allowed to go to taverns or get married and he was not allowed to go away without his master’s consent.

In return, Julian was to teach James the occupation of farming, to read and write a legible hand, and so much arithmetic as shall include all ground rules and also the single rule of three. He was also to allow unto the said apprentice meat, drink, washing, lodging and apparel, both linen and woolen.

Elizabeth Merriman and Hannah Merriman

Handwriting Elizabeth tr. 3/4      Hannah tr. 4/5

The first two female Indenture contracts I found were for Elizabeth Ann and Hannah Merriman. They wer the daughters of Ezra Merriman from Burton. Elizabeth was indentured to Luther Humphrey and Hannah to Rufus Hoadley. Elizabeth was seven and indentured until her 18th birthday. Hannah was 16 and also indentured until she was 18.

The children were to faithfully serve their master and obey all his lawful commands. The masters were to provide meat, drink, washing, lodging, clothing and "physic" and he was to teach them to read, write and as much arithmetic as to include the rule of three. When their terms were up each master was to provide to the women, a new Bible, two outfits of clothing and a cow.

Willard M. Masticke and Orrin Dayton

Handwriting Tr. 6/7

The third Burton indenture was between Willard M. Masticke and Orrin Dayton. Willard was 16 and his indenture seemed to serve more of a apprentice-type agreement. His indenture was to the age of 21.

Dayton was to teach Willard the "mistery" (trade) and art of farming. Willard was also to faithfully serve and obey his master. Dayton was to provide meat, drink, apparel, lodging, medicine and take care of him in sickness and in health. Dayton was to send Willard to school so that he could read, write and learn the Rule of Three. At the end of his indenture, Willard was to receive two suits of common wearing, the Bible and $75 worth of cattle.

There is an interesting postscript to this Indenture. In May of 2017, I read this story in the Geauga Maple Leaf. The name “Mastick(e)” sounded awfully familiar to me, so I looked through the Indentured Servant contracts and sure enough “Millard Masticke” was listed.

I took a copy of the Indenture and my transcription to the ceremony at Claridon and gave it to Mary Webster Glenn. Her niece, Jillian Mueller, was also in attendance. It turned out that it was their relative. However, they said that it wasn’t “Millard” as I had originally written, but was “Willard” and that he was the eldest son of Benjamin. I am not sure who Mill and Moon were if Willard was Benjamin’s eldest son, but a lot of things happened back then for a lot of different reasons.

Apparently he did not stay in Geauga for very long after his Indenture. They always thought he had returned to Geauga, but could not find proof. It was nice to know that all my research provided a missing link for someone.

Aaron Barrit to George Williams

Handwriting Tr. 7/8

This Indenture made November 5, 1825 was between George Williams of Thompson, Nathan B. Burrit and Aaron Burrit, Nathan's son. Aaron was nine years old and with his parents consent was to live with and perform services of labour with George Williams until he was sixteen years old. Aaron was to be honest and faithful in the discharge of all services to be by him rendered and to be obedient. George Williams was to provide Aaron with all necessary clothing and sustenance and to administer all necessary aids and assistance in sickness. George was to give Aaron fourteen months schooling and a good decent domestic suit of wollen {sp} cloths at the age of sixteen years as a freedom suit and a new Bible.

Francis Billette to E. D. Howe

Handwriting Tr. 8-10

This Indenture was made September 26, 1825 between Eber. D. Howe of Painesville, Francis Billette and Frances' son, Francis Billette, Junior. He was to learn the art, trade, mistery or occupation of a printer and was going to serve for four years. If Frances did a good job, Howe was to pay him "...during the first two years the sum of sixty dollars and for the third year the sum of forty dollars and for the fourth year, the sum of fifty dollars to be paid in clothing or such other property he may stand in need of, but in no case is the said Howe to pay the said Francis junior more than ten dollars in cash during the two first years or twenty dollars in cash during the two last years, but all that may remain due for the whole four years at the expiration of the said term of service shall be paid to the said Francis junior in cash..." Howe was also to provide Francis with "...good and comfortable boarding, lodging, and washing, and mending and as a general rule, he is to be kept at the same table with the rest of the family, in health and in sickness and is also to have furnished him all the medical assistance which may be necessary during the term of his said apprenticeship."

