Early Highways

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To the Worshipful Justices of the County of Lancaster now sitting in the Borough of Lancaster:

The Petitioners having frequent occasion to go to the town of New York (meaning the new town of York) and no roads being made amongst us, it is very difficult for your petitioners to travel, especially in the winter, for reason of the swamps and savannahs that is betwixt us and said town of York. Therefore, we, your petitioners, humbly crave that your worships would be pleased to grant an order for laying and making a road from John Nelson’s ferry to the aforesaid town of New York.

Therefore, your petitioners pray that your worship would be pleased to take the petition into consideration, and order your petitioners what you shall think proper, and your petitioners as in duty bound, shall pray.

May Sessions, 1749

Daniel Laverty John Nelson

Paul Martin Alex. Nelson

John Campbell Morton McHaffey

Edward Mahon Finley Gray

Manasa Lamb James McCartley

Thomas Carson Benjamin Saylor

John Carson Daniel Johnston

William Buchannan Thomas Johnston

Charles Cadwell James Anderson

Hugh Ross William Anderson

Matthew Long George Baughman

The names of these petitioners are all of English or Scotch-Irish origin, except the last, which is, doubtless, German. They were some of the earliest settlers, having only been living there a few years. The petition asks for a road from Nelson’, later McCall’s, ferry to York. Action was taken by the court during the May sessions of 1749, and Charles Caldwell, John Campbell, Robert Smart, William Buchannan, Robert Morton, and Nathaniel Morgan appointed to view and lay out the road. Their report was made and confirmed at the next session of the Lancaster Court. Its courses and distances nearly correspond to the present Peach Bottom public road.

The honorable petition of the people, the inhabitants on the branches of the Bermudian, in Monaghan Township.

To the Honorable, the Court at Lancaster, now sitting, we, your humble petitioners, take leave to inform you of our great disadvantage we labor under, for want of a road being made or opened from our settlement to Yorktown, it being our highest and best way to Lancaster and Philadelphia, our placers of market, and likewise our court. We humbly petition your court, that you would grant us an order from your court to open said road Sufficient for wagons to travel between Archibald McAllister’s mill to York, and that you would appoint such men as you see best as prospectors and overseers of said road. We, remembering the favors granted to us by your honors, already, comfort ourselves in the hope of your granting in this favor, as we, as in duty bound, shall every pray.

April 7, Anno Domino, 1749

John Griest Matthew Dill

Andrew Miller Tho. Dill

Henry Wilson William Underwood

Charles Coulson John Hendricks

Thomas Petit John Lease

Caleb Hendricks Matthew Mellon

John Jesper Edward Robbards

James Hendricks Richard Cox

John Powell Alexander Underwood

James Petit Jacob Beals

Edward How William Beals

Joseph Dennis Samuel Cox

John Douglass Abraham Nesbitt

John Brandon

Under York County Courts.

This petition being made the same year that York County was formed, the Lancaster Court deferred the matter, whereupon a similar petition, which was the first presented to the York Court upon its organization after the erection of the county, was granted, and the road ordered to be opened from “McAllister’s mill on the Bermudian Creek to the town of York.” The viewers were John Beadles, William Cox, John Grist, Abraham Leer, John Lease and James Petit. This route is the one at present know as the “Shippensburg road.” McAllister’s mill was in the present area of Adams County. The names were all signed in well written English.

History of York County, Pennsylvania

Prowell Vol 1 1907



Brief History of Dover's Canal Road

Canal Road. On motion of James Smith, Esq., on behalf of Caleb Lowe and others, viewers were appointed April, 1768, to open a road from Lowe’s ferry (now York Haven) to intersect the road leading from York to Carlisle. This afterward was known as the “Canal road.”

The petition of sundry inhabitants of Newberry and Dover, July, 1768 apprehended that “a road from James Rankin’s house to Great Conewago, at or near a place called the wolf pit, and from thence to a ferry on the Susquehanna would be useful.” Whereupon the court appointed James Welsh, Exq., John Garretson, Sr., Henry Entzminger, Joseph Hutton, Peter Sneider, and Ellis Lewis to open the road. It was laid out in October. Its length was sixteen miles.” It began at Lewisberry and ended at New Holland, on the Susquehanna.

Petitions in 1769 from a number of “Quakers of the townships of Newberry, Warrington, Huntingdon, Tyrone and Menallen, were presented for a road leading westward through the different townships mention, for them to pass and repass to and from their different places of worship; to begin at McGraw’s mill, thence along by the meeting houses at Huntingdon (York Springs), and Warrington, and to intersect the road leading from Lowe’s ferry to Carlisle, at or near the Newberry meeting house.” This road was opened by John Blackburn, Ellis Lewis, Charles Coleson, Robert Nelson, and James Rankin: It terminated near the present village of Newberry. A petition of sundry inhabitants of York County was presented to court, January, 1769, for a road “for the passage of large wagons from Tate’s ferry and William Willis’ mill into the great road from Carlisle to York near Widow Noblet’s house, which would be some miles nearer for the Baltimore trade.”

In April, 1769, the inhabitants of Hellam, Windsor and Chanceford requested that a road be made from Hellam Forge, at the mouth of the Codorus, across said townships toward Rock Run and Baltimore and join the road already laid out to John Finley’s tavern. Viewers were appointed and the road opened. It is still known as the “old Baltimore road.”

In 1769 citizens of York and surrounding townships asked for the opening of a road in behalf of Thomas Usher and Joseph Donaldson, who, “at great expense, had erected a merchant mill on the land formerly owned by Zachariah Shugart, near lands of David Jameson, Esq., Henry Spangler and Michael Hanks. This road would be of great advantage to the town of York. The road was opened.

In 1769, in answer to many petitions in behalf of James Cooper, who had built a merchant mill near Peach Bottom, a road was opened from the ferry to said mill.

James Dickson, at April session, 1769, stated that “he had contracted with commissioners and built a bridge across the Little Conewago, at Henry Sturgeon’s house, for 100 pounds, and to uphold the same for seven years; at the same time had the verbal promise of the commissioners that they would not see him at a loss, for they said that it would be wrong to let one man suffer by the county. Accordingly they told him to lay his bill of expenses before the grand jury; that nevertheless he had not yet obtained redress: The court appointed six men to view the bridge, whose report was favorable to the contractor, and the court ordered the county to relieve him. It is doubtful if a contractor would be so favored now.

In July, 1770, a road was opened from Yonerstown (Dover) to George Ilgenfritz’s mill, in Dover Township, by Michael Quickel and others.

The same year a road was opened from Hellam iron works, at the mouth of the Codorus, to York.

History of York County, PA

Prowell Volume 1 1907