Promissory Note to Jonathan Burgess, 17 August 1836
, , , and JS, Promissory Note, , Essex Co., MA, to Jonathan Burgess, 17 Aug. 1836; handwriting of ; signatures of and and partial signatures of and JS; endorsed by unidentified scribe; one page; JS Collection, CHL.This note is written on an irregular-shaped page measuring 1¾–3 × 7¾ inches (5–8 × 20 cm). The single leaf has one horizontal fold and three vertical folds. The signatures of and are fully visible. Because the bottom right corner is torn, all that remains of the other signatures (those of and JS) are parts of the “H” and the “J”. This document is discolored in some areas and has undergone preservation work; it is mounted on Japanese paper to prevent further tearing. The provenance of this document is unknown; it is assumed that the document has remained in continuous institutional custody since its creation.
Nearly two weeks after their arrival in , Massachusetts, JS, , , and signed a promissory note agreeing to pay Jonathan Burgess $100 plus interest for financial assistance that he had provided them. This Jonathan Burgess has not been identified, but he may be the same “Brother Burjece” JS referred to in a letter to his wife two days later, a man who had been with them in Salem but had left the city by 19 August. He may also possibly be the “Brother Burgess” who, according to ’s reminiscent account, written fifty-three years later, came to , Ohio, and provided information setting JS’s trip to New England in motion. None of this is certain, and no evidence exists to confirm whether these were in fact the same individual. Burgess was a relatively common surname in New England in the nineteenth century, and more than one individual named Burgess lived in the vicinity of at this time. A family with the surname of Burgess also lived in , Ohio, in 1836, but none of the men for whom there is biographical information were named Jonathan, and it is not known if any member of the Kirtland Burgess family had lived in Salem or had any relations there. A Jonathan Burgess is listed as attending a in Kirtland in 1837 and being a , but nothing else is known of this individual.It appears that the promissory note was paid, since the signatures of and JS have been torn from the bottom of the note. When a promissory note was paid, the names or signatures of the endorsers were often torn from the note, canceling or invalidating the note so it was no longer negotiable. The note would then act as a receipt for the individual who paid the debt.
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Chitty, Joseph. A Practical Treatise on Bills of Exchange, Checks on Bankers, Promissory Notes, Bankers’ Cash Notes, and Bank Notes. Springfield, IL: G. and C. Merriam, 1836.