Documentary History of American Water-works

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Middle Atlantic States
Maryland Frederick

Frederick, Maryland

Frederick was settled in the 1730s..

The President and Directors of the Frederick Water Company was incorporated in 1824 by John McPherson, John Tyler, John Graham, William Tyler, and John L. Harding "for the purpose of introducing a supply of wholesome water into the city of Frederick." This company built a system that was supplying water by 1826.  Some cast-iron pipes made by the Catoctin Furnace were used, as the company stock was sold at a Sheriff's sale in 1836 to satisfy debts owned to John Brien, who owned the furnace along with John McPherson.

The Corporation of Frederick bought the system at the Sheriff's sale in December 1836 for $2,675, and after some deliberattion secured authority to conduct a lottery to raise funds to rebuild the system.  Construction of the new system, which was designed by Frederick Erdman, began on September 19, 1844 and was completed November 22, 1845, at a cost of $90,000.

Water is currently distributed by the City of Frederick, which purchases Potomac River water from Frederick County.

1822 [Engelbrecht] Last night after church Mr Andrew McCleery and myself took a walk up Street - when we came to Barness pump; Andrew wished to get a drink of water, I told him I would pump I did so - he holding his mouth to the Spout - but no water would come I then inquired of a boy who came to us whether the pump was out, he said "yes" I then told Andrew we could get some at Mrs Shafers pump - we accordingly went up street till we came to it - but behold when we came to it, there was neither spout nor handle, - this caused a Laughter, - I then said up at Crosss was a pump - and we went there - when we came to the pump I handed him the Ladle of the pump, - he holding it and I wanted to pump - but behold, I could not find a handle there being none to it this caused another grand Laughter - three pumps & no water to drink thats all JE Saturday March 23 1822 - 8 ock am.

1824 An act to introduce wholesome water into the city of Frederick.  December 16, 1824.

1825 [Englebrecht] "Frederick Water Company" At an Election on monday last, the following Gentlemen were Elected for Directors for the ensuing year, Col. John M Pherson, Col. Stephen Steiner. Doctr Wm Tyler, John Kunkel. John L. Harding - Gideon Bantz, Henry Koontz, - & John McPherson was Elected Prest JE Good Friday April 1st 1825 2 ock p.m

1825 Republican Gazette and General Advertiser (Frederick, Maryland), April 28, 1825, Page 3.
Notice is hereby given, That the directors elected under and in pursuance of the late act of assembly, entitled "An act to introduce wholesome water into the City of Frederick," will open subscription books at the Branch Bank on the 18th day of April next, for 205 Shares of Stock remaining unsubscribed at twenty dollars each share, to complete a capital of ten thousand dollars, as provided in said act.  The books to remain open until said shares be taken.  A payment of two dollars and fifty cents on each share will be required at the time of subscription - the remaining seventeen dollars and fifty cents on each share to be paid in installments of two dollars and fifty cents, at such times and in such manner as said Directors shall appoint, first giving in the newspapers of Frederick not less than thirty days notice of each payment.  John McPherson, President. march 31

1825 Daily National Journal (Washington, DC), May 13, 1825, Page 3
Frederickstown, Md.- The whole of the stock, amounting to $10,000, in the Frederick Water Company has been subscribed for--and it is expected that immediate measures will be adopted to supply the town with pure mountain water.

1825 [Engelbrecht} "The Frederick town Water-works" as they are called, are now progressing with all possible despatch. W Thos Shriver is I believe Engineer & Supirintendant and gets fifty dollars per month, - That will do Tuesday June 21. 1825 - 12 m

1825 [Engelbrecht] Yesterday I took a Small Ride with my "Wife" & mother-in-law, to old Mr Heldebrandts about 5 miles up the road - near Dr Wm Tylers mountain place, above Joseph Kemps Tan-yard - and on our return, we went to see the Spring That the Water company of Frederick mean to bring to town - The Spring is on the Land of Col John McPherson - & is in a very Cool place - 3 miles from town up the "High-knob" road - thats all Except we got cherries at Heldegrandt Monday - June 27th 1825 - 10 ock a m

1826 Republican Gazette and General Advertiser (Frederick, Maryland), February 9, 1826, Page 3.
Office of the Frederick Water Company, January 17th 1826.
The President and Directors of the Frederick Water Company, hereby give notice to the stockholders of said company, that a seventh installment of two dollars and fifty cents on each share of stock, is required to be paid into the Frederick-Town Branch Bank, to the credit of the President and directors of the said company, on or before Tuesday, the 21st day of Febuary next.  By order, John McPherson, Pres'dt. Jan. 19.

