Colonial Hampshire County Road Orders

by Terry Gruber

During the colonial period, the most important political body, as far as the general population was concerned, was the County Court. The governor, Council, and House of Burgesses made general laws and regulations for the colony that obliquely impacted personal lives, but the regulations that directly effected the day-to-day living of the population were performed by the County Courts. The chief members of the court, the Justices of the Peace, appointed the sheriff, levy collectors (taxes), road surveyors, and other officials. They were also responsible for issuing ordinary licenses (18th century equivalent of hotel licenses), regulating numbers and placement of mills, setting prices at public houses (such as ordinaries), calling grand juries to hear criminal and civil disputes, approving and regulating road construction and maintenance, and various other administrative functions.

The County Courts kept a record of their proceedings called Order Books. From these court records, a researcher can obtain a solid feeling for the pulse of everyday life. Servant indentures, orphan placements, estate appraisals, prices for food and lodging, the nature of civil disputes, road locations, mill placements, and ferry prices are but a few pieces of information that can be gleaned by reading the books.

Most of the Order Books for the counties in colonial Virginia still exist and are widely available in microfilm form and are attainable by interlibrary loan. However, the Order Books for Hampshire County are missing. Local tradition holds that the courthouse records were removed to Richmond for safekeeping during the Civil War. When the records were returned, the order books for the colonial era had disappeared. Fortunately, it is possible to obtain some information concerning the area that became Hampshire County in 1755 by referring to the Order Books of the parent counties, namely Frederick, Orange, and Augusta Counties. All that is necessary is a knowledge of some major geographical features of the region, such as river and stream names or the names of certain individuals known to have lived in the area.

One of the frequent entries in Order Books are those concerned with road maintenance and construction. In the various road related records are names of local inhabitants charged with the various duties involved in the construction and maintenance of roads. Usually the single largest source of names are those listed on petitions for road construction.

Colonial Road Construction and Maintenance

Before getting to the road orders that concerned colonial Hampshire County, it may be useful to describe the process of road construction and maintenance. According to Virginia law, the County Courts were charged with creating roads, repairing roads, and appointing overseers (called Surveyors) for each road, new or old. New Surveyors were appointed annually. These roads were ordered to connect to the county courthouse, parish churches, ferries, mills, and one county to another, as well as the colonial capital, Williamsburg.1

The process of road building began with a petition from inhabitants of a particular area (such as Patterson Creek) for a road to be constructed (usually requested to lead to the county courthouse or a mill in future Hampshire County). The Court appointed between one and four people to "view and mark" a route for the petitioned road. The appointees were usually people familiar with the area of the proposed road. Ordinarily within a couple of months, the viewers reported their findings to the Court concerning the best route for the road. If the report was favorable, the road was ordered to be built, a Surveyor appointed, the laborers identified (usually the male tithables within a five to eight mile radius; tithables being whites eighteen years old and above and blacks sixteen years and older), and other specific instructions such as allowances for bridges. 2

Any expenses incurred were taken from the annual county levy. Usually, the only expenses were those needed for constructing bridges, a task that required special expertise that often could only be hired. Otherwise, preparation and construction of roads was a duty expected of the tithables without pay, including the Surveyor. The colony recognized the need to attend to one's farm, so duty was limited to only a few days per month.3

The Road Orders, 1742-1755

The following road orders are taken from Miller, Ann Brush, ed.Orange County Road Orders, 1734-1749. Charlottesville: Virginia Transportation and Research Council, 1984; Pawlett, Nathaniel Mason and Ann Brush Miller, Kenneth Madison Clark, and Thomas Llewellyn Samuel, Jr., eds. Augusta County Road Orders, 1745-1769. Richmond: Virginia Department of Transportation, 1998; and Frederick County Order Books 1-5, microfilm in Winchester, Handley Library. Eighteenth-century spellings and punctuations have been modernized and abbreviations have been spelled out, except those abbreviations that are still used today. The ampersand has been replaced with "and". Editorial notes appear in braces [-], citations for entries will appear at the beginning of each passage with the county abbreviation and page number or county abbreviation, book number, and page number. For example, in the published road orders for Orange County, page 162 will appear OC, 162. Reference to the Frederick County Order Book #4, page 66 will appear FC, 4:66. Following the book and page information will be the date of the entry, not corrected for the new calendar. Name spellings have not been changed.

