Bullitt County History

County Road Maintenance (1849)

According to an act passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1848, the local County Court (Fiscal Court today) could levy a tax each year on all property in that county that was subject to the state revenue tax, as well as a poll tax on all free male inhabitants over 21 and under 55 years of age.

This tax levy was also used to determine who was required to provide physical labor to help maintain the county roads. It appears that the county was divided into districts with each district having a road overseer. These overseers were provided with a list of eligible workers and the amount of time each was required to spend on road maintenance. This was based on the value of the tax they owed, meaning that those with more valuable taxable property would be responsible for provided more days of work on the roads. However, almost all adult males were required to provide some work based on the poll tax.

Substitutes could be hired to do the work required.

This legislation also proscribed what was to be done with men who failed to perform their required duties.

The entire act is transcribed below.

Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky passed at December Session, 1848, pages 186-7.

CHAPTER 277.

AN ACT to regulate the Public Roads in Bullitt county.

Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, That it shall be lawful for the Bullitt County Court, (a majority of the Justices thereof being present,) at the May or June term, to levy a tax, in each year, upon all property in said county subject to State revenue tax, not exceeding five cents on every one hundred dollars worth of property, and a poll tax not exceeding seventy five cents upon all free male inhabitants, free negroes, and mulattoes, over twenty one and under fifty-five years of age.

Sec. 2. That it shall be the duty of the Clerk of said County Court, within twenty days after the return of the books of the Commissioners of the revenue in each year, to make out, for the overseers of the public roads, and furnish each a transcript that will embrace the tax that may have been levied by the County Court, on all persons and property within the bounds of their respective road precincts; and it shall be the duty of the overseers of each district, from time to time, as the public good may make it necessary, to call upon the individuals within their respect1ve precincts, (giving in all cases three days notice.) to work upon the particular road over which he is overseer, until each person, liable to a revenue and poll tax as aforesaid, shall have worked upon such road a length of time equal to one day for every seventy five cents to which the tax shall amount; or that he may, in part or in whole, at the discretion of the overseer, work out said tax with a team of horses or oxen, a reasonable amount being allowed for the labor of such teams. The County Court may exempt any person from the whole or any part of the labor which would be due by said estimate; but such exemption shall only operate during such time as the Court may prescribe. The labor to be performed may be performed by one or more able bodied, industrious substitutes; and the overseer shall dock any individual, at the rate of ten cents per hour, who shall, when attending to work on the road, willfully idle away his time, or to dock him for laziness, neglect of duty, or disobeying legal and reasonable commands or instructions in relation to the work; but any person docked, shall be informed of it within ten days after his delinquency, by his overseer, of the exact sum he is docked; and the County Court may strike out or continue the amount against the individual, the sum or sums for which he is docked, as they may think justice requires. Where any individual has taxable property in more than one precinct, the whole of the labor due shall be payable by labor in the one in which he resides.

Sec. 8. That on the first Monday in December, in each year, each overseer shall deposit, with the Clerk of the County Court, a list of delinquents for the preceding year; and said Clerk shall, on or before the first Monday in January, in each year, make out a connected list of such delinquents, and furnish the Sheriff of said county, or his deputies, therewith, and for which be or they shall receipt to said Clerk; and it shall be the duty of said Sheriff, or his deputies, to collect the amount due from such delinquents, in the same manner that, by law, they are now required to collect the county levy; and account for and pay over the same to the County Court, on or before the third Monday of October or November of the same year; and, also, return a delinquent list to said Court, at said time, who shall examine the same, and allow such as they are satisfied could not have been collected with reasonable diligence; and on the refusal of the Sheriff to receive the lists, when tendered, or failure to collect and pay over the amount due thereon, he and his securities shall be liable in the same manner, as for failing to account for the county levy tax; and shall be allowed the same per cent. as is now allowed for collecting the revenue tax.

Sec. 4. That all moneys paid over to the County Court, on account of collections from delinquents, shall, from time to time, as occasion may require, be applied by said Court to the repair or improvement of any of the roads of said county.

Approved February 19, 1849.


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The Bullitt County History Museum, a service of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is located in the county courthouse at 300 South Buckman Street (Highway 61) in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The museum, along with its research room, is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday. Admission is free. The museum, as part of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization and is classified as a 509(a)2 public charity. Contributions and bequests are deductible under section 2055, 2106, or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code. Page last modified: 13 Jul 2015 . Page URL: bullittcountyhistory.org/bchistory/roadwork.html