1826 [Engelbrecht] Frederick Water company - yesterday the Directors of this company were elected which are as following, Col. John McPherson .. John Kunkel. Henry Koontz Dr Wm Tyler. Wm C. Russell & Jacob Shriver Thos W. Morgan Tuesday March 7th 1826 - 9 ock a.m

1826 Republican Gazette and General Advertiser (Frederick, Maryland), June 1, 1826, Page 3.
Notice is hereby given, that books will be opened by the President and Directors of the Frederick Water Company, on the 10th inst. at their office in the Frederick County Bank,for an additional subscrition of two hundred and fifty shares of stock, to remain open until such stock shall be subscribed; and which they will assured will be sufficient to cover all expenses of a work that will be creditable to the city, highly beneficial to the citizens, and valuable in the opportunities afforded by the profitable investment of capital. By order, John McPherson, President. Fred'k Water Company. May 11.

1826 [Engelbrecht] Mr Thos Shriver, Laid the pipes of the Water from the mountain Spring to my cellar (commonly called Water Works) this day - terms from the pipe in the Street. to the inside of the front Cellar Wall, for ten dollars including all Expences, - Jacob E Saturday Octr 7th 1826 - 6. oclock p.m.

1830 An additional supplement to the act entitled, an act to introduce wholesome water into the city of Frederick.  February 26, 1830.

1831 [Engelbrecht] Fires - Last evening about 7. o a fire was discovered in the House belonging to Miss Susan Ott, occupied by a free Black Woman Named Darky Hall. - the fire orriginated in the interior of the house, & when discovered, it was too late to impede its progress - moreover the Hydrants were nearly all frozen and few pumps in the Neighborhood - So that nothing was used but Snow which was plenty. - the House was Situated in the first alley east of Market Street between 4 and 5th Streets - the House burnt down in about half an hour - Monday January 24. 1831. 8 ock am

1832 [Engelbrecht] Water Works - they are now Commencing digging before my door. to Carry the water in the pipes across the Creek to Bentz town - Philip Dawson is the pipe Layer, Tuesday octr 30. - 1832 9 ock am

1836 An act for the benefit of the person or persons who may or shall become the purchaser or purchasers of the properly of the Frederick Water Company.  March 15, 1836.

1836 [Engelbrecht] Hydrant - I had my water taken from the red cedar pipe in the front cellar to my kitchen - it took 66 feet of pipe (Lead) Philip Dawson Ditch Digger & David B. Devitt & his Servant Henry Zadocks. were the Solderers, it was done to day Saturday July 30. 1836 - 12 m

1836 [Engelbrecht] "Frederick Water Company," The Stock of this company, was Sold by the Sheriff of this County, on the 7 inst, for debts due to the Estate of the late John Brien, it was purchased by the Corporation of Frederick for Nearly twenty seven hundred dollars - it cost originally - 10 or 15 thousand Mr. Brien had a claim of 6 or 7000$ on the Company for Iron Pipes &c.  Monday Decr 12, 1836 8 pm

1836 Philadelphia Inquirer, December 13, 1836, Page 2.
Frederick Water Works.--We learn from the Herald that the works of the Water Company of Frederick, sold at the Sheriff's sale, on Wednesday, for $2,675.  The Corporation of Frederick became the purchaser.

1836 The By Laws and the Ordinances of the Corporation of Frederick.  Includes information on the water company and water works.

1840 An additional supplement to an act, entitled an act to introduce wholesome water into the city of Frederick.  March 4, 1840.

1845 An additional supplement to an act, entitled an act to introduce wholesome water into the city of Frederick. January 7, 1845.

1845 "The Water Project," Spirit of Jefferson (Charles Town, West Virginia), September 5, 1845, Page 2. Mr. Erdman from Philadelphia re-laying pipes of the water works in Frederick.