OC, 67, 25 March 1742

Ordered that Jeremy Smith and Robert Eaton view and lay of the road petitioned for by James Wood Gentleman and others from James Codiss [Caudy's] to Isaac Perkins's Mill and that Abraham Hollingsworth and James Carter view and lay off the road from the said mill to Kersey's ferry and make a report of their proceedings to the next court.
OC, 70, 28 May 1742
Abraham Hollingsworth and James Carter having returned that they laid of and viewed the road petitioned for James Wood Gentleman from James Codys [Caudy's] to Isaac Perkins's mill and Jeremy Smith and Robert Heatton that they marked a road from the said Perkins's mill to Kersey's ferry, it is ordered that the said roads be cleared according as the viewers have laid off the said roads and that Joseph Edwards and Phillip Babb be hereby appointed overseers from Perkins's mill to George Hogg and William Kersey be appointed overseers from Perkins's mill to the said Kersey's ferry and that all tithables within four miles, be equally divided between the said overseers according to the length of ground to work on the same and it is further ordered that the said overseers with the tithables so divided cause the said roads each overseer in his precinct to be cleared and bridges were wanting to be made according to law.
OC, 71, 24 June 1742
On petition of several inhabitants of the South Branch for a road from Codys [Caudy's] on Cape Caporn [Cacapon] to Peter McHugh's and from thence to Coburn's mill. It is ordered that the subscribers of the said petition clear the said road under James Coburn, who is hereby appointed overseer of the said road and it is further ordered that he cause the said road by the tithables who were subscribers to the petition to clear the same and make bridges where required according to law.
OC, 82, 23 March 1742 [would be in April 1743 for new calendar]
Ordered that Andrew Clement, Jacob Vestall, Henry Dowland, and James Cody [Caudy] or any two of them view and lay of a road from a place on the South Branch called Hayward's Town down the said Branch to Upton's Mill and from thence to the nearest and best way to James Codys [Caudy's] ford on the Great Cape Caporn [Great Cacapon] into the other road and make return of their proceedings to the next court.
OC, 88, 25 June 1743
The order for Andrew Clement and others to view the road petitioned for from Hayward's Town to Upton's Mill is continued until the next court to be returned.
[This is the last entry for any roads in what would become Hampshire County. Although Frederick and Augusta Counties were formed in 1738, a county government didn't begin to function in either new county until after 1742. The last two orders here apparently were never carried out, because one of the first orders for a road appearing for the area in the Frederick County Order Books is for a road following the same route, only with different man-made landmarks described.]

FC, 1:15, 13 January 1743 [1744 by the new calendar]

