The Earliest Susquehanna River Bridge to York County is Authorized in 1793; Part 2
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. This is the second of five parts; the other posts in this series include:
- The Earliest Susquehanna River Bridge to York County is Authorized in 1793; Part 1
- 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. As noted in Part 1 of this series, 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.
The Archives of the York County Heritage Trust has an early, undated layout of the Town of Pleasant Garden. This town layout contains named streets and 175 lots. The way the layout is drawn, High Street appears to be the road leading off the 1793 bridge and pointing in a direction towards York. I’m currently researching deeds, in an attempt to pinpoint the exact location where these streets would have existed in the Town of Pleasant Garden. When the bridge did not get built, this town also did not get built.
On the Lancaster County side of the Susquehanna River a Bridge Charter was still considered an asset of the developers of the town of Blue Rock years after it was granted. The 1883 History of Lancaster County by Ellis and Evans notes:
The town of Blue Rock, just south of Washington [Boro], in Manor township, was laid out Janurary 7, 1814, by Joseph Charles. It consisted of two hundred lots, from fifty-five to fifty-two feet front, one hundred and thirty feet deep, all fronting on streets sixty feet wide, extending to fourteen-feet alleys. This landing was considered the best ever offered for sale, being nearer Lancaster than any other shore on the river, and fifteen miles from Strasburg. … Joshua Scott made a plan and wrote deeds. Joseph Charles died Sept. 28, 1814, before sales were effected.
The 1926 History of Lancaster County by Klein adds the following details:
Included in the assets of the new community [Blue Rock] was a charter for a bridge across the Susquehanna from Blue Rock in Lancaster County, to Pleasant Garden, York County. The act was passed on April 11, 1793, but the bridge was never built.
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 Sections II, III and IV. In these sections the six gentlemen appointed bridge commissioners, James Short, George Duffin, Jacob Treat, Jacob Carpenter, Samuel Mickle Fox and John Hannum, are instructed what to do when fifty or more individuals had subscribed to five hundred or more shares of bridge stock.
The six bridge commissioners are charged with the task of organizing the Company for building a bridge over Susquehanna. The subscribers are to select one president, five managers, one treasurer, and such other officers as they think necessary to conduct the business of the Company. To prevent any one person, who might own many more than five shares of stock from dominating voting; it is specified that no person can vote more than five shares, even if he owns more.
(Section II, P. L.) And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That when fifty or more shall have subscribed five hundred or more shares of the said stock, the said commissioners, respectively, may, and when the whole number of shares aforesaid shall be subscribed, they shall certify under their hands and seals, the names of the subscribers and the number of shares subscribed by or apportioned to each subscriber, to the governor of this commonwealth, and thereupon it shall and may be lawful for the governor by letters patent, under his hand and seal of the state, to create and erect the subscribers; and if the said subscriptions be not full at the time, then also those who shall after subscribe to the numbers aforesaid, into one body politic and corporate in deed and in law, by the name, style and title of “President, Managers and Company for building a bridge over Susquehanna,” and by the said name the said subscribers shall have perpetual succession and all privileges and franchises incident to a corporation, and shall be capable of taking and holding their said capital stock, and the increase and profits thereof, and of enlarging the same from time to time by new subscriptions, in such manner and form as they shall think proper, if such enlargement shall be found necessary to fulfill the intent of this act, and of purchasing, taking and holding to them and their successors and assigns, in free simple or for any less estate, all such lands, tenements, hereditaments and estate, real and personal, as such be necessary to them in the prosecution of their works and of suing and being sued, and of doing all and every other matter and thing which a corporation or body politic may lawfully do.
(Section III, P. L.) And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the six persons first named in the said letters patent shall, as soon as conveniently may be after sealing the same, give notice in two of the public papers of Philadelphia, Lancaster and York, one whereof shall be in the German language, of a time and place by them to be appointed, not less than twenty days from the time of issuing the first notice, at which time and place the said subscribers shall proceed to organize the said corporation, and shall choose, by a majority of votes of the said subscribers, by ballot to be delivered in person or by proxy duly authorized, one president, five managers, one treasurer, and such other officers as they shall think necessary to conduct the business of the said company, for one year and until such other officers shall be chosen, and may make such by-laws, rules, orders and regulations, not inconsistent with the laws of this commonwealth, as shall be necessary for the well ordering the affairs of the said company.
Provided always, That no person shall have more than five votes at any election, or in determining any question arising at such meetings, whatever number of shares he may be entitled to, and that each person shall be entitled to one vote for every share by him held under the said number.
(Section IV, P. L.) And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said company shall meet on the first Monday of January every year in each succeeding year, in such place as shall be fixed by the rules and orders of the said company to be made as aforesaid, for the purpose of choosing such officers as aforesaid for the ensuing year, and at such other times as they shall be assembled by the managers, for the purpose of making by-laws, rules, orders and regulations not inconsistent with the constitution and existing laws of this state, as shall from time to time be necessary, of which meetings previous notice shall be given in such manner as shall be provided by such by-laws, rules and orders.
Check back in two weeks for Sections V, VI & VII 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