Dauphin County Genealogy Resource Center
Great Sickness  Home Up Search Census Search Site Map The Store
Home
Search
Census Search
Site Map
The Store

Transcribed and posted courtesy of Linda Hoffman 2hoffmans@email.msn.com

GREAT SICKNESS AT HARRISBURG p.91-101

About the year 1793, Harrisburg was exceedingly sickly. A fever of a violent character, similar to the Yellow Fever, prevailed, especially among the new settlers or foreigners. At the same time the Yellow Fever was prevailing in Philadelphia, and fears were entertained of it introduction into Harrisburg. A patrol was accordingly established at the lower end of the town, to prevent infected persons of Philadelphia from coming into it. A large number of Irish emigrants died, and some of the citizens; but most families of the place were to some extent afflicted.

"A MILL DAM THE SUPPOSED CAUSE THEREOF."

"A mill dam, owned by two men named Landis, was generally thought to be the cause of this sickness, and the citizens entered upon decisive measures for its removal. Meetings were held, committees appointed, funds were raised and tendered to the Landis's the mill dam removed, the mill purchased, &c., as will appear by the following extracts from papers furnished by the late Hon. J. C. Bucher and R. F. Kelker, Esq.., and published in Rupp's History of Dauphin county:

MEETING OF THE CITIZENS.

"At a meeting of the inhabitants of the borough of Harrisburg, on the 16th day of January, 1795, it was unanimously agreed that two thousand and six hundred pounds be immediately assessed on the property of citizens of the said borough; that one thousand and six hundred pounds of the said sum be collected on or before the 6th day of March next; that the remaining on thousand pounds be secured to be paid, with interest, in two equal annual installments, and that the whole (to wit: the" pounds"1600 in cash, and the residue in bonds) be tendered to Peter and Abraham Landis, or either of them, proprietors of the mill and other water-works, with the appurtenances thereto belonging, near the borough aforesaid, as a full compensation for their property in the same; and that in case they refuse to accept the said sum as a full compensation for the said mill, with the appurtenances, that then we unanimously agree to prostrate the dam erected on the waters of Paxton creek, for the purpose of conveying water to said mill, and pay our proportionable parts of all legal expenses and damages that may accrue on any suit or suits, indictment or indictments that may be brought or prosecuted in consequence of such act or acts. Witness our hands and date aforesaid: (Here follows the signatures of over one hundred citizens.)

The following subscriptions were made by the citizens named to the mill-dam fund, independent of the amount assessed upon their respective properties at the town meeting:

"We the subscribers do promise to pay the sums annexed to our names, to Conrad Bombaugh, Esq., as a gratuity towards paying the expense of the purchase or the reduction of the milldam on Paxton creek, next the borough of Harrisburg, and that when called upon. Witness our hands, January 21st,

1795:

Wm. Crabbe, . . . . . . . $20.00 Edward Crouch, . . . . . . .$2.00
Major Swiney, . . . . . . . . 10.00 William Stewart, . . . . . . ..2.00
George Whitehill, . . . . . . .10.00 Samuel Finney, . . . . . . .
.2.00
Jacob Burckart, . . . . . . . . 8.00 John Weidman, . . . . . . ..2.00
George Reitzell, . . . . . . . . . 6.00 John Byers, . . . . . . . . ... . 2.00
Soloman Markel, . . . . . . . . 4.00 John Martin,. . . . . . . . ... 1.00
John Peiffer, . . . . . . . . . . 16.00 Peter Lien, . . . . . . ... . . .1.00
Anthony Seyfort, . . . . . . . 10.00 Simon Bassler, . . . . . . . ..1.00
John Maclay, . . . . . . . . . . 20.00 George Lutz, . . . . . . .... . .50
Benj. Hunt . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10.00 William Krebbs,. . . . ... . 1.00
Jacob Fridley, . . . . . . . . . . . 2.00 Jacob Zeigler, . . . . . ... . 1.00
John Patterson,. . . . . . . . . . 4.00 Jacob Fetter, . . . . . . ... 1.00
John Gilchrist, . . . . . . . . . . . 6.00 William Porter,. . . . ... . . 2.00
Joseph Weigley,. . . . . . . . . . 8.00 C.B. , . . . . . . . . . . ... . . . .1.00
John Spangler, . . . . . . . . . . 8.00 Peter Bobe, . . . . . . . ... . 1.00
Thomas Gregg, . . . . . . . . . 10.00 Christian Walborn, . . . . ..1.00
Thomas Dickey . . . . . . . 2.00 Thomas Trousdale, . . .1.00
Mordecai M'Kinney . . . . . .. 4.00 William Allen, . . . . . . . ... 2.00
Samuel Awl,. . . . . . . . .. . . 4.00 Robert Freckelton, . . ... 2.00
Irwin & Howard, . . . . . . . . 12.00 Jacob Houck, . . . . . . . ..6.00
William Patterson, . . . . . . . 4.00 Charles Rowan, . . . . . . ... 2.33
John M'Farlind, . . . . . . . . . 4.00 Rudolph Kelker, . . . . ... . .4.00
Anthony Kelker, . . . . . . . . . 2.00 James Reed . . . . . . . ... 1.00
Robert Boal, . . . . . . . . . . . 2.00