Noyes Williams to Eri Conant, Jr.

Handwriting Tr. 10-12

This Welshfield Township Indenture, which was made on February 11, 1826 was executed by the Overseers of the Poor, John Fox and Nathaniel Weston, on behalf of the township. Noyes Williams was a ten-year old poor boy who was to be an apprentice to Eri Conant. He was to teach him the art of shoe making. I looked Noyes Williams up in the Pioneer History book and found the following, "In the fall of 1840, Josiah S. Tilden and John Weston opened a store in the upright part of the house now occupied by H. Kellogg & Son, the upper story being used by B.F. Abell as a school-room. The original portion of this house was build by one Noyes Williams, a shoemaker, and the upper story was used by him for a shoe shop. He died in 1839." If this is indeed the Noyes Williams referred to in this indenture, he only lived 13 years after his Indenture and died at the age of 23.

George Bailey to Charles Tuttle

Handwriting Tr. 12/13

This Indenture was made March 1, 1828 between George Bailey the twelve-year-old son of Elizabeth Button of Mentor, and Charles Tuttle. George was to be an apprentice to Charles, also of Mentor, to learn the trade, mistery or occupation of a Cooper, until he was twenty one years old.There were a lot of restrictions on what George could and could not do and how he was to behave as a servant. However, at the end of his term, he not only learned a trade he could use the rest of his life, but started out with tools of that trade. Charles was to give George "...a full set of Coopers tools, and a Bible and two suits of common wearing apparrel and was to teach, instruct or cause to be taught."

Alanson S. Conant to Gardner Conant

Handwriting Tr. 14/15

This Indenture was made July 5, 1828 between Alanson G. Conant, son of Gardner Conant, aged five years eleven months and twenty nine days of Welshfield and Gardner Conant Jun. of Welshfield to learn the occupation of agriculture. Gardner was to teach Alanson to be a farmer and provide meat, drink, washing, lodging and apparrel (both linnen and woollen) [sic] and all other necessarys both in sickness and in health fit and convenient to Alanson and make sure that he could read, write and do arithmetic. At the end of the term, Gardner was to provide Alanson with, "one good suit of clothes for every days’ wear and one good suit of holly day clothes befitting his condition, and shall also furnish him with a new Bible, also one pair of three year old steers, and one three year old heifer."

Nancy Poole to Jesse Clements. Ind.

Handwriting Tr. 15/16

Nancy Poole was a twelve year old poor girl in the township of Batavia. She was placed with Jesse Clements in February 1829 and was indentured until she turned 18. She was to be taught in Jesse's trade and during that time was to be provided for with food, housing and clothing. She was also to be taught to read and write and arithmetic. It does not say what Jesse's trade was. And, I am not sure by reading the document whether Jesse was a man or woman.

Henry Alshouse to James Bronson

Handwriting Tr. 17/18

The first Chardon Township recorded indenture I found was in the year of 1829 between Henry Alshouse and James Bronson. Henry was seven years old and was indentured until the age of 21.

James was to teach Henry the art ("mistery") of shoemaking and provide Henry with meat, drink, washing, lodging, and substantial apparel. He was also to send Henry to an English School to learn to read, write and so much arithmetic as to include the single Rule of Three. When Henry turned 21, James was to give him a new Bible, a complete suit of clothing and a set of shoemakers tools.

He was also to allow Henry the privilege of working as long in James’ shoe shop as Henry desired.The clause that Henry could work in the shoe shop as long as he wanted, was unlike the others I have found so far. Another clause that was not in any of the others, stated that at any time during the indenture, Henry’s father, Jacob, could move Henry from the apprenticeship if he paid James’ expenses.

