Summary Information
Title: Ephraim Douglass Ledgers
Collection Number: DAR.1937.07
Creator: Douglass, Ephraim, 1749?-1833
Creator: O'Hara, James, 1752-1819
Creator: Pennsylvania. Militia. Pennsylvania Regiment, 8th.

Collection Dates: 1769-1790
Extent: 0.21 linear feet (1 box)

Language: English

Ephraim Douglass was a trader in western Pennsylvania and a soldier in the Revolutionary War. This collection consists of four ledgers that primarily document the stock and sale of supplies at Forts Pitt and Kittanning during the 1770s. Douglass's business partners during these years were his brother, Joseph, Devereaux Smith, and Richard Butler. Digital reproductions of this collection are available online.

ULS Archives Service Center
University of Pittsburgh Library System
7500 Thomas Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA, 15260
Date Published:

July 2007

Finding aid prepared by Matthew Strauss.
Revision Description:
April 2012:
Added links within finding aid to access content selected for digitization.


Ephraim Douglass was a carpenter, trader and eventually a soldier in the Revolutionary War. In 1769, he was employed in a variety of occupations at Fort Pitt, including carpenter, blacksmith, and clerk. Douglass spoke several American Indian dialects and in 1771 began trading with local tribes. Later that year, he established a business with Devereaux Smith that included trading outposts in the Indian Territory surrounding Pittsburgh. The partners opened another store in Kittanning, Pennsylvania, in 1776, where a fort was under construction. Later that year, Douglass joined the Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment at Fort Kittanning and was appointed quartermaster. In January of 1777, he marched across Pennsylvania with the regiment to join the Continental Army in Amboy, New Jersey, leaving his business in the care of his brother, Joseph.

Douglass became aide-de-camp to Major General Benjamin Lincoln, but was captured by British forces just four months after leaving Fort Kittanning. He spent three years as a prisoner of war, rejoining the Continental Army in 1780. In 1783, Douglass was called upon to act as a peace emissary on behalf of the United States government. He traveled to Forts Detroit and Niagara to meet with American Indian leaders, but failed to reach any formal agreements.

After returning to civilian life, Douglass settled in Fayette, Pennsylvania, where he held several public offices. He was later appointed brigadier general of the Pennsylvania militia and fought in the Whiskey Rebellion. Ephraim Douglass died on July 17, 1833.

One of Douglass's associates, Richard Butler, briefly became a partner in the business at Kittanning. Butler, also a member of the Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment, fought in the battle of Saratoga and the battle of Monmouth. After the siege of Yorktown, George Washington chose Butler to receive the sword of the defeated British general, Charles Cornwallis. In 1791, Butler was killed by American Indians during the battle of Wabash in the Ohio Country.

Collection Scope and Content Notes

The Ephraim Douglass Ledgers present a record of business and military activities undertaken by Ephraim Douglass in Western Pennsylvania. The information contained within dates primarily from the 1770s and illuminates aspects of life in western Pennsylvania during the Revolutionary War era. The ledgers reveal the foods, household items, and services in demand by colonists on what was, at the time, the western frontier. Douglass and his associates have meticulously recorded details of the transactions.

The ledger in folder 01 contains customer names, goods and services sold, prices and dates of transactions. The items sold include horseshoes, nails, staples, and lime. The page opposite this information lists expenses incurred by Douglass that offset the amounts due. Examples of these expenses are onions, milk, butter, whiskey, bear meat, and a "fish bought of an Indian." The "Smith and Douglass ledger" documents the partnership between Douglass and Devereaux Smith, including the store they opened in Kittanning in 1776. The items listed are somewhat different from what is represented in the first ledger, with food and liquor appearing with much more frequency.

The "Book of Ephraim Douglass, Quartermaster" provides a record of the Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment at Kittanning. Information recorded includes an account of tools used and by whom, a list of types and quantities of animal skins, records of employment, deliveries received, and purchases made by the soldiers of the regiment. "Joseph Douglass's Ledger" is a stock book from 1777, which lists quantities of various items, their date of sale, and price. A note written in pencil on the cover states the ledger was kept by Joseph Douglass in Pittsburgh after his brother, Ephraim, left Kittanning with the Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment.

Subject Terms

  • Merchants
  • Minutemen (Militia) -- Pennsylvania -- Kittanning

Personal Names
  • Butler, Richard, 1743-1791
  • Douglass, Ephraim, 1749?-1833
  • Douglass, Joseph
  • Smith, Devereux, 1735-1799

  • Fort Appleby (Pa.)
  • Fort Pitt (Pa.)
  • Kittanning (Pa.) -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783
  • Pennsylvania -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783
  • Pennsylvania -- Militia -- Equipment and supplies
  • Pittsburgh (Pa.) -- History
  • United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783

  • Carpenters
  • Soldiers

  • Ledgers (Account books)

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Acquisition Information:

Gift to the Darlington Memorial Library in 1937.

Alternate Format:

Digital reproductions of this collection are available online.

Custodial History:

There are a number of notes written in pencil in the ledgers, usually concerning the individuals listed or the activities of the Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment. One is signed with the initials "J. V." and dated 1864. Presumably, these notes were created by James Veech, who was in possession of the books during this time.

This collection was located in the Darlington Memorial Library in the University’s Cathedral of Learning until 2007 when it was moved to the ULS Archives Service Center for processing, storage, preservation and service. However, it remains in the custodianship of the ULS Special Collections Department.

Preferred Citation:

Ephraim Douglass Ledger Books, 1769-1790, DAR.1937.07, Darlington Collection, Special Collections Department, University of Pittsburgh

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Matthew Strauss in January 2007.


No copyright restrictions.


  • Egle, William H. and John Blair Linn. Pennsylvania in the War of the Revolution, Battalions and Line. 1775-1783. Harrisburg: Lane S. Hart, State Printer, 1880.
  • Veech, James. The Monongahela of Old; or Historical Sketches of South-Western Pennsylvania to the Year 1800. Pittsburgh: 1858.

Collection Inventory

Box 1
Folder 1 Ledger, 1769-1772
Folder 2 Smith and Douglass Ledger, 1771-1777
Folder 3 Book of Ephraim Douglass, Quartermaster, September - December 1776
Folder 4 Joseph Douglass Ledger, 1777