Texas Heritage Society

Discover - Understand - Preserve

   

   Texas Heritage Society    

 

 

Ferry Fees

Republic of Texas

   When reading early United States and Texas history, one often reads about ferry crossings on rivers.  If you have ever wondered how much it cost to cross a river on a ferry 170 years ago in the Republic of Texas, we have found an answer. 

   Within the minutes of the July 1, 1839 Montgomery County Texas Commissioners Court, a complete list of fees for crossing people, wagons and livestock has been located.  The Montgomery County Commissioners Court authorized Isaac Tousey to establish a public ferry at a crossing of the Trinity River near Cincinatti, Texas.  The site of this ferry is now contained within the boundaries of present day Walker County, Texas. 

Ferry Crossing River

Ferry Crossing a River in Texas - from Homer S. Thrall's 1879 Pictorial History of Texas

   The fees that Isaac Tousey could charge were set by the Montgomery County Commissioners Court.  It is clear from the schedule that ferriage was not cheap. The fee to cross a large wagon drawn by two or more oxen on the ferry was $2.00.  By comparison, it was possible to buy more than two acres of land in Montgomery County, Texas for $2.00 in 1839.  It cost twenty-five cents for a man and a horse to cross on Tousey's ferry, but the ferriage for a hog was only three cents.  

From the July 1, 1839

Minutes of the Montgomery County Commissioners' Court

 

Ordered that Isaac Tousey be authorised to establish a public

ferry at the present crossing of the Trinity river near

Cincinnatti upon his giving bond and approved security

according to law. Further ordered that the said Isaac

Tousey be allowed to demand and receive the following

rates of ferrage to wit:

For a large road wagon drawn by two or more

yoke of oxen or four or more horses                     2.00

Ditto empty                      ′′                              1.50

Light wagon drawn by more than one

and less than four horses or by more than one

yoke of oxen when loaded      ′′                              1.00

Ditto empty                                                       1.00

Two wheel Carriage drawn by two or

more yoke of oxen or two or more horses            1.50

Two wheel Carriage drawn by one

horse or one yoke of oxen       ′′                              1.00

Man and horse                 ′′                                .25

Loose horse each              ′′                               .12 ½

Cattle each                         ′′                               .  6 ½

Footman                             ′′                               .12 ½

Hogs and Sheep each      ′′                               .  3

 

  See Montgomery County Clerk, "Minutes of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court" March 1, 1838 - July 7, 1845, page 30.  Note: The illustration of the ferry crossing above includes the depiction of a two wheel carriage drawn by one horse.  This farmer would have paid Isaac Tousey $1.00 to cross the Trinity River.

   At the January 6, 1840 meeting of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court, Abner Houston was also authorized to establish a ferry on the San Jacinto River on the road leading from Cincinatti to Houston.  The Montgomery County Commissioners Court allowed Abner Houston to demand and receive the same fees that were previously allowed Isaac Tousey at the July 1, 1839 meeting.

From the January 6, 1840

Minutes of the Montgomery County Commissioners' Court

 

Ordered that Abner Houston be authorised

to establish a public ferry at the present crossing

of the San Jacinto river near his house on the road

leading from Cincinnatti to Houston upon his giving an

approved security according to law

And it is further ordered that the said

Abner Houston be allowed to demand and receive the

same rates ferriage as were allowed Isaac Tousey

at the July meeting of this Board for a Ferry establish-

ed by him at New Cincinnatti

 

  See Montgomery County Clerk, "Minutes of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court" March 1, 1838 - July 7, 1845, page 45. Both these entries in the Minutes of the Montgomery County Commissioners' Court are primary sources that tell us what it cost to cross two of the rivers in Montgomery County during the era of the Republic of Texas in 1839 and 1840.

  These excerpts are from a forthcoming book by Kameron and Marisa Searle regarding the early history of Montgomery County, Texas as contained within a number of primary documents located within the Montgomery County courthouse in Conroe, Texas.

Texas Heritge Society