Jerris and Samuel Ellis to Leml. Ellis

Handwriting Tr 19/20

This Indenture was made on February 1, 1829. The Overseers of the Poor with the consent of a Justice of the Peace placed Jerris Ellis (7 years old) and Samuel Ellis (3 years old) poor boys of the Perry Township with Lemuel Ellis. Lemuel was to teach them farming and provide sufficient meat, drink and clothing, washing, lodging, mending, and all other things necessary. He was to make sure the boys were taught to read, write and cypher, so far as the rule of three direct and make sure that they were not in any way a charge to the township of Perry or inhabitants thereof. At the end of their terms, Lemuel was to provide, them with two suits of good clothes, one for winter and the other for summer, and it specifically stated that Lemuel was not to be under obligation to give anything else, save what is above written.

James Taggert to Pardon Wilbur

HandwritingTr. 20/21

This Indenture was made September 8, 1829 by the Overseers of the Poor in Bainbridge. James Aaron Taggart (sp) was an eight year old poor boy. Pardon Wilber lived in Auburn Township and the contrac did not say specify his occupation. At the end of the term, James was to receive two good new suits of clothes, one of which shall be suitable for a meeting suit, or to appear in any public assembly and also pay him forty dollars.

Amos Marshall to Albert Hoyt

Handwriting Tr. 22/23

Amos Marshall was indentured per Trustees, to Albert Hoyt on May 22, 1830. The Trustees in charge were Zudock King and Stephen M. Allen. With the consent of George King, who was a Justice of the Peace, the trustees "put and placed Amos Marshall, a three year old poor boy, a servant to Albert Hoyt of Munson" until he turned 21.

Amos was to faithfully and truly serve Albert honestly, orderly and obediently. Albert was to provide Amos with good and sufficient meat, drink and apparel, washing, mending and all other things necessary and convenient for him in sickness and in health.  Albert was to arrange for Amos to be taught to read, write and the Rule of Three and make sure Amos was not in any way a charge to the township of Chardon or its citizens.

John G. Malbie and Grimes Thompson

Handwriting Tr. 23/24

This Indenture was made March 10, 1830 between Jehial M. Malbie and Grimes Thompson for Jehial's five year old son, John G. Malbie. There were no trustees or overseers involved. All the necessary care provisions were included. However, it looks like Jehial paid Malbie $100 for John's benefit. At the end of the indenture, G. Thompson was to give John the usual things plus the $100 plus interest. It is also interesting that Grimes did not sign the contract.

Phebe Galloway to Solomon More

Handwriting Tr. 25/26

This Indenture was made February 19, 1831 by the Mentor Township trustees with Solomon More, Chagrin Township. Phebe Galloway was a poor girl, aged six years, eleven months and 9 days, the daughter of Daniel B. Galloway & Mahitible Galloway, who were unable to support their child. Phebe was to be a servant to Solomon More, to live with and serve him until she was eighteen. Solomon More was to teach, or cause her to be taught and instructed to "...read, write and cypher so far as to include the single rule of three; and also to train her to the habits of obedience, industry, and morality, and provide for and allow to her meat, drink, washing, lodging and wearing apparel for summer and winter; and all other necessaries proper for such servant. [After I translated this indenture, I was cross checking items of people who were "warned out" in Lake County. As I stated earlier, township trustees were responsible for the welfare of its residents and sometimes when someone was not going to be able to be self-sufficient, the overseers of the poor or trustees had them served with a notice that they were to be "warned out." This notification meant that they had to leave the town and not be a burden on the residents. On May 13, 1843, Daniel Galloway was warned out.]

John Minkler per Guardian to Andrew Arbuckel

Handwriting Tr. 27/28

This Indenture was recorded December 3, 1831 between John Minkler, of Painesville, (with the consent of his Guardian Solomon Kingsbury) and Andrew Arbuckel who was a tanner and currier. The Indenture was for six years and 14 days. Minkler was "...not to absent himself day nor night from his said Masters service without leave; nor haunt ale houses, taverns, or play houses; but in all things behave himself as a faithful apprentice ought to do, during the said term. Arbuckel ws to teach him to be a tanner and currier and to provide him with sufficient meat, drink, apparel, lodging and washing, fitting for an apprentice during the said term of six years and fourteen days, and give him within the said term ten months of schooling of fourth part of which is to be in the last year of said term, and when free, to give him two suits of clothing, one of which is to be entirely new."

