Documentary History of American Water-works

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New England States New Hampshire Lancaster

Lancaster, New Hampshire

Lancaster was settled in 1764.

Aqueducts had been installed in Lancaster by 1815, as they were reported to have frozen in June, 1816.

The Lancaster Street Aqueduct Company was incorporated in 1823 by Samuel A. Pearson, Thomas Carlisle, Benjamin Boardmanm and William Farrar.

The Lancaster Corner Aqueduct Company was incorporated in 1827 by Asahel Going, Levi Barnard, Jared W. Williams, David Burnside, and Samuel White.

No further information on the above companies has been found.

The Pleasant Spring Aqueduct Company was incorporated in 1830 by Eliphalet Lyman, Benjamin Stephenson, Ephraim Stockwell, and Reuben Stephenson.  This company built a system that supplied water to Middle and Main streets.

The Lancaster Aqueduct Company was incorporated in 1866 by Frederick Fisk, Ossian Ray, J. Wm. Barney, L. F. Moore, S. J. Green, W. H. Clark, Wm. Cargill, and C. E. Allen for the purpose "of bringing
fresh water into the village of Lancaster, in subterraneous pipes.  This company built a system that operated until 1894, when it was sold to the Lancaster Water Company for $6,000.

The Lancaster Water Company was incorporated in 1891 by J. I. Williams, George R. Eaton, O. E. Allen, W. S. Ladd, H. O. Kent, W. E. Jones, C. B. Jordan, J. D. Howe, L. F. Moore, Wm. Clough, Ossian Ray, E. R. Kent, I. W. Drew, J. P. Haseltine, and W. L. Rowell for the purpose "of furnishing to the people of said town a supply of pure water for domestic, mechanical, and manufacturing purposes, and to said town of Lancaster water for the extinguishment of fires and other public uses." This company built a system that was bought by the Lancaster Fire Precinct in June, 1894 for $74,000.  The Fire Precinct was abolished in the 1930s and the water system was taken over by the town of Lancaster.

The water system is currently owned by the Town of Lancaster.   

1823 An Act to incorporate a Company by the name of "the Lancaster Street Aqueduct Company." June 21, 1823.

1827 An Act to incorporate a Company by the name of the Lancaster Corner Aqueduct Company. June 26, 1827.

1830 An Act to incorporate a Company by the name of the Pleasant Spring Aqueduct Company, July 3, 1830.

1866 An Act to incorporate Lancaster Aqueduct Company, June 29, 1866.

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

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

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

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

1891 An Act to incorporate the Lancaster Water Company, March 12, 1891.

1895 An act to authorize the Lancaster Fire Precinct to issue bonds, January 29, 1895.

1899 History of Lancaster, New Hampshire by Amos Newton Somers
Page 123-124:  The following year was even more disastrous to the farmers than that of 1815. So cold was the season of 1816 that it is remembered by some of the oldest inhabitants as the "cold season," and as the coldest ever known in this section. On the 8th of June snow fell all day until six inches laid a frozen mass that buried the hopes of the farmer for that year. It is said that the frost worked into cellars that day as in the coldest winter weather. The water in the aqueducts from the springs froze. Thermometers were not then in use, so that we have no certain knowledge of just how cold it was that unlovely June day.

