Business, legal, political, and
personal correspondence of the founders, officers, employees, and legal counsel of the
Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt company in Kanawha County, West Virginia.
William Dickinson and Joel Shrewsbury founded Dickinson & Shrewsbury in 1814. The
company had been proceeded by several other corporations based on land first purchased by
Colonel John Dickinson in 1784 along the banks of the Kanawha River, Virginia (later to
become West Virginia). John Dickinson conveyed his land to his sons-in-law, Samuel and John
Shrewsbury. They settled there and established farms, bought more land, and started a salt
business. They invited their brother Joel Shrewsbury and his business partner and
brother-in-law William Dickinson to come to Virginia and join their business enterprises.
Joel Shrewsbury and William Dickinson began to purchase property, rented a salt furnace, and
moved their business to Kanawha in 1814. The firm of Dickinson & Shrewsbury was a large
user of slave labor in their salt works and mines often using enslaved people "hired out"
from enslavers in the area. Enslavers would often "hire out" their enslaved people to
others, which could earn the enslavers more money; they would even take out insurance
policies on the enslaved laborers at times. In December 1865, William Dickinson initiated
dissolution proceedings against Joel Shrewsbury. At the time, the company owned four salt
furnaces and fifty-nine parcels of land in Kanawha County and Virginia, Tennessee, and
Kentucky, and the company claimed ownership of 130 enslaved laborers. The dissolution
proceedings lasted until 1882, long after the founders' deaths. The Dickinson family was
later involved in the founding of the Kanawha Valley Bank, and in 2013, descendants of the
Dickinson family re-opened the salt mines under the name of J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works.
55.54 Linear Feet
(33 boxes and 8 oversize folders)
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