“Built in 1828, the toll house is a 10-foot by 12-foot one-room, clapboard building, with a soapstone stove and windows on all four walls. It was designed to allow a toll keeper to stay out of the weather and provide enough room to continue working as a shoemaker in-between taking tolls and raising the drawbridge. Tolls were collected until 1868 when Essex County declared all highways to be free for public use, effectively assumed authority over the bridge, but not maintenance. The toll house remained in use for the drawbridge until 1912, when after years of minimal funding for repairs from Haverhill, West Newbury and Amesbury, the bridge was in such poor shape that it needed to be replaced.
A good Yankee never wastes anything, and James Colby was no exception. A former toll keeper, he purchased the empty building and had it hauled up the road to his yard on River Road to be a fulltime shoe shop until His death in 1920. His son Harry inherited the property and also used it briefly as a shoe shop until the factories downtown made such small operations obsolete. He became a foreman at a shoe factory and the toll house became a tool shed. By the time Ford and Taylor saw the structure, it was a battered relic. But the history of transportation included these little toll houses, a Ford collection primary focus, so Thomas was authorized to make arrangements to acquire it.” (74)
The original toll house and shoe shop from 1828 was purchased in 1928 for $200 by Henry Ford and brought to Greenfield Village in Dearborn Michigan.
In 1804, if you didn’t pay the toll, “Mr Swan followed him & brought back his horse and chaise”. (21)
1831: Joseph Morse tollkeeper. (history of Haverhill pg 502) story of “I’m dying”. Also in a Brief Account of the Singular as told by Thomas Morse in 1832. “Printed at the Iris Office”. The Iris was a newspaper in Haverhill with a printing office later moved to Lowell.
1832: Mr. William Willcomb was draw keeper or toll keeper along with Joseph Morse.
1830 Census: William Willcomb, between 30 and 40, 2 females between 5 and 10, 2 females between 10 and 15, one female between 30 and 40.
820-1038 Thomas D. KELLY, 40, toll keeper (did they live in the toll keepers house?) Sarah ", 20 William ", 9 Sarah ", 6/12
1856 – John W.Ladd was tollkeeper (and a shoemaker).
1850 census- John W. Ladd (b. Jan. 7, 1822) (son of John Ladd & Sophia Jaques) at age 28 is listed as a shoemaker.John W., marries Sarah C. Evans of Amesbury, int. June 29, 1845.
Sarah (Evans)- 27,
Frances – 5,
Mary – 3
John – 2
1857 – Wallace T. George, father of Edward B. George, Clerk of Courts of Essex county, was tollkeeper. He is listed as owning 34 East main Street in 1850.
1858 – Theodore Ordway was tollkeeper and shoemaker. He took the last receipts collected. Later his son Charles Ordway took over shoemaking and tending the draw.
812-1036 Theodore ORDWAY, 50, shoemaker (did they live in the toll keeper house?) Mary ", 43 Hazen Elliott", 20, shoemaker, Feb. 20, 1830. Ann Frances", 14,born June 17, 1836. Ellen M. ", 7 born Aug. 14, 1843. Charles Elliott", 3 born June 24, 1847. Moses LITTLE, 25, shoemaker Abraham CHASE, 24, shoemaker James C. ELLSWORTH, 40, shoemaker, $4000 Elizabeth ORDWAY, 18
1890 – The bridge was replanked. A new drawtender’s house (small building close to bridge – now relocated in the neighborhood) was built close to the bridge (cost: $100). It was used for shoemaking and draw tending.
James Colby toll Keeper
1912 – Haverhill Evening Gazette Dec. 13, 1912: “The present drawtender is John Germaine …occupies the old tollhouse, where he repairs shoes, and it is still ‘a cobbler’s stall’”
In 2013, Students from Whittier Technical School rebuilt the Toll House with Plans from the museum in Dearborn.
We'd like to thank the following local businesses for their donation of material Moynihan Lumber Johnson Lumber Lighting by the Sea Haverhill Bank Rice & Broullard Electric, Inc. Lambert Roofing