Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
Southwestern States
Texas Houston

Houston, Texas

Houston was incorporated as a city in 1837.

An attempt was made to form the Houston Water Works Company in 1838, but did not progress beyond meetings.

A group of local businessman attempted to form the Houston City Water Works Company in 1870, but did not succeed.

Another Houston Water Works Company was incorporated on December 30, 1871.  No further information about this company has been found.

F. M. Mahan of the National Water Works Company addressed the city council on May 1, 1875 and offered a draft water works ordinance, but no further action was taken.

The Houston City Water Works Company was incorporated on July 1, 1876 and made a proposal to the city council on September 22, 1876, but no further action was taken.

James M. Loweree and a group of associates from New York offered to build water works in 1878 that would pump water drawn directly from Buffalo Bayou.  Loweree has been involved in buildings several gas works and had recently built water works in Long Branch, New Jersey.  He and his associates were awarded a 25-year franchise on November 30, 1878 that required delivery of 3,000,000 gallons of water per day including free water to 3 city fountains, installation of 55 fire hydrants, a 150,000 gallon reservoir, and 4 miles of distribution mains, with rates limited to 5 Cents/100 gallons. 

An amended ordinance was passed on January 11, 1879 to authorize Loweree and his associates to organize themselves into a corporation to be known as the Houston Waterworks Company.  They incorporated the Houston Water Works Company on March 12, 1879 with a capital of $75,000, and on April 15, 1879, the company was organized, with Joseph Richardson, of New York, president; T. F. White, of Houston, secretary; William Runkle, of New York, treasurer; and Joseph Richardson, Daniel Runkle, William Runkle and W. Steiger, of New York, and E. Pillot and T. F. White, of Houston, as directors. J. M. Loweree was named as superintendent.

The company built  a standpipe system that was completed in July 1879 and demonstrated on July 31, 1879, pumping water from Buffalo Bayou into a standpipe 88 feet high and 20 feet in diameter.

Loweree had caught a malarial fever while working on the Houston system and died in September, 1881 while building water works in Perth Amboy, New Jersey and working to developing a railroad in Florida.  Many of Loweree's associates have been identified through various records and can be sorted into three categories.  His building of gas works may have bought him into contact with the Warren Foundry and Machine Company, which had a sales office in New York City.  The first directors of the Houston Water Works Company included Daniel Runkle, president of the Warren Foundry, and his son William, who had decided to "devote his spare time" to building gas and water works, with the first being the Houston Water Works Company.  New York lawyer William E. Stiger, who was closely connected to the Warren Foundry,  was also a stockholder and director in Houston.  The Warren Foundry company supplied the pipe for the Houston system, and William Runkle remained a director for several years.

Joseph Richardson, a self-made New York City millionaire who had built water works in Bridgeport, Connecticut and Laramie, Wyoming, is said to have owned stock in most American railroads.  His connection to Loweree is not known, but he was elected the first president of the Houston Water Works Company and remained a major stockholder and director until his death in 1897.  An 1889 article called him  the "principal stockholder," and another in 1897 reported that he "owned nearly the entire stock of tho Houston (Tex.) water-works at the time of his death."  (See August 25, 1889 and June 13, 1897 references).

Richardson gave his niece Emily Emmett 260 shares of stock in the Houston company, and she was elected a director several times.  Richardson's business acquaintance Marcus C. Hawley of Newtown, Connecticut was also a major stockholder and director for many years.  Other stockholders included Alexander C. Hutchinson of the Southern Pacific Railroad. 

The third group of associates involved initially were from the Houston area and included Thomas F. White, who was involved in the Houston Gas Light Company, and Eugene Pillot, a local capitalist.   Thomas H. Scanlon and others from the Houston Gas Light Company became involved shortly after the company was organized, and Scanlon became its superintendent in 1880 and president in 1881.  In 1886 the company built a new standpipe that was 30 feet in diameter and 150 feet high. 


Houston Water Works Company plant circa 1890, showing the 1879 and 1886 standpipes.  A similar illustration of the plant was included in City of Houston, by Andrew Morrison, page 15 (1890)

The company drilled the first of many artesian wells in 1888 to tap the large aquifer underneath the city.  The company's original stock of $75,000 was increased several times starting in 1890, and in 1895 the stockholders authorized Marcus C. Hawley to issue $400,000 in bonds.

Richardson and Hawley, two of the largest shareholders, died in 1897 and 1899, and it appears that some, if not all of their stock was acquired by the Houston shareholders.  In March, 1899, the company's original charter expired, so Scanlan and others incorporated the Houston Water Company.  The new company bought the outstanding shares in the old company for $240,000, including $24,000 in cash and the rest in stock of the new company.   The new company also took over the liabilities of the old one, particularly the outstanding bonds.

On October 6, 1906, the City of Houston bought the Water Works Company from Scanlon and his business associates for $901,700—the amount of debt owed by the company.  The outstanding stock was purchased for $434,700 in cash, and the agreed to assume $467,000 in bonds issued by the Houston Water Works Company.  With the sale, the City acquired the Water Works plant, 55 wells and 65 miles of mains. 

Water is provided by the city of Houston, which has a history page.


References
1838 On December 15, 1838, a meeting of citizens was held to organize the Houston Water Works Company with Win. Lawrence as Chairman and A. F. Woodward, Secretary. [See 1915 reference below.]

1870 "Water Works," Houston Daily Union, May 8, 1870, Page 3.
We understand that a number of our most enterprising citizens have determined upon organizing a company under the name of "Houston City Water Works Company."  A petition, properly signed, has already been sent to Austin for a charter.  We will not go into details now but state that upon consultation with competent civil engineers, it has been ascertained that a more than sufficiency of water can be obtained from Spring Creek, through an 18-inch pipe, at a cost of $75,000 or $80,000.  Full details will be given as soon as the charter is granted and the services of an engineer and surveyor are secured.

