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Bulloch History with Roger Allen: Georgia's first 'Road and Patrol Laws' are adopted
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Roger Allen

Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at the first road systems in Georgia and Bulloch County.

In 1863, a pamphlet was published in Milledgeville by R.M. Orme & Sons entitled "The Road and Patrol Laws of Georgia as Revised in the New Code" (of 1862).

The 1862 Act required roads, "shall be cleared of all trees, slumps, grubs and bushes...30 feet wide...of such may incommode horsemen or carriages...and the carriage track must be at least 5 feet, 6 inches wide."

In addition, "The Justices of the Inferior Court must lay off their respective counties into road districts, and apportion the roads and hands so as to divide the labor and expense, on account of roads, causeways and bridges, equally throughout said counties."

Before a new road could be approved, "Justices...shall cause the Clerk to publish a citation for 30 days at the door of the Court House, and in a public gazette...(after which)...said new road or alteration will be finally granted, if no good cause is shown to the contrary."

As to the "road crews?" The law stated "All white male inhabitants between the ages of 16 and 45, all free male negroes and male slaves not under 16 nor exceeding 60 years of age, are subject to work on the public roads, except such as are specially exempted."

There were limits to this required service: "bands shall not be compelled to work on more than one public road, which must come within 3 miles of their residence, except in opening a new road, when all the road hands of the road district are subject to work upon it."

The Act stated, "Road hands are not required to work exceeding five days at one time consecutively, nor more than 15 days altogether, in 12 months, unless sudden emergencies require the immediate repair (of roads and bridges) within their respective districts."

Furthermore, "Owners, managers or employers of male slaves shall...furnish the (names) of them in writing (and would be subject to a penalty of)...three dollars for each male slave...whose names are not furnished."

Finally, the law stated that, "When any road or bridge or causeway may become suddenly impassable, (the) overseer (must) call out as many bands as necessary to repair the same after giving one day's notice." The Act provided that "the time such bands are employed on such special workings...shall (be deducted from the) number of days (their band is) required to work during the year."

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. Email Roger at



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