The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
(from William Wordsworth “The World Is Too Much With Us”)
“Getting and spending” – that sums up about 25 years worth of Fielding Jollett’s activities as a farmer and citizen of Page County, Virginia. He didn’t grow from a 2-acre farmette to a 300-acre farm overnight, but evidently he was living beyond his means.
Fielding borrowed money from lots of people, and maybe he was buying on credit. In the Chancery complaint against him filed by merchants James W. Good and Reuben M. Walton, exhibit after exhibit of judgments proves he owed quite a bit to quite a few.
$43.79 plus interest from November 1857 plus 30 cents costs due to Good and Walton
$30.77 plus interest from November 1857 plus 30 cents costs due to Good and Walton
$40.16 plus interest from October 1859 plus 30 cents costs due to George Summers
$50 plus interest from January 1859 plus 60 cents costs due to George W. Shuler
These debts don’t look like much, but if online inflation calculators can be trusted, Fielding’s debts totaled roughly $7,000.
To get an idea of who these men were and how they were able to come to Fielding’s aid, I located them in the 1850 Federal Census for Page County, Virginia, and in the agricultural (non-population) census for the same year. It was immediately obvious that Fielding was just a small-time farmer.
Good and Walton are not included in the chart since they were not listed as farmers in 1850. Good was a cabinet maker and Walton was a tanner. But by 1860, both had accumulated some measure of wealth. Good, a miller and farmer, valued his real estate at $4500 and personal property at $950. Walton was a merchant with real estate worth $5000 and personal property valued at $6700.
Of course, anyone looking to borrow money would go to someone who had the money to lend, so it only makes sense that these men should be financially better off than Fielding. But he was a small-time farmer struggling to keep up even by comparison to his nearest neighbors.
Next time: the outcome