Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
New England States Connecticut Fair Haven

Fair Haven, Connecticut

Fair Haven was was originally a village formed in 1679 and was annexed by the City of New Haven in 1870.

The Fair Haven Water Company was incorporated in 1861 by William M. White, Smith G. Tuttle, Charles Ives, George C. Newell, and D. D. Ives "for the purpose of supplying the village of Fair Haven, lying east of Mill river, and lying partly in the town of East Haven and partly in the town of New Haven, with an abundant supply of pure water for public, mechanical and domestic use."  The company's stock appears to have been largely bought by Benjamin Noyes and others, who had been unsuccessful in obtaining a charter for the Mountain Water Company to serve New Haven.  The company built a reservoir and made many unsuccessful attempts to  secure rights to serve the city of New Haven until gaining legislature approval in 1867.  It is unclear as to when the Fair Haven Water Company installed pipes or served customers.  The New Haven Water Company began serving Fair Haven in 1865.

The Fair Haven Water Company was bought by the New Haven Water Company in July, 1876 for $200,000 in shares, and an 1895 state law allowed the two companies to merge under the New Haven Water Company name. 

Water service in Fair Haven is provided by the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority, which was formed in 1977 and acquired the Fair Haven Water Company in 1980.

1860 Journal of the Senate of the State of Connecticut
Page 199:  May 30, 1860.  Petitions supporting the petition of John Osborn and others for the incorporation of the Mountain Water Company, of New Haven.

1861 Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Connecticut. There were several petitions against this incorporation, which was ultimately denied.
Page 177:  May 28, 1861.  Petition of Benjamin Noyes and others for the incorporation of the Mountain Water Company, of New Haven.

1861 Incorporating the Fair Haven Water Company.  July 2, 1861.

1863 "The Mountain Water Company," New Haven Palladium, February 18, 1863, Page 2.

1863 "The Fair Haven Water Company," New Haven Palladium, May 25, 1863, Page 1.

1864 Connecticut Courant, January 30, 1864, Page 1.
The New Haven Water Company have constructed 28¼ miles of water pipe, of which three miles are in Fair Haven.  The city pays the company $4,000 a year for the use of the water.  There are at present 961 customers.  The revenue from water, January 1, 1864, was at the rate of $18,048.  In two years from now, the company hopes to pay the stockholders a dividend.

1865 "New Haven Water - Lake Wintergreen," Hartford Daily Courant, July 13, 1865, Page 2.

1865 "Water in Fair Haven," Columbian Register (New Haven, Connecticut), October 7, 1865, Page 3.
September 30. The New Haven Water Company have connected their main pipes with those in Fair Haven, through Grand street, thus giving the citizens of that flourishing village an abundant supply of water for years to come.  A trail was made to-day, by attaching a hose to a hydrant, at the corner of Grand and Ferry streets, from which the water was thrown one hundred feet, through a 1¼ inch opening.  The hose was then attached to a hydrant at the corner of Grand and Front streets, and a stream thrown on the top of Todd's four-story building, more than fifty feet high, from a distance of fifty feet from its base.  This result was highly satisfactory to all concerned.

1865 "The Water Pipe Procession of B. Noyes,"for himself and others," Columbian Register (New Haven, Connecticut, December 16, 1865, Page 2.

1867 Amending the Charter of the Fair Haven Water Company.  July 26, 1867.  Authorized to install pipes in city of New Haven to reach Fair Haven; authorized to serve New Haven with approval of voters, with lots of caveats.

1867 Springfield Republican, September 4, 1867, Page 8.
New Haven voted, Monday, 2978 to 116, to allow the Fair Haven water company to supply the city with water, but most of the opponents to the measure, believing the town meeting to be illegal, did not vote, and will fight the matter out in the courts.

1867 "The Fair Haven Water Works Giving Way," Commercial Advertiser (New York, New York), October 31, 1867, Page 4.

1867 First report of the Fair Haven Water Company to the stockholders and the public : with a map of all the reservoirs of the company.

1868 "Plan of the Fair Haven Water Co's Reservoirs and Maltby Park," from F.W. Beers' County Atlas of New Haven.

1870 The Hartford Courant, October 3, 1870, Page 4.
The Fair Haven water company, that a few weeks since connected its reservoir with that of the New Haven company, has now given notice that it can furnish no more water for that city.  Consequently, New Haven is worse off then ever for water.

1871 Amending the Charter of the Fair Haven Water Company.  May 31, 1871.  Authorized to increase capital stock to $400,000 and to serve town of Orange.

1874 Greenough, Jones & Co's New Directory of the Inhabitants, Institutions, Manufacturing Establishments, Business, Societies, Business Firms, Etc. Etc. in the City and Town of New Haven for 1874-'75.
Pages 316-317:  Fair Haven Water Company.  Benjamin Noyes, John Osborn.

1875 "Fair Haven Water Company," Hartford Daily Courant, October 12, 1875, Page 2.