On the petition of Noah Hampton and others for a road from Noah Hampton's mill into a road on Graet Cape Capon [Great Cacapon] near James Coddy's [Caudy's]. It is ordered that Jonathan Cobourn, Isaac Thomas, Peter Kuykendal, and James Delheryea, or any two of them do view, mark, and lay off the road petitioned for by the siad Hampton and others and make return of their proceedings to the next court.
FC, 1:32, 10 February 1743 [1744]
On the petition of Richard Arnold and others for a road from the North Branch of Cape Capon [North River] to James Cody's road, it is ordered that the petitioners have leave to clear the same, and Benjamin Phipps and William Warden are hereby appointed overseer of the same and it is further ordered that they cause the same to be cleared according to law.
FC, 1:142, 14 July 1744
Jonathan Cobourn and Peter Kuykendal having made their return of an order of this court for viewing, marking, and laying off a road from Noah Hampton's mill into the road on Great Cape Capon near James Cody's. In these words pursuant to the within order [illegible] have viewed, marked, and layed off the road from James Coddy's to Hampton Mill and thereupon it is ordered that the said road be from henceforth established a public road, and Matthias Yoakam and John Colvin are hereby appointed overseers of the same and it is further ordered that they cause the said road to be cleared, and when cleared, to keep the same in repair according to law and that the tithables on the South Branch and Patterson's Creek work on the said road.
FC, 1:197, 11 September 1744
Henry Vanmetre is hereby appointed overseer of the road from Noah Hampton's mill to the road on Great Cape Capon near James Cody's in the room of Matthias Yoakham and it is ordered that he causes the same to be cleared, and when cleared, that he keep the same in good repair according to law.
FC, 2:23, 5 December 1745
On the Motion of Solomon Hedges Gentlemen for a road from Buffington's to Carrol's place on Patterson's Creek, it is ordered that a road be cleared from the siad Buffington's to Carrol's place accordingly, and that the inhabitants of the said creek clear and work on the same under the said Solomon Hedges, who is hereby appointed survey on thereof. And it is further ordered that he keep the said road in good repair according to law.
FC, 2:208, 5 March 1746
On the petition of James Coddy, Thomas Smith, John Parks, William Naylor, Josiah Arnold, George Potts, Darby McKeaver, Samuel Farrington, George Hoge, Peter Foster, and Walter D[illegible] for a road from Park's graveyard near Cape Capon water, over Dillon's Run, into the Wagon Road on Joseph Edwards's land, it is ordered that the said road be cleared by the siad petitioners and that they work on the same under James Coddy, who is hereby appointed surveyor thereof. And it is further ordered that the said James Coddy cause the said road to be kept in good repair and make bridges thereon where required according to law.
FC, 3:51, 8 March 1748 [1749]
On the petition of John Woodfin, John Waite, Thomas Hugh, Hugh Hugh, William Hughs, Jr., Edward Kinnison, Edward Kinnison, Jr., Nathaniel Kinnison Eli Hughs, Joseph Powel, Samuel Kinman, Henry Old Acres, Evan Hewr [?], Nicholas Robinson, James McCay, Darby McCeever, and John Lonem for a road from William Hugh's plantation [plantation is the common 18th century reference to a farm] to Jeremiah Smith's [on Back Creek, near Gore, Virginia]. It is ordered that the said road be cleared by the petitioners in such manner as they think fit. And that John Woodfin be overseer thereof. And it is furthered ordered that the said John Woodfin cause the said road to be cleared and when cleared, that he keep the same in good repair according to law.
FC, 3:119-20, 8 August 1749
On the petition of Solomon Hedges, Abraham Richardson, Benjamin Parker, George Parker, Jr., John Radden, John Reon, Abraham Johnson, Theodore Davis, Isaac Johnson, Adam Warner, Robert Lowder, Vincent Williams, James Patton, George Corn, John Dowthen [Douthitt?], Abraham Fegurden, Adam Stomp [Stump], John Adam Long, Christana Long, Gilles Sullivan, John Cockendal, Benjamin Cockendal, Nathaniel Cockendal, Abraham Cockendal, Abraham Cockendal Jr., John Cockendal [Jr.?], Peter Cockendal, David Thomson, Frank Thomson, Matthias Foman, James Cockendal, John Decker, Luke Deker, William Earles, James Hannen, Henry Vanmetre, Andrew Nowland, James Williams, Benjamin Horman Jr., Richard H[?]land, John Colvin, Joseph Campbell, John Cinacome, Job Pearsall, William Buffington, David Oneal, and Garret Decker for a road from the mouth of Patterson's Creek to Job Pearsall's. It is ordered that Nicholas Raisner [Reasmer?] and George Parker view, mark, and lay off the same, and when laid off, that the petitioners clear and work on the same under the said Raisner and George Parker, who are hereby appointed overseers thereof. And it is further ordered that the said Nicholas Raisner and George Parker cause the said road to be kept in good repair according to law.
FC, 3:120, 8 August 1749
On the petition of James Ross, Edward R[?]th, Thomas Rumsey, Jasper Sutter, Francis Ross, John Parker, Simon Irishman, Peter Peterson, John Cunningham, John Ross, William Castleman, Oliver Creamer, Thomas McGuire, Matthew Rogers, John Baur, Nicholas Crist, Power Hazell, John [?]anel, Richard Hazell, William Tallor, George Tebalt, Joseph Robinson, Abner Anderson, William Johnston, John Large, Richard Doston, Jacob Good, Robert Bennett, Caleb Dowd, Christopher Barr, Charles Keller, George Undergrest, William Anderson, Peter Hart, Bagman, Rogers, Frederick Ice, Thomas Hide, Jacob Willf, Michael Teebolt, and Ebearm Baud for a road from the lower part of Patterson's Creek by Power Hazels into the wagon road which leads from the Courthouse [in Winchester] to the South Branch. It is ordered that the said Power Hazel view, mark, and lay off the said road, and when laid off, that the petitioners clear and work on the same under the said Power Hazel, who is hereby appointed overseer thereof. And it is further ordered that the said Power Hazell cause the said road to be kept in good repair according to law.