1871 The Houston Water Works was incorporated December 30, 1871 with a capital stock of $1,000,000

1875 Houston City Council Meeting, May 1, 1875 (Book C, page 609)
Alderman Kirk introduced Mr. F. M. Mahan of the National Water Works Company of New York, who addressed the council on the subject of Water Works for the city and offered a proposition in the shape of an ordinance to erect the same.

1875 Public Ledger (Memphis, Tennessee), May 6, 1875, Page 3.
We see by the Houston Telegraph that Captain F. M. Mahan, President of the National Water-works Company of New York, is in the city with a view to building works there.  He has been remarkably successful in Kansas City and elsewhere.

1875 Houston City Council meeting, May 8, 1875 (Book C, page 615)
The special committee on Water works submitted a report, recommending that should the council decide to establish water works, plans and specifications should be submitted and bids invited, on motion of Ald. Kirk, the report was received.

1876 Houston City Council meeting, June 3, 1876 (Book D, pages 252-253)
Council Resolution contemplating erection of water works.

1876 Houston City Council meeting, June 30, 1876 (Book D, page 269)
Report on Water Works

1876 The Houston City Water Works company was incorporated July 1, 1876 with a capital stock of $500,000

1876 Houston City Council meeting, July 7, 1876 (Book D, page 271)
Report of Finance Committee on Water Works.  Favorably impressed with standpipe system.

1876 Houston City Council meeting, July 21, 1876 (Book D, page 281, 283)
Petition of Houston City Waterworks Company received.
Petition of Water Works Company referred to Special Committee.

1876 Houston City Council meeting, September 22, 1876 (Book D, page 327)
The Houston City Water Works submitted a proposition to furnish water for sanitary and fire purposes at the rate of $100 per annum per hydrant for not less than 50 hydrants.

1876 Houston City Council meeting, October 13, 1876 (Book D, page 339-340)
Report of the Committee on Water Works recommitted. Majority report recommends that a franchise be granted to the Houston City Water Works Company for fifty years.  Minority report recommends additional cisterns.
Report of City Engineer on Water Works referred.

1876 Houston City Council meeting, October 20, 1876 (Book D, page 345)
Report of the Committee on Water Works adopted.  The Franchise asked too long a period, and also the price per hydrat too high, recommend the petition not be granted.

1876 Houston City Council meeting, October 27, 1876 (Book D, page 349)
Appointing a committee on cisterns for fire protection

1876 Houston City Council meeting, November 3, 1876 (Book D, page 350)
Report of Special Committee on Water Supply for fire protection referred.

1876 Houston City Council meeting, November 10, 1876 (Book D, page 355)
Report on Fire Cisterns filed.

1878 Ordinance granting a franchise to James M. Loweree and associates, November 30, 1878.  Also contract and agreement of the same date. From The charter of the City of Houston : together with the revised code of ordinances (1894)

1878 Galveston Daily News, December 4, 1878, Page 1.
Dec. 3. J. W. Lowern has left for New York to attend to the purchase and shipment of machinery and pipes for the Houston waterworks.  He thinks Buffalo bayou water can by process of filtering be made fit for drinking.

1878 Southern Banner (Brenham, Texas), December 6, 1878, Page 2.
Houston has entered into a contract with a New York firm for the erection of water works.

1879 An ordinance granted James M. Loweree and his associates permission to form a corporation, January 11, 1879

1879 The Houston Water Works company was incorporated March 12, 1879 with a capital stock of $75,000 and 750 shares.

1879 Engineering News 6:94 (March 22, 1879)
Houston, Tex., is to have water-works.  The contract for the pumping machinery has been awarded to H. R. Worthington, of this city.

1879 Southern Banner, March 28, 1879, Page 3.
Thirty car loads of pipe for the Houston waterworks have arrived from New York. Before the end of summer Houston will be supplied with water from the works.

1879 Brenham Weekly Banner (Brenham, Texas), April 4, 1879, Page 1.
The laborers engaged in Houston laying water pipe have struck for $1.50 per day instead of $1.00.  The contractors have refused to stand the "raise."

1879 The Houston Water Works Company was organized on April 15, 1879 with Joseph Richardson, of New York, president; T. F. White, of Houston secretary; William Runkle, of New York, treasurer; and Joseph Richardson, Daniel Runkle, William Runkle and W. Steiger, of New York, and E. Pillot and T. F. White, of Houston, as directors. J. M. Loweree was named as superintendent. [See 1912 reference.]

1879 The Galveston Daily News, April 16, 1879, Page 1.
Houston waterworks stock was placed upon the market to-day.  Subscription book opened at the City bank.

1879 The Daily Banner (Brenham, Texas), May 15, 1879, Page 1.
The Houston water works are nearly completed, and in twenty days the water is to be turned on.

1879 Engineering News 6:159 (May 17, 1879)
The construction of the new water-works at Houston, Tex., is proceeding vigorously.

1879 Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), June 12, 1879, Page 4.
The Age says the iron tank of the Houston Water Works Company is to be, when completed, seventy-feet high, of which fifty-two feet is now up.  It will hold 175,000 gallons of water.  That is to be a reserve "reservoir," and to furnish water to the pipes at any time, when by any kind of chance the pipes cannot be supplied by the engine.  The tank is to be finished by the 1st of July.

1879 "Waterworks," The Galveston Daily News, June 14, 1879, Page 1.
The superintendent of the Houston waterworks states that his machinery, reservoir and other appurtenances are nearing completion, the main pipes are laid, that water will be turned on about middle of next week -- he thinks by Thursday. About 100 buildings have already been supplied with pipes, and those principally private residences. Orders are continually being received from other private sources.

1879 "Waterworks Tested," Galveston Daily News, June 27, 1879, Page 1.
Preparing for the Fourth of July.

1879 "Waterworks," Galveston Daily News, June 28, 1879, Page 1.
The Houston waterworks may now be said to be in thorough operation.

