Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
South Atlantic States
South Carolina Charleston

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston was founded in 1670.

The first Charleston Water Company was incorporated in 1799 by Alexander Baron, Matthew Irvine, Samuel Wilson, Elisha Poinsett, David Ramsay, Tucker Harris, Thomas H. McCalla, William Read, Robert Wilson, Joseph Hale Ramsay, William Smith Stevens, Joseph Johnson, Isaac Chandler, James Lynah, Alexander Garden, James Moultrie, William Parker, and Philip G. Prioleau, of Charleston, Physicians; and Nathaniel Russell, Robert Hazlehurst, Josiah Smith, William Crafts, Adam Gilchrist, Adam Tunno, Willlam Tunno, Thomas Pinckney, Edward Neufville, Isaac Parker, David Alexander, Thomas Simons, James Gairdner, William Muir, Abraham Motie, Abraham Sasportass, Thomas Bee, Brian Cape, Alexander Shirras, William Stevens Smith, Henry Bailey, Charles Graves, G. Artsen, Edward Brown Nowell, Edward Darrell, William Rutledge, George Reid, James Reid, David Auger, Simon Magood, Isaac Neufville, G. M. Bonnetheau, Benjamin Cudworth, Ebenezer Thayer, George Chisholm, Francis Ley, Jacob Ekney , John Parker, Charles Watts, James Blair, John Ker, Samuel House, L. B. Taylor, Thomas Foster, Benjamin Boyd, John Geddes, Andrew Gordon, John Mitchell, and John Neufville  

This company did not build anything. A second company of the same name was incorporated in 1825 by Robert Mills, but also did not build anything.

The Charleston Water Company was incorporated in 1866 by Theodore Stoney, W.C. Corrie, and A.S. Taylor.

In 1879, a 1,970-foot well was successfully drilled at Marion Square in Charleston by the City. It yielded an impressive 700,000 gallons per day and was thought to be the first successful artesian well in the region. Following this triumph, City Council granted a franchise to the City of Charleston Water Works Company to develop a public water system.  The City of Charleston Water Works Company was incorporated May 22, 1879 by Robert C. Gilcrest, Jesse W. Starr, Jr., Franz L. Melchers and Alvin Wilkins,

The first successful waterworks were built in 1880 by Jesse W. Starr, Jr. of Camden, New Jersey.

The city bought the water system for $1,360,000 and took possession October 1, 1917.

The waterworks are currently owned by the Charleston Water System, which has a history page.


References
1797 Porcupine's Gazette (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), December 7, 1797, Page 951
Dr. [David] Ramsay of South Carolina has presented to the medical society of that State, a memoir on the autumnal epidemic, or yellow fever, in which he wrongly recommends the introduction of fresh water from the county into Charleston.  He remarks that the water of Charleston is not good, and is constantly growing worse, from the filth of vaults and graveyards.
He supposes pure water may be obtained in pipes from a source near the ten mile stone.
The utility of a supply of fresh wholesome water for all large cities will become annually more and more apparent.  New-York is supplied with pure water from an inexhaustable source, but at a great expense; for is the water conducted in pipes, so as to furnish a large quantity to extinguish fire or wash the streets.  Besides the hill and part of the city which furnishes this source of water if nearly covered with inhabitants, and in time the water will be impregnated with impure particles.  Good water cannot be expected beneath old cities; therefore early attention should be paid to the introduction of this second elementary principle of life from remote resources.  [Dr. D. Ramsay's paper on the impurity of the water of Charleston, Medical Society of South Carolina, December 1, 1797.]

1799 An act to Incorporate the Charleston Water Company, December 21, 1799.

1800 Letter from Joseph Browne to Judge [Aedanus] Burke, Charleston, South Carolina, July 26, 1800  Good description of the New York City water system as of July, 1800.

1825 Georgian (Savannah, Georgia), April 28, 1825, Page 2.
An ordinance of Council has been passed in Charleston, granting priviledges to Mr. Robert Mills, for the introduction of good water into that city.

1825 An act to Incorporate the Charleston Water Company, December 20, 1825.

1836 Letter from Robert Mills to General Gratiot, Chief Engineer, March 29, 1836, requesting his opinion on his enclosed Plan for Supplying the City of Charleston with water.  From Some Letters of Robert Mills, Engineer and Architect (1938)

1850 An act to incorporate the New Charleston Water Company.  December 20, 1850.

1853 Natchez Daily Courier, January 25, 1853, Page 3.
The Artesian Well, at Charleston, S. C., has reached the extraordinary depth of 930 feet, without coming to water.  A tube has been inserted of six inches diameter, connected by screw joints, the entire distance.

1854 An act to incorporate the Charleston Water Company, in the City of Charleston, South Carolina.  December 21, 1854.

1866 "Charleston Water-Works," The Charleston Daily News, April 2, 1866, Page 4.

1866 An act to incorporate the Charleston Water Company, in the City of Charleston, State of South Carolina.  December 15, 1866.

