In force Feb.[February] 10, 1835.
AN ACT to Incorporate the Peoria Bridge Company.1
Sec.[Section] 1. Be it enacted by the people of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly, That all such persons
<Page 2>as shall become subscribers to the stock hereinafter mentioned, shall be, and they are hereby constituted and declared a body corporate and politic, by the name and style of “The Peoria Bridge Company,” from and after the passage of this act, and by that name, they, and their successors, shall, and may hereafter have succession, and shall, in law, be capable of suing and being sued, pleading and being impleaded, answer and being answered, in all courts and places whatsoever; and they and their successors, may have a common seal, and may alter and change the same at pleasure; and also, they and their successors, by that name and style, shall be, in law, capable of purchasing, holding and conveying any estate, real and personal, for the use of said corporation; but the said real estate to be holden, shall be such only as shall be necessary to promote or attain the object of the corporation.
Commissioners to open books for subscriptions.
Sec. 2. That the capital stock of said company, shall be fifty thousand dollars, divided into one thousand shares of fifty dollars each; and Francis Voris, Andrew M. Hunt, Jacob Chrisman, Aquilla Wren, Andrew Gray, Lewis Bigelow, Rodolphus Rouse, Anson N. Deming, William S. Mans, and Charles G. Thomas, are hereby appointed commissioners to receive subscriptions for the said stock, and such subscriptions shall be opened at such time and place as the commissioners, or a majority of them, shall appoint, by notice to be published in the Peoria Champion, a newspaper printed in Peoria, thirty days before the time appointed. If the requisite number of shares shall not be subscribed for at the time and place appointed for such subscription, said commissioners, or a majority of them, shall take such measures for completing such subscription, as they may deem expedient and proper. Every subscriber shall, at the time of subscribing, pay to said commissioners the sum of one dollar for each share subscribed.
Treasurer, directors, &c.[etc.] to be elected.
Sec. 3. As soon as five hundred shares shall be subscribed, the said commissioners shall give notice thereof, in manner aforesaid, and appoint the time and place in such notice for such subscribers to meet for the purpose of choosing a treasurer, clerk, and seven directors. Every stockholder shall be entitled, at such and all other elections, to one vote for each share to the number of ten, and one vote for every five additional shares; which votes may be given in person or by proxy. At the election to be held as aforesaid, the said commissioners, or such of them as may attend, shall be inspectors, and their certificate of the names of the persons elected, shall be conclusive evidence of such election. The first Monday in the month in which such election shall be held, shall be the anniversary day of all subsequent elections of such officers. A majority of
<Page 3>the directors so chosen, shall be a quorum, and shall be capable of transacting the business of the corporation; and any act of the majority of said directors, shall be binding on said corporation. The said directors, when elected as aforesaid, shall immediately proceed to the choice of one of their number for president, and the said president and directors may meet from time to time, and shall have power to make such by-laws, rules and regulations as shall be deemed expedient and proper for the well ordering of the affairs of the said corporation: Provided, the same be not repugnant to the constitution and laws of this State and of the United States.
Objects and powers of the incorporation.
Sec. 4. The said corporation are hereby authorized and empowered to erect a bridge over the Illinois river at or near the out-let of Lake Peoria,2 which shall be constructed with a convenient draw at least thirty feet wide, for the passage of steam boats and other vessels; and shall keep good and sufficient lights on each side of said draw at all proper times, and shall also keep some suitable person or persons at the said bridge, who shall raise said draw when it may be necessary for the passage of any steam boat, or other vessel, passing up or down said river, free from expense to the owners thereof.3
May enter upon certain land.
Sec. 5. The said president and directors, or other persons employed by them, may enter upon and take possession of the land on each side of the river, when such bridge shall be erected; and the said corporation, on taking possession of such land, and on receiving a conveyance thereof, shall pay the value of so much of the same as may be necessary for making and erecting said bridge, and establishing a gate, toll house, and other works necessary for said bridge; and in case of a disagreement between the parties as to such value, the same shall and may be ascertained by three disinterested freeholders of the county where such lands lie, who shall be appointed for that purpose by the county commissioners’ court of the same county, on the application of either party, and shall be sworn to make a just valuation thereof.
Rates of toll.
Sec. 6. As soon as the said bridge shall be completed, it shall and may be lawful for the said corporation to erect a gate at the end of said bridge, and to demand and receive the same rates of toll for passing the same, as are now established and received for ferriage in low water at the same place.
Persons injuring said bridge.
Sec. 7. If any person or persons shall willfully or maliciously do or cause to be done, any act whatsoever, whereby the said bridge or any thing appertaining to the same, shall be impaired, injured or destroyed, the said person or persons so offending, shall forfeit and pay to the said corpora-
<Page 4>tion treble the amount of damages occasioned thereby, to be recovered by the said corporation with costs of suit, in an action of trespass, in any court having competent jurisdiction thereof.
Corporation to post up rates of toll.
Sec. 8. It shall be the duty of said corporation to affix or post up, in a conspicuous place, over the said gate, a sign-board, with the rates of toll written thereon, in large letters.
Penalty for charging too much toll.
Sec. 9. If any toll-gatherer shall unreasonably delay or hinder any traveler from passing said bridge, or shall demand or receive more toll than is by this act established, he shall for every such offence, forfeit and pay a sum not exceeding ten dollars, with costs of suit, to be sued for and recovered before any justice of the peace of the county where such offence shall be committed, for the use of the person or persons so unlawfully delayed, hindered or defrauded.