Stephen O. Lockman per Guardian to Amos Wilmont

Handwriting Tr. 28/30

This Indenture was made February 18, 1832 between Stephen O. Lockman who was fifteen years and a ward of Samuel Griffith of Painesville Township in the County of Geauga and Amos Wilmot, who was a sadler and harness maker, until he was 21. Stephen was to serve, behave and obey. Wilmot was to teach Stephen the trade and provide meat, drink, washing, lodging, and apparel, and all the other necessaries. Wilmot was also provide schooling for Stephen and at the end of his term give him clothing. The cloth for his coat was to be worth four dollars and fifty cents per yard. If Stephen served his term well, Wilmot was to give him five dollars in cash, and ten dollars worth of tools."

Horace Castle per Guardian to Amos Wilmont

Handwriting Tr. 30/31

This Indenture dated May 15, 1832 was between 17 year old Horace Castle, ward of Samuel Griffith of Painesville Township, and Amos Wilmot. Castle was to work for three and a half years until he was 21. The terms were very similar to the terms for Stephen Lockman's Indenture, except that Wilmont was to pay Castle "...the sum of thirty five dollars for each year for clothing, or otherwise to provide the same amount or worth of clothing as he said Horace shall need them." Something must have gone wrong, because four months later, by August 11, 1832 an entry was recorded dissolving the Indenture.

Nathaniel King Jr. to R.B. VanMater

Handwriting Tr. 32/33

October 11, 1834 Nathaniel King Jun. of Hambden was indentured to Robert B. VanMater to learn to be a tailor. VanMater was from Chardon. It does not say how old Nathaniel Jun. was, but his term of indenture was to be four years. During the term, VanMater was to pay Nathaniel specific amounts of money at designated times. He was also to assist and allow Nathaniel to make his own clothing as well as make sure he had the proper schooling and other necessities.

Chardon Trustees to Jude Converse - (Betsey Page)

Handwriting Tr. 33/34

Betsey Page was a fourteen year old poor girl who probably lived in Chardon. The whereabouts of her mother were unknown and her father was unknown. She was indentured to Jude Converse to learn "house wifery." During her indenture she was to be schooled and provided for. At the end of her indenture she received clothing and a Bible.

Dennis C. Spencer to George Olmsted Indenture

Handwriting Tr. 35/36

Dennis Spencer was 20 years old when his father signed the contract to indenture him to George Olmsted for three years to learn the trade of blacksmithing. Olmsted was to provide for Spencer and pay him specific sums of money so that he could provide his own clothing and save money to establish himself in business. In return, Dennis was to be a faithful servant to Olmsted.

Hiram Bushnell to Harmon Newell (Carlos Bushnell)

Handwriting Tr. 36/37

The indenture was made February 23, 1844 between Hiram Bushnell and Harmon Newell for the indenture of Hiram's son, sixteen-year old Carlos Bushnell. Carlos was to learn the trade of agriculture (farming) until he reached the age of 21. At the end of his term, Carlos was to receive a bible, clothing and $100.00.

Geauga Infirmary to Myron Beard (Soussa Melipa)

Handwriting Tr.42

Seven year old Sousa Melipa was a pauper who lived in The Infirmary, which is now the County Home. The Directors of the Infirmary bound her to Myron Beard who was to teach her the art of doing house work and other such work as is usual for good house keeping. She was to work for him until she was 21. At the end of her term, she was to receive a new Bible, two suits of clothing, the customary cow...and one good feather bed.

Charles A. Sanger to William Radcliffe - incomplete

Handwriting Transcript - no page numbers, no last page

Since there is no page number and this page was loose in the book, and since it took place in 1852, I am assuming it is the last one. This was between Arman Sanger and William Radcliffe of Hambden. The indenture was for Arman's son, Charles who was 15 years old. Charles was to learn to be a stone mason. All the normal terms are in this contract and at the end, William is to furnish Charles with clothing and $100. The page ends there and there is no indication what, if anything else, was involved in this contract or if it was ever signed.