Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
Northwestern States
Iowa Keokuk

Keokuk, Iowa

Keokuk was chartered as a city in 1848.

The Keokuk Water Company was incorporated in 1856 by H. W. Sample, John W. Cleghorn J. K. Hornish, J. H. Sullivan, John McCune, D. B. Smith, P. C. Wright, Charles Parsons, Guy Wells, E. H. Harrison, D. T. Bringham, Wm. Leighton, Wm. Timberman, J. M Hiatt and James L. Estes with a capital stock of $300,000, "to supply the city of Keokuk and vicinity with water , for mechanical and domestic purposes."  Voters turned down the water works by a large majority.

Local resident William C. Stripe, who was an engineer for the Des Moines rapids lock adjacent to Keokuk, tackled the problem of Keokuk's water works and submitted a proposal for a standpipe system to the city's common council that would cost $70,000 to $75,000.  Nearly simultaneously, William C. Weir delivered a proposal to the council for a reservoir system that would cost about $150,000.  Weir had built several water systems Iowa after leaving the employ of the Holly Manufacturing Company.  The council preferred Stripe's plan, but asked him to modify it to provide fire protection to the entire city.  Stripe then recommended a Holly water works system that was adopted and built at a cost of about $100,000.

The Keokuk Water Works Company was organized on April 21, 1877 and incorporated shortly thereafter with a capital stock of $100,000 divided into shares of $100 each.  The initial board of directors was William Leighton, Guy Wells, W. C. Stripe, Pat Gibbons, S. P. Pond, and James H. Anderson.  The city awarded a twenty-year water works franchise to the company on June 17, 1877 in which the city agreed to pay $100 annually per hydrant for the first ten years and $75 per hydrant thereafter.  The city would pay $75 for each additional hydrant.  The company's Holly water works system was demonstrated on July 18, 1878.

William C. Stripe, from Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the American Water Works Association 8:vi (April 1888)

Stripe was the company's engineer until it was sold in 1887, shortly before his death..  He was instrumental in founding the American Water Works Association in 1881.

The company was bought by the American Water Works and Guarantee Company in 1887 and was reincorporated with the same name in Delaware on December 9, 1911.

The city received a water works grant from the federal Public Works Administration and after some litigation with the water company bought the system on June 1, 1938 for $252,500.

Water is supplied by the Keokuk Municipal Waterworks.

1856 "Incorporation Notice," Daily Gate City and Constitution, October 16, 1856, Page 3.
Keokuk Water Company.

1856 City of Keokuk in 1856. A view of the city, embracing its commerce and manufactures, and containing the inaugural address of Mayor Curtis, and statistical local information: also, a sketch of the Black Hawk war, and history of the Half Breed tract. Historical and statistical matter written by Orion Clemens
Includes several references to the proposed water works system.

1857 "Keokuk Water Works," Chicago Tribune, August 25, 1857, Page 2.
Keokuk voted against appropriating $300,000 for water works, on Monday last, by a majority of 221.  It is alleged that the proposition was voted down because the issue of $300,000 bonds, whether general or special, would tend to impair the city's credit.

1857 Anamosa Eureka, September 8, 1857, Page 2.
The citizens of Keokuk voted last Monday on the proposition to construct water-works by an expense not to exceed $100,000.  The proposition was voted down by a large majority.

1877 "An ordinance in relation to Water Works, and Granting certain Rights and Privileges to the Company known as the Keokuk Water Works, or any other Company," June 18, 1877, from The Charter and Ordinances of the City of Keokuk, Together with Acts of the General Assembly of the State of Iowa, Relating to the City: Published by Authority of the City Council (1887) | pdf of ordinance |

1879 The History of Lee County, Iowa: Containing a History of the County, Its Cities, Towns, Etc
Pages 627-633:  The Water Works | pdf |

1880 An act to legalize the acts of the Keokuk Water Works, of Keokuk, Iowa.  March 15, 1880

1882 Keokuk, from Engineering News 9:14 (January 14, 1882)

1882 Keokuk from "The Water-Supply of Certain Cities and Towns of the United States," by Walter G. Elliot, C. E., Ph. D.

1883 Daniels et al. v. The Keokuk Water Works, 61 Iowa 549, October 2, 1883, Supreme Court of Iowa

1887 Sioux City Journal, September 6, 1887, Page 3.
George D. Rand has sold a controlling interest in the Keokuk water works to the American Water-works and Investment company, of Pittsburg, Pa., a corporaiton with a capital stock of $5,000,000, and therefore amply able to make any improvements and build extensions.

1888 "William C. Stripe," Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the American Water Works Association 8:174 (April 1888)

1888 "Keokuk," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 1.

1889 Becker v. Keokuk Water-Works, 79 Iowa 419, February 7, 1889, Supreme Court of Iowa
The owner of city property which is destroyed by fire through a failure of a water company to supply water according to the terms of its contract with the city, cannot maintain an action for damages against the company, even though a special fund has been raised by the city by taxation to pay for a sufficient supply of water for use in case of fires, and the plaintiff has contributed to such fund.

1890 "Keokuk," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.

1891 "Keokuk," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.

1893 "A Claim for Damages," St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 16, 1893, Page 7.
Keokuk, Io., August 25. - Suit for $2000 damages was brought to-day by Emma T. Kerr, Administatrix of the estate of Harry E. Kerr, against the Keokuk Water Works and American Water Works Company.  Kerr was their engineer, and while sick with typhoid fever was taken from bed and down to the pumping station to look after some machinery. A day days later he died, plaintiff claims, from exposure to which the company's agents put him.

1897 "Keokuk," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4.

1938 Keokuk Waterworks Co.v. Keokuk, 224 Iowa 718, January 18, 1938, Supreme Court of Iowa

1967 "Biographical Sketches of William C. Stripe, Founder, and Benjamin F. Jones, Fifth President, of AWWA," by Ellsworth L. Filby, Journal of the American Water Works Association 59(2):259-266 (February 1967)

2020 Morris A. Pierce