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Old Town Bridge Corporation Records

Old Town Bridge Corporation Records

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The processing of this collection was funded by gifts from the Pingree heirs.

Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Creator:Old Town Bridge Corporation (Me.)
Title:Old Town Bridge Corporation Records
Quantity:3.75 linear feet (6 boxes, 1 flat file)
Abstract:The Old Town Bridge Corporation records contain stock and financial records, as well as some records concerning the Corporation's legal proceedings with the state of Maine.
Collection Number:MSS 917

Series List

SERIES I. Clerk and Stockholder Records
SERIES II. Financial Records

Scope and Content Note

The Old Town Bridge Corporation records contain stock and financial records, as well as some records concerning the Corporation's legal proceedings with the state of Maine. The original labels/titles of the folders have been kept in order to preserve the principal of provenance. This collection has been divided into three series.

Series I. Clerk and Stockholder Records contains records from the clerk, as well as stockholder records. These stockholder records include dividends, stock certificates, and records of stock transfers. The stock certificates have been filed chronologically by the date that the stock was first issued, not by the date that ownership of the stock was transferred.

Series II. Financial Records contains accounts, bills, receipts, and invoices The accounts and vouchers include information about stock dividends that were to be paid out. These have been left with the accounts and vouchers because this is where they were originally found. The folders containing papers from David Pingree and E. S. Coe's Bangor office were originally labeled as this. It is unclear if the contents did in fact originate from Pingree and Coe's office in Bangor, as their names rarely appear on the contents; however, the handwriting on the papers is very similar to handwriting found within their collections, and Pingree was a stockholder in the Corporation—for these reasons the original label has been kept. The contents of these folders include mostly financial papers, some legal documents as well as correspondence.

Series III. Other contains miscellaneous items. Within this series are materials concerning the Old Town Bridge Corporation's legal proceedings with the state of Maine, agreements, acts to incorporate, correspondence, and a printed copy of the charter. There is also an undated sketch of a chain haul and some miscellaneous papers.

Historical Sketch

In 1827, the Old Town Bridge Corporation was incorporated and chartered to build and maintain a bridge over the Penobscot River near Old Town, Maine. The bridge was built to connect Marsh Island with Milford, Maine, and to take "specified rates of toll, which the legislature reserved the right to revise and change" after ten years (Atlantic Reporter 949). Through an additional act in 1828, the right to change the toll rates was extended to forty years, "provided that at the end of said term [the bridge would] revert to the state" (Atlantic Reporter 949). Sometime in the fall of 1831 or winter of 1832, the bridge was completed and opened for use. The bridge consisted of two structures—one part extending from half a mile below Old Town Falls to Marsh Island, and the other part extending from the island over the eastern channel to Milford. In March 1846, the part extending from the island to Milford was washed away by a freshet. The bridge was rebuilt and opened by October 1, 1846 this time closer to Old Town Falls. Following the destruction of the bridge in March 1846, a charter was given to the Old Town and Milford Bridge Company to build a replacement bridge over the Old Town Falls, if Old Town Bridge Corporation did not complete the work as scheduled. Old Town Bridge Corporation did build the replacement bridge on time; however, a lawsuit followed in which it was alleged that the bridge was built in the wrong place, which would void the Corporation's original charter (Atlantic Reporter 949). In 1871, the original charter that gave the Corporation the right to collect tolls and have possession of the bridge expired, but the Corporation continued to maintain possession of the bridge and collect tolls. However, in 1887 the Corporation increased the tolls dramatically, causing the public to appeal to the Attorney General. The Supreme Judicial Court at Bangor voted in favor of the people, but the Corporation appealed the decision (Statement of Facts). On March 26, 1907, an act was approved that reverted ownership of the Old Town bridge from the Corporation to the state of Maine (Acts and Resolves 710).

Benjamin Fiske was the president for many years. John Winn was the treasurer from 1846 until about 1857. Following him, James N. Chandler became treasurer from about 1858 until 1894.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Chandler, James N.
Coe, Eben Smith, 1814-1899
Fiske, Benjamin
Pingree, David, 1795-1863
Winn, John
Old Town and Milford Bridge Corporation (Me.)
Actions and defenses
Bridge construction industry
Bridges--Design and construction
Lumber trade
Stock certificates
Maine--Politics and government
Old Town Falls (Me.)


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

Old Town Bridge Corporation Records, MSS 917, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material was donated by the Pingree family heirs.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Hilary Streifer, January 2016.

Related Material


Acts and Resolves of the Seventy-Third Legislature of the State of Maine 1907. Kennebec Journal Print: Augusta, 1907.

The Atlantic Reporter. Vol. 26. West Publishing Company: St. Paul, 1893.

Statement of Facts: State of Maine vs. Old Town Bridge Corporation. Pamphlet. MSS 917, Box 5, Folder 1.

Related Collections

David Pingree Papers, 1810-1939. MSS 901

E. S. Coe Papers, 1844-1906. MSS 924

John Winn Papers, 1818, 1845-1881. MSS 925

Milford Mill Company Records, 1828-1901. MSS 914

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