Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
North Central States
Illinois Pekin

Pekin, Illinois

Pekin was first settled in 1824.

The Pekin Water Company was incorporated in 1853 by Samuel P. Baily, Peter A. Brower, Benjamin S. Prettyman, Benjamin Kellogg, jr., J. C. Thompson, Daniel McCook, Henry Wisner, Peter Weyrick, Daniel M. Baily, William B. Doolittle and Middleton Tackaberry "to supply with water the city of Pekin, in the county of Tazewell."

The city of Pekin was authorized to build water works in 1869, but did not do so.

The Pekin Water Works Company was incorporated in 1886 and built a system that pumped water from wells into a tank.  This company was acquired by the American Water Works Company in 1981.

Water is provided by Illinois American Water.

1853 An act to incorporate the Pekin Water Company.  February 12, 1853.

1869 An act to erect and construct new water works for the city of Pekin.  March 24, 1869.

1886 Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield, Illinois), May 23, 1886, Page 4.
New Illinois Corporations.  The Pekin Water company, at Pekin; to construct and operate water works in the city of Pekin; capital stock, $100,000, N. Wilcoxin, and Henry S. Raymond.

1886 The Daily Inter Ocean, June 3, 1886, Page 9.
New Corporations.  Springfield, Ill., June 2.- The Secretary of State to-day incorporated the following companies:  Pekin Water Works Company, at Pekin, capital stock, $100,000, Incorporators, Charles A. Lamb, Hervey E. Keeler, and William W. Gurley.

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

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

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

1897 "Pekin Water Works," The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Illinois), March 31, 1897, Page 1.  Election to vote on purchase of water works.

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

1899 "Pekin's Special Election," The Decatur Herald, November 9, 1899, Page 3. Election to vote for purchase of water works.

[1949] The Pekin centenary 1849-1949 : a souvenir book commemorating 100 years of community progress in the City of Pekin, Illinois
Page 4: History of Pekin's Water Service
The plant and distribution system of the Pekin Water Works Company was installed under a franchise granted by the City of Pekin to Charles A. Lamb, Chicago, Illinois, and Henry S. Raymond, Galena, Illinois, under date of May 24, 1886. A certificate of Incorporation was issued by Henry D. Dement, then Secretary of State under date of July 12, 1886.
The stock of the company was owned by Chicago interests and the drilling of wells, installation of steam pumping equipment, construction of a distribution system and erection of storage tank was engineered by E.S. Alexander, Chicago Engineer.
The original installation included 9 miles of cast iron mains 4 inch to 14 inch in diameter and about 5 miles of wrought iron mains from ¾" to 2" in diameter; 100 fire hydrants and 32 line-valves. The wells and pumping station were located on the same tract now occupied by the plant. By the end of the year 1886 there were 189 customers served from the system.
With a well capacity of 15 million gallons per day and a pumping capacity of 8 million gallons per day, the present plant is able to amply meet all demands with adequate reserves for future growth.
More than 350 fire hydrants provide the necessary protection for the entire city and over 950 line-valves insure a minimum of uninterrupted service.
The Pekin Water Works Company has been a part of the history of Pekin for the past 63 years and has constantly adhered to a policy of quality, service and low cost. The owners and management have participated freely in the support of civic, educational and, charitable interests and will continue to do so in the hope that such policies may contribute to making Pekin an even more desirable city in which to live.
In 1887 the company was purchased by the American Water Works and Guaranty Company, Ld. , of Muncie Indiana and Mr. Frank C. Amsbary was appointed local Superintendent.  During this year, the company was at odds with the City Administration who claimed that the wells were not drilled to "second vein" water, as the franchise provided. The city ordered a well digging firm from Chicago to drill a test well and a determination was made that "second vein" water was only a myth and that the company wells were located in a very desirable bed of gravel washed water.
During the year 1887, the company could not earn its operating expense and pay interest on bonds and in January of 1888 the owners offered the plant for sale, and the first local Interest in the company was introduced when Mr. Goerge H. Lucas and Mr. Henry Lautz purchased the controlling stock. Prom time to time thereafter until 1901, several Pekin business men invested in the company but withdrew support when their investment earned no return. Henry Lautz, however, would not accept failure and by 1901 he had purchased all of the company stock and it has remained the property of his heirs since that date.
In 1908 the company set its first meters and by 1918 all customers were on a meter basis. Prior to metering, rates were determined by the number of persons, horses and cows and the number of outlet taps for each service. Water used for sprinkling required a special rate application. Contracts were drawn with each customer in which the above data was included and a fixed yearly charge agreed upon. Contracts were effective for one year and billing and collecting was done door to door. In 1914 the Illinois Commerce Commission was established and all privately owned water utilities were required to establish rate schedules with the Commission.
During the year 1909 a destructive fire burned the roof off the pumping station but service to the City was maintained without interruption.
The water works plant serving Pekin today is a far cry from the early plant. Four 25" concrete wells have replaced the old 6" and 8" wells and modern electric pumps are now used in place of the old steam driven type. The circular stone tower that supported a steel tank holding 180,000 gallons of reserve water has been dismantled and replaced with a concrete covered reservoir located on the East Bluff, with a reserve capacity of 214 million gallons of water. Nearly 75 miles of main are in service and over 6,100 customers are served.

2003 An interview with Kevin Hillen, Northern Division manager for Illinois-American Water Company, Peoria, April 2003.
The Pekin Water Works Company was first organized in 1886 by a group of private investors. Pekin native Henry Lautz and George H. Lucas took over that interest in 1898. After buying out his partners in 1901, Lautz’s family operated the water company for the next 70 years, until its sale to American Water Works Company in 1981. The name was changed the following year to the Pekin District of Illinois-American Water Company. 

[2010] Illinois American Water Company-Pekin District Est. 1886


© 2017 Morris A. Pierce