Sunday, August 16, 2009

Abraham - Overseer of Roads

I have often wondered exactly what the job of "Overseer of Roads" entailed. We know that Abraham Miller, our William's father, and others in the family worked as overseers in Cecil County, Maryland for several years in the 1700's. Here is a job description from that era:

AND BE IT ENACTED, That it shall and may be lawful for the several and respective overseers of the said roads, and they are hereby authorised and empowered, as often as need shall require, to dig, take and remove, any stones, gravel, or earth of firm quality, which may be found on any land adjoining the roads for which the same may be necessary, and to employ the same in the repairing of the said. roads ; and for the making or repairing of bridges over the heads of rivers, creeks, branches, swamps, or other low and miry places, through and over which the said roads may pass, to cut down, or cause to be cut down, any tree or trees growing on any of the next adjacent lands to such places where bridges may be necessary as aforesaid, and the same trees to maul and carry away from off such lands, and to apply the same to the making or repairing of the said bridges; provided, that it shall be the duty of each and every overseer aforesaid to render a true account, (certified under their hands and seals respectively,) of all and singular such tree or trees by them cut down and taken for the purpose aforesaid, with a description of the size and quality of such tree or trees, together with their estimation of the value thereof, to the owner, tenant or overseer, of the lands from whence the same shall have been taken, and to return a duplicate of such account, on oath, to the next levy court of the county, in order that the justices of said court may be enabled to estimate the real value thereof, to be allowed or paid to such owner or owners in such manner as said justices shall appoint and direct...the said overseers shall have power, and they are hereby authorised and required, to call upon all and singular the free able bodied male inhabitants of their respective limits, above the age of eighteen years and under the age of fifty years, and upon all and singular the able bodied male slaves residing therein, above the age of eighteen years and tinder the age of fifty years, to labour and assist in clearing, amending, improving and repairing, the several and respective roads aforesaid, and to require such and so many of the said persons as they shall from time to time deem necessary, to assemble at such place within their respective limits as the said overseers shall severally appoint, with sufficient implements of labour, and thereupon to proceed in the execution of such work and labour upon the said roads, for the improvement and repair thereof, as the respective overseers shall order and direct; and the said overseers shall also have power to hire and employ carts and teams for the carrying and removing all such stones, dirt, gravel and timber, as may be deemed requisite for repairing and completing the said,roads and bridges, and the expence of such carts and teams shall be levied upon the county" [sic] (Maryland State Archives, Vo. 558, p. 41 -

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