1879 Galveston Weekly News, June 30, 1879, Page 1.
Houston, June 20. - The waterworks were tested this evening, alderman Gentry, chairman fire committee, present.  The test was first made in the fourth ward, north side of the bayou.  In the first effort water through one section of hose, with one-inch nozzle, was thrown 185 feet.  The pressure caused two leaks in the main pipe - one of the north side of the long bridge; the other on the corner of Main and Preston streets.  The hose was brought to a hydrant on market square, and with less pressure, on account of leaks, water was forced to the top of the market building.

1879 Morrison & Co.'s general directory of the city of Houston for 1879-80

1879 Galveston Daily News, July 31, 1879, Page 1.
Mr. J. H. Layton, of the Houston water-works, leaves this evening for New York.  Mr. E. Pillot will assume the temporary superintendency.

1879 Brenham Weekly Banner (Brenham, Texas), August 1, 1879, Page 1.
The Houston water works were given a thorough test on Thursday and are pronounced a complete success.

1880 Tenth Census of the United States, Schedule 3. Manufactures. Products of Industry in Houston, in the County of Harris, State of Texas, May 31, 1880.
Houston Water Works Company

1880 Morrison & Fourmy's General Directory of the City of Houston, 1880-81
Page 8:  The Houston Water Works, too, have been put into more successful operation, furnishing from the head of Buffalo bayou an abundance of excellent water to different portions of the city,  The Company now has twelve miles of mains in operation, ramifying nearly every section of Houston.
Page 55:  Houston Water Works Company.  Office - 96 Congress street.  Works north side Buffalo bayou.
Joseph M. Richardson, N.Y., President; T. F. White, Houston, secretary; Wm. Runkle, N.Y., treasurer; T. H. Scanton, superintendent and general manager.

1882 Houston, Engineering News, 9:251 (July 22, 1882)

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

1882 Morrison & Fourmy's General Directory of the City of Houston, 1882-83
Page 26:  Corporations.  The Water Works Company, in which ex-Mayor T. H. Scanlon is one of the leading investors and managers, is also in successful operation supplying the city with free water frm the Bayou, taken above town.
Page 74:  Houston Water Works Co. - Office 253 Preston; works north side Buffalo Bayou.
Officers - T. H. Scanlon, pres't and gen'l manager; T. W. House, vice-pres't and treas'r; T. F. White, sec'y; T. H. Scanlon, T. W. House, T. F White, J. F. Knight, Eugene Pillot, Houston; Joseph M. Richardson and Wm. Runkie, N.Y., directors.

1884 Morrison & Fourney's general directory of the city of Houston, 1884-85, May 1, 1884.
Page 350:  Houston Water Works Co. - Office 253 Preston; works on Buffalo bayou, 35 South street.
Officers - T. H. Scanlan, prest and genl mgr; T. W. House, vice-prest and treasr; T. F White, sec'y; J. F. Knight, Eugene Pillot, of Houston, Joseph M. Richardson and Wm. Runke, of New York, directors.

1885 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Houston, Harris County, Texas. August, 1885

1885 "Houston," The Dallas Daily Herald, October 7, 1885, Page 5.
Houston, Oct. 6. The Houston Water-works company closed a contract with Stricke, Harrison, Howard & Co., manufacturers to erect a steel reservoir for the use of the city, 15 feet 30 inches in diameter, and anew pump, which a capacity of 45,000 gallons per minute, to be finished by the 1st of March, 1886.

1886 Morrison & Fourney's general directory of the city of Houston, 1886-87
Page 3:  Also the improvements of the Water Works Co., in constructing a reservoir that will be 150 feet high and 30 feet in diameter, to be finished in 90 days, which will give a natural pressure of 70 pounds to hydrants in all part of the city for fire purposes.
Page 50:  Houston Water Works Co. - Office 253 Preston; works ns Buffalo bayou, 35 South st.  T. H. Scanlan, prest and genl mgr; T. W. House, vice-prest and treasr; T. F. White, secy.

1887 Social statistics of cities, Census Reports Tenth Census. June 1, 1880, [Volume 19] Part II:325
Houston.  Water-Works.  Beyond the fact that the city is supplied ith water by a private company, which use in use about 12 miles of pipes and mains for distributing water, which is takes from Buffalo bayou, nothing could be learned in regard to the water-works.

1888 "More Artesian Wells," The Galveston Daily News, February 4, 1888, Page 3.
Several days ago the Houston Waterworks company began sinking an artesian well near their standpipe in the Fourth ward north, and this evening struck a fine vein of water at a depth of 140 feet.  The casing has four times the capacity of the largest hitherto used in the city.  At 11 o'clock the flow was 300 gallons per minute and gradually increasing.  Ten more wells will be sun the immediate vicinity.

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

1889 The Galveston Daily News, February 21, 1889, Page 3.
Mr. Joseph Richardson, a capitalist of New York and one of the largest stockholders in the Houston waterworks company, arrived here this morning over the International road, to remain several days.

1889 Morrison & Fourney's general directory of the city of Houston, 1889-90
Page 62:  Houston Water Works Co. - Incorporated December, 1879.  Office 253 Preston.  Works rear 35 South street (Fourth Ward, North).  T. H. Scanlan, prest and genl mgr;  T. W. House, vice-prest and treasr; J. E. Knight, secy; C. H. Spring, supt; T. H. Scanlan, T. W. House; M. G. Howe, J. E. Knight, Ed. M. House, of Houston, Jos. Richardson and E. Emmett of New York, directors.

1889 "Bettering the Waterworks," The Galveston Daily News, August 25, 1889, Page 6.
President T. H. Scanlon of the Houston Waterworks company is now in New York with Mr. Joseph Richardson, the principal stockholder, Messrs. T. W. House and M. G. Howe, also stockholders.

