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    Description

    The Betteys Family Medical Archive. An extensive colonial archive of hundreds of pages of manuscript material relating to a Massachusetts family of physicians. John Betteys (1757-1827), whose name also appears as Bettey and Bettis, was a physician and resident of Chelmsford, Massachusetts. His parents were Andrew Betteys (1712-1786) and Mary Tucker Betteys (1719-1757). The extensive archive is largely made of material relating to John, but there are also numerous documents relating to his father and his uncle, John Tucker (1690-1761), both of whom were also physicians. All three are buried in Forefathers Burial Ground in Chelmsford.

    The material ranges from 1723 to the mid-1820s and highlights the medical practices of early American physicians. It includes patient records and accounts, a separate storekeeper and physician's account book, a medicinal and domestic recipe ledger, tax rolls, a partial town assessment, official correspondence, financial records, land deeds, military records, and miscellaneous legal and administrative documents. Those worthy of highlight include:

    Five Volumes of Patient Records and Accounts. Five separate volumes that total approximately three hundred and thirty-five pages, 7.25" x 9.25", Chelmsford, Westford and Carlisle, Massachusetts; 1779 to 1782.

    Volume I: 1779, tan wrappers of heavy stock with 56 pages of laid paper. Volume II: 1779 to 1782, brown wrappers of heavy stock with 24 pages of laid paper. Volume III: 1780, Tan wrappers of heavy stock with 64 pages of laid paper. Volume IV: 1781 to 1782, brown wrappers of heavy stock with 96 pages of laid paper, several pages torn in half with lower portions gone. Volume V: 1779 to 1782, disbound with wrappers missing, 90 pages with first leaf disbound. Pages 91 to 114 of Volume V are disbound and separate.

    There is some duplication in the volumes, which may indicate consolidation on the part of the Bettey's. Contains names, dates, and information regarding distance traveled, medicines prescribed, treatments, and how fees were paid. Treatments include bleedings, dressing wounds, and extracting teeth. Some patients are recorded as Revolutionary War soldiers. It is interesting to note that Dr. Bettey's price went up whenever he was called to a patient's home at night or when it was raining. An example of one such entry:

    Volume III, page 12. February 8, 1780. "Ann Elliott to Dressing Several Wounds & Burns Every Day for 6 Days and medicins [sic] and Directions." He ended up paying fifteen visits over the course of a month to change the dressings on Ann's burns. For each subsequent visit after the first two Ann was charged 12 shillings. His final visit to her occurred in the middle of the night, so John duly raised the price to 18 shillings.

    1750 Account Book of Physician and Storekeeper John Tucker. Approximately two hundred and seventeen pages bound in calf over paper boards, 8.5" x 11", Chelmsford, Massachusetts; 1750 to 1758. A partially disbound account book listing more than two hundred customers of John Tucker, who is presumed to be brother of John Bettey's mother. The list of things sold by Tucker varies widely and includes household goods, medicinal items and foodstuffs. Specifically noted was yards of cloth, knives, earthenware, nails, thread, pots and kettles, books, almanacks, salts, pipes, flints, fish, including a "baril of mackril [sic]," and handkerchiefs. Medicinal items include pills, powders, plasters, "itch stuff," and remedies.

    On March 24, 1752 Tucker recorded "Sent to Mr. William Eustis of Boston ointment roots physic." Tucker was also solicited for his advice. On April 22, 1752 he wrote "Mr. Renbin Wheeler was here for advice for his weakness of body and he borrowed Mr. Wiglesworth...book of me." The final line at the end of Mr. Wheeler's box reads "the book is brought homb [sic]."

    Occasionally the terms and conditions of purchases can vary from brief and perfunctorily to elaborately detailed. An example of the latter is the entry from February 19, 1753 which reads, "This is to sertify to all men that my self the subscriber do promise to pay or cause to be paid at or before the last day of may next ensuing the lots here of the full and just sum [sic] of seventeen shillings and six penc [sic] new tenor on five hundred foot of marchantable [sic] good white oak boards it being for value received by me as witness my hand or lawful money...Jonathan Kemp." Below the promissory note: "rec'd 63 foot of boards."

    Balanced accounts fully paid up appear to be crossed out by Tucker while open or past due accounts are not. Goods are typically paid in "old tenor" though there is also noted barter for goods and services. Some examples of this throughout read "rec'd rye" or "hoop poles" or "rec'd 1 day of work yr lad raking."

    This lot also includes several legal documents and receipts relating to John Tucker's life and the breakup of his estate following his death in 1761. Examples of this include a 1739 Deed of Sale to John following his move from Boston, a 1759 "Inventory of all the Estate of Mr. John Tucker," a holograph copy of the distribution of the estate dated March 24, 1761, and a holograph advertisement for the public sale of property from the estate of "Doctr. John Tucker at Chelmsford deceased on Friday next ye 9th of the Instant Aprill..."

