Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
New England States Massachusetts Northampton

Northampton, Massachusetts

Northampton was first settled by Europeans in 1654. 

Deacon Medad Pomeroy conveyed his home lot to his son in 1709, which included an aqueduct from a reservoir on Elm Street.  Many individual houses and taverns in Western Massachusetts (and elsewhere) were served by aqueducts, but this is one of the oldest for which a record exists.

The seeds of the first water works in Northampton arose from a March 6, 1792 fire that destroyed the malt-house of Benjamin Prescott, causing a loss of $1,000.  The town quickly voted to raise money for a fire engine  Another fire in October of that year resulted in the purchase of ladders and hoses.  

The first public water works was started in 1793 by Asahel Pomoroy, William Lyman, Timothy Mather, Benjamin Prescott, and Ebenezer Hunt, who formed the first aqueduct company in town.  The system was built by Benjamin Prescott, who later built the 1798 water system in Albany and later ran the Springfield Arsenal.  This company provided water until the Town's waterworks were completed in 1871.  

A few years later a second aqueduct company was formed, which advertised for repairs in 1809.

A law passed in 1871 allowed the Town of Northampton to build new waterworks, and water is currently supplied by the City of Northampton.

1796 Journal of a Tour from Boston to Oneida, June, 1796 by Jeremy Belknap, John Wilson and Son, University Press (1882)
Page 7:  Friday June 10, 1796  At Northampton water is brought into the town by an aqueduct of about a mile in length.  The work was performed by a Mr. Prescott of that place.

1809 Hampshire Gazette, June 21, 1809
PROPOSALS Will be received by either of the subscribers until the first of next July, to repair the works of the Second Aqueduct Company in this town by the job.  The person who wishes to undertake it has to find good substantial white or yellow pine logs, or at least eight inches in diameter throughout, for near two hundred rods, and to bore the same with a two inch auger; he has to dig a ditch at least three feet deep for the new logs, and to join, lay and cover them up in a workmanlike manner.  He will also meet with good terms, if he will after a thorough repair of the whole Aqueduct, keeps the works in order by the year.
By order of the company, John Breck, C. L. Seeger, Northampton, June 12, 1809

1870 Report of the committee on the best method of supplying Northampton and Florence with pure water.   Northampton (Mass.). Committee on Supplying Northampton and Florence with Pure Water.
Publisher:  Northampton, Mass., Trumbull & Gere, steam printers, 1870

1871 An act for supplying the town of Northampton with pure water.  February 11, 1871.

1872 Report of the Board of Water Commissioners to the Town of Northampton on the inauguration and construction of the water works. Northampton, 1872

1881 "Northampton" from Engineering News, 8:329 (August 13, 1881)

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

1886 Seventh Annual Report of the State Board of Health, Lunacy, and Charity of Massachusetts
Page 244:  Northampton Water Works.

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

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

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

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

1898 History of Northampton, Massachusetts: from its settlement in 1654 Volume 1 by James Russell Trumbull
Page 557:  Dea. [Medad] Pomeroy died Dec. 30, 1716, in the seventy-ninth year of his age, and his monument may still be seen in the Bridge Street cemetery. In 1709, he deeded the home lot, and the adjoining land in his possession, about nine acres in all, to his son Ebenezer. The deed conveys the homestead “with housing, barns, shops, water courses and all appurtenances.”  The water courses refer to an aqueduct supplying the place with water, the pipes or logs extending to a reservoir on a lot on Elm Street, afterwards the property of Elijah Clark.

1902 History of Northampton, Massachusetts: From Its Settlement in 1654, Volume 2, by James Russell Trumbull
Pages 557-560:  "Water Supply"

© 2015 Morris A. Pierce