1890 "Waterworks Company Flourishes," The Galveston Daily News, April 16, 1890, Page 6.
Last afternoon there was held the annual meeting of the Waterworks company, held at their office on Preston street.  The election of officers made no changes, resulting as follows:  President, T. H. Scanlan; vice-president and treasurer, T. W. House; superintendent, Chas. Sprong; secretary, J. E. Knight.  The directors chosen were T. W. House, T. H. Scanlan, E. M. House, M. G. Howe, J.E. Knight of Houston, Joseph Richardson and E. Emmett of New York.  Mr. Richardson had come down and was present at the stockholders meeting.  The reports of officers showed a very satisfactory state of affairs.  The company is now laying ten miles of pipe into parts of the city where mostly needed.  They will finish during the summer.  It was decided to buy another powerful pump and boilers to keep ahead of the constantly growing demands of a constantly growing city.  The company proposes to give the best water service in the entire state.

1890 Houston Water Works company capital increased to $150,000.  June 26, 1890.

1890 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Houston, Harris County, Texas. October, 1890

1890 Daniel Runkle (1823-1890) grave

1890 "Mr. Daniel Runkle," American Gas Light Journal, 53:722 (November 24, 1890)
Mr. Daniel Runkle, of Asbury, Warren county, N.J., died on the 17th inst., at the home of his son, Henry G. Runkle, Plainfield, N. J. Deceased was in his 67th year, was largely interested in the gas business, and was greatly esteemed. He was President and Treasurer of the Warren Foundry and Machine Company; President of the corporation of Runkle, Smith & Co., of this city; was the virtual head of the Havana (Cuba) Gas and Water Works Companies; President of the Alliance (O.) Water Works Company; a director in the Phillipsburg (N. J.) National Bank, as also in the Easton (Pa.) Bank; and a large shareholder in the Plainfield (N.J.) Water Supply and Plainfield Gas Companies, the Hackensack (N.J.) Water Works, and the Paterson (N.J.) and Rochester (N.Y.) Gas Companies. He was also interested in the Phillipsburg & Easton Railroad and the Thomas Iron Company.

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

[1891] City of Houston, by Andrew Morrison
Pages 15-16: The Water Supply of Houston is ample not merely for present needs, but for the probable growth of a long time to come. The works that furnish nearly all the water used are owned by a corporation of local capitalists, The Houston Water Works Co., which was organized in 1878. This company has $300,000 capital paid in, and about $350,000 invested in its plant and system of mains.
These works comprise a pumping station and stand pipe. The water is obtained from artesian sources twenty in number, and is very clear and pure. The stand pipe is 30 feet in diameter, 150 feet high and has 800,000 gallons capacity.  There are 36 miles of mains and, for the fire service, 260 hydrants attached to them. The average pressure is 50 pounds. The daily capacity of the works is 4,000,000 gallons for domestic use; the consumption about that quantity daily. The price to consumers varies with the quantity used. To ordinary householders it would be from $i to $3 a month.
The facilities of these works are in continuous process of extension. As the city grows, new mains are laid and water supplied the new districts requiring it.
The officers of this company are T. H. Scanlan, president; T. W. House, vice-president and treasurer; J. E. Knight, Secretary; Joseph Richerdsen and E. Emmett, of New York, Edward M. House, Austin, Texas, and M. G. Howe, with Messrs. Scanlan, T. W. House and Knight, directors.
Besides these works, the city has other sources of water supply. Many householders resort to cisterns for water, and most of the larger manufacturing concerns have artesian wells, a number of which have been successfully sunk.
Water has been obtained with them at depths varying from 100 to 1,500 feet, the rule being, the greater the depth the greater the quantity secured. The cost of them likewise varies with the depth. The water of the Bayou is available also for sprinkling and other such purposes, but it is little used. The entire supply available is about eight million gallons daily.

1891 The Age of Steel 69(16):18 (April 18, 1891)
The annual stockholders meeting and election of officers of the Houston Waterworks Company was recently held, and the election resulted in the choice of the following board of directors: Messrs. T. W. House, T. H. Scanlan, M. G. Howe, J. E. Knight, of Houston; Joseph Richardson and E. Emmett, of New York. The directors then chose Mr. T. H. Scanlan, president and Mr. T. W. House, vice-president and treasurer, and Mr. J . E. Knight secretary. The company decided in the near future to greatly increase its water mains. A number of additional wells will also be put down and a large new pump will be purchased.

1891 Houston Water Works company capital increased to $300,000 with 3,000 shares.  November 10, 1891.

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

1892 Houston Water Works company capital increased to $300,000 with 3,000 shares.  March 23, 1892. [Duplicate of November 10, 1891 for unknown reasons]

1892 "Directors and Officers," The Galveston Daily News, April 13, 1892, Page 3.
Yesterday there was a meeting of stockholders of tho Houston waterworks company for the purpose of electing directors and officers for the ensuing year. Tho following directors were elected: T. H. Scanlan, T. W. House, K. G. Howe, James A. Baker, jr., of Houston; Joseph Richardson and E. Emmitt of New York, and E. M. House of Austin. At a meeting of the board of directors following officers were elected: T. H. Scanlan, president and general manager; T. W. House, vice-president and treasurer; C. H. Sprong; secretary; F. J. Smith, superintendent.

1893 House v Houston Waterworks Company, 22 S. W. 277, March 16, 1893, Court of Civil Appeals of Texas

1894 "Water Works Plant," The Galveston Daily News, August 2, 1894, Page 3.
Houston, July 30. Petition of W. J. Buck and others asking for a franchise to build a water works plant.

1894 Houston Water Works company capital increased to $600,000 with shares $100 each.  August 16, 1894.

1894 Houston Water Works company capital increased to $1,200,000 with shares $100 each.  August 20, 1894.

1894 The charter of the City of Houston : together with the revised code of ordinances

1895 "Sues for Dower Rights," The New York Times, March 28, 1895, Pages 1, 8. | part 2 |
Estate of Capt. Benjamin Richardson, brother of Joseph Richardson.
Mrs. Emma J. Richardson, who, with Mr. Washburn, now controls the estate, is the wife of Joseph Richardson, a brother of Capt. Richardson.  The two brothers were always conspicuous figure in their particular ways.  Joseph is the possessor of a fortune estimated at $30,000,000.  He is one of the principal owners of the South Brooklyn Railroad and Terminal Company, of the Mexican Central Railroad Company, and of several Southern railroad companies, and controls water works properties all over the country.

