Transcribed and posted courtesy of Linda Hoffman firstname.lastname@example.org
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,
Wm. Crabbe, . . . . . . . $20.00 Edward Crouch, . . . . . . .$2.00 .2.00
Major Swiney, . . . . . . . . 10.00 William Stewart, . . . . . . ..2.00
George Whitehill, . . . . . . .10.00 Samuel Finney, . . . . . . .
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. , . . . . . . . . . . ... . . .
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.
" 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
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
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."