    The book appears to have been used as a source in Wilson Waters' History of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, originally published in 1917.

    Portion of Medicinal and Domestic Recipe Ledger. Five full ledger sheets, recto and verso to four, recto to one; eight half sheets with recto and verso to three. 6.75" x 16.5", no place, [circa 1820]. Unbound folio sheets and half sheets from a ledger book containing hundreds of entries for recipes and formulas for domestic, household and medicinal uses. Medicinal recipes include those for "fever drops," stomach ailments such as diarrhea, dysentery, and worms, burns, cough syrups, smelling salts, tooth pastes, and "Dr. Baxter's remedy for tumors on the feet." Domestic and household recipes include those for soap, dyes, ink powders, lemon beer, rising dough, preserving bacon, powdered charcoal to "kill Cucumber Bugs" and a curious recipe for catching codfish by intoxicating them.

    Tax Roll Together with 1766 Assessment of the Town of Chelmsford. Includes:

    Tax Roll: Thirteen oblong pages, recto and verso, 4.25" x 12.5", Chelmsford; no date [circa 1793]. Alphabetically arranged index of Chelmsford taxpayers. Lists page numbers where property and tax information are to be found in the contemporary record (not included). Verso of front wrapper has note affixed from John Betteys listing his taxes from 1793, including town tax, school tax, wood tax and minister tax, marked as "all paid." Document is attached with a binding string to the 1766 town assessment.

    1766 Town Assessment: Four pages, recto and verso, 8.25" x 6.25", Chelmsford; November 1766. Assessment of approximately seventy citizens of Chelmsford listed alphabetically. Lists separate values of houses and lands, personal estates, and poll tax with the total value of those sums listed at the end. Likely not complete as the final entry is for a "Parkhurst."

    Holograph 1788 Credit Book. Twenty-one pages, recto and verso, 6.25" x 8", [Chelmsford]; 1788 to 1790. Two additional pages are laid in. Presumably kept by John Betteys and includes records of services performed by day laborers in the Betteys's employ. They are listed by the name of the laborer, date of service, how long it took and the pay for service. Most are related to plowing, planting, and the chopping of wood, but also includes legal services rendered by Betteys such as the writing of power of attorneys. One example is Simeon Kemp of Westford who came to plant on May 23, 1789 and worked "nearly all the afternoon" for 10 pence.

    Holograph 1784 Account Book. Ten pages, recto and verso, 5.5" x 7", [Chelmsford]; 1784 to 1788. First and last page are recycled leaves from 1690, printed by Charles Bill and Thomas Newcomb, printers to King William and Queen Mary. All other pages are unprinted and are regarding legal services rendered or the collection of debts.

    Portion of 1756 Holograph Business Ledger. Two pages of a bifolium, 7.75" x 12.5", [Chelmsford, Massachusetts]; May 1756 to September 1757. Journal entries from a business ledger for Joseph Hildreth the 3rd (1724-1796) of Chelmsford. List of goods and services renders with itemized costs of each.

    One hundred and Sixty Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Receipts. Approximately one hundred and sixty receipts associated with the Betteys family. They date from 1759 to 1820 with the majority from 1759 to 1785. A large portion are related to Andrew Betteys as "guardian [sic] for Doctr John Tucker" regarding payments owed "against the Estate of the said John Tucker." However, they also reflect payment of services concerning Dr. John Betteys's work as a physician as well as payment for goods. Receipts contain names of dozens of families from the Chelmsford and Boston area. The average size of receipts is 7.5" x 2.5", but range accordingly.

    Large Group of Miscellaneous Family Papers. Approximately one hundred documents dating from the years 1756 to 1827 of official correspondence, financial records, land deeds, military records, and miscellaneous legal and administrative documents. Those worthy of special note include: a Revolutionary War promissory note of service for David Walker from 1781, a 1777 payment for conscription in the Continental Army from Enoch Cleveland, an inventory of Andrew Betteys's estate from 1786, an 1805 indenture where James Robbins agrees to "cultivate and improve" several parcels of land for John Betteys, a 1793 receipt for payment of an indentured child, a 1784 deed of conveyance of land from Samuel Adams, a 1724 land deed, and an unusual bond indenture where the sum to be repaid appears as a loan from Harvard to cover the tuition of Andrew Betteys dating from 1791.

    Reference: History of Chelmsford, Massachusetts by Wilson Waters

    Condition: John Tucker's account book has evidence of some insect and rodent damage, dampstaining and moderate to heavy edgewear. The binding to the spine is exposed in places and some pages are disbound and laid in. Overall, the book is fair. The rest of the material in the lot ranges from fair to very good. There is the expected creasing with some edgewear and with the occasional closed and open tears. Sporadic instance of amateur repairs at creases with tape. Scattered stains, foxing, and rubbing.


    ‡ The owner placed a late bid on this unreserved lot and repurchased it, subject to applicable commission.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2021
    19th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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