The Earliest Susquehanna River Bridge to York County is Authorized in 1793; Part 1
The illustration contains a photocopy of the introduction to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania act passed April 11th 1793, authorizing a Susquehanna River Bridge from Blue Rock, Lancaster County to Pleasant Garden, York County. This was the earliest river bridge authorized to York County and although the bridge was never built, the act provides some interesting details.
The act is recorded in The Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania, Volume XIV, 1791-1793, Harrisburg, PA, Pages 444 to 454. Since the act is lengthy, every Tuesday I’ll post a transcript of the act in five parts. In the introduction to each part, I’ll provide some relevant comments; followed by a summary and then the direct transcript of the act.
Other posts in this series include:
- The Earliest Susquehanna River Bridge to York County is Authorized in 1793; Part 2
- The Earliest Susquehanna River Bridge to York County is Authorized in 1793; Part 3
- The Earliest Susquehanna River Bridge to York County is Authorized in 1793; Part 4, Schedule of Bridge Tolls
- The Earliest Susquehanna River Bridge to York County is Authorized in 1793; Part 5, Increasing Bridge Tolls to Guarantee Profits for Shareholders
Pleasant Garden is currently the Long Level area of Lower Windsor Township; therefore by the act of April 11, 1793 a bridge across the Susquehanna River to this area of York County was authorized. This was sixteen years before the same process was started on the initial Susquehanna River Bridge from Columbia to Wrightsville. When standing at Highpoint and looking Southeast, one can imagine what that earliest bridge would have looked like; that is my depiction in the illustration at the beginning of this post.
By an Act of March 28, 1809 a bridge across the Susquehanna River at Columbia was authorized and a charter was granted to a company to do so November 19, 1811. The first Columbia Bridge opened December 5, 1814. The location of the first bridge at Columbia is shown on my post about Lancaster County Maps having York County Information. When standing at Highpoint and looking North, one sees the current Route 30 and Route 462 Susquehanna River Bridges in the same general area as that first bridge between Columbia and Wrightsville.
The act authorizing a Susquehanna River Bridge from Blue Rock, Lancaster County to Pleasant Garden, York County contains 14 sections. This post will concentrate on Section I. Within Section I, six gentlemen are appointed bridge commissioners:
- James Short
- George Duffin
- Jacob Treat
- Jacob Carpenter
- Samuel Mickle Fox
- John Hannum
Jacob Treat is likely Jacob Tritt [Dritt]. Also of interest, Jacob Dritt purchases nine islands in the Susquehanna River on August 9, 1793. These islands are noted as Tritt’s Islands on later maps. The proposed bridge will pass over or close to these islands.
The remainder of Section I, spells out the stock price and duties of the bridge commissioners; such as:
- Each share of stock in the bridge company costs $150
- Describes how to set up 4 books to record the subscribers
- Describes how to give notice: three newspapers, one shall be in the German language
- What to do if the prescribed number of shares is not sold
- Initial payment is $10 per share; the remainder due after the company organizes
(Section I, P. L.) Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in General Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That James Short, George Duffin, Jacob Treat, Jacob Carpenter, Samuel Mickle Fox and John Hannum be, and they are, hereby appointed commissioners to do and perform the several duties hereinafter mentioned; that is to say: They shall and may, on or before the third Tuesday in May next, procure four books, and therein enter as follows: “We, whose names are hereunto subscribed, do promise to pay to the president, managers and company for building a bridge over the river Susquehanna, the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars for every share of stock in the said company set opposite to our respective names, in such manner and proportions, and at such times, as shall be determined by the president and managers, in pursuance of an act of the general assembly of this commonwealth, entitled “An act to enable the governor of this commonwealth to incorporate a company for building a bridge over the river Susquehanna. Witness our hands the —— day of —— in the year of our Lord ——,” and shall thereupon give notice in three of the public newspapers in Philadelphia, Lancaster and York, one whereof shall be in the German language, for one calendar month at least, of the time and place, in the city of Philadelphia, borough of Lancaster and Yorktown and Strasburgh, when and where the said books shall be open to receive subscriptions of stock for the said company, at which respective times and places some one of the said commissioners shall attend, and shall permit and suffer all persons who shall offer to subscribe in the said books, which shall for that purpose be kept open at least six hours in every juridical day, for the space of at least three successive days, if three days shall be necessary, and in any of the said juridical days, within the hours aforesaid, any person of the age of twenty-one years shall have liberty to subscribe in his own name, or by any other names, by whom he shall be authorized, for one share; on the second day, while the said book or books shall remain open, for any number of shares in said stock; and if at the expiration of the said three first days, the said book opened at Philadelphia shall not have two hundred and fifty shares therein subscribed, and the book opened at Lancaster shall not have one hundred shares therein subscribed, and the said book opened at Yorktown shall not have one hundred and fifty shares therein subscribed, and the said book opened at Strasburgh shall not have two hundred shares therein subscribed, the said commissioners, respectively, may adjourn from time to time until the said number of shares shall be subscribed, of which adjournment public notice shall be given in each place; and when the said subscriptions in the said books shall amount to the respective numbers aforesaid, the same shall be respectively closed; and if on that day, and before the said subscriptions shall be declared to be full, applications shall be made to subscribe more shares than will fill the said books, or either of them, to the numbers aforesaid, respectively, then the said commissioners, respectively, shall apportion the whole number of shares unsubscribed at such respective place on the morning of that day. Among all those who shall have subscribed, or offered to subscribe, as aforesaid, on that day, by deducting from the scribers of more shares than one, such proportion of the shares by them respectively subscribed as will, with the least fraction and leaving every person one or more shares, come nearest to the exact numbers of shares aforesaid: Provided always, That every person offering to subscribe in the said books in his own name, or any other name, shall previously pay to the attending commissioners ten dollars for every share to be subscribed, out of which shall be defrayed the expenses attending taking of such subscriptions and other incidental charges, and the remainder shall be paid over to the treasurer of the corporation, as soon as the same shall be organized and the officers chosen as hereinafter mentioned.
Check back next Tuesday for Sections II, III & IV of the 1793 act authorizing a Susquehanna River Bridge from Blue Rock, Lancaster County to Pleasant Garden, York County.Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts