Archives Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs
Manuscript Group 314, Richard Smith Denton (1790-1864), Merchant and postmaster
Papers, 1807-1863 (Bulk dates: 1820-1838), 3 linear feet / 6 boxes
Call Number: MG 314 + Box and folder number
Letters and routine business records of Richard Smith Denton (1790-1864) and Hezekiah Denton, who managed successive general stores in Snufftown (now in Hardyston Township), Seward Farm, and Vernon Township in Sussex County for William Smith and Company of New York City - the owner of and purveyor for a series of some twenty general stores in New York and New Jersey. Richard S. Denton's business interests extended to an iron forge and a sawmill, and he served as postmaster and overseer of the roads of Vernon Township. There is an undated, typescript history of "The Dentons of Vernon Valley" by Vernon B. Hampton.
Gift of Mrs. Edward P. Uptegrove, 1948.
Richard Smith Denton (1790-1864), the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Denton (III) (b. 1762) was descended from Rev. Richard Denton (1586-1662) who arrived in Massachusetts in 1630. Richard Smith Denton was a farmer in Goshen, New York and married Julia Gale (1792-1835) in 1812. The couple had eight children: Mary (1813-1895); John Gale (1816-1817); Richard Smith, Jr.; Sarah (1821-1825); Ira (1823-1825); Julia (b. 1826); Theodore (1830-1863); and Francis (1833-1833).
In 1821, the Dentons moved to Snufftown (now Hardyston Township, Sussex County), New Jersey where Richard replaced Hezekiah Denton in the management of a general store owned by Richard’s uncle, William Smith (d. 1825). The store was one of twenty owned by William Smith’s wholesale goods company, Smith & Company, based at 104 Pearl Street in New York City.
In 1823, Richard S. Denton persuaded William Smith to move the store first to nearby Seward Farms (Sussex County), New Jersey and then, in 1825, to Vernon Township (Sussex County). After the death of William Smith in 1825, Denton continued purchasing much of his inventory from Smith’s sons, Coe and Ira. Denton eventually owned his own store in Vernon Township, and in 1827, he moved his family into the Winans Inn homestead across the road from his store. That same year he became the postmaster of Vernon Township, and later, in 1831, was appointed overseer of the roads. At the time of his death in 1864, Richard Smith Denton passed ownership of the store to his son Richard S. Denton, Jr., who also assumed the office of postmaster. The Denton family were members of the Methodist Church of Vernon.
Hampton, Vernon Boyce, The Dentons of Vernon Valley, with Webb and Boyce Genealogies, Unpublished typescript in this collection, undated.
This collection was the gift of Mrs. Edith Denton Uptegrove, 1948.
This collection contains the papers of Richard Smith Denton largely consisting of correspondence and financial documents, and dating from 1807-1863, with bulk dates of 1820-1838. The papers have been arranged into six series: Correspondence, Legal documents, Post office documents, Financial documents, The estate of William D. Crampton (fl. 1807-1828), and a Denton family history.
The Correspondence series dates from 1820-1840, consists of ten folders, and is arranged alphabetically by the last name of the author, and then if necessary by date. The first three folders contain correspondence to Hezekiah Denton, the first manager of William Smith’s store in Snufftown, New Jersey. The letters date from 1822-1823 and deals with the management and maintenance of stock. The remainder of the correspondence to Richard S. Denton is from William Smith, his sons Coe and Ira, and Priscilla Lee, a New York resident that wrote to him concerning rents Denton collected for her. The majority of these letters deal with store business.
The series of legal documents, dating from 1815-1859, occupies one folder and primarily consists of property agreements, land sale contracts, handwritten trial transcripts, and lease contracts. These documents are arranged chronologically.
The series of post office documents dates from 1827-1837, occupies two folders, and is arranged chronologically. These items consist of semi-annual accounting documents from the headquarters of the Post Office Department and lists of mail that remains in the Vernon post office.
The series of financial documents dates from 1807-1863 and occupies thirty folders. Document types include bills for schooling, promissory notes, an undated account book of Richard Smith Denton, and bills and accounts that are arranged chronologically. There are also six folders of receipts regarding rent and loan payments, land purchases, and the sale of livestock and lumber. Next in this series is a daybook of Denton’s from 1822-1824, and then ten folders of lists of wholesale goods sent to Denton or requests for credit, which are arranged alphabetically.
The next series consists of two folders of documents dating from 1815-1828 pertaining to the estate of William D. Crampton from 1815-1828, of which Richard S. Denton was the apparent executor. The documents are mostly receipts for payments made and received by the estate. The last series occupies one folder containing an unpublished typescript entitled The Dentons of Vernon Valley, with Webb and Boyce Genealogies, by Vernon Boyce Hampton. This family history is 112 pages, unbound, and undated.
See other merchants' records/papers.
Processed by Luis Delfino, February 2001 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