1895 The Galveston Daily News, April 7, 1895, Page 3.
Joseph Richardson of New York and Marcus A. Hawley of Bridgeport, Conn., arrived this evening. They are large capitalists and heavy stockholders in the Houston waterworks company and came in for pleasure and business.  They will attend the annual meeting of -the waterworks company to be held early next week.  Mr. Hawley and daughter are stopping at the Capitol and Mr. Richardson at Colonel T. H. Scanlan's residence while in the city.

1895 Houston Post, April 9, 1895
The stockholders of the Houston Water works company held their annual meeting this moring, and the following directors were elected:  T. H. Scanlan, T. W. House, Camille G. Pillot, M. G. Howe and James A. Baker of Houston, and Marcus C. Hawley and Josephus Richardson of New York.  The directors then elected:  T. H. Scanlan, president and general manager; T. W. House, vice president and treasurer, and C. H. Spring, secretary.

1895 "Financial," Newtown Bee (Newtown, Connecticut), April 26, 1895, Page 3.
Houston, Texas Water Works First Mortgage Bonds.
The subscriber offers for sale the whole or any part of One Hundred Thousand First Mortgage 6 per cent Houston Water Works bonds at par and accrued interest from January 1, 1895.  These bonds are One Thousand Dollars each.  Interest is payable January and July in each year in New York City.  Said bonds are the only bonds of the company, and are a part of Four Hundred Thousand, Three Hundred Thousand being now issued.  Said bonds will be ready for delivery May 1, 1895.  These bonds are dated January 1, 1895, and have 30 years to run.  The company has a stock capital of $150,000 on which regular dividends semi annually are paid.
Houston, Texas has a population of 40,000 inhabitants and growing rapidly.  I recommend the above as a perfectly safe investment.  Marcus C. Hawley.

1895 House v. Houston Waterworks Co., 88 Tex. 233, 31 S. W. 179, May 13, 1895, Supreme Court of Texas. | also here |
The Houston City Waterworks Company, operating under a contract with the city, is not liable at suit of a property owner of the city for damages from fire, on the ground that the water company had not kept its water pressure up to its contract gauge.

1895 America's Successful Men of Affairs: The city of New York, by Henry Hall
Pages 538-540:  Joseph Richardson (with portrait)

1896 "Waterworks Officers," The Galveston Daily News, April 12, 1896, Page 4.
To-day Messrs. Joseph Richardson and M. C. Hawley of New York and Robert F. Richardson of Brooklyn, large owners in the Houston waterworks company, arrived here to be present Monday at the annual meeting and election of officers of the company.  Mr. Richardson is 82 years of age but a man of extraordinary vigor of mind and body. He has for several years made this trip, and takes a keen interest in Houston and its growth, though he has large interests in other parts of the United States.  He and Mr. Hawley have great confidence in the future growth and prosperity of Houston.

1896 The Newtown Bee, April 24, 1896, Page 4.
M. C. Hawley returned on Saturday last from Houston, Tex., in company with Joseph Richardson of New York, where they went to attend the annual meeting of the Houston Water Works Co., and afterwards inspected the Houston & Shreveport railroad, of which they are sole owners. In this work they met George J. Gould, who was engaged in the same work over his roads. He speaks very enthusiastically over the future prospect of the South, and particularly of Houston.

1896 Joseph Eugene Pillot (1820-1896) grave.  Director of the Houston Water Works Company for several years.

1896 "Millions in Water Stock," Water and Gas Review 7(6):16 (December 1896)

1896 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Houston, Harris County, Texas.

1897 "Our Water Supply," Houston Daily Post, April 4, 1897, Page 32. | also here |
The present company has been organized since 1878 and its officers are:  T. H. Scanlan, president and general manager; T. W. House, vice president and treasurer; C. H. Sprong, secretary; F. J. Smith, superintendent; T. H. Scanlan, T. W. House, M. G. Howe, J. A. Baker, Jr., C. G. Pillet, Houston; J. Richardson, New York; E. Hawley, New York; C. Hawley, Connecticut, directors.

1897 Morrison & Fourney's general directory of the city of Houston, 1897-98
Page 44:  Houston Water Works Co. - Incorporated December, 1879.  T. H. Scanlan, prest and genl mgr; T. W. House, vice-prest and treasr; C. H. Sprong, Secy; Frank J. Smith, supt; T. H. Scanlan, T. W. House, M. G. Howe, J. A. Baker, jr., C. G. Pillot, E. W. Sewall, Houston; J. Richardson, New York: C. Hawley, Connecticut, directors.

1897 "Joseph Richardson," The Houston Daily Post, June 11, 1897, Page 10.
One of the largest stockholders of the Houston Waterworks Company dies in New York. His eccentric character.
It is said that Mr. Richardson held stock in nearly all the railroads of this country.  He was said to be one of the very few men who could enter the office of any railroad president without being questioned at the door.

1897 "Strange Heirs of Joseph Richardson," The World (New York, New York), June 13, 1897, Page 31.
Mr. Richardson made his first great stride in wealth when he built and gained a controlling interest in the water-works at Bridgeport, Conn. His son, Edward, is now superintendent of them. He afterwards became interested heavily in waterworks in many cities, and owned nearly the entire stock of tho Houston (Tex.) water-works at the time of his death.

1897 "Lost in Mystery," The Houston Post, October 26, 1897, Page 9.
Witnesses to the Richardson Will Tell of the Wealth Missing.

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

1898 "The Late Joseph Richardson," by Marcus C. Hawley, Newtown Bee (Newtown, Connecticut), January 14, 1898, Page 2.
He turned his attention to water works, and built among others the Bridgeport Water Works, at Bridgeport, Conn., and also the Houston Water Works, at Houston, Texas.

