The First Books Room of the Chester Public Library (Chester, Illinois) is home to Morrison's handwritten account ledger for his Kaskaskia store.  The library received a Digitization Grant from the Illinois State Library (*see footnote) to digitize the entire ledger.   The project images were captured on a Nikon D100 digital camera and edited in Adobe Photoshop 7.  The images were then archived in JPEG and TIFF formats on CD Rom. 



The William Morrison Ledger is a handwritten ledger listing the transactions conducted at his Kaskaskia Store.  The ledger includes the customer's name, items purchased, and amount owed.   The 655-page ledger covers the years 1805 to 1831, offering glimpses of early merchandising methods.  It lists over 1200 early settlers who pioneered or traveled through Kaskaskia (Randolph County, Illinois).

In a separate book, presumably one of Morrison’s clerks compiled a handwritten index of the ledger.  The ledger was also digitized as part of the project.  However, it is in very fragile condition and several pages have sections missing.  

Morrison’s descendant, another William Morrison, gave the ledger and many other Kaskaskia Store account books to the Chester Public Library.


William Morrison (1763 - 1837) came to Kaskaskia from Philadelphia in 1790.  He was associated with his uncle, Guy Bryant of Philadelphia, in merchandising.  The firm of Bryant and Morrison was known throughout the West as one of great wealth and honorable standing.  When Morrison came to the area, Kaskaskia was one of the largest towns west of the Allegheny Mountains.   It possessed not only its central location for commerce, but had many other advantages.

Morrison maintained his Kaskaskia store as his principle place of business for both wholesale and retail trade.  From it merchants in St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, and Cape Girardeau received their goods.  The Kaskaskia store also supplied Morrison's store in Cahokia, Illinois.  Morrison furnished the Indians and Indian traders with great quantities of goods.  In the War of 1812, he contracted with the military to furnish rations to the troops.  At the time, his boats were the best and largest traveling up and down the Mississippi River.

William Morrison lived in a beautiful stone house in Kaskaskia.  He was known to be a large slave owner.  Over the years he accumulated a large fortune before his death in April 1837.


Actual size printed pages may be available from the Chester Public Library for a fee.  Contact the Chester Public Library at for more information.

*Funds for the William Morrison Ledger Digital Project were provided by the Illinois State Library (ISL), a division of the Office of Secretary of State, using funds provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), under the Federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).