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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 BridgeThe 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

Signature of

 Signature of

Signature of

Signature of

 1 L. H. Thayer

33 Peter Wilson

65 Abernathy Wilson

97 C. A. Smith

129 Robert Daniels

 2 C. B. Pike

34 Patrick Willy

66 John Smith

98 Owen Murnehax

130 Charles P. Wilson

 3 George Foreman

35 John F. Thompson

67 William Smith

99 Michael O. day

131 Augustus Meyer

 4 John Kyle

36 William Featherston

68 Sanford Murphy

100 William McQuillen

132 Unreadable

 5 Michael M. Kelly

37 S. S. Horton

69 Johannes Johnson

101 Hank Johnson

133 A. Lindford

 6 Timothy Tyman

38 W. Malloy

70 G. Johnson

102 Monty Johnson

134 Unreadable

 7 John McEtanlly

           ( McOnnell )

39 Wm.Wilson

( -LRCSI ?)

71 Unreadable

103 Matthew Sweetland

135 Richard Bagley

 8 Wm. B. Marshall

40 Patrick McGurd

72 Unreadable

104 Alonzo Chushman

136 Unreadable

 9 Michael Walsh

41 Sam Steuart

73 _. Harris

105 A. Goodline

137 Unreadable

10 John M. Connell


42 Robert Armstrong

74 Unreadable

106 Wm. H. Tryon

138 Guy Victor

11 Robert Stuart

43 _. Clark

75 A. Carpentier

107 Wm. Nicol

139 T. Logan/Grogan

12 Herman  __?__

44 _. Bennett

76 _obmel Auguste ?

108 J. Swedberg

140 Henry Goldst _ ?

13 Emile Foret ?

45 Samuel Cully

77 Louis Cesar

109 G.Hatberg

141 L. Gobel

14 John Bayler

46 Unreadable

78 Unreadable

100 R. Lattimore

142 P. J. Doyle

15 Henry Bird

47 D. F. Bartman

79 L. F. Hestover

111 J. D. Scott

143 Charles Wilson

16 Joseph Kyle

48 A. C. Maze

80 Gew. Fitzgerald

112 George Dutton

144 John Troutman

17 J. N. Amberg

49 T. H. Lord

81 James _blle ?

113 Tho. Clarke

145 James Fucnders

18 Sylvester Savage

50 Unreadable

82 Unreadable

114 __. __. Lindley

146 A. Williams

19 Lewis __?__

51 _. Meagher

83 W. E. Singer

115 J. Dahlberg

147 Michael Conly

20 Bernard Smith

52Henry E. H. Jackson

84 H.T. Spear

116George Thompson

148 Michael Ash

21 Gustavous Rhode

53 John Bicley

85 William Wilson

117 Peeter Smith (2-e)

149 John P. But _ _ ?

22 Abraham Miller

54 I. F. Jason

86 Del Armstrong

118 John Vance

150 Andrew Anderson

23 George W. Drake

55 T. H. Elliott

87 George M Renolds

119 Samuel Vance

151 Peter Smith

24 Benjamin Fowler

56 Thomas R. Short

88 John W. Brown

120 Henry Kelly

152 Unknown

25 James W. Fowler

57 Unreadable

89 Samuel Carpenter

121 Martin H. Kenney

153 Horace Jones

26 John J. Fowler

58 Unreadable

90 D. N. Witt

122 Patrick Carty

154 Unknown

27 Andrew Lewis

59 Unreadable

91 William Fleming

123 Unreadable

155 Unknown

28 John Nelson

60 John Fiaten

92 Unredable

124Charles Thompson

156 A. Skinkle

29 Francis Carter

61 Unreadable

93 A. J. Burr

125 John Cullen

157 J. S. Coltieron

30 Samuel Horner

62 John Smart

94 D. G. Arthur

126 E. A. McTherson


31 Adam Muris ?

63 Frank Mane

95 Wm. Burton

127 C. Groth


32 W. S. Hoffman

64 James Gilbert

96 George P. Russell

128 A. Anderson ?


 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.