Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Friday, September 14th, 1860

To day we left Hardin, and after riding 18 miles we ? at the ferry over Pine Island bayou. Thence 9 miles to Beaumont. While there I examined the records touching several land claims. expenses of the day $3.10. weather warm & changable.




According to W. T. Block . . . There were three ferries at early day Beaumont, Tevis Ferry at the townsite of Beaumont, William Ashworth's ferry at Santa Ana, about three miles to the south, and Pine Bluff Ferry (later Collier's), five miles to the north. The latter was the preferable crossing point because of the high land there on both sides of the river. In 1842, Pine Bluff was allowed 3 cents each for swimming cattle, horses, mules, or hogs. Between 1846 and 1848, the crossing fee was still 3 cents per head at Nancy Tevis Hutchinson's ferry at Beaumont and at John Sparks' ferry over Taylor's Bayou. However, the crossing fee at Amos Thames' ferry over Pine Island Bayou in 1846 was only 2 cents a head. . . .


After Jefferson County became a political entity, many pioneers sought to establish ferries, which meant a guaranteed income. Soon John Sparks operated the ferry across Taylor’s Bayou on the dirt road to Sabine Pass. James Chessher owned the ferry across Pine Island Bayou on the dirt road to Woodville, and Brown’s ferry crossed Village Creek.


Many of the earliest county records are ferry licenses, including the requirements of ferry operators. During the 1830s Richard Ballew owned the ferry across Sabine River, several miles north of Orange, and W. C. Beard and William Ashworth owned the Santa Ana ferry (at Mobil refinery). Each was permitted to charge “short ferriage” or “long ferriage” rates. “Long ferriage” at Santa Ana meant traveling 2 miles to high land up Beard’s Bayou. “Long ferriage” at Ballew’s was a 4-mile voyage up the old Sabine River channel to Niblett’s Bluff.


In 1847 the Santa Ana ferry franchise was revoked and passed to Nancy Hutchinson. After Ballew died about 1840, his ferry franchise passed to Ursin Guidry.


During the 1830’s Henry Millard operated the “Pine Bluff” ferry about 3 miles north of Beaumont. After Millard moved to Galveston, his ferry franchise was transferred to John and Person Collier.


The early ferries were allowed to charge a specified fee for a horse and rider, a buggy or wagon, and 2 cents for each head of cattle crossed. Ordained ministers crossed free of charge. Often ferrymen were required to provide food, lodging, and cattle pens, and some ferries were licensed to sell liquor. Each ferryman paid a percentage of his receipts as a county tax. . . .

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