Page 156-158: In 1882, the people became much interested in the matter of a better water supply. Until that year every family had to provide its own water from the capricious and uncertain sources of springs or wells. In the earliest times the well had its old-fashioned " sweep," consisting of a long pole mounted in the crotch of a post, and to the longer end of which another pole was made fast to carry a bucket down into the water, while the other end of the sweep was weighted with stones to serve as the force that would lift the filled bucket from the well. Such primitive contrivances were seen on nearly all premises until quite late toward the middle of the present century, when pumps began to come into use. The first pumps were metal ones, and very expensive, so that they were little used. The people could not afford them; but Yankee genius was never without resources, and they imitated the metal pump with wood. A log was bored through the centre and properly connected with a wooden cylinder in which the valves were located, and let down into the well. A wooden rod was connected with the lever and valve, and as good results were obtained as if a high-priced metal pump had been used ; and the wooden one did not cost more than a very small fraction of what the metal one would have, and generally outlasted it, too.
At a still later date, about 1850, the hydraulic ram was the popular device for conveying water as it possessed the power of lifting it over hills and other obstructions in the course where it was wanted to be conveyed. One Perry W. Pollard, a tinsmith in the employ of R. P. Kent, astonished the natives in 1854, by fitting a lead pipe into a well on the Gotham farm, and by the now well-known principle of the syphon, lifting water out of the well and conveying it to a lower level. One can well imagine the open-mouthed wonder with which the simpler ones viewed the young mechanic from Providence, R. I. No doubt some thought him in possession of supernatural powers; but they learned from him a useful lesson in regard to the principles and powers of the syphon. Water from the various springs against the hillsides was conveyed into the houses in the village below by means of wooden pipes, which consisted of logs bored through with an auger properly fitted for the purpose. These so-called " pump-logs " have continued in use to the present time, though most of them have given place to lead or iron pipes. The best, and most durable, pump-logs were made of tamarack from six to eight inches in diameter and fifteen feet long. Balsam fir was used to some extent, but was not so durable as the tamarack. There were many persons engaged in the business of boring and laying pump-logs; but Shadrach P. Hartford, brother of Stephen
Hartford of East Lancaster, was forty years ago regarded as the past master in the art of making and laying pump-logs. Some of his work still remains to this day in good repair and is doing daily service in conveying water.
For many years the village had no other source of water supply than wells and these pump-logs from springs on the hills. The south side of the village was supplied from springs opening into the bank where Prospect street now is, and from a large one on Holton Hill. The noted cold spring on the Whitefield road, south of the stone-crusher, furnished a large supply of the best of water, and this is still connected with the Lancaster House. When the Lancaster House was built in 1858, it took all its supply from this spring. What was known as the Pleasant Spring Aqueduct Company took water from a large spring on the south side of the east road, a little east of where the Maine Central round house now stands. This line covered and supplied Middle street and Main as far north as the J. A. Smith residence near the corner of Bunker Hill street. Another famous spring was the Everett spring located in the Everett pasture on the north slope of Bunker Hill, which fifty years ago was a cleared pasture but is now grown up to a second growth
of pines. This spring afforded a fine stream of the best water in town. Judge Everett brought the water to his house—the old Cross place—on the corner of High and Main streets. Later a portion of this stream was deeded to Elizabeth Everett, his sister-in-law, by Ephraim Cross and carried to the house which since its removal is now owned by the Forshees on Summer street, but which then stood where the Van Dyke house now stands. Still another portion of that stream was sold to Isaac B. Gorham who lived where Charles Howe now does on Main street; and at a still later date, 1840, Richard P. Kent, who had just built the homestead where Col. E. R. Kent now lives, bought another share of this spring. In 1848 George Bellows, then living where Cyrus D. Allen now does on Main street, bought for a company the remainder of that stream and conveyed it to his house, and a number of others on that street. The volume of water began to shrink soon after that time, and as the stream was much divided no small trouble resulted to families who
depended upon it for their water.
This led to Frederick Fisk, and later, Charles E. Allen, putting down a system of modern tubing and later iron pipes, with a view to collecting water from a number of springs on several hillsides and carrying it through the village under one system and management. This was a great improvement over the old way of every family looking after its own pump-logs. This system was inadequate to the demand upon it. It was not of sufficient volume to furnish water for street sprinkling, nor did it meet the requirements of the village in case of fires. There was an urgent demand for a better system; and in 1891, a private company undertook to bring water from the Garland brook beyond Matthew Smith's, some six miles distant from the village. This company built the present hydrant system, one of the best systems to be found in all New England. The water is as pure as can be found, coming as it does from the large forest section of the town of Kilkenny. The water is taken out of Great brook, and carried directly to the service pipes, with a
reservoir on the side of Mount Pleasant in which is a sufficient storage for all emergencies— 180 feet above Main street.
The company made a contract with the fire precinct to turn over the system within a given time if the precinct (village) wished to purchase it upon the payment of the cost of construction and 10 per cent, additional. In 1894 the village fire precinct purchased the plant. A committee consisting of Col. H. O. Kent, J. I. Williams, and Henry Heywood was appointed to make an award, and adjust the price, which they did, allowing for the plant the sum of $74,000, which was raised by the sale of bonds which was authorized by special act of the legislature at the session of 1895. The precinct then organized a water commission under the management of which the system has given entire satisfaction to all using the water. The water is pure and delicious—is a profitable and excellent investment and has checked every fire —so that no conflagration has since ensued.

