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Salem Turnpike and Chelsea Bridge Corporation Records

Salem Turnpike and Chelsea Bridge Corporation Records

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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:Salem Turnpike and Chelsea Bridge Corporation
Title:Salem Turnpike and Chelsea Bridge Corporation Records
Quantity:3.25 linear feet (4 boxes, 11 volumes)
Abstract:The records of the Salem Turnpike and Chelsea Bridge Corporation document the establishment, operation, and decline of the business from its beginning to its dissolution.
Collection Number:MSS 217

Series List

SERIES I. Administrative Records
SERIES II. Business Records
SERIES III. Toll Records
A. Salem Turnpike Tolls
B. Chelsea Bridge Tolls

Scope and Content Note

The records of the Salem Turnpike and Chelsea Bridge Corporation document the establishment, operation, and decline of the business from its beginning to its dissolution. The collection is divided into three series.

Series I. Administrative Records documents actions taken towards the establishment and running of the corporation. The record books and correspondence include the Act of Incorporation; rules and regulations, reports of committees, pertinent notes; proxies; and list of subscribers. Located here is also a list of the "Original Petitioners for the Salem Turnpike and Chelsea Bridge Corporation."

Contained in the folder of legal papers are indentures, agreements, legal notices, and papers covering legal actions taken relative to compensation for damages to various parties as a result of laying out the turnpike. Also included is a copy of an opinion rendered by Daniel Webster in 1822 on an indenture entered between John Pickering and directors of the Salem Turnpike and Chelsea Bridge Corporation.

Financial papers include yearly summaries of tolls, receipts and expenditures, net income and related information. These include returns made to the Commonwealth, conforming to a requirement of the Act of Incorporation that a report of the receipts and expenditures be submitted annually to the Governor and Council. Also noted on some of these papers is the original cost for the road and bridge.

Series II. Business Records contains a small amount of business correspondence (mostly relating to the rental of the Lynn Hotel on The Salem Turnpike); accounts books for Salem Turnpike and Chelsea Bridge Corporation; a summary list of cattle, tools, and sundry articles sold at Lynn and Charlestown auctions; and miscellaneous papers which contain various notes, accounts and miscellaneous items. Some of these papers appear to be related to the possibility of the proposed Eastern Railroad harming the Turnpike's business.

Series III. Toll Records consists of the daily, weekly, and quarterly summaries of toll collections made on both the Salem Turnpike and Chelsea Bridge. The daily and weekly collection accounts show the number, toll charge, and types of passage (such as coaches, chariots, carts, wagons, chaises, etc.,) Although both the turnpike and the bridge each have quarterly summaries, the toll books included in the collection are much more extensive for the turnpike than for the bridge.

Historical Sketch

In 1801, Edward Augustus Holyoke, William Gray, Jr., Nathan Dane, Jacob Ashton, and Israel Thorndike petitioned the legislature for the construction of the Salem Turnpike and Chelsea Bridge. The proposed turnpike was to start at Buffam's Corner, Boston and Essex Streets in Salem, and continued from there through Lynn, along Western Avenue, over the Saugus River, and then to the Chelsea side, north of and near to the Navy Yard, and from there to the Charles River Bridge in Charlestown. The construction was to include building bridges over the rivers and waterways along the route. The bridge to be constructed over the Mystic River was the Chelsea Bridge and it appears to have been generally where the present Tobin Bridge is now located.

After a successful campaign, Dr. Holyoke and Associates were able to obtain a resolution to all the objections. The Act of Incorporation includes a provision that the Malden Bridge Corporation was to own half of the Chelsea Bridge (but retain no corporate powers), to receive half of the dividends of the Chelsea Bridge, and to pay half of the expenses. See the Chelsea Bridge account book, 1808-1845, for the Malden Bridge Corporation's share of the dividends.

The Salem Turnpike and Chelsea Bridge Corporation continued for many years. On October 28, 1875, the directors voted that the president be authorized to petition the Supreme Judicial Court for a dissolution of the corporation. The last entry in the record book, December 9, 1875, contains a vote by the directors to offer their books to the Essex Institute.

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.

Webster, Daniel, 1782-1852
Chelsea Bridge Corporation
Corporation of Malden Bridge
Highway law--Massachusetts
Charlestown (Mass.)
Chelsea (Mass.)
Chelsea Bridge (Mass.)
Lynn (Mass.)
Salem (Mass.)
Account books


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

Salem Turnpike and Chelsea Bridge Corporation Records, MSS 217, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


While the majority of the account books are from an unknown source, the 1836-1838 cashbook and the documents that were in a scrapbook were donated by Henry Fitzgilbert Waters in 1902.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Don Gleason, 1988. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, February 2016.

Related Material

Acts of incorporation (1802) and daily accounts of tolls collected, 1808-1807, LYNN MAN 273

Thirty-four shares of stock in the Salem Turnpike and Chelsea Bridge Corporation sold by John W. Fenno to the Salem Bank, 1822, MH 0.358

Vote at meeting March 8, 1906 concerning Moses Brown, 1906, Fam. Mss. 861

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