1870 The Charleston Daily News, January 22, 1870, Page 1.
It is stated that the reason of the defeat of the bill in the House to incorporate the Charleston Water Company, was because there were several Northern men among the incorporators.

1870 "The Water Question," The Charleston Daily News, December 7, 1870, Page 1.

1872 An act to incorporate the Charleston Water Company, in the City and County of Charleston, S.C.  March 15, 1872.

1874 An act to charter the Charleston Water and Canal Company, in the State of South Carolina.  March 3, 1874.

1878 "A Big Load of Debt," Harrisburg Telegraph, July 22, 1876, Page 1.
Jesse W. Starr & Son go into voluntary bankruptcy with $300,000 liabilities.

1879 Agreement between the City Council of Charleston and Jesse W. Starr, the elder, and Jesse W. Starr, the younger, copartners, under the firm name of Jesse W. Starr & Sons. February 21, 1879.  No copy of this agreement has been found but the terms may be similar to the January 18, 1881 contract with the City of Charleston Water Works Company.

1879 Petition and Charter of the City of Charleston Water Works Company, May 1879.  (From South Carolina State Archives).

1879 "The People's Bank of South Carolina against Jesse W. Starr, Jr., defendant," The Times (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), September 19, 1879, Page 3.

1879 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, North Carolina), September 25, 1879, Page 1.
Mr. Jesse W. Starr, who has the contract for building the Charleston city water works, has made an assignment.  It is claimed, however, that the work will nevertheless go on.

1880 Stock Certificate of the City of Charleston Water Works Company, February 16, 1880.

1880 "Water Works Supplied by an Artesian Well," The Charlotte Democrat (Charlotte, North Carolina), May 21, 1880, Page 3.

1880 View of the engine house and stand pipe of the city of Charleston water works br., July 19, 1880, by Hermann Leidloff

1880 "Charleston Water Works Company," Daily Arkansas Gazette (Little Rock, Arkansas), July 30, 1880, Page 8.

1880 "South Carolina Injustice," The New York Times, August 2, 1880, Page 1.

1880 "The Charleston Water-Works," The New York Times, August 5, 1880, Page 2.

1880 Year Book, City of Charleston

1881 Charleston, from Engineering News 8:311 (August 6, 1881)

1881 Year Book, City of Charleston | also here |
Pages 189-195:  Water supply, including February 21, 1879 agreement between the City Council of Charleston and Jesse W. Starr, the elder, and Jesse W. Starr, the younger, copartners, under the firm name of Jesse W. Starr & Sons.  Assigned by Jesse W. Starr & Sons to Jesse W. Starr, the younger, on July 3, 1879, who then assigned it to to the City of Charleston Water-Works Company on September 13, 1879.  Having failed to complete the work in accordance with the contract, it was voided and a new contract made with the City of Charleston Water-Works Company on January 18, 1881, including water rates.

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

1882 Sholes' Directory of the City of Charleston, by A.E. Sholes
Page 41:  The City of Charleston Water Works Company— Incorporated May 22, 1879.  Reservoir, standpipe and pumping machinery, located on the lot of the Old Elliot Mansion, George street. Reservoir holds 3˝ million gallons, standpipe 90 feet high by 18 feet in diameter, two Knowles' pumps, capable of pumping 3˝ millions each, daily. Source of water supply the Artesian well on Citadel Green.
The company is now engaged in boring another Artesian well on the lot on George street, under contract with Mr F Spangler, who bored the other well. He has reached a depth of 1,250 feet to date, (Dec 15th, 1881), and expects to continue to the depth of 2000 feet. Four additional miles of water pipe have been laid the past year, making sixteen miles in all. Andrew Simonds, president; Zimmerman Davis, secretary and treasurer; Brawley & Barnwell, solicitors; Directors: Andrew Simonds, Geo I Cunningham, Wm H Brawley, С A Chisolm, E H Jackson, О F Weiters, Geo W Williams, Geo E Gibbes and Aaron Fries.

1884 Year Book, City of Charleston, So. Ca.
Pages 147-152:  Water Supply and Artesian Well

1888 Charleston's Water Supply 
Handwritten history of the water works in Charleston and the purpose of the new City of Charleston Water Works Company and its adjunct Carolina Construction Company to dig artesian wells..  The officers of these companies are Andrew Simonds, President, and Zimmerman Davis, Secretary and Treasurer.  August 30, 1888.

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

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

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

1891 "American Pipe Manufacturing Company," Philadelphia and Popular Philadelphians

1895 General Ordinances of the City of Charleston, South Carolina 

1897 "Charleston," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4

1897 Acts and Joint Resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina
Page 677:  Charleston Water Works.- Location, Charleston, S.C. Capital stock, $200,000; share, $100. Business, water supply.  Date, June 31, 1896.

1898 An act to incorporate the Charleston Light and Water Company.  February 19, 1898.

1898 Stehmeyer v City Council of Charleston; Cornelia Real Estate Company v. Same, 53 S.C. 259, September 30, 1898, Supreme Court of South Carolina.  Includes proposed contract between the City and the Charleston Light and Water Company which included water rates and a frontage tax.
Page 249:  A City under our present Constitution has no right to enter into a contract for the purchase of water works and light plants to be paid for by a scheme of taxation to be laid on lot owners whose lots abut the streets in which the water pipes are laid.

1900 "Charleston," Fire and Water 28:128 (October 6, 1900)

1901 Duncan et al. v City of Charleston et al, Peiper v. Same,  39 S.E. 265, 60 S.C. 532, June 20, 1901, Supreme Court of South Carolina.  Includes the text of the contract between the city and company.  The court held that the contract was illegal as it exceeded the city's debt capacity.

1902 "Contract and specifications for water works," Evening Post (Charleston, South Carolina), May 16 & 17, 1902.

1902 "Charleston (S.C.) Water Works Contract," The New York Times, May 18, 1902, Page 13.
Baltimore, May 17.- The City of Charleston, S.C., has made a contract with the Mercantile Trust and Deposit Company of this city for building water works, giving a thirty years' franchise to that corporation.  The Charleston Light and Water Company, which acquired the water works, will carry out the new undertaking for the Baltimore Company.  The capitalization consists of $150,000 of twenty-five-year 5 per cent. gold bonds and $1,000,000 stock.  [American Pipe Manufacturing Company]

1902 "Water System Right Away," Evening Post (Charleston, South Carolina), June 18, 1902, Page 5.
Votes in favor: 1,942; opposed: 20.

1902 "Charleston Water System Cinched," The Bamberg Herald (Bamberg, South Carolina), 26 June 1902, Page 1.

1902 "Transfers of Realty," Evening Post (Charleston, South Carolina), July 1, 1902, Page 4.
The following transfers of read estate were recorded today: Charleston WAter Works to the Charleston Light and Water Company, real and personal property for $5.

1903 Northrop v. Merchantile Trust & Deposit Co., 119 Fed. 969, January 20, 1903, Circuit Court, District of South Carolina

1903 The Revised Ordinances of the City of Charleston, South Carolina

1904 State Ex Rel. Guenther v. The Charleston Light and Water Co., 68 S.C. 540, April 20, 1904, Supreme Court of South Carolina.

1905 An act to authorize the Charleston Light and Water Company to construct and maintain a dam across Goose Creek in Berkeley County. February 6, 1905.

1906 An act to authorize the Charleston Light and Water Company to construct and maintain a dam across Goose Creek in Berkeley County, in the State of South Carolina. June 14, 1906.  Public Law No. 230.

1906 "New Water Supply for Charleston, S.C.," by John Waler Ledoux, read May 19, 1906, Proceedings of the Engineers' Club of Philadelphia 23(4):209-231 (October 1906)  Ledoux was the chief engineer of the American Pipe Manufacturing Company and designed the 1904 water works in Charleston.

1907 Northrop v. Merchantile Trust & Deposit Co., 157 Fed. 497, Circuit Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, November 6, 1907.

1908 "Favorable Report on New Water Works," Municipal Journal and Engineer 25:607 (October 26, 1908)
Report by Engineer J.L. Ludlow and City Chemist Frank L. Parker have made a favorable report on the test of the plant and water of the Charleston Light & Water Company.

1909 "The Water Supply of Charleston," by E. Pettigrew Verner, Fire and Water Engineering, 46:48-49 (1909)

1912 Delinquent Notice, Office of Charleston Light and Water Company, July 20, 1912.

1914 Report Upon the Value of the Properties of the Charleston Light and Water Company: Charleston, S.C., May 1, 1914

1914 "Charleston Water Problems," by John W. Alvord, C.E., Fire and Water Engineering 56(25):431 (December 16, 1914)

1917 The Bamberg herald, March 29, 1917, Page 1.
Charleston on Tuesday voted to purchase the property of the Charleston Light and Water company for $1,360,000 and to issue $140,000 in bonds for the improvement of the plants which will now be run by the municipality.

1918 New water rates : rules, regulations and by-laws : Water Department, City of Charleston, S.C. : effective January 1st, 1918 / Commissioners Public Works. | also here |

1922 "Cement-Lined Cast-Iron Pipe at Charleston, S. C.," by J. E. Gibson, Manager and Engineer Water Department, Charleston, S.C. Engineering News-Record 89:387-388 (September 7, 1922
70 years experience with cement-lined sheet pipe in many cities suggests cement lining for cast iron.

1930 Jacob Lott Ludlow, 20 Dec. 1862–18 Aug. 1930, by Charles H. Mcarver, Jr., 

1932 John Walter Ledoux, 1880-1932

1937 "Charleston's Big Consumer," Mueller Record 26(265):10, 28, 30 (July 1937)

2014 The History of Water and Sewer Service in Charleston, by Andy Fairey, Chief Operating Officer, Charleston Water System

2014 "Domestic Cisterns in Charleston, South Carolina: Public Health and Private Water in an Antebellum City", by Brittany T. McKee, Clemson University Master's Thesis in Historic Preservation

Middleton-Pinckney House, bought by Jesse W. Starr, Jr. in 1879 as the site for the water works.


© 2015 Morris A. Pierce