1898 "Joseph Richardson's Stock," The New York Times, January 19, 1898, Page 3.
$162,000 of Houston Water Works bonds.

1898 "Della's Treasure Vault," The Sun (New York, New York), February 20, 1898, Page 7.
Hiding place in her Houston street house emptied by the sheriff.
108 Houston Water Works bonds, $104,761.

1898 "Suits Against Miss Emmett," The Sun (New York, New York), February 24, 1898, Page 7.
Administrator Butler Claims That She Has Richardson Estate's Securities. J. Jaffred Butler, temporary administrator of the estate of Joseph Richardson, began an action in the Supreme Court yesterday to recover a lot of securities alleged to belong to the estate from Miss Emily Emmett, cousin of Miss Dellarifa Richardson, in whose house she lives. It has been shown that Richardson held some securities in the name of Miss Emmett. The securities sued for are 1,800 shares of Manhattan Elevated, 1,200 shares of Western Union Telegraph, 4,000 shares of the Bridgeport Hydraulic Company, and 260 shares of the Houston Water Works Company.

1899 Morrison & Fourney's general directory of the city of Houston, 1899
Pages 4-5:  Water Supply and Works
Page 368:  Houston Water Works Co. - Inc. Dec., 1879.  T. H. Scanlan, prest and genl mgr; T. W. House, vice-prest and treasr; C. H. Sprong, Secy; Frank J. Smith, supt; T. H. Scanlan, T. W. House, M. G. Howe, J. A. Baker, jr., C. G. Pillot, E. W. Sewall, A. Bering, Houston; C. Hawley, Connecticut, directors.

1899 "Hon. Marcus C. Hawley," The Morning Journal-Courier (New Haven, Connecticut), January 17, 1899, Page 3.
Died in Newtown Sunday.  Director of the Houston Water Works company.

1899 "Young Richardson Accused," New Haven Register (New Haven, Connecticut, February 7, 1899, Page 1.
Did Millionaire's Son Rob His Father of $500,000? Both Are Dead, But Heirs Quarrel.
George Richardson died in Bridgeport, December 11, 1898.  It is alleged that George Richardson, before the death of his father, took into his possession property belonging to his father which amounted to over $500,000 and included bonds of the Houston Water Works Company and stock of the Bridgeport Hydraulic Company..

1899 Evening Messenger (Marshall, Texas), March 9, 1899, Page 2.
The Houston Water company of Houston, capital stock $240,000 has filed its charter in Austin.  Incorporators T. H. Scanlan, James A. Baker, Jr., T. W. House.

1899 "Real Estate Transactions," The Houston Post, March 20, 1899, Page 8.
Houston Water Works Company to Houston Water Company.  The consideration for conveyance is the sum of $24,000 cash and the remainder of the purchase money is evidenced by 2165 shares of fully paid up and non-assessable stock of the Houston Water company at the par value of $100 each.

1899 "Application for Receiver," The Houston Post, March 21, 1899, Page 7.
Hearing of the Water Works Company set for Monday.  Filing of the petition a result of the Phoenix Lumber Company fire of 1891.
The Houston Water Works company ceased to be, on the 11th instant, its charter having expired, and that all of its property and holdings were thereupon transferred to the Houston Water company.

1899 "Houston (Tex.) Water Co.," Commercial and Financial Chronicle 68(1763):671 (April 8, 1899)
 - Re incorporation, Etc.  The Houston Water Co. was recently incorporated with $240,000 of capital stock as successor of the Houston Water Works Co.  President Scanlan says:
The change was made simply because the charter of the old company had expired and we had to reorganize to renew our corporate rights.  The new company has assumed all of the liabilities of the old.

1899 "Estate of Marcus C. Hawley," Newtown Bee (Newtown, Connecticut), April 21, 1899, Page 10.
10 shares Houston Water Works Co. $500

1899 George B. Post, Jr., and others v. Emily Emmett, Respondent, 48 N.Y.S. 129, May 1, 1899, New York Appellate Division

1899 Commemorative Biographical Record of Fairfield County, Connecticut: Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, and of Many of the Early Settled Families
Pages 808-809:  George Richardson

1900 Morrison & Fourney's general directory of the city of Houston, 1900-01
Page 409:  Houston Water Co. - Inc. Dec., 1879. T. H. Scanlan, prest; T. W. House, vice-prest and treasr; C. H. Sprong, Secy; F. J. Smith, supt; T. H. Scanlan, T. W. House, James A. Baker, C. G. Pillot, E. W. Sewall, Aug. Bering, C. H. Sprong, F. J. Smith, directors.

1900 Phoenix Lumber Co. et al. v. Houston Water Co., 59 S. W. 552, November 19, 1900, Court of Civil Appeals of Texas

1901 Emma J. Richardson and Benjamin Nicoll v. Emily Emmett, Brief for court of Appeals

1902 Richardson v. Emmett, 63 N.E. 440, 170 N.Y. 412, April 8, 1902, New York Court of Appeals

1902 Alexander C. Hutchinson (1832-1902) grave, stock and bond holders in the Houston Water Works Company, General Manager of the Southern Pacific Railroad and president of the Morgan Railroad and Steamship Company

1903 "The Hutchinson Inventory Filed," Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), January 3, 1903, Page 8.
And foots up close to a million dollars.
A. C. Hutchinson
Thirty-seven shares Houston Water Company, $3,700.
Fourteen Houston Water Works Company bonds, $14,000

1903 "Disregarded Public Health," The Houston Post, October 8, 1903, Page 1.
Petition for Forfeiture of Water Franchise Filed.

1903 "Houston Water Works Appraisement," Municipal Engineering 25(1):41-43 (July 1903)

1904 "Houston Water Works Construction Enjoined," Municipal Engineering 26(1):37-38 (January 1904)

1904 "Pure Water Ordered," The Galveston Daily News, March 24, 1904, Page 5.

