Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
New England States New Hampshire Exeter

Exeter, New Hampshire

Exeter was originally settled in 1638 by the Reverend John Wheelwright.

In March, 1797, Benjamin Clark Gilman and his associates were granted the privilege of installing an aqueduct.  Gilman was a noted clockmaker and was also involved in aqueducts in Salem and New London, Connecticut.  He was also superintendent and treasurer of the Boston Aqueduct Company from 1810 to 1812.

Samuel Brooks, Benjamin Lamson, Benjamin Clark Gilman & Bradbury Johnson were incorporated as the "The proprietors of the Exeter Aqueduct" on June 16, 1801 for the "purpose of bringing water by subterraneous pipes into the said Town of Exeter."  The aqueduct may have been constructed prior to the granting of the corporate charter, as William Bentley in September of 1801 noted the existence of an aqueduct.

Edmund Pearson and Joseph Smith were incorporated as the "Proprietors of the Exeter Aqueduct, Number Two," on December 21, 1808.  No additional information on this company has been found.

The Exeter Water Works were incorporated on August 12, 1885 by George A. Wentworth, Edwin G. Eastman, William B. Morrill, Warren F. Putnam, and Charles J. Gilman.  The Town was authorized to purchase the system in 1883, but the capital was increased in 1885 and the system was sold in 1928 to the New England Water, Light, and Power Association.

The water system was purchased by the Town of Exeter in 1950 and they continue to operate it.   

1801 An Act to incorporate certain persons for the purpose of conveying Water into the Town of Exeter by subterraneous pipes, June 16, 1801

1801 The Diary of William Bentley 1793-1802 by William Bentley (1907)
Page 393: September 14, 1801 [Exeter] The mills were old, & with few improvements. There were 3 grist mills, 2 saw mills, one oil, & one fulling mill. There is a gentle rise to the plain, but they have brought water into Town by an aqueduct from one mile's distance.

1808 An Act to incorporate certain persons for the purpose of conveying water by subterraneous pipes into the town of Exeter, December 21, 1808.

1885 An act to incorporate the Exeter Water-Works,  August 2, 1885

1888 History of the Town of Exeter, New Hampshire by Charles Henry Bell
Page 101-102: At the adjourned annual meeting in March, 1797, it was voted by the town that Benjamin Clark Gilman and his associates should have the privilege of sinking an aqueduct in Fore street, and such other streets as they might find convenient, for supplying water to customers; and of breaking ground to repair the same; on condition that they should put the streets in as good a state as they found them in, within a reasonable time, and should indemnify the town against prosecutions on that account.
Page 103: In 1801 the "Exeter Aqueduct" received incorporation from the Legislature of the State, and brought into the village water drawn from springs not far from the present station of the Boston and Maine Railroad. It was conveyed through perforated logs, and, of course, the supply was quite limited. Benjamin Clark Gilman was the projector of the enterprise in 1797; and in later time the management of the aqueducts fell into the hands of Nathaniel S. Adams, and finally of John Bellows. It was abandoned a number of years ago.
Page 111: The "Exeter Water Works" went into operation in 1886. This is the title of an incorporated company, which has established its reservoirs and pumping apparatus on a little stream which leads to the historic "Wheelwright's creek." Thence the water is driven to a stand pipe on the summit of Prospect hill, which gives it a sufficient head to reach the top of the highest building in the village. A contract has been executed between the corporation and the town, by which the former, in consideration of an annual subsidy of two thousand dollars, engaged to furnish to the town for the term of twenty years, all the water needed for the extinguishment of fires and for other municipal purposes; and also, on certain conditions, to turn over to the town, its works, plant and property, upon being reimbursed the cost thereof.

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

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

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

1893 An Act to Enable the Town of Exeter to Acquire and Maintain Water Works, March 9, 1893.

1895 An Act in amendment and addition to an act entitled "An act to incorporate the Exeter Water-Works," March 18, 1895.

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

1988 Exeter, New Hampshire, 1888-1988 by Nancy Carnegie Merrill
Page 159: Elbert Wheeler sold the Exeter Water Works in 1928 to the New England Water, Light, and Power Association

2008 Wellhead Protection Program, Town of Exeter NH, March 2008
Page 1: The Town of Exeter purchased the water system from the Exeter Water Works Company in 1950.

2015 Morris A. Pierce