Penalty for fast riding over said bridge.
Sec. 10. It shall not be lawful for any person or persons to ride or drive over said bridge faster than on a walk, nor shall it be lawful to drive more than twenty head of cattle on the said bridge at any one time, on penalty of forfeiting for every such offence, the sum of one dollar.
President and directors may call meetings.
Sec. 11. All officers chosen at the annual election aforesaid, shall hold their offices until the next annual election, or until others are elected in their stead, and the president and directors, or a majority of them, shall have power to call a meeting of the corporation whenever they may deem it necessary, by publishing a notice of the time and place for holding the same, thirty days previous to the time of said meeting.
Stock and personal property.
Sec. 12. Shares in said corporation shall be considered as personal property, and transferable as such.
Shall indemnify the proprietors of the ferry at that place.
Sec. 13. That as soon as the said bridge shall be completed and rendered passable, the said corporation shall pay to the proprietors of the ferry now established across the Illinois river at that place, a reasonable compensation or indemnity for the loss or injury occasioned the said proprietors by the erection of the said bridge, taking into consideration all the advantages the said proprietors shall derive from the said bridge, over and above the advantages which other citizens of Peoria shall derive from the same source; and if the parties shall be unable to agree as to the amount of such compensation or indemnity, the same may be submitted to three arbitrators, to be mutually chosen and agreed upon by the parties, whose award shall be final; or in case the parties should not agree upon the compensation to be paid to the proprietors of the ferry, nor upon arbitrators to determine the same, the supreme court, upon the application of either party, shall have power to make such
<Page 5>award in the premises, and render such judgment or decree, as shall be suited to the justice and equity of the case.
When to be completed.
Sec. 14. If the said bridge shall not be erected, built and completed within four years after the passage of this act, the said corporation shall be dissolved.4
Approved, Feb. 10, 1835.
1On January 26, 1835, John Hamlin presented to the House of Representatives the petition of citizens of Peoria and Tazewell counties asking for the incorporation a company to build a bridge across the Illinois River. The House referred the petition to the Committee on Petitions. John T. Stuart from the Committee on Petitions, introduced HB 167 on January 28. The House referred the bill to a select committee. The select committee reported back the bill on January 30 with amendments, in which the House concurred. The House passed the bill as amended on February 2. The Senate passed the bill on February 3. On February 10, the Council of Revision approved the bill, and the act became law.
Illinois House Journal. 1835. 9th G. A., 1st sess., 410-11, 430, 467, 512, 519; Illinois Senate Journal. 1835. 9th G. A., 1st sess., 404, 414, 474, 483, 484; Illinois House Journal. 1835. 9th G. A., 2nd sess., 386.
2Providing passage over the Illinois River at the southwestern end of Peoria Lake, where the river channel narrows and the town of Peoria developed, became a profitable business after an influx of settlers to the area in the mid-1830s. Either a ferry or a bridge could reap substantial profits, and competing interests led to litigation and legislation. Through this act in 1835, the Illinois General Assembly incorporated the Peoria Bridge Company, and allowed them four years to build a bridge. Two years later, the General Assembly authorized the town of Peoria to obtain a loan to build the bridge and extended the deadline for completion by two years. Also in 1835, the Peoria County Commissioners’ Court granted Henry W. Cleveland a license to operate the first steam ferry across the Illinois River at Peoria. Aquila Wren purchased the ferry in 1837, but Robert Moore and James Moore also obtained a license to run a ferry there. In 1840, the Illinois General Assembly gave William L. May, who had purchased the Bigelow and Underhill ferry, license to operate a ferry at Peoria for fifteen years. In 1841, the General Assembly reissued May’s license, giving him “sole” right to operate a ferry at that point and forbidding the county commissioners’ courts of Peoria and Tazewell counties from granting any more licenses to competing ferries. May had to sue several rivals in the early 1840s to protect his ferriage rights. In 1845, the General Assembly gave William L. May and his associates a charter to build a bridge over the Illinois River at Peoria. The bridge was built in 1848, but carried away by the ice in the Spring of 1849. The corporation rebuilt the bridge, and it reopened in October 1849.
Newton Bateman, Paul Selby, and David McCulloch, eds., Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Peoria County, 2 vols. (Chicago: Munsell Publishing Company, 1902), 2:265-66; An Act to Amend an Act, entitled "An Act to Extend the Corporate Powers of the Town of Peoria," Approved February 21, 1837 (1837); An Act to Establish a Ferry across the Illinois River (1840); An Act to Establish a Ferry across the Illinois River (1841); Moore & Beach v. May (1841), May v. Moore et al. (1842), May v. Greene & Loose (1844), Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln, 2d edition (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009); “An Act to authorize the construction of a toll bridge across the Illinois river,” 3 March 1845, Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Fourteenth General Assembly, at Their Regular Session (1845), 237-38.
3The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 affirmed the principle of the free navigation of the Mississippi River and its tributaries, and river and steamboat interests frequently challenged the builders of bridges and mill-dams to maintain that right.
“An Ordinance for the Government of the Territory of the United States, North West of the River Ohio,” art. 4 (1787); Columbus Insurance Co. v. Peoria Bridge Co. (1854), Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds. The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln, 2d ed. Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009.
Printed Document, 5 page(s), Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at their First Session (Vandalia, IL: J. Y. Sawyer, 1835), 181-85, GA Session: 9-1,