1906 Commercial and Financial Chronicle 82(2131):1001 (April 28, 1906)
Houston, Texas, — Bond Election. — The City Council on April 16 passed an ordinance providing for an election to be held May 17 for the purpose of voting on the question of purchasing the water-works, plant, properties, rights, franchises and claims of the Houston Water-Works Co. and stock of the Houston Water Co. "for a consideration of $434,700 in cash.  The said property to be bought subject to a lieu existing thereon to secure bonds issued by the Houston Water-Works Co. in the sum of $467,000. The city of Houston not to personally assume the payment of the said bonded indebtedness, but to take and receive the property, recognizing that said bonded indebtedness is a valid lieu upon the property received by it."

1906 "The People Desire to Purchase Plant," The Houston Post, May 18, 1906, Page 1.
By a vote of 810 to 286 the citizens of Houston instructed the city commissioners to purchase the plant of the Houston Water Company.

1906 "T. H. Scanlan Dead," The Houston Post, July 11, 1906, Page 10.
It was after his career as a city official that Mr. Scanlan acquired his interest in the water company, having bought out the Richardson company, which originally established the company.  He was elected president of this company when it was reorganized and that position he held at the time of his death.

1906 "Houston Owns Her Own Water Plant," El Paso Herald, October 1, 1900, Page 1.
The city of Houston today took charge of the plant of the Houston Water Co., recently purchased at a cost of $901,000.

1908 Hartford Fire Insurance Company, et al. v. City of Houston, et al., 110 S. W. 973, April 24, 1908, Court of Civil Appeals of Texas.
Suit by city against Houston Water Company for loss from fire.

1911 "Municipal-Owned Water System of Houston," Fire and Water Engineering 50:225 (September 20, 1911)

1912 Standard History of Houston Texas From a study of the Original Sources, edited by Benajah Harvey Carroll
Pages 90-92: Until about 1878-79, Houston had but little need for waterworks.  To that time water for drinking purposes was obtained from underground cisterns and that for fire protection purposes from similar cisterns located at convenient points along Main Street. When a fire occurred in the resident part of town, private cisterns were pressed into service. These cisterns, both public and private, were from twelve to twenty feet deep and from eight to fifteen feet in diameter, and held many thousand gallons of water each. Their construction was simple. A large cistern was first dug of the desired dimensions and its bottom and sides lined with brick, as carefully placed as though a house were being constructed. When the brick work was completed the inner surface, sides and bottom, was plastered over with water-proof cement. As only the water that fell in the winter was caught and preserved, the water was delightfully cool and no one ever needed ice water. But by 1878 Houston had grown beyond the stage of cisterns and the citizens began to realize that they would have to look elsewhere for their water supply.
On January 15, 1878, Mayor James T. Wilson, in a message to the council, drew attention to the growing need for water-works and sewers. On November 30, 1878, the city entered into a contract with Mr. J. M. Loweree and his associates, to supply the city with water. January 11, 1879, an ordinance was passed to amend the ordinance of November 30, 1878, authorizing Loweree and his associates to organize themselves into a corporation to be known as the Houston Waterworks Company.
On April 15, 1879, the Houston Waterworks Company was organized, with Joseph Richardson, of New York, president; T. F. White, of Houston secretary; William Runkle, of New York, treasurer; and Joseph Richardson, Daniel Runkle, William Runkle and W. Steiger, of New York, and E. Pillot and T. F. White, of Houston, as directors. J. M. Loweree was named as superintendent. Books for subscription to the capital stock of the company, were opened at the City Bank.
The company lost no time in getting to work, and the water works were completed in July of that same year. In August, the water committee reported to the city council that the test of the system made by them was satisfactory and recommended that the contract be finally signed. The system was a make-shift affair, and no effort was made to supply the city with suitable drinking water. The water supply was pumped direct from the bayou, and the only use it could possibly be put to was for fire purposes. Still for this it was a great improvement on the old cisterns. In the early nineties it was discovered that an abundant supply of pure artesian water could be obtained anywhere in or near Houston, and the Waterworks Company sank several wells. This gave an abundance of pure drinking water, as well as water for other purposes. However, the company persisted from time to time in pumping bayou water into the mains, which made the whole system very unpopular. The city authorities and the waterworks management were constantly at war.
This continued until 1906, when the city of Houston purchased the water plant from its owners, paying $901,000 for it. The city at once increased the water supply from artesian wells and cut out the bayou water entirely. At the time of the purchase, the private corporation was charging 50 cents per thousand, meter rate, and, as already noted, was pumping from the bayou whenever it suited their convenience to do so. The city, so soon as it got control, reduced the rate, and today charges only 15c per thousand gallons, and it is all wholesome artesian water.
Since the waterworks is the only public utility owned and operated by the city it is interesting to compare its administration with that of its predecessor, the private corporation. During the first five months of the commission's management, the city saved in salaries alone, $2,307.88, notwithstanding the fact that the pay of all operatives had been materially increased.
During the same period, the city showed a gain in earnings, including hydrant rentals formerly paid by the city, of $10,575.35 and all this with a decreased charge to the consumer for the service. With a decreased consumption of fuel, the average monthly pressure was increased from 53.5 pounds in September, 1906 to 62 pounds in February, 1907. All other public utilities are owned by private corporations, yet they have all put themselves into hearty co-operation with the commission and usually respond promptly to definite popular demands for better and more extended service.

1915 "Harris County, 1822-1845, IV," by Adele B. Looscan, The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 19(1):37-64) (July, 1915)
Page 42:  The need for a supply of drinking water for the large number of people who frequented the capital was keenly felt. One of the first acts of Congress, approved December 18, 1837, authorized F. R. Lubbock to procure cisterns for the use of the capitol building, to contain 10,000 gallons. On December 15, 1838, a meeting of citizens was held to organize the Houston Water Works Company, Beauchamps Springs on White Oak Bayou to furnish the supply. The water of these Springs, about two miles distant, was considered pure, and as the wooden tanks, attached to the dwellings and other houses, did not hold sufficient rain water, this water was sold by the gallon and carted about town. The Water Works Company, so far as records show, did not progress farther than the meeting, and the election of Win. Lawrence as Chairman and A. F. Woodward, Secretary. It was more than forty years after this date that a waterworks company became a real factor among Houston enterprise.

