Monday, November 12, 2018

"Lea's Bridge"

"Lea's Bridge"

Drive east today from Leasburg, North Carolina, on U.S. Highway 158 (Leasburg Road) toward Roxboro and you will cross South Hyco Creek just before reaching Lea's Chapel United Methodist Church. A bridge apparently has been on or near that location for centuries.

When the area became Person County in 1792, it fell to the people thereof to maintain the bridge, located on the road to the commercially important town of Leasburg.

In 1806, the Person County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions appointed Nathaniel Norfleet, Moses Bradsher, John McMurry, and Reuben Walton commissioners for the purpose of letting to the lowest bidder the building of a bridge across "South Hico" where the old Lea's bridge stood.

In 1807 these commissioners reported to the court that the contract had been awarded to Edmund Shelton for the sum of £104.10.0, for which he was to construct a new bridge and keep in repair for seven years.

Shelton was to be paid upon completion of the bridge or "so soon as the County funds will admit."

Click to See Larger Image

Given the location of "Lea's Bridge," two of the commissioners appointed by the court most likely are: Moses Bradsher (c.1755-1820); Reuben Walton (c.1777-1860). A daughter of Moses Bradsher, Elizabeth Bradsher (1780-1827), married Reuben Walton.

The bridge probably was called "Lea's Bridge" because it was on or very near property owned by Captain William (South Hico) Lea (c.1715-1804). He was granted land on South Hico in 1755.

The old Lea' Chapel bridge was actually about a quarter mile north of the current bridge in use. That narrow [current] bridge was built in 1933 and replaced the older bridge. The older bridge and [Highway] 158 at that time actually went down what is now McCain Drive and crossed Hyco Creek where the City of Roxboro's coffer damn and water pumps are located. One side is still there but, the other side was taken out when Roxboro built the damn there to back up the creek and pump the water to current City Lake.

Rolling Hills Road is not in the picture It is about a half mile to the right headed back towards Roxboro. South Hyco Creek does not cross Hester' Store Road. It comes from way up in Orange County and crosses Highway 49 and flows into Lake Roxboro. From Lake Roxboro it flows 5 miles down to Highway 158 where the current [1933] bridge and new one being built are.

Source: John Roy Williford 13 November 2018 Post to Reminiscing in Roxboro Facebook Page.

This is great information. Now, knowing what to look for, from the aerial view you can actually see the old road and where it crossed South Hyco at the location in your photos. Looks as if it then looped back south toward Leasburg. Since bridges often were built at the location of old fords, I wonder if there was a ford at the site of the original Lea's bridge, built around 1799.

1798 South Hico Creek Bridge

William Rainey contracted with the commissioners appointed by the Person County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions to "build a bridge on South Hico near Capt. William Lea's House. . . ." As no mention was made of a prior bridge, this may be the first bridge built across South Hico Creek between Lea's Chapel and Leasburg.

This bridge was completed on April 2, 1798.

Hyco or Hico is the shortened form of the Indian word, "hycotee" - which means "turkey buzzard's roost."

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