1846 [Engelbrecht] Water, Hydrant, I took the water of the New water works into my Cellar - yesterday (Ap. 16) - the Lead pipes & Spiggots I got from Ch. A. Gomber co - the Soldering by D. B. Devitt & the Digging by John Oats - the Lead pipe (about 31 feet Cost 7 Cents a pound amounted to $5.34 spiggot $1.12 1/2 -  Soldering $1.87 1/2 - Digging 75 cts Total $9.09. Friday April 17. 1846- 10. ock a.m

1846 [Engelbrecht] George Engelbrecht had the water & Hydrant Taken into his yesterday & finished to day, Done by Henry Eaton. assisted by Thos Doll the Lead pipe & Laying Cost 35 Cts a foot Hydrant Stock 8$. whole Cost $ Wednesday April 22. 1846 - 11 ock am

1846 [Engelbrecht] The Corporation are Now paving or repairing the Street (Market) which was taken up by the Laying of the water pipes last fall - the workmen are Just now opposite our Shop window - Col. Alexr B. Hanson is now Laying a 4 inch Iron pipe to take the water through Carroll Street. to the Rail Road Depot - the Corporation to pay him for it (with 6. pr. ct interest) when ever they Can Tuesday May 19. 1846. 7. ock am

1848 [Engelbrecht] Hydrant - I Carried my Lead pipes from the front part of my Cellar (where I had the Spiggot before) to the Kitchen, about 62 feet - the Cost was as follows Lead pipe (8 cts a pound) $12.32 - 2 Stop-Cocks that leak 2$. - 1 Spiggot with Screw and attachment for Hose $1.37 1/2 - 2 Irons for the Stopcocks - 1,$ - Soldering $2.25, - Total $18.94 1/2 - the digging & the laying the pipes & the rest of the work, was done by my Son Philipp & myself - the lead pipe, I Got from Gamber & Mantz, also the Stops & piggot, the irons were made by Benjamin Ebert, & the Soldering by David B. Devitt (by his Black Boy Jake) = it was one on the 1. & 2. of Augt inst Thursday, August 3. 1848 - J. E. - from the Street to the Cellar it Cost me in Cash $9.09 & Now $1894 1/2 total $2803 1/2

1849 [Engelbrecht] Water-pipes under the Creek- on wednesday last Augt 29. - 49 - the Superintendent of the water works (George Rice). Commenced leading the water pipes under the Creek. at the Bentz town Bridge - they will leave in the water this evening So we (that is, those west of us) will have been without water for 6 days - Tuesday Septr. 4. 1849 - 3 ock pm

1854 The Baltimore Sun, March 30, 1854, Page 2.
The Artesian Well, at Frederick, Md. has obtained a depth of 490 feet.  The Examiner says that on Friday a week the augur suddenly fell about a foot, and the water rose to within 90 feet of the surface.  It now overflows the surface of the rock, and ascends the wooden pipes to the height of three feet three inches.

1856 [Engelbrecht] Hydrant on the 26th of January 1856 My Hydrant froze. & Continued frozen untill the 14th of April. 81 days - we Some time ago discovered the Main pipe leaked - yesterday I dug down & discovered that it Leaked at Stop-Spiggot - under the Soldering - I had it repaired by Mr George Rice - the Cost was - pipe 17 1/2 lbs. 173 - Soldering (3 Joints 1.63 Leaking Spiggot 1.$ - Lengthening (Lengthng) rod -6- Total $.4.48- Friday Augt 15 1856 - 4 ock p.m

1882 "Frederick," from Engineering News, 9:272 (August 5, 1882)

