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North Central States
Michigan Niles

Niles, Michigan

Niles was incorporated as a village in 1835 and as a city in 1859.

The city of Niles granted a water works franchise to Walter P. Hanchett in January or February of 1877 for a term of thirty years, agreeing to pay for 30 fire hydrants at $50/per year for each.  Water was to be brought by gravity from Barren Lake, four miles from the city.

Hanchett and several local citizens formed the Niles Water Works Company in June, 1877, but there are apparently some irregularities with that.  Hanchett reportedly sold the company's bonds in August, but that may not have been entirely true.  He contracted with the Asphalt Pipe Company (limited) of New York for water pipe, which makes it the only systems known to have installed it, although it apparently was never used.  He ran into financial and legal difficulties and Solon L. Wiley became involved.  Wiley had built several other water works by this time.  The company was sold at a sheriff's sale in January, 1878 to local resident Thomas Gaines, who immediately resold it to Wiley, who completed the system and demonstrated it in July 1879.  

Wiley's system was foreclosed in 1892, sold, and renamed the Niles Water Supply Company.  The city built their own system that began service in 1895.

The Niles Water Supply Company could not compete against the city's system, and shut down at the end of 1917. 

Water is supplied by the city of Niles.

References and Timeline
1877 "Water Works at Niles," The South Bend Tribune, January 18, 1877, Page 1.
We are pleased to see that out sister city, Niles, is to have a most perfect system of water works without incurring one dollar's indebtedness.  The common council of the city, on Monday night closed a contract with W. P. Hanchett, of Rochester, New York, which provides that a company composed of himself and certain others shall have the privilege of bringing water from Barron Lake into the city through a main not less than twelve inches in diameter.  The city agrees to take not less than 30 fire plugs at $50 per year each, payable semi-annually and this contract runs 30 years, the city, however, reserving the right to buy the works at the end of 20 years.

1877 Northern Tribune (Cheboygan, Michigan), January 20, 1877), Page 1.
Niles is to have water works at last.  A stock company is to be organized independent of the city, and water will be brought from Barron lake - four miles.

1877 Berrien County Record, April 12, 1877, Page 3.
A few weeks since we stated that Niles was to have water from  Barren Lake, the  city having entered into a contract with a Mr. Hanchett to furnish the same. From  the following correspondence to the Chicago Times in would be inferred that there is a “screw loose” somewhere:
“Some weeks since the Common Council of this city entered into a contract with W.  P. Hanchett, of New York, to supply the city with water from Barren Lake, four  miles distant.  The  details of the contract it is not necessary to give, further than to say that the city was to accept a certain number of hydrants, paying therefore a fixed annual rental. The signing of the agreement was at the time generally approved by the tax payers and citizens, and the Council applauded for their action, and Niles was happy in the thought she would soon assume another metropolitan air.  Pending the city election a rumor was circulated that this contract was not exactly as childlike and bland as bad been represented, and it was insinuated that it had been engineered in the interests of a ring.  In fact, it was asserted that it was a job to brace up private pocket-books with municipal credit.   One or two candidates withdrew from the  canvass, fearing to become involved in  the final settlement. The old Council now exhibit an apparent unwillingness to complete the business which they have undertaken, and the newly elected Council are unwilling to shoulder the responsibility incurred by their predecessors, and will not qualify until the last day allowed.  In just what particular joint or joints  the agreement is loose cannot be  exactly stated at present.  In any event, the affair creates considerable uneasiness among taxpayers.

1877 Northern Tribune (Cheboygan, Michigan), April 28, 1877, Page 1.
Mr. Hanchett, the man who undertakes to supply Niles with water, has ordered his four miles of 12 inch pipe from a South Bend firm.  He evidently means business.

1877 Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, July 2, 1877, Page 4.
It is claimed the Niles water works are to be first-class in every respect. Barron e will be their standpipe, from which they will have a fall of 107 feet to the foot of Main street.

