The March 6, 1812 New York Statute Authorizing Construction of the Pelham Bridge
On March 6, 1812, the New York State Legislature enacted a statute incorporating the "Eastchester Bridge Company" to build a bridge over the Hutchinson River where it empties into Eastchester Bay. The bridge was built shortly afterward and is believed to have been completed by about 1815. In 1817, the Westchester and Pelham Turnpike Company was incorporated to construct a turnpike from the causeway at Westchester to the bridge. That bridge came to be known as "Pelham Bridge" -- the name it bears today. Even in its first iteration, Pelham Bridge was a draw bridge to permit masted ships to pass.
Within its first few years, the first Pelham Bridge was destroyed by a storm. On April 12, 1816, the company was authorized by the Legislature to sell its property and toll franchise for a period of forty-five years. The second bridge was built in 1834 by George Rapelje, with the right to charge tolls for a period of thirty years, but the supervisors of Westchester County purchased the bridge in 1860 and made it free. The bridge was replaced with an iron bridge constructed in 1869-1870. That bridge, in turn, was replaced by the present larger bridge, opened by the New York City Department of Bridges on October 15, 1908.
I have written before about the history of the Pelham Bridge. See, e.g.: Thu., Jan. 1, 2009: A Brief History of Pelham Bridge. Additionally, I have written about other aspects of the Pelham Bridge and its history on numerous occasions. For a lengthy list of such postings with links, see the end of today's article.
Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting transcribes the text of the March 6, 1812 statute that incorporated the Eastchester Bridge Company and authorized it to build the first Pelham Bridge. The statute contains a wealth of information relevant to the early history of the Town of Pelham.
An ACT to incorporate the Eastchester Bridge Company. Passed March 6, 1812.
WHEREAS Herman Le Roy and others have, by their petition to the Legislature, prayed to [Page 23 / Page 24] be incorporated for the purpose of erecting, by voluntary subscriptions, a bridge across Eastchester creek, and to be authorised to exact from all persons using such bridge, a toll merely adequate to the repairs thereof: Therefore,
Eastchester bridge company incorporated
I. Be it enacted by the people of the state of New-York, represented in Senate and Assembly, That Herman Le Roy, James Harvey, William Bayard, John Bartow, Richard Ward, Elbert Roosevelt, Daniel Pelton, Joshua Heustice and John Hunter, and all such other persons as shall associate for the purpose of building a bridge across the mouth of Eastchester creek, from the farm of James Harvey, in the town of Pelham, to the point of Throgh's Neck, called Dormer's Island, in the county of Westchester, and shall subscribe and pay towards building the said bridge a sum not less than twenty-five dollars, their successors and assigns, shall be and hereby are created a body corporate and politic, by the name of 'the president and directors of the Eastchester bridge company,' and so to remain for the term of thirty years and no longer;
Their style and corporate rights.
and they are hereby constituted and declared to be a body politic and corporate, in fact and in name, and by that name they and their successors may have continual succession, and shall be capable in law of suing and being sued, pleading and being impleaded, answering and being answered unto, defending and being defended, in all courts and places whatever; and that they and their successors may have a common seal, and may make, change and alter the same at their pleasure, and also that they and their successors, by the same name and style, shall be capable in law of purchasing, holding and conveying, any real or personal estate for the use of the said corporation:
Provided, That the estates so to be holden shall be such only as shall be necessary to promote or attain the objects of this incorporation.
II. And be it further enacted, That the capital stock of the said company shall consist of so many shares of twenty-five dollars each, as shall amount to a sum sufficient, for building the said bridge, and the toll house and gate thereunto belonging; and each stockholder shall be entitled to as many votes for directors of the [Page 24 / Page 25] said company as he may hold shares of the said stock;
and the affairs of the said company shall be managed by seven directors, who shall be chosen annually from among the stockholders of the said company, by a plurality of the votes of the said stockholders, at such times and in such manner as may be prescribed by the by-laws of the said company; and a majority of the said directors shall elect one of their number to be president, and the said president, with a majority of the said directors, shall be a quorum capable of transacting the business of the said corporation;
and shall have power to make such by-laws, rules, orders and regulations, (not inconsistent with the constitution and laws of this state or of the United States,) as shall be necessary for the well governing the affairs of the said company.
