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, but also did not build anything.

City of Charleston Water Works Company Incorporated May 22, 1879

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

1895 General Ordinances of the City of Charleston, South Carolina 

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

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

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 "Charleston (S.C.) Water Works Contract," The New York Times, May 18, 1902, Page 13.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

2015 Morris A. Pierce