Documentary History of American Water-works

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Northwestern States
Iowa Marshalltown

Marshalltown, Iowa

Marshalltown was chartered as a city in 1863.

The city explored installing a Holly water works system after a large fire, with some council members visiting the Holly water system in Peoria.  City voters approved the Holly system in a September 1872 vote, but the council chose not to proceed with any system.

The city built water works that began operating in October 1876 but were not accepted until the following January.  The system was designed  by Thomas N. Boutelle.  The Holly company sued the city for infringing their patents, which the city settled for $2,000 in 1879.

Water is provided by the city of Marshalltown.

1872 Council Proceedings, May 7, 1872
Mr. Boardman presented the following petition with a few eloquent remarks followed by Mr. Taylor, as follows:To the Hon. Common Council of the City of Marshalltown:The undersigned petitioners respectfully represent that in their opinion the time has come and your honorable body will be fully justified by the citizens of this City in taking speedy and efficient measures to protect the City from a repetition of the late destructive conflagration; And to that end we recommend that the so called Holly system be investigated, and if deemed practicable, be adopted and in the same connection, we recommend that the Railroad Companies be immediately consulted andwe obtain their cooperation so far as practicable.
Petition was signed by fifty citizens
Moved by Craigue that a committee consisting of Arnold, Rice and Bromley be appointed to visit Peoria, Illinois to investigate the system of Holly water works.  Motion carried.

1872 Council Proceedings, May 17, 1872
Councilman Arnold and Rice, the Committee appointed to investigate the Holly Water Works reported favorably and represented that they could be put in this City with three miles of piping for $50,000. The report was on motion accepted and ordered placed on file

1872 Council Proceedings, August 19, 1872
Resolved.  That on the 3rd day of Sept. an election be called in this City to vote upon the proposition of establishing a system of water works substantially such as is known as the “Holly” system.  Adopted.

1872 Council Proceedings, September 9, 1872
The abstract of election of Sept. 3, 1872 was then read as follows:
For Holly Water Works 174
Against Holly Water Works 132

1872 Council Proceedings, October 14, 1872
Resolved. That it is the sense of this Council that in the view of the vote of the City recently taken, we ought to take immediate steps to procure as speedily as possible, the Holly Water Works in this City.
Councilman Craigue moved to adopt the resolution and asked for the yeas and nays which were as follows:
Yeas:  Arnold, Bromley, and East.
Nays:  Barrows, Craigue, Calhoun, and Williams.  Motion declared lost.

1876 "An Ordinance prohibiting the pollution of the Iowa river above the point where the city of Marshalltown draws water for its system of water works, and for the protection of said works, together with the machinery pipes, hydrants, and other apparatus connected therewith from injury and damages.  September 4, 1876," Marshalltown Times, September 6, 1876, Page 4.

1877 First Annual Report of the Water Works Department of the City of Marshalltown, Iowa, January 1st, 1878.

1878 Second Annual Report of the Water Works Department of the City of Marshalltown, Iowa, January 1st, 1879.

1878 The History of Marshall County, Iowa
Page 485:  Water Works.
The city is supplied with water from the Iowa River, by a system of Knowles pumps. The water works are located on the south bank of the stream, near the Woodbury Mills. The mains are laid in all the principal streets, and the power of the pumps is ample to furnish water for fire and ordinary purposes.
A system of telegraph is maintained to warn the engineer of fires. The entire service is satisfactory to the city.
The contract for works was made with Carpenter & Co., of Ottawa, for the sum of $46,500. The entire cost exceeded this amount, and, including extensions, is stated at $67,817. The city is now carrying some $60,000 of bonds, issued for this improvement. These bonds represent the bonded debt of the city, the financial condition of which is exceedingly satisfactory.
This enterprise is one of the most extensive ever attempted in the city, and reflects great credit upon those who originated the plan and carried it to a successful completion. No town of its size in the State is better supplied with water than is this city.
Mr. Frank Killala has general supervision of the works and supply department. William Fisher is Chief Engineer of the pumping house, and William Brush is Second Engineer.

1879 Daily Nonpareil (Council Bluffs, Iowa), April 6, 1879, Page 2.
Marshalltown has settled the suit against it for infringement of patent of the Holly Water Company in its water supply, by paying $2,000.

1880 Fourth Annual Report of the Water Works Department of the City of Marshalltown, Iowa, January 1st, 1881.

1881 Marshalltown, from Engineering News 8:333 (August 20,  1881)

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

1882 Sixth Annual Report of the Water Works Department of the City of Marshalltown, Iowa, January 1st, 1883.

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

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

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

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

1901 Evening Times-Republican (Marshalltown, Iowa) October 19, 1901, Page 8.
Article on water meters.

1935 A treatise dealing with the history and general development of the municipally owned water works of Marshalltown, Iowa, by H. V. Pederson

1990 Redefining "Public" Water Supplies, 1870-1890: a Study of Three Iowa Cities, Maureen Ogle, The Annals of Iowa, Volume 50 | Number 5 (Summer 1990) pps. 507-530. Iowa City, Marshalltown, and Boone.

2009 The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa, by David Hudson, Marvin Bergman and Loren Horton
Pages 159-160:  Fisher, William (September 2, 1838–November 29, 1906)
Recognized for his engineering skill, Fisher supervised the successful construction and operation of municipal waterworks in Clinton (1874), Anamosa (1875), and Muscatine (1876). His reputation as a waterworks designer and engineer led to employment by the Marshalltown City Council in 1876 to supervise completion of that city's waterworks.
William and Martha Fisher and their two daughters, Lizzie Jane and Lillie May (a third child, Jasper H., was born on September 6, 1878), moved to Marshalltown in September 1876. William Fisher not only managed the completion of the city's waterworks but also began employment as chief engineer of the pumping house, earning $75 per month. Not long after assuming his duties, Fisher was roused from his bed early one morning and summoned to the waterworks. Local volunteer fire companies were battling a blaze that threatened the entire city. Fisher took charge of hand-throttling the steam engines and manually adjusting the steam valves. He worked for 24 consecutive hours to maintain constant water pressure through the mains, thus enabling the hose companies to extinguish the fire.

© 2020 Morris A. Pierce