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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Local Settlers Demanded Roads Throughout Warren County

Dallas Bogan on 26 July 2004
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland: Heritage Press, 1979) page 145
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

After General Anthony Wayne's victory over the Indians, in 1794 (the Battle of Fallen Timbers), and the Treaty of Greenville was signed in 1795, the settlers made a demand for roads. Mere paths were the only form of roads. The land was bought by the early settlers and found no way of clearing or farming because of constant Indian attacks.
The Act of 1792 was the first provisional act for the construction of highways in Ohio. This act gave the Governor and judge's power to begin programs for roads. Under this act, all able-bodied males, 16 years and over, should work on the roads not more than ten days annually. A man could hire a substitute or send a team of horses. Refusing to work meant a fine of $.50 per day to be paid to the supervisor. If a minimum of twelve persons, who lived in a county or territory petitioned for a road, the petition could be granted.
A surveyor was appointed at the petitioners' expense. The above was recorded in the County clerk's office. The supervisor was responsible for building and maintaining his own roads.
The Act of 1792 was little touched in so far as road building was concerned. Another road amendment was to take place, the Act of 1799. This act changed the minimum age to 21 years, instead of 16, to do labor on the roads. A fine of $.75 per day was leveled on those who refused to work. A road tax, not to exceed one-half of the tax levied to defray territorial or county expenses, was ordered by the County Commissioners. All public roads or highways were to be kept in repair according to the statutes of law. A notification of twenty days in advance to all owners of improved property whose land the proposed road was to go through was mandatory.
In 1803, Congress set up what was known as the "Three Per Cent Fund," which said in certain terms, that this amount was to be set aside from the net proceeds of the sale of all public lands for the building of public roads and that two per cent was to be set aside for roads leading up to the states boundary. This money was spent to lay out roads rather than for the building of the roads.
The road law of 1804, or the Sheepskin Code, said in effect: "Labor was required of all males between ages of 18 and 50, who were residents of the townships through which the road would pass, each man to work three days or be assessed a fine of $1.00 per day." A highway supervisor was responsible for the roads in his respective township. These supervisors saw that roads were kept in repair; the funds came from the fine fund. The law stated that: "All the road commissioners should make certain that all the roads were properly surveyed and plainly marked to a width of 56 feet."
The money to be spent on each road was specified in the Act of 1804, and to assure fair distribution of the fund, each road was divided into sections from 5 to 30 miles with an equal amount appropriated for each. A description of the road construction is "that all timber and brush should be cut and cleared off at least 20 feet wide, leaving the stumps not more than 1 foot in height [merely for the wagon axles to clear], wet and miry places shall be made of timber covered with earth; small streams that are difficult to be passed shall be bridged."
The Legislative Act of 1817, provided: "Right of way width-66 ft.; cleared of brush and logs 33 ft.; At least 18 feet to be made an artificial road composed of stone, gravel, wood or other material well compacted together in such manner as to secure a firm, even and substantial road, rising in the middle with a gradual arch, and in no case shall the ascent in any turnpike road be greater than 5 degrees."
The Legislative Act of 1824 fixed width of state roads at 66 feet, county roads at 60 feet, and township roads at 40 feet.


The first law governing turnpikes in Ohio was in 1817. This law said that the right of way shall be 66 feet. It should be cleared of brush and logs to 33 feet. At least 18 feet is to be made an "artificial road" composed of stone, gravel, wood or other material well compacted together so as to secure a "firm, even and substantial road, rising in the middle with a gradual arch, and in no case shall the ascent in any such turnpike road be greater than five degrees."
Tollgates were to be located every ten miles, but no gates were to be erected within two miles of the centers of the terminal towns. Toll rates were varied, depending on the companies who built the turnpikes. Some charged only $.12 1/2 for two-horse wagon, while other companies charged as much as $.25. Rates scaled as low as $.01 per head of cattle and $.10 for a score of hogs or sheep. Men on foot paid no toll. Also exempt from toll were those who traveled to church, to funerals, elections, or militia musters. A fine of $5 was levied upon those persons who tried to evade payment at the tollgates by passing them.
Each company was responsible for the maintenance of its own roads. A fine was imposed if the company was found in neglect, such as the condition of the road. A complete account of the monetary payment was required. Also an account of the receipts from the tollgates was mandatory.
The County or State might at any time purchase a turnpike by paying a sum that, together with the tolls received, would equal the original expenses, plus 12 percent per year. It was under this and similar arrangements that the roads became public property.
In 1826, only one turnpike in Ohio had been completed. This was a turnpike from Warren, in Trumbull County, to Lake Erie, a distance of 48 miles. The Cincinnati, Lebanon and Springfield Turnpike (U.S. 42) was subscribed for and passed in 1828 and extended to 1830.
The citizens of four counties held meetings at Lebanon. The fifteen miles from Cincinnati to Sharonville, completed in 1833, were very heavily traveled. Two tollgates were installed on this completed section. With the State's interest in the road by conscription to its capital stock in 1837, the work was pushed forward. The eight and one-half miles from Sharonville to Palmyra (Mason) were completed in 1838 and a third tollgate was erected. The road was completed through to Lebanon in 1839. The line of the road was changed from the original plans. These plans called for the road to come in on the west side to Main Street. An agreement was made that a southerly route would allow the road to come in on Broadway.
On December 1, 1839, a fourth and a fifth tollgate were erected to the completed section from Cincinnati to Waynesville, a distance of thirty- eight miles. By December 1841 the road was nearly completed to Xenia.
The Dayton, Centerville and Lebanon Turnpike (S.R. 48) was the main artery from Lebanon to Dayton. The road stretched to a distance of a little less than twenty-three miles. In August 1839, only ten miles was completed of which toll was collected. A description of this turnpike in 1839 is described as such; "This road leads out of Main Street, Dayton, passing over an undulating country. It is well constructed of stone and gravel, and the grades are in all cases easy, with the exception of a hill near Dayton which it becomes necessary to encounter in order to reach Main Street." The total cost of this road was about $100, 000.
The Montgomery Pike (S.R. 3 & U.S. 22) was the road constructed by the Cincinnati, Montgomery, Hopkinsville and Clarksville Turnpike Company. This company was incorporated in 1834. The charter called for the road to be completed to Roachester within ten years.
At Fosters, a toll bridge was built over the Little Miami. As of November 26, 1839, ten miles of the first portion was finished and tolls were taken in two locations. The State paid for this portion of the road more than $28,000, and individuals the same amount. In 1840, the State withdrew its aid and the company was thrown into a financial bind. Because of this embarrassment many farmers who had worked on the road received no pay.

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This page created 26 July 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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