1877 Detroit Free Press, July 12, 1877, Page 3.
Niles. The Mayor called a special meeting of the citizens to consider a proposition of W. P. Hanchett, President of the Niles Water Works Association.  By the contract made recently the company agreed to bring water from Barron Lake, a distance of five miles, and supply the city with water at a rate of $50 per plug for thirty plugs.  The new proposition of Mr. Hanchett is, in addition to the above, to erect a standpipe seventy-six feet high without any expense to the city, provided twenty more fire plugs, making fifty in all, be taken by the city.  The proposition has been accepted at a meeting of citizens with little opposition.  And now ground has been broken and the Niles water works are a sure thing.

1877 The Times Herald (Port Huron, Michigan), August 2, 1877, Page 1.
Mr. Hanchett, president of the Niles Water Works Company, has returned from New York, where he negotiated the bonds of the company.  Work will be begun as soon as the necessary tools arrive.

1877 Northern Tribune (Cheboygan, Michigan), August 4, 1877, Page 1.
The Niles water-works bonds have been negotiated in the east.

1877 "Alpena," Detroit Free Press, August 26, 1877, Page 5.
Contract with Walter P. Hanchett, of Rochester, New York

1877 "Council Proceedings," Alpena Argus, August 29, 1877, Page 2. | part 2 |
Contract between City of Alpena and Walter P. Hanchett, Esq. of Rochester, New York.

1877 "Water Works," Alpena Argus, August 29, 1877 Page 3.
Contract with Walter P. Hanchett.

1877 Kalamazoo Gazette, September 6, 1877, Page 1.
Last week Mr. W. P. Hanchett, the contractor for the Niles water works has come to grief.  He was arrested by Mr. O. McKay, of the Bond House, for non-payment of board and a judgment rendered against him. It is stated that he left the city.  It the meantime what is to become of the water works.

1877 "Council Proceedings," Alpena Argus, October 3, 1877, Page 2.
Communication from W. P. Hanchett stating that proposed plan is not feasible.

1878 Detroit Free Press, February 7, 1878, Page 1.
The Mirror says the Niles water works will be in operation by the fourth of next July.

1878 Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, March 18, 1878, Page 4.
Operations on the Niles water-works have partly begun. The reservoir is being built and the machinery and materials are in readiness and work was begun Thursday.

1878 "A Phonograph at Niles," Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, April 27, 1878, Page 1.
NILES, April 25.—The process of making the asphalt pipe which we use here, requires machines which have a cylinder equal in diameter to the pipe to match, and which revolves very slowly. An idea entered the bead of a certain person to attempt a phonograph, which was carried into effect. A sheet of heavy oiled paper which is used to prevent the asphalt from sticking, was carefully placed around one of the cylinders, and a cone made of tin with a diaphragm made of very thin sheet brass with a point soldered to its center was so attached as to travel slowly from one end of the cylinder to the other, so that both being in motion a spiral line was projected on the cylinder. The parties trying it  were all quite skeptical, but after running a few turns and adjusting the cone to what seemed to be its best position,the point made plain and distinct puncture, and by turning the cylinder back the sounds spoken were, to the surprise of all, plainly repeated in a strange muffled sound like a person speaking under bed-clothes or shut up in a closet. The experiment seemingly likely to  prove a success, means were taken to get a number of visitors to come and see the operation of making the pipes, they not being informed that a phonograph was recording all that was said. In the evening an initiated few went to the shop, locked the doors and reversed the motion. Back to our ears came a babel of sound indescribably ridiculous such as:   "More soup," (the technicle term for hot asphalt) this very loud, "Oh, what a nasty smell," "Hold up your dress," "Get out of the way," "--- the stuff," "Where in --- is the driver?" "More sand," 'Where is the doctor; isn't he sweet?"' "Oh, there's the man that sings in the choir," "More soup," "There's a pretty girl," "Don't bring that snake here," "Go to ---," etc.

