Bridge Petition Signatures

The Elegant 1856 Bidwell’s Bar Suspension Bridge across the Middle Fork of the Feather River

Two groups were interested in securing the county license to build a suspension bridge across the Feather River at Bidwell’s Bar. The bridge was to replace an existing ferry that could only provide service part of the year. Only seasonal service was possible due to the high flows during the winter and spring when the Feather River was flowing at peak volumes. One of the interested groups consisted of the businessmen who had the license to operate the ferry service. The second group was headed by Benjamin B. Bliven, a past merchant at Bidwell and then a rancher in the Honcut area; located in the southern part of Butte County. Since he was competing with an existing company, Bliven and those supporting him, circulated a petition during the fall of 1854, gathering support for county approval of Bliven’s application. The petition was circulated in nine locations in Butte County and two in Plumas County, which was served by the existing ferry service and associated road. A total of 959 signatures were gathered, with 157 of them collected in the Bidwell’s Bar area.

Ultimately the license to build the bridge was granted to the newly formed Bidwell Bridge Company, composed basically of the owners and operators of the existing ferry company.

The events surrounding the fierce political battle for the license and the details about building the bridge are contained in chapters found in these two publications:Bliven Wanted to Build the Bidwell’s Bar Bridge. The Town of Bidwell at Bidwell’s Bar: Boom to Bust, 1848 – 1860. Butte County Historical Society, 2010 and Building The Bidwell’s Bar Bridge (Chapter 10.);The Last Toll Bridge in Butte County ( Chapter 19). A Short Golden Life… The Town of Bidwell at Bidwell’s Bar. 1848 -1860. Butte County Historical Society. (Pending – tentative publication in 2015)

The names of signors, and their number on the petition presented in the Bidwell’s Bar area, are listed below to assist researchers, seeking confirmation their research subjects were in the Bidwell area. For information on the names listed on other pages of the petition, contact the web master at the locations indicated on the contact page.

Signature of

1 L. H. Thayer

2 C. B. Pike

3 George Foreman

4 John Kyle

5 Michael M. Kelly

6 Timothy Tyman

7 John McEtanlly

( McOnnell )

8 Wm. B. Marshall

9 Michael Walsh

10 John M. Connell

(McConnell)

11 Robert Stuart

12 Herman __?__

13 Emile Foret ?

14 John Bayler

15 Henry Bird

16 Joseph Kyle

17 J. N. Amberg

18 Sylvester Savage

19 Lewis __?__

20 Bernard Smith

21 Gustavous Rhode

22 Abraham Miller

23 George W. Drake

24 Benjamin Fowler

25 James W. Fowler

26 John J. Fowler

27 Andrew Lewis

28 John Nelson

29 Francis Carter

30 Samuel Horner

31 Adam Muris ?

32 W. S. Hoffman

Signature of

33 Peter Wilson

34 Patrick Willy

35 John F. Thompson

36 William Featherston

37 S. S. Horton

38 W. Malloy

39 Wm.Wilson

( -LRCSI ?)

40 Patrick McGurd

41 Sam Steuart

42 Robert Armstrong

43 _. Clark

44 _. Bennett

45 Samuel Cully

46 Unreadable

47 D. F. Bartman

48 A. C. Maze

49 T. H. Lord

50 Unreadable

51 _. Meagher

52Henry E. H. Jackson

53 John Bicley

54 I. F. Jason

55 T. H. Elliott

56 Thomas R. Short

57 Unreadable

58 Unreadable

59 Unreadable

60 John Fiaten

61 Unreadable

62 John Smart

63 Frank Mane

64 James Gilbert

Signature of

65 Abernathy Wilson

66 John Smith

67 William Smith

68 Sanford Murphy

69 Johannes Johnson

70 G. Johnson

71 Unreadable

72 Unreadable

73 _. Harris

74 Unreadable

75 A. Carpentier

76 _obmel Auguste ?

77 Louis Cesar

78 Unreadable

79 L. F. Hestover

80 Gew. Fitzgerald

81 James _blle ?

82 Unreadable

83 W. E. Singer

84 H.T. Spear

85 William Wilson

86 Del Armstrong

87 George M Renolds

88 John W. Brown

89 Samuel Carpenter

90 D. N. Witt

91 William Fleming

92 Unredable

93 A. J. Burr

94 D. G. Arthur

95 Wm. Burton

96 George P. Russell

Signature of

97 C. A. Smith

98 Owen Murnehax

99 Michael O. day

100 William McQuillen

101 Hank Johnson

102 Monty Johnson

103 Matthew Sweetland

104 Alonzo Chushman

105 A. Goodline

106 Wm. H. Tryon

107 Wm. Nicol

108 J. Swedberg

109 G.Hatberg

100 R. Lattimore

111 J. D. Scott

112 George Dutton

113 Tho. Clarke

114 __. __. Lindley

115 J. Dahlberg

116George Thompson

117 Peeter Smith (2-e)

118 John Vance

119 Samuel Vance

120 Henry Kelly

121 Martin H. Kenney

122 Patrick Carty

123 Unreadable

124Charles Thompson

125 John Cullen

126 E. A. McTherson

127 C. Groth

128 A. Anderson ?

Signature of

129 Robert Daniels

130 Charles P. Wilson

131 Augustus Meyer

132 Unreadable

133 A. Lindford

134 Unreadable

135 Richard Bagley

136 Unreadable

137 Unreadable

138 Guy Victor

139 T. Logan/Grogan

140 Henry Goldst _ ?

141 L. Gobel

142 P. J. Doyle

143 Charles Wilson

144 John Troutman

145 James Fucnders

146 A. Williams

147 Michael Conly

148 Michael Ash

149 John P. But _ _ ?

150 Andrew Anderson

151 Peter Smith

152 Unknown

153 Horace Jones

154 Unknown

155 Unknown

156 A. Skinkle

157 J. S. Coltieron

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Reading the Signatures on the Petition

The original petition document is on linen pages and is in excellent condition. It is archived at the Butte County Historical Society. Determining the correct spelling of the individual names was a challenge due to creative handwriting by the signors and the interpreting skills of the reviewers. Charles Smay and Phil Ravert independently reviewed the document and developed a list of the names, then jointly created what they believed to be the probable spelling of the names. In many cases the final name determination is simply a best guess. In several cases even that was not possible. Researchers are encouraged to keep in mind the possible variation of the spelling of the listed names when searching for names of interest.