Documentary History of American Water-works

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North Central States
Indiana Union City

Union City, Indiana

Union City was incorporated as a city in 1875.

The town built a water works system that began service in January, 1874.   The system used steam-driven Deane pumps to pump water from a well directly into the distribution system, which used Wyckoff wood pipes.  The Holly Manufacturing Company believed that the pumping machinery infringed on their patents, and they filed an infringement suit that was resolved in their favor in June, 1878.   The city had to pay a substantial sum to the Holly Company in addition paying $1,500 in attorney's fees.  The Deane pump company had declined to indemnify against any patent claims, forcing the city to bear the cost.

Water is supplied by the city of Union City.

1873 Crawfordsville Weekly Journal, August 14, 1873, Page 4.
The Union City water works appear to be a grand success.  The Times says the well flows at a rate of 200 gallons per minute.  Over 20,000 feet of piping have been contracted for.

1874 "Water Works Celebration at Union City," The Fort Wayne Sentinel, January 19, 1874, Page 4.
To take place on Thursday, the 22d, inst.

1878 "Validity of the Holly Patent," The New York Times, March 26, 1878, Page 1.
Lockport, N.Y., March 25.- The Holly Manufacturing Company, of this city, have just gained an important suit, involving the exclusive right of the company to construct water-works on the Holly system of direct pumping and without a receiver or stand-pipe.  The suit was commenced about four years ago at Indianapolis, Ind., before Judge Drumond, in the United States Circuit Court, who decided, affirming the validity of the Holly patent.

1878 Birdsill Holly v. Union City, Indiana, 14 Off. Gaz. 5, June 3, 1878, Circuit Court, District of Indiana. | also here |

1878 "Water Works Injunction," Quad-City Times, July 3, 1878, Page 1.

1878 Hamilton County Democrat (Noblesville, Indiana), July 5, 1878, Page 2.
The Union City water works have been adjudged an infringement on the Holly patent.  The amount of the fine has not been assessed; but, with the cost, added to a fifteen hundred dollar attorney fee, will make a considerable sum.  The Dean Bros., in putting in these works, shuffled the expense of testing the validity of Holly's claim for infringement onto the city.

1878 "The Holly Suit," Engineering News 5:233 (July 25, 1878)
Decision of the U.S. Circuit Court in the case.  Birdsill Holly vs. Union City, Indiana.

1878 "The Holly System of Water Supply and Fire Protection for Cities and Villages," Scientific American Supplement, 6(140supp):2219-2234 (September 7, 1878)
Page 2220:  The crowning proof of the merits of Holly's Water Works is found in the fact that in several instances parties are striving to imitate the plan which Mr. Holly has devised, perfected and secured to himself and associates in the Holly Manufacturing Company by numerous letters patent. It is •alleged that this may be done without incurring legal liabilities for patent infringement, because Holly's plan is not new, but was in use in London some three hundred years ago and in other places at later dates. In order to test the validity of Mr. Holly's claims, the first two cases of infringement were promptly taken up and carried into the courts; one was against the city of Rahway, N. J., and the other the city of Union City, Ind. It was decided to make the latter the test case, and a vigorous contest extending over a term of more than seven years ensued. It was finally decided in June last, by Judge Drummond, in favor of the Holly patent.

1879 "Holly Water Works against Union City, Ind.," Engineering News 6:75 (March 8, 1879)
Full text of the final decree in the case of Birdsell Holly vs. Union City.

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

1882 History of Randolph County, Indiana with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers : to which are appended maps of its several townships, by Ebenezer Tucker
Page 442:  It was an unfortunate circumstance connected with the water works that the city encountered a serious and expensive law suit for infringement of patent, which was settled at least, after great outlay of money, by purchasing of the plaintiffs the right to continue their machinery and methods.
Pages 452-453:  WATER WORKS.
Some mention has already been made of the water works constructed by the authorities of Union City, Ind., at very great labor and expense. We give at this time some further information concerning them.
The well is twenty-five feet wide and twenty-three feet deep. The bottom of the well is at the gravel, the thickness of which is fifteen feet. Below this is six or eight feet of hardpan; then comes fifteen feet of quicksand, below that three feet gravel, still deeper about ten feet clay of a very fine quality, and below the clay quicksand again. How deep the quicksand is has not been determined. During 1881, efforts were made to obtain a greater supply of water. Two pipes have been inserted about eleven feet below the surface of the upper gravel, and the Superintendent is now (July, 1881), sinking a four inch pipe, having bored to the lower quicksand mentioned above.
The capacity of the well at the present time is about one hundred and eighty thousand gallons in twenty-four hours, and that amount has been taken a portion of the time during the present summer. The range of the operation of the works has been from 3,800 strokes of the pump to 9,400, at twenty gallons per stroke. Since January 1, 1881, to the afternoon of July 26, 1881. the number of strokes has been 517,423, averaging 2,500 strokes per day. The engine is self-regulating, standing at forty pounds pressure, which can, however, be increased if needful to eighty pounds. Nine thousand strokes a day are equal to 7,500 gallons an hour, or 125 gallons or about three barrels every minute, making 4,500 barrels per day. It is evident that two things must be done — the supply of water must be increased and the wasteful use must be prevented. At one time during the hot season in the month of July, 1881, if a fire had occurred a supply of water could have been maintained not over fifteen minutes, which is a state of affairs sufficiently alarming. The annual expenses of the works are about as follows:
The income from rent for the use of water for 1880 was about $2,700. The number of connections was about one hundred and seventy. The Bee Line roundhouse used an immense quantity, paying $975 a year, which seems perhaps a small sum for so large a use as they make; yet the bargain is, nevertheless, not an unprofitable one for the city, since they use chiefly surplus water, i. e., after it has passed through the general system of pipes. In the fall and early winter of 1881, the water supply was extended far north along Howard and far west along Pearl street.
One would think that meters should be employed, so that each may pay in proportion to the quantity used, which is now far from being the case. The action of the steam works sustaining a continual head of water sufficient to fill all the pipes of the city is maintained without intermission. And in case of increased demand, such as the occurrence of a fire, a heavier pressure is at once produced by creating a greater head of steam. Thus far the strength of the engine has been abundantly equal to every need.

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

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

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

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

© 2019 Morris A. Pierce