1878 Berrien County Record, October 24, 1878, Page 3.
The committee to consider Hanchett's propositions to build waterworks in Ann Arbor reported adversely, has on the proposition, and Hanchett will have to seek another Niles.

1878 Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, November 5, 1878, Page 1.
The Niles water works business is in a new muddle. Mr. Wiley bargained for the new works and made a contract with the city for right of way, etc., but when he came to close with the old company they trumped up, as his claims, about $8,000 more in charges than at first represented. He will therefore have nothing to do with the old works, but will start entirely anew, and has alreadv contracted for the pipe. What will become of the old company and the $4,000 they have expended is a matter of conjecture.

1878 "What Wiley is Doing," Ottumwa Weekly Courier, November 6, 1878, Page 4.
A special dispatch from Niles, Michigan, to the Chicago Times, says:
The voters of this city at a special election on Oct.28th, decided by a vote of nearly seven to one to accept the proposition of S. L. Wiley for the completion of the Niles water works.  Work will be resumed at once.

1878 Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, November 14, 1878, Page 4.
It is now said that Wiley, the man who was to finish the Niles water works, fooled around with the Council for several days, and it seems thought them too slow for him, as  he suddenly decamped without even giving them warning of his intention. And now the city mourneth again.

1878 Annual Report of the Attorney General of the State of Michigan for the year 1878.
Page 16:  The People of the State of Michigan, by Otto Kirchner, Attorney General, on relation of James G. Patterson vs. Walter P. Hanchett, David Brown, Lydia A. Brown, Benjamin F. Perry, Ferdinand Scherewood, John Kramer, John Aul, Henry Herz, Charles Henderson, Darwin B. Cook, Charles Taylor, Robert P. Banburry and George Hart. Supreme Court. Dec. 10. 1878. Authorized D. C. Holbrook to file information calling upon respondents to show cause why they exercised franchises of corporation "The Niles Water Works Co.," in Berrien County.

1879 Detroit Free Press, January 3, 1879, Page 7.
Thomas Gaines, who bought the Niles Water Works to secure his own claims against the original projectors, on Monday sold out to a company who purpose completing the work.

1879 St. Joseph Herald (Saint Joseph, Michigan), January 11, 1879, Page 3.
From the Niles Republican, Jan 2.  The Niles Water Works was sold, on Monday last, at Sheriff's sale, to Thos. Gaines, of this city.  Whether or not this sale will hold good, in the complicated condition of affairs, is perhaps a question of law yet to be decided.

1879 "Judgment against the Niles Water Works Company." Detroit Free Press, March 6, 1879.
The Asphalt Pipe Company obtained a judgment in the United States Court to-day against the Niles Water Works Company for $8,707.

1879 Detroit Free Press, March 15, 1879, Page 6.
Niles. Mr. Wylie, of Boston, has returned to complete the Niles water works.  He has promised the laborers that all wages due them for work last year shall be paid.

1879 Detroit Free Press, March 30, 1879, Page 2.
Berrien County Record:  The Niles water-works are in the process of erection once ore, and it is expected they will be in working order as soon as the 1st of July.  A new company has been formed with sample means to complete the works, and have commenced work.

1879 Berrien County Record, July 3, 1879, Page 4.
The Niles water works were tested Saturday and proved satisfactory, throwing water from the hydrant, through a hose, to the top of the highest building and the Niles people are happy.

1879 St. Joseph Saturday Herald (Saint Joseph, Michigan), November 22, 1879, Page 3.
The People of the State of Michigan in the relation of Attorney General vs. D. H. Hanchett, David Bacon and others had miles.  The jury found that certain of the defendants never claimed, or exercised or used any rights, privileges or franchise of the Niles Water Works Company, and that D. H. Hanchett, W. P. Hanchett, David Bacon, Charles Taylor and Geo. Hart had exercised such rights.  David Bacon was given twenty days to appeal from such finding.

1880 Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, February 3, 1880, Page 3.
The case of the supreme court against the several members of the original Niles water works for the unlawful exercise of franchise, was recently decided in  favor of the people, fining the members of the company $1 each and costs of suit.

