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Ephraim Douglass Ledgers



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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.

About Ephraim Douglass

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.

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