The company may build a bridge over Eastchester creek.
III. And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for the said company to erect and build at their own expense, a good and substantial bridge across Eastchester creek, at the place before mentioned:
Provided, That the said bridge be built at least twenty-four feet wide in the clear between the sides or railings thereof, and be well covered with planks, not less than three inches thick, and the sides of the said bridge be well secured with good and substantial railings, not less than four feet, six inches height:
And provided further, That the said bridge be constructed with a draw, to open at least twenty feet, so as to permit vessels with standing masts conveniently to pass and repass the said bridge, which passage shall be freely passed, repassed and used, by all persons whatever, without toll or reward.
IV. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the said company to keep and maintain the said bridge, and the floor, sides, railings and draw thereof, in good and sufficient repair from the time the said bridge shall be completed, during the continuance of this act;
and when they have completed the said bridge, they shall at all times thereafter, as well by night as by day, provide and keep a sufficient person or persons at or near the said bridge, to open the draw thereof; and such person or persons so attending, on sufficient no- [Page 25 / Page 26] tice being given to him or them by the master or owner of any vessel having necessary business or occasion to pass the said bridge, by blowing a horn or otherwise, such person or persons so attending the said bridge shall immediately open or cause to be opened, the said draw, and shall permit every such vessel to pass through the said draw unmolested and freely as aforesaid;
The company shall pay a fine of five dollars
for every 10 minutes neglect to open the draw.
and when any vessel shall be unnecessarily detained from passing through the said draw for more than ten minutes, by the refusal, neglect or delay of any person or persons so attending the said bridge, the said company shall pay to the owner or master of such vessel so unnecessarily detained, the sum of five dollars for every ten minutes such vessel shall be so unnecessarily detained beyond ten minutes before mentioned, which sum or sums shall be paid upon demand, to be made of the president of the said company;
Masters and owners of vessels to pass with due diligence.
and the owner or master of any vessel at whose request the said draw shall be opened, shall use all due diligence and expedition in passing such vessel through the said draw,
For every 10 minutes delay to forfeit 5 dollars to the company
and shall pay to the said company five dollars for every ten minutes of unnecessary delay in passing such vessel through the said draw, after the said draw shall have been opened to permit her to pass through it; which sum or sums shall be paid upon demand to be made of the master or owner of such vessel, by an authorised officer or agent of the said company.
The judges of Westchester county to give a certificate
that the bridge is sufficiently constructed.
V. And be it further enacted, That as soon as the said bridge shall be finished, and the judges of the court of common pleas in and for the county of Westchester, or a majority of them, shall, upon inspection, have certified under their hands that the said bridge is well and sufficiently constructed and built, and will admit the passage of loaded teams and other carriages, and is in all things conformable to the true intent and meaning of this act, it shall and may be lawful for the said company to erect a gate at or near the said bridge, and to exact and demand of all persons passing the said bridge a toll to be received and taken for the use of the said company, to enable them to keep and maintain the said bridge in repair, which toll shall not exceed the following rates, to wit:
Rates of toll.
For every stage-waggon, drawn by [Page 26 / Page 27] two or more horses or mules, twelve and an half cents; for every four wheel pleasure carriage, with two or more horses, twelve and an half cents; for every two wheel pleasure carriage or sleigh, and horses or mules, six cents; for every waggon and horses or mules, other than stage-waggons, four cents; for every man and horse or mule, two cents; for every ox-cart with oxen, four cents; for every market sleigh or sled and horses, or mules or oxen, four cents; for every cart with one horse or mule, three cents; for every ox, bull, cow, steer, mule or horse, led or driven loose over the said bridge, one cent; for every score of sheep or swine, two cents, and in that proportion for a greater or less number of them.
VI. And be it further enacted, That Herman Le Roy shall be president, and John Hunter, Richard Ward, John Bartow, Elbert Roosevelt, Daniel Pelton and Joshua Hustice, directors of the said comapny, until an election for directors of the said company shall be held according to the provisions of this act.