1880 "W. P. Hanchett, Formerly of This City, Under Arrest," South-Bend Saturday Tribune, March 6, 1880, Page 8.

1880 "Unprofitable Pipe Laying. Arrest of the President of a Western Water Works Company," New York Herald, March 15, 1880, Page 5. | also here |
Arrest of the President of a western water works company.
The Asphalt Pipe Company (limited), of New York, has caused the arrest of Walter P. Hanchett, late president of the Niles Water Works Company, of Michigan, in an action to recover damages for alleged fraud and deceit.  The warrant for his arrest was issued by Judge Lawrence, of the Supreme Court, and Mr. Hanchett was found at Livonia, N.Y., where he gave bonds in $5,000.  George M. Fuller, president of the Asphalt Pipe Company, in his complaint alleges that in January, 1878, Hanchett represented that the Niles Waterworks Company had a capital stock of $60,000; that it had a valuble contract to supply the city of Niles with water, and that the city would guarantee the interest on $40,000 worth of bonds to be issued by the company, which was perfectly solvent.
On the strength of these representations the Asphalt Pipe Company made a contract to lay 22,500 feet of pipe, payment to be made on instalments every thirty days.  Pipes was laid to the value of $13,820, on which there was paid $5,160.  The company failed to pay the balance, suit was brought, judgment obtained and the concern was sold out, but there still remains due the sum of $5,767 to the Asphalt Pipe Company.  Legal means having been exhausted against the Corporation, suit has been brought against the president on the ground of alleged false representations.  Mr. Fuller, president of the Asphalt Pipe Company, alleged, on information and belief, that Hanchett went through the form of organizing the Niles Water Works Company, of which he styled himself the president; that the company was utterly irresponsible; that its franchise was of no money value; that the subscriptions to the stock were not binding and that the company had no agreement with the City of Niles by which the latter was bound to guarantee the interest on $40,000 bonds.

1880 History of Berrien and Van Buren counties, Michigan. With ... biographical sketches of its prominent men and pioneers.
Page 168:  Niles Water-Works.
Four miles east of the city of Niles, in Howard township, Cass Co., at an elevation of 106 feet above the city, lies Barren Lake, a body of the purest water, a mile and one-fourth in length by three-fourths of a mile in width, fed by springs. For many years past this lovely lake was looked to as offering the best possible supply of water for fire purposes and for general use of the city. Several attempts were made to organize a company for its introduction, but no organization was perfected until June, 1877.
In February, 1877, the Common Council of Niles entered  into an agreement with W. P. Hanchett, for the introduction of water from Barren Lake into the city for fire purposes, and for general uses. Under this agreement a company was organized on the 12th day of June, 1877, and articles of association were filed in the office of the Secretary of State, June 14th. During the summer the survey was made and the line definitely settled.
In April, 1878, the work of excavation and laying pipe was commenced in earnest, and by July two-thirds of the work was completed. At this time, the first company becoming pecuniarily involved, the work passed into other hands; a new company was organized, and not until the summer of 1879 was the work completed. The water is brought from the lake through a 12-inch main, five and one-half miles in length, emptied into a reservoir of 300,000 gallons capacity, and distributed already through about six miles of pipes. No city in the West can be furnished with such an abundant supply of so pure water more easily and economically than Niles.

1881 "Court Calendars This Day," Truth (New York, New York), April 1, 1881, Page 4.
Supreme Court - Circuit - Part I. - Before Donohue, J.
Asphalt Pipe Co. v Hanchett

1882 Walter P. Hanchett died in Kensington, Cook County, Illinois on April 10, 1882.

1882 Niles, Engineering News, 9:373 (October 28, 1882)

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

1883 Berrien County Record, May 17, 1883, Page 3.
By a test, last  Friday, it  was  demonstrated that the Niles water works is capable  of  throwing ten  or dozen streams, for fire purposesg and keep thtem up. Such a fire protection is worth a great amount to a town.