1881 "The New Haven Water Company. A Letter to its Stockholders Showing Its Mismanagement in the Past and Its Imperative Needs in the Future. An Inside History Which It Behooves the Stockholders to Read, Consider, and Digest," by John Osborn

1882 "New Haven" from Engineering News 9:372 (September 17, 1881)
In 1876 the company purchased the property of the New Haven Water Company, consisting of reservoirs, pipes, etc., furnishing an auxiliary supply by gravity.

1884 Engineering News, 11:9 (January 5, 1884)
John Osborn, civil and hydraulic engineer, committed suicide at Wallingford, Conn., on Jan. 1. His mental condition had been a matter of concern to his friends for some time past.  Mr. Osborn was about 60 years old, resided at Centreville, Mount Carmel, and leaves property worth at least $150,000. His business has been that of superintending the construction of water-works. The water-works of Cahoos and Millerton, N. Y., and Waterbury, New Britain, Granby and Simsbury, in Conn., were built under his supervision. The Fair Haven water works, which were constructed when Benjamin Noyes and C. S. Maltby were in control, and which were afterward purchased by the New Haven Water Company, were built by him.  The water rights of Lake Saltonstall—the Yale College rowing ground—were owned by him until bought, two or three years ago, by the New Haven Company. The last work he performed was the building of the Wallingford water-works. The work has given every satisfaction to the residents of the borough, but the details attendant upon pipe-laying and dam building greatly worried Mr. Osborne, and his suicide is due, doubtless, to nervous prostration.

1888 History of the Town of Hamden, Connecticut: With an Account of the Centennial Celebration, June 15th, 1886, by William Phipps Blake
Page 104:  Wintergreen Lake Water Works.

1891 "Hon. Benjamin Noyes, New Haven," Illustrated Popular Biography of Connecticut

1891 "Hard Luck of a Good Man," Chicago Tribune, July 26, 1891, Page 31.
The Story of the Generous Deeds of Benjamin Noyes of New Haven.

1891 Benjamin Noyes grave.

1892 New Haven, Connecticut USGS quandrangle map.  Shows New Haven, Fair Haven, and reservoirs.

1892 History of New Haven County, Connecticut, Volume 1, edited by John L. Rockey
Page 322:  The New Haven Water Company was incorporated in 1849, but failing to construct the works the charter was assigned to Eli Whitney, who organized the company, and in 1860 the construction of the works was commenced. The dam at Whitneyville was raised to the height of 35 feet, with a total length of 500 feet, and built in the most substantial manner. On Sachem's hill, a distributing reservoir, with a capacity for 10.000,000 gallons was constructed, with which 18 miles of distributing mains were connected. On the second of December. 1861, the pumps of the company, at the dam, which have a capacity for 6,000,000 gallons daily, were set to work, and January 1st, 1862, the water was introduced into the distributing mains. Since that time these water works have been much improved.
On the northeast slope of the West Rock hills is a small sheet of water called Wintergreen lake, which lies 240 feet above tide water. In 1863 John Osborn gathered these waters into a reservoir of 60 acres, and they have been utilized as another source of New Haven's supply. In 1877 the property passed to the New Haven Water Company, which has since managed it in the interest of the city.
Page 333:  John Osborn, born in Woodbridge, Conn., in 1824, was a son of William M. and grandson of Elisha Osborn. He settled in Hamden about 1846. He was a civil engineer. He planned the Fair Haven Water Works (since consolidated with the New Haven Water Works) and superintended their construction. The water works of Granby and Simsbury, Ansonia, New Britain and Waterbury, Conn , and Cohoes and Millerton, N. Y., were constructed under his supervision. He also laid out Maltby Park. He married, in 1849, Lavinia, daughter of Allen Dickerman, of Hamden, and had five children: Julia A., John I. (who died young), Mary L., John I. and Allen. John I. is a civil engineer and surveyor, and for several years has been in the government service, engaged in coast survey. John Osborn died in 1884.

1895 Concerning the New Haven Water Company and the Fair Haven Water Company.  March 12, 1895.

1993 "Organization as Artifact: A Study of Technical Innovation and Management Reform, 1893-1906," by Peter Dobkin Hall, from The Mythmaking Frame of Mind Social Imagination and American Culture, edited by James Burkhart Gilbert, Amy Gilman, Donald M. Scott, and Joan W. Scott.
Page 204: Note 8. The Fair Haven Water Company, in locating its reservoirs at high elevations, was able to operate its system without pumps. Its sources of supply were more numerous, abundant, and pure than the New Haven's single reservoir at Lake Whitney. The Fair Haven's directors. however, were mostly small businessmen and manufacturers, few of whom sat on the boards of the city's banks. Virtually all of the New Haven's men were directors or officers of banks. The ledgers and directors' books of the Fair Haven Water Company detail the firm's shaky methods of financing and increasingly desperate and unsuccessful attempts to meet its obligations after the Panic of 1873. The Fair Haven's records are in the archives of the South Central Connect1cut Regional Water Authority.

© 2015 Morris A. Pierce