FC, 3:172, 16 November 1749
John Kuykendal is hereby appointed overseer of the road from Stony Bridge, to Parker's on the North River of Cacapon, in the room of John Collins. And it is ordered that all male laboring tithables on the South Branch below the Trough and on Patterson's Creek work on the same and that the said Kuykendal cause the said road to be kept in good repair according to law.
FC, 3:174, 16 November 1749
Jonathan Cobourn and William Miller having returned, that they had laid out the road petitioned for by Henry Vanmetre from Hampton's down the South Branch according to an order of the court, and beginning below where the said road Vanmetre did leave from thence to where he now lives, and so down by his mill from thence straight to Hampton's mill. Leave therefore is granted to the said Vanmetre to clear the same at his own expense according to the said return.
FC, 3:210, 15 February 1749 [1750]
On the petition of Providence Williams, Samuel Hopkins, Richard Poulson, Friend Cox, John Newton, John Hopkins, William Smith, Francis Spencer, William Biggerstaff, and John Friend for a road to be laid off and cleared from Frederick Town to the Mouth of the South Branch of Potomac. Ordered that the said Williams lay off the same and be overseer thereof and that the petitioners clear and keep the said road in repair.
FC, 3:245, 9 May 1750
Ordered that Henry Enochs, Evan Rogers, and John Hopkins view the ground for a road from the mouth of the North Branch [meaning the present North River in Hampshire County] the most convenient and best way to this courthouse and make their report to the next Court and also what number of tithables are convenient to work on the said road.
AC, 22, 25 May 1750
Peter Thorn and Lambert Pooper are hereby Appointed to lay of and be Surveyors of a Road from Coburns Mill to the County Line [Frederick County line] and that James Rutledge gent lay of the tithebles to clear the same.
FC, 3:294, 14 August 1750
On the motion of Power Hazel and George Parker, it is ordered that all tithables from the mouth of Patterson's Creek upwards and also the tithables on the North Branch above the mouth of Patterson's Creek upwards (meaning the Potomac River, known as the North Branch of Potomac) work on the road from the said Creek to Job Pearsall's as formerly laid off.
FC, 3:373, 19 January 1750/1
Joseph Edwards is appointed surveyor of the road from the North River of Great Cacapon, and it is ordered that the tithables eight miles on each side of the said road clear and keep the same in repair according to law.
AC, 27, 29 May 1751
Alexander Painter and John Staley are hereby appointed Surveyors of the Highway from Cape Caphon till it meets with the road near Thomas Moores, and it's ordered that the adjacent titheables they clear and keep the same in repair according to law.
AC, 29, 29 May 1751
On the petition of sundry the inhabitants of the South Branch, it is ordered that John Patton. Roger Dyer, Daniel Richardson, and Duke Collins with the adjacent titheables clear a road from Patton's Mill the nearest and best way to Coburn's Mill and that they set up posts of directions and keep the said road in repair according to law.
FC, 4:215, 7 July 1752
Ordered that Joseph Edwards be overseer of the road from Jeremiah Smith's to the North River and that the tithables within eight miles of the said road keep the same in repair according to law.
FC, 4:226, 4 August 1752
Ordered that Neals Friend, William Demose, John Rogers, and Peter Julian being sworn before a Justice of the Peace for this county do mark and lay off a road from the mouth of the South Branch and also from Neals Friend's the nearest and best way to the town of Winchester and make a report thereof to the next Court.
FC, 4:235, 4 August 1752
Henry Fry and Darby McKever are hereby appointed overseers of the road from Hew's [Hugh's] to the South Branch Road above Jeremiah Smith's and it is ordered that the tithables within six miles on each side of the said road work on the same under the said Fry and McKever as their overseers and that they keep the same in repair according to law, and it is further ordered that the said overseers divide the said tithables between them.
AC, 39, 15 November 1752
On the petition of sundred [sic] the Inhabitants of the South Branch for a road from their wagon road up the South Fork to Peter Reed's Mill. It is ordered that James Simpson and Michael Stump, being first sworn before a Justice of the Peace for this county, do view and mark the same and that they be surveyors and with Jeremiah Osborn, George Osburn, Manis Alkin [Alkire?] H[illegible] Carlock, John Westfall, Jacob Westfall, Michael Stump, Henry Harris, Henry Shipler, Philip Moore, and William Westfall they clear and keep the same in repair according to law.
FC, 4:405, 6 March 1753
Neals Friend, William Demose, Owen Rogers, and Peter Julian, having made their report that they have marked a road the most convenient way from Winchester Town to Potomac River [illegible] order for a road to be cleared to the mouth of the South Branch. Ordered that the said road be cleared according to law.