1884 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Niles, Berrien County, Michigan. September, 1884.

1885 Isabella County Enterprise, May 15, 1885, Page 2.
The suit of the Niles water works against the city, involving about $12,000 for rental of hydrants, has been decided in favor of the city. Payment was declined on account of defective construction.

1885 The Sanitary News 6(68):25 (May 23, 1885)
Mr. Solon L. Wiley, of Boston, who built, among many others, the water-works of Adrian and Niles, Michigan, and who has a suit pending against Adrian, has just had a suit against the city of Niles brought to a sudden stop. Mr. Wiley sued for the recovery of the rental of fifty hydrants at $50 each per annum since October 1, 1879, under a contract entered into between him and the city of Niles. The city never accepted the works, claiming the contract to be illegal and beyond the power of the council to make, and that the works were so defective as to provide very little fire protection. In addition to these facts, the contract, though sealed and signed, was never delivered. The judge instructed the jury to render a verdict, in favor of the city, of no cause for the action.

1886 The Niles Water Works v. The Mayor, Recorder and Aldermen of the City of Niles, 59 Mich. 311, January 27, 1886, Michigan Supreme Court
Where a city charter prohibits the common, council from contracting debts or incurring liabilities exceeding in any one year the revenue for such year, unless authorized by a majority vote of the electors of the city, a contract made by the common council, without such vote, for the use of at least fifty water hydrants, per year, at fifty dollars each, for a term of thirty years, creates a liability against the city to the full extent of the thirty years’ rental, which aggregate liability being in excess of the revenue authorized to be raised in any one year, the contract falls within the language, as well as within the mischief of the prohibition, and is void.
A city council is only an agency to represent the people of the municipality, and the Legislature having given them what is deemed ample power to raise money, year by year, for the needs of each year, and no more, if they desire to make larger outlays, or to burden the future revenues of the city, it is left to the parties more directly interested to determine how far this shall be done.
The contract being void, there can be no recovery for what has been furnished under it.

1886 Shickle, Harrison & Howard Iron Company v. The S.L. Wiley Construction Company, Impleaded with the Niles Water Works. 61 Mich. 226, April 29, 1886, Michigan Supreme Court

1887 Berrien County Record, January 27, 1887, Page 3.
The Niles water works was sold by the sheriff last week, to some parties from Omaha.  All accounts of the property show it to be valuable one to own.

1887 Berrien County Record, April 21, 1887, Page 3.
The Niles  Water  Works  Company are laying iron pipes between Niles and Barron lake and the prospects are good for a steady flow of water this summer.  his valuable Niles institution has been the source of considerable annoyance by  bursting  pipes the last two years, and the city is to be congratulated on the prospect of permanent repairs.

1887 Richard Wood and others vs. The Wiley Construction Company; The National Tube Works Company vs. The Same, 36 Conn. 87, December 16, 1887, Supreme Court of Connecticut