1915 Fire fighters of Houston, 1838-1915, by Charles D. Green
Page 125:  HOUSTON'S water supply is obtained from 66 wells (about 26 of which are inactive) from 900 to 1100 feet deep, and fires are extinguished with the same pure quality of water that the inhabitants drink — the extreme opposite to the conditions of 35 years ago and later, when Buffalo Bayou supplied water for all purposes. Then the quality was bad at best, but after a fire, or after the pressure had been put on the mains, it was unfit for cattle, mules or swine. Sand and mud often so filled the mains that water would not flow and firemen and apparatus were useless in the face of the fire demon. The demand for a pure water supply became so urgent that tests (1888) found abundant artesian water at comparative shallow depth, and for a while artesian and bayou water were the ingredients for domestic use and fire purposes. Finally the bayou ceased to be a source of supply and artesian wells have furnished water for all purposes for several years. It is not an impossibility for some or all of these wells to fail to produce, or become so deficient in production as to cause a water famine among the 135,000 souls comprising Houston's population. The city purchased the water works from private owners in 1906.
Prior to 1901 the various wells produced sufficient quantities of water to permit of their direct connection with the pumps, but a later increased demand and a gradual diminished supply, the latter caused by sand clogging the strainers, thus impeding the natural flow of the wells, required the installation of air compressors. It was necessary to build collecting tanks in connection with these machines in order to have on hand a surplus of water to be drawn from through suction pipes. These tanks are approximately 18 feet above mean water level in Buffalo Bayou. The total annual pumpage of the water works system is 1,981,480,800 gallons, for all purposes.

1927 "The History of Houston's Water Supply," by Bud A. Randolph, Texas Commercial News, June 1927, Page 43.

1935 Water service in Houston: some facts for local water users from the Utilities Department, city of Houston,.
by Edna D Wood; Houston (Tex.). Department of Utilities. Water Division.

1937 "Lewis Goes to Austin to Confer on Pending Bills," Houston Chronicle, February 18, 1937, Page 5.
Houston Water Works bonds issued in 1894

1941 "Development of Houston's Water Supply [with Discussion]," by G. L. Fugate and Louis R. Howson, Journal of the American Water Works Association 33(10):1768-1778 (October, 1941)

1954 "San Jacinto Water Supply for Houston," by F. N. Baldwin, G. L. Fugate, C. R. Harvill, M. A. Dillingham, F. H. Newnam Jr., N. P. Turner, L. H. Earnest and W. K. Van Zandt, Journal of the American Water Works Association 46(5): 425-437 (May, 1954)

1961 Water for Houston: Abundant Now, Much More to Come, Widely Distributed, Always Low-cost: A Survey of Water Resources and Potentials in a 75-mile Zone Around Houston, Texas for the Texas National Bank of Houston

1962 "Houston," from Public Water Supplies of the 100 Largest Cities in the United States, 1962, US Geological Survey Water Supply Paper 1812, by Charles Norman Durfor and Edith Becker

1969 Houston, the Bayou City, by David G. McComb | also here |
Page 127:  Loweree installed a day above the Preston Street Bridge, laid water pipes, began operation, and sold out to Houstonians in 1881. [No references is provided for this statement.]

1974 “Houston Waterworks: Its Early Development,” by T. Lindsay Baker, Southwest Water Works Journal 56(4):37 (July, 1974)

1981 Houston, a history, by David G. McComb
Pages 88-89: Loweree installed a day above the Preston Street Bridge, laid water pipes, began operation, and sold out to Houstonians in 1881.

1983 City building in the new South: the growth of public services in Houston, Texas, 1830-1910, by Harold L. Platt
Page 67:  Only after conducting a pressure test that shot water through a fire hose more than 100 feet into the air did Loweree sell the operational plant to local interests. Timothy Scanlan became the biggest investor in the Houston Water Company (HWC) and its first president.  [Platt's notes do not support this statement.]
Page 226: The Loweree negotiations and contract are found in CM Book E: 89-90.

1986 Building the Lone Star: An Illustrated Guide to Historic Sites, by T. Lindsay Baker
Page 128:  Loweree operated the system for about three years and sold it in 1881 to a group of local businessmen headed by former mayor T. H. Scanlan.

1991 Houston, the Unknown City, 1836-1946, by Marguerite Johnston
Page 96: 

1994 "Sanitary Services and Decision-Making in Houston, 1876-1945," by Martin V. Melosi, Journal of Urban History 20(3):365-406 (May 1994)
Pages 370-371:  In 1884, local business interests headed by former mayor Thomas H. Scanlan purchased the Houston Water Works Company, with Scanlan becoming the company's president.  [Melosi's citations do not support this statement.]
Page 372:  In 1904 the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Water Company to cease pumping bayou water into the mains.  [This order was actually given by a federal district court judge in Houston.]

2007 Energy Metropolis : An Environmental History of Houston and the Gulf Coast, by Martin V. Melosi, and Joseph A. Pratt | also here |

2008 History of the City of Houston’s Drinking Water Operations, by Susan Smyer, January, 2008 | also here |

2009 "Standing on Fishes:  A History of Supplying Water to Houston," by Martin V. Melosi, Cite 79:16-17 (Summer 2009)

2010 "Thomas Howe Scanlan," by Priscilla Myers Benham, Handbook of Texas Online
Scanlan became the first president of the Houston Water Company in 1881, with House as vice president.

1879 Houston Waterworks (Wikipedia)

Houston Water Works Station photograph

Index to Houston City Council Minutes, from the Houston City Council Collection at the Houston Public Library
Page 610:  Water Works

[Note:  several histories of the Houston Water Works Company state that the New York investors sold the company in 1884 to Thomas H. Scanlan and others from Houston, but the evidence shows that this is not the case.]



© 2020 Morris A. Pierce