1882 History of Western Maryland: Being a History of Frederick, Montgomery, Carroll, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett Counties from the Earliest Period to the Present Day, Including Biographical Sketches of Their Representative Men, Volume 1, by John Thomas Sharf
Page 459: Col. John McPherson, Jr., a prominent citizen of Frederick, was born in 1796.  He was one of the prominent projectors of the National turnpike from Washington to Wheeling, and of the Frederick water-works.
Pages  557-558: Water-Works. — At an election held March 28, 1825, at "Talbott's Hotel," for directors of the Frederick Water Company, the following were chosen for the ensuing year: John McPherson, John Kunkel, Gideon Bantz, Stephen Steiner, John L. Harding, Abraham Shriver, William Tyler, and Henry Koontz.  On the 31st they examined the neighboring sources of water, and on April 18th opened the subscription-books for stock at the Branch Bank. John McPherson was elected president of the board, and Thomas Shriver, superintendent of the works.
The directors were as follows:  In 1826, John McPherson, Abraham Shriver, John Kunkel, Jacob Shriver, William C. Eussell, Thomas W. Morgan, William Tyler, Henry Koontz; in 1827, John McPherson, Richard Potts, John Kunkel, Henry Koontz, Thomas Carlton, D. Schley, Rev. D. A. Schaeffer, William Tyler; in 1828, John McPherson, Richard Potts, David F. Schaeffer, William Tyler, William B. Tyler, Henry Koontz, John Kunkel, John Baltzell.
The last election for directors, as far as learned from the minutes of this company, was held March 23, 1838, when the following were chosen:  Richard Potts, William Tyler, George Baltzell, Gideon Bantz, W. R. Sanderson, Frederick Nursz, John C. Fritchie, Lewis Medtart. The water was brought partly in wooden pipes from a spring two and a half miles northwest of the city to a reservoir one mile distant from the corporation, and thence supplied to the town.
It was very inadequate to the public wants.
In 1839 the city took into consideration the question of building works, and an act of the Assembly of that year granted it the franchise for a lottery of $75,000, which it sold to parties in Baltimore for the benefit of its water-works fund. In 1844, by act of December of that year, the city borrowed $30,000 to aid in the construction of the works, and in October of 1845 made another loan of $8000 to complete them. These works cost about $90,000, From the receiver at the foot of the mountain to the works proper is a distance of two and a half miles, and from thence to the city about one mile.
The building of the water-works began Sept. 19, 1844, and were completed Nov. 22, 1845.
The principal engineer was F. Erdman ; assistant engineer, Geo. Erdman ; and superintendents, Winchester Clingan, Wm. Baltzell, and Samuel Carmack.
The following were the aldermen and councilmen under whose administration they were built:
Aldermen, Gideon Bantz, Ezra Houck, Peter S. Storm, Calvin Page, David J. Markey; Councilmen, Jacob Keller, Henry
Boteler, Geo. Koontz, Wm. Kolb, Peter Goodmanson, Daniel Derr, Henry Young.

