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Collection Scope and Content Notes

According to an article published in PITT: A Quarterly of the University of Pittsburgh (Winter, 1941-42), the "Ohio Company papers in the Darlington Library are a part of the Mercer collection referred to by some historians as 'the lost records of the Ohio Company.'" The collection contains manuscripts used by George Mercer to prepare his Case of the Ohio Company, which documented the Company’s actions in the Ohio territory, and are the highlight of the collection. The Case of the Ohio Company was published by George Mercer in 1769 in pamphlet form, but the manuscript copy of the Case in this collection is distinct from the published version in many respects. For a thorough critique of the difference, see Mulkearn’s George Mercer Papers. The Darlington collection includes the only known manuscript copy of the Case of the Ohio Company. The journals kept by Christopher Gist, recorded during his three scouting missions into the Ohio territory in the 1750s as a field agent of the company, are part of both the published Case reproduced in Mulkearn’s book and the manuscript Case in this collection. The collection includes two different manuscript copies of the Gist journal used by William M. Darlington to publish (posthumously) his 1893 book on the subject. The bound copy contains events from Gist's 1750-51 and 1751-52 journeys. The other copy, comprised of individual manuscript pages, documents entries for the first journey but only a part of the second journey, and is believed to have been copied by a descendant of William R. Mercer.

The collection also includes debt notes and correspondence related to business conducted by the Ohio Company in Virginia, Maryland and western Pennsylvania. The notes include the name and residence of the debtor and the debt holder, the date that the debt was entered into the public record through the county clerk, and the amount. These materials are often annotated to document subsequent legal action, most commonly, the passage of the debt to a third party. In the contents list, accounts indicate an itemized list of goods for which a debt is owed, and a debt or more informal promise to repay simply document an amount. Also present are materials related to various legal cases brought against debtors. Full names are given when present and legible, and bracketed items indicate that the name was difficult to read. The spelling of names is open to interpretation because many of the names are the result of non-standardized spelling. Additionally, page numbers in brackets indicate the location of the transcription in Mulkearn’s George Mercer Papers (example: LM p237 indicates that this document is transcribed on page 237 of Lois Mulkearn’s book.)

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