VII. And be it further enacted, That as soon as the said bridge shall be finished, the said company shall render to the Comptroller of this state an account of the costs thereof,
and that they shall annually thereafter render him a full and just account of all monies received by them for tolls for passing the said bridge, and of all expenditures to be made by them in repairing and maintaining the said bridge, to the end that if it shall be found that the rates of toll hereby established shall be more than adequate to the repairs of the said bridge, the said rates of toll may be reduced in such manner as the Legislature may from time to time think proper and expedient.
VIII. And be it further enacted, That the proviso contained in the seventh section of the act, entitled 'an act for improving the road from Eastchester to Byram,' be, and the same hereby is repealed:
Provided, That it shall not be lawful to erect the most easterly gate therein mentioned to the eastward of the dwelling-house of Thomas Theall, in Rye.
IX. And be it further enacted, That it shall be lawful for the company incorporated by the last mentioned [Page 27 / Page 28] act
The draw in the bridge at
Fisher's Landing discontinued.
to discontinue the draw in the bridge across Eastchester creek, at Fisher's Landing, directed by the said act to be maintained in the said bridge.
This is a public act.
X. And be it further enacted, That this act be, and the same is hereby declared to be a public act."
Source: "CHAP. XXII. An ACT to Incorporate the Eastchester Bridge Company Passed March 6, 1812" in Laws of the State of New-York, Passed at the Thirty-Fifth Session of the Legislature Begun and held at the City of Albany, The Twenty-Eighth Day of January, 1912, pp. 23-28 (Albany, NY: Printed for S. Southwick, Printer to the State, 1812).
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Below is a listing of other postings I have published regarding the Pelham Bridge. Together they present a rather interesting history of the bridge that was so important to the development and expansion of the Town of Pelham during the nineteenth century.
Tue., Sep. 22, 2009: Names of Early "Keepers of Pelham Bridge" Appointed by Westchester County.
Thu., Jan. 08, 2009: Another Brief History of The Pelham Bridge.
Thu., Jan. 1, 2009: A Brief History of Pelham Bridge.
Wed., Jan. 2, 2008: New York State Senate Report on Petition by Inhabitants of Westchester to Allow Construction of Toll Bridge Across Eastchester Creek in 1834.
Tue., Aug. 28, 2007: The Laying Out of Pelham Avenue From Fordham to Pelham Bridge in 1869.
Wed., Jul. 4, 2007: 1857 Real Estate Advertisement for Sale of the Pelham Bridge.
Fri., Jul. 22, 2007: 1857 Real Estate Advertisement for Sale of "Country Seat" at Pelham Bridge.
Fri., May 18, 2007: Celebration at Pelham Bridge in 1872.
Wed., May 16, 2007: Board of Supervisors of Westchester County Vote to Build New Iron Bridge to Replace Pelham Bridge in 1869.
Tue., May 15, 2007: The Owner of the Pelham Bridge Hotel Sold it for the Princely Sum of $22,000 in 1869.
Mon., May 14, 2007: Plans to Widen Shore Road in the Town of Pelham in 1869.
Fri., May 11, 2007: A Sad Attempted Suicide at Pelham Bridge in 1869.
Thu., Dec. 08, 2005: The First Stone Bridge Built Across Eastchester Creek in Pelham, 1814-1815.
Thu., Aug. 18, 2005: The Opening of the New Iron "Pelham Bridge" in 1871.
Tue., Aug. 9, 2005: Cock Fighting at Pelham Bridge in the 19th Century.
Thu., Jul. 21, 2005: Today's Remnants of the Bartow Station on the Branch Line Near City Island.
Tue., Jun. 28, 2005: The Hotel and Bar Room at Pelham Bridge.
Thu., Mar. 24, 2005: The Bartow Area of Pelham in the 19th Century: Where Was It?
Wed., Mar. 23, 2005: Prize Fighting at Pelham Bridge in 1884.
For more about the Pelham Bridge and its history, see Pelham Bridge, Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia, available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelham_Bridge (visited May 6, 2014).
Labels: 1812, Daniel Pelton, Eastchester Bridge Company, Elbert Roosevelt, Herman Le Roy, Hutchinson River, James Harvey, John Bartow, John Hunter, Joshua Huestis, Pelham Bridge, Richard Ward, William Bayard