The Earliest Susquehanna River Bridge to York County is Authorized in 1793; Part 5, Increasing Bridge Tolls to Guarantee Profits for Shareholders
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, I’m posting 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 final of five parts; the other parts 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 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
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 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 XII, XIII and XIV.
Section XII deals with the penalty for the bridge company not following the enacted rules governing toll rates or for not keeping the bridge in good repair. For each offence, they shall pay $26.66 to the overseers of the poor for the use of the poor of the township of Windsor, in the county of York, and the poor of the township of Manor, in the county of Lancaster, equally to be divided.
Section XIII deals with keeping good financial records once the bridge has been completed and is in operation. They shall on every second Monday of January and July every year publish the dividend to be made of the said clear profits amongst the stockholders of the Susquehanna River Bridge from Blue Rock, Lancaster County to Pleasant Garden, York County.
Within Section XIV is an account of how the president and managers of the company may go about increasing bridge tolls to guarantee profits for shareholders. Effectively if bridge profits do not generate dividends of at least 6%, tolls can be raised to generate that level of dividend. Likewise if bridge profits generate dividends in excess of 25%, tolls must be lowered to prevent dividends from exceeding 25%.
(Section XII, P. L.) And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if the said company, their heirs and assigns, and whosoever shall own or possess the said bridge, shall collect or demand any greater rates or prices for passing over the said bridge than what is heretofore prescribed or specified, or shall neglect to keep the said bridge in good repair, he, she or they so offending shall, for every such offence, forfeit and pay the sum of twenty-six dollars and sixty-six cents, one moiety thereof to the overseers of the poor for the use of the poor of the township of Windsor, in the county of York, and the poor of the township of Manor, in the county of Lancaster, equally to be divided, and the other moiety for the use of the person who may sue for the same, to be recovered before any justice of the peace of the said counties, who is hereby empowered, on information given to him, on oath or affirmation, of any such offence, to issue his summons or warrant to any constable of said county, commanding him to bring, or cause any person against whom information may be made, to come before him, and on due proof of said offence, to convict such person thereof, and on such conviction, to issue a warrant, after the expiration of six days from the date of such conviction, to any constable to levy the sum of money on the goods and chattels of such offender by distress and sale thereof, and in case no goods and chattels may be found the property of said offender, on which to make such distress, then to take his body and commit him to the goal of the county where such offence is committed, until the sum is paid.
Provided always, That any person as aforesaid so convicted, who shall find himself aggrieved thereby, may, within the six days aforesaid, appeal to the next court of quarter sessions of the county, which appeal, on giving security within the same time, shall be allowed; and if the conviction so made by said justice shall be confirmed, the said justice shall proceed to levy the said forfeiture in manner hereinbefore directed.
And provided also, That no suit or action shall be brought, unless the same is brought within two months after the same offence is committed.
(Section XIII, P. L.) And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said president, managers and company shall also keep a just and true account of all and every the moneys received by their several and respective collectors of tolls, for crossing the said bridge, and shall make and declare a dividend of the clear profits and income thereof, all contingent costs and charges being first deducted, among all the subscribers to the said company’s stock, and shall on every second Monday of January and July every year publish the dividend to be made of the said clear profits amongst the stockholders, and of the time and place where and when the same will be paid, and shall cause the same to be paid accordingly.
(Section XIV, P. L.) And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said president and managers shall, at the end of every third year from the date of the incorporation until two years next after the bridge aforesaid shall be completed, lay before the general assembly of this commonwealth an abstract of their accounts, showing the whole of their capital expended in the prosecution of the said work, and of the income and profits arising from the said toll, for and during the said respective periods, together with an exact account of the costs and charges of keeping the said bridge in repair, and all other contingent costs and charges, to the end that the clear annual income and profits thereof may be ascertained and known, and if at the end of two years after the said bridge shall be completed, it shall appear from the average profits of the said two years, that the said clear income and profits thereof will not bear a dividend of six per centum per annum on the whole capital stock of the said company so expended, then it shall and may be lawful for the president, managers and company to increase the tolls hereinabove allowed, so much upon each and every allowance thereof as will rise the dividends to six per centum per annum, and at the end of every ten years after the said bridge shall be completed, they shall render to the general assembly a like abstract of their accounts for three preceding years, and if at the end of any such decennial period, it shall appear from such abstract that the clear profits and income of the said company will bear a dividend of more than twenty-five per centum per annum, then the said tolls shall be so reduced, as will reduce the said dividend to twenty-five per centum per annum.
This is my 118th post. An inventory of the general topics and locations that have been the subjects of my first 100 posts are presented in a 100-tile mosaic that breaks down these posts into seven general categories.Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts