Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
Middle Atlantic States
New Jersey Somerville

Somerville, New Jersey

Somerville was settled in the 1750s.

The Somerville Aqueduct Company was incorporated in 1807 by Jonathan Ford Morris, Andrew Howell and Daniel La Tourette to supply "the village of Somerville with pure and wholesome water."  Wood pipes were laid but the height of the water source resulted in pipes breaking from excessive pressure.  Alternatives including drilling a well were tried, but the system finally abandoned.

In 1828, the Somerville Aqueduct and Insurance Company was incorporated to "to relay the aqueduct with good and sufficient cast iron or leaden pipes, or both, of not less than two inches in diameter in the
clear, for the main conveyance from the fountain to Somerville, yet leaden pipes only shall be admitted in the main where the water is active and running."  The new company was also to respect the rights of John Allen, who was the sole proprietor of the original company and also an incorporator for the new company.  The new company was also allowed to insure houses and buildings against loss or damage by fire.  The new company advertised that its subscription books were open, but no further information has been found.

In 1852, another Somerville Aqueduct Company was chartered by George H. Brown, William G. Steele, Culver Barcalow, Hugh M. Gaston, and Joshua Doughty.  No further information on this company has been found.

The Somerville Water Company was incorporated in 1881 and built a system that also served neighboring Raritan.  This company became a subsidiary of the Elizabethtown Water Company in 1904 and was merged into the latter firm in 1927.  In December 2006, the Elizabethtown Water Company merged with New Jersey American Water.

Water in the Borough of Somerville is provided by the New Jersey American Water Company, Inc., which is a subsidiary of American Water Works Company, Inc.

1807 An act  to incorporate an aqueduct company in the village of Somerville in the county of Somerset.  November 18, 1807

1828 Supplement to the act entitled, “An act to incorporate the Somerville Aqueduct Company,” passed November eighteenth, one thousand eight hundred and seven.  February 16, 1828, rechartered as "the the Somerville Aqueduct and Insurance Company.”

1852 An act to incorporate the Somerville Aqueduct Company, March 5, 1852

1881 History of Hunterdon and Somerset Counties, New Jersey, compiled by James P. Snell
Page 665:  The charter for the “Somerville Aqueduct Company” was obtained Nov. 18, 1807, for the purpose of supplying the village of Somerville with pure water. A large spring on the mountain, north of the village, was used as a supply. Pine logs were laid to conduct the water to the village, and a pen-stock was placed at the tavern now occupied by Jacob A. Fritts. The head of water was about on a level with the ball on the spire of the First church, and the weight of the column was so great that breaks were often occurring; and it was finally abandoned. An effort was then made to procure good water by boring. A well situated in the yard of Ferdinand Van Derveer was selected, and a. boring of nearly 200 feet was made, but finally abandoned, and no effort has since been made.

1882 Somerville, N.J. from Engineering News 9:272 (August 5, 1882)

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

1890 "Somerville and Raritan," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.

1891 "Somerville and Raritan," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.

1897 "Somerville and Raritan," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4.

1911 Somerville Water Co. v. Borough of Somerville

1968 "Elizabethtown Water Company," Robert W. Kean Jr, Journal of the American Water Works Association, Vol. 60, No. 11 (NOVEMBER 1968), pp. 1244-1246

1982 Water Ways: A History of the Elizabethtown Water Company, by Robert D. B. Carlisle

1988 "Elizabethtown Water Company," by Alice Dawn Wendel, from Water: The Magazine of the National Association of Water Companies, 29(4):52-55 (Winter 1988)

© 2015 Morris A. Pierce