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

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

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

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

1910 History of Frederick County, Maryland, Volume I, by Thomas John Chew Williams and Folger McKinsey
Page 210-211:  Frederick Town has been remarkable for its enterprize in improvements. With modern inventions and improvements and "stand pipes" very small towns can now enjoy the blessing of a water supply. But it was not so a half century and more ago. Then only Iarge towns and cities as a rule aspired to this great public convenience. And yet the water works oŁ Frederick date back to 1825. The first movement for water works took place that year at a meeting hld in Talbott's Hotel when a water company wes organized and John Kunkel, Gideon Bantz, Stephen Steiner, John L. Harding, Abraham Shriner, William Tyler and Henry Koontz were elected directors. John McPherson was elected president of the company and on 18th of April subscription books for the stock were opened at the Branch Bank. Water was brought by this company from a spring two miles and a half northwest oŁ the town, through wooden pipes and emptied into a reservoir about a mile from the town from which it was distributed.  This was a great achievement for the times, but the supply was inadequate and the enterprize was abandoned before 1840.
In 1839 the town government took the matter of a water supply into consideration and that year the legislature granted the franchise of a lottery to raise funds for the purpose. It was estimated that $75,000, the amount desired, could be raised this way. This franchise was sold to persons in Baltimore and the sum received was the first money for the water works.  In 1844 the town was authorized by an act of Assembly to borrow $30,000 and in October 1845 another loan of $8,000 was created. The construction of the system began September 19, 1844 and it was completed November 22, 1845, at a cost of $90,000. The engineer of the work F Erdman; George Erdman was his assistant. The superintendents were Winchester Clingan, William Baltzell and Samuel Carmack. The aldermen and councilmen who accomplished this great improvement were: Gideon Bantz, Ezra Houck, Peter S. Storm, Cah·in Page and David J. Markey, Aldermen, and Jacob Keller, Henry Boteler, George Koontz, Wm. Kolb, Peter Goodmanson, Daniel Derr and Henry Young, Councilmen. The reservoir of the city works was a mile from the town and it was suggested by the newspapers, shortly after the work was completed, that a fine avenue of trees should lead from the town to the reservoir where there should be a public pleasure ground. Each young man in the town was urged to plant one tree and so make a "lover's lane" for promenades on summer evenings.  At the same time it was urged as a reproach to the town that more people did not use the splendid water supply with which the town was then blessed. On October 13, 1845,  just before the completion of the works an ordinance was passed fixing regulations for the use of water and in 1849 a supplement to that ordinance fixing rates, was passed.
In 1850 the water debt was $37,400 and the rentals received that year for the use of water were $2,131. In a few years it became evident that the water supply was insufficient and the town government began to look around for some additional source. An artesian well had been bored for a farmer near Walkersville as an experiment and the success of that experiment suggested the idea of getting water into the reservoir by the same plan. Samuel Saunders, an engineer, was engaged to look into the plan and advise as to its practicability. His report was favorable and Archibald Armstrong was employed as the engineer of the work.  George Rice, the superintendent of the water works, was put in charge as superintendent.  The work of boring began in the summer of 1853 and continued through the autumn. The bore was made at the foot of the mountain above the reservoir. It was expected that the bore would progress at the rate of eight or ten feet a day. A depth of 300 feet was reached when the work was suspended for the winter.  In the spring work was resumed. By the 29th of March, 1854, the depth was 490 feet, still through a formation of sandstone. At that point the augur suddenly dropped a foot and water rose to within twenty feet of the surface.  Wooden pipes, made by boring through the trunks of trees, were sunk down the well to the point where rock began. The boring was continued down to 600 feet and it was designed to ream the bore to five and a half inches in diameter. 
It was announced on June 21, 1854, that the process of rimming out the bore of the artesian fountain to the uniform diameter of six inches and to the full depth of the shaft, 585 feet, had been completed by Archibald Armstrong of Virginia, the operator. An iron tube of eight inches calibre was inserted down to the beginning of the rock bore a distance of 45 feet. The calibre of the tube was made larger than the bore in order that if in the future it should be necessary to enlarge the bore through the rock it could be done without removing the tube. The iron tube was cast in Calvin Page's Eagle foundry in West South Street in Frederick. The water rose to the top of the well. But the pipe to carry it to the reservoir was sunk in a trench dug down to the loose upper rock 25 feet below the surface. The stream flowing from the well supplied 150 gallons of water per minute. Where the tube reached the rock it was made water tight by a surrounding of sacks of flaxseed. On August 14 the pipes were put in place and the water began to flow into the reservoir. Then came the first note of disappointment. Unless the delivery of water should increase to say 80 or 100 gallons per minute it may be necessary to deepen the bore. This was decided upon at the beginning of September. It was a period of great drought and it was noted as a strange circumstance that within the week the flow had largely increased and that without the well the people of the town would have been short of water for domestic use. The cost of the bore for 600 feet including the machinery was $4,000. The result of this enterprize did not meet expectations and the water supply was still insufficient. In his message to the Aldermen and Councilmen of March 25, 1855, the Mayor recommended that another artesian well be bored and that this one should be in the valley and not on the mountain. On May 23 of the same year an ordinance was passed for introducing the waters of the Little Tuscarora creek into the reservoir, but two years later the plan of an additional artesian well was taken up and on March 25, 1857 the Council appropriated $2,500 for this purpose. At the end of March 1858 the new well was 700 feet deep and water flowed from the top at the estimated rate of forty gallons per minutes. But to the general chagrin, this new supply was at the expense of the old one, for the new well evidently had tapped the stream which supplied the first well and that well went dry. In January 1859 it was determined to deepen the well and strike another stream if possible and $500 was appropriated for the work. By this time the artesian wells had become somewhat of a political issue.  The town government was in the hands of the Democrats and the opposition denounced the well digging as wasteful and chimerical. This $500 was expended without result. and on May 25 following an additional appropriation was made making to that time $14,300 spent in boring the artesian wells. In May 16, 1860, it was finally admitted that this plan had failed and an ordinance was then passed for getting a more reliable supply. There was complaint from time to time that the railroad locomotive and other steam engines were taking water in so great an amount that there was not enough left for domestic use. In May 1855 the Baltimore and Ohio Company got the supply for its locomotives from the city supply and paid only $50 a year. There were at this time nine other steam engines supplied with water he annual charges being $10 a year each.

1976 The Diary of Jacob Engelbrecht, 3 Volumes, edited by William. R. Quynn.  Entires cited above as [Englebrecht] with the date.

2003 Virginia v Maryland 540 US 56, December 9, 2003.

© 2016 Morris A. Pierce