AN ESTIMATE of the proportion of each citizen of Harrisburg to purchase the Mill belonging to the Landis family, in order, with Divine favor, to restore the borough to it former state. "

( There follows here five pages of names and amounts assessed. It is divided into households, single men, for lots of ground, and Landlords who do not live in town, or other houses.

(then)

" In addition to the amount of money so raised, the heirs of John Harris, Messrs. David Harris, Robert Harris, William Maclay and John A. Hanna, paid $l,600, the purchase money, or perhaps something more than the amount which the Landis's had paid for the property.

"At a meeting of the committee of seven, appointed to superintend and direct the appropriation of the monies raised for the demolition of the mill-dam, and for the further removing the nuisance in Paxton creek, April 8, 1795:

"At Brindle's--Present, Potts, Gilmore, Berryhill, W. Graydon, Dentzell, Bucher, Kean. "John Kean was appointed Secretary and Treasurer. "Ordered, that the Treasurer take up the bonds due to Adam Boyd and to George Allen.

"Adjourned to Saturday evening next, at 6 o'clock, at Mr. Berryhill's.

"Saturday, 11th.--The committee met and viewed the dam, and adjourned till Monday evening at 6 o'clock, at Berryhills.

"Monday, 13th.--Met, and the members mentioned the names of persons wishing to borrow money. Agreed, that the money be retained in the Treasury a few days longer.

"Agreed, that on Saturday next, at 1 o'clock, the bell be rung, and the inhabitants assemble and demolish the remainder of the dam.

THE MILL-DAM DESTROYED BY THE CITIZENS.

"Saturday, 18th.--The committee met, and proceeded with a number of the inhabitants to the dam. Committee hired four persons to open the bed of the creek twelve feet wide, which was done, and the persons employed were paid six dollars, which was raised by voluntary contribution on the spot. 

"Saturday, 25th April, 1795.-- The committee met. Peter, John and Abraham Landis attended, and offered to take $2,000 for the water-right, which the committee positively refused.

THE MILL SEAT PURCHASED BY THE CITIZENS.

"April 25, 1795.--Peter, John and Abraham Landis sold to Stacy Potts, Moses Gilmore, William Graydon, Jacob Bucher, John Kean, John Dentzell, and Alexander Berryhill, of the borough of Harrisburg (a committee chosen at a public meeting of the inhabitants of the said borough, at the court room, on the 7th of April,) sold and conveyed to them their mill, &c., for pounds2,633 4s. 6d., "to hold and to have the said two pieces of lands, houses, mills, mill machinery, &c." This sum, as before stated, was raised by taxing the citizens. The payments were made in three annual instalments; one-half of the amount assessed was paid in 1794; one-half the balance in 1795, and the balance in 1796. For example, a citizen taxed pounds4 had to pay pounds 2 in 1794,pounds1 in 1795, and pounds1 in 1796. It may be remarked that some citizens who refused to contribute to the subscription, were obliged to leave the town. No violence was offered to them, but no one would employ them in their several pursuits, and they at length went elsewhere. The mill seat, with the privileges of a dam and mill-race, was originally purchased from John Harris, J.r, by the Landis's, April 16, 1790; subsequently the purchased a small piece of land from Gen. John A. Hanna, adjoining that purchased from Mr. Harris. The mill was erected about one-quarter of a mile below Harrisburg, about as low down as the old "White House," between the "old mill road" and the canal; and the race extended up along or nearly along the present route of the Pennsylvania canal, to a lane which ran across to the ridge, about the upper line of the brickyard field opposite Pratt's Rolling Mill, where the dam was erected."

ANOTHER ACCOUNT OF THE MILL-DAM TROUBLES.

Another writer, in describing the mill-dam difficulties, states that "the money raised by subscription was tendered to the Landis's, who refused it. The citizens then prepared for the forcible removal of the dam, and the Landis's threatened to use force to prevent it. The citizens accordingly marched in a body to the dam, on a cold, snowy day in March. The owners were there with several men, armed with guns, threatening to fire. The citizens handed them a list of several hundred names to be sued; but the proprietors finally took the money."

 

 

 

Dauphin County Genealogy Resource Center

 

Web design Copyright 1996-2002. All rights reserved Robert L. Maley. 
 Submitted material Copyright 1996-2002. All rights reserved by the respective submitters

 Revised: May 04, 2005 .

View Census Records Online at Ancestry.com!