Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Harmar Legislation

Marietta Gazette, April 21, 1837

This best of all towns of ours used to be divided by the Muskingum and, as every one knows, that portion which lay west of the river went by the name of Point Harmar.  Well, after jogging along together some thirty odd years, sometimes wrangling a little and sometimes harmonizing, as married folks will occasionally, Mrs. Harmar took it into her head to set up for herself, thinking she was big enough to go alone.  We of the two eastern wards said to her, stay or go as suits you best, and luck to you anyhow.

Whereupon, off went bill for a new charter for the Town of Harmar, and it was passed by the Legislature before half those who were to be governed by it knew that it existed, even in embryo. This caused a deal of staring on both sides of the Muskingum. Those on the east side gathered together to concoct a new charter for themselves, for in lopping off Mrs. Harmar the Legislature had so maimed the old one that it could work no longer. So the people of the east made out a project in town meeting as best suited them. And then came a most admirable display of nice legislation.

The Town of Marietta is the best of all Towns, but it was laid out as no other town ever was. The streets are almost outrageously spacious. This may be well enough, as it may keep quarrelsome people, if we should ever come to have any, at a good distance apart. But the city squares are more outrageously spacious still, so that it is quite a journey to go round one - something not far from half a mile. We asked leave to cut them up with new streets, &c., which was granted. There were streets and alleys in wrong places.  We wanted the privilege of taking worse grounds and giving better and more of it. There are also several bits of streets which lead nowhere and are of no public use. We asked leave to vacate them, disposing of the grounds for the use of the Town, providing that every man owning an adjoining lot should consent, and two-thirds of our Council would vote for it.  Moreover, there were two short streets very much wanted for the use of the Town for which substitutes could be procured, as was believed, which would better accommodate all concerned. We asked leave to vacate unnecessary streets, &c., with the consent, as we have said of all the adjoining lot holders. And what did we get? Why, leave to vacate with the consent of the owners of all the lots in town, of two thirds the voters in town meeting, and two thirds the Town council! Now to get the consent of all the lot owners would be as impossible as to get our late Legislature to have attended to their proper business.

The Bill for Marietta Charter was forwarded, as was supposed, early enough to have it passed so that the annual election might take place on the first Monday in March; but to provide against failure in that respect, a clause was inserted, empowering the Mayor, whose office was not to be vacated till his successor should be appointed, to notify an election. This was not observed by our lynx-eyed legislators, who were so careful to guard the interest of uninterested lot holders in unnecessary streets. So they made a special act to confine our first election to a special day.

So much for Marietta. Now for Sister Harmar

When the first incorporation of Harmar was bolted on the citizens, they took it in ill part and gathered together and rejected it almost unanimously; made out and forwarded a new bill, which after a long time was passed. Whereupon, our friends of Harmar wrote to Columbus for a certified copy, and there came a copy, not of the last act, but of the first act for the first incorporation which had been repealed; all duly certified!  On a fresh order, however, the existing law was forwarded after the time specified in it for holding the first election. So the matter is up for the present. The time pointed out by the citizens of Harmar for holding their elections was the first Monday in March. But as the bill slept too long for that, they altered it to the second Monday in April - and it came to hand on the third Monday. But another item of nice legislation herein occurs. The Town Council were to be elected on the second Monday in April, and in the month of March were to choose the town officers.

One more item.  It was intended the Town of Harmar should be bounded on the east by the Muskingum River, and the west by certain lots. By some lapse the boundaries stand as follows:  "All that part of the Township of Marietta which lies on the west side of Muskingum river, which lies east of 252-acre lot No. 35, and of the 108-acre lot No. 22, and the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers."


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