Neals Friend is appointed overseer of the road from Potomac River at Neals Friend's to the Falling Springs and that the tithables eight miles on each side of the said road work on the same under him as their overseer and that he clear and keep the same in repair according to law.

William Demose is appointed overseer of the road from Falling Sprins to the Bear Garden Ridge and it is ordered that the tithables eight miles on each side of the said road work on the same under him as their overseer, and that he clear and keep the same in repair according to law.

Owen Rogers is appointed overseer of the road from the Bear Garden Ridge to George Potts, his plantation, and it is ordered that the tithables two miles on each side of the said road work on the same under him as their overseer and that he clear and keep the same in repair according to law.

Peter Julian is appointed overseer of the road from George Potts to the South Branch Road, and it is ordered that the same under him as their overseer and that he clear and keep the same in repair according---[rest is missing]

FC, 4:406 6 March 1753
Joseph Edwards is appointed overseer of the road from Jeremiah Smith's to the North River near Thomas Parker's, and it is ordered that the tithables eight miles on each side of the said road clear and keep the it in repair according to law.
FC, 4:407 6 March 1753
John Kuykendall is appointed overseer of the road from the North River near Thomas Parker's to Peter Tostees Plantation and it is ordered that all tithables on the South Branch below the Trough and all the tithables from Frees Mill to the North Branch [of Potomac] work on the same under him as overseer and that he clear and keep it in repair according to law.

Henry Vanmeter is appointed overseer of the road from Peter Tostees Plantation to Hampton's Mill and it is ordered that all the tithables on Patterson's Creek above Frees Mill and all the above the Trough to the county line on the Branch [South Branch] work on the same under him as their overseer and that he clear and keep it in repair according to law.

Peter Casey is appointed overseer of the road from the Manor line [Fairfax's South Branch Manor, near present Moorefield, Hardy County] to the county line and it is ordered that all tithables on Patterson's Creek above Frees Mill and all the tithables on the South Branch above the Trough work on the same under him as their moverseer and that he clear and keep it in repair according to law.

Solomon Hedge is appointed overseer of the road from William Buffington's to Patterson's Creek and it is ordered that the tithables formerly appointed to work on the said road work on the same under him as their overseer and that he clear and keep it in repair according to law.

FC, 4:452 8 April 1753
Ordered that John Rogers, Henry Lewis, Thomas Brittain and Jacob Jenkins be exempted from working on the road whereof Joseph Edwards is overseer.
AC, 47, 16 August 1753
Ordered that John Stales [Staley?] and Alexander Painter be overseers and with the adjacent titheables, clear and keep in repair a road from the North Mountain Gap called Brocks Gap near Thomas Neist to the mouth of Lost River leading to North Shenandore.
FC, 5:322, 5 March 1754
Ordered that Solomon Hedge, Benjamin Rutherford, Benjamin Forman, and Abraham Johnson or any three of them, being first sworn before a Majestrate of this county, do meet and view the roads as first marked and [begin p.323] now used from Benjamin Kuykendal's to the Trough Hill and make report to the next court.

Beginning in August 1754, there are numerous entries appointing overseers on roads leading to the west from Winchester in the Frederick County Order Books. The limits of responsibility are the "County Line" indicating that the boundaries for the new County of Hampshire had been set up and a new County Court was meeting in Hampshire.

ENDNOTES

1 See Webb, George. The office and authority of a justice of peace. Williamsburg: William Parks, 1736 (on microform, Alderman Library, University of Virginia), 172-3.

2 For the tithable information, see Brock, R.A., ed. The Official Records of Robert Dinwiddie, Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of Virginia, 1751-1758. New York: AMS Press, 1971 (reprint of Virginia Historical Society, 1884), 2:353.

3 See Webb, 173 and Pawlett, Nathaniel Mason and Ann Brush Miller, Kenneth Madison Clark, Thomas Llewellyn Samuel, Jr., eds. Augusta County Road Orders, 1745-1769. Richmond: Virginia Department of Transportation, 1998, xi.


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