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

1889 "The Water Works Case In Which Niles Citizens Are Interested On Trial Here. Judge Severens," Kalamazoo Gazette, September 6, 1889, Page 4.
Jedge Severans holds that the Niles Water Works Company was an organization - to continue on trial to ways.
An interesting case in chancery was on trial yesterday before Judge Severens in the U. S. circuit court for the western district of Michigan, in the in the county circuit court room. The court is held here for the convenience and per arrangement between all parties.  The facts in the case are quite interesting, are as follows:  It is over a controversy between parties interested in the Niles water works company. In 1878, a company was organized and contracted to furnish the city of Niles with a system of water works for fire protection and domestic use, the water to be taken from Barren lake.  They organized what was known as the Niles Water Works company with a capital stock of $40,000 and intended to float bonds to be secured by a mortgage on tho property but in this they failed.  An attempt was then made to induce local capitalists to invest, and Frankenberg & Schneewind became stockholders.  All the formalities, it was believed, had been complied with, and new bonds were issued but the same failure to float them in the east resulted. Frankenberg & Schneewind became fearful that they, as stockholders might become responsible for the debt incurred and wanted to withdraw.  They had in the company $5,000.  There were $3,500 debts for labor etc., and not being able to get out they paid in that amount more, and took $10,000 in bonds secured by a mortgage.  At that time about $30,000 had been invested.  About this time the great water works boomer, names Solon L. Wiley, saw "millions" in the enterprise and began laying his plans to get control of the company.  He talked various methods but finally bought up a number of small claims against the company and secured on them judgments and execution and the entire interests of the Niles water works company were sold for about a song.  Wiley furnished the song and thus secured the title to the works.  Still there were other debts, the largest being to the Asphalt pipe company of New York City for $8,000.  Wiley induced them to bring suit in the United States court, and the property was again sold, Wiley bidding it in and thus securing a still better title.  Otto Kirchner of Detroit, attorney general of the state was then informed of certain informalities in the organization of the company and information was filed against the members of the Niles water works company to oust them.  This in effect practically killed the company and Wiley had complete control.  Frankenberg & Schneewind still held the mortgage and began suit in the Berrien circuit court to foreclose the mortgage.  The case was transferred to the United States circuit court and as above stated is on trial before Judge Severens.
Wiley claims that the company never had a corporate existence and had no authority to make a mortgage and that the property never had a value.  Judge Severens yesterday decided that the Niles water works company was a corporation defacto and as liable for its debts as though it had been rightfully organized; that irregularities of its organization could not collaterally be called in question.
The attorneys for the complainants are Col. Bacon of Niles and David J. Wile of Chicago and for the defendants, Hon. Andrew Howell and W. A. Underwood of Detroit.

1889 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Niles, Berrien County, Michigan. October, 1899

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

1891 "Writ of Foreclosure Granted," Telegram-Herald (Grand Rapids, Michigan), September 24, 1891, Page 6.
Judge Severens of the United States court rendered a decree yesterday granting a writ of foreclosure in the case of the International Trust Company, of Boston, against the Niles Water Works company.  The question in litigation was the pipe line extending from the village to Barron Lake, from whence water was conducted.  The Trust company was acting as agent for several parties who held mortgages on the line.

1891 The Times (Owosso, Michigan), October 2, 1891, Page 6.
The bondholders of the Niles water-works system have been authorized by the federal court in Grand Rapids to close out the plant.

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

1892 Buchanan Record, January 21, 1892, Page 2.
The Niles water works are to be sold on Jan. 21, under order of the court, but this does not phase the company owning them.  They had the monumental gall to send their agent around to collect the water rates in advance till April 1, threatening to turn off the miles in case any one refused - Detroit News.

1892 "The Niles Water Works Sold," The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan), January 23, 1892, Page 1.

1893 "Niles' Water Works," Detroit Free Press, July 9, 1893, Page 3.
Somebody Tinkered the New Charter Before it was Passed.

1893 Buchanan Record, October 29, 1893, Page 3.
The Niles Water Supply Co. has put in a bill for $16,200 against the city for the use of the street hydrants and drinking fountains during the past six years.

1895 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Niles, Berrien County, Michigan. February, 1895

1895 An act to legalize certain bonds of the city of Niles.  March 8, 1895.

1895 "Strike at Niles," The Weekly Palladium, April 23, 1895, Page 1.
Forty-two shovelers employed by the Niles water works refused to resume work Friday noon and demanded a raise in wages from $1.25 to $1.50 per day.

