(1795-1843, 1852). An archive of manuscript materials, over 100 separate documents, most a page or two, approx. 150 pages, varying in size from quarto to octavo, plus smaller receipts, and including accounts of expenses, contracts with workers, individual sales of shares in the company (24 small receipts), and some 39 ledger sheets (about half in ms., with some of the later years' accounts on partly printed sheets, completed in ms.) showing near yearly accounts from 1795-1843. Many signatures of concerned parties appear in the documents. Some of the documents are tender, occasional separations along folds, three documents appear to be incomplete [beginning in mid-sentence] but overall a very good, legible group.
The Colonial Assembly of Connecticut had ordered a highway to be laid out in 1766, connecting several small towns between Southbury and the coast. By 1795 it was in need of repair, and mindful of stress to their tax base for municipal projects, the State Assembly granted rights to the Oxford Turnpike Company, a private group to erect a turnpike on the road from Southbury to Derby and New Haven, through the parish of Oxford, down the valley of Little River crossing the Naugatuck below the falls, and to make "such alterations as they judge necessary for accomodating the public in the best manner." The company was to finance the project through the collection of tolls and sale of shares. Peter Sherman, Nathan Preston, David Mitchell, Nathan Curtis and others were appointed directors of the company to make contracts for the repairs, etc. Benjamin Stiles served as treasurer and clerk, George Wyllys as secretary.
A "true copy" of the original agreement between the Proprietors of the Company and the General Assembly of Connecticut in May 1795, signed by George Wyllys is included in this archive. Construction of the Oxford Turnpike, one of the earliest turnpikes in the state, began in earnest in 1795. By the late 1790s the company was collecting tolls, as agreed upon both to reimburse their expenses, maintain the road, and allow for a certain percentage of profit. It was also paying dividends to its shareholders. Management by a private company avoided the thorny issue of raising taxes to finance a municipal improvement but the material shows that local farmers in particular objected to having to pay to use the road to take their produce to market, or go to the sawmill or grist mill, and adjustments and legislation were required to settle some of these disputes. The turnpike operated for over 60 years, delivering agricultural and other products to the port city of New Haven for further shipment up and down the coast. Item #63789
Included in this archive are records for expenses related to forming a Constitution for the company, making by-laws, making contracts, purchasing blank books, directing workmen, advertising and travel. The turnpike was to be laid out from Esq. Wooster's dwelling "nearly opposite his sawmill dam," taking pieces of property from several people along the way. Peter Sherman records the amount of property taken from each and the damages paid to them. Also included here is the one page agreement, dated Jan. 29, 1796, in which Nathan Preston and Peter Sherman contracted with Enos Candee, Samuel Candee and Justus Candee to construct and repair "the whole of the turnpike and extend the same from Southbury to the walnut tree...and make bridges, also convenient places for teams to pass by each other." Between December 1795 and Feb. 1801, there are several small receipts between individuals selling "for valuable consideration" shares in the Oxford Turnpike Company. Peter Sherman is both a buyer and a seller of some of these shares. A record of expenses for the period Oct. 1795-June 1796 includes travel to Washington [CT], contracts for road repairs, the costs of obtaining copies of reports, and a petition to the Assembly for a license to retail liquor [one of the Candees operated a hotel in Oxford, so perhaps this was for him]. There are also bills and receipts from various contractors for work done on the road, including repairing bridges and sluice ways, covering stones and stumps with dirt and gravel to smooth the road bed, mending chains, sharpening crow bars, etc. One such receipt, from Samuel Candee dated March 1804 billed the Company for "gitting out rocks" and mending a bridge. Shadrack Osborn billed the company for his time viewing and inspecting the road. Elipha Bradley was reimbursed $40 in 1806, for damages his family sustained when his wagon overturned on the road. A court case involving the estate of Jabes Bacon of Woodbury in 1809 resulted in settlements to various heirs who owned stock in the company, and there are several receipts for sales of shares related to this estate between April 1808 and Oct. 1809. Unbound ledger sheets, some partly printed, give income figures for the "Oxford Turnpike Road account of Capital Stock in account with the Proprietors of said Road," interest, tolls received, as well as expenses for repairs, a gate keeper and his housing, and amounts paid to stockholders for dividends. One entry in the accounts dated Feb. 4, 1818 mentions a "Counterfeit Bill rec'd at the Gate."