Documentary History of American Water-works

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

Oxford, Massachusetts

Oxford was first settled in 1686 and was officially incorporated in 1713.

In 1824, Richard Olney was the owner of the Campbell Farm in Oxford.  On October 15 of that year, he entered into an agreement with Jonathan Davis and Stern Witt to build an aqueduct using lead pipes to carry water from certain springs on the Campbell Farm to their respective buildings.  The farm was sold in 1880, by which time the system had expanded to serve eight other houses in the village of Oxford.  The system was still operating in 1918 when a court case resolved a dispute among the water users.  The ultimate disposition of this system is unknown.

In December 1886, Lucian H. McIntire, George Alexander and B. C. Mudge petitioned the Massachusetts General Court to incorporate the Oxford Water Company, but the petition was withdrawn the following April for unknown reasons.  McIntire was the New England engineer for the Worthington Company from 1884 to 1888, after which he became a prominent builder of electric streetcars.  Alexander and Benjamin Cushing Mudge formed the National Water Works Syndicate and built several water system in New England before going bankrupt in 1891.

The Oxford Water Company was incorporated in 1904 by Lawrence F. Kilty, Charles H. Willington, Alfred M. Chaffee, Herbert V. Chaffee, Joseph L.Brown, Byron Clark, Leonard E. Thayer, Henry A. Larned, James B. Campbell, George E. Chaffee, David N. Taft, Harold Parker and Flourith H. Darling, "for the purpose of supplying the town of Oxford and its inhabitants with water for the extinguishment of fires and for domestic, manufacturing and other proper purposes."

The company sought and secured permission in 1906 from the Massachusetts Department of Health to use wells for the water supply, and the system was constructed in 1907.  Due to a shortage of local labor, the sons of several stockholders agreed to dig the trenches and install the pipe for ten cents per foot, which they accomplished very profesisonally while making $3 to $5 per day. 

The Oxford Water Company was a subsidiary of the Northeastern Water and Electric Service Corporation in 1939, itself part of the Associated Gas & Electric Corporation holdings  In August, 1942 the Securities and Exchange Commission ordered Associated to divest 22 New England subsidaries, including the Oxford Water Company which became part of the Massachusetts Water Works Company.  This firm was acquired by the Hingham Water Company on December 28, 1989, and the name was changed to the Massachusetts American Water Company.  This company was purchased by Aquarion Water Company on April 25, 2002 and renamed the Aquarion Water Company of Massachusetts.  Aquarion serves about 48% of the households in Oxford.  The town owns about 20% of the water system, including a 273,000 gallon and 500,000 gallon water tank that it leases to Aquarion.  The remaining 80% is owned by Aquarion, including a 216,000 gallon water system, four wells, and 41 miles of water mains.

The town has attempted to purchase the water system on several occasions, leading to a 1984 court decision about the method of determining the acquisition price..  A 2009 town meeting voted to purchase the system, but the price turned out to be higher than estimated and in 2014 town voters decided against purchasing the system.  After the initial vote in 2014, a motion for a revote was interrupted when William F. Malloy Jr., 57, a lobbyist for Aquarion Water Co., allegedly pulled a fire alarm at the May 7-8 annual town meeting, preventing an early-morning re-vote on a request to approve additional funds to allow the town to complete the takeover of the Oxford Water Company from Aquarion.  Malloy was ordered to pay $2,811 restitution to Oxford and serve 6 months of pretrial probation.

Water is currently supplied by Aquarion Water Company of Massachusetts


References
1886 Worcester Daily Spy, December 11, 1186, Page 2.
To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusett in General Court assembled:
The undersigned petitioners, citizens of Massachusetts, respectfully represent that they desire to become a body corporate under the name of the Oxford Water Company, for the purpose of supplying the inhabitants of the town of Oxford with water for domestic, manufacturing and other purposes, including the extinguishment of fires, in conformity with the accompanying bill.  Wherefore they pray your honorable body to grant their rquest creating them a corporation, and as in duty bound they will ever pray.  Lucian H. McIntire, George Alexander, B. C. Mudge

1887 Boston Journal, April 6, 1887, Page 3.
The Legislature. Senate. Reports of Committees.  Water Supply.  Leave to withdraw on the petition of S. H. McIntire and others for an act of incorporation as the Oxford Water Company.

1904 An act to incorporate the Oxford Water Company, March 31, 1904.  Accepted at town meeting, October 21, 1904.

1906 Authorization for Oxford Water Company to construct system, September 6, 1906. in Thirty-Eighty Annual Report of the State Board of Health, page 114. (1907)

1907 Boston Journal, January 7, 1907, Page 5.
Rats Eat Dynamite and get a Wide Berth.  Oxford contractor afraid to trap or even throw a brick at them, lest they blow him up.
Worcester, Jan. 6, 1907.  Charles B. Dana of oxford has a barn full of rats, and during the past month they have eaten 10 pounds of dynamite, which was stored in his barn for the winter by a contractor who has been putting in pipes for the Oxford Water Compnay.  Desiring to use some of the dynamite to blow out stumps, he found it had disappeared, and sufficient evidence was manifest that it had been devoured by the rats.
The condition of affairs has driven Mr. Dana to the verge of nervous prostration.  He says since the dynamite disappeared he has seen more rats and larger rats than ever before, and the worse of it is, he says, he is afraid to throw bricks at the "pesky critters" for fear they will explode and blow up the barn.  He says:
"I can hardly sleep nights thinking that one of the rats may fall out of the haymow to the barn floow and send my horses and cattle to kingdom come.  When I go out to feed the cattle and do chores for the night, I handle the hay and bedding as gingerly as a fellow would handle eggs.  What if one of these animated bombs should be in it?  The shock I might give him by throwing him about might through the rat off."

1907 "Boys Dig in Trenches and Lay Water Pipes," Boston Journal, August 10, 1907, Page 6. Student sons of the stockholders come to aid of the water works company.  John and Arthur M. Beveridge of Worcester Academy; Harold Cushman, Nichols Academy; Ralph H. White, Middlebury Vt College; John Foster, Graduate of Becker's College; Philip W. Joslin and Fay H. Marvin.

1918 Wiliam O. Wellington, et al vs. Lucie A. Rawson, et al., 231 Mass. 189, Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Worcester, October 14, 1918.

1984 Town of Oxford vs. Oxford Water Company, 391 Mass. 581, Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Worcester, March 29, 1984

2009 Water System Aquisition Information, Town of Oxford

2013 "Judge boosts price of Oxford Water Co. by nearly $2M," by Ellie Oleson, Telegram.com,  December 10. 2013

2014 "Oxford voters say no to buying water system from Aquarion," by Ellis Oleson, Telegram.com, May 08, 2014

2014 "Oxford selectman says water company lobbyist 'got off easy'," by Ellis Oleson, Telegram.com, August 12, 2014.



2016 Morris A. Pierce