1895 "Water War," Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, July 30, 1895, Page 1.
The Supreme Court Has Denied the Application of the Old Niles Water Company.
N1LES, Mich., July 30.— Some time ago the old water supply company applied to the supreme court for a  mandamus to enjoin the new Niles water works company from interfering with their business. The supremo court has denied the application

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

1899 The True Northerner (Paw Paw, Michigan), September 6, 1899, Page 5.
Property holders residing in the vicinity of Barron lake, one of tho finest resorts in Michigan, have petitioned H. D. Smith, judge of Cass county circuit court, to issue an injunction restraining the Niles Water Supply Co. from taking water from the lake. It is the contention of tho petitioners that the waters of the lake have receded fifty feet during the present summer, and that if the present drain continues the lake will eventually be wiped out, as it has no inlets whatever. Should the injunction be granted, the city of Niles would not sutler greatly, as the city owns a plant and draws its water supply from artesian wells. There are many local consumers of Barron lake water, however, as many people prefer it to artesian water. Barron lake is a mile long and half a mile wide, and is located four miles east. It is frequented by hundreds of people, who flock there from all over the country in quest of recreation and fine fishing, for which the lake is noted.

1900 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Niles, Berrien County, Michigan. July, 1900

1902 "Decree Granted After 23 Years," Detroit Free Press, May 11, 1902.
End of long-drawn-out Niles water works case.

1902 "Niles Men Win Out," The Herald-Press (Saint Joseph, Michigan), May 12, 1902, Page 1.
Frankenberg & Schneewind Will Become Owners of the System.

1902 "Niles Water Works Sold," The Herald-Press (Saint Joseph, Michigan), August 5, 1902, Page 1.
Passes into the Hands of Some of the Original Owners.

1906 A twentieth century history of Berrien County, Michigan, by Judge Orville W. Coolidge
Page 157:  A system of water works was finished in 1879. It was built by a private company and the water was brought from Barren lake, by mains, a distance of about five miles. The ownership of these works was subsequently acquired by Benjamin Schneewind and Benjamin Frankenburg, who still own them, under the management of Captain Daniel Sheehan.
The city established a public system of water works in 1894. The water is furnished by artesian wells.

1907 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Niles, Berrien County, Michigan. August, 1907

1909 "Water Franchise has Run Out," St. Joseph Daily Press, May 28, 1909, Page 1.

1909 "Niles Company Laughs at Mayor," St. Joseph Daily Press, May 29, 1909, Page 5.

1910 "Injunction Granted in Water Case," St. Joseph Daily Press, September 9, 1910, Page 1.| part 2 page 8 |

1911 "Former Mayor of Niles Dies, he was 75," The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan), May 17, 1911, Page 8.
Benjamin Frankenburg, who served the city as mayor for several terms

1913 Kennedy v. Niles Water Supply Co., 173 Mich. 474, January 3, 1913, Michigan Supreme Court

1914 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Niles, Berrien County, Michigan. February, 1914

1914 Ferdinand Schneewind (1835-1914) grave, owner of the Niles Water Works Company.

1917 "Niles Water Co. Quite. City Dept. to Rescue," The Herald Press (St. Joseph, Michigan), April 28, 1917, Page 6.

1917 "Faces Water Famine," South Bend News-Times, April 30, 1917, Page 16.
City plant at loss to take over customers of defunct plant of the Niles Water Supply Company.

1917 "Lack of Coal Halts Water," The Herald Press (St. Joseph, Michigan), October 23, 1917, Page 1.
Three hundred in Niles are affected by fuel shortage at the Niles Water Supply Company.  The Niles board of public works has not taken over the plant temporarily, furnishing coal they have purchased and it now looks as through the Barren lake plant will retire from business permanently, the city ultimately taking it over.

1917 "Niles Water Controversy Ended Today," The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan), December 29, 1917, Page 1.
Private Barren Lake pumps to cease operations tonight; city plant works.

1997 "Niles keeps close tabs on its water systems," The Herald-Palladium (Saint Joseph, Michigan), November 30, 1997, Page 4.
Efforts to supply the city with safe drinking water began in 1877 when a private company was organized to build a sysetm to bring in water from Barron Lake to the east.
By 1879, wooden mains carried water to a 300,000-gallon reservoir, and the Niles water works could boast of six miles of distribuiton pipes.  In the late 1890s, a new water works building on the Dowagiac River north of Niles was providing up to 1.5 million gallons a day.

© 2019 Morris A. Pierce