A Debt Collection Letter from 1900

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Waco Ga

Dec 21st 1900

Mr. JC Key

Dear Sir

Below you will find statement of your account with us. You will greatly oblige us to settle the same before January 1st 1901.

The goods you bought at cash price, with the understanding they were to be paid for in a few days. Now we have waited patiently more than a year though we have needed the money badly. We think you will appreciate our favor and attend to this matter at once and oblige.

Yours truly

Mauldin & Co

Nov 18th 1899

Mr. JC Key

In acct with Mauldin & Co

To 50# Flour 1.00

” Sugar .50

” Snuff .10

” Potted & C .25

$1.85

Interest 7% .13

$1.98

Before there was the modern-day grocery store, people mostly farmed their own food, butchered their own animals, or purchased dry goods from local proprietors. The first grocery store in the United States was Piggly Wiggly, which opened in Memphis, Tennessee 16 years after this letter was written. In the year 1900, the patron would often approach the counter of the store and hand the clerk a list of items to retrieve, rather than perusing aisles and choosing goods themselves.

piggly wiggly

In this letter, we learn that JC Key had purchased goods from Mauldin & Co, a local Waco, Georgia business on November 18, 1899 with the promise that he would pay for the items in a few days. This collection letter was delivered to him over a year later, with a $0.13 interest charge and a request for him to pay his balance by January 1, 1901. If we look at an inflation calculator, we see that $1.98 in the year 1900 is equivalent to about $61.00 today.

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