Page 263:  Typhoid Fever.—The most dreaded of the contagious diseases that have occurred for many years has been typhoid fever. Perhaps it has not created as much fear and excitement as some others; but its hold upon the community from 1840, until within twenty years, or less, has been strong.
When the only water supply of the village consisted of the springs and wells near the houses, where the pollution of the soil penetrated to their waters, this disease was fearfully prevalent. Until 1871 there were no sewers to carry off the slops and the surface waters. These laid until the soil took them up, or until they evaporated, accompanied by more or less noxious gases, and were hot beds for the propagation of the germs of various diseases. Typhoid fever is the result of filth. When man gets the soil about his dwelling and water supply filled with pollutions of all sorts, he is making conditions that favor this dreadful malady. Once it reaches the springs or wells from which water is taken, its spread is certain and rapid in proportion to the amount of the water used.
The disease was epidemic in the village in 1864. At times there were more than a dozen cases, all confined to a very limited area; none of them was south of the court-house. Again in 1881 there were some twenty cases, all confined to the southern end of Main street. The cause of their spread was found by Dr. F. A. Colby, who studied them and reported to the State Board of Health, to have been local.
Since those two instances there have been cases in different parts of the town, but not epidemic.
Since the putting in of what was known as the "Allen system" of water pipes from several good springs outside the village limits, which were kept pretty clean, the number of cases has been gradually decreasing. Since the present system of water-works has been generally supplying the citizens of the village with pure water the disease has been losing its hold upon the community.

Page 524:  In 1828 the town the town appropriated the sum of eight hundred dollars for the purchase of a force pump, to be placed under the grist-mill, to fill the reservoirs in case of fires. This measure was not carried out until 1885, when it was attached to a hydrant system.
In 1890 the town voted to pay any "company, corporation, or village precinct that will construct sufficient fire hydrants of fifty pounds pressure to the square inch, one thousand dollars."
At a special meeting Oct. 6, 1891, the town voted to organize a fire precinct, "under chapter 107 of the General Laws of New Hampshire." The old fire company was retained in force as Lafayette Fire company.
Since Sept. 7, 1891, the village fire precinct has been a distinct civil or municipal body, holding its own elections, and providing for its own government under the laws of the state. At an adjourned meeting, Oct. 6, 1891, a committee consisting of E. R. Kent, N. H. Richardson, J. L. Moore, W. E. Bullard, and V. V. Whitney, was appointed to confer with the Lancaster Water company, a corporation then constructing a system of water-works in the village, as to the cost of a competent hydrant system, and the number and location of hydrants sufficient to serve the demands of the village for fire purposes. At another adjourned meeting, held October 20 of that year, this committee recommended an agreement with the Lancaster Water company, by which the company was to provide a system of water-works, with a reservoir of 2,000,000 gallons' capacity, with a twelve-inch main to Middle street along Main street, with a pressure of not less than eighty pounds to the square inch, and fifty-eight hydrants, at an annual rental of thirty-five dollars per hydrant, and three water-cart hydrants free of cost, and also two streams of water for public water troughs, and to supply water to families for domestic use at eight dollars per year, provided that the
precinct rent the hydrants for a period of five years. This company also agreed to sell its system to the precinct at anytime prior to 1897, at the cost of its construction with ten per-cent. bonus and interest  at six per cent, on the cost of construction less the net earnings of the company.
At that meeting this proposal was accepted by the precinct, and a board of fire wards was elected, consisting of E. R. Kent, W. E. Bullard, W. L. Rowell, J. L. Moore, and K. B. Fletcher, with instructions to conclude the agreement recommended by the previous committee.

1908 Report of the State Board of Health of the State of New Hampshire, Volume 20
Page 76:  Lancaster.—The Lancaster Water Company's works were installed in 1891, and transferred to the precinct in 1894. The source of the supply is a mountain stream at a sufficient elevation to furnish pressure by gravity, and its reservoir has a capacity of 2,000,000 gallons. The distribution is through some 12 miles of iron mains, 12-inch to 6-inch. The service pipes also are of iron. Four hundred and sixty families, 98 per cent. of the population, are supplied.

1914 "Lancaster Water Supply," from Report of the State Board of Health for the fiscal period ending August 31, 1914

© 2015 Morris A. Pierce