Great Western Turnpike Company
Records, 1801-1924

SC16631

Quantity: 3 Boxes; 1 folio size folder (0.75 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: See Provenance Note.
Processed By: Fred Bassett, Senior Librarian, Manuscripts and Special Collections, March 1997; revised January 2014

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Historical Note:

The road from Albany heading west was first constructed as a toll road or turnpike at the end of the eighteenth century. The First Great Western Turnpike Corporation was chartered in 1799 to build a road from Albany, the capital of New York, to the Revolutionary War frontier town of Cherry Valley. This road was completed by 1801.

The Second Great Western Turnpike Corporation was established in 1801 to provide better access to frontier settlements beyond Cherry Valley. It also operated as a toll road. The road began in Cherry Valley and proceeded west through Cooperstown to its terminus at the eastern bank of the Chenango River in Sherburne.

In 1803, the Third Great Western Turnpike Corporation was chartered to further extend the road west from Cherry Valley to Cazenovia. The Third Great Western Turnpike was completed as planned by 1811 and was heavily used by people trying to establish new settlements in central and western New York. This section also was known as the Cherry Valley Turnpike.

These roads were profitable until the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, which provided a quicker and more efficient means of moving people and freight across the state. The establishment of railroads in the 1830s further diminished the commercial value of turnpikes. By the mid-1850s, the collection of tolls had ended and maintenance of the road passed to local jurisdictions.

Scope and Content Note:

This collection of records consists chiefly of four bound volumes related to business operations of the First and Second corporations of the Great Western Turnpike. The first two volumes relate to the First Great Western Turnpike from 1801 to 1924. Volume one is primarily a stock transfer book, which records approximately 200 official transfers of stock from one individual to another. Volume two contains a report on a plank road (1848), registers of stock and bonds, ledger accounts of accounts of shareholders, and inventories and reports related its property holdings. This volume also includes a survey and description of lot at Esperance, New York, and a sketch map showing the routes of turnpikes proceeding to the east from Cherry Valley.

The third and fourth volumes relate to the operations of the Second Great Western Turnpike from 1801 to 1861. Volume 3 contains minutes of the meetings of the board of directors of the company concerning matters of road construction, land acquisition, and finances. Volume 4 contains a record of cash receipts from toll collection, expenditures for road maintenance, stockholder dividends, and wages for toll collectors.

These papers also include a series or releases, agreements, and other legal documents pertaining to the acquisition of land for the right-of-way of the road, circa 1801-1904.

Provenance Note:

This collection of records and papers was created in March 1997 largely by collating materials that were originally accessioned separately. Items originally accessioned as SC16631 were acquired as part of a gift of a number of documents from George M. Cooley in July 1952. Items identified as BD14108 and BD 14109 were purchased from a vendor, Morrill, in July 1960. Papers in Box 2, identified as single accessions 14720, were purchased from Charles Hamilton, circa July 1968.

Inventory List:


Box Volume Contents
1 1 First Company of the Great Western Turnpike Road. Transfer book. January 15, 1801-November 25, 1924. Contain several hundred formal statements of transfer of company stock signed by a number of prominent persons, including John Jay, Jedidiah Peck, William North, Charles R. Webster, James Kent, Dirck Ten Broeck, Isaiah Townsend, E.C. Genet, Jeremiah van Rensselaer, John Lansing, Jr., Charles D. Cooper, Francis Bloodgood, Samuel Stringer, John Tayler, John McKesson, Stephen van Rensselaer, Teunis van Vechten, Richard Lush, James Kane, Isaac Hutton, Theodore Burr, Peter E. Elmendorph, Alexander Macomb, John V. Henry, Gerrit Y. Lansing. Women signers include Anna van Rensselaer, Charlotte Haxon, Janet Reid, and Sarah Webster. (ca. 200 p. 32 cm.) (SC16631)
1 2 First Company of the Great Western Turnpike Road. Contracts and accounts, 1848-1906. Includes inventories of company property; Judge Gedde’s report on plank road, 1848; copy of act authorizing construction of a plank road on a certain part of the turnpike road commencing at Snipe Street, Albany and extending at least eight miles, March 31, 1848; diagram of Paine Danforth’s road; reports; appointments; suits; contracts; agreements; plank road accounts; plank road and turnpike joint accounts; bond accounts; dividend accounts; accounts with individuals; bills payable; location of gate no. 1 and toll house, with width of road; receipts - signatures of  Daniel Dewey Barnard, Charles. Pohlman and others; semi-annual interest on plank road bonds, 1859-1860. (441 p. 35 cm.) (SC16631)
2 3 Second Company of the Great Western Turnpike Company, Minute Book, 1801-1861. Contains extracts of Minutes, 1801-183; complete minutes of the meetings of the Board of Directors from February 2, 1836 to March 29, 1861, The minutes concern matters of road construction, land acquisition, and company finances. (ca. 120 p. 32 cm.) (Transfer of accession number BD14109)
1 4 Second Company of the Great Western Turnpike Company Treasurer’s Account ledger, 1806-1859. Contains a record of cash receipts from toll collection, and expenditures for road maintenance, stockholder dividends, and wages for toll collectors. (ca. 200 p. 33 cm.) (Transfer of accession number BD14108)
3   Legal documents pertaining to the acquisition of land for the right-of-way of the road, 1802-1803 (Transfer from single accession number 14720
3 1 Releases of land by eminent domain to First Great Western Turnpike Company, 1801-1804 (6 items)
3 2 Release of damages agreements, 1801-1803 (16 items)
3 3 Agreements, releases, memoranda, and other assorted legal papers, 1801-1804 (17 items)
3 4 Articles of agreements, 1803 (8 items)
3 5 Articles of agreement, 1802-1827 (6 items)
3 6 (EL) Contracts, land titles, etc., 1805-1818
  1. Land relinquishment contract of John and Philip Philips, 1805
  2. Deed of land to First Company, Great Western Turnpike from Philip S. Van Rensselaer, January 17, 1818
Last Updated: February 12, 2014