It’s On the Books

By Diane L. Janowski
©1999-2011. All rights reserved.

 Laws are very important to the citizens of a town. Actual laws and resolutions taken from the Village of Elmira’s Board of Trustees’ meetings from 1831 to 1849.

July 25, 1831 No person shall have any slaughterhouse within the limits of the Village of Elmira unless he has gotten a license in writing signed by the Trustees.

October 23, 1832 Resolved, that the Trust is not authorized to buy a set of Hay Scales for the Village.

May 9, 1835 The street running along the bank of the Chemung River through said Village shall be denominated “River Street.”

May 7, 1836 Resolved, that no person shall be permitted to dig any hole under the sidewalk in front of their buildings unless by permission of the Trustees and under their direction.

July 19, 1836 Resolved, that the Board of Trustees, hereafter, holds its meetings at the Eagle Tavern.

June 3, 1839 Resolved, that the Trustees are requested not to license any circus or theater within the bounds of the Corporation for less sum than fifty dollars.

May 25, 1840 Resolved, that the owners or agents of the lots on the south side of Water Street are ordered and required to flag the sidewalk with brick or stone opposite their lots in a good manner - the curb stone to be at least three inches thick and eighteen inches deep and to be finished within 60 days.

May 25, 1840 Resolved, that the owners or occupants of the buildings or lots on both sides of Water Street from the Bridge to the Canal are required to clean and sweep the street opposite their buildings or lots occupied by them to the center of the street every Saturday morning and the dirt & rubbish piled in heaps as to be removed by the Street Commissioner under the penalty of fifty cents for each omission.

June 15, 1840 Resolved, that Second Street will be widened from the east line of J. Davis’s land to the Chemung Canal to the width of three rods.

August 10, 1840 Ten dollars received for the privilege of opening a circus for one day (September 18, 1840 in the Village and paid over to the Treasurer.)

April 27, 1841 Resolved that First Street will be opened from Mill Street to the Canal. That Second Street will be opened to the West line of the Corporation. That Wisner Street will be opened to the North line of the Corporation.

April 27, 1841 Ten dollars received for granting a permit for a Theater (one week 26th April 1841.)

May 5, 1841 The following petition was presented:

 “To the Trustees of the Village of Elmira, Gentlemen,

Mr. Frederick Granger and I join lots in the upper part of this Village, his line is within a few feet of my house on the corner of his lot, and immediately on the line and within five or six feet of the door of my house he has erected a cow shed and a hog pen which is very offensive and dangerous to the health of my family. I hereby apply to you the said Trustees to abate the said nuisance. I refer to you the 15th Ordinance of Chapter 1 of the Laws & Ordinances of the Village of Elmira.

Asa Blivens

August 31, 1841 Resolved, that no person shall be allowed to keep any gunpowder within the bounds of the Corporation except a quantity not exceeding twenty-five pounds secured in the manner prescribed in Section IV Chapter III of the Ordinances of this Corporation under penalty of twenty-five dollars.

November 4, 1841 The report of the Chief Engineer was presented and which recommends supplying the Engine with 200 feet of hose. The hose to be gotten from New York.

May 6, 1842 Resolved that the sidewalks on each side of Lake Street from Water Street to Cross Street and Maiden Lane shall be graded nine feet wide and curbed with stone 3 inches think by 16 inches deep and face with stone brick or river gravel 4 inches thick and that the owners or agents of lots on said part of Lake Street will be notified to do the same in sixty days.

May 30, 1843 Resolved that notice will be given to Miss Gregg to remove the wood in front of her door or the usual fine will be imposed.

June 12, 1843 Resolved, that First Street will be lit.

July 20, 1843 Resolved, that the gutters on Baldwin Street will be cleaned.

July 20, 1843 Resolved, that notice will be given to John Arnot to fix his sidewalk in 20 days and that his stoop will be removed or it will be done for him.

May 6, 1844 Whereas, the inhabitants of the Eastern District feeling a deep interest in the main road from the east line of the corporation to Newtown Creek, said road being rendered at certain seasons of the year because of mud, deep ruts and overflowing by water almost impassable. Therefore, resolved that the Trustees of said Village will be directed to expend One Hundred Dollars of the Corporation road tax apportioned to the Eastern district of said Corporation in gravelling said road out of said tax for the year 1849. Resolved, that said road will be opened to a four-rod road as originally laid out to S. Tuttle’s mill.

