Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs
Manuscript Group 119, Leddel Family (Mendham, NJ)
Records, 1785-1878, 3.5 linear feet / 26 volumes
Call Number: MG 119 + box and folder number
Account books and receipts of Dr. William Leddel (1747-1827); daybooks, a memorandum book, and letters of Dr. John W. Leddel (ca. 1784-1865); and account books, daybooks, and a check book of Samuel W. Leddel (1810-1875), who owned a general store and grist mill in Mendham, New Jersey. Also contains a daybook and account book from Samuel W. Leddel's estate.
Donated, in part, by Margaret L. Ramsden, 1981.
William Leddel, Jr., the son of William Leddel, a French naval surgeon who settled in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, was born in 1747. Upon his father’s death in 1766, William Jr. moved to Mendham, New Jersey and apprenticed himself to Dr. Ebenezer Blachy. He established himself as a physician and practiced in Mendham for the remainder of his life.
Leddel was also active in military matters, serving as a lieutenant in the Morris County Troop of Light Horse during the Revolution. He participated in the Battles of Connecticut Farms and Springfield and in the retreat of George Washington from New York. He also used his medical skills to tend to Washington’s troops during their stay in Morristown in the winter of 1779-1780. Later, he was a major in the forces that put down the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 and served as a captain of Cavalry during the War of 1812. He served two terms as Morris County’s sheriff from 1783-1785 and tried small cases before the Justices of the Peace.
In addition, sometime prior to the American Revolution, William Leddel probably either acquired or built a sawmill in southern Mendham on the upper branch of the Passaic River in Jockey Hollow. This mill was replaced by a larger sawmill, woodturning mill, and gristmill, known as Leddel Mill; and seems to have remained in the family for a number of generations.
William Leddel married Phebe Wick, the daughter of Henry Wick, and they settled at Washington Corner on a part of the Wick tract in Mendham. It was here that they raised their five children: Eliza, Tempe, Henry (d.1799), Mary, and John (ca.1784-1865). Dr. William Leddel died in Mendham on August 9, 1827 at the age of eighty.
John W. Leddel, the son of Phebe and William Leddel, was born in Mendham around 1784. He studied medicine under his father’s guidance and started practicing in his hometown at the age of eighteen. Like his father, he practiced medicine in Mendham throughout his lifetime. In 1805 he married Jemima Wills (d.1865), the daughter of Samuel Wills, and together they had six children. Dr. John W. Leddel died on April 15, 1865 at the age of eighty-one.
Samuel Wills Leddel, the second son of Jemima and John W. Leddel, was born in 1810. He graduated from Union College in 1831 and although he studied medicine, he seems to have run a general store and gristmill in Mendham. On September 3, 1849, he married Emma Louisa Halsey (1817-1891), with whom he had three children: Alexander, Sarah Tempe (b.1855), and Samuel Frederick (1857-1891). He died in 1875.
Hopler, Martha G., Edward W. Rossler, Wallace G. West. The Mendhams (Mayor’s Tercentary Committee: Brookside, NJ, 1964), pgs. 25, 107, 111, 138.
McGregor, R.W. David. History of Freemasonry in New Jersey 1787-1937, pgs. 77-78.
Wickes, Stephen. History of Medicine in New Jersey and of its Medical Men (Martin R. Dennis & Co.: Newark, NJ, 1879), pgs. 312-314.
The Leddel Family Records consist of numerous record books from a variety of sources. The Dr. William Leddel and Dr. John W. Leddel record books were donated by Margaret L. Ramsden in 1981. A number of the Samuel W. Leddel record books were removed from Manuscript Group 153, John Ralston Records. It is unclear whether these volumes were originally or mistakenly placed in MG 153, but at some point they were removed and placed with other Samuel W. Leddel volumes. The source of the remainder of the volumes is unknown.
The records consist of the account books and daybooks of Dr. William Leddel, Dr. John W. Leddel, and Samuel W. Leddel. The record books date from 1785-1878 and track the practices of both doctors and of Samuel W. Leddel’s general store and gristmill. The volumes have been organized into three series, one for each man, and then arranged by record type and date.
Series I - Dr. William Leddel (1747-1827)
This series contains two account books of Dr. William Leddel, dating from 1785-1819 and 1788-1826 respectively. The books track the doctor’s medical visits and contain customer accounts with date, reason for visit, prescription, and payment entries. This series also contains a number of loose bills and receipts.
Series II - Dr. John W. Leddel (ca.1784-1865)
This series contains four daybooks used by Dr. John W. Leddel dating from 1800-1833. These volumes trace the doctor’s daily practice with chronological entries of person visited, reason for visit, prescription, and price. This series also contains a memorandum book and a series of nine letters to the lawyer Elias Van Arsdale, concerning a lawsuit over the estate of Leddel’s father-in-law, Samuel Wills.
Series III - Samuel W. Leddel (1810-1875)
The final series contains the account books and daybooks of Samuel W. Leddel which track the business in his Mendham general store and gristmill. Entries include customer, date, item purchased, and price, and are arranged either chronologically in the daybooks, or under customer name in the account books. Most of the accounts are indexed.
Items sold at the general store include molasses, sugar, calico, shoes, muslin, blasting powder, oats, mittens, and tobacco, while the gristmill entries are for sacks or bags of wheat, feed, oats, or meal. A number of the volumes contain the names and probable handwriting of Sarah L. Leddel and Morgan W. Leddel, probably close family members of Samuel who worked at the store and mill. Finally, this series also contains one account book/daybook dating from 1875-1876 tracking the daily expenses of Samuel W. Leddel’s family and estate.
Processed by Kim Charlton, July 2000 as part of the "Farm to City" project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
The New Jersey Historical Society