May 13, 1844 Resolved, whereas a petition has this day been presented to the Trustees asking for a lease of the Public Square for erecting a schoolhouse thereon for the accommodation of School District No. 3 of the Town of Elmira, it was resolved unanimously that is not expedient to lease any part of said Square for any purpose.

June 5, 1844 Resolved, that the bridge of the Canal on Water Street is unsafe and highly dangerous to the traveling public who are compelled to cross it, and request the immediate attention of the State Authorities.

August 12, 1844 Resolved, that the Caravan of Messers Raymond & Company will be allowed to exhibit their Caravan within the bounds of the Corporation for ten dollars.

May 7, 1844 Resolved that H. Whittesbey will be hired as the Bell Ringer for the year at fifty Dollars per year.

May 27, 1844 A petition was presented to open Jackson Street to the width of three rods.

September 24, 1846 Resolved, that the Public Square will be enclosed with a rough board fence.

April 23, 1847 Resolved, that Columbia Street will be continued to the low water mark of the Chemung River, the present course of said Street, which appears in a survey bill made and filed this day by E. B. Carpenter.

May 4, 1847 Resolved, that the Trustees will be authorized to buy the Town Clock erected in the Presbyterian Church in Elmira. Resolved, that the dials of said clock will be repainted and the hands and figure be gilded.

May 4, 1847 Resolved, that the Trustees of the Village of Elmira will be instructed to build a bridge across the Chemung Canal on Second Street and Maiden Lane leading to the new burying ground at an expense not exceeding $400.

May 4, 1847 Resolved, that the Board will buy 60 forest trees and materials needed for setting out said number of trees in the Public Square and Graveyard of this Village.

March 10, 1848 Resolved, that the street next east of William Street from Cross to Church Street will be opened to a four rod street and called “Conongue Street,” the old Indian name for Elmira, meaning “A Head on a Pole.”

March 10, 1848 The following report was received and read before the Trustees:

                   “Gentlemen; - In accordance with your appointment, I lost no time in making all needed preparation for vaccinating every unvaccinated person within the bounds of the Corporation. I commenced February 14, 1848, as you will see by the documents which accompany this report, throwing aside other business and gave my undivided attention to this important object, well-knowing the necessity of watchfulness at this momentous crisis when the smallpox was prevailing all around us and the exposed state of our Village.

I visited every house in the bounds of the Corporation, consulted with the unvaccinated and impressed on their minds the deep importance of being thoroughly vaccinated to secure them against the loathsome and dangerous disease alluded to above and to prevent paralyzation of business in our Village.

After calling on each house in the Village and vaccinating all that had not been vaccinated, I turned my attention to the schools. I visited the Academy, Miss Thurston’s Female Seminary, the Schools in Districts No. 1 and 2, Miss Curtis’Select School, Miss Robinson’s School, and Miss Whittesbey’s (in Slabtown) and you will see with what success by consulting the documents referred to.

I found an uncommon disposition among all classes favorable to the reception of the vaccine, having failed in communicating the infection in the first attempt.

I regret to observe that I found many cases of “Cow-pox” which an experience eye might detect by the scab, and with few exceptions decided to re-vaccinate.

These thoughts may suggest to your successors in office the need of hiring some competent person once in four years to traverse the whole Village and vaccinate any unvaccinated person.

Signed, Norman Smith, Physician & Surgeon

June 2, 1849 On motion the following sanitary ordinances were passed, and that the same will be published in the Village paper and that 200 copies, thereof, will be printed in handbill form. Section 1: No owner or occupant of any lot or tenement, shall deposit or permit to remain in or upon such lot or tenement any dead animal or any stagnant or impure water, or any putrid or offusion matter on pain of forfeiting two dollars for every twenty-four hours after being notified by the Board of Health. Section 2: No person shall permit to remain in their cellars or in the rear of their houses, stores, shops, or outhouses, any refuse, meat, putrid fish, grain, vegetable, or any filth on pain of forfeiting two dollars for every twenty-four hours after being notified.

June 25, 1849 On Motion, resolved that one dozen catallpah (sic) trees will be gotten from Rochester next Fall for the public square and the Court House yard.

August 31, 1849 Ordinance, No carriage, wagon, cart, sleigh, or any other vehicle shall remain on any sidewalk nor shall the same